Saturday, July 21, 2007

Memorable death addendum #2

A few months ago, we ran a list of the 20 Most Unforgettable Death Scenes of All Time over at Screengrab. This one didn't end up getting posted because Bilge wanted all of the entries to include video of the death scene in question. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to rustle up this one in time. Too bad, because it's frickin' amazing. Since I have no such standards (and I'm not exactly sure how to post video anyway) here it is for your enjoyment. Don't say I never did anything for you.

John Cassavetes, The Fury

Understand that I don’t condone violence simply for violence’s sake.
When a character the audience doesn’t care for one way or another gets killed, it doesn’t really make much of an impression, no matter how creative the death. But there’s something to be said about a hateful villain finally getting his comeuppance, especially the cathartic charge that comes when he gets it real tasty. So it is with Cassavetes in Brian DePalma’s THE FURY. Cassavetes plays Childress, a renegade government agent who kidnaps partner Kirk Douglas’ telepathic son (played by Andrew Stevens) in order to develop his talents as a weapon. On top of that, he tries to have
Douglas killed so that Stevens can see him, which in turn gets used to heighten the son’s rage. In fact, Childress has a hand (the other has been rendered useless by Douglas) in most of the deaths in THE FURY, up to and including both Douglas and Stevens. That’s right- Childress is a real piece of work, one of the most despicable characters in any of DePalma’s films.

In the film’s final scene, Childress tries to comfort another telepath, played by Amy Irving, who had a psychic connection with Stevens and witnessed the unspeakable tests and experiments that were performed on him by Childress and his team of doctors. He tries to get her on his side, but she’s having nothing of it, unleashing all of her psychic wrath upon him. First he begins bleeding profusely from his eye sockets, stumbling around the room in total blindness, and then he begins convulsing violently. But Childress only gets his just desserts when Irving delivers the final telepathic death blow, causing him to explode, the pieces of his remains splattering all over the room like half-cooked meat. “Don’t judge me too harshly,” Cassavetes implores Irving just before she takes her revenge. Fat chance- we think he more or less got what was coming to him. DePalma, true to form, doesn’t skimp on the gory details, showing the explosion from about a dozen angles, including an overhead shot so that we see Childress’ head flying up into the camera; knowing there’s nowhere he could possibly go from there, DePalma simply cuts to the credits.

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