Mar 15 2013
Here’s the thing about my favorite action-adventure movies: they generally throw a few causalities into the mix. The protagonists are awesome at avoiding death, plain and simple. At least for a little while. And those are the characters we’re expected to identify with—the heroes. But I’ve always been a little more realistic than that; I know exactly how awkward and sporadically impractical I am in real life. So when I see movie characters die in spectacularly hilarious—though mostly avoidable—ways, I often find myself thinking, “Yep, that looks like something I would probably do. Because I’m an idiot.”
Is it morbid to have favorite movie deaths? I hope not, because these are a few of mine.
[Note: Spoilers all over the place. And some of these scenes are a bit graphic.]
1) Impaled by stationary tree branch (Tucker and Dale vs. Evil)
“Comedy-horror” is a thing now, and I can’t think of a better way to describe this flick anyway. (It’s essentially a parody of the horror genre.) Somewhere in the middle, Tucker the Redneck gets mixed up with a chainsaw and bees, scaring the living shit out of a nearby college kid in the process.
That…looks right up my alley; I’m lanky, awful at running, and have the attention span of a Post-It note. I barely remember to look both ways before I cross the street, for goodness sakes. In NYC. It’s a wonder I haven’t been hit by a cabbie yet. Oh, speaking of which…
2) Run over by cars on account of sucking at crossing the street (Meet Joe Black)
If you’re going to get killed by a car, this is the way to do it. The rest of this movie is pretty serious, from what I recall, but I can’t help laughing at this scene. Every time. Is one car enough to kill a man? Probably, but getting ping-ponged between two of them definitely does the trick.
3) Shot by seasoned zombie killer while pretending to be a zombie (Zombieland)
OK, I know I was crowing just the other week about how rad my post-apocalyptic survival skills would probably be, but this is exactly the sort of practical joke I would pull on my fellow survivors if I had the chance (however retarded that joke may be). It’s almost cliché to say nowadays, but Bill Murray really is the man. Best cameo I’ve seen in years.
4) Accidentally shot in the face by clumsy gangster (Pulp Fiction)
As long as we’re talking guns, let’s talk Pulp Fiction. I love how Tarantino effortlessly blends humor with unapologetic violence throughout the whole movie, and this is my favorite example. Something about how John Travolta blurts out, “Aw man, I shot Marvin in the face!” just gets me every time. Thank god most of my friends aren’t gun owners.
5) Gobbled by T-Rex while hiding in Porta Potty (Jurassic Park)
Listen, a huge part of me hopes that if ever I come face-to-face with a T-Rex, I’ll do something heroic for the people around me. I truly do. But on the day I come face-to-face with a giant man-eating dinosaur, all bets are off, bucko. Even if I knew for a fact that staying inside the Jeep would ensure my survival, a window-less Porta Potty might look pretty good after a few minutes of eye contact with Cpt. Goat-Muncher.
6) Engulfed in flames while also taking a car to the face (Independence Day)
Harvey Fierstein is one of my favorite side characters in this movie, and yeah, yeah, it’s probably a little mesmerizing to watch a building-sized alien fireball hurdle toward your face. Paralyzing, even. And to be fair, exiting his vehicle and diving into a nearby building wouldn’t have necessarily assured his survival. But literally any other plan that started with the words “Get out of the car, then…” would have been better than “stare at imminent flaming death as it rapidly approaches.”
7) Incinerated by gas station explosion (Zoolander)
Speaking of explosions, who can forget this little gem? I’ve never had a gas fight per se, but it sure looks fun right up to the exploding part.
8) Blown to bits via hidden land mine (Tropic Thunder)
Sometimes a movie death takes you completely by surprise, and this whole scene is comedy gold. Again, there’s no way Damien’s character could have known he was about to step on an old land mine, but putting his actors “in the shit” was never a good idea. Old mines are only one of like 30 reasons I’ve got to never wander around Vietnam jungles.
9) Pancaked by rolling spaceship (Prometheus)
Couldn’t find a good vid, but you get the idea.
Some Alien fans are pretty rabid about this flick’s faults, but I thought it was a fun ride. (This was also the first time since Avatar I appreciated watching a movie in 3D.) Near the end, Meredith Vickers finds herself in a showdown with the engineers’ damaged spaceship, and instantly forgets that “left” and “right” are both optional movements. She is eventually crushed, because as you might imagine, a baseball diamond-sized spaceship rolls faster than any ornery white woman can run. That’s just science.
10) Eaten by merman (Cabin in the Woods)
Woof, this movie’s body count racks up pretty quick, huh? Throughout his employment at…well, wherever it is these guys work, Hadley just wanted to see a merman. Pretty sure it’s never explained why. And it sure is sweet, delicious irony that that’s what kills him, but come on. When you are attacked in an office building by a man-fish creature that doesn’t own a wheelchair, the necessary escape speed won’t burn many calories. Still, it would be hard to look away with that monstrosity crawling toward you.
11) Stabbed by tiny Hobbit who has never used a sword before (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)
Here’s another movie that got a lot of guff when it first came out, but I loved it. Throughout Bilbo’s first big adventure, his dwarf companions (Thorin in particular) are hunted by Azog the Defiler, an orc chieftain whose name just screams “bad house party guest.” Now, he’s joined by several other minions riding the scariest-looking wolves I’ve seen in my goddamn life, and I would assume the warg riders who made Azog’s inner circle have been helping him defile stuff for a while. So explain to me how a child-like creature half your size who has literally never used a sword in his life can overcome you, a professional orc who kills stuff for a living. No songs sung for that poor bastard, and he probably goes down in history as softest orc ever.
12) Infected by rage virus while looking up at exactly the wrong moment (28 Days Later)
As much as I love zombie movies, the thing that consistently astounds me is this: if you know that the infection happening around you is somehow transmitted through bodily fluids, why the hell don’t people try harder at protecting their major orifices? Frank’s death was the perfect reminder of how important that might be.
Did I miss any other good ones? I feel like this list could go on and on…
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