Three… Two… One… BOOM!!! Just one of the classic movie devices to set-up the death-by-explosion. In this list Dan Grant takes a look at some creative ways characters bid farewell!
There are some really creative ways to die in film. One of the most interesting is the death by explosion. Most of the time, as this list will show, it seems that the death by explosion in film is a very satisfying way to kill the bad guy. Other times, it’s not so good for the character. This list is obviously full of spoilers, so enter at your own risk.
10. Lethal Weapon (Donner, 1987)
“General McAllister, time for you to die.” These are the words spoken by Sgt. Murtaugh, played by Danny Glover. McAllister is responsible for kidnapping Murtaugh’s daughter, which is a no no in Hollywood films. As Glover and Gibson free themselves from his clutches, McAllister tries to run Murtaugh over, but Murtaugh has other things in mind. He crinks his neck, aims at the car, and fires, killing the driver. With the car out of control, it gets mashed by an oncoming bus and when it catches fire, it blows up as it ignites the grenades in the car. Murtaugh, bent over, in pain and exhausted, chuckles to himself. Brilliant.
9. Groundhog Day (Ramis, 1993)
You have to feel sorry for weatherman Phil Connors. He is stuck in the same day over and over and over again. Phil decides to kill himself and take the groundhog, who he believes is somehow connected to these events, with him. He walks over to the truck with the the groundhog inside, hijacks it and starts a chase with police, while his fellow news team members Rita and Larry follow in their news truck. They all end up at a quarry and the police have cornered Phil by blocking the only way out. As the truck returns, revving up, the mayor tells police to shoot for the head. He of course doesn’t want to injured the groundhog. When Phil drives off the cliff and lands about 100 feet below, seemingly without a scratch, Larry says to Rita, “He might be ok,” and then the truck explodes into a massive fireball. Larry then adds, “Well, no, probably not now.”
8. The Running Man (Glaser, 1987)
Richard Dawson plays Killian, the slimiest game show host ever employed. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Richards, a wrongly imprisoned cop who ends up on the Running Man. After finally beating the game, Richards, comes to the empty studio, grabs Killian and puts him into the cart that is used to take “contestants” to the show. He tells Killian that he is going to give the people what he thinks they want. He pushes Killian and he flies out of the studio, in the cart, he crashes into a billboard with his image on it. Despite there being nothing combustible near by, Killian explodes as he hits the billboard. 80’s action at its finest.
7. Aliens (Cameron, 1986)
Gorman and Vasquez are not fond of each other. Vasquez is the tough Latino woman and Gorman is the wet behind the ears Lieutenant that makes all the wrong decisions and by doing so he puts the troops in harms way. He indirectly causes the death of Private Drake, Vasquez’s best friend. But at the end he redeems himself as he goes back to rescue Vasquez from the aliens. When all hope is lost, he brings out a grenade like device, holds hands with Vasquez, and then right after she tells him “You always were an asshole, Gorman,” they blow up together and take a few of the aliens with them.
6. Truth or Dare: A Critical Madness (Ritter, 1986)
Not many people have seen this 100% independent American horror film. If there was a list of worst films ever made (but were somehow enjoyable), this film would be near the top of the list. In this film, the main character, Mike Strauber, goes crazy and starts randomly killing people when he comes home and finds his wife in bed with his best friend. He ends up in a mental institution where he somehow gets a hold of a hand grenade and plays truth or dare with the inmates. One of the inmates agrees, for no apparent reason, to take the dare of putting the grenade in his mouth and pulling the pin. His head blows off his body. It’s one of the funniest scenes in the film. The film is not supposed to be funny, but with scenes like this, it is.
5. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Spielberg, 1981)
Belloq was Indy’s main nemesis in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He stole the idol from him at the beginning, had him chased through the jungle by Hovitos, kidnapped Marian, tried to have him killed in the well of the souls and finally took the Ark from him. So it’s only fitting that he suffer a terrible death when the power of God enters him and blows him into the wind. For a PG, Spielberg film, it’s actually quite intense.
4. Man on Fire (Scott, 2004)
Denzel Washington plays one of his most intense characters, named John Creasy. He is asuicidal alcoholic and a former spook who has done and seen too many things. When he is hired to be the bodyguard of young Lupita Ramos, played by Dakota Fanning, life becomes worth living again. When she is kidnapped and presumed dead, he hunts down everyone who had anything to do with it and he kills them, no remorse, no clemency, no mercy. When he finally gets the leader of the HAMINDAD, the criminal organization that kidnaps kids for a living, he needs information from him. He places a homemade bomb in the man’s anus and when the man asks for a last wish, Creasy replies, “Wish? I wish you had more time.” And then the bad man explodes from the ass out.
3. Wanted Dead or Alive (1986)
This hidden gem came out during the Rambo age in the 80’s. It was soon forgotten about but it’s always been one of my favourite films. Rutger Hauer plays Nick Randle, who is the grandson of Josh Randle, played by Steve McQueen in the 1958-1961 TV series of the same name. Gene Simmons, of KISS fame, plays Malach El Rahim, a terrorist intent on blowing up southern California. Randal is a bounty hunter so he makes his terms. One of the terms is that he receives a $250,000 bonus for bringing El Rahim in alive. After he catches him, puts a grenade in his mouth, ties his hands behind his back, with the FBI and CIA looking on, he says to Rahim, “F*** the bonus.” and pulls the pin and walks away as his head blows off.
2. The Dark Knight (Nolan, 2008)
In one of the biggest WTF moments, Rachel Dawes is killed in The Dark Knight. Her and Harvey are at different locations and Batman and the authorities are on their way. But only one of them is going to make it out alive. We, the audience think Rachel will be saved by Batman, he made the Joker tell him where she was located. But just as Rachel tells Harvey that she wants to be his wife, a massive fireball hits her as the drums of kerosene engulf her in flames. There are several shocking moments like this in The Dark Knight and this is one of the more gut wrenching. It’s one of a plethora of reasons why The Dark Knight should have won best picture and why The Dark Knight Rises is one of the biggest disappointments of 2012. It doesn’t have one single moment in that film that can come close to the emotional brilliance of The Dark Knight.
1. Scanners (Cronenberg, 1981)
Michael Ironside is famous for playing intense and strong villains in film and TV. You can thank David Cronenberg for the genesis of that. In Scanners, a company called Consec decides to have their first semi-public demonstration of the results of their Research and Development program to create telepaths. The good guy or tametelepath engages in a mental battle with a man seemingly picked at random from the crowd. Unfortunately for this “Scanner”, Consec are completely unaware that Darryl Revok (Ironside), the person chosen, is himself a Scanner, only much more powerful than Consec’s man. As a result, the head of the Consec Scanner explodes under the pressure of Revok’s telepathic powers. It’s one of the most iconic images from any horror film.