Best Film
Deaths Scenes


Greatest Movie Death Scenes
Film Title/Year and Description

Alien (1979)

# 24

Alien was best-known for a genuinely shocking and memorable "chest-burster" scene. Crew member Kane (John Hurt) sat eating at the mess table with his crew mates, contemplating his return home: "The first that I'm gonna do when I get back is to get some decent food." Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) remarked prophetically: "You pound down the stuff like there's no tomorrow." Kane suddenly experienced a seizure - coughing and choking on green, spaghetti-like strands of food. His crew mate Parker (Yaphet Kotto) asked:

What's the matter, man? The food ain't that bad, maybe! What's wrong?

As he rose and struggled, Kane was turned around and laid on the table. Held down by the crew, they forced a spoon into his mouth to prevent him from choking on his tongue. And then, in a terrifying moment, blood graphically exploded out of the front of his white T-shirt. As he moaned, jerked violently, quivered, and died, the Alien burst from the bloody spot on his chest - the hissing, razor sharp-toothed monster/lizard (a "chromium-toothed xenosprog") was literally "born" from the innards-guts of the first infected crewman. (Unbeknownst to everyone, the parasitic creature on Kane's face had inseminated him and caused the incubation of a new life form within his 'maternal' body.)

Blood splashed everywhere, spraying mostly toward Lambert and the other bewildered crew members. Screeching and covered with blood, the fearsome, yellow, snake-like creature spun around in the blood and eagerly looked at everyone. Ash shouted: "Don't touch it," when Parker threatened to kill it with a table knife. The young beast opened its steel, teeth-rimmed jaws and cried out - its birth howl - and then scurried off the table to hide somewhere in the Nostromo. The entire crew now faced a homicidal Alien creature that had infested the ship and would stalk them for nourishment.

[Note: This scene was spoofed numerous times, most memorably in Spaceballs (1987) ("Oh no, not again!").]

Alien (1979)

There were more deaths of the other Nostromo crew members, including those of Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) and Dallas (Tom Skerritt) when each were confronted by the alien.

Brett: After searching the dark hold of the ship with others, Brett went alone to catch the ship's stowaway pet cat Jones, calling after it from a distance into 'C' level's undercarriage room: "Here Kitty! Here, kitty kitty! Kitty crap. Jones! Jonesy. Here Jonesy. Meow! Meow! Jonesy." Brett discovered the shed skin of the creature on the floor - a sign that it was evolving further and growing rapidly. He pursued the animal into another cavernous area with a cooling tower, where heavy chains dangled and swung from the ceiling, and the sounds of dripping water echoed. Brett moved under the cascading rain-water and bathed his face in the cooling moisture. He finally located the cat hiding in a doorway and coaxed it toward him, but it hissed and recoiled at him.

Unbeknownst to Brett, something behind him had caused the cat to react - the movement of a long, coiled tail, and a side-view of the grown monster's head with dripping saliva. He tried to calm the cat: "Hey, I'm not gonna hurt ya." Slowly, he turned around and was overwhelmed as he faced the sight of the alien stalking him, now with metallic teeth glimpsed briefly in rows in its massive jaws covered with glue-like drool. In a shocking moment, Brett was helplessly and brutally murdered by the hungry, malevolent killing machine with a direct piercing shot to his brain - Jones calmly watched in a close-up as his body was bloodied and taken aloft.

Brett's Death

Dallas: Dallas crouched down and advanced through the dank air shafts and octagonally-shaped air tunnels with a flame-thrower made by Parker and a light, searching for the alien creature. Lambert tracked his progress on a screen with a bluish background and white grid - a beeping blip identified Dallas' position. His breathing was heavy on the soundtrack. After Dallas had passed through the third juncture, Lambert warned him to be careful. He experimented with his flame-thrower by sending out fiery bursts, illuminating the dark corridors. But he was gripped by confusion and terror as Lambert lost his signal and interference affected the tracker's signals.

Dallas unexpectedly slid his hand into a strange, slimy, gelatinous substance on the floor. She panicked: "Look around. Are you sure that it's not there? I mean, it's got to be around there somewhere...Dallas, are you sure there's no sign of it? I mean, it is there. It's gotta be around there!" Then, the tracker screen showed a second dot moving ominously straight toward him: "Oh God, it's moving right towards you. Move! Get out of there!" The Alien attacked with two hands upraised when Dallas turned and shined his light onto it. The monitor screen ended its transmission with static and a very high-pitched whine, as Ripley screamed on her headphone: "Dallas!"

Alien (1979)

After Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) discovered the mission of the Nostromo had been sabotaged, she blamed Ash (Ian Holm). Ripley now understood that their true mission all along was to recover this new, apparently indestructible life form. As she dropped her head back in disgust, Ash's profile slowly appeared behind her, and smugly suggested: "There is an explanation for this, you know." Parker and Lambert came to Ripley's rescue when she was attacked - Parker struck a blow to Ash's head with a silver fire extinguisher, sending him smashing into the bulkhead and reeling into an uncontrollable spin while spurting white plastic foam and liquid from his head. His out-of-control body suffered severe spasms. Parker struck him again, separating Ash's head almost completely from the neck - then he couldn't believe what he saw: "It's a robot! Ash is a goddamn robot!"

On the floor was a mass of spaghetti intestinal tubing and white gore, with Ash's head hanging down the back of the body. To subdue the android even further, Lambert pierced Ash's back with the electronic prod. Ripley and Parker re-assembled and connected enough of the wiring to the severed head so that could maybe find out how to kill the Alien:

Parker: How come the Company sent us a god-damned robot?
Ripley: All I can think of is they must have wanted the Alien for the Weapons Division. It's been protecting it right along.
Ripley: Parker, will you plug it in?...'cause he may know how to kill it.

After zapping it, Ash's disembodied head gurgled back in a tinny voice and spewed whitish drool. He described his special 937 orders from the ship's Company and his bizarre appreciation for another alien form:

Ash: Bring back life form, priority one. All other priorities rescinded.
Parker: That's a damned Company. What about our lives, you son-of-a-bitch?
Ash: I repeat. All other priorities rescinded.
Ripley: How do we kill it, Ash? There's gotta be a way of killing it. How, how do we do it?
Ash: You can't.
Parker: Bulls--t!
Ash: You still don't understand what you're dealing with, do you? A perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility.
Lambert: You admire it.
Ash: I admire its purity. A survivor unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.
Parker: Look, I've, I've heard enough of this and I'm asking you to pull the plug. (Ripley reaches forward to silence him)
Ash: Last word. I can't lie to you about your chances, but... (he cruelly smirks at them) you have my sympathies.

Ash had made it diabolically clear that the ship's human crew were expendable and faced extraordinary odds in their coming battle against the uncaring and hostile machinations of Mother, the Company, and the Alien itself - all sinister entities "unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality." With his last words, Ash was destructively unplugged. Parker blasted the remains of Ash's head and body with the incinerator gun, and the flames melted it down to a plastic skull.

All That Jazz (1979)

The spectacular finale (and dance-musical number) was accompanied with wild, imaginatively-surreal hallucinations that were experienced by near-death, drug-addicted New York choreographer-director Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider). After a heart-attack, he was undergoing open-heart cardiac surgery.

A flirtatious angel of Death Angelique (Jessica Lange) tempted him to leave the world of the living. Chorus girls danced around his bed while he and television host O'Connor Flood (Ben Vereen) sang "Bye Bye Life" to a heavenly studio audience.

This dark finale ended with Gideon in a body bag being zipped up, as in caustic bitter contrast, Ethel Merman belted out: "There's No Business Like Show Business" as the film then faded to black for the credits.

Apocalypse Now (1979)

Col. Kurtz (Marlon Brando) delivered a 'horror' speech, in which he spoke of the "horrors" that he had seen in the bloody conflict, including the hacked-off arms of inoculated South Vietnamese children by Vietcong guerrillas. He also denied that Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) had any moral right to judge his actions or behavior.

I've seen the horrors -- horrors that you've seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that, but you have no right to judge me. It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror. Horror has a face. And you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies.

Accepting the inevitable, Willard was poised to kill Kurtz as an act of mercy. In a climactic moral battle that raged within himself (in voice-over), Willard questioned his own commanding officers. Though secretly identifying with and admiring Kurtz, Willard understood that he had to perform his God-given duty as an officially-sanctioned assassin - who made no judgments about his orders.

They were going to make me a Major for this and I wasn't even in their f---in' army any more. Everybody wanted me to do it. Him most of all. I felt like he was up there, waiting for me to take the pain away. He just wanted to go out like a soldier, standing up. Not like some poor, wasted, rag-assed renegade. Even the jungle wanted him dead, and that's who he really took his orders from anyway.

Willard's head rose up out of the steamy primordial depths of filthy water as he began (and ended) his quest, to seek out his prey for the slaughter - the imposing, bullish Kurtz. Lightning strobe effects and the frenzied rhythmic sounds of the Doors' The End accompanied the stalking and slaying of Kurtz with a machete.

Kurtz turned and permitted his own sacrifice when he saw Willard approaching. It was a ritualistic slaughter, brilliantly cross-cut with the brutal sacrificial killing of a carabao/water buffalo by the natives as a ritualistic sacrifice to their gods. As he died on the ground, Kurtz muttered a few final, dying words, accepting the evil present in the human soul:

The horror. The horror.

Nosferatu, the Vampyre (1979)

Werner Herzog's version of the classic Bram Stoker tale and F.W. Murnau's silent Nosferatu (1922) told about a tortured, bald, rat-fanged and pointy-eared Count Dracula/Nosferatu (Klaus Kinski).

The vampire's first attempt to take Lucy Harker (Isabelle Adjani) failed when the pure and virginal Lucy refused his entreaties:

Count Dracula: "I could change everything. Come to me and be my ally. There'd be salvation for your husband and for me. The absence of love is the most abject pain."
Lucy: "Salvation comes from ourselves alone and you may rest assured that even the unthinkable will not deter me."

Later, however, she offered herself up sacrificially to the vampire. With a pale face and wearing a white gown, she was lying perfectly still and awaiting his 'kiss.' As he groped her breast with his long fingered-hand, he slowly descended to bite her neck and feed upon her. Her ploy to keep him there paid off - the rising sun's light from her window sealed the Count's fate.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

There were two disturbing deaths of crew members who were trapped in a malfunctioning transporter beam on the newly refitted and redesigned USS Enterprise - their bodies slowly deformed into misshapen lumps.

An anguished female screamed before materializing (gratefully) off-camera at the remote transport location. A jolt of horror occurred soon after when a shaken crew member informed newly-promoted Admiral James Kirk (William Shatner) of the tragic accident:

Enterprise, what we got back didn't live long, fortunately.

Zombie (1979, It.) (aka Zombi 2)

This gory Lucio Fulci film was set on a voodoo-worshipping Caribbean Island. It was known for its underwater battle between a zombie and a shark.

It also had one of the most gruesome eye gouging or 'splinter-into-the-eye' death sequences ever filmed. A similar scene appeared in Fulci's The Beyond (1981).

Paolo Menard (Olga Karlatos) was hiding behind a door to avoid an undead, marauding flesh-eating zombie from attacking. When her bedroom door was broken down, he grabbed her by the hair and slowly dragged her right eyeball into a splintered shard of wood sticking out. She screamed mercilessly as the shard penetrated into her skull.

After her death, she was eaten by zombies.

Greatest Movie Death Scenes
(chronological by film title)
Intro | 1915-1929 | 1930-1933 | 1934-1938 | 1939 | 1940-1942 | 1943-1945 | 1946-1947 | 1948-1949
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