Good god, a bad death scene can be distracting. A moment meant to be powerful and climactic undone by subpar acting, direction or editing, in some cases all three, can either add an amusing, yet irritating footnote to a great film or just cement the terribleness of an all around bad film. Here we’ll examine the most egregious cases of characters being sent to laughable farts of demises. Please observe horror films will not be observed here, as bad acting and death are both such constants in the genre, they would surely dominate if they were considered.
5 Mary Corleone, The Godfather Part 3 (1990)
Well, considering this is just a pretty bad film in general, the laughable death of never-convincing Corleone daughter Mary (actual Coppola daughter Sofia, who later redeemed herself as a quite capable director) on the steps of an Italian opera house, followed by Pacino’s silent “NO!” scream, its just another slap on the face, to cheeks that are surely quite numb by the end of this film. It’s best to pretend that Part II is the true end to this saga.
4 Darwin, X-Men First Class (2011)
Even the black guy whose very mutant power is built around the concept that he can’t die, dies first. After an awesome storming of a CIA stronghold by Sebastian Shaw and his Hellfire Club (wherein Azazel causes agent bodies to literally rain from the sky via teleportation powers), Shaw has reached the young mutants and goes into recruitment mode. This inspires a ruse by Edi’s Gathegi’s Darwin (whose mutant ability is that his body can adapt to survive any condition or calamity), which fails and results in Shaw redistributing some of the military fire he’s absorbed in the siege straight into Darwin’s mouth, delivered with the oh-so-90’s pun “survive this!” As Darwin smolders and crumbles from inside out, he feebly reaches a hand out to his good mutant brethren and the audience. Not acceptable.
3 Cesca Camonte, Scarface (1932)
Lively, vivacious actress Ann Dvorak is a major plus in the original Scarface, as she was in many a 1930s production. When her death scene occurs, it is corny even by early 1930s standards. Much like the widely seen Pacino remake, the nearly incestuous main character finds his best friend and cherished sister have eloped, causing him to kill his buddy in a moment of insanity. Also like the film, the sister shows up at Scarface’s home to confront him with a gun, as his own enemies (cops in this version instead of cartel) close in en masse. Unlike this 80s flick, CescaCamonte comes around, and attempts to aid her brother in his fight, going as far as to load tommy-guns with him, before being struck by police fire that ricochets off the steel shutters which Scarface is gleefully demonstrating. As Cescalays dying, she chooses to abandon this life and her brother after seeing how scared he really is, and begins to call out the name of her dead lover, “Guino! Guino!”
2 Talia Al Ghul/ Miranda Tate, The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Oscar winning French actress Marion Cotillard spends much of this film as a bland idealist wooing Bruce Wayne, seemingly filling the Rachel Dawes role from the previous films in the series, before revealing herself as the heiress to Ra’s Al Ghul by stabbing Batman and delivering a fiery, hissing monologue for the ages. She proceeds to drive a nuclear device to the heart of Gotham, before being undone by the triumvirate of Batman, Catwoman, and Jim Gordon
, whose efforts cause her vehicle to crash to the lower part of the elevated street she was cruising. When the heroes confront her in the wreck, she is not so much twisted in the driver’s seat as slouching, and utters her last, unconvincing words of defiance. Note to Hollywood: Cotillard can’t do excruciating pain.
1 Joey, On The Waterfront (1959)
The murder that sets the plot into motion in Elia Kazan’s masterpiece on the virtues of ratting makes the top because of the general flawlessness of the film that contains it. Marlon Brando’s prizefighter-cum-dockworker, Terry, is enlisted by local mobsters to coax his friend Joey up to the roof of his tenement, thinking that his pal is just going to get a stern talking-to. When the thugs opt to simply toss Joey off the roof in return for his suspected informing, Terry watches from the street along with the audience as a painfully obvious dummy plummets several stories. It’s not for long, but it’s bad, like Married With Children, on-purpose bad. Hammering it all home is Brando’s subsequent line “I thought they’d talk to him and get him to dummy up.”
Harry Osborn, Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Nothing was handled well in this film, so go figure.
Blade Vs. Nomak, Blade II (2002) – Guillermo Del Toro’s blade sequel is a still entertaining explosion of post-Matrix CGI and elaborate fighting/stunts, and this climactic battle between the Daywalker and the leader of a new breed of vampires who feed on their own is as brutal and sensational as it was then.
Anyone Who Died, X-Men 3, The Last Stand (2006) Yeaahhhh…
That’s the most deadening death scenes in history. We’ll die by our word, convincingly and memorably, rest assured.