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 Seventeen - Nicknamed neutralizations.
Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy (1969)
There are too few films that really explore the pathos of the pimp/con man/bottom feeder the way that Ratso Rizzo’s pathos is explored in the only X-rated Best Picture Oscar winner in history. Dustin Hoffman does an almost total bodily transformation to become Ratso, a broken man living on the last rung of society. This character couldn’t be farther from Benjamin Braddock, the role that had catapulted Hoffman to fame in The Graduate just two years earlier.
When Ratso first shows up he swindles the out of town stud-hopeful Joe Buck out of money and limps away before the Southern boy can beat the cash out of him. But when the two cross paths again, Ratso behaves in a really unexpected way – he brings Joe home and befriends him. You realize that Ratso isn’t just broken in body but in deep inside, and these two lonely edge-dwellers strike up an incredibly moving friendship.
Ratso has a dream – it’s to get out of the cesspool of New York City (then sinking into its worst period since the 19th century) and down to Florida. As the film goes on it becomes obvious that Ratso’s health isn’t what it should be, even for a greasy little dude limping, and when Joe and Ratso finally score enough cash they head south on the bus. Ratso gets sicker the farther they get from New York, but he keeps holding on. At one point Joe buys both of them new clothes, replacing their grubby New York clothes with bright colors. Feverish, Ratso can barely move, and Joe sweetly tends to him.
But finally, with just miles to go, with the beach and palm trees in sight, Ratso’s eyes glaze over, and he’s dead. This screwed up little rodent outcast came so close to realizing his dream, but never quite made it. Then again, he didn’t die in New York City and he went with his best friend at his side. It’s a bittersweet moment that speaks to the film’s (and Hoffman’s) deep genius that this character, who seemed despicable at first, is so touching in his end.
Pain of Death: LOW. But lingering. Poor Ratso is sick the whole way out of New York.
Emotional Loss: HIGH. There’s a chance of a new life ahead, a way out for Ratso and Joe, but Ratso never makes the promised land.
Will There Be a Closed Casket Funeral: It’ll be open, and he’ll be buried under a headstone that says ‘Enrico Salvatore Rizzo’.
Melody in Hausu (1977)
I hope you watched the above YouTube clip before reading this text, because I don’t know that my words can do any justice to the sheer insanity that is Hausu, a 1977 Japanese film that looks like the grandfather of everything Sam Raimi did in the 80s. Incredibly hard to find since its original release, and never released with subtitles in the US, Hausu was Toho’s attempt to make a movie for the youth market and they turned to new director Nobuhiko Obayashi to reach those crazy kids.
He did something crazy, alright. Hausu is utterly bizarre from beginning to end, but the final 45 minutes of the film redefines what the word ‘weird’ means. Usually when you get me recommending a bizarre film, it’s gross and edgy, but Hausu is actually fairly tame. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t batshit insane.
A group of Japanese schoolgirls, whose nicknames represent their solitary character trait (ie, Gorgeous, Fantasy, Prof, Kung Fu and Mac (as in Big)) go to spend summer vacation at a house in the country (Hausu is a Japanese pronunciation of House), and when it gets dark things get weird. Real weird. As in flying heads biting girls on the ass weird. As in magic cats controlling time to make music weird. As in the piano scene above weird.
Melody is the musical member of the group, and she’s taken by the grand piano at the house. And then the grand piano takes her. What I love about this scene is that Melody is pretty okay with the piano eating her fingers, but she gets really upset when the piano takes her whole hand. And then it takes her whole body, leaving body parts levitating around commenting on the scene ‘How naughty!’ her disembodied head says when it realizes the camera has an upskirt shot of her legs as the piano devours her) as well as swimming in blood in the piano and seemingly becoming part of the instrument itself.
Criterion has the movie, and should be releasing it in America next year. Put this in your calendars, if only to see either a huge influence on Evil Dead 2 or the first movie to come from the same weird psychic space from which Raimi got his ideas.
Pain of Death: UNCLEAR. Nobody in this movie reacts in any way that makes any sense, and Melody is no different. It’s also unclear at which point she dies.
Emotional Loss: NONE. All Melody did the whole movie was play a guitar and then the piano.
Will There Be a Closed Casket Funeral: They’ll just seal the piano and throw it in a hole.
Insult To Injury: The film implies those that the house eats don’t get to rest very easy, so Melody’s not done playing yet.
Today’s installment written by Devin Faraci.
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