Several weeks ago, I posted a column that featured “Ten Great Action Scenes from Ten Not-So-Great Movies”, and it seems to have garnered a lot of hits, so in the spirit of Halloween, I’ve decided to do a similar column for horror movies. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’ve sat through more bad horror films that any sane person ever should. But there’s a good reason to have a taste for bad movies in a certain genre. I generally try to avoid bad comedies because sitting through a comedy that isn’t funny is one of the more painful experiences you can imagine, but at least a bad action, sci-fi or horror film has the potential to deliver plenty of unintentional hilarity and some good spectacle.
Awhile back, I posted an hilariously gory and cheesy death scene from the Lucio Fulci horror film, Touch of Death. It’s a pretty bad movie, but because of that scene alone, I can’t say that I regret having seen it. The other films featured on this list aren’t particularly good either, but they do manage to deliver at least one very cool death scene that almost makes the whole thing worthwhile. However, the key word is “almost”. Once again, thanks to the miracle of Youtube, you can watch these scenes right here and save yourself the trouble of sitting through the whole movie.
There will be no classic death scenes from good or great horror films here because those films deserve to be watched on their own. So, without any further ado, here are ten great death scenes from ten not-so-great horror movies…
Deadly Friend (1986) – Basketball Beheading:
Deadly Friend is definitely one of Wes Craven’s lesser films, involving a teenage nerd with his own pet robot who develops a massive crush on his hot next-door neighbour, Kristy Swanson. When she is accidentally killed by her abusive father, the nerd actually transplants one of his robot’s chips into her brain to bring her back to life, which winds up turning her into a murderer with super-human strength. Yeah, it’s about as good as it sounds. But the film does deliver a FANTASTIC death scene for one of its characters. The late, great Anne Ramsey (who mastered the art of playing crotchety old ladies in The Goonies and Throw Momma from the Train) plays the role of a miserable, batshit crazy neighbour who gets killed off when Swanson uses her massive strength to behead the old hag with a basketball! Now THAT’S a satisfying comeuppance!
Final Destination 2 (2003) – The Crushing of James Kirk:
Yes, James Kirk is the name of the actor in this scene! Gee, you think his parents might have been major Trekkies or something? Anyway, it’s no secret that the only reason people watch the Final Destination sequels is to see what gruesomely inventive methods they dream up to kill off their characters. The first Final Destination was unique and clever enough to stand on its own as a horror film, but the problem with making sequels to it is that there really isn’t anywhere else to go with the premise, so the formula gets pretty monotonous real quick. The sequels are certainly watchable, but you’ll often find yourself checking your watch wondering when the next death scene is going to arrive. There are certainly a lot of cool death scenes to choose from, but my favourite probably involves this kid getting crushed by a pane of glass. The glass must obviously be shatter-proof since it doesn’t break and winds up literally turning the kid into a pile of goo!
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1987) & Jason X (2002) – Death in a Sleeping Bag:
This selection is kind of a cheat since it features two different movies, but these two scenes compliment and build upon each other so well that they fit perfectly together as one. It’s pretty ironic that this brilliant running gag would involve two of the worst movies in the Friday the 13th franchise. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, which pits Jason in a battle against a girl with telekinesis, is pretty stupid, but it does contain one of Jason’s all-time greatest kills. Instead of using a weapon, Jason simply uses his massive strength to drag a girl in a sleeping bag out of her tent and swing her around into a tree! Jason X would then deliver an hilarious homage to this sequence as Jason picks up one girl in a sleeping bag and uses her to mash another poor girl in a sleeping bag! Priceless!
Ghost Ship (2002) – The Death of the Party:
I would definitely agree that a horror film needs to deliver a good hook for its audience, but it’s probably not a good idea to open with a gore scene so spectacular that there’s no way the rest of the movie could possibly live up to it. The first few minutes of Ghost Ship are amazing as they show a thin piece of wire quickly slicing through a large group of people at a party on an ocean liner. At first, the people seem to have no idea what hit them until their various body parts start falling off and they all slowly break apart into several pieces! It’s a fantastic opening sequence, but if you were to ask me about anything else that happens in the film, I couldn’t tell you much, because I can barely remember the rest of it. Overall, Ghost Ship is a completely forgettable, by-the-numbers horror film, but at least it’s generous enough to showcase its best stuff right away, so that you have the option of not having to sit through the whole thing.
House of Wax (2005) – Death of Paris Hilton:
House of Wax isn’t really a bad horror film, but let’s face it, its main draw was the possibility of getting to see Paris Hilton die a very horrible, violent death. I often complain about remakes that are complete copycats of the original, but the problem here is that this really didn’t bear much resemblance at all to the 1953 Vincent Price classic, and despite a very inventive setting and some nifty production design, the whole thing is really just a standard teen slasher film. However, the filmmakers did know that their audience were going to want to see a great Paris Hilton death scene, and they certainly delivered the goods in that department. And you cannot tell me that there isn’t some intentional phallic imagery on display here! This Youtube comment probably says it best: “Paris Hilton died exactly how she lived. On her hands and knees with a pole in her face”.
The House on the Edge of the Park (1980) – David Hess HATES Getting Shot in the Balls:
I am a huge fan of cult B-movie actor David Hess, who played one of the sleaziest, most hateful psychopaths of all time in Wes Craven’s original version of Last House on the Left. Ever since then, Hess has been completely typecast in those type of roles and has appeared in a lot of less-than-stellar movies. Cannibal Holocaust director Ruggero Deodato once cast Hess as a psychopath in an Italian Last House on the Left knock-off called The House on the Edge of the Park (even though the house in this film doesn’t seem to be anywhere near a park), which is a very slowly paced, unpleasant movie filled with unsympathetic characters, but Hess is still a lot of much fun to watch. His character also gets one hell of a death scene, not because of the method involved, but because of his reaction. After getting shot in the groin area, Hess delivers a ridiculously over-the-stop slow motion scream that, quite simply, is one of the funniest damn things I’ve ever seen in my life!
Jason X (2002) – Liquid Nitrogen Face Shattering:
Jason X, a.k.a. “Jason Goes to Space”, is looked upon as the “black sheep” of the Friday the 13th series, but quite honestly, I don’t think it’s THAT bad and still think there is some goofy entertainment value to be had from it. But don’t expect me to spend much time defending it, however. Anyway, even the film’s biggest detractors do have to admit that it contains of one of the series’ all-time coolest death scenes, where Jason sticks a girl’s face into a sink filled with liquid nitrogen and then smashes her frozen face on the counter, causing it to shatter into many pieces. You just know that if Jason was able to talk, he would have used a cheesy Mr. Freeze-like one-liner such as: “I’m glad we broke the ice”.
Maniac (1980) – Tom Savini’s Head is Blown Off:
It only seems appropriate that the most renowned horror movie make-up effects artist of all time would be allow himself to killed off with one of the goriest headshots in cinema history! Unfortunately, it happens in a film that has almost no other redeeming qualities. The infamous Maniac has built up quite a cult reputation over the years, probably due to the amount of controversy it garnered on its original release, but despite some good Tom Savini gore F/X, it has not held up well at all and I’ve gotta agree with the angry critics on this one: this is just simply a lousy horror movie. However, the one scene which is undeniably awesome involves Joe Spinell’s maniac firing a sawed-off shotgun through a windshield at point blank range that complete OBLITERATES Tom Savini’s head. Gene Siskel claimed that he was so appalled by this scene that he walked out of the movie, so you at least have to give the filmmakers major brownie points for that.
See No Evil (2006) – Cell Phone Addict Literally Eats Her Words:
I may be a lifelong fan of World Wrestling Entertainment, but I will be the first to admit that all the movies they’ve released from their WWE Films production company are pretty lousy. Their first effort was See No Evil and while longtime wrestler Glen “Kane” Jacobs was an ideal choice to play a horror movie monster, this contained every bad slasher film cliché you can imagine, and anyone who’s ever seen Friday the 13th is likely to guess the big twist before the opening credits have even finished. However, the film did deliver one really cool death scene involving a cell phone, and I sincerely believe they should show this clip in theatres as a reminder for all patrons to turn off their cell phone. Come on, if you can honestly say you’ve never felt compelled to do this to some obnoxious douchebag that never stops talking on their cell, you’re a bloody liar.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) – Toboggan Ride to Hell:
Silent Night, Deadly Night is one of the most controversial horror films ever made, telling the nasty story of a young boy who witnesses a guy in a Santa Claus suit murder his parents and rape his mother, which causes him to grow up with a negative view of Santa Claus and morph into a homicidal maniac himself whenever he puts a Santa suit on. Because of its sadistic storyline, the film drew a lot of protests from parents’ groups when it was released. Even Mickey Rooney spoke out against the film for desecrating the spirit of Christmas and was so outraged that he went on to star in Silent Night, Deadly Night 5 (no, I’m not kidding!). The film is undeniably terrible, but it does have its moments and looks like a masterpiece next to its first sequel. I do have a soft spot for this particular scene where two bullies steal toboggans from some kids before karma comes back to bite them in the ass. After all, we all hate bullies, so who wouldn’t enjoy seeing them get a gory comeuppance from a psycho in a Santa suit?