Everyone dies. That’s just a fact of life. But few people truly live. And out of those people, an even fewer amount truly Die™. Because while dying fucking sucks, an Epic Death™ is nothing to be ashamed of.
Movies have been filling our lust for Epic Deaths™ from that start. But recently, Hollywood has upped the ante and supplied deaths so hilariously awesome that we had to make a list. We’re not talking about deaths in movies like Final Destination or Saw. Those movies are mere vehicles for the classless torture porn fantasies of the sick and morally bankrupt. We’re talking about deaths with context and emotion. Deaths with histories. The kind of Epic Deaths™ that make you stand up and cheer.
Below are some of the most epic (non-torture porn) deaths in modern cinematic history in no particular order. Feel free to suggest your own.
The Thing (1982)
John Carpenter has always been a wizard of death. But man, did he ever hit a high note in this classic scene from The Thing. Burned out from trying to stay alive in a frozen tundra thick with shape-shifting aliens, the emotionally fragile scientists work frantically to revive one of their fallen crew mates. Not only to they fail, but their failure results in a death so epic that you’ll never think of CPR the same way again.
Fans of the Silent Hill video game franchise know that this movie is filled with many epic deaths. But none were more memorable than when the film’s main heavy, Pyramid Head, finally catches up with one of the town’s female residents. Let’s just say that he’s obviously a breast man. Also, he’s not a big fan of skin.
After Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino could have basically floated through the rest of his career if he’d wanted to. And he almost did. But just when you thought he was getting soft, Tarantino let loose with Inglorious Basterds. Sure, Kill Bill has more kills per minute. But only when he gave birth to this extended, slow-motion, Nazi-murdering fantasy did Quentin truly earn his stripes as a director of awesome deaths. One YouTube commenter summed it up perfectly:
“I’m not a doctor but i don’t think he survived”
Gore is great but overrated. Don’t get me wrong. I love blood as much as anyone. But it’s easy to forget that it’s the acting that truly sells an epic death. Playing smarmy super-thief Hans Gruber, actor Alan Rickman certainly has it coming the entire movie. So when he finally takes a header out of a skyscraper window, the audience’s satisfaction is matched only by the look of fear that slowly takes over Gruber’s face as he realizes that he can not fly. Click the pic to watch it!
I’m sure that on paper, Brain Damage‘s plot probably read like a standard alien parasite movie. But director Frank Henenlotter is basically a low-brow awesome-death ninja. He elevated that shit. And now, we all get to have nightmares about blowjobs. Thanks, Frank. Thanks a-fucking-lot.
The Lion King
I still haven’t gotten over this death. In my dreams, there’s a reality where Mufasa didn’t die and he stayed king for a million years before moving to Italy and inventing some cool catchphrase. When he died, it was like your father died.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
When Nazis die, everyone wins. This is common knowledge. But it wasn’t until Raiders of the Lost Ark that we learned that God also hates Nazis. A lot. God really, really hates Nazis. He apparently also plays a mean game of “got your nose.”
Deep Blue Sea
This death gets high honors because it really only works as an inside joke. See, by this point in his career, Samuel Jackson was pretty much defined by his trademarked attitude and memorable speeches. So when he showed up as a top billed character in the sharksploitation flick Deep Blue Sea, the audience assumed they were in for more of the same. The lesson? CGI sharks > snakes on a plane.
Shaun of the Dead
Mixing comedy and horror is a next to impossible task, which is probably why Shaun of the Dead still gets so much praise for reanimating the genre. But in my mind, the movie still doesn’t get enough credit for killing off David, one of the most annoying characters in all of cinematic history. He spends the entire film undermining the efforts of all the others characters. That’s a pretty shitty thing to do when you’re trying to survive a zombie apocalypse! The movie doesn’t even reach the halfway point before you’re praying for him to get slaughtered. And when it finally happens, it’s 100 times more shocking and gory than you ever imagined. You almost feel sorry for him. Almost.
Oh, director Paul Verhoeven! He’ll likely end up in the Greatest Movie Deaths Hall of Fame someday, just for this movie alone. I mean, patrol cop/future cyborg Alex Murphy doesn’t even technically die in this movie and his death is still one of the best I’ve ever seen.
But, surprise! Murphy’s dismemberment by a gang of heavily armed psychos was just a warm-up. The real awesomeness comes later when the newly self-aware Robocop comes back for revenge. Finally an answer to the age old question: what happens when you go up against a cyborg cop and he pump-fakes you into a vat of chemicals and you take a bath in toxic sludge and your skin melts off and then you get hit by a car? I’ll give you a hint. It rhymes with fluuurpck! Click the pic to watch it!