One Of The Scariest Scenes In Final Destination 3 Is A Real Scorcher

(Welcome to Scariest Scene Ever, a column dedicated to the most pulse-pounding moments in horror with your tour guides, horror experts Matt Donato and Ariel Fisher. In this edition, Ariel talks about the real reason she hates tanning beds, and Matt with his pale-ass Irish skin agrees tanning is horrifying.)

The year was 2006. Frosted lipgloss and eyeshadow were all the rage, low-rise jeans had yet to be stopped, and trucker hats were a thing. Oh! Tanning was also super trendy, which made "Final Destination 3" obliteratingly terrifying for many teenagers in the mid-2000s.

That's right, folks, today we're taking a look at the third installment in the "Final Destination" franchise, which just so happens to be my favorite. A solid franchise through and through with only one truly awful entry (2009's "The Final Destination," and that is not up for debate), this may be one of the strongest of the bunch. Is it cheesy? Yes, they all are in their own way. But are the kills devastatingly brutal and awe-inspiring? Also yes.

I never really had any feelings about tanning when I was in high school, but it was definitely something the cool girls did on the regular. I went once or twice when the Ashley (Chelan Simmons) and Ashlyn's (Yan-Kay Crystal Lowe) would invite me, which was rare. But hey, we all had weird things we did to try and fit in. This just happened to be one of mine. Then I saw "Final Destination 3" and never even entertained the notion of going to a tanning salon again. You couldn't pay me.

Honestly, I'd love to see whether or not this brutal kill had an impact on the tanning industry at the time. Regardless, Ashley and Ashlyn's untimely and uncanny death by Goldbergian incineration stands the test of time as one of the franchise's most brutal and truly disturbing kills.

One of. But we'll get to that one another time.

The Setup

The "Final Destination" franchise is rooted in the notion that Death — in this case, not so much a person as a presence — has a design. Some people are able to glimpse parts of said design, but only by chance. When this happens, they can interrupt the plan and fend off Death ... for a little while, anyway. Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) saw his plane explode in 2000, and then Kimberly Corman (A. J. Cook) learned the hard way that you never drive behind logging trucks! This time around, Wendy Christensen (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) sees the catastrophic destruction of a roller coaster with her and all her friends on it.

The Story So Far

To celebrate their impending high school graduation, Wendy (Winstead), her boyfriend Jason (Jesse Moss), best friend Carrie (Gina Holden), and her boyfriend, Kevin (Ryan Merriman) all go to their local amusement park. After taking a bunch of pictures (for the yearbook, of course), Wendy starts to notice something ... odd. She can't quite put her finger on it, but something feels wrong.

Everyone keeps telling her she's overthinking things, she's too much of a control freak, blah blah blah. All that good s*** women love to be told when their intuition is telling them something important. She does as they suggest and just kind of shrugs it off. They make their way through the park, watching their classmates play games and win prizes, go on rides, and harass each other the way awful teenagers are evidently wont to do. And then they make their way to the big ride — the Devil's Flight.

The thing's massive and seems to be very questionably constructed. They even made a rip-off of Tim Curry's Darkness from "Legend" to sit dauntingly in front of the entrance. Everything about this situation screams "It's not worth it!" But Wendy tries to relax and have fun, so she goes on the ride. A series of awful decisions and perfectly-timed freak accidents connect resulting in the utter annihilation of the entire roller coaster car. Everyone dies, one after another, in a horrifically violent fashion.

It all plays out clear as day. Then Wendy snaps out of it several minutes earlier, as they're about to start the ride. It hasn't happened yet. It was just a vision.

Crying and clearly traumatized, Wendy screams to be let off the ride. Everyone thinks she's nuts or high, a fight ensues, and multiple people get kicked out. But Carrie and Jason are still locked in, and Wendy's vision comes to horrifying fruition.

In the wake of the several deaths of their friends, the remaining graduating class is left to pick up the pieces as best as they can. For some, that means emptying out your locker and getting the hell out of dodge. For others, like Ashley and Ashlyn, that means going tanning before graduation, and inviting Wendy out of the goodness of their hearts.

The Scene

The pair head to the salon, Slurpees in hand, ready to get nice and bronzed so they look their best. "For all the kids that died that night who will never get a graduation."

Truly a heart of gold, that Ashley.

The salon manager, Yuri (Alexander Kalugin), is distracted by a heated argument with his girlfriend, so the girls tell him they can take care of things themselves. He lets them, goes outside to argue with better cell reception, and the Goldbergian nightmare begins. A forgotten iPod necessitates the use of the salon's CDs, and the pair wind up listening to Ohio Player's "Love Rollercoaster," which has its own storied legacy of urban myths. One of those myths was that the scream on the track came from a woman who died while falling off a rollercoaster. A little on-the-nose, but delightfully morbid nonetheless.

The condensation on the outside of Ashley's Slurpee drips into the unit that controls the tanning beds, causing it to go haywire and start cranking the heat. A draft from the AC knocks over a coat rack, which hits a palm tree, that then knocks a shelf off the wall. As the girls try to get out of the now boiling tanning beds, the shelf slips conveniently into place, locking them in.

The temperature gets so high that the glass in the beds starts to shatter, the metal starts to warp, and their skin starts to blister.

It all happens fairly quickly. And within seconds, they burst into flames and are roasted alive.

It's one of the most horrific scenes in the franchise. Though it almost went very differently.

The Impact (Matt's Take)

Allow me to smash "hahahahaha" on my keyboard until another bout of anxiety subsides because Ashley and Ashlyn's deaths make me feel a special kind of freaked-the-hell out. The combination of being trapped in a tight space and being flame-broiled like a Whopper is one of my least preferred exits from this world. In the pantheon of "Final Destination" deaths, this tanning salon entrapment stands towards the top of my "Nope!" list. I'm with you, Ariel.

I'm glad the alternate sequence is mentioned above because it's drastically less effective, in my opinion. There's something goofball about the joint electrocution as one bronze bombshell attempts to rescue the other. The image of flames billowing from under the tanning bed covers while hands attempt to push upward is nightmare fuel. That's the morbid money shot. Not some electric jolts as Ashley and Ashlyn jiggle before keeling over. Although, I do enjoy watching the other concept because I imagine someone on-set had the same underwhelmed reaction and pushed for a more devastating fatality.

There are other fantastic "Final Destination" deaths — shocking, the franchise built on gravestones is littered with superior finishes — but hats off to Ashley and Ashlyn. I feel claustrophobic and frantic whenever the scene plays. If my friends had been slathering oils and blasting themselves with UV rays, I would have impolitely declined after watching "Final Destination 3." There's nothing but agreement from Donato this week.