As mystery/thriller writers, we know there are certainly a lot of ways to kill someone. As Kid Shelleen (Lee Marvin), says in “Cat Ballou”: “Guns, bottles, fists, knives, clubs - all the same to me. All the same to you?”
But let’s face it – been there, done that – and these are pretty mundane and ordinary ways to off someone. If you want to kill someone in an interesting and unique way, especially if you’re a character in a movie or book, you have to let the creative juices flow, like Herb Hawkins (Hume Cronyn) and Joseph Newton (Henry Travers) do in Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (even if not in script format or what ended up in the film):
Herb (Cronyn): You folks are getting pretty stylish. Having dinner later every evening.
Joe (Travers): Ha ha!
Herb: l-l picked some mushrooms.
Joe: You don't say?
Herb: Mushrooms mean anything to you, Joe?
Joe: I eat 'em on my steak when I'm out and the meat's not good enough as it is.
Herb: If I brought you some mushrooms, would you eat 'em?
Joe: Suppose I would. Why?
Herb: Then I've got it. The worst I'd be accused of would be manslaughter. Doubt if I'd get that. Accidental death, pure and simple. A basket of good mushrooms and...two or three poisonous ones.
Joe: No, no. Innocent party might get the poisonous ones. I thought of something better
when I was shaving. A bath tub. Pull the legs out from under you, hold you down.
Young Charlie (Teresa Wright): Oh, what's the matter with you two? Do you always have to
talk about killing people?
Joe: We're not talking about killing people. Herb's talking about killing me,
and I'm talking about killing him.
Mrs. Newton/Emmy (Patricia Collinge): Charlie, it's your father's way of relaxing.
Young Charlie: Can't he find some other way to relax? Can't we have a little peace and quiet
without dragging in poisons all the time?
Mrs. Newton: Charlie! She doesn’t ' t make sense talking like that. I'm worried about her.
Of course, there’s always poison. Sure it’s been done before, but what hasn’t. So maybe get creative with it like this bit from The Court Jester:
Hawkins (Danny Kaye): I've got it! I've got it! The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true! Right?
Griselda (Mildred Natwick): Right. But there's been a change: they broke the chalice from the palace!
Hawkins: They *broke* the chalice from the palace?
Griselda: And replaced it with a flagon.
Hawkins: A flagon...?
Griselda: With the figure of a dragon.
Hawkins: Flagon with a dragon.
Hawkins: But did you put the pellet with the poison in the vessel with the pestle?
Griselda: No! The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon! The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true!
Hawkins: The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.
Griselda: Just remember that.
So let’s talk about some creative ways to kill someone, though this list will hardly be complete.
And here’s a starter list of many fun, fab and creative ways to die as found in movies:
Poison string – James Bond
Light Saber – Star Wars
Captive Bolt Pistol – No Country for Old Men
Painted to death (gold, of course) – Goldfinger
Odd Job’s Hat – Goldfinger / James Bond
Chain Saw – American Psycho and, of course, The Texas Chainsaw Murders
Infection – Night of the Living Dead, V for Vendetta
Getting stomped to death by Ryan Gosling – Drive
Getting shower rodded to death by Ryan Gosling – Drive
(I could just list all the killings in Drive here and have a pretty good list…)
Getting stabbed to death by an ear of corn – Sleepwalkers
Getting raked to death - Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Getting skulled by a Louisville Slugger – the Untouchables
Getting blasted from a cancer gun – Videodrome
Getting run over by Bozo – Toxic Avenger
Sliced and diced and decapitated by flying glass – The Omen
Getting impaled by a stalactite – Cliffhanger
Steak-boned to death – Law Abiding Citizen
And let’s not forget the multitude of “fun” deaths in the Saw movie series with its mélange of creative and grisly deaths: http://sawfilms.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_deaths
This list of creative mayhem is by no means exhaustive nor complete. It’s barely the tip of the iceberg – in fact, I’m sure someone was iceberged to death in the movies…like in Titanic.
Oscar Wilde puts it pretty well in The Ballad Of Reading Gaol:
Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword.
So what are some your favorite ways to off someone that you’ve read about or seen in a movie? Hmm…