Halloween 101: Ten Disturbing Movie Deaths

TombstoneIn Utah, Halloween isn’t simply a dress-up day where one freezes his grapes off while trekking the kiddies through the darkened neighborhood wastelands, searching for a fun-sized Snickers or Twix, instead finding cold porches and lonely Jack-O-Lanterns (apparently everyone else is trunk-or-treating – LAME). No, it’s a time where we like to reflect on the scariest elements and goodies our friends in Hollywood have offered us over the years.

Today’s topic? Ten Disturbing Movie Deaths.

As tens of thousands of movie deaths can attest, any tight-shirted, screaming frat chick or lunky pretty boy can die a loud, caro-syruped death. But as a jaded film veteran, there’s really only a few that have the power to stick with you. These are the deaths that feel a little too real… or even mean-spirited. As our Halloween features continue, we decided instead of going the obvious horror death route, we’d take a look at a few scenes that delivered a dose of horror where things felt a little too real. Disturbingly so. Most all have their accompanying (possibly NSFW) scenes, so read on and remind yourself “They’re only movies”.

Yeah, I Don’t Think That’s Indigestion (Andy)

The Movie: Alien (1979, Ridley Scott)

Who: Kane (John Hurt)

What: On their way back to Earth, the crew of the commercial towing ship, Nostromo, detects an alien signal, investigates and then Executive Officer Kane gets a crab-like organism attached to his face. All is fine and dandy until Kane has a seizure at dinner and a baby alien erupts from his chest.

Why: The seizure is violent, the blood is endless the chest explosion is graphic and there is no hope to save Kane. Shocking and disturbing, this scene lights the flame of tension for the rest of the movie.

She Was Just a Baby! A Baby! (Dan)

The Movie: The Ring (2002, Gore Verbinski)

Who: Katie (Amber Tamblyn)

What: With her parents away, Katie is taking full of advantage of a deserted house on a dark, rainy night. It’s all fun and games and girltalk, but before underage experimentation gets under way, the conversation turns South and Katie realizes she’s on the receiving end of a wet, soggy curse. The death actually occurs off screen, but when her mom later talks about coming home to find her in the closet, things get disturbing fast.

Why: When the camera gives us a quick cut of Katie’s slumped body, our expectation of seeing her round, school-girl face is shattered as we see a nightmarishly drawn, gaping and moldy visage lolling to her shoulder.

The Death of Murphy, the Birth of Robocop (Andy)

The Movie: Robocop (1987, Paul Verhoeven)

Who: Alex Murphy (Peter Weller)

What: Detroit policeman finds himself outnumbered by a gang of murderous thugs in a remote, abandoned warehouse. The leader of the group then blows off Murphy’s hand with a shotgun, and as he goes into shock and tries to stand and escape, they fill him full of bullets, blow off his arm completely and finally put a bullet in his head.

Why: Paul Verhoeven loves the graphic, bloody violence and this scene has plenty of that, but what makes it disturbing is the realness of it all. It’s not like he was attacked by zombies, he was attacked by men with no conscience and there are plenty of people like that living in the world today.

The Popularity Decline of Midnight Ocean Skinny Dipping (Dan)

The Movie: Jaws (1975, Steven Spielberg)

Who: Chrissie (Susan Backlinie)

What: After making googly eyes at a guy across a beachside fire, Chrissie plays hard to get by springing to her feet and rushing into the cold, dark Atlantic for a midnight swim in glorious buck-naked-o-vision. While her drunk pursuer watches her gracefully swim toward a dinging buoy before he chivalrously passes out, a Great White Shark watches her from below with no plans to pass out.

Why: When Chrissie’s death inevitably comes, her panic, screams of terror, pleading and raw violence of the attack herald this scene as one of the most unforgettable deaths of the last 30 years.

I Don’t Like Nick Stahl Either, But Really? (Andy)

The Movie: Bully (2001, Larry Clark)

Who: Bobby Kent (Nick Stahl)

What: What do you do when your best friend, Bobby Kent, rapes girls and mentally and physically abuses you? Why kill him, of course! Based on a true story, Marty (Brad Renfro) and his yucky girlfriend, Lisa (Rachel Miner), recruit a cadre of misfit teens to brutally kill Bobby.

Why: Because it really happened. Because the teenagers that murdered Bobby were cold and unremorseful. Moreover, the murder was grisly and heinous, which Larry Clark graphically shows us in the cinematic retelling.

Click here to watch.

Why Mercy Killing is a Bad Idea (Dan)

The Movie: The Mist (2007, Frank Darabont)

Who: Amanda Dumfries (Laurie Holden), Billie Drayton (Nathan Gamble), Dan Miller (Jeffrey Demunn), Irene Reppler (Frances Sternhagen)

What: After holing up in a grocery store and watching his town fall victim to a monster-laden mist (not to mention a bunch of crazy Christians), protagonist David Drayton piles his his son and a few sympathetic survivors into his truck to make a run for it. As they make their way out of town, David finds his wife is dead and the town has been ravaged by who-knows-what. He and his companions begin to realize they’re doomed. As the truck runs out of gas on a lonely road, David hears the sound of approaching monsters. Taking a revolver with four bullets, he mercy kills each person in the car, including his young son who wakes just in time to worriedly look at his father as he pulls the trigger. Moments later, David realizes the approaching sound was the Army in process of destroying the last of the creatures as the mist disappears and he agonizingly screams at the realization of what he’s done.

Why: This gut punch finale disturbingly underscores a brutal allegory on the power of fear and reveals why The Mist is hard edged, angry and brilliant. The fact we see the little boy briefly recognize his father, the man who promised to keep safe, is about to kill him is bleak, sad and horrifying.

This is Why I Don’t Swim or Ride in Boats (Andy)

The Movie: Poseidon (2006, Wolfgang Petersen)

Who: Robert Ramsey (Kurt Russell)

What: In this remake of the 1972 classic, Poseidon, Kurt Russell swims deep through the upturned ship to find a stop button to the vessel’s propellers. He finds it, but he doesn’t have enough air in his lungs to make it back and drowns while saving the others.

Why: I have no idea how they made this look so real, but the panic and the fear on Russell’s face is cringe-worthy and haunting. Drowning would be a terrible way to die and this scene puts that horror into sharp, unsettling focus.

The Death Whisperer (Dan)

The Movie: Saving Private Ryan

Who: Pvt. Stanley Mellish (Adam Goldberg)

What: Tucked away in an ambush spot on a surging enemy flank, Pvt. Mellish’s position is overrun as his squadmate is shot in the neck. As the squadmate rolls on the ground gurgling and dying, Mellish is attacked by a lone SS soldier. Mellish brandishes his knife to go in for the kill when the tables are turned and the SS soldier turns the knife on him, slowly pushing it into Mellish’s chest. Mellish fights, desperately tries to reason and finally begs the Nazi not to do it. He fails.

Why: Mellish’s death, as the soldier whispers to a weakly gasping Mellish while killing him with his own knife, is one so honest and powerful that it’s escaped the mockery so many iconic movie deaths receive.

The Sound is Worse than the Sight (Andy)

The Movie: American History X (Tony Kaye, 1998)

Who: Unnamed black truck thief.

What: Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton) is violent skinhead, angry over his firefighter father’s death by a black drug dealer. When three black men try to steal his truck, Derek goes overboard, killing two of the men. Derek kills one of them by telling him to “bite the curb,” whereupon he kicks the man in the back of the head.

Why: Derek’s crime is absolutely and unequivocally vicious and convincingly graphic. There is a quick edit before Derek’s boot smashes the man’s skull, but the sound is enough to make you want to puke. Plus, after he says “bite the curb,” you just know what will happen. This is one of those scenes that leave you feeling empty and sick-to-your-stomach.

Next Time, Try Charmin (Dan)

The Movie: Smokin’ Aces (2006, Joe Carnahan)

Who: Jeeves Tremor (Kevin Durand)

What: Tahoe magician Buddy Israel is a douche. Naturally, this earns him a hit via a dumpster full of the world’s most depraved and ruthless assassins and a denouement where things are on the fast track to end badly. As the assassins (and the Feds) converge on the Buddy’s casino hideaway for a bullet exchange party, things do indeed end badly for just about everyone. The most disturbing, however, is left for the most repellent character in the movie– a sadomasochistic Jeeves Tremor. Jeeves, one of three Tremor brothers, enjoys using a chainsaw as his weapon of choice, but discovers why wielding a chainsaw in a gun fight is always a bad idea when he falls on it butt-crack first.

Why: The resulting display of splatter and spasmodic screaming simply puts a nasty, disturbing cherry on top of an already unpleasantly over-the-top movie.

I searched high and low, but couldn’t find an image or video of this scene, which is probably for the better.

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