been a while since the last full team-based CHUD LIST. Too long. With
the goal being to ease back into the swing of things and hopefully get
us on track to a list a month, here’s the latest, BAD FOR US, WORSE FOR
THEM. The concept is simple.
This isn’t a “Best Kills” list.
We’ve done that and done it better than anyone ever could (though we’ll
revisit that at some point to rewrite the history books). This is a
list of forty deaths in cinema, twenty of which that have a profound
affect on the viewer whether by the sheer tragedy of it, how
emotionally impactful it is, or how it is a catalyst for a real descent
in the progression of the story. The other twenty are deaths that go
beyond the call of duty, not because they’re cool or really well
executed FX, but because they are just knee-capping in their immediacy,
brutality, or simple visceral impact. Kills that will probably leave a
We could have done hundreds of these, but here’s twenty of
each from the CHUD staff, delivered two a day for you until the list is
Day Twelve - “Hey you got something on your face…”
William L. Petersen in To Live and Die in LA (1985)
When I was a young chap, To Live and Die in LA [Buy it from CHUD!] was the HARDEST MOVIE EVER MADE. Even with Wang Chung involved, which is saying something. I’ve grown to realize that while it is a hard film, the HARDEST MOVIE EVER MADE distinction belongs to Akeelah and the Bee.
Tangent: In my reading up on the cultural impact of this film I saw repeated mentions of how brave the 80’s band Wang Chung (translation is Yellow Bell, which is fitting because their music is akin to someone pissing on brass) for doing the music for the film. Wang Chung. The people who had the gall to implore that ‘Everybody Wang Chung tonight’ in their heinous top ten single. It’s as if someone were able to transfer nightmares onto vinyl. You will be pleased to know that the band has reunited and is releasing a new album in 2010. Because 2012 already has enough doomsday connotations. Wang Chung has a Twitter account, for the love of all that is cock nourishing. End of Tangent.
One of the reasons William Friedkin’s movie is so good (aside from the fact it helped introduce and unleash a wiry naked Willem Dafoe onto the public consciousness) is that it has the balls to take its leading man and shoot him in his face with a shotgun before the film’s story is even close to being over. The bowlegged wonder of an actor (sadly known to most because of CSI and not his tough-as-nails work in Cousins) is riveting as lawman Richard Chance [porn name: Richard Chance], fighting the counterfeiting world with his partner John Pankow (who was preparing at the time to rock America’s eyes in Monkey Shines). He’s a great character, an asshole willing to do whatever it takes to get the bad guy caught and a man with impressive 80’s sexual needs. Whatever it takes apparently means getting shot in the face at point blank range with a shotgun, a sacrifice which definitely registered with my young 80’s mind. In the scene later on in the film a skirmish breaks out in a locker room between Mr. Dick Chance and his adversaries. They grapple and Chance enjoys the shortest success ever as he shoots one of his adversaries in the chest. His thrill is fleeting, for shotgun death awaits him mere moments later.
You shoot your leading man in the face with a shotgun and you deserve all that is great. I wonder how THOSE meetings went.
William Friedkin: I’m going to have William L. Petersen get shotgunned in the face early in the third act of my movie.
Studio Executive: Will he heal in time for the climax?
William Friedkin: He will most definitely not. The blast will erase his mind and soul and the burden of the film will rest on the rock steady shoulders of John Pankow.
Studio Exective: John Pankwho?
William Friedkin: TRUST ME.
William L. Petersen is bowlegged as fuck. And a delightful actor.
Pain of Death: HIGH. But VERY brief.
Emotional Loss: HIGH. He’s a cocky asshole, but he’s OUR cocky asshole and everyone loves Petersen.
Will There Be a Closed Casket Funeral: Doubtful, though it was the 80’s and they COULD HAVE really blowed his head up good if they wanted to.
Insult To Injury: John Pankow becomes the leading man in a major motion picture for a half hour because of this.
So, Irreversible [Buy it from CHUD!] lacks the mainstream appeal of other romantic comedies like Maid in Manhattan and Fools Rush In, huh? Everyone knows about ‘The Scene’ in this film, but that doesn’t keep it from being effective. In early parts of the movie, which unfolds in reverse, Vincent Cassell and the ex-lover of his hot raped wife Monica Bellucci exact revenge on villain La Tenia by confronting him at a disgusting night spot called The Rectum. Except they grab the wrong dude while La Tenia watches from the sidelines. The dude they grab is no Girl Scout himself, and he and Cassell grapple for a while before he succinctly breaks the living shit out of Cassell’s arm. La Tenia surely enjoys seeing this, as does the naked masturbating man at the club who exists in the film seemingly only to help add color to my hatred of nightclubs. Pierre, Cassell/Marcus’ +1 at the gay S&M nightclub [they are there on business], takes the time the supposed La Tenia is kicking the ass of the arm of his associate to procure a nearby fire extinguisher. As civilized humans we assume he is going to give the guy a smack and incapacitate him so they can hightail it out of The Rectum like an ill-informed Taco Bell purchase.
But no, one smash is not on the menu for this night.
In a scene that is technically both a marvelous bit of filmmaking and an assault on one’s ability to feel love, Pierre smashes the face of the armbreaker over and over and over. We see a head go from being stunned to confused to seriously damaged to ruined to shattered to a husk of humanity as the camera sickeningly twists us around, but always regaining focus during the moment of impact. It’s harrowing and brutal and gross and numbing. It’s everything the American History X curb kill isn’t, what with its use of our imagination and sleight of hand and brilliant sound design. This hides NOTHING. Shows EVERYTHING. Sadly, it’s become a beacon for folks who search the web for the sickening imagery of human loss out there, but there’s no denying its punch.
I remember seeing this film in the theater not knowing what it harbored and sitting there in my seat not knowing whether to force myself to puke just to FEEL AGAIN or if I needed to leave the theater and sing a happy tune to a squirrel to cleanse myself.
The film pushes buttons and there’s the OTHER infamous scene where Monica Bellucci joins the ranks of The Nation’s Raped, but this is and will always be one of those truly knee-capping scenes of brutality that feels just way too damn real. Every news article I’ve read about blunt trauma now has this scene running in my head for some absolutely unnecessary video playback. So I guess director Gaspar Noé accomplished his mission.
How violent is this scene?
In the director’s cut of the film the Grim Reaper shows up on the scene to whisk the victim to the astral plane and pukes into his hood and backs away apologetically, his skeletal mitts and empty eye sockets pleading for us to pretend he never showed up.
Pain of Death: OFF THE CHART. The numbness probably took about four swings to set in.
Emotional Loss: Zero. He’s not THE villain, but he did just break Vinnie’s arm and was going to be an anal rape accomplice. Plus, he’s French.
Will There Be a Closed Casket Funeral: No way, sir. His face screams the screams of the flayed and hated.
Insult To Injury: They won’t let him leave until he pays his bar tab.
Today’s installment written by Nick Nunziata.
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