Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Bag 'Em and Tag 'Em-Cinema's most Memorable Murder Victims

Introduction-We are nuts!

Let's face it, we have become more than familiar with death in the movies. In fact, I would be willing to bet that almost all who read this are no longer phased by lethal violence in film, and many will even kind of enjoy it.

Now, I'm not saying that you're like these guys..

...but we all seem to acquiesce to death as a status quo in certain genres of film.

In fact, some minor characters entire purpose in the film is to be horribly killed. Be it to establish the nefarious threat of the bad guy, to facilitate a thrilling action sequence, or even just for the hell of it, certain characters are killed without a moments thought.

Most of these characters/victims are instantly forgettable. However, a precious few have died in such crazy excess that they have ended up being among the most memorable characters in the film; etching their way forever into our sick little hearts.

Here are some of my favourite movie murder victims...

Warning-SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! Shameless spoilers!

Kane from Alien (1979)

Still the chest-burst

The death of John Hurt's character in Ridley Scott's seminal sci-fi horror Alien is monumental for three reasons. 1. It spawned the myth of a franchise. 2. It represents one of horror's all-time-great "jolt scares, and 3.  In a movie that features a ten foot tall creature with a phallus for a head and Sigourney Weaver's undies, this first death is still the highlight of the film.
Kane is the first character to go, but the chest-bursting majesty of his death has been imitated almost exhaustedly in every subsequent installment of the franchise and has ensured his character's pop culture immortality.

Radio Raheem from Do the Right Thing (1989)

The most disturbing death on the list.
Spike Lee's own character Mookie may get the protagonist honours within this masterpiece, but it is Bill Nunn's Radio Raheem (he of the infamous "love/hate" rings) that provides the film with its most crucial plot point. After two hours of tremendous, racially charged ensemble action, Raheem suffers one of films most prolonged, graphic deaths by way of police brutality from a white cop.
Many fans saw this climax as prophetic during the Rodney King controversy and subsequent LA riots of the early 1990s.

Robert Paulson from Fight Club (1999)

Meat Loaf's goofy, amicable, man child with "bitch-tits" is the soft underbelly of a cold, largely-cynical movie. He is child-like, warm hearted and innocent. He is also totally unforgettable. This makes it all the more disturbing when he gets the back of his head blown off and his name becomes the source of a terrible mantra.
They could have given Meat Loaf and Oscar for this!!!!?!

Obese Man aka "Gluttony" from Se7en (1995)

The first victim of seven, the one that sends Somerset (Freeman) and Mills (Pitt) on their journey into the abyss. Not to put too fine a point on it-this man is force-fed and then kicked until his stomach bursts.
Oh, and he dies face-down in Spaghetti. You're better off not seeing his face though, because it looks like this...

Bob Mack-what a thespian.

Billy Batts from Goodfellas (1990)

Perhaps the greatest mob epic of all time (Godfather fans may troll away!) begins with a good old fashioned man-stabbin' (it had been a while...)
What is amazing about this death is not just the brutality of it, or its relevance as a turning point in the plot, but the sheer hubris that causes us to actually want to see Billy get horribly murdered.
"Go home and get your f**king shine-box!"-we finally feel sympathy for a Joe Pesci character.

Martin Blower and Eve Draper from Hot Fuzz (2007)

Sometimes the picture really does do the talking.

The man with his head in a vice from Casino (1995)

Another Scorcese film, another gratuitous kill. Having just re-watched Casino again, I was able to relish in the voyeuristic embrace of this ludicrous scene as though seeing it for the first time.
Our friend Anthony here is the last survivor of a brutal shooting. In order to discover the boss behind the shooting, Joe Pesci's Nicky Santoro tortures him for days. Only problem is-he won't talk?
What would you do?? If you answered "put his head in a vice"-there is an 80 per cent chance that you are wearing a skin-suit right now.
To think, it was all over Charlie M...

Mrs. Bates from Psycho (1960)

How could I not include such an upstanding member of her community?! Few dead people can live on and effect the narrative of their respective films the way old Mrs. Bates does. Following long standing discussions between Norman Bates and his dear mother regarding male sexuality and personal safety, to discover that she is nothing but a shriveled-up corpse infiltrating Norman's tortured subconscious is, to say the least, a nerve-tickling twist.

Freddie Lounds form Manhunter (1986) and Red Dragon (2003)

Okay, let's get one thing straight, I much prefer Michael mann's crime classic Manhunter to its glossier-but-more-infantile Hollywood remake Red Dragon. However, there are two benefits to Red Dragon- Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter...and getting to see the one and only Philip Seymour Hoffman stuck to a chair, berated by an arse-naked serial killer and then (I still cant quite believe it!) sent hurtling down a public street in a flaming wheelchair.
Please take a moment to let that last sentence sink in....


I nearly wet myself in the cinema...

The dog from The Thing (1982)

Who said the victims on this list have to be human? I certainly didn't, fools!
Again, our canine friend is the first victim of the film. Again, the dog's death sets the films plot and ethos in motion. And, again, the death of this little pooch is FUBAR-f**ked up beyond all recognition!

We'va all done the Monster Mash.

Dick Halloran from The Shining (1980)

He came, he shined, he didn't last long. Scatman Crothers amiable hotel chef provedes a warm heart, an insight into Danny's special gift, and, not least, a crazy-ass death in Kubrick's horror odyssey.  Nice guy's finish last.
Crother's was happy to be on the team though. Here he is crying tears of joy about the experience in The Making of The Shining:


And, finally, the award goes to.....


Timothy Treadwell from Grizzly Man (2005)

The scariest murders aren't the ones that exist on film; the scariest murders are real.
Okay, so I may have cheated with Treadwell. After all, he isn't a minor character-he is the protagonist (unless you count Herzog's constantly encroaching voice). Nonetheless, has a murder, announced at a film's onset, ever effected your viewing of a film so deeply? Seriously, it puts Sunset Boulevard (1950) and American Beauty (1999) to shame.
Also, can you argue with a documentary about a real man who lived with bears every summer until eventually being horribly killed and eaten by one?!
I think not.
I guess we will never understand Treadwell, we will just have to grin and bear it!! (too soon??)

Yes, much too soon.

Honorable mention:

The Eraserhead Baby from Eraserhead (1976)-child cruelty must end!
Bernie Bernbaum from Miller's Crossing (1990)-he doesn't get killed when he should have been!
Jenny from The Limey (1999)-"Tell me about Jenny!"

Finally, here is Paris Hilton as Michael Myer's murdered sister Judith from Halloween (1978)

Enough said.

Thanks for reading! Keep the faith.

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