Best Film
Deaths Scenes


Greatest Movie Death Scenes
Title Screen
Film Title/Year and Description

Black Sunday (1960, It.) (aka La Maschera Del Demonio, or The Mask of Satan, or The Mask of the Demon)

In the prologue of this Italian gothic horror film by Mario Bava, 17th century condemned witch Princess Asa Vajda (Barbara Steele) was first branded by her Grand Inquisition executioners with an S (The Mark of Satan).

Then, an iron 'mask of steel' (lined with spikes on the inside) was hammered with a large wooden mallet onto her face - causing blood-splattering and gushing blood through the eyeholes.

Mask Hammered Onto Face

Breathless (1960, Fr.) (aka A Bout de Souffle)

The ending, shot with a hand-held camera, showed a surprised fugitive Michel Poiccard (Jean-Paul Belmondo) gunned down by the police after his radiantly-beautiful partner - short-haired American student Patricia Franchini (Jean Seberg) - betrayed him to the authorities.

As Michel was shot and wounded and ran down a Parisian street, Patricia followed after him, until he collapsed from lethal wounds.

There were various translations of the final four lines of dialogue, between Michel, Patricia, and Police Inspector Vital (Daniel Boulanger):

Translation 1
Translation 2
Michel It's disgusting, really. Makes me want to puke.
Patricia What did he say? What did he say?
Vital (off-screen) He said, 'You're a real scumbag.' He said you make him want to puke.
Patricia What's a 'scumbag'? What's that mean, 'puke'?

She stared directly at the camera and responded by imitating Michel, asking impassively: "What's that mean, puke?", as she ran her thumb across her upper lip (from right to left and around her lower lip). She then abruptly turned around, to end the film.

Fugitive Michel Gunned Down

Peeping Tom (1960, UK)

In this voyeuristic psychological thriller, there were many chilling murders committed by shy studio cameraman and serial killer Mark Lewis (Karl Boehm), seen through his cross-haired viewfinder (creating a POV shot).

In the opening chilling scene, an eye suddenly opened. A photographer was stalking and filming a prostitute on a deserted nighttime London street with a concealed camera in his coat. She told him her price: "It'll be two quid." He then followed her to her upstairs apartment, where she began to undress.

Then the killer revealed his hand-held camera, and the tripod with its spiked leg when it clicked open. His murder method was to film call girls and then stab them with the hidden knife. (The tripod also had a mirror attached so that the terrorized victims could watch themselves dying).

The Film's Opening

The photographer would then watch the projected grisly footage (and sound recordings) over and over in the darkness of his lab-studio. His viewing of this first death was accompanied by the film's opening title and credits. Due to an abusive childhood from his father, Mark had turned into a voyeur with a morbid fascination for capturing terror on the faces of female victims at the moment of death - an affliction termed scopophilia, the morbid urge to gaze.

The much vilified film ended with Lewis' own suicidal death in the same horrific manner that he often used - as police arrived. He impaled himself in the neck with his own spiked device, as he spoke to spared female friend Helen Stephens (Anna Massey): "Helen, Helen, I'm afraid...And I'm glad I'm afraid," and then slumped dead to the floor. The words of a tape recording ended the film:

- "Don't be a silly boy. There's nothing to be afraid of."
- "Good night, Daddy. Hold my hand."

Self-Impalement With One's Own Murder Device

Psycho (1960)

# 1

The 45-second steamy shower slashing scene was beautifully edited - from 70 different angles with 90 edits. (See full description here)

The Memorable Shower Slashing

Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) was butchered (although the blade of the knife only briefly touched her flesh) by Norman Bates/"Mother" (Anthony Perkins).

Psycho (1960)

Detective Arbogast (Martin Balsam), after climbing to the top of the stairs, was slashed repeatedly when murdered with a gleaming knife wielded by Norman Bates/"Mother" (Anthony Perkins) (seen from a top-view), who emerged from a bedroom.

In the striking death scene, the camera remained fixed on his face as he fell backwards down the full flight of stairs, and then was stabbed repeatedly with the upraised knife at the foot of the stairs.

Arbogast's Gruesome Death at the Bottom of the Stairs

Attacked at Top of Stairs By 'Mother'

Spartacus (1960)

In this dramatic historical epic, faithful follower Antoninus (Tony Curtis) and rebellious Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) fought a valiant, gladitorial sword-duel to the death (ordered by Crassus (Laurence Olivier)). Each attempted to save the other from a more painful death (the survivor would be crucified). The struggle concluded with Spartacus': "Forgive me, Antoninus" before he stabbed his friend. Antoninus delivered his last words:

I love you, Spartacus, as I love my own father.

Spartacus answered: "I love you, like my son that I'll never see. Go to sleep."

In the last scene, Spartacus was crucified along the roadside with rows and rows of other rebels(and presumably suffered a slow and agonizing death). Crassus ordered: "I want no grave for him, no marker. His body's to be burned and his ashes scattered in secret," to prevent Spartacus from being a martyr.

His wife Varinia (Jean Simmons) and child were at his feet as they left Rome, where the crucified were lined up along the road.

In his last moments of life, Spartacus saw Varinia lift his son and heard her assuredly declare that the boy was now free and would never forget his father:

This is your son. He's free, Spartacus, free. He's free. He's free. He'll remember you, Spartacus, because I'll tell him. I'll tell him who his father was, and what he dreamed of.

Forced to move along, she grasped his ankle for a few last words, begging him to die:

Oh, my love, my life. Please die, die. Please die, die my love. Oh, God, why can't you die?...(Looking back) Goodbye, my love, my life. Goodbye, good-bye.

"Goodbye, my love, my life."

The Children's Hour (1961)

This provocative film was a forward-looking story of female attraction between two headmistress-teachers at the Wright-Dobie School for Girls:

  • Karen Wright (Audrey Hepburn)
  • Martha Dobie (Shirley MacLaine)

Self-loathing Martha broke down and confessed how 'guilty,' 'sick and dirty' she felt about her feelings toward Karen - and later committed suicide.

She hanged herself in her room - her dangling feet were seen in shadowy silhouette. Her death was the result of her realization that the lesbian rumors about herself were true.

Dangling Feet - In Silhouette After Suicide

West Side Story (1961)

In the tense conclusion of this beloved musical, Maria (Natalie Wood) strove to reach ex-Jets gang member and lover Tony (Richard Beymer) before his fateful encounter with Chino (Jose De Vega). She rushed joyfully toward him to embrace him, but he had already been spotted by Chino. Just before they reached each other's arms in a tiny spot of light (and in the only area of dry pavement) on the playground, he was shot by Chino as revenge for Bernardo's (George Chakiris) death (and as retribution for being thwarted in his love for Maria).

The remaining members of both gangs gathered after the single gunshot. Maria grieved as she held the dying Tony in her arms. She mourned his passing and commanded the two gangs that threatened more violence: "Stay back!"

Walking in between them as she wielded Chino's deadly weapon, she accused all of them of being responsible for Tony's senseless death - contributing factors were societal intolerance, racial antagonism, misunderstanding, mistrust, and the fermentation of hatred. She lectured at them about how hate bred more hate:

How many bullets are left, Chino? Enough for you, and you? All of you. You all killed him! And my brother, and Riff. Not with bullets and guns - with hate. Well, I can kill too because now I have hate! How many can I kill, Chino? How many and still have one bullet left for me?

She fell to her knees, weeping. A red light circulated over all of them from the approaching police car's cherry-top. She screamed at Lieutenant Schrank (Simon Oakland) as he walked toward her beloved's body: "Don't you touch him!" She tenderly kissed the lips of Tony one last time, and expressed her love for him in Spanish:

Te adoro, Anton.

The struggle of Maria and Tony to love each other in the face of opposition ended on a hopeful note. The two gangs, confused, stunned, ashamed and sobered by the unnecessary triple killings, finally put aside their enmity. As some of the Jets struggled to bear Tony's body away, a few of the Sharks assisted them. Together, they solemnly carried him down the street, with Maria following. For once, the opposing groups were united and reconciled - by the heart-breaking tragedy.

Retribution Death Between NYC Gangs

Greatest Movie Death Scenes
(chronological by film title)
Intro | 1915-1929 | 1930-1933 | 1934-1938 | 1939 | 1940-1942 | 1943-1945 | 1946-1947 | 1948-1949
1950-1952 | 1953-1955 | 1956-1957 | 1958-1959
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