A considerable portion of the moviegoing public loves gore. That might be a disturbing truth, but it’s one that producers and directors have taken advantage of to improve the profitability of their films. And it’s difficult to blame them. After all, beginning from the black and white gangster movies of the ’30s, up to the relatively recent gory masterpieces of Quentin Tarantino, violence has proven its ability to sell tickets. In fact, audiences’ increasing tolerance to gore has necessitated the continual upping of the violence ante. As a result, the violence in films has gotten more and more graphic throughout the years, and cinematic gore lovers around the world have eaten up the bloodshed as if it were a bowl of hot tomato soup.
Here are ten death scenes from movies that had even the most tolerant of audiences squirming in their seats:
10. Tanning Bed Burn / Final Destination 3
The Final Destination horror movie franchise, now with five films and several more probably coming, is unique in that its movies don’t feature a stereotypical “monster” as antagonist. Instead, Death, portrayed as inescapable and fate-determined, serves as the characters’ main adversary. Adding to the films’ appeal is how each of them shows Death cleverly manipulating circumstances to bring the characters to their grisly end. But among the deaths, none are as horrifying as those of Ashley and Ashlyn in Final Destination 3.
The ditzy girls visit a tanning salon, and they’re enjoying the procedure, when suddenly, moisture from a Slushee causes the machines to malfunction. Worsening the situation, a loosened shelf locks them in their overheating tanning beds. The women panic and scream as their skin slowly burns, the blue light surrounding them serving as an erie backdrop while the tanners are showered with broken glass before eventually being engulfed in flames.
9. Melting Man / RoboCop
Emil M. Antonowsky, played by Paul McCrane, is one of the prominent members of Clarence’s Gang in RoboCop. The group is actually responsible for the demise of Officer Alex Murphy, who after his death is turned into the superhuman cyborg RoboCop. Eventually, Antonowsky gets his due when while trying to run over RoboCop with his truck, he instead rams through the shell of a vat of toxic waste. The liquid in the vat then rushes through the truck’s windshield and pours out of its back doors, taking the villain along with it. As the camera pans to Antonowsky, his skin is visibly melting, smoke being emitted from his corroding body. In fact, he even runs into co-villain Leon, who is so horrified by what he sees that all he can do is run away. Finally, Antonowsky stumbles onto a street, where another co-villain, Clarence, violently runs over him, causing his body to end up in several gooey pieces.
8. Wetting His Bed / A Nightmare on Elm Street
The A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, currently consisting of an impressive nine films, is listed as the second-highest grossing horror franchise in terms of U.S. box office theater receipts. Audiences seem to have been drawn in by the creepy concept that holds the films together — a murderous criminal, who after being burned to death by teenagers on Elm Street, seeks revenge on his killers’ descendants by haunting them in their dreams. Amazingly, despite the continued improvement of theatrical special effects throughout the years, the most horrifying death in the Elm Street franchise is found in the very first film, released in 1984. It features a film-debuting Johnny Depp playing Glen Lantz, who, after falling asleep, is terrifyingly sucked into his bed by Freddy. Afterwards, he’s gorily regurgitated as a geyser of blood, the intolerability of the episode heightened by Glen’s mother walking into the gruesome scene.
7. A Marital Dispute / 28 Weeks Later
28 Weeks Later, released in 2007, is the sequel to the 2002 critically acclaimed 28 Days Later. Both films tackle the progress of the Rage Virus, which scarily turns people into flesh-eating maniacs. In the sequel, Alice is discovered to be an asymptomatic carrier of Rage. While she doesn’t show signs of the virus, Alice still remains extremely infectious, the virus causing her eyes to turn a freakish shade of red. Meanwhile, her husband, Don, sneaks through tight security to visit his wife, but unfortunately, when he kisses her, he gets infected with Rage and violently attacks the restrained Alice. The resulting scene is utterly disturbing, leaving the audience contemplating about how terrifying it must be to be murdered so gruesomely by a loved one.
6. Street Dentist / American History X
American History X was given an “R” rating by the MPAA for its “graphic brutal violence including rape, pervasive language, strong sexuality and nudity.” However, it probably didn’t even need sex and nudity to earn the rating because its brutal violence alone would’ve surely merited the film a “restricted” status.
In one highly disturbing scene, Derek Vinyard, played by Edward Norton in an Academy Award-nominated performance, unleashes his white supremacist leanings when he brutally deals with gang members who try to steal his truck. The resulting scene, despite being shot in black and white, is one that vividly makes getting a root canal at the dentist seem like a relaxing massage.
5. Worse Than the Dentist / City of the Living Dead
One scene from the 1980 Italian horror film City of the Living Dead makes the curb scene from American History X seem like a children’s animated feature. That’s because City, as it reveals what happens when the gates of Hell are opened, delivers episode after episode of stomach-churning gore. However, unlike other zombie films, the most horrible death in City is delivered not by the living dead, but by a violent father.
In the terrifying episode, Bob (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) takes refuge in a garage, and the teenage girl of the family comforts the man as he attempts to explain the events going on outside. However, they are interrupted by the girl’s father, Mr. Ross (Venantino Venanini), who assumes that Bob is seducing his daughter. That leads Mr. Ross to kill Bob using an electric drill, resulting in one of the most graphic murder scenes in cinematic history.
4. Lend Me A Hand / Tenebrae
Released in 1982, the Italian horror film Tenebrae was prosecuted and banned as a “video nasty” in the United Kingdom due to the shocking amount of violence it contained. One scene that certainly contributed to earning the film such a status was a murder scene near the end of the film. The episode features Jane, played by Veronica Lario, nervously sitting at her kitchen table before an axe crashes through her window and hacks off her gun-wielding arm. That causes Jane’s blood to gorily splatter all over the victim and her kitchen. Then, just when the viewers think they’ve seen the worst, the murderer continues to hack at Jane’s body with the axe until she is, without a doubt, as dead as the tiles on her kitchen floor.
3. More Weight? / The Toxic Avenger
1984’s The Toxic Avenger is one of those films currently considered cult classics despite being panned by movie critics everywhere. Its story revolves around Melvin Ferd III, a stereotypical weakling who works as a janitor at a health club in New Jersey. There, he’s bullied by Bozo, Slug, Wanda, and Julie, who at one point in the movie, end up chasing Melvin into a drum of toxic waste. Inexplicably, that transforms him into a burnt and disfigured creature of superhuman size and strength. The monster also ends up being one that is extremely violent and tackily leaves a mop on his victims as his calling card for murder.
In one scene, Melvin barges into the health club’s weights area, approaches an overweight gym-goer exercising on a piece of equipment, and crushes his head with the weights. The camera even pans onto the man’s horribly disfigured face, after which Melvin places a mop on the lifeless body.
2. He’s Got Guts / Day of the Dead (1985)
Day of the Dead is the third installment in George A. Romero‘s Dead franchise, the 1985 release following those of Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978). Upon its debut, moviegoers knew, because of the graphic nature of the first two films, that they were going to be served a hefty amount of gore. But perhaps even the most hardcore of the franchise’s fans didn’t foresee just how much blood and guts would be spilled as the third chapter of the Dead legacy unfolded.
In one scene, Captain Rhodes is repeatedly shot then violently torn apart by a group of zombies. Disturbingly, he utters lines like “Choke on ’em!” even as he sees his legs being dragged away from his body and his guts being devoured by the living dead.
1. Krendler’s Last Meal / Hannibal
Set ten years after the Oscar Best Picture-winning The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Hannibal cannibalized its way into the box office in 2001 by breaking records in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. As expected, the movie featured Hannibal Lecter at his vicious best. In one scene, he ties up the chief inspector with electrical cords, hangs him, then disembowels him. But that episode seems like kid stuff compared to the inhumanity Lecter displays in the last scenes of the movie.
Having been kidnapped, Agent Clarice Starling regains consciousness but is heavily subdued by morphine. She finds herself in a black gown and seated at an elegantly set dinner table. Lecter is cooking, while a Justice Department official, Paul, is also at the table, but in a wheelchair. All Starling could do is mutter uselessly as Hannibal removes the top of Krendler’s head, slices out part of his brain, sautés it, then feeds it to Krendler. The drugged man even creepily remarks, “It is good.” And as if that scene weren’t horrifying enough, we have this to end the movie: