The best death scenes
I was chatting with Louise (friend, reader and helper on Filmstalker) and we started discussing the best character deaths in film. Now I can't remember why we went on the topic, just that we ended up there and as soon as she mentioned it my mind was off and racing.
There are some superb character death scenes and immediately we picked out one each, and before long we had a list. However I'm going to keep this to a few and leave the comments for your memories of the best on screen deaths and why.
The first that we both sprang to was for Final Destination, now you'll forgive me if this is a spoiler, but it's hard not to be when we're talking about character deaths. This is the simplest, quickest, and most surprising character death I've ever seen as one of the characters is chatting away and steps onto the road, still chatting, only to be hit full frame by a bus traveling at speed.
There's no warning, no big build up for tension, and certainly no indication of anything happening other than her chatting and crossing the road. Our attention is diverted perfectly and when the bus hits it hits us just as hard. It's a huge surprise and a great scene.
The film builds up this voyeuristic connection between the main character and a woman he spies on each night from his apartment, the audience begin to feel that connection too, and so when we see an intruder in her house we all begin to panic.
De Palma builds the tension and suspense superbly, and the lead races from his house to the woman's and gets inside to try and save her. Unfortunately there's a rather large dog that pins him to the floor, just underneath her bedroom where the intruder has her pinned to the floor.
That's when the intruder picks up a large industrial drill, a drill with a huge bit attached to it, and turns it towards the helpless woman. I remember her dress getting caught and twisted in the drill bit as it pushed towards her, and the camera cuts back to the lead still pinned by the dog.
He looks to the roof hearing the screams and the sound of the drill, and as he looks up the bit breaks through the roof dropping blood to the floor.
I remember it as a very strong scene and it's stayed with me ever since, in fact the whole film has.
Then I leapt over to another film that proved very formative in my early days, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the original of course.
There are two scenes from that film that stay with me to this day. The first is, what I think is the first death scene, where one of the men is hit over the head with a sledgehammer and when he falls to the floor his feet just keep kicking and jerking against the metal floor, a very freaky moment.
The other death scene is the infamous meat hook scene, where our recollections of the scene are very different from the actual moment. Many remember seeing a woman being placed onto a meat hook, it pushing through her chest and shirt, which is actually a moment we never see on screen, however our minds make the moment seem even more terrifying. It doesn't end there for the poor victim though, she is then placed in a freezer before she's dead and when the freezer is opened later she proves she's still got some life in her.
There are other cracking death scenes that came to mind, the shower scene from Psycho, the fire extinguisher to the face in Irréversible, the kerbing in American History X or the incredible surprise shooting of Jack Vincennes in L.A. Confidential.
So I'm going to stop now before I run through too many and let you tell us what your favourite, most scary, or most horrible death scenes in film are, and above all tell us why.