Horror fans have simple needs. While a good story, relatable characters, and a vile antagonist are all elements that can mix together to create a horror classic, the most basic of needs is this: great kills. It’s a fundamental component of the horror genre, and it seems like achieving a great kill should be a simple task. But while a slashed throat or a machete to the head would seem to fulfill this requisite ingredient, they pale in comparison to something truly memorable.
A great kill needs something extra. Something that sticks in your brain and makes it unforgettable. I tried to think of ones that have made the biggest impression on me, whether through cinematic ingenuity or my own personal nostalgia.
Then I got the idea: rank the best horror movie kills of all time! Initially, I was going to rank the top 10, but as I kept thinking I decided to up the number to 25. There’s just too many cool scenes and I’d hate to leave some great ones out.
Before I start listing them off, I want to lay some groundwork.
First off, these are MY top 25 kills. I haven’t seen every horror movie there is, so I can only rank the best kills I’ve seen. And there will be ones I don’t list here that made a greater impact on you and would be on your list. That’s all well and good but, again, these are my picks. Each of these affected me in some way or elicited some kind of reaction, and I’ll be writing a little blurb with each post explaining my reasoning.
Secondly, context and historical value count. The aforementioned throat slash or machete to the head could very well make the list if they’re done in such a way that makes an impact, such as killing a particular character I was rooting for, or use of inventive gore/special effects. So any kind of kill is fair game.
And to tack something else onto that last point, gore alone will not merit an entry on the list. This isn’t a list of the goriest deaths. If that adds to the impact of the kill then it has a better chance of making the list, but gore for the sake of gore is not enough.
Third, I’ll post videos, stills, or links to YouTube clips of the kills whenever possible to better illustrate my point.
And last, I’m going to shy away from choosing multiple kills in one movie or franchise. So if I pick a kill from Evil Dead then I can’t choose another kill from that film or from a different entry in the series. The goal is to highlight the cream of the crop.
**One more thing I’m going to say that I shouldn’t have to: SPOILERS! If you click on one of these posts and get upset that I spoiled a kill for you, that’s not on me. It should be evident from the title that I’m going to show a character’s death, which could come at any time in the film, including the climax.
Ok, here we go!
#25 – Mooney’s Death in Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)
This late 80’s fun-house of a movie from the Chiodo Brothers is an insanely fun trip, and aside from the titular villains, Officer Curtis Mooney (John Vernon) is easily the most memorable character in the film. His old-school police officer routine is almost as antagonistic as the klowns and acts as a great foil to the other straight-laced characters in the film. He’s incredibly dubious of the alien threat, often incredulously mocking other characters and offering such comedic contributions as:
“They took your wife away in a balloon? Well you don’t need the police, pal, you need a psychiatrist!”
“I’m supposed to read you your rights. But you’re in Mooney’s jail, and in Mooney’s jail you ain’t got no rights!”
And the iconic…
“I made it through Korea, I can make it through this bullshit!”
He’s an all-time heel. So when he finally encounters one of the alien invaders and he pulls the tough guy act, it fails spectacularly. We are then gifted this creepy scene that doesn’t actually show Mooney’s death, but rather the denigration of this brash character’s dead body being used as a ventriloquist dummy. The ultimate comeuppance for such a brazen character.
Enjoy! And stay tuned for the next entry!