10 Best Movie Death Scenes
If you are a fan of seeing people meet their untimely demises, consider the following list of the ten best movie death scenes. These are the classics, the iconic death scenes to which all other death scenes should be judged against. Gaze upon them and ponder your own mortality.
- “Psycho” It’s the scene that started the entire slasher flick genre. The shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” Even if you haven’t seen it, chances are you’ve seen it parodied somewhere. It was made even more shocking by the fact that the movie’s heroine was killed off only 45 minutes into the film. Surprise. Death is always around the corner, waiting to strike when you least expect it.
- “King Kong” Great death scenes don’t always have to be about humans. King Kong’s climactic fall from the top of the Empire State Building is one of the most iconic movie scenes of all time, period. You see, it wasn’t airplanes that finally killed King Kong. It was beauty that killed the beast.
- “Bambi” Not all movie deaths take place on camera. For kids’ movies, they need to be a bit more subtle. The death of Bambi’s mother is one of the most recognizable moments in Disney movie history, but we don’t learn of her death until it is confirmed by Bambi’s father. That doesn’t make it any less of a tear-jerker for impressionable young viewers.
- “The Wizard of Oz” Some of the best movie death scenes are when the villains get their comeuppance. When the Wicked Witch of the West yells, “I’m melting! I’m melting!” it’s hard not to revel in her demise. Still, she was someone’s daughter, you know.
- “Citizen Kane” Most death scenes take place toward the end of a movie. In “Citizen Kane,” the infamous “Rosebud” scene kicks the action off. What is “Rosebud?” Why is it the last word Charles Foster Kane uttered? If you don’t know by now, you obviously never took an introductory film class.
- “Vertigo.” If you’re afraid of heights then there are a couple of scenes in “Vertigo” that you probably want to avoid. Better yet, go see a movie that takes place entirely on terra firma. This movie is bookended by falls from deadly heights, and they are two of the most memorable death scenes in film history.
- “The Life of Brian” Crucifixion? Good. Leave it to Monty Python to have the cheeriest crucifixion scene ever committed to film. “Always look on the bright side of life,” the chorus of crucified sing at the end of this movie. It is a brilliant bit of black comedy, and a catchy musical number to boot.
- “Dr. Strangelove” Could there be a more spectacular way to go out than astride an atomic bomb headed for impact with the earth below? Not in our book. This iconic death scene is part of what made Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of “Dr. Strangelove” such a great movie.
- “Night of the Living Dead” Romero’s zombies movies have always had an element of social commentary to them, even if that commentary has become rather ham-fisted in his most recent endeavors. The most poignant scene in any of his films, though, is when “Night of the Living Dead” protagonist Ben survives a night of zombie invasion only to be shot dead by a trigger-happy redneck at the film’s end.
- “Easy Rider.” Speaking of climactic cinematic deaths that seem to come out of nowhere, “Easy Rider” signaled the death of the 1960's by having Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper’s characters gunned down by, you guessed it, a trigger-happy redneck. The violence is shocking and senseless, and teaches a valuable lesson, rednecks should be shunned and avoided at all costs.