It sounds strange to think of death scenes as beautiful. However, if you’ve watched any season of the television show Hannibal you know what we mean. Some scenes just stand out as being so artfully executed, that if it were a painting, it would surely be considered a masterpiece. So, let’s begin with my picks from the television show Hannibal.
The Most Beautiful Death Scenes From Hannibal
iHorror Writer: Anthony Pernicka
The Silo Pile
Air date: February 28, 2014
The next scene is stunningly beautiful in both it’s execution and it’s symbolism.
The kaleidoscope of naked death is just as grotesque in its brutality as it is exquisite in its intricacy. It’s not every day that you can gaze upon death and be impressed by its cold beauty. This killer, however, happens to have an eye for art and design.
You can also see how the bodies take on the shape of an eye. Perhaps the eye of god… or perhaps just the eye of a monster playing god. I love how this show doesn’t just give you gore for the sake of gore… it gives you gore then asks, “what do you think about that? How does it make you feel? What message is being told here?”. Just like a Salvador Dali painting, you have to study the image for a moment to really see the story being told on the canvas.
The Antler Display
Air date: April 4, 2013
I can go on and on about the beautiful imagery in Hannibal, but I’ll end this particular piece with The Antler Display.
Again, I believe I find this image of death so beautiful because of the questions it creates when I see it. The body is left open and vulnerable, naked, arms out as if it were a crucifixion. The softness and vulnerability of the body against this animal’s piercing antlers represents to me human nature in general – I see the duality of man in this one image.
The rays of light that beam from in-between the human and the animal, I feel, is symbolic of our spirit… neither completely beast nor human, but both.
What I see in these scenes might be complete BS in your interpretation. However, that’s exactly the point I’m making with this blog post. A good work of art makes you think, debate, interpret. It’s not the gore that I find beautiful, it’s the intellectual deciphering of the story told amidst that gore that I find beautiful.
That being said… I CAN’T WAIT FOR NEXT SEASON!!
And if anyone from production is reading this… iHorror would LOVE an opportunity to visit the set for an exclusive article/interview. ;o)
Just throwing that out into the universe.
iHorror Writer: Patti Butrico
Rather than going with a movie here, I chose something from one of my favorite TV shows that really stood out to me and left a heavy impression. I think we can all agree that Dexter was one of the greatest shows to ever grace the small screen. That being said, there are truly a lot of memorable scenes from the series.
One however…. One stood out to me as absolutely grotesque and quite brilliant. Season 6 introduced us to the “Doomsday Killer”. Granted, it wasn’t IMO the best of seasons, but it surely did make an impression with some of those victim’s deaths. The “Angel Of Death” segment in episode 4 clearly stood head and shoulders above the rest. The premise alone, of this poor waitress being hoisted up in such a way, just strikes a nerve and was beautifully shot by the cameramen.
After the climax of the waitress getting nailed, to look at what has happened to her, is definitely a sight to behold. In regards to “horror art and beauty”, I most certainly think this qualifies.
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iHorror Writer: Michele Zwolinski
Also, the tableau after the wire snaps, as the party people stand shocked, is pretty awesome. The scene gets very quiet as the camera pans the sea of living-dead statues, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
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iHorror Writer: Waylon Jordan
Carrie White has had a roller coaster of a night. She went to the prom with the cutest boy in school. She was “voted” prom queen by her classmates, only to realize that everything after the cute boy danced with her at the prom was a setup. They dumped blood on her, ruining her dress and her night. So, she locked down the gym with her kick ass telekinetic powers and proceeded to kill everyone there.
Naturally, when she gets home from the prom, she’s looking for a shower and maybe a little motherly comfort. Mama holds her close and strokes her hair and begins to pray for her. Then mama stabs her in the back with a really big kitchen knife. What comes next is one of the most beautiful death scenes in film.
Carrie falls down the stairs and Margaret advances on her, intending to kill her daughter once and for all. Carrie summons her strength and her gift and begins throwing knives and other sharp implements from the kitchen at her mother. In the soft glow of candlelight, Margaret White is stabbed repeatedly and stuck to the wall in the same pose as the horrific crucifix that resides in the closet where Carrie is sent to pray when she has been bad.
Simple, beautiful, effective and Margaret White is no more. It had to make this list.
HOSTEL: PART II
iHorror Writer: James Jay Edwards
Eli Roth’s Hostel movies have a reputation for being full of low-brow, torture-porn gore, but the killing of Lorna from Hostel: Part II is chillingly beautiful.
Lorna, played skillfully to annoying perfection by Heather Matarazzo (Dawn Weiner from Welcome to the Dollhouse), is seduced, drugged, and abducted in the same way as most of the victims in the Hostel movies, but when she wakes up, she is hanging upside down and naked, her mouth gagged to muffle her frightened whimpers.
She is slid, still hanging from her feet, into a large room until she is positioned over a bathtub in the center. Three men light dozens of candles around the room – with acetylene torches, not matches – until the room is bathed in dim, flickering candlelight. A mysterious woman walks in, strips off her robe to reveal her nude body, and reclines into the bathtub. The woman grabs a reaper’s scythe and starts to playfully torment Lorna, first stroking her hair with the blade, then ever-so-slightly scratching the skin of her back, and finally using the weapon to cut the gag off of the suspended girl’s mouth. Lorna pleads for mercy as the woman in the tub starts slashing away at her, the helpless girl’s blood spraying down and covering her attacker in a crimson shower. The woman finishes Lorna off by slitting her throat, her plasma spilling into the tub, completely engulfing her murderess’ naked body. Lorna’s splashing blood extinguishes the candles as the scene comes to its end.
The scene itself is an homage to Elizabeth Báthory, a Hungarian countess who would allegedly bathe in the blood of virgins in order to preserve her youth. Lorna’s brutal murder is made all the more effective because of Roth’s treatment of her character; she is portrayed as a homesick hanger-on, a lost puppy who just happens to tag along with the others on the fateful trip. As irritating as the character may be, her innocence forces the audience to sympathize with her, so her death ends up being all the more tragic on an emotional level.
Although she’s only a tertiary character in the film, Lorna’s death is easily the most memorable scene in Hostel: Part II, and possibly in the whole franchise.
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
iHorror Writer: Shaun Cordingley
As we were originally inspired by the amazing camera & gore work on NBC’s Hannibal for this list, I cannot overlook how absolutely stunning Hannibal Lecter’s murder of the two guards in his holding facility in Memphis, Tennessee is in The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
Underscored by Glen Gould’s “Aria”, Lecter proceeds to free himself from his handcuffs and viciously attack the two guards. The closeness of the camera (never removing itself from the cell to give the audience distance); the long, lurid shots, particularly when we are taken to the point of view of Sergeant Boyle as he is being beaten with the baton; the use of a heavy, horn-laden soundtrack swelling to a crescendo. And then fading back into “Aria” as the camera explores Dr. Lecter’s work, allowing him to leave his cell at his own pace, and for us to linger with him in what was both a shocking and beautiful moment. It all works together to create an amazing pair of killings.
This scene, for me, is about as poetic as a killing in a horror film can be, and it is very little wonder that Silence was given Best Picture at the Academy Awards (still the only “horror” film to win, though I have some opinions on The English Patient…).
And lest we forget, the ‘bunting angel’ cherry on top of the whole scene:
Juno Mak’s directorial debut Rigor Mortis (2013), a dark, dreamlike homage to the Hong Kong ‘Hopping Vampire’ films (read: Mr. Vampire (1985) ) is nothing if not gorgeous. Shot by Ng Kai Ming and edited by David Richardson, Rigor Mortis is one of those horror movies where from the opening minutes, through to the final killing scenes, your jaw will drop more than once from the sheer compositional beauty of the film.
Here are just two examples of the beauty found in Rigor Mortis:
I would love to tell you more about what is happening here, but I do not want to give anything away (aside from promising you that these pictures are killing scenes, to ensure that they fit in our list), because this film really needs to be able to surprise you to be successful. But the above lighting and ghost effects (yes, those are two ghosts above the burning guy) alone should hopefully be enough to pique your interest seeing this film. Plus Rigor Mortis is available, right now, on Netflix, so you are running out of reasons not to watch it.
Helmed by an amazing cast of Hong Kong cinema regulars, including Chin Siu Ho who is essentially playing himself, Rigor Mortis is a film that, from a cinematography standpoint, I cannot recommend highly enough. While the long time fan of ‘hopping vampires’ may be disappointed by the lack of comedy, or over-the-top kung fu, Rigor Mortis is just too darn pretty in its’ drab, nightmarish atmosphere to dismiss outright… and if this is your first ‘hopping vampire’ film, you may be a bit confused, as there are no Draculas here. But just go along for the ride: it is very much worth it.
iHorror Writer: Chris Crum
My pick actually isn’t from a horror movie, although it’s related to the greatest atrocity ever committed by man. Inglourious Basterds is one of Quentin Tarantino’s finest works, and the scene in which Shosanna and Fredrick Zoller shoot each other is pure cinematic beauty with a score that only serves to elevate it.
iHorror Writer: Dan Dow
The Saw films are known best for their gritty directing and over the top kill scenes. So terms like “visually stunning” and “beautiful” probably aren’t the first words that come to mind when asked to describe the franchise. Nevertheless, there is some beauty in all that brutality.
Specifically speaking, Saw 3’s Angel of Death trap. This could potentially be described as one of the most disturbing scenes in the film. Kerry’s death left more than its fair share of people squirming in their seats, myself included. The dim, gritty lighting, the constant barrage of camera angles, and the down right fantastic acting, made this scene gore-geous.
Not to mention the sense of poetic justice that came with John’s last words.
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iHorror Writer: John Squires
Sometimes, moments from horror movies are visually beautiful. Other times, moments are beautiful not necessarily because of the visuals, but rather because of what those visuals represent. My choice for this list falls a bit more into the latter category.
Released in 2011, Lucky McKee’s The Woman is the story of a feral woman who’s kidnapped by seemingly-normal family man Chris Cleek, chained up in a cellar on his property and relentlessly tortured. Cleek’s mission is to essentially tame the woman, and in his own mind he’s merely civilizing a wild animal.
The film is quite disturbing, and when viewed by the wrong person, it could easily be misinterpreted as misogynistic. In fact, many critics accused it of being just that, though to do so is missing the entire point of the film. Rather than being misogynistic, McKee’s masterpiece is actually quite empowering, the titular woman representing the oftentimes repressed power that all women have inside of them.
The most empowering moment in The Woman is near the end of the movie, when Pollyanna McIntosh’s character is finally freed from her constraints. She picks up a lawnmower blade, an object often seen as something only a man would know what to do with, and proceeds to hack Cleek’s evil son up with it. She then rips out Chris’ heart and takes a bite out of it.
Without a single word said, the look on the woman’s face, as she eats Cleek’s heart, says it all; I’m a fucking warrior, and you can’t fucking destroy me. Gruesome? Yes. Disturbing? Sure. Empowering? You bet your ass.
In a genre wherein women are so often depicted as defenseless victims, The Woman‘s finale is nothing short of beautiful – a cinematic battle cry that reminds us all that we’re powerful animals, and nobody can tame us or use us in ways that we don’t want to be used.
It’s always nice to be reminded of that, and The Woman does so more effectively than any other movie in the history of horror. And that’s a beautiful thing.