I know this is a Halloween featurette but not all the entries on this list will be what you might class as ‘horror’ movies. It’s just that, for me, seeing someone get their head chopped off is the most horrific death you could see in a movie. Sure, there are gorier deaths or unexpected deaths that have a similar impact, but there’s just something about a beheading that gives me the willies.
5: MRS VOORHEES (Friday The 13th, 1980)
It took me a while to get around to seeing the first film in this series, having previously only sampled the Jason-centric entries. It was part of a Halloween triple bill in Derby that also included The Lost Boys and The Shining. I’ve since moved to a place that is close to only Odeons and Showcases who have no room to show cool special triple bills or Star Trek marathons because they couldn’t possibly show the latest Will Smith vehicle on less than eight of the ten fucking screens they’ve got, what’re you thinking? Shut up and take your pills consumers. Anyway, the second best moment in the film comes a little before the first with some chunky jumper and slo-mo swinging action that elicited a drunken cheer from the midnight audience in Derby those many moons ago (1996, I think). The greatest drunken cheer of the night was saved for the famed sweaty sax player from The Lost Boys (soon to be seen in the Top Ten Unsung Heroes of 80’s Film Sweat)
Long before achieveing superstar status voicing Mr Krabs Clancy Brown was best known to me as the guttural voiced, Connery-slaying, priest-licking Kurgan. Prehaps overwhelmed by carrying around a neckfull of blue swirly ghosties the Kurgan meets his demise at the hands of Connor McCloud of the Clan McCloud and his mighty trainers/raincoat combo of doom (see also Michael Biehn in The Terminator). This guy is so nails he even strikes a couple of macho sword poses even after his head has tumbled.
The only one on the list you don’t see, but you don’t need to see it to feel the impact. I read somewhere once how there was an alternate ending to this where they caught John Doe breaking into the apartment to perform the deed and stopped him in some way or another, I forget. Close call. I remeber walking out of the cinema after seeing this feeling as if I hadn’t untensed for two hours, the same way I felt after seeing Aliens for the first time. The ‘head-in-the-box’ ending was genius and came out of nowhere. The whole time from John Doe turning himself in you’re sitting there wondering what he’s got up his sleeve. Then they’re driving him out to the middle of nowhere, Dr Cox is circling in his SWAT ‘copter, the delivery guy turns up, box, bang, brilliant.
In Black Rain (the single most underrated Ridley Scott movie) Andy Garcia plays the most likeable movie cop you’ll ever meet outside of Steve “Ma-homo” Guttenberg and Leslie “Nice beaver” Nielsen. Having spent the majority of the film backing up his partner (Michael Douglas) in meat locker shootouts, IA investigations and mullett grooming, he finally takes centre stage. First we get a some Little Richard karaoke bonding followed by some ill advised matador action with a gang of bikers. The subsequent beheading by the bike riding swordsman villain is quite graphic, and has the greater impact for me due to Andy Garcia’s performance.
1: DAVID WARNER (The Omen, 1976)
I watched The Omen remake a few months back and was underwhelmed to say the least (shocking, but true). I think I spent the majority of the film wondering what they were going to do to David Thewlis (probably the best casting choice in the whole film, like a malteser in a bag of fried monkey balls). I went in with an open mind, as remakes have worked in the past (TOP TEN coming soon), and was rewarded with the Thewlis appearing in the greatest Final Destination scene never to appear in a Final Destination movie. Looking back at the David Warner’s appointment with the glazier it might actually hold some responsibility for films like Final Destination, so I don’t know where the Omen remakers could’ve gone with that without changing the manner of death competely. From first seeing the original this was the scene that stayed with me. I’d never seen anything like it before, and on rewatching I’d get goosebumps knowing the scene was on its’ way with its’ perfect *shink* of glass through the air and subsequent neck and the graceful head rotation in multiple angles. Unforgettable.