Best Film
Deaths Scenes


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

Alien (1979)

# 24

Director Ridley Scott's second feature film was an extremely suspenseful, space science-fiction horror film about a menacing, unstoppable, carnivorous, stowaway, hermaphroditic Demon beast.

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!").]

The Chest-Burster Sequence

Alien (1979)

There were more deaths of the other Nostromo crew members, including two others who each were directly confronted by the alien:

  • Brett (Harry Dean Stanton), an engine-room operator
  • Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt), the commanding officer

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 under-carriage 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.

Dallas: Dallas crouched down and advanced through the dank air shafts and octagonally-shaped air tunnels with a flame-thrower made by black mechanic Parker (Yaphet Kotto) and a light, searching for the alien creature. Navigator Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) 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 second-in-command Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) screamed on her headphone: "Dallas!"

Brett's Death

Dallas Meeting the Alien in the Ship's Air-Shaft

Alien (1979)

After heroine Ripley discovered the mission of the Nostromo had been sabotaged, she blamed crew-member 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.

Decapitating Ash

Ash: "You still don't understand what you're dealing with, do you?"

Incinerating Ash's Head

All That Jazz (1979)

Director/co-writer Bob Fosse's kinetic, semi-autobiographical musical concluded with a heart attack scene, in which a flirtatious, white-clad angel of Death named Angelique (Jessica Lange) appeared. She came to near-death, drug-addicted New York choreographer-director Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider).

He had tempted fate with mental and physical abuse: overwork, cigarettes, womanizing, lack of sleep and amphetamines, while he was preparing by day for a 1975 Broadway theatre production of Chicago (the centerpiece was the hypersexualized “Air Erotica” number). At night, he was editing a film (possibly Lenny (1974)).

After workaholic Gideon's heart-attack in a hospital, he was set to undergo open-heart cardiac surgery. She tempted him to leave the world of the living, although he would first look back at his life.

Musical sequences in the film illustrated the five stages of grief, as he approached death. Gideon feverishly fantasized a dreamy nightmare as he laid on a hospital bed. The spectacular 9-minute long finale (an extravagant song/dance-musical number) was accompanied with wild, imaginatively-surreal hallucinations that Gideon was experiencing while on life support. In fact, Gideon choreographed and attended his own hallucinated funeral.

Gyrating chorus girls in tights with feather fans (some costumed as diagrams of the human circulatory system) danced around his surgical bed while he (in a glittering black sequined outfit) and television host O'Connor Flood (Ben Vereen) took center stage to sing Bye Bye Life (originally Bye Bye Love) to a heavenly live-studio audience.

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

The film then faded to black for the credits.

Open-Heart Surgery

Angelique - Angel of Death

Drug-Addicted, Workaholic, Near Death Choreographer Joe Gideon


Zipped-Up Body Bag

Apocalypse Now (1979)

Director Francis Ford Coppola's visually beautiful, ground-breaking masterpiece with surrealistic and symbolic sequences, detailed the confusion, violence, fear, and nightmarish madness of the Vietnam War.

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.

Col. Kurtz
(Marlon Brando)

Captain Willard
(Martin Sheen)

The Sacrifice of a Water Buffalo

"The Horror. The Horror."

Nosferatu the Vampyre (aka Phantom der Nacht) (1979, W. Germ.)

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.

Death by Sunlight for Vampyre

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

The franchise series of Star Trek films emerged from the original 3-season TV series that debuted in September of 1966. Six feature films followed - beginning in 1979 and lasting to 1991 - headlined by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy as Admiral Kirk and Captain Spock respectively, on-board the Federation starship: the USS Enterprise.

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 of the tragic accident:

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

Malfunctioning Transporter Beam

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

This gory Lucio Fulci film was one of many Italian redos (or unofficial sequels) of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead (1978) (released in Italy as Zombi). Therefore, this one was alternately titled Zombi 2. It was set on a voodoo-worshipping Caribbean Island, and was best 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).

Dr. Menard's (Richard Johnson) estranged wife Paolo Menard (Olga Karlatos) was at first seen taking a shower. A creepy zombie hand emerged at the bathroom window as it spied on her. When she realized she was being assaulted, she squished the zombie's fingers in her door, locked it, and then hid behind it to avoid the undead, marauding flesh-eating zombie from attacking. With great effort and exertion, she struggled to push a large, heavy cabinet over to the locked bedroom door to try and blockade it, as it was being splintered.

Through gaping slats in the broken-down door, the zombie reached in and grabbed her by the hair. It slowly dragged her right eyeball into a serrated or splintered shard of wood sticking out - horrifyingly filmed from her POV. She screamed mercilessly as the shard penetrated into her skull.

After her death (off-camera), 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
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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