Top 10 Most Brutal Deaths In Horror Movies
VOICE OVER: Kirsten Ria Squibb
WRITTEN BY: Andy Hammersmith
That's gotta hurt! For this list, we'll be looking at the most memorably disturbing, bloody, and/or violent deaths in horror movies. There's a spoiler warning for the following entries. Our countdown includes scenes from "The Omen", "Ghost Ship", "Hereditary" and more!
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Brutal Deaths in Horror Movies. For this list, we’ll be looking at the most memorably disturbing, bloody, and/or violent deaths in horror movies. There’s a spoiler warning for the following entries. Did we forget a particularly brutal death? Let us know in the comments below.
#10: Glass Pane Accident
“The Omen” (1976)
“The Omen” earned its place in horror history with no shortage of sinister sequences like this decapitation. After investigating the origins of demonic kid Damien, his adoptive father Robert and photographer Keith find a number of obstacles in their journey. The men separate and one ends up near a precarious truck carrying panes of glass. When it gives way, Keith ends up getting an overzealous haircut. The force of glass takes his head clean off in a freak accident. This shocking scene is among the peak moments of brutality for the movie, even with other notable deaths including a priest getting impaled.
“The Thing” (1982)
A mysterious life force terrorizes an Antarctic research base in John Carpenter’s “The Thing.” After the paranoid crewmembers start turning on each other, Dr. Copper attempts to revive Norris after he stops breathing. The latter’s torso opens up and chews the medic’s arms. Both the surprise and the resulting chaos provide one of the big jump scares of the tense film. Kurt Russell’s MacReady, as terrified as the audience, is forced to take a flamethrower to the alien host after its transformation. The practical effects and prosthetics sell this scene as having one of the more frightening dismemberments ever. It all comes together in a horror sequence that ranks as one of the scariest of the ‘80s.
#8: The Puppet
“A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors” (1987)
The crafty killer Freddy Krueger embodies a marionette in Phillip’s hospital room, growing to normal size and turning the young victim into a puppet of his own. Krueger cuts the character and strings him up in a brutal moment that partially happens off-screen. The filmmakers engineer an unsettling contraption that surely haunts the dreams of viewers to this day. While the other teen patients believe him to be sleepwalking, things take a turn when Freddy cuts the strings and Phillip falls to his death. Considering the series’ penchant for terrifying nightmares, this particular one is a painful and disturbing standout.
#7: Sweeping the Dance Floor
“Ghost Ship” (2002)
Before the titular vessel of this film becomes filled with ghosts, something grisly and spooky takes place. “Ghost Ship” chooses to take a party atop an ocean liner and add a tragedy to the mix. When a strong wire is released from its supports, it slices through the dance floor in a quick flash. Each dancer appears frozen in time, in a chilling moment of seeming calm. The ensuing effect takes apart almost all the dancers in grotesque fashion. It might start off with a small amount of blood, but the entire result produces an unforgettable image. Brutally fast and unsparing, this death scene gets the film off to an unbelievable start.
#6: Egg Sacs
“The Mist” (2007)
Trying to help a victim of the mysterious creatures in the mist, the surviving townspeople discover that the spider-like beings have captured a military police officer in some kind of webbing. The MP squirms and reveals that he’s been filled with scores of the little devils. The next time you spot a creepy-crawly on you, the thought of this scene will likely make the experience even more unpleasant. The MP later falls to the floor and hundreds of bugs slither out of him. With a number of alarming sights from the film, this death ranks even higher for arachnophobes everywhere.
#5: Laser-Eye Surgery
“Final Destination 5” (2011)
Anyone planning to undergo LASIK eye surgery should avoid watching this scene beforehand. The “Final Destination” series contains a number of memorable demises, but this one adds another layer of abject terror to the mix. Here, Olivia finds herself stuck in place as the machine malfunctions and fires on its own. With the laser cutting into her eye, Olivia is forced to take drastic action. Anybody that’s squeamish about medical procedures will find this especially excruciating as she runs out of options. To cap it all off, the resulting shock causes her to stumble, sending her into the glass window and into a fatal freefall.
Having cornered his niece Kirsty with a knife, the reanimated villain Frank prepares to strike before he gets his grotesque comeuppance. The supernatural beings known as Cenobites appear and take revenge on Frank, hooking him with several chains in a gruesome vision of body horror. The interdimensional creatures eventually pull the chains taut as Uncle Frank goes every which way, in a moment that sets this Clive Barker story apart from tamer horror tales. It’s fair to say that this death and the entirety of the “Hellraiser” series isn’t for the faint of heart.
#3: Telephone Pole
Ari Aster’s “Hereditary” redefines horror through a series of indelible moments, including disturbing images like a piano wire death. However, this particular scene is even more brutal by way of a freak accident. When Charlie has a severe allergic reaction, her older brother Peter tries to get her medical attention. Just as Charlie sticks her head out the car window, Peter swerves the car to avoid roadkill and puts her in the path of a telephone pole. Without dwelling on the imagery, the director allows for the impact of it to set in. That is until we get a glimpse of Charlie’s head, which, along with her mother’s screams, make it all the more distressing.
#2: Acid Injection
“Saw VI” (2009)
This time, Jigsaw’s twisted games end with health insurance executive William at the mercy of a family he wronged. They’re encouraged to get revenge by setting off a trap to kill William, pulling a lever to release a slew of needles that inject him with a lethal dose of acid. It’s extra disturbing given the weight of the situation and William’s screams of anguish. Given that the acid effectively melts him from the inside-out, this killing makes for another grossout sequence from the long-running series. Other memorable traps, such as the Rack from “Saw III,” are also worthy of mention. We’re honestly not sure which is more painful.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
Spider Attack, “The Beyond” (1981)
A Paralyzed Martin Is Unable to Keep Himself From Being Eaten by Spiders
The Shark Eats Quint, “Jaws” (1975)
Quint Succumbs to His Aquatic Nemesis After Sliding Into Its Mouth
Steve Orth, “Scream” (1996)
A Death So Grisly It Had to Be Toned Down in the Editing Room
Freezing Adrienne, “Jason X” (2001)
Liquid Nitrogen Becomes a Chilling Weapon for Jason
Surprise Axing, “The Shining” (1980)
Jack Kills Dick in a Freaky Jump Scare
Maybe the most iconic death in any sci-fi / horror film is this one from the original “Alien.” After being implanted by a facehugger, crewmember Kane appears to be back to normal. Little does he know that his stomachache is actually a baby Xenomorph ready to burst out. With timeless ‘70s-era effects, this disturbing scene gives us the creeps to this day. Ridley Scott’s masterpiece doesn’t pull any punches as the alien escapes its victim in dramatic fashion. The cast’s terrified expressions - who didn’t know what to expect while filming - make this famous surprise all the more effective.