By Stephanie Mc Guckin
A philosopher once said: “In death, we become heroes.” As any film fan will know, death features in almost all the great celluloid classics. Whether as whimpers when Bambi’s mother is shot, or tears of joy as Rambo makes the bad guys explode, death evokes an emotional response in all of us. And so, here lies a short salutation to the Grim Reaper with a selection of those good, bad and just plain ugly films which make us enjoy life by watching death.
- ALIEN (1979)
They’re all in space looking for something, a crew member has been smothered by something and we’re pretty sure something’s not right. So what can be so wrong about dinner time in space? Cue Kane’s rumble in the tum – and it ain’t hunger pains. This scene combines birth and death, first breath and final suffering into one huge stomach ripper. Pity the audience was too busy spewing into their popcorn to notice the deeper thematic connotations.
- AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000)
Consumed with dominating the bravado world of 80’s businessmen, Patrick Bateman lures enemy elitist Paul Allen to his apartment. A quick induction to the music of Huey Lewis and the News isn’t enough to deter Allen from noticing newspaper everywhere…or the axe coming straight for his face. You have to give credit to Bateman though, cutting your way through the competition really is the best way to get a Head in life
- HALLOWEEN (1978)
When the cats away the mice can play, and play is pretty much all that’s on the minds of Linda and Bob. As Linda awaits frisky Bobs return, she meets demented killer Michael Myers looking impeccably ghostly in a white sheet. He then proceeds to strangle her with the phone cord. And no, that wasn’t phone sex. Just death.
- TERMINATOR 2 JUDGEMENT DAY (1991)
Arnie manages to win over the masses with his caring, ‘I may be a cyborg but I have feelings too’ side. By the end of the movie, we all want him to live but he dies – complete with a thumbs up for the brave kid. Then his inner computer shuts down and we all reach for the tissues. Aww
- SPEED (1994)
Yes, Mr Hopper really should have known better than to go peeking out of a tube train in a space restricted underground. Although his game of peek a boo with Keanu resulted in an entertaining demise – his head being sliced like a Christmas ham.
- THE NAKED GUN 2 ½ THE SMELL OF FEAR (1991)
After an admirable punch up with the legendary Frank Drebin (Police Squad!) the baddie gets another punch; this time a water hose in the mouth. The result? “Best not to go outside until they’ve finished shampooing the carpets.”
- THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)
Ok, we knew murderous maniac Leatherface was lurking around the van / endless bushes somewhere. But we certainly didn’t expect him to ram a chainsaw in Franklin’s burly torso in the dark of night. May the dead rest in peace, or in this case pieces, for our favourite meals on wheels character.
- NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)
Ben, who manages to avoid, fight and live during the zombies’ nightshift emerges, from his darkened cellar, only to be misunderstood as one of the walking dead by local police. He is promptly shot, and so comes the shock ending – the hero wasn’t supposed to die! All that for nothing, eh?
- THE BIRDS
No doubt Psycho’s shower scene rates as one of the scariest and unexpected deaths perhaps of all Hitchcock’s beauties. In The Birds however, Mitch’s mother decides to visit a neighbouring farm to see if some chickens have gone a bit cuckoo too. And they have. As the camera tracks around a wrecked house, it zooms and rests on a guy who has his eyes pecked (pecked I say!) out.
- FARGO (1996)
Lesson to be learned – never cross an already irritated nut job. The result? Death by a mighty forceful blow with a sharp axe ungracefully followed by disposal in a mighty rickety wood chipper. Awful hassle having to cram those legs in isn’t it?
- AMERICAN HISTORY X (1998)
Can anyone remember the days when you could talk about teeth without thinking of this film? Kerbs are now dangerous and feared things, and when combined with a violent Neo Nazi on an ego trip, the outcome can’t be good.
- THE WICKERMAN (1973)
By the end I’m sure this suspecting police chief knew that curiosity killed the cat. But I’m sure he didn’t know that he, the innocent kitty trying to uncover the truth, would be roasted alive in a towering wicker statue as a sacrifice to pagan gods. Not so clever now, are you officer?
- BATMAN (1989)
Following one of the most theatrical and zaniest performances of Nicholson’s career as Bat’s nemesis teetering on a rooftop, the Joker falls to his death, yet still managers to have the last laugh thanks to a joke device in his pocket. Dying laughing – surely that’s anybody’s dream way to go?
- THE LORD OF THE RINGS, THE RETURN OF THE KING (2003)
Mans ultimate aim in life must be to die satisfied. In the burning fires of Mount Doom may be another story. But then, when you’ve got ‘the Precious’ back after so long an absence, nothing else matters. Even being burnt alive. Right Smeagole?
- PULP FICTION (1994)
A scene which illustrates perfectly why potholes of any kind on the road are a danger to all mankind – “I just shot Marvin in the face!” Yes you did Vincent to our complete amazement, and a death we (or Marvin I’m sure) didn’t see coming.
Also notable is Vincent’s toaster timed bang from Butch following an appointment with the toilet. Guess the toast wasn’t the only thing waiting for him.
Have you seen the dead man is a regular feature on ragazine.co.uk, so don’t forget to check for further updates. Also, Friday May 2 is the first instalment of ‘A-Z of Horror’ – a catalogue of scares and terrors depicting some of the most notable horrors in history.