Top 10 Hospital Crime Scenes in Film

Sometimes hospitals aren’t the best places to be if you are sick, injured or visiting loved ones. Mark Fraser is prescribing the medicine in Top 10 Hospital Crimes Scenes in Film…

***SPOILER WARNING! Intricate plot details are revealed for the following films: Death Wish II, Busting, The Omen (2006), Kill Bill Vol. 1, Hard Boiled, Truck Turner, The Dark Knight, The Hospital, Coma, and Carlito’s Way.***

10. Death Wish II (Michael Winner, 1982)

death-wish-2-Charles-BronsonArchitect and vigilante Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) hunts down the last of the gang of street scum (Thomas Duffy) that brutally raped and murdered his housekeeper – as well as kidnapped, raped and killed his traumatised daughter – at the McLarren State Hospital somewhere in Los Angeles. Cleverly disguised as a doctor, Kersey manages to electrocute the hapless thug by throwing him against some complicated-looking medical equipment, getting stabbed in the process. A sympathetic orderly (Charles Cyphers) gives the injured, self-made judge, jury and executioner a few minutes to escape before altering the authorities.

9. Busting (Peter Hyams, 1974)

busting-peter-hyams_1974_filmTwo LA vice squad detectives (Elliott Gould and Robert Blake) unsuccessfully try to bust a big crime boss (Allen Garfield) – a quest which culminates in a climactic hospital chase scene. A cinematographer before becoming a director, Hyams’ rapid tracking shots through the building’s corridors are so deftly handled that one would be forgiven for thinking he had used a steadicam.

8. The Omen (John Moore, 2006)

the-omen-2006_hospitalIn this remake of the 1976 Richard Donner film, Katherine Thorn (Julia Styles) can only watch in horror from her hospital bed as the crazed nanny and guardian of her adopted devil spawn (Mia Farrow) injects air into her IV tube, painstakingly knocking her off via an embolism. Although her murder galvanizes hubby Robert (Liev Schreiber) into action, he is killed by the police before he can sacrifice the kiddie at the altar using a holy knife given to him by the clergy. He does, however, avenge his wife’s death by running over the evil Mrs Baylock on his way to church.

7. Kill Bill Volume I (Quentin Tarantino, 2003)

kill-bill-vol-1_uma-thurmanThe Bride (Uma Thurman) awakens from a prolonged coma, only to find she has been pimped off while unconscious by a hospital orderly (Michael Bowen) for goodness knows how long. Fittingly, both the orderly and his latest client (Jonathon Loughran) get their just desserts as she makes her escape.

6. Carlito’s Way (Brian De Palma, 1993)

carlitos_way_hospital_sean-pennWhen Carlito Brigante (Al Pacino) shows his turncoat hospitalised lawyer David Kleinfeld (Sean Penn) how to protect himself with a small hand pistol when the imminent hit squad arrives, he sneakily removes the bullets. Unsurprisingly, when the assassin-disguised-as-a-policeman (Joseph Siravo) does turn up, the hapless Kleinfeld gets the final shock of his crooked life when he draws first but fires an empty gun at his assailant. “Adios counselor,” Brigante muses to himself as he throws the bullets into a wastepaper basket just as his erstwhile lawyer’s brains are being splattered against the hospital room wall.

5. Coma (Michael Crichton, 1978)

coma_film_hospitalA doctor working in a major city hospital (Genevieve Bujold) stumbles across a plot involving the murder of patients and the harvesting of their organs for the black market. While she suspects her doctor boyfriend (Michael Douglas) might have something to do with it, the key perpetrator ends up being her boss (Richard Widmark). Ms Bujold was subjected to further medically-related antics some 10 years later when she came across the gynaecologist twins (Jeremy Irons) in David Cronenberg’s rather grim Dead Ringers.

4. The Hospital (Arthur Hiller, 1971)

the-hospital_george-c-scottWhile going through a severe mid-life crisis, Dr Herbert Bock (George C Scott) suspects something is amiss at his hospital when a number of patients turn up dead for the wrong reasons. Little does he realise that the father of the woman who spiritually rescues him (Barnard Hughes and Dianna Rigg respectively) is behind it all. Another great performance by Scott (done around the time he won – and refused – the Oscar™ for Patton) in a script penned by Paddy Chayefsky.

3. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)

joker-nurse-the-dark-knight_batmanDressed as a nurse, The Joker (Heath Ledger) blows up a hospital after convincing a disfigured Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) to cross over to the dark side. In one of the film’s funniest moments, Ledger is simply hilarious as he manically wanders away from the building in his white uniform and hideous facial make-up trying to get the bomb’s detonator to work.

2. Truck Turner (Jonathon Kaplan, 1974)

truck-turner_film-hospitalHad it not been for Hard Boiled (see below), this easily would have been number one, so outrageous is the hospital shootout between bounty hunter Mack “Truck” Turner (Isaac Hayes) and vicious gangland pimp Harvard Blue (Yaphet Kotto) towards the end. Blaxploitation at its most delirious.

1. Hard Boiled (John Woo, 1992)

hard-boiled_film_hospitalAs far as hospital crime scenes go, this one is impossible to beat, particularly when Inspector “Tequila” Yuen (Chow Yun-fat) rescues the last baby from a maternity ward that – along with the rest of the building – has been invaded by criminal king pin Johnny Wong (Anthony Wong). Woo went on to Hollywood after making this one.

Written and compiled by Mark Fraser.

If you enjoyed Top 10 Hospital Crime Scenes in Film check out Mark Fraser’s other articles on Top 10 Films including the best of Nicolas Cage, films where submarines take centre stage, as well as the Top 10 Films that share an apocalyptic view of New York City & the Top 10 movie bus rides to avoid

About the Author
Mark is a film journalist, screenwriter and former production assistant from Western Australia.

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  1. Avatar
    Michael Scoates Reply

    Great choices, surprised nobody has tried to take on Hard Boiled yet though, it’s like one of those ‘challenges’ a screenplay writer should go for. Also, this one is nagging me, what’s the film where some kingpin turns up at a plastic surgery centre for a face op whilst in the middle of being chased, and says ‘No anaesthetic’ to the petrified surgeons? Then has to make a violent getaway before they can put the knives in?

  2. Avatar
    jackdeth72 Reply

    Great selections of films and their critiques, Mark!

    Always get a kick out of the final scene between Pacino and Penn in ‘Carlito’s Way’.

    While ‘Hospital’ is Chayefsky at his best. And another decent foil to put up against another hospital comedy from the ’70s with Peter Sellers. As a lustful, crooked, over billing, sleazy hospital administrator in ‘Where Does It Hurt?’.

    And I thought I was the only one on the planet who had seen ‘Truck Turner’! Gotta love the Armed Forces Entertainment Service and its countless on base theaters.

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    thy critic man Reply

    Very fun list to read. I have noticed Truck Turner on Netflix,and it looked quite interesting. Looks like it may be. I am happy Joker made the list, the crazy man deserves it!

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    Rex Reply

    Great recollection of that scene from Carlito’s Way…good stuff! I seem to remember some pretty disgusting hospital scenes in Rodriguez’s Planet Terror.

    Not really a hospital scene but medical-related is the sick girl from Airplane. I’m getting visions of a guitar-playing stewardess causing the poor thing an embolism!

    • Avatar
      Dan Reply



      “First time?”

      “No, I’ve been nervous lots of times!”

  5. Avatar Reply

    Great list. I would add ‘Halloween II!’ 🙂 Lots of hospital crime (murder) going on in that movie.

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      Dan Reply

      Certainly one of the better horror film sequels, Halloween II is a nice follow-on from John Carpenter’s classic original. Anyone fearful of hospitals and medical procedures should stay well clear of this one. Good choice Mariah!

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    Dan Reply

    A really great selection of films, Mark: I love the inclusion of Truck Turner, Coma and The Hospital. Good to see such an eclectic mix up there with the likes of The Dark Knight and Kill Bill.

    Here’s one that probably wouldn’t make any other top 10 list – Nine Months. Yes! Chris Columbus’ Nine Months starring Hugh Grant and “the” Tom Arnold! The film layers its sentimentality like an overpowering glue but I still think it’s fun and throwaway with its through-line of wholesome family values. The birthing scene with its double-act of Grant and Arnold welcoming into the world their new born’s is a manic, amusing finale. It’s a “crime” this film is always found in the bargain bin at the local supermarket!

    But speaking of real crime in hospitals, who can forget possibly the best jump-out-of-your-seat moment EVER from The Exorcist III. A nurse is doing her usual checks on patients…all is well, all is silent. Then she enters a room off-screen and the soundtrack screeches as the killer is revealed. Great moment.

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    Michael Scoates Reply

    Does the sick bay on the Nostromo in Alien count as a hospital? Because when they’re poking around for the face hugger it gets pretty tense 🙂

    I’d also like to throw in Cranked, the things that Jason Statham gets up to with his bum hanging out of the back of his gown as he goes in search of ways to keep his heart pumping (Ephedrine, borrowing a crash cart etc) are pretty memorable 🙂

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    Mark Reply

    @all … thanx for the feedback. Most enjoyable.

    I did make an error with Carlito’s Way – Pacino actually says “Adios councillor”. Found this out yesterday while U-Tubing a doco on the making of the film. Then I asked myself: Why don’t I own a copy of this movie? A true masterpiece …

    While it’s not in the same league, I recommend everyone watch Truck Turner. It’s a funny film …..

    • Avatar
      jackdeth72 Reply

      Hi, Mark:

      Gotta love the scene and line in ‘Truck Turner’ where the local Madam describing one her girl’s nickname. “We call her “Toll Road”. Because you pay to get on. And pay to get off!”.

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    Evan Crean Reply

    Carlito’s Way, Kill Bill, and The Dark Knight are all excellent inclusions. Speaking of Nolan’s Batman and hospital scenes, I particularly enjoyed the scene in The Dark Knight Rises where Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character frantically rushes in to rescue Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) from the assassins. It’s an incredibly intense moment.

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    sati Reply

    I love this hospital scene from Kill Bill, one of the ones most beautifully acted out by Thurman when she realizes her child is gone.

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    Lights Camera Reaction Reply

    Great choices! Fun list to read.
    Definitely agree with Kill Bill and The Dark Knight. Thurman and Ledger were both so great in their respected scenes.

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    Alex Withrow Reply

    GREAT call with Hard Boiled. I agree, that’s pretty much impossible to beat. Damn, I really need to check that film out again.

  13. Avatar
    Mark Reply

    @ Michael

    Was it Nighthawks? Or possibly Face-off?

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