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The most memorable MOVIE MURDER SCENES

Most interesting and memorable on-screen kills

Krzysztof Dylak

9 July 2023

Kill, how easy it is to say. Certainly easier than writing a list about it. Killing is an everyday thing on screen. This is a topic for many publications and even film literature. And always with this type of selection some important scene will be missed. Creating a description of the most suggestive sequences, where one person takes the life of another or a third, aimed at creating an impression of horror and shock, often also moving, means a difficult choice. There is a certain simplification of the task: it does not say that the more brutal and gory the scene, the better the emotional result on the part of the viewer. One moment of murder can have more impact and meaning than mass murders in a typical slasher, gore movie or ordinary “stock” where the corpse is too dense and the mother’s head (sometimes literally) served on a plate. Much depends on the dramaturgy and climate, context, convention, meaning or justification of a given murder. The performance of the actors and the work of the director also play a significant role in building the effect. Sometimes such scenes can also have a negative impact on the viewer. Fascination with the crime shown may be born. After all, there have been cases of murder inspired by a film record, and the cinematic matter also draws from authentic killings. Below is a subjective list of the most interesting and memorable on-screen kills. In some descriptions, references were made to other scenes that could not be included in the general list due to their volume. The sequence of the scenes listed is random.


No Country for Old Men (2007)

The Prologue to the Coen Brothers’ Film: An Introduction by Anton Chigurh. The character with the face of Javier Bardem kills two people at the beginning almost at the same time, which gives the viewer an idea of what kind of individual he will be dealing with during the screening. First, Anton is stopped by a policeman and taken to jail. At the station, the officer reports the arrest over the phone, not seeing that Anton has moved the handcuffs between his legs. He comes from behind the oblivious and inattentive policeman and starts strangling him with handcuffs. Both bodies fall to the floor, the strangled cop fights for his life, he struggles with all his might, but to no avail. The killer beneath him doesn’t stand a chance; grinning, he obviously enjoys taking the young officer’s life. Chigurh breathes a sigh of relief when it’s all over, as if he’s only sweating a little from a rather strenuous but enjoyable job. 

The second notable killing scene occurs when Chigurh, while hunting Moss, meets Carson (Woody Harrelson), who also wants a suitcase full of money. Carson, a hustler and small-time gangster, knows what kind of person Anton is, but despite this, he allows himself to be surprised by the murderer in the hotel. His confidence and nonchalance suddenly evaporate like the air from a flat tire; he knows his days are numbered. But he’s still trying to save his own skin, clumsily trying to bargain with the killer who holds him at gunpoint. Chigurh dismisses the arguments with mocking retorts – he is the master of the situation, he is in charge, he decides. No matter what attitude Carson took towards his opponent, he would not come out unscathed. When Moss calls to talk to Carson, Anton makes use of his peculiar weapon again. Carson’s blood runs down the floor, the killer, taking Moss’s call, keeps his shoes from getting dirty. In the above-mentioned scenes, we see that killing for Anton Chigurh seems like a routine, an ordinary job to be done, like the morning toilet. Killing a human comes to him as easily and naturally as washing his hands or closing the lock on the door, so sometimes he makes it more pleasant and spices up by breaking his own code. When necessary, he will take the life of an innocent person who stands in his way, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a law enforcement officer or an ordinary truck driver. Anton is simply a very skilled killer, acting emotionlessly, methodically, following only his own rules, which he adapts to the occasion.

Irreversible (2002)

One of the most infamous and literal killing scenes. Of course, it’s about the moment with the fire extinguisher. It is an eruption of untamed brutality, which is caused by many factors – the desire for revenge, the loss of control over one’s own behavior, animal impulses and the influence of the place. First of all, the film technique of its implementation created by Gaspar Noé attracts attention – editing chaos, infrasound, red glows like alarm lights in the middle of events. Marcus and Pierre search for a rapist who brutally assaulted their beloved woman. The search place resembles hell, and on the other hand, a paradise for degenerate pederasts. It’s a gay nightclub. Marcus gets into a fight with a potential perpetrator, but Pierre retaliates by trying to dissuade his friend from taking revenge. In defense e Marcus is massacred by a man’s head with a fire extinguisher. You can hear the crunching of bones, you can see the injuries of the face being crushed. There are no cuts, despite the confusion we see hit after hit, this tangible act of violence can no longer be stopped. The viewer feels like a participant in this cauldron, he asks himself whether the punishment was commensurate with the guilt. With time, something more turns out. Revenge got the wrong person. The real torturer stood to the side and watched the whole incident in the club. This raises objections and puts the combination of revenge and harm in a different light. Justice was not served, Marcus and Pierre became the victims of their vendetta, and in fact the main victim was the latter, because by saving his friend from oppression, he will answer for murder. The blind lust for revenge turned against them, and both lives were shattered. Pierre will end up in prison for many years, in addition with the label of homosexual, while Marcus will go to the hospital with a shattered arm and probably much more mental damage. Anyway, here we can openly say that violence in response to violence has brought the heroes to the brink of defeat. Added to this is the belief in the plot of the film about the inevitability of time and human actions, especially towards destruction without the possibility of erasing them. There is an uninspiring, often-used motto: “life is brutal.” I think it fits the message of Gaspar Noé’s film like a glove, although compared to the rape scene in the tunnel or the fire extinguisher murder described above, it still sounds like a euphemism. Rape and revenge movies are full of revenge killings for rape. They are more or less fanciful, but probably none in terms of emotional charge and production layer can match what the film Irreversible proposed. Remember the elevator murder scene from Drive? Refn was inspired by the movie murder in the Rectum club.

Seven (1995)

David Fincher’s painting is all about styling the killings after they’ve been committed. We see John Doe’s victims, and we hear about the way he took their lives in conversations. The deeds of a mysterious killer are characterized by gruesome sophistication. Interestingly, the final murder is shown, seemingly typical, but in very extraordinary circumstances. The killer provokes the policeman to lynch. He had a plan, a perfect crime plan. It is a kind of warped morality play and, at the same time, a precise film device. In the last scene, three acting styles meet, which created different attitudes of the characters – Kevin Spacey’s inhuman calmness (Doe only gets upset when he counterargues that he killed innocent people), the experience and burnout of Morgan Freeman (Sommerset) and Brad Pitt’s rhetoric and buffoonery (Mills). . The scene would not be so significant if not for the acting trio, the ingenuity of the screenwriter and the professionalism of the director. The mysterious John Doe kills people of his choosing who he believes are guilty of one of the seven deadly sins. A monstrously obese man was driven to death from overeating. Criminals’ lawyer, before he bled out, had to decide what part of the body should be cut off. Dealer and drug addict vegetated for a year tied to a bed. A prostitute was forcibly penetrated with a blade by a client. The model ended up dead with a cut face. Two kills left. Unexpectedly, the perpetrator turns himself in to the police. He promises to lead Mills and Sommerset to the two bodies that are supposed to be in the desert outside the city. During the journey to the scene, two police officers engage in a discussion with the killer about the motive for his crime and the categorization of good and evil. Mills does not hide his contempt for John Doe, he is convinced that the criminal is an ordinary psychopath looking for media applause. Sommerset, on the other hand, senses that they are dealing with someone else and the killer is playing his game all the time, which involves both cops. He’s not wrong. Doe reveals his latest crime. The score conducted by Howard Shore intensifies the climate of panic. A courier arrives with a package addressed to Mills, who is left alone with the murderer while Sommerset decides to open the package. Inside is the head of the young detective’s wife. Doe reveals to Mills what he did to his wife. He states that he envies his life, explaining that he is a sinner himself, so because of jealousy he must die at the hand of a policeman. David falls into despair, he does not want to believe the killer’s words, he wants Sommerset to contradict them. However, the senior detective knows what he saw and only wants to stop his partner from lynching. The maniac meticulously pursues his intention, revealing that the woman was expecting a child. He is convinced that after this information, a completely broken Mills will reject all life ideals, including those regarding his approach to police service. Fighting with himself, he shoots John Doe, paradoxically leading to his victory.The murderer died for the sin of jealousy, and in the process “killed” Mills’ soul for his sin anger. The method of killing in this case is in the background. What counts are the facts that led to it, and they shape this murder. As has been described many times, the background of the final events is also significant. For the duration of these scenes, the gameplay moves to a desert bathed in sunlight, without rain and other elements of an urban metropolis. It also means that everything has become clear and visible, the cards have been revealed, there is nothing left to hide. It is not without reason that the climax of Seven is one of the most depressing in the history of cinema.

Leon the Professional (1994)

For starters, there is a scene in which Norman Stansfield (the great Gary Oldman) ruthlessly kills the debtor’s family along with himself. A corrupt and drug addicted DEA agent suspects that a small dealer on his “leash” has appropriated some of the goods. It must be returned by noon the next day. The next day at the same time, Stansfield shows up armed with his industry colleagues. Under the influence of intoxicating capsules, he breaks into the debtor’s apartment and kills his family. When he tries to defend himself and sneak away, he is “riddled” with bullets by the psychopathic cop, who even shoots the dead man until his magazine is empty. That’s right, Stansfield is a madman with a badge who shoots innocent citizens with passion the way he listens to Beethoven with inspiration. He’s really crazy, but he’s certainly not stupid, as evidenced by the second fragment that touched many viewers’ hearts – Leon’s death at the hands of an unpredictable antagonist.  

We hope that Leon and Matilda will escape Stansfield’s manhunt. The hitman understood that the girl was the most important to him and that it was thanks to her that he felt the taste of life. He efficiently eliminates the opponent’s people, enables Matylda to escape from the building, and cleverly impersonates one of the officers. Unfortunately. Stansfield unmasks the title character and wants to get him without witnesses. When Leon, on the verge of breaking out of the trap, heads towards salvation, we are convinced that he has outsmarted the enemy. But when the cunning Stansfield suddenly appears behind his back, follows him, with a perfidious smile, pulls out a pistol … it is already known that Leon will not see Matilda, and it was so close to succeeding. Eric Sierra’s moody music paints the sadness in this scene. Again, we get a seemingly template murder, because a shot from a gun (admittedly in the back), but the atmosphere, the actors’ performances and the film’s extraordinary plot make this moment both suspenseful, touching and irritating. The hero, who despite his profession won genuine sympathy, against the wishes of the viewers did not survive, even though the chance was at hand. It is true that Stansfield also dies, blown up by the dying Leon, but the feeling of inconsolation and even regret remains in the viewer until the end of the projection and long after it.

Blade Runner (1982)

Deckard (Harrison Ford) is tasked with eliminating the replicants, which means he’ll also have to kill female models as well. The scene in which the hunter eliminates Zhora is one of the most memorable sequences in Ridley Scott’s work. Deckard discovers that Zhora, pretending to be human, works as a stripper at the club. Posing as a stuttering controller, he gets into her dressing room. The replicant realizes who he really is, attacks him and runs away. Deckard gives a street chase. Zhora tries to blend in with the crowd but fails to lose it. As she runs, Deckard shoots her twice in the back, the bullet reaching the replicant, which crashes into the glass-fronted storefronts, shattering them. At this point, the scene slows down, and Vangelis’ music underlining it suggests that killing a replicant is no different than shooting a human woman. The “executor” himself, who has long doubted the moral validity of his profession, is aware of this. The fact that the feelings of replicants are more human than those of humans can be seen during the death of Pris, also shot by Deckard. I mean Roy Batty’s (Rutger Hauer) reaction to seeing his beloved dead. However, the darkest scene in the entire film, highlighting the total futuristic decadence, is Roy’s killing of Tyrell. The leader of the replicants appears in this sequence somewhat as an angel of death, which was bound to appear sooner or later. With the forced help of engineer J.F. Sebastian gets to the headquarters of Tyrell, the creator of rogue androids. The key here is the chess game between the subordinate and Tyrell. Roy’s hints decide Sebastian’s victory, which results in permission to enter. Nexus-6 demands an extension of its creator’s life, and dialogue reveals the replicant’s superior intelligence, almost on par with Tyrell himself. When his hopes are dashed, Batty shows his killer instinct. In front of Sebastian he pushes Tyrell’s eye sockets into his skull with his fingers (the same way Leon tried to kill Deckard). The “son” kills the “father”. In the background, an artificial owl, candles in the dark and Sebastian running away, who will also share the fate of the titan of genetics. An enigmatic expression appears on Roy’s face in the elevator. In the special version of the film with additional scenes, you can see the replicant’s behavior after the murder of Tyrell and Sebastian in full scope. As Roy starts the elevator, he feels doubt bordering on fear at what he has done. Only when he looks at the starry sky does he seem to be reconciled to the fact that he killed his creator and his employee.                

Scarface (1983)

Tony Montana (the sensational Al Pacino) is something of a gangster Macbeth. He walks over the dead to his goal: power and wealth. “On the dead” in the literal sense. Many people will also die so that Montana can keep its conquered empire. An emigrant from Cuba rises higher and higher in the criminal world, but takes over the power he desires, liquidating his employer, mafia boss Frank Lopez. The conflict also becomes a woman, whom Montana tries to steal from Frank, which leads to a split not only in the sphere of interests. Lopez orders the murder of a competitor who manages to survive the assassination attempt and now intends to talk to his former boss. As a rule, executions as a result of gangster feuds are lightning fast: shooting, a bullet in the head or a bomb in a car, and the immediate disappearance of the attackers. It’s different here. Montana decides to deal with Lopez and Bernstein, a corrupt DEA agent, openly, face to face. First, he makes sure that Lopez is behind the assassination, then breaks his character, causing his former employer to beg him for clemency. However, Montana is sure of his intention, so there is no question of concessions. He orders his friend Manny Ribera to shoot Frank. Now it’s Bernstein’s turn. However, he does not show remorse like Frank. Tony repays him handsomely for attempting costly blackmail with a tacit arrangement with Lopez. The second equally groundbreaking murder scene in this film is Manny’s death at the hands of Montana. As the Cuban empire crumbles, his paranoia grows stronger. Tony learns from his mother that his sister Gina is living with a stranger with whom he is having an affair. Possessive, cocaine driven Montana arrives at the house indicated. The door is opened for him by Manny, who does not hide his joy at the sight of his friend. But when Montana spots Gina in a bathrobe, he pulls the trigger in a fit of anger, dropping Ribera dead without any chance of explanation. It turns out that Gina and Manolo fell in love and got married secretly. Killing a friend seals Montana’s downfall on just about every level. This is a testimony to a complete loss of control over a situation straight from ancient tragedies. Of similar memorable moments in gangster cinema, it is worth mentioning the scene where Tommy DeVito suddenly shoots a young waiter in Goodfellas.