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20 Terrifically Terrible A-List Celebrity Movie Deaths

By Brian Prisco | Lists | August 27, 2010 |

By Brian Prisco | Lists | August 27, 2010 |

Having watched the ridiculo-tastic Piranha 3D this week, I got to see a furious plethora of familiar faces meet an untimely and unforgettable end. It’s usually the B-list actors who get the most fun exeunts from this mortal coil — because they get to be in over-the-top gorestravaganzas involving mutant fish and kung fu treachery. They could give a fuck about winning an Academy award, they’ve got a fan base to amuse.

And it made me wonder … do A-list actors ever get a glorious death sequence? I’m not necessarily talking about a shocking or a heroic death. I mean, hell, Wilson the volleyball floating away was just as mournful as any tearjerking cancerbation soliloquoy. I’m talking about a world-class, fucked up beyond all recognition, super bloody fatality. For most of the mega-millions club, unless they play villians, they rarely get an opportunity to suffer an ignominous fate. Usually it’s the blood-spitting, “Don’tchu die on me!” moments, where they lay in someone’s arms after saving the day kind of shit. And who wants that shit when you can be devoured by piranhas?

I assure you, this is not a compliation of the best death scenes in movies. Some of them aren’t even the best deaths in the particular movies. And most of them are B-movies that the A-listers were in emergence or just having a little fun. After watching Piranha 3D, I want more actors to have a little fun.

I racked my brain to think up the most gruesome, over-the-top murder-death-kill sequences from some of the highest banking paycheck actors today (and a few venerable ones from yesteryears.) I tried to go with the most sublime, and not the ones that happen off screen. I offer honorable mention to Drew Barrymore’s opening credit snuff in Scream, Robert Downey Jr. getting waxed by Mickey and Mallory in Natural Born Killers, Angelina Jolie curving the bullet to suicide in Wanted, Jim Cavizeal’s Christ Club asswhomping, Vincent D’Onofrio (only because I can’t really call him an A-Lister) offing himself in Full Metal Jacket, and Steven Seagal getting sucked out of the jetplane in Executive Decision. Nice try, but these cats went the extra mile.

In no particular order:

Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda in Easy Rider: Riding down the road on their motorcycles, free as a bird, it seems like everything’s gonna be alright for these two cruising buddies. Then a pickup truck pulls up beside them and blasts them to Jesus with a shotgun. It’s sudden, it’s insane and it’s even been homaged on the “Venture Brothers,” at the end of Season 1.

Bill Murray in Zombieland: It’s not necessarily an amazing death, so much as everything else with the cameo — it’s just fucking unexpected. He has a hero’s entrance and a hero’s exit in the film.

Gene Hackman in The Quick and the Dead: Hackman plays the sublime bastard villain terrorizing the frontier town throughout the whole film. He’s monstrous, and he deals out plenty of damage with his six-shooter. But it’s the wonderful moment when he doesn’t think he can lose to this woman, and he kind of smiles. Then he sees his shadow, and the small hole of daylight gleeming through. And then that final skull-punching blast in the head when he gets finished off.

Nicolas Cage in The Wicker Man: Cage has had a few brushes with death over the course of his career, but really … there’s no way you’re gonna top getting mauled by THE BEES. THE BEEEES. In the uncut version, they fuck him up and shatter his legs before sacrificing him to the big fiery wicker man.

Bruce Willis in Planet Terror: Willis is usually the one killing bad guys — in fact, he causes a number of the deaths on this list. But in this B-movie gorefest, he finally gets to play the mutating baddie who gets gunned all to hell by the hero.

Jack Black in The Jackal: True, Black hadn’t quite reached his multi-million dollar apex when he took the bit part as the gunsmith in The Jackal, but it gave him a chance to get his fucking arm blown off by Bruce Willis. And then the gun finishes him off with those blood-bursting cannonades that Sylvester Stallone’s so fond of these days.

Lucy Liu in Kill Bill Vol. 1: Ladies don’t usually make the cut on the super death lists, but the exception has to be made for Miss Liu. After an astonishingly gorgeous swordfight with Uma Thurman, the coup de grace was seeing what we assumed was her head flying through the air. Then we cut to a tight shot of Liu complimenting The Bride on her Hanzo sword, which pans back to show that it cleanly cut the top of her head off, letting us see what she really thought, brains and all. The audience at our screening actually squealed with revulsion and delight.

John Travolta in Pulp Fiction: Again, it’s mostly a sentimental favorite, but after watching Vincent Vega slur his way through the whole film as our kind-of anti-hero, it’s really depressing when Willis peppers the bathroom door with the silenced machine gun and leaves him dead and bloody on the toilet.

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in Dogma: The things you do for friends, right? With a cavalcade of big names, Kevin Smith tapped his two boys to play the evil angels bent on destroying humanity. And what better way to thank your friends than having Affleck off Damon, get his wings blown off, and then have Alanis Morrissette explode his chest and head with the sound of her voice?

Al Pacino in Scarface: If the world really is yours, then you are gonna go out in style, meng. After turning into a one-man bloodbath, Tony Montana finally succumbs to a shotgun blast and comes crashing to the ground. But he made sure to snort enough cocaine to last him until the Rapture.

Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde: In probably one of the most iconic moments in cinematic history — and incredibly violent for the time — the two criminals are taken down in a hail of bullets. Though not particularly bloody, the sheer volume of bullets that riddle their corpses is pretty incredible.

James Caan in The Godfather: Speaking of bad car trips, Sonny Corleone finally appreciates the convenience of the EZ-Pass. But what better way to ice the mafia competition then with a couple of guys are their submachine guns at a toolbooth?

Sean Connery in The Untouchables: In one of Connery’s best performances, as the rough-edged cop Malone, we think he’s gonna get the drop on the mook stalking him around his apartment with a knife. In fact, Connery gets one of the best lines in the film out, “Just like a wop to bring a knife to a gunfight.” and chases him out the door where he’s gunned down by Nitti. Full of holes and bleeding like a stuck pig, Malone manages to drag himself to a corner and stay alive long enough to pull off one of those blood-spitting don’t die on my moments that I was just complaining about. Only here, it’s worth it, because Connery is fucking awesome in this movie.

Johnny Depp in A Nightmare on Elm Street: He was hardly an A-lister at the time of the film, but I’m putting him on here anyway, because this is one of my favorite horror movie kills of all time. Asleep in his bed, Krueger’s razor claw comes up and snags 21 Jump Street, and drags him into a hole in the mattress. Instead of Everlasting Gobstoppers, the bed fountains a geyser of about 500 gallons of blood, which spreads across the ceiling. Now that’s how you kill a teenager!

Martin Sheen in The Departed: The entire cast can be nominated for this film. Everyone’s getting shot in the head suddenly by the end of the film. But it’s that early moment when Martin Sheen gets thrown off the roof by thugs and comes crashing to the street in front of DiCaprio — spraying up a red mist in his face — that lets you know Scorcese means business.

Steve Buscemi in Fargo: I don’t really know if Buscemi qualifies as an A-lister. If anything, he’s probably the top of the B-list. He’s been in plenty of high-profile movies, so I don’t know. Maybe an A-/B+? Either way, Buscemi getting smacked in the head with an axe was a pretty grim ending. But it’s that moment when the preggo sheriff comes around the corner of the house and sees the goon stuffing Buscemi in the woodchipper that elevates the death to great spraying chunky heights.

Denzel Washington in Training Day: Denzel gets to play the bad guy, and goddamn does he do it well. It’s no real surprise then that they have to match that level of ferocity with a suitable end — getting the ol’ Bonnie and Clyde solo treatment from a cadre of Russian gangsters who Swiss cheese him and his ride.

Kate Hudson in The Killer Inside Me: I only read the novel, so I asked Drew Morton how the scene with Kate Hudson translated to the big screen. I know Amy Stanton, like every other woman who comes across the twisted cop’s path, gets fucked up something fierce in Jim Thompson’s story. He let me know that he leaves her twitching and writhing in a puddle of her own piss. So that’s enough to get her on the list.

… and the A-List winner:

Brad Pitt knows how to die in his films. His resume is like a fucking schizophrenic’s dayplanner. And he usually gets offed in pretty spectacular fashion through many, many films.

  • for Fight Club: Getting shot through the back of the head by The Narrator.

  • for Burn After Reading: Surprising Clooney and getting splattered all over the back of the closet wall.

  • for The Assassination of Jesse James: Well, he plays Jesse James, and he has to get assassinated, but the force of the gunshot actually blasts him into a picture frame, shattering it.

  • for Meet Joe Black: Getting wrecked by not one but two cars.

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