Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Top 10 Movie Death Scenes

Top 10 Movie Death Scenes

Death is a consistent theme within cinema, a human inevitability that is completely unavoidable yet mysterious and unknown. These properties have caused much in the way of intrigue and even obsession throughout our species long history- maybe explaining why we’re so drawn to cinematic interpretations of death.

10. Melted Face – Raiders of the Lost Ark

I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Indiana Jones series, but this death scene is brilliantly gruesome, totally deserved and completely ahead of its time. I won’t delve into plot intricacies or anything, however I can assure you if anyone in this movie deserves such a fate it is indeed Maj. Arnold Toht. After all he is in the Gestapo.

9. Sonny’s Car – The Godfather

Certainly the most bullish of the Corleone sons, Sonny seems next in line for his father Vito’s role at the head of the crime family. Whilst elder brother Fredo lacks the cunning needed to take over and younger brother Michael the will, Sonny can’t wait. Sensing this, rival families plot to have him killed- and succeed, resulting in one of the most iconic death scenes of all time. As Sonny approaches a toll-booth in his car, he is ambushed by several mobsters wielding tommy guns (of course), eventually succumbing after taking about 457 bullets to the abdomen.

8. Eaten on the Toilet – Jurrasic Park

Although the story would indeed lend itself to intense gore, director Steven Spielberg instead opted to go for the family friendly approach with this early 90’s triumph. Despite this, there is however one particularly frightful death scene which comes to mind, perhaps the most memorable scene in the entire feature (for me anyway). I am of course referring to the scene in which that guy tried to take refuge in a toilet, only to be discovered and subsequently swallowed whole by a rather massive T-Rex.

7. Borimir Meets His Maker – The Fellowship of the Ring

If there’s one thing that Sean Bean is good at, it’s wearing armour and swinging a sword around his head. The one downside (is it a downside?) to this being that whenever he does it, he usually ends up dying in some grim manner. In this case he is protecting pesky Hobbits Merry and Pippin from an Orc war party when he takes several arrows to the chest at close proximity. Although able to fight on (it is Sean Bean) after the first couple of hits taken, he eventually runs out of steam and dies (it is Sean Bean).

6. Freeeeeeeeeedom! – Braveheart

Although it is almost definitely a miss-quote, William Wallace’s execution is about the only mildly historically accurate scene in this movie, as it is known that the great Scottish patriot was indeed hung, drawn and quartered in London for his involvement in rebel activity against the English King, Edward I. A heart breaking piece of cinema, Wallace (Mel Gibson) has his life taken very slowly- facing an end so bleak that even the damning mob who look on feel sorry for him by the time he’s put out of his misery.

5. Marvin Gets Shot in the Face – Pulp Fiction

Combining that always present comical genius that exists between Vincent (John Travolta) and Jules (Samuel L Jackson) with a definite sense of bloody death, this scene is a complete howler. The casual manner in which Vincent reacts after blowing young Marvin’s head clean off at point blank range, coupled with Jules’ flamboyant reaction- is cinematic gold. Whilst there are many other righteous death scenes in this movie, this one stands out as a highlight simply due to the ensuing argument it causes.

4. Death by Jack’s Axe – The Shining

The axe in this movie is just about as synonymous with the plot as any of the actors. Jack, despite swinging it around quite a lot as the plot climaxes, only gets one clean kill in with it- but what a kill it is. After sensing something terrible may be going down up at the Overlook hotel, an unsuspecting Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers) gets the axe buried into his chest for his trouble. The scene confirms Jack’s mind has indeed completely snapped, as well as displaying impressive realism for its time, all hail Kubrick.

3. I’m Finished – There Will Be Blood

Telling the tale of ruthless oilman Daniel Plainview and his rise to wealth in a turn of the century US, There Will Be Blood is a movie of several dark themes. The scene in question comes towards the end of the movie, so it may be wise for me to leave out any real plot description, for the sake of those who are yet to see it, you understand. All that needs to be said is Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) brutally murders a long-term nemesis in the sinister surroundings of his home bowling alley.

2. Elias is Left Behind – Platoon

In a movie full of automatic rifle related deaths, this is the one that stands out. You’ve all seen it, Wilem Defoe hopelessly running after a chopper full of his comrades as they hover off back to safety leaving him at the mercy of around 3million North Vietnamese soldiers. It’s made all the more painful by the fact that you are previously led to believe he is already dead, after being shot by that villain Sergeant Barnes. What this scene does is give you a slither of hope that Elias will survive, after all he’s a great character- the use of the mournful ‘Adagio for Strings’ playing tribute to this.

1. Tony’s Last Stand – Scarface

Tony Montana was a bad guy, but at least he could admit it. Having had a terrible night, he retired to the office of his mansion to take several kilos of cocaine, perhaps not expecting what occurred next. A, frankly quite large, group of Bolivian drug cartel guns raid his premises- shooting his sister before his eyes and wiping out with great precision those few men still left loyal to him. This annoys Tony, so with aforementioned cocaine coursing heavily through his veins- he reaches for his m-16 w/grenade launcher. The ensuing gun fight is truly something to behold, with Tony and his ‘little friend’ taking out a considerable amount of foes before falling face first from a ledge into a water feature as a result of a shotgun to the spine.

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Top 10 Cases of Police Brutality

The job of a police officer is a noble one at best: a service profession that changes lives and saves them, with a good element of fighting, running, and capturing crooks. The ideal doesn’t always match reality, however. Power-hungry people who haven’t been given the chance to beat up other people before can sometimes be attracted to the profession. For every few good cops who save lives and go the extra mile, there’s a bad cop who the department turns a blind eye to.

Thanks to better monitoring technology and an active online community of activists and civil rights defenders, police brutality is being exposed on a daily basis. Though this can create problems for good-hearted police officers who are just trying to do their jobs, it also exposes the police brutality incidents that might once have stayed hidden. Here are ten of the top incidents that hit the media.


Incident: Phoenix anti-cop blogger raided

One blogger named Jeff Pataky turned to the web to express his outrage at the incompetency of the Phoenix police. They raided his home, seized his laptop and his roommate’s laptop, took his backups and modem, handcuffed and detained his female roommate for three hours, and took his sons out of elementary school. Police officers who didn’t like the things being said about them online and who had the power to do something about it abused those privileges.


Incident: Minneapolis police planted gun on killed teen

In 2006, a teen was killed by police, having been shot eight times. He was unarmed, yet the police planted a gun near him to justify the shooting. The planted gun was actually recovered from a burglary, and when they were discovered, the police tried to write new reports to clarify that the gun near the teen was not the same one that he had been carrying. Evidence points to a planted gun, with no fingerprints of the teen found on the gun.

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Incident: BART officer intentionally murdered unarmed man

With a fine police record, nothing explains why a BART officer chose to enact extreme discipline in front of a crowd on New Year’s Day in 2009. Apparently, there were fights on a train, and BART officers were called to assist. One man in particular, Oscar Grant III, was removed from the train, and an officer knelt on him as another shot him in the back. This incident, nothing short of a willful execution, was videotaped and caused mass public outrage.

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Incident: Man who bumped into a woman attacked with Taser

At a bar, a man named John Thompson was playing pool and accidentally bumped into a woman. Does this sound like a pickup strategy deserving of a slap, at the most? That’s not how it played out. Even if it wasn’t accidental, it certainly doesn’t warrant the punishment: a brutal beating the man suffered at the hands of four officers, with a punch and multiple Taser shocks. The officer charged in the incident has been charged six times previously, but somehow, is still allowed on the streets.


Incident: Man listening to music attacked with Taser and bitten

In 2008, Clayton police officers following up on a rape at gunpoint misidentified a 19 year-old who was listening to music on his iPod and could not hear them. He was shocked by a police Taser and bitten by a police dog. The police later apologized and arrested another suspect, but his sole offense was wearing similar clothing to the actual perpetrator.


Incident: Misdirected house raid ended with 12 year-old hospitalized and arrested

In Texas, a 12 year-old girl didn’t know she was in danger as she went to flip a circuit breaker switch. Three men jumped out of a van and grabbed her, calling her a prostitute. She screamed for her father, and they covered her mouth and beat her face and throat. These were no criminals, but police officers undercover who chose the wrong house to raid. She was hospitalized, and three weeks later, police came to her school to arrest her for fighting back when she was grabbed.


Incident: Groom killed with 50 rounds at a bachelor party

In Queens, a strip club patron at a bachelor party preparing to get married the next day ended up dead after a chaotic confrontation characterized very differently by each side. The police claimed that he ignored their orders to stop and believed he was going for a gun; his friends who were with him insisted that they didn’t even say a word, just started shooting 31 shots, 11 rounds, and 4 shots between each of the three police officers. The officers were acquitted of any charges.


Incident: Deaf pizza deliveryman shot with beanbag shotguns

In 2006, a pizza man heading home after a nice evening at a nightclub in Modesto was pulled over because they thought he might have been a suspect in another incident that had just occurred downtown. The officers yelled at him in English and Spanish to get out of the car, but because the man was deaf, he did not hear these orders. Not even a minute later, they fired with beanbag shotguns, breaking the back window of the truck, hitting the man in the stomach, torso, and legs as he ducked for cover. All the while, he was yelling, “I am deaf!”


Incident: UC Berkeley protesters beaten

In late 2011, Occupy protesters who were staging a peaceful protest on the University of California Berkeley campus were attacked by riot police. The students were pepper-sprayed in the face while being compliant, hit with batons, grabbed by the hair, and assaulted in various ways. A photograph of one officer walking along a line of seated students and pepper-spraying them went viral, launching widespread outrage by UC Berkeley faculty, students, and members of the public across the nation.

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Incident: Rodney King – the first famous police brutality case

This is probably the incident of police brutality that skyrocketed police brutality from something only people commonly targeted knew about into a scandal that most Americans denounced. Before Rodney King, there wasn’t much CCTV footage, punishments weren’t common, and there was little awareness among the general public. In 1991, King was tasered and beaten by LAPD officers, and the media picked up on the incident and heavily publicized it. Riots resulted, two of the four police officers were found guilty, and a new light was cast on the all-too-frequent violations of the public trust placed in police officers.

The media doesn’t always cover police brutality, and often focuses on young, disabled, or innocent victims when it does, but the phenomenon of police brutality is becoming better known and these incidents reflect a small sampling of what has actually been alleged or proven. At least we can all take comfort in the police to protect us from bullies such as these – right?

Top 10 Truly Weird Victorian Fads

While many of you have a certain view of people in the nineteenth century – stiff, overly mannered, as mindlessly obedient to the rules as any Stepford wife – the fact is, our Victorian ancestors often took a ride on the crazy train to Insanityville just like us. Here are the top ten bizarre fads that rose to popularity and/or notoriety during the Victorian era (1837 to 1901). Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, man. [The more it changes, the more it's the same thing, man].

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Tattoos are considered mainstream today, but in the nineteenth century, only criminals and sailors got inked. Until 1862, when the Prince of Wales (Queen Victoria’s son and heir to who would reign as King Edward VII) thought it would be jolly good fun to have a tattoo done while visiting Jerusalem. That started a fad among the rich and aristocratic. Naturally, the better class didn’t go around showing off their skin art. In 1898, in an article in the Harmsworth Monthly Pictorial Magazine, author R.J. Stephen estimated as many as 100,000 people in London alone had tattoos. Notable tattooed persons of the Victorian age were Tsar Nicholas II, Prince and Princess Waldemar of Denmark, and King Oscar of Sweden.


For a while, Victorian society went utterly gaga over “fasting girls” – young women who appeared to possess the ability to survive without sustenance of any kind. The keyword is “appear” since these miraculous anorexics were frauds, pretending to have the magical power to exist on nothing more than air while in secret, their accomplices made sure they stuffed their faces. Why did they do it? Well, why is Kristen Stewart still claiming she’s an actress? Fame, attention whoring, money… pick your motive. A notable “fasting girl” was Mollie Fancher, the Brooklyn Enigma, who supposedly lived fourteen years without a bite.


“Hysteria” was a catch-all diagnosis for women from about 1859. Nervous disorder? Hysteria. Feeling blue? Hysteria. Want to beat your cheating husband with a blunt object until he soils himself? Hysteria, bitches. One cure for married women was “pelvic massage.” In other words, masturbation. By a doctor. Using his hand, or if his fingers started cramping, a clockwork, foot pedal-powered, or electrical device until “hysterical paroxysm” – an orgasm – was achieved by the patient. The treatment was de rigeur in female lunatic asylums too. A notable observation is that the technique was thought difficult for male doctors to master, and some referred their hysterical patients to midwives instead.


Another cure for what ailed you in the nineteenth century was hydrotherapy, or immersing the body in hot or cold water. Also known as the “water cure,” many prominent doctors of the day started their own hydrotherapy clinics catering to wealthy patients. What did hydrotherapy cure? According to the treatment’s proponents, damn near anything including diseases like tuberculosis, insomnia, baldness, impotence, and yes, hysteria in women. Notably, “colonic hydrotherapy” – enemas – fell out of favor with nineteenth century doctors until the practice received a kick in the ass (ahem) from the famous American eccentric and health nut, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg.


Obsessed with health, beauty, and fitness, hanging out in the gym at all hours, striving for perfection – body building isn’t a modern invention. In an era when excessive consumption and obesity were common among the upper and middle classes, some late Victorian men and women embraced the fad of physical culture, adopting exercise and diets to develop their bodies to the “Grecian ideal” or the perfect physique. At the peak of the fad’s popularity, more than two hundred fitness centers had been built in Europe, and at least five magazines published tips and photographs of gentlemen and ladies posing au natural. Two notable physical culture enthusiasts were Edmond Desbonnet and Eugen Sandow.


Electropathy and Magnetism

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The Victorians had a penchant for turning new inventions into medical treatments. Electropathy involved using electricity to alleviate medical problems ranging from gout, muscular weakness, rheumatism and torpid liver to, you guessed it, hysteria. Essentially, patients paid to be given electrical shocks that sometimes left burns. Magnetism promised to relieve pain, grow hair, and cure a variety of complaints including indigestion. A notable quack device was the “electric corset,” actually powered by magnets. Wearers were supposed to experience “a healthy development of the chest,” whatever that means.


True, fashionable nineteenth century women wore corsets. “Tight lacing” was frowned upon, but the practice appears to have had some devotees. However, we can’t blame the swooning fad solely on undergarments. Victorian ladies collapsed (or at least pretended to get the vapors) at the drop of a hat. Something shocking happen? Faint. Startled? Faint. Frightened? Faint. Were they such delicate flowers? Not really. Women had few outlets for their emotions, and almost any kind of outburst was frowned upon. Swooning, on the other hand, was socially acceptable since women were supposed to be dainty. Notable treatments for swooning included hartshorn and sal volatile – ammonium carbonate.


Many Victorian women had a jeweler pierce their ears, but in the late nineteenth century, a fad for nipple piercing came into vogue among the fashionable ladies. At least one English jeweler and one Parisian jeweler are cited as offering this unusual service to their female customers. After the nipple was pierced, a gold “bosom ring” was inserted. Sometimes two rings were joined by a chain. One notable theory suggests the fad came into being because women believed nipple rings would make their breasts grow rounder and more attractive. Another theory is that they enjoyed the pleasurable sensations. (You didn’t really think I’d put a picture of that did you?)

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Specifically, tight lacing. I mentioned the practice earlier. A corset was worn by women to reduce their waists, support their bosoms, and give their figures a trendy shape. However, like many fashions, some ladies took corsetry to extremes, attempting to create waists as small as sixteen inches or less. The practice was condemned in ladies’ magazines and vilified by rational dress supporters. To what extent was tight lacing practiced? There’s no way of knowing, and the subject remains historically controversial. One notable tight-lacer was Emile-Marie Bouchard, also known as “Polaire.” The French singer and actress achieved a famous fourteen inch waist thanks to her corset.

Arsenic Vial

Think you’re dying to look beautiful? Late Victorian women used arsenic laced “complexion waters” and wafers, and bathed with arsenic soap and shampoo in an effort to improve their skin, make themselves look younger, and increase their attractiveness. Some men took arsenic pills to stimulate their libidos. Did it work? Of course not! But it comes as no surprise that the nineteenth century was awash in arsenic. Green dyes used in many products including wallpaper, clothing, and food contained terrifying amounts of arsenic. A notable fact is that arsenic could be bought at the chemist’s by anyone, and it was cheap. Half an ounce – sufficient to murder fifty people – cost only a single cent.

So the Victorians weren’t that different from you and I. Sure, they followed some pretty weird fads, but so does your average Fifty Shades of Grey fan, and they’re still allowed to walk around free on the streets like normal people… for now.