Best Film
Deaths Scenes


Greatest Movie Death Scenes
Film Title/Year and Description

The Day of the Locust (1975)

In the film's fiery, apocalyptic, and hallucinatory finale, there was a still-to-this-day shocking death.

It was the stomping murder of repellent, unloved 12 year-old, curly-haired child actor Adore Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley) by outraged, deeply-troubled and sexually-repressed accountant Homer Simpson (Donald Sutherland). To annoyingly taunt Simpson who sat on a park bench, Adore was singing: "Jeeper, Creepers," as the crowded world premiere for Cecil B. DeMille's film The Buccaneer at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood was occurring nearby.

When Simpson caught up to the boy in an alley filled with parked cars, he repeatedly stomped Adore's head into the pavement until the boy perished. The boy's screams alerted the crazed mob of movie fans to see what was happening.

Knowing he was confronted and caught in the act, the bewildered Simpson was surrounded and attempted to flee, but he was caught by the rioting mob, who were yelling: "Kill him!" He was bloodied, literally torn-apart and presumably murdered (off-screen) after being carried off by a frenzied crowd to his ultimate fate.

Death Race 2000 (1975)

The frequent killings during the 'anything-goes' cross-country race (with points earned for mowing down pedestrians and bonus points for hitting the elderly) were noteworthy, especially the blood-splattering death of one driver by a car's 'burnout' over his body.


Deep Red/Profondo Rosso (1975, It.) (aka The Hatchet Murders)

There were many gruesome and bloody red murders in Dario Argento's gripping mystery with a plot twist at the end. The killer always insisted on playing a tape of a bizarre children’s song before each crime. The killings included:

  • a stabbing
  • a meat-cleaver murder (and severing of a nearly decapitated neck on broken window glass)
  • a head-dunking of a knocked-out female author in a bathtub of scorching hot water
  • the neck-knifing (spinal-cord severing) murder of Professor Giordani (Glauco Mauri) after his teeth were bashed into the fireplace and a wooden desk
  • the dragging of a man by a garbage truck when his head was run over and squashed, the film's most grisly death

The most outrageous death at film's end was of the insane mother Martha (Clara Calamai) who was revealed as the film's hatchet murderer (wearing black gloves). She died when her necklace was caught in the bars of a descending elevator shaft - both strangling and decapitating her (shown in close-up in all its gory red detail).

Jaws (1975)

# 12

The film's most memorable opening scene was underscored with the ominous, well-known, 'shark theme' - the two-note (E and F) 'da-dum' cello and bass chords of John Williams' moody, driving musical score. The opening credits were followed by a subjective camera view of an underwater creature swimming along.

The opening scene, shot day-for-night, was marvelously visual and terrifying. It depicted blonde skinny-dipping Chrissie Watkins (Susan Backlinie) and her brutal, unexpected murder. It remains the most remembered, gripping scene in the film, and was prominently displayed on the film's poster in distinctly Freudian terms (showing the ventral view of the shark's gigantic, pointed head, positioned vertically in a phallic position, with a dark mouth filled with voracious, jagged teeth).

She had left the beach-party group and run toward the water, announcing teasingly that she was going swimming. Followed by a drunk male admirer who was eager for an intimate swim and casual sex, she stripped off items of clothing one-by-one as she ran further down the beach before plunging in naked. Her silhouetted image splashed at the surface, first viewed in a low-angle shot from a distance far underwater, and then from closer range. Her drunken teenage companion passed out on the shore. A metal buoy's bell on the surface of the water 'tinged' at various intervals.

Her nude body was suddenly pulled under, and then dragged helplessly around (pulled this way and then that way) on the surface by the unseen shark underneath, as she screamed with blood-curdling shrieks: "God help me! God please help!" For a brief moment, she desperately grabbed the buoy and rang it for help (sounding a death knell), but was then attacked again, tugged by the below-surface invisible predator, and submerged for the last time in a horrifying sequence.

The water surface was again still and deathly quiet. (see further below)

Jaws (1975)

The shark turned its attention toward the Orca, rising-breaking out of the water, smashing down on the stern's transom, and capsizing the boat on its side. Both Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) and shark-hunter Quint (Robert Shaw) struggled to stay on their feet, as objects from the boat fly toward the shark.

Screaming, Quint slid down the slippery deck into the open jaws of the monster Giant Great White - kicking his feet to prevent the inevitable. He was bitten in half - and blood spurted from his mouth. Quint stabbed at its eyes with a splintered piece of the deck as he was swallowed whole and devoured by the killer shark in a horrifying scene.

Jaws (1975)

The shark itself died a memorable and explosive death but it took what seemed like forever to outwit the monster. Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) heaved one of Hooper's compressed air tank cylinders into the monster's mouth. He eyed the shark from the top mast of the sinking boat (the only part of the boat not completely underwater) as the shark swam away and then circled around for the final kill.

Brody grabbed a rifle and then climbed up as high as possible on the boat's sagging mast as he prepared to shoot the explosive oxygen canister lodged in its teeth. He did little damage trying to spear the shark's head. Clinging for life, with the remnants of the boat only a few feet above the water, Brody prayed that the shark would show him the tank in its mouth in its final attack: "Show me the tank." He took aim and fired shot after shot at the oncoming shark, taunting it:

Smile, you son of a bitch.

One of his last shots hit the target, violently exploding the target and causing a massive blast of shark parts. Part of the bloody shark's carcass was blown to bits all over the water surface. The rest sank in a blur of red blood and body parts to the bottom - with an accompanying deathcry.

Love and Death (1975)

In this Woody Allen-directed spoof of War and Peace, cowardly war hero Boris Grushenko (Woody Allen) was executed by the French military for involvement with wife Sonja (Diane Keaton) in a plot to assassinate Napoleon in Moscow. Grushenko, after being told by an angel that he would be pardoned, was cocky as he was led to his execution ("Hey, you guys are late!"), but when his pardon didn't materialize, he was shot by a firing squad (offscreen).

Afterwards, widowed Sonja conversed with cousin Natasha (Jessica Harper) about love and suffering, to which Natasha replied: "I never want to marry. I just want to get divorced." Then, Sonja saw the ghost of Boris alongside a white-shrouded figure of the Grim Reaper (voice of Norman Rose) on the outdoors lawn, and asked what happened - Boris exclaimed: "I got screwed!" He told her that death was "worse" than a local restaurant's chicken. Sonja mused: "Worse than the chicken at Tresky's. Oh well, life must go on. The last traces of the shimmering dusk are setting behind the quickly-darkening evening - and it's only noon. Soon, we shall be covered by wheat" - as their two faces were juxtaposed into a composite (a parody of Ingmar Bergman's Persona (1966)).

Boris spoke directly to the camera about how God was an underachiever:

The question is have I learned anything about life. Only that human beings are divided into mind and body. The mind embraces all the nobler aspirations, like poetry and philosophy, but the body has all the fun. The important thing, I think, is not to be bitter... If it turns out that there is a God, I don't think that he's evil. I think that the worst you can say about him is that, basically, he's an underachiever. After all, you know, there are worse things in life than death. I mean, if you've ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman, you know exactly what I mean. The key here, I think, is to not think of death as an end, but think of it more as a very effective way of cutting down on your expenses...Well, that's about it for me, folks. Goodbye.

Then behind "The End" title (before the credits rolled), jester Boris and the Grim Reaper famously cavorted and frolicked together, dancing the mazurka next to a long row of trees in an extreme long shot, as Boris was led toward an orangish sunset and an uncertain afterlife (a parody of Bergman's The Seventh Seal (1957).

The Man Who Would Be King (1975, UK)

Delusional Daniel Dravot (Sean Connery) was pronounced king (and thought by the natives in Kafiristan to be a god).

But then when he was disappointingly revealed to be human (a marriage prospect bit him in the cheek when he kissed her), he was pursued by an angry Kafiristan mob. Wearing his crown, Dravot was trapped on a rope bridge high above a canyon's gorge when the support ropes were hacked away, and he suffered a spectacular fall to his death.

His decayed head was brought back (still crowned) by his surviving partner Carnehan (Michael Caine) to be viewed by Narrator/Rudyard Kipling (Christopher Plummer).

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

In one of the film's most hilarious scenes, King Arthur (Graham Chapman) encountered the Black Knight (John Cleese) for dueling swordplay.

The Black Knight persistently insisted on combat even after all of his limbs (first his left arm, then right arm, then right leg and left leg) had been hacked off and he had been reduced to a head and torso: ("Tis but a scratch!").

Remarkably, he didn't expire at the end of the scene.

Nashville (1975)

The concluding tragic and shocking sequence was set at a Nashville country music festival/political rally held at the Parthenon. It marked vulnerable and sacrificial country singer Barbara Jean's (Ronee Blakley) final, triumphant performance. She had just finished performing "My Idaho Home."

As host Haven Hamilton (Henry Gibson) circled around her with his arms in a Victory position (with one hand grasping a bouquet of white carnations for her) and nodded toward the appreciative applause for her song, he presented the beloved, pure-spirited singer with the flowers.

Suddenly, two gunshots rang out - Barbara Jean fell backwards mortally wounded (seen only at a distance), and Haven, who had selflessly tried to shield her, sprawled on top of her with a bloody gunshot wound in his upper right arm. After the arbitrary killing and panic broke out, Kenny (David Hayward) - the demented assassin in the crowd - was subdued by shocked onlookers, wrestled to the ground, and soon hauled off by state police. Ignoring his own bloody arm, Haven grabbed the microphone after the unexpected disaster and rallied the crowd to be calm by singing:

You all take it easy now. This isn't Dallas. It's Nashville. This is Nashville. You show 'em what we're made of. They can't do this here to us in Nashville. OK everybody, sing. Come on somebody, sing. You sing.

Hal Phillip Walker's (Thomas Hal Phillips) entourage of black limousines scurried from the scene. After Haven begged for singing, he handed the microphone over to an unknown - Albuquerque (Barbara Harris). He encouraged her: "Somebody sing. Sing. Sing." Nervously at first and then more confidently, the new star rose to the occasion and rallied the crowd with her stirring, healing anthem of passivity: "It Don't Worry Me."

It don't worry me. It don't worry me.
You may say that I ain't free,
But it don't worry me.

Their communal singing helped quell the panic - everyone mindlessly and quickly forgot the senseless, chaotic tragedy that was witnessed.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

In the film's conclusion, powerful inmate Chief Bromden (Will Sampson) realized that Randall P. "Mac" McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) had surgery on his brain - probably a frontal lobotomy making him a human vegetable, following his enraged attack on Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). He first spoke to Mac about their plan to escape from the institution:

They said you escaped. I knew you wouldn't leave without me. I was waiting for you. Now we can make it, Mac. I feel big as a damn mountain.

He picked up his friend's head, noting two fresh stitched scars on both sides of his upper forehead - and reacted: "Oh, no!" He lightly shook his pal, and then realized that McMurphy had lost his vital vigor and would never be able to escape with him to Canada. He hugged his friend and spoke: "I'm not going without you, Mac. I wouldn't leave you here this way. You're coming with me. Let's go." The Chief ended McMurphy's misery to free him from the bondage of his existence in an act of mercy killing.

Bromden smothered and suffocated McMurphy with a pillow - his death was symbolized by his hand going limp.

Then, with his tremendous strength and inspired by McMurphy's liberating example, proving that a single person could still overcome oppressive conditions, he picked up the marble wash station from the tub room and smashed through the window with it. He escaped from the cuckoo's nest, flying away to the outer world - yet the world's horizon was both threatening and liberating.

The other inmates remained incarcerated in the locked ward of the hospital after everything that had transpired.

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
1960-1961 | 1962-1963 | 1964-1966 | 1967-1968 | 1969-1970
1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977-1978 | 1979
1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989
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