Best Film
Deaths Scenes


Greatest Movie Death Scenes
Film Title/Year and Description

Dressed to Kill (1980)

Promiscuous Kate Miller (Angie Dickinson) was murdered in an elevator by an unknown, knife-wielding blonde woman wearing sunglasses, after she had experienced a quickie round of sex in a 7th floor apartment with a mysterious stranger (with STD) that she had flirtatiously met at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

As the door opened onto the 7th floor (she was returning to the floor to retrieve her forgotten wedding ring), the killer held up a straight-edged razor blade and slashed Kate's hand - she vainly attempted to defend herself. The killer backed her into the elevator as she pleaded: "No, no." As the door closed behind the slasher, Kate was again sliced, viewed in the elevator's corner mirror. The killer continued to slash away, cutting Kate's face and neck as the elevator traveled down to another lower floor. She sank to the floor and collapsed, dripping in blood.

The Elevator Murder Scene

When the elevator stopped at another floor and the door opened, Kate stretched out her arm to high-priced call-girl Liz Blake (Nancy Allen) who was waiting for the elevator. She wordlessly exclaimed: "OH MY GOD!" as she put her hands to her face. As the door began to close, Liz had a glimpse of the killer when she looked up at the mirror. She was also able to grab the razor before the door shut. In one instant, she became both the prime suspect and the killer's next targeted victim.

The Elephant Man (1980)

The deformed title character John Merrick (John Hurt) stretched out for a peaceful, suicidal death in sleep (his normal position for sleeping was sitting up, propped up by pillows - lying down would prove fatal). Accompanied by Samuel Barber's haunting "Adagio for Strings," he gazed at his mother's picture on his bedside table and one of his sketched pictures on the wall of a sleeping child. He removed most of the pillows from his bed, pulled down the covers, got in, and laid back fully reclined. The camera panned left, over to the open window with a lacy curtain, with a slight breeze billowing the curtains.

His passing was followed by a montage of his spirit entering into eternity (a starry sky), as his slightly-smiling mother Mary Jane Merrick (Phoebe Nicholls) consoled him and spoke (in voice-over) with a whispery voice, quoting from Alfred Lord Tennyson's 1893 poem "Nothing Will Die":

Never, oh, never. Nothing will die. The stream flows, the wind blows, the cloud fleets, the heart beats. Nothing will die.

The light grew brighter and brighter until its intense blinding white light obscured the view of his mother's face (now in close-up). After a white-out, it cut to black.

Friday the 13th (1980)

These were two of the many death scenes in this film and in its multiple sequels:

  • Camp Crystal Lake camp counselor Jack Burrell (Kevin Bacon) had just made love to fellow counselor Marcie Cunningham (Jeannine Taylor). When she went to 'go pee,' and he was lying on a lower bunk bed smoking a cigarette, he was grabbed and stabbed by a sharp pointed arrow in the throat from UNDER the mattress.
  • In the film's finale, vindictive schizophrenic mother Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) was decapitated by sole-surviving camp counselor Alice (Adrienne King) wielding a machete.
Mrs. Voorhees' Decapitation

Heaven's Gate (1980)

Mercenary Nathan Champion (Christopher Walken) suffered a fiery death outside his wall-papered frontier cabin by the hired killers of evil cattlemen association leader Frank Canton (Sam Waterston) - with his hasty writing of a farewell note to his friends knowing that he would die.

Other deaths included the surprising shock ambush killings of both John L. Bridges (Jeff Bridges) and young bordello madam Ella Watson (Isabelle Huppert) wearing a beautiful white dress. Sheriff Jim Averill's (Kris Kristofferson) lost love Ella died in his arms.

9 to 5 (1980)

There were three uniquely-creative dream-fantasy murders of chauvinistic boss Franklin Hart (Dabney Coleman) by his three female office workers (Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda) after they smoked a joint:

  • by a Wild West shoot-out
  • by a rodeo hog-tying and spit-roasting
  • by a Snow White poisoning

The Shining (1980)

# 39

Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers) approached the deserted Overlook Hotel in a Snow-Cat. Hearing its engine, insane hotel caretaker Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) gave up his attack on Wendy (Shelley Duvall), hunched himself over, and limped through the kitchen and lobby to find "the outside party" that Delbert Grady (Philip Stone) had warned about.

As Hallorann called out: "Anybody here?" Jack ambushed him. He jumped out from behind a pillar, swung his fire-axe at him, and put it through his chest and stomach.

Hallorann became a sacrificed, murdered man lying across a large Indian design on the floor of the lobby. [The placement of the bloodied black man on an Indian design brought up multiple images of ethnic violence and hostility in American history.

Halloran's death in this exact spot was foreshadowed earlier by one of son Danny's (Danny Lloyd) toys, a black teddy bear with red clothing on its torso, lying in the same position where Jack was throwing a tennis ball against the floor!]

The Shining (1980)

There was frightening visions in the hotel corridor of the murdered twin girls (wearing blue dresses) after a horrific axe-murder, with their beckoning to Danny (Danny Lloyd) on his tricycle to play with them "forever and ever and ever"; and of torrents of blood emerging from the hotel's elevator doors.


The Shining (1980)

In the climactic conclusion, Jack (Jack Nicholson) hobbled and staggered after his son Danny (Danny Lloyd) through the blizzard into the outdoor garden's icy maze. In marvelous, Steadi-cam tracking shots, the chase was captured through the winding, frozen tunnels and corridors. Pursuing his son with murderous intent and the threat of annihilation, Jack followed and chased after his son's footprints in the frosted snow, in a symbolic attempt to visit "the sins of the father" upon his own flesh and blood. He cries out with wild and inarticulate grunts:

Danny! I'm coming! You can't get away! I'm right behind ya.

Using an old Indian trick in an age-old game, Danny retraced his steps by backing up in his own footsteps in the snow to escape. Jack was left in the convoluted maze - where he froze and died from the cold elements. The next day, a gruesome shot showed Jack's frozen face and body covered with ice and snow - he had frozen solid in his tracks. He had failed to fulfill the wishes of past, spectral forces to destroy his wife and son - his future posterity.

[Note: The scene paid homage to the similar death scene of McCabe (Warren Beatty) in Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971).]

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
1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1994 | 1995 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1998 | 1999
2000-2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011

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