We know it by many names – All Hallows Eve, Samhain, and, of course, Halloween – but 31st October means one thing only: the horror genre (and its many victims) will be done to death. Yes, tonight’s the night we like to kick back with a good scary movie, providing the pesky trick or treaters outside will leave us alone to enjoy the terror in peace.
To celebrate this year’s ‘night of the creeps’, we’ve decided to take a look at the horror deaths that shocked and disgusted with good old fashioned bloodshed and gore. So check out THN’s countdown of the greatest, goriest deaths ever.
Not for the weak of heart (or indeed, stomach)…
MANIAC (1980) dir. William Lustig
I told you not to go out tonight didn’t I? Every time you go out, this kind of thing happens.
The late, great character actor Joe Spinell headlined this gritty low-budget exploitation-thriller, playing a troubled photographer with a penchant for collecting the scalps of young beautiful women. However, the most graphic kill in the film is one not involving an attractive young lady, but make-up effects legend Tom Savini, whose character ‘Disco Boy’, sitting alongside a blonde beauty, takes both barrels of Frank’s shotgun, covering his entire car’s interior in brains!
BRAINDEAD (aka DEAD ALIVE 1992) dir. Peter Jackson
Director Peter Jackson’s early years were filled with plenty of fun and gore, and no more so than BRAINDEAD. After timid Lionel’s unbearable mother is bitten by a vicious ‘rat-monkey’ she changes into a flesh-eating monstrosity, ‘turning’ others she manages to chomp down on. As one might expect, it all becomes a bit too much for meek, put-upon Lionel when the zombie horde invades his childhood home. Strapping on a Lawnmower, Lionel takes care of anyone or anything within blade-distance in a literal bloodbath!
FINAL DESTINATION 2 (2003) dir. David R. Ellis
Pigeons? What pigeons?
The ingenuity of the FINAL DESTINATION franchise means its death scenes are both hilarious and over-the-top gory. The first on our list is from David R. Ellis’ sequel (and still the director’s best film), which follows a group who’ve escaped death in a spectacularly graphic highway motor smash. Still, we all know fate will come creeping back as Death aims to get even. Take poor old Tim Carpenter – he might have survived the crash, but soon they’ll have to scoop what’s left of him off the pavement.
SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE (aka HAUTE/HIGH TENSION 2003) dir. Alexandre Aja
I won’t let anyone come between us any more.
SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE is an insanely intense film and it won’t work for everyone. But it does boast a killer, controversial ending, and eventually led director Alexandre Aja to the greatest horror remake of the modern era, THE HILLS HAVE EYES. Check out this scene from SWITCHBLADE, in which a hulking madman pays some girlfriends a visit in the middle of the night, making good use of a hefty chest of antique drawers. It’s controversial but certainly not worth losing your head over…
FINAL DESTINATION 5 (2011) dir. Steven Quale
Come on Candice, you got this!
The second FINAL DESTINATION death to feature here is one of the franchise’s best and most surprising. The scene cranks up the suspense with countless red herrings, taking its time before its eventually ‘snaps’ in a ’what-the-fuck-just-happened’ moment. The fate of poor Candice is enough to make anyone think twice about enrolling in a gymnastics class.
DAY OF THE DEAD (1985) dir. George A. Romero
Choke on ‘em!
Often cruelly overlooked due to his earlier masterpieces, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and DAWN OF THE DEAD, Romero’s DAY OF THE DEAD is easily the director’s bloodiest entry. The underground bunker that houses a hot-headed, trigger happy army and a few sympathetic (though possibly psychopathic) scientists marks Romero’s familiar social commentary, which is best summed up by this ‘tearing at the seams’ of Joe Polito’s corpse as pet zombie Bub watches on and salutes!
HATCHET (2006) dir. Adam Green
We have the good lord with us baby. Everything’s gonna be just fine.
With HATCHET’s deformed villian Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), Adam Green attempted to create a new horror icon. However, the film was slapped with the notorious NC-17 rating and ultimately sank without a trace. It’s garnered a cult following since, with a sequel released last year to even more controversy (and a three-quel expected next year). In perhaps the most graphic scene of the original film, Crowley takes an axe to Richard Riehl’s character and then turns his attention to Riehl’s missus. It’s not a pretty sight but a satisfactory double whammy nonetheless!
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (aka DAY OF THE WOMEN 1978) dir. Meir Zarchi
Oh yeah, you got great hands. God bless your hands.
Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) is repeatedly raped by the gang of hillbillies and decides to take gruesome revenge against her perpetrators. Perhaps not as graphically depicted as others on the list, it’s the psychological thought - one flick of the knife under the water that makes us men all wince in unison. As the blood bubbles up, Jennifer exits the bath and sits patiently, drowning out the screams with a little classical music. The remake is surprisingly a much better film and is worth a watch for a number of other inventive set pieces and stomach-churning kills, but it’s this scene that notoriously lives on. Here’s a taster…
THE OMEN (1976) dir. Richard Donner
Look at me, Damien! It’s all for you.
In one of horror’s most fantastical scenes, David Warner’s investigative journalist literally loses his head when he discovers Gregory Peck’s son is the Antichrist. Richard Donner’s classic supernatural story (based on the screenplay by David Selzer) has many iconic moments (and has been copied many times since) but the sheet of glass escaping via a runaway car is the standout, made all the more chilling as Warner’s head spins in spectacular gory fashion numerous times.
HELLRAISER (1987) dir. Clive Barker
Adapting his own novel ‘The Hellbound Heart’, Clive Barker made his directorial debut with sadomasochistic horror HELLRAISER. When unfaithful wife Julia discovers her dead lover Frank has escaped the clutches of the torture-happy ‘Cenobites’ (kinky demons), she offers up corpses for Frank to feast on a regain his strength. But the Cenobites intend to bring Frank back where he belongs… hell. Rest in pieces indeed.
Perhaps we’ve missed some of your favourites? If so let us at THN know, but in the meantime enjoy the rest of your horror-viewing pleasure on this fine, frightful night!