Guillermo del Toro, Tristan Risk, Debbie Rochon, Barbie Wilde and Tom Holland pick their favorite movie murders.
Watching people die in real life sucks. Watching them die in ‘reel’ life can be thrilling, delightfully disturbing, majestic and unforgettable. Horror films have, of course, made their bloody bones on scenes of stylized death (my is the operatic elevator scene in maestro Brian De Palma’s brilliant 1980 neo-giallo DRESSED TO KILL) but phantasmagorical, superbly orchestrated and, er, executed on-screen murder isn’t necessarily relegated to the genre…
We polled a pack of our famous ‘”friends in fright” to see what their favorite movie murders were and, almost universally, these heavy hitters chose bloody ends from pictures only vaguely associated with full-blown horror.
Have a look…
Guillermo Del Toro (CRIMSON PEAK, CRONOS, PACIFIC RIM)
MACBETH (Dir: Roman Polanski)
“The Decapitation of Macbeth”
GDT: The decapitation of Macbeth follows one of the greatest sword fights in film history and then, in 4 impeccable cuts, Polanski uses a dummy and a decapitated head to unparalleled effect. Plus, we later get a POV of the severed head!
Tristan Risk (AMERICAN MARY, THE EDITOR)
KILL BILL: PART ONE (Dir: Quentin Tarantino)
TR: Ooh yeah… My favorite murder scene is a multiple murder, in Kill Bill Part One where The Bride (Uma Thurman) battles the Crazy 88s and Gogo. The sheer insanity of the whole thing is a joy to watch. I can only imagine how long that whole thing took to capture, so I doff my hat to Mr.Tarantino, and his crew for that…
Debbie Rochon (TERROR FIRMER, THE WRATH OF CROWS)
TAXI DRIVER (Dir: Martin Scorsese)
DR: The end sequence when Travis wipes out Iris’ pimp Sport and his Time Keeping cohorts. Scorsese drops the use of music as soon as Travis gets out of his cab and confronts Sport. This delivers a sense of hyper-realism and forces you into the moment. The realistic shooting of all Travis’ victims, as well as Travis being shot himself, is what makes this revenge scene work so well. One simple gunshot shot doesn’t bring down any of the characters. Scorsese also uses slow motion during this sequence for the character of Iris which gives just that one character a dream like moment stretching our her response to the mass murder. It’s topped off with more realism; when Travis tries to unromantically, no hero shot used, shoot himself in the head. But he fires his gun, which is planted firmly to his jaw and clicks the gun multiple times to no avail. Seeing the character is serious about blowing his own brains out, he then gets another gun which bares the same results. No bullets left. Travis then sits on the couch knowing the plan has now changed – just as it did when he had unsuccessfully planned to kill the presidential candidate. Scorsese only brings the Herrmann score back in when the police arrive…
Barbie Wilde (HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II, Author of THE VENUS COMPLEX)
LA CONFIDENTIAL (Dir: Curtis Hanson)
BW: Kevin Spacey’s demise in LA CONFIDENTIAL was spectacular in its subtle realism. “Have you a valediction, boyo?” asks the dastardly Dudley Smith (James Cromwell), just after he shoots the unflappable and unsuspecting Jack Vincennes (Spacey). “Rollo Tomasi…”, Jack whispers and squeezes out a last little ironic chuckle of triumph before he fades out and then, astonishingly, THE LIGHT GOES OUT OF HIS EYES! How the hell did Spacey do that? I found out later that he simply de-focused his eyes, but damn, I’d never seen it in a movie before LA Confidential. Brilliant. (“Rollo Tomasi” was Jack’s coded message from beyond the grave to fellow cop Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) as a clue to snag Dudley.)
Also, this scene is notable for the fact that the villain doesn’t explain a damn thing about his devious goings-on before the brave detective wrestles the gun from him and makes the arrest. Nope, Dudley just puts the kettle down, turns around and shoots Jack. What a shocker. No verbal foreplay, no egotistical showing off how brilliant Dudley’s plans were, no toying with his victim, no chat to allow Jack to get the upper hand. Just one of the most surprising murders I’ve ever witnessed in a film.
Tom Holland (PSYCHO II, FRIGHT NIGHT, CHILD’S PLAY)
PSYCHO (Dir: Alfred Hitchcock)
TH: My favorite murder is the most important murder, the shower scene in PSYCHO. The scene birthed the slasher movie and the very concept of “kills.”
So, dear readers…what’s your favorite movie murder? Do tell in the comments below…
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