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Top 10 Hilarious Pranks Pulled To Promote Movies

by Estelle
fact checked by Jamie Frater

It is becoming increasingly difficult to promote new movies in such a way that it increases interest and ensures backsides on cinema seats. At one point, a few years ago, producers went all out in their efforts to promote their film offerings and this culminated in a spate of pranks to spark interest among the general public. On this list are just 10 of several funny, if sometimes dark, pranks that have scared people witless.

10 Great Pranks Pulled Off By Famous People

10 It’s all in the eyes

Ouija Psychic Terror

While the first Ouija movie did not exactly set the world of horror on fire, scoring a sad 6% on Rotten Tomatoes, a terrific prank to promote the movie garnered more than 2 million views on YouTube after it was uploaded to the platform in 2014. Dreamed up by a viral marketing agency, the prank uses people’s belief in Ouija boards against them.

This practical joke is centered around a woman with eye proptosis who sets up a fortune-telling booth and entices people to come inside for a ‘free reading’. She makes use of a Ouija board to tell the ‘victim’s’ fortune and finally makes them almost wet themselves or run out screaming when her eyes suddenly protrude grotesquely from their sockets. At the same time a ‘corpse’ bursts through the wooden floor, adding to the hysteria.

Fair warning: the eye-popping thing is gross so if you are easily disturbed, maybe give this one a skip.

9 Turn off the TV!

Rings (2017) – TV Store Prank

Shopping for a first or new TV set is fairly exciting. Deciding which resolution is best and what screen size best fits the room you want to put it in, takes time, discussion, and concentration. The last thing you expect is for a trailer of the movie Rings playing on the TV’s you’re studying to end in a real-life Samara crawling out of one!

This is exactly what happened when shoppers, unaware of the hidden cameras surrounding them, found themselves face to face with Samara while they were in a TV store.

First you watch it, then you die.

8 Baby, it’s cold outside

Epic ‘Geostorm’ Movie Opening Prank That Made Us Jump

Reviewers and movie goers weren’t gaga about the disaster flick Geostorm, but a few scenes in the film were truly jaw dropping. These include boulder-sized hailstones and skyscrapers toppling over like dominoes. And who can forget the chilling image of a tsunami bearing down on Dubai. Some of the best scenes also include people frozen to the spot in the desert and sunbathers on a beach running away from what looks like the world’s worst cold front only to be overtaken and freeze instantly.

An over-the-top prank to promote this film saw a taxi being rigged to broadcast a fake breaking news report. And, in the middle of summer, transforming an entire city block into an ice block, so to speak. Those who got into the taxi were confronted by frozen ‘corpses’ and dead birds falling onto the windscreen. Watch the video for the facial expressions when it dawns on commuters that everyone outside the window is frozen.

7 It’s a bloodbath

Кровавый Halloween в баре “Клава”

The remake of Carrie in 2013 saw more than one prank pulled on the unsuspecting public in an effort to raise interest in the film. One of the pranks took place in a coffee shop and saw a man lifted and plastered against the wall after a ‘customer’ lost her cool and used her ‘telekinetic’ powers.

Another practical joke was set up in a nightclub in Russia to scare people who used the bathroom. As they washed their hands, foamy ‘blood’ appeared while they were rubbing the soap between their fingers. As they inevitably grab a paper towel, they are greeted with the reason for the blood.

6 Mirror, mirror on the wall


A common scene in several scary movies is where the protagonist, to “wake themselves from a nightmare” stares in the mirror after splashing water on their face. Sometimes they open a bathroom cabinet and when it swings closed again, another face appears either inside the mirror on the door or they see a figure lurking behind them.

For the Conjuring 2, a prank was devised in which a two-way mirror was used to display Valak, the creepy nun, to unsuspecting bathroom users. As they look into the mirror, the lights flickered off and on and then Valak seemingly jumps out at them from the mirror. That is not all though, as the video below will reveal. Watch to the end for the last guy’s hilarious reaction.

10 Seemingly Innocent Pranks That Ended In Tragedy

5 Jaws, is that you?

Fishmonger Shark Attack in London

Sharknado is 5-movie franchise that everyone loves to hate because of the terrible special effects, worse dialogue, and weird-looking sharks inside an incredibly fake tornado. Very obviously a B-movie, no one thought that the first film would ever get a sequel, and yet here we are. With taglines ranging from ‘Enough Said!’ to ‘Make America Bait Again’, one can’t help but sigh.

Luckily, there is an great prank to make up for the extreme lameness of these movies. For Sharknado 2: The Second One, Syfy decided to place an animatronic shark in a London fishmonger. Hidden cameras captured shoppers’ reactions as the shark comes to life when they walk past it. Do check out the elderly lady’s non-reaction to the commotion.

4 Annabelle comes to life

ANNABELLE makes Canadians SCREAM!

To promote the spinoff of The Conjuring, Annabelle, producers used the Toronto Fan Expo in 2014 to play a delightfully creepy prank on visitors. They dressed a woman up as Annabelle and set her up to look like a mannequin next to which people could pose for photographs.

As they look at the camera for the perfect shot, ‘Annabelle’ comes to life next to them and tries to grab hold of them.
See how they run.

3 Open house with a difference

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension | Haunted Open House | Paramount Pictures International

The success of the first Paranormal Activity movie spawned a host of sequels, including Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension released in 2015. To create hype over the release, a prank was set up in the original house used for the first movie. The house was made available by real estate agents for viewing during an ‘open house’ session and potential (totally unaware) buyers, got a lot more than they bargained for. Let’s just say: Welcome to the Ghost Dimension, people!

2 Not your average infant

Devil Baby Attack

The horror movie Devil’s Due was released in 2014 and to promote it, a pram was set loose in New York. The pram moved about on its own and when people went to investigate, an animatronic devil baby straight from their worst nightmares jumped out at them. The baby ‘lured’ people by crying and then scared the crap out of them after they got a glimpse of what he looked like. What’s more, the baby had a penchant for projectile vomiting and giving people the finger.

1 Skip the bus stop

Many people profess that they are not now, nor will they ever be scared of any of the Child’s Play movies. And they shouldn’t be, considering that the villain is but a tiny, freaky-looking doll. However, hearing strange sounds coming from a bus stop with a life-sized Chucky doll jumping out at you is a whole different story. Check out this hilarious promotional video for the Curse of Chucky movie during which exactly that happens.

+ It’s Ronald McDonald! No wait…

Pennywise- IT Pranks at Prime Cinemas

As much as IT is not nearly the scariest movie you will ever see, it is doubtful that anyone wants to go into a cinema to watch the movie and walk into an IT replica as they round a corner. When IT was released in Prime Cinemas in Bolivia, management thought it would be hilarious to promote the film by having a staff member dress up as the creepy clown and scare the daylight out of people entering the theatre. While the clown’s makeup is questionable and he looks more like Michael Myers gone wrong, he does get the scaring done. Some people, however, just don’t scare that easily.

++ Food hits back

SAUSAGE PARTY – Grocery Store Prank

To promote R-rated animated comedy, Sausage Party, Seth Rogen decided to freak some people out by placing animatronic food items inside a supermarket. Rogen then spoke via a microphone behind-the-scenes to make the items come to life. Some of the food items felt the need to let off some steam by utter a few profanities while other items laid a guilt trip on customers by asking them if they were there to eat their friends and family. Not everyone was afraid of the food though, which included a loaf of bread, a cantaloupe and of course a smoked sausage. Check out the video to see one guy’s reaction to the bread speaking to him.

10 April Fools’ Pranks That Completely Backfired

fact checked by Jamie Frater

Estelle is a regular writer for Listverse.