This article was originally published on October 23rd, 2012.
"Is it the scar?" "No, it's your car."
- Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof"
Many movie kills just involve a knife or a gun -- a quick stab or blast and it's over. The horror genre, however, often likes to take murder several steps further to bring a true sense of artistry to the act of taking someone's life. Here are 10 examples of where the culprit went the extra mile and put in the extra effort to make sure that not only did we cringe at the kill in question, we were damn well impressed by it as well.
WARNING: Most definitely, positively and without a doubt NSFW.
10. Runaway Cable in 'Ghost Ship' (2002)
Yeah, yeah, "Ghost Ship" sucks and all that, but even its most vehement detractors have to admit that the opening scene makes for one of the best first impressions in the history of horror. Both brutal and beautiful, this sequence features a runaway cable that slices through pretty much every damn passenger on board the Antonia Graza, damning them to an eternity of haunting their own pleasure cruise. It's a shame that nothing following this first scene comes even close to matching its macabre brilliance. (And yes, that's "Sucker Punch" star Emily Browning.)
9. Psychic 'Splosion in 'Scanners' (1981)
If you ever see Michael Ironside making weird faces like this, run as far away as you can, 'cause rumor hath it he actually has these destructive psychic abilities in real life. Sure, you can do an exploding head better now with CGI, but back in '81, you had to build a fake head, put it on a dummy and actually blow it to smithereens for real — and it was awesome. A showstopping moment in David Cronenberg's gleefully gross tale of industrial espionage and intrigue.
8. Microwaved Head in 'The Last House on the Left' (2009)
Despite its rampant tastelessness (and, in the case of the remake, pointlessness), "The Last House on the Left" makes for a rousing "Mom and Dad get revenge" thriller, even though you'll probably hate yourself in the morning. There's something immensely satisfying about the furious retribution that the parents of a terrorized teenager inflict upon the white trash wrong-doers, as each act of "punishment" gets more and more... unique. The final kill is the best, though it may swear you off microwaved popcorn (or microwaved anything, really) for a while.
7. Death by Basketball in 'Deadly Friend' (1986)
In between her brilliant turns as Mama Fratelli in "The Goonies" (1985) and just plain Momma in "Throw Momma From the Train" (1987), the inimitable Anne Ramsey appeared in Wes Craven's go-for-broke sci-fi horror flick about the slain girl next door brought back to life by the boy who loves her via a computer chip that had previously belonged to a robot dog. Samantha 2.0 (Kristy Swanson) can do everything Samantha 1.0 could do, just more... extremely. Swanson's reaction shots are almost as amusing as the shots of Ramsey's headless, flailing corpse — is it us or is she about to crack up at 0:26?
6. Eaten (or something) by Tarantulas in 'The Beyond' (1981)
No one can do slow-burn horror quite like Lucio Fulci, and this infamous scene from "The Beyond" definitely takes its time (hey, you can't rush tarantulas, you know — they'll get to the dude's face when they damn well please). Watching the creatures sloooooowly approach their prey is excruciating enough, but what they do when they actually get to the poor guy on the floor is so outrageous and gruesome that even the most tolerant of the eight-legged monsters will develop an instant case of arachnophobia... for life.
5. Down the Drain in 'The Final Destination' (2009)
The five "Final Destination" movies are chock-full of creative kills, but if we had to crown just one of them king, it might be the swimming pool scene in "The Final Destination" (FD4, for those keeping count), if only because... well, just because. Death is all wet as it claims the life of the film's biggest jackass (Nick Zano), who just had to try to retrieve his lucky coin from the clutches of the pool drain, not knowing that the Grim Reaper sure as hell doesn't believe in luck. Swim at your own risk — you're damn right.
4. Car Crash in 'Death Proof' (2007)
It takes a good 45 minutes of screen time for Quentin Tarantino to show us that his "Grindhouse" contribution is indeed a horror film ... and when that time comes, whoa nelly. After playing with his prey at a local watering hole for the better part of the evening, Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) finally claims his victims on a lonely stretch of Austin road. His weapon of choice? His own matte black 1971 Chevy Nova SS 424, a "death proof" ride that allows him to commit murder via staged car accidents. And boy, this is one hell of an "accident."
3. Pool Massacre in 'Let the Right One In' (2008)
The most beautiful and poignant moment in Swedish director Tomas Alfredson's stunning vampire fable is also the most gruesome, as Eli (Lina Leandersson) comes to Oskar's (Kare Hedebrant) rescue as he's being held underwater by the bullies who have tormented him throughout the entire film. Alfredson plunges us into the pool with Oskar, where we witness a beautiful ballet of death, a bloody massacre turned fractured and dream-like by the limited sights and sounds that come with being underwater. Director Matt Reeves offered an impressive variation on this scene in his 2010 American remake, "Let Me In," but it certainly doesn't beat — or even match — the original version.
2. Deep Space Freeze in 'Jason X' (2002)
Being blasted into outer space ended up being the best thing to happen to Jason Voorhees, as the sci-fi setting allowed the Crystal Lake slasher to utilize a whole new set of killing methods in a futuristic environment — "Evil Gets an Upgrade," indeed! If you haven't seen "Jason X," it's probably best not to ask the how/why of Jason being on a spaceship (and, ultimately, it doesn't really matter, does it?) and just enjoy the newfangled kind of carnage that comes from having fun toys like liquid nitrogen lying around.
1. Death by Miss Leech (aka Leech Woman) in 'Puppetmaster' (1989)
Nothing in the world can prepare you for this. Those who have seen director David Schmoeller's gonzo horror fantasy featuring dolls and other toys coming to life to inflict death already know the completely bonkers sights and sounds herein. For those who are uninitiated, the time has come for you to meet Miss Leech. Man, she sucks.