As the world of cinema likes to frequently remind us, people die. With the exception of the cutesiest family film, most movies will feature someone being beaten, maimed or murdered. Interesting plot points maybe, but that doesn’t mean these scenes can’t get repetitive. A constant bombardment of death is depressing at the best of times, but there’s no need for it to boring too. So I appeal to the filmmakers of the world: put away your guns, knives and explosives, and get creative when ending your characters’ existence.
Fortunately, there are people who share my view, and have already given us some innovative, fresh, and down-right bizarre weapons. Below is a short list I have compiled, displaying an array of unlikely instruments of death, that show us that when it comes murder, they haven’t run out of ideas just yet…
10. A Pencil – used by the Joker in The Dark Knight.
What is clown without a few magic tricks? In this scene, Heath Ledger’s villain slays one of Gambol’s hapless henchmen by making a humble pencil ‘disappear’ into his head. The best thing about this scene is that, despite having just brutally killed a man, The Joker never forgets the importance of showmanship, finishing his trick with a climatic ‘Ta-da!’. The audience aren’t exactly applauding though…
9. A Captive Bolt Pistol – used by Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men.
You have to admire the Coen brothers’ ingenuity on this one. Javier Bardem’s terrifying performance as a cold-hearted hitman is made all the more sinister by the fact he spends most of the movie killing people with a tool usually used to knock out cattle. Not only is the sharp bolt to brain a nasty way to go, it also stumps the local police force: “What do you mean ‘no bullet’?”…
8. A Ferris Wheel – used by Godzilla in Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992)
Let’s face it, there are always going to be a greater variety of weapons available to enormous prehistoric monsters. When your 200ft tall, a simple revolver isn’t going to be much used to you. Even taking that into account, Godzilla is still ahead of curve with this one. If you’re a giant lizard and you’re in a heated battle with a giant moth (and you might be) you could use any building or structure as a weapon really. However, Godzilla has the style and panache to opt for a Ferris Wheel, throwing it at Mothra like a massive Frisbee. Awesome…
7. An Icicle – used by John McClane in Die Hard 2.
It’s snowing (as it often is in a Die Hard film). You find yourself pinned to the ground by a bad guy, who is edging a knife closer and closer to your face. What do you? Do you attempt to knock the knife out of his hand? Do you call for help? Do you knee him in the groin? No, of course not. Obviously you break off a nearby icicle and ram that bad boy 6 inches into his eye…
6. A steam pipe – used by John Matrix in Commando.
This is one of those movie deaths that make you think: ‘I wonder what hurt him more, the weapon or the cheesy one-liner that followed it’? Personally I think it was the line. Schwarzenegger hurtles the huge pipe right into the abdomen of his target, causing hot steam to travel right through his impaled body. Just seconds later, Arnie delivers a line like only Arnie can: ‘You need to let off some steam, Bennett!’
5. A Tripod Spike – used by Mark Lewis in Peeping Tom.
This one is an unlikely but dangerously efficient weapon. The deeply deranged photographer in Michael Powell’s 1960 thriller thrusts the sharp spike into the throats of poor, unsuspecting girls that he lures back to his home with the promise of a photo-shoot. Time and time again this ghastly method works until the police begin to close in on Mark, causing him to bolt the Tripod to a pillar and run directly into the spike, choosing to take his own life in the same way he’s taken so many others.
4. A Black Rubber Dildo – used by ‘Hatchet’ Harry in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
What a way to go. When warning people of why you shouldn’t mess with gangster ‘Hatchet’ Harry, there’s one horror story that springs to mind for the hapless characters of Guy Ritchie’s debut film. The scene is a flash-back, with most of the violence off camera, but the look of rage of Harry’s face as he bludgeons someone to death with a sex toy says it all. Harry owns a sex shop by the way, in case you were wondering…
3. Snooker Balls in a Sock – used by Carlin in Scum.
In this scene, Ray Winston’s borstal boy makes the most of ‘recreation hour’ by usurping the current top dog of the facility, played by Phil Daniels. After the initial socking (no pun intended), Carlin proceeds to beat seven shades out of his enemy, whilst naming himself the new sheriff in town by barking, ‘I’m the Daddy now!’.
2. A Lawnmower – used by Lionel Cosgrove in Braindead.
Before retiring to a quiet life in the Shire, Peter Jackson was known for his gore, and they don’t come much gorier than his 1992 zombie flick Braindead. In a now infamous scene, the hero of the film is cornered in a basement/shed by a horde of zombies. Thinking on his feet, he grabs a nearby lawnmower, turns it on and lifts it up in front of him, running towards the undead blade-first. What follows is quite literally a blood bath, with Jackson going on record of saying that fake blood was pumped into the scene at five gallons per second.
1. A Cricket Bat – used by Shaun in Shaun of the Dead.
It could have just as easily been a baseball bat or a humble 2×4, but it wouldn’t have been right. In a film as joyously English as Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, it had to be a classic cricket willow. As Simon Pegg’s hero grows from slacker to saviour, his relationship with that bat flourishes, from clutching it tentatively to dispatching zombies with glee. All in the most gloriously British way. Rule Britannia!