PLEASE NOTE: There are potential spoilers ahead. Check the name of the movie, and if you haven’t seen it, don’t read the entry!
As someone famous probably once said, “We’ve all gotta go sometime,” and if we’re going to die, we might as well do so with a witticism or a memorable line rather than a scream and a cry for mother. Which is the subject of this lengthy but far from definitive list: the memorable things movie characters have uttered shortly (not necessarily immediately) before they’re about to meet their maker.
Some of these last words are long, tear-jerking monologues. Others amount to little more than a word or two. But all of them, in our estimation, are worthy of mention, and one or two we’d even like to set aside for ourselves should we have the chance to say something before we shuffle off this mortal coil.
You’re sure to have your own last words to add, so by all means give us your favourites below.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
“Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I’m half crazy all for the love of you. It won’t be a stylish marriage, I can’t afford a carriage. But you’ll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two…”
It’s a testament to the quality of the writing and design in 2001: A Space Odyssey that the artificially-intelligent computer HAL stands as the movie’s most memorable character. By turns dryly witty, eerie and then plain sociopathic, it’s during his final moments – as space traveller Dave Bowman gradually unplugs the bits of hardware that keep his mind ticking over – that we realise just how human he is. His final, woozy recital of Daisy Bell is an unforgettably poignant moment – almost as much as the time my ZX Spectrum 48K+ died after I accidentally poured cola all over it in 1989.
The Terminator (1984)
“Don’t make me bust you up, man”
When it came to The Terminator, we were torn between two great utterences from otherwise minor characters. Our first thought was to include Bill Paxton’s short-lived punk, whose sign off is the fateful line, “Wash day tomorrow – nothing clean, right”, before he’s killed by a profoundly naked Arnold Schwarzenegger. Instead, we’ve plumped for this one, which comes from minor character Matt Buchanan. The boyfriend of Sarah Connor’s flatmate Ginger, he launches himself into a brave yet quite stupid hand-to-hand fight with the Terminator. The cyborg’s seemingly unstoppable strength makes Matt’s line both blackly comic and faintly sad – like watching a squirrel wrestle with a mechanical digger.
Blade Runner (1982)
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-Beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”
The most moving send-off in sci-fi history? Quite possibly. Poetic dialogue is given an added layer of brilliance thanks to Rutger Hauer’s imposing yet humane performance as replicant Roy Batty, a character looking for an extension on his brief life, and then facing up to his inevitable end with dignity. Hauer added that final “tears in rain” line himself, and it’s truly a magical one.
Carlito’s Way (1992)
“Gettin’ the shakes now. Last call for drinks. Bar’s closin’ down. Sun’s out. Where we goin’ for breakfast? Don’t wanna go far… Rough night. Tired, baby… Tired…”
No matter how many times we see Brian De Palma’s sublime crime drama Carlito’s Way, the conclusion always has us weeping softly into our hats. Even though we see Al Pacino’s ex-convict Carlito Brigante shot in the very opening scene – with the rest of the movie essentially an extended flashback – we still hope that, somehow, Carlito will finally manage to get on the train and escape his fate this time. But no – the gun goes off, Carlito falls to the ground, and in Pacino’s trademark husky voice, delivers a moving final monologue.
“I’m not going to shoot you between the eyes, John, I’m going to shoot you between the balls!”
You’d think that even a man of Bennett’s size – as played by the great Vernon Wells – would know better than to storm ex-commando John Matrix’s house and kidnap his daughter. But even after Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Matrix has rained down righteous fury (not to mention bullets) on Bennett’s comrades, he remains unrepentant right until his dying breath. That wonderfully naff line above, delivered just before Bennett’s impaled by a pipe thrown by Matrix, soon proves to be his chortle-inducing epitaph.
Die Hard (1988)
“Next time you have a chance to kill someone, don’t hesitate.”
This is one of those lines that’s often blurted out by a henchman just before they’re sent to bad guy heaven, which is exactly what happens in the sublime Die Hard. The henchman who says it is Marco (Lorenzo Caccialanza), one of Hans Gruber’s crew who try and fail to gun down Bruce Willis’s infinitely resourceful John McClane, who at this point is cowering for cover beneath a table. Marco’s words have barely left his mouth before McClane’s fired back with both bullets and the rejoinder, “Thanks for the advice…”
Dr Strangelove (1964)
“Mein Führer, I can walk!”
Stanley Kubrick’s pitch-black Cold War satire was originally going to end with a huge food fight in the war room, but instead it ended with the slightly alarming image of Peter Sellers’ demented scientist Dr Strangelove spontaneously springing to his feet and shouting the line above, just as a volley of nuclear explosions signal the end of the world. Strictly speaking, these aren’t ‘famous last words’ in the truest sense, since we don’t actually see Dr Strangelove die – but since they effectively serve as an epitaph for the human race, they deserve a mention here in any case. Like so much of the quotable lines in Kubrick’s movie, the humor they provide merely make the images that follow all the more chilling.
Donnie Darko (2001)
“I hope that when the world comes to an end, I can breathe a sigh of relief because there will be so much to look forward to.”
A strange and unique movie from director Richard Kelly, Donnie Darko featured a great performance from Jake Gyllenhaal in the title role – a troubled teenager whose fevered visions may or may not anticipate the end of the world. A movie packed full of humor, dreamlike imagery and moments of genuine menace and forboding, it ends on a quietly poignant moment, with Michael Andrews and Gary Jules’ cover of Mad World providing the melancholy backdrop to a town full of people just waking up from an apocalyptic nightmare.
“I know now why you cry. But it’s something I can never do. Goodbye.”
In T2, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cyborg returns not as a hunter-killer, but as a protector for the young John Connor. And as the movie progresses, Arnie’s T-800 begins to learn more and more about human beings, until he’s ready to sacrifice himself to protect humanity by the firey conclusion. The result? A dignified, memorable exit for one of the most gigantic cyborgs in science fiction. You might not be able to cry, Arnie, but we sure can. Sob.
“I can’t lie to you about your chances… but, you have my sympathies.”
Unmasked as both a corporate spy and a robot in the final act of Alien, science officer Ash (Ian Holm) spends his final moments talking about what a deadly, almost perfect specimen the xenomorph is. An angry Ripley unplugs him, but not before he smugly says the line above, before expiring with a smile on his face that not even a blast from a flamethrower can shift.
Children Of Men (2006)
“Pull my finger.”
The hippy friend of Clive Owen’s Theo Faron, Jasper (Michael Caine), offers some rare glimmers of humor in director Alfonso Cuaron’s sci-fi. Set in a future where humanity faces extinction through infertility, Children Of Men sees Faron attempt to protect a pregnant woman who could provide the key to saving the human race. Unfortunately, poor hippie friend Jasper is but one of the innocent victims killed by the militant group Fishes, who want the pregnant woman for their own political ends.
Jasper’s response to his imminent death? Simply smile and make a fart joke. We’d like to think we’d do the same in Jasper’s situation, but we probably wouldn’t follow through.
Pitch Black (2000)
“I was supposed to die in France. I never even saw France”
Not a movie necessarily prized for its razor-sharp script,this scifi monster movie from director David Twohy was nevertheless full of character and action, and was one of the hits which helped make Vin Diesel a star. He was ably backed up by a great supporting cast, including Lewis Fitz-Gerald as the effete, posh antiques dealer Paris P Ogilvie. That wistful line above is delivered seconds before he’s torn apart by the movie’s nocturnal, bat-like aliens.
The Fly (1986)
“We’ll be the ultimate family. A family of three, joined together in one body… more human than I am alone.”
David Cronenberg’s brilliant reworking of the 1958 movie is many things at once: an existential parable about the tragedy of ageing, an intimate romance, a sci-fi story about a scientist falling foul of his own invention, and a truly grotesque body horror. Having had his DNA spliced with that of a house fly after a drunken voyage through his new-fangled matter transporter, scientist Seth Brundle (a perfectly-cast Jeff Goldblum) finds his body gradually mutating as the insect genes gradually take over.
Those famous last words above come before Brundle undergoes a final, tragic change, where he’s finally more monster than man. As he says to his weeping lover Veronica (Geena Davis) “I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over, and the insect is awake…”
Sublime words from a truly sublime movie.
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
“What is your major malfunction, numbnuts? Didn’t mommy and daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?”
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R Lee Ermey) is one of war movie theater’s greatest and most terrible characters. A merciless task master who degrades, cajoles and brow-beats his soldiers-in-training into shape, he finally meets his end after pushing poor Private Pyle (Vincent D’Onofrio) just a little too far. Appropriately, Hartmann is defiant to the last, and practically screams that final question down the barrel of Pyle’s gun, before the trigger’s pulled, and the sarge’s bullying motor mouth is finally silenced for good.
“Ogata, it worked! Both of you, be happy. Goodbye… farewell.”
As we’ve mentioned before on this hallowed site, Ishiro Honda’s original Godzilla isn’t just another monster movie – it’s also a poetic and genuinely moving document of a country still reeling from the aftershock of war. Godzilla himself becomes a walking metaphor for the destructive power of the H-bomb – his skin is even modelled after the scar tissue of radiation burns rather than lizard’s skin as you might expect.
Dr Daisuke Serizawa is the doomed hero, who sacrifices himself in the process of destroying the giant kaiju. Leaving behind his estranged girlfriend and her new lover, he’s killed by his own deadly weapon – something called an Oxygen Destroyer – and sends his final words from the ocean floor, where he and the colossal monster breathe their last.
For anyone who associates the Godzilla movies with rubbery monster suits and exploding model cities, it’s a heartrending conclusion.
“You always were an asshole, Gorman.”
Vasquez, played by Jeanette Goldstein, was one of several unforgettable supporting players in James Cameron’s Aliens, and the movie’s a masterclass in how to relate a fairly large number of characters, and make each of them distinct and memorable. Vasquez is the tough Colonial Marine, who meets her end in the ducts of Hadley’s Hope, with her gunfire keeping the xenomorphs at bay while the rest of the survivors try to escape.
Her final line to Gorman, a pal marine who holds a grenade which will mercifully snuff out their lives before the aliens get to them, is as unsentimental as you’d expect from a battle-hardened warrior.
One of the best and most blackly comic high school dramas of the 80s, Heathers is full of quotable dialogue and great performances from Christian Slater and Winona Ryder. Slater plays a murderous outsider, while Ryder is a student who’s grown weary of trying to fit in with her clique of superficial friends – among them the wealthy, catty Heather Chandler (Kim Walker).
One of the earliest victims in a movie full of murder and foul play, Heather is quickly done in with a cup full of drain cleaner, her surreal last words a random reference back to a previous scene where Ryder’s character goes shopping for snacks. Like the movie as a whole, Heather’s demise is a grimly amusing moment.
Hudson Hawk (1991)
“This is what I get for darting a nun?”
A strange, slightly delirious action comedy, Hudson Hawk may have been a bit of a box office disaster, but it justifiably has its champions, and is often lauded on this site. This final line is uttered by CIA agent Almond Joy (Lorraine Toussaint), whose death comes as she’s paralysed by a dart from her own blow-gun. Seconds later, a bomb detonates, taking out both Almond and her partner, Snickers. Why were so many of the movie’s characters named after chocolate bars? We’ve no idea. Maybe the screenwriter had the munchies or something.
The King Of New York (1990)
“I don’t need forever.”
Christopher Walken g gets almost all the best lines in this fantastic crime drama from director Abel Ferrara. As the smooth-talking Frank White, Walken slaughters his rivals among New York’s criminal fraternity, with the bizarre intention of spending the money he earns on building a hospital for the poor. Unfortunately for White, the police are gradually closing in, with a group of disgruntled detectives determined to bring his empire down.
Attempting to escape capture via the subway, White is shot by detective Bishop (Victor Argo) shortly after uttering the line above, and hauls himself into a New York taxi before expiring with his gun still in his hand. It’s a quiet end for a gangster with big ideas.
Alien 3 (1992)
“Stop this raving at once! Aaron, get that foolish woman back to the infirmary!”
Poor old Superintendent Harold Matthews (Brian Glover). All he wanted was a quiet life, with his all-male prison colony kept nicely in order and perhaps the occasional cup of Tetley tea now and again. Instead, a space ship carrying Lieutenant Ripley crash lands, carrying with it another, far nastier stowaway. Refusing to believe that a xenomorph really is stalking the facility’s corridors, Matthews is still full of doubt right up until his dying moments – at which point the alien’s already reached down, grabbed him by his head and dragged him off to his doom in a ventilation shaft, probably to eat him like a boiled egg.
Jurassic Park (1993)
Some of the best last words are short and to the point – and when you’re being hunted through lush undergrowth by smart, uncannily quick velociraptors, you’re hardly going to have much time to utter more than a word or two. This is what hunting expert Robert Muldoon finds out in Jurassic Park, where these man-eating dinosaurs prove to be more than a match for his gun and more evolved brain.
It’s a classic line from a classic movie – though we have to admit that, if we were in Muldoon’s position, we’d probably scream something far too explicit for a PG movie.
The Last Man On Earth (1964)
“They were afraid… they were afraid of me…”
It’s not a definitive adaptation of Richard Morgan’s I Am Legend, but this Italian-shot version from 1964 is an effective horror movie in any case. Vincent Price plays Robert Morgan, the last human survivor in a world taken over by a plague of vampires. A scientist labouring away in his fortified house for a cure to the plague, he realises, shortly before his dying breath, that he was regarded as much of a threat to the vampires as they were to him.
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
“Say ‘auf wiedersehen’ to your Nazi balls.”
Uttered by Sergeant Hugo Stiglitz (Til Schweiger) towards the end of this brilliantly tense scene, in which a Nazi major rumbles a group of British troops (among them Michael Fassbender’s posh Lieutenant Archie Hicox) in a German tavern. Stiglitz, surely knowing that he’s doomed – surrounded as he is by Nazi soldiers – faces his end with courage, and just has time to throw out this great one-liner before the room erupts in a blaze of gunfire.
The Wicker Man (1973)
“Let me not undergo the real pains of Hell, dear God, because I die unshriven… and establish me… in that bliss… which knows no ending… through Christ… our Lord.”
Edward Woodward is fantastic in this utterly haunting, one-of-a-kind British movie, which is as funny as it is brutally horrific. Woodward plays Sergeant Howie, a staunchly Christian cop attempting to track down a missing girl on an island of pagans, and led a merry dance by the community. Realising too late that he’s about to be the centrepiece for a flaming sacrifice, he faces his death at first with terror, and then, admirably, pious acceptance.
The Wicker Man (2006)
“No, not the bees! NOT THE BEES! AAAAAAAAGH! THEY’RE IN MY EYES! MY EYES! AAAAAAAAAAGH!”
Time for a case of compare-and-contrast: the disturbing, spectacular ending of the 1973 Wicker Man, and its 2006 sequel. Nic Cage takes over from Edward Woodward, this time playing a cop named Edward Malus, who comes to a sticky end in a matriarchal society set on sacrificing him to improve their production of honey.
Malus, unlike Howie, decides to go out screaming and describing his ordeal in detail. It’s fair to say that his last words aren’t the most poetic on this list, but they are quite amusing. Plus he has time to gasp, “Killing me won’t bring back your goddamn honey!”
Malus’ reaction to his death might be less stoic than Howie’s but it’s probably how most of us would react. Either that or I’d try to swallow all the bees really quickly before they stung me too badly.
Our run-down of final words madness continues, with the final 25 selections. We kick off with an infamous British thriller which unfairly ruined the career of its brilliant director.
It’s a true classic, though…
Peeping Tom (1960)
“Helen! Helen! I’m afraid… And I’m glad I’m afraid!”
If this critically maligned movie is guilty of anything, it’s simply being too ahead of its time. As much a character study as a thriller, Peeping Tom’s about Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm), a young sociopath who kills his female victims with a sharpened tripod attached to a camera – all the better to capture their final, terrified moments before they expire.
A frightened boy turned into a monster by the experiments of his deranged psychologist father, Mark is as captivating as any serial killer played by Tom Noonan, Brian Cox or Michael Rooker, and Boehm’s performance is captivating. Even knowing the full horror of his crimes, when he finally turns his weapon on himself, it’s still a somber moment.
Monty Python And The Holy Grail (1975)
“Right! Silly little bleeder! One rabbit stew coming right up!”
The funniest British movie of all time? Quite possibly. And in the middle of it, one of the funniest scenes: Sir Bors (Terry Gilliam) and his fateful last words, as he fatally underestimates the biting strength of a rabbit with “a killer streak a mile wide…”
“Anybody tries to stop me, the old geezer gets it!”
Let’s face it, corporate villain Dick Jones had it coming right from the start. A horrible old white-collar criminal whose monstrous creation, ED-209, resulted in a boardroom bloodbath, Jones thinks nothing of killing cocky young business rivals, doing deals with Old Detroit’s criminal fraternity, and when he’s threatened with arrest, taking his own boss as a hostage.
Unfortunately for Jones – brilliantly played by Ronny Cox – his idle threat to RoboCop quickly becomes his grave stone, as a few well-placed bullets send him plummeting from a window to his screaming doom. Idle thought: quite a few villains died falling from skyscrapers in the 70s and 80s.
Romeo + Juliet (1996)
“A plague on both your houses!”
You can’t improve on perfection, so director Baz Luhrmann added Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Dnes instead, moving the Bard’s tragedy about star-crossed lovers to a stylised version of the present. Harold Perrineau plays Mercutio, Romeo’s best friend who’s slashed with a piece of glass by rival Tybalt (John Leguizamo). In the throes of death, Mercutio provides a variety of twists on Shakespeare’s famous line: muttered in a state of shock, blasted out angrily against a backdrop of gathering clouds, and whispered quietly while sinking into the soft arms of oblivion.
It’s a grand, appropriately theatrical death scene from a director not exactly known for his dramatic restraint
Rocky IV (1985)
“I want you to promise me you’re not gonna stop this fight, no matter what. No matter what!”
Carl Weathers went from fearsome opponent in the first two Rocky films to Balboa’s best friend in the third and fourth, and his grandiose exhibition fight with the freakishly powerful Russian boxer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) proves to be his last. Still, he did manage to get James Brown to turn up to do a live rendition of Living In America, so it’s not all doom and gloom. Maybe Creed decided to save money by having the match and his funeral combined into one glittering occasion.
“I’m still standin’, huh! Fuck! Come on! Go ahead! I take your fuckin’ bullet! Come on! I take your fuckin’ bullet! You think you kill me with bullets? I take your fuckin’ bullets! Go ahead!”
One of the most profane films of the era, it’s only right that Al Pacino’s title gangster should go out in a hail of swear words as well as bullets. One of the most aggressive performances in history, Pacino rants and rages to the very bitter end; his empire has collapsed, his sister hates him, and his enemies are closing in, armed to the teeth. Needless to say, Tony ‘Scarface’ Montana goes out fighting, and succeeds in taking out a bunch of invading assassins with a machine gun before he finally meets a bullet he can’t out-swear.
“I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I…”
Joss Whedon’s cinematic continuation of his much-loved but short-lived TV series Firefly, Serenity provided us with the chance to reunite with the show’s engaging roster of characters – among them Alan Tudyk’s pilot, Hoban ‘Wash’ Wishburne. How sad it was, then, to see Wash so abruptly written out; the poor pal didn’t even get to finish his last line, “I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar.”
“Oh. He didn’t know.”
As serial killer John Doe, Kevin Spacey doesn’t physically appear until the final act of David Fincher’s influential 90s thriller, but his terrible crimes cast a long shadow over its events. Even when he’s willingly apprehended by detective duo Mills and Somerset, he still has the upper-hand, with a meticulous plan that involves a box, a delivery van and a remote desert location. Spacey’s quiet, callous performance is brilliant in these last scenes, his eyes glittering with conviction – and even with a gun in his face, a disquieting lack of fear.
Independence Day (1996)
“In the words of my generation, up yours!”
Former crop duster Russell Casse (Randy Quaid) finally gets to exact revenge on the aliens who kidnapped him at the end of Roland Emmerich’s invasion movie. At the helm of a fighter jet – which he can unaccountably fly having previously piloted a crop duster – Casse makes a kamikaze flight directly into the underbelly of an alien spacecraft, destroying both himself and, presumably, dozens of invaders.
Thinking about it, the debris from these gigantic falling craft would probably cause as much damage as their giant laser cannons, but we’ll gloss over that.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
“Have some fire, scarecrow”
Was Michael Madsen’s Mr Blonde the scariest villain of the 90s? Quite possibly. Madsen’s gangster is so chilling because of his glee at torturing poor captured cop Marvin (Kirk Baltz), and we can only wince at the pleasure he takes in treating this helpless victim as his plaything. What a relief, then, that with a well-timed bullet, Mr Orange saves both the cop – and the audience’s frayed nerves – from the pain of the villain’s intended barbecue.
Riki-Oh: The Story Of Ricky (1991)
“Someone gave me 30 kilos of rice to bump you off and mince you into meat pies.”
Possibly the most violent Hong Kong martial arts movie ever made, The Story Of Ricky is a cavalcade of gore and carnage from beginning to end. An inmate named Zorro is one of the many, many people stupid enough to get into a fight with the ridiculously powerful hero, Ricky. In response, Ricky punches the rather heavy-set Zorro in the stomach so hard that it splits open. Faced with the threat of being turned into a meat pie, I’m sure we’d all respond in the same way.
Shaun Of The Dead (2004)
“It’s been a funny sort of day, hasn’t it?”
As played by Penelope Wilson, ordinary mother Barbara is just one of the characters who bring a very British charm to Edgar Wright’s zom-rom-com. Barbara’s sweet-natured and easy going, so it’s easy to imagine the grief her son Shaun (Simon Pegg) feels when she’s bitten by a zombie. She accepts her fate philosophically, before Shaun puts her out of her misery with a rifle. You never had scenes like this in Ever Decreasing Circles.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
“You can’t win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”
Alec Guinness brought all his thespian charisma – plus more than a touch of fatherly warmth – to the role of Obi Wan Kenobi, and when he’s brutally struck down by Darth Vader, it’s an emotional moment. Unfortunately, the magic of the Star Wars universe was all a bit lost on Guinness himself, who publically dismissed it as “Fairy-tale garbage” in his 2003 autobiography. I wonder what he made of the Phantom Menace?
Star Wars Episode VI: The Return Of The Jedi
“You were right about me. Tell your sister… you were right…”
After years of flapping about in a cape and mask and generally being horrible to everybody, Darth Vader finally has a road-to-Damascus experience aboard the Death Star. Watching as Emperor Palpatine tortures his son Luke with bolts of evil Sith electricity, Darth gradually realises that he’s still capable of feeling compassion after all. And thus, within the space of a minute or two, Darth morphs from a fearsome villain to a sympathetic hero, as he kills Palpatine, saves Luke, and fatally wounds himself in the process. As Vader’s mask is removed, we realise that beneath it, a sweet old man (played by Sebastian Shaw) lurked there all along.
Superman II (1980)
“Now take my hand, and swear eternal loyalty to Zod.”
Arguably the most theatrical and self-regarding supervillain in movie theater, Terrence Stamp’s General Zod turns pomposity into an artform. But in the end, his smugness proves to be undoing; if he wasn’t so keen on getting people to kneel in front of him all the time, he might have taken a minute to realise that Superman had robbed him of all his powers. Instead, he has his hand squashed by the Man of Steel, and promptly falls into an icy abyss. That’ll teach him.
The Wizard Of Oz (1939)
“Ah, you cursed brat! Look what you’ve done! I’m melting! Melting! Ohhhhh… What a world, what a world! Who ever thought a little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness?! Ah, I’m going! Ahhh!”
Both this scene and the Wicked Witch’s dialogue have been referenced and lampooned multiple times since, and that’s because it’s brilliantly handled, superbly acted by Margaret Hamilton, and a satisfying end for the cackling villainess.
“Heh, Garfield, maybe.”
A classic modern movie moment that often turns up in lists like these – take a look at Nick Horton’s top 50 celebrity cameos, for example – this small yet unforgettable role for the great Bill Murray is a true gem. Murray plays himself, a survivor of the zombie apocalypse who’s mistakenly shot when he rather foolishly pretends to be a member of the undead. When asked if he has any regrets, he ruefully mentions his ill-advised vocal work for Garfield, before promptly expiring.
Team America (2004)
“Let’s go, bitch! I’ve done action films. Come on!”
We can only imagine what the actors depicted in puppet form actually made of Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s one-of-a-kind action comedy. Alec Baldwin, George Clooney, Martin Sheen and, most memorably, Matt Damon, are all replicated and mercilessly lampooned, while Helen Hunt turns up as a relentlessly aggressive opponent for Team America squad member, Sarah. Unfortunately for Hunt, she’s nowhere near as handy in a fight as she thinks she is, as she’s hacked in two by Sarah’s sword.
Day Of The Dead (1985)
“Choke on ’em! Choke on ’em!”
Not as celebrated as George A Romero’s earlier zombie flicks, Day Of The Dead does still have plenty of memorable horror moments – neat least this infamous scene, where a luckless Captain Rhodes is torn apart by the undead, his viscera graphically pulled all over the screen in a torrent of gore.
As if the scene wasn’t grotesque enough, it’s said that the animal entrails stuffed inside the prosthetic torso had gone off before shooting, so while those actors were clawing away at the special effect, the stench on set was abominable. Fortunately, we don’t get the full force of that from our armchairs, so we can instead enjoy one of the best last lines in horror history.
“Promise me, Rose. And never let go of that promise.”
A gentleman to the end, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack Dawson gallantly sets his lover Rose (Kate Winslet) on a bit of wooden driftwood – which, unfortunately for him, won’t take the weight of them both. Succumbing to the freezing water, Jack manages to gasp out a farewell monologue before he expires. It’s the kind of romantic heroism that saw the movie go on to gross billions at the box office.
Village Of The Damned (1960)
“You’re thinking of a brick wall!”
A brilliant adaptation of John Wyndham’s novel, The Midwich Cuckoos, Village Of The Damned sees the women of a genteel British community give birth to a worryingly intelligent breed of children with glowing eyes. Able to read minds, these alien younglings are capable of causing all sorts of mayhem with their Jedi mind tricks.
Professor Gordon Zellaby is the only person who manages to get in their way, and by protecting his true plan – to blow the little blighters up with a time bomb – by thinking of a brick wall, he successfully ends their reign of terror. Little David (Martin Stephens) expresses genuine surprise at his being outsmarted – a rare flicker of emotion from these blank-eyed cuckoos.
Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)
Proof that some boxes are best left unopened, contemptible archaeologist Belloq’s decision to open the Ark of the Covenant in a grand ceremony proves to be his undoing. Lifting the elevator on the biblical artefact, he and the Nazis around him are initially transfixed by the spiralling dance of ancient spirits, before the Ark’s supernatural power causes his head to explode. Bad luck, Belloq.
Citizen Kane (1941)
Orson Welles’ classic debut not only features an ingeniously shot and edited opening sequence – one of the very best in movie theater – but also opens with a aged publisher Charles Foster Kane’s dying word: “Rosebud”. This final whisper kickstarts the movie’s chain of events, as a news reporter attempts to find out who or what Rosebud is – though, as Nick Horton pointed out in his 50 plot holes article, it’s not clear how anyone knew Kane had even said it, since he was alone in his room at the time…
The Swarm (1978)
“The antidote works. My God, it works. Wait… my physiological responses are swinging from normal to really spooky levels…”
Quite possibly the chattiest and most descriptive death scene since The Wizard Of Oz, Henry Fonda’s terminal moments in The Swarm are downright hilarious. Playing a scientist named Dr Krim, he foolishly decides to test his serum – designed to counter the venom from a deadly bee sting – on himself. At first, the results seem to work, but then, a fever kicks in, his heart rate and temperature rise again, and it’s curtains. But before that, he thoughtfully describes everything that’s happening to him, right up until he has a vision of a giant bee and dies. Thanks, doctor. Your efforts were not in vain.
Vanilla Sky (2001)
“I’ll see you in another life. When we are both cats.”
It’s not unknown for Tom Cruise to die in his numerous films, but this is surely the weirdest last line he’s ever had to give. The movie’s conclusion’s very moving, obviously. We just like the idea of Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz being reincarnated as cats. They’d sit by the fire together in winter, quietly coughing up fur balls.