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 Thirteen - Bad Things Happen To Women In Cars.
Julianne Moore in Children Of Men (2006)
Children Of Men is a movie of tension, a chase film that takes us through a dystopian future that is a little too realistic for comfort. The first half an hour or so is a slow-build: it takes a detailed look into how a world with no future might turn out before dumping a crisis, in the form of a true miracle, right into Theo’s (Clive Owen) lap. Right away things go wrong, and it is with Julian’s death at the beginning of their mission to save all of humanity, that things start to spiral.
We get a few quiet minutes with the group as they laugh (the estranged couple even reconnects!) but soon the silence is broken by an unexpected attack, and Julian is dying from a gunshot to the throat. As they panic her life slips away before they can even think, much less process what is going on. As an audience, we are forced to watch an unbroken stream of pain, shouting, confusion, and disaster. If your heart isn’t racing a few seconds into this scene, I’m not sure why you watch movies.
CGI is a tool that’s been used more for creating empty spectacle than increased precision in films, but occasionally you get a crafty filmmaker who uses it for good. For Children of Men, Cuaron used the latest technology at his disposal- mostly high-tech camera rigs, and CGI- to cover seams and disappear behind the imagery. Several sequences appear as impossibly long, unbroken shots that suck you into scenes of incredible tension. Dropping the blinking cuts that we are all so accustomed to in our visual media serves the dual purpose of putting us on the edge of our seat, and heightening the realism of what we’re seeing. The chase sequence feels like a real crisis, and Julian expiring in Theo’s hands feels like a real death. The rest of the film only makes the pain of it more raw as we learn why and by whom she was killed. It’s a powerful death and a turning point in one of the most sure classics in recent years.
Pain of Death: HIGH. This is no instant headshot, she painfully bleeds out from the throat.
Emotional Loss: HIGH. We haven’t known her for long but by the time Julianne dies, we are well connected to this woman and her history with Theo.
Will There Be a Closed Casket Funeral: She could certainly be made presentable, but those considered a “terrorist” don’t often get nice funerals.
Insult To Injury: The asshole weeping next to her made it happen.
It’s a difficult trick distinguishing between good effects and a good kill, and the difference can usually be found in the reaction it gets. If the kill has the audience pumping their fists, hooting, and cheering, it was probably good gore or fun FX. If the audience draws back though… If they suck in a collective breath through their teeth and cringe together as one, then you know you’ve got a great death.
Death Proof is one of the more controversial of Tarantino’s work among his fans, but even the harsher critics (and I include myself among them) tend to freely admit that it does some things well- the muscle car duel is probably the most exciting thing Tarantino’s ever shot, the soundtrack is characteristically great, and of course, the exploitative violence is uniformly well done. After a lot of talking though, when Kurt Russell carslams a bunch of chicks, we are treated to some awesomely brutal kills. While legs, shoes, glass, and Shanna Bananas go flying, one young lady in particular is extinguished via tire to the fucking face.
Arlene. Poor, poor Arlene. What does she get for lap-dancing Kurt Russell?
Tarantino plots this stunt, which calls back to the vehicular homicidal eroticism that Cronenberg explored in the weird-sex-Crash (not the dumb-racism-Crash), very carefully. Stuntman Mike relishes this 120 mph catastrophe, so we get a detailed view of every angle. A woman is ejected, slams bodily into the concrete, and slides across the road. A wall of glass showers into the face of the driver. Next, Jungle Julia’s leg explodes off her body like a rocket, falling into the street after the door frame slices it off. These are all hardcore, but Tarantino saves the grizzliest for last, and Arlene’s face is not only run over, but nearly ground up under a spinning tire.
I’ve had few experiences in a theater as visceral as watching an entire midnight screening’s worth of audience members nearly climb out of their seats as Vanessa Ferlito’s head sickeningly slaps back and forth under a spinning tire. The kill involves no blood and no gratuitous results, just a beat of a shot that holds on a truly horrifying moment.
Pain of Death: FUCK. Face shorn from your skull via hot spinning rubber tread? Awful.
Emotional Loss: DEPENDS. Would you rather take a tire to the face, or spend three hours with Pre-Inglorious Eli Roth?
Will There Be a Closed Casket Funeral: YES, both the regular casket and the face casket will be closed.
Insult To Injury: She’s going in my book under “Broads Sans Faces”
Today’s installment written by Renn Brown.
Discuss this list right here on our message boards.