Tom Hanks, right, and his fellow GI’s huddled on Omaha Beach in Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Love it or hate it, Hollywood certainly has a flair for violence. Squibs, fake blood and gore, cries, curses and shouts, explosions and other special effects amply deliver the bloody goods and requisite mayhem.
Here are ten violent movie scenes sure to put the fear of Hollywood in viewers. Oh, yes, there are tons more to be sure, so feel free to light up your own picks in the Comments section below. And remember, they are only movies…
Saving Private Ryan (1998) – Bloody Omaha Beach
There’s absolutely no way to sugarcoat combat, and in the World War II classic Saving Private Ryan director Steven Spielberg thankfully doesn’t try. When Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) and his charges hit Dog Green Sector of Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, all hell breaks loose. Once the hatch opens on their landing craft, Hanks and his hapless GI’s are subjected to withering machine gun fire, with shells tearing into flesh and bone and sending terrified soldiers scurrying overboard. But even here the carnage continues, as the whizzing bullets find their mark, piercing bodies and bloodying the water. On land things are not much better, with one GI taking a bullet through the helmet and Hanks trying to drag another soldier to safety whose body has been decapitated. This is the hell that was D-Day.
The Wild Bunch (1969) – The Mexican Shootout
No one ever accused director Sam Peckinpah from shying away from movie violence. In Peckinpah’s classic western The Wild Bunch, Pike Bishop (William Holden) and his outlaw band engage in a monumental shootout with a garrison of Mexican soldiers. The ensuing gun battle is titanic in nature, precipitated after General Mapache (Emilio Fernandez) brazenly slits the throat of Bishop gang member Angel (Jaime Sanchez). Peckinpah and company took 12 days to shoot the climactic massacre scene, with some 10,000 squibs (used to simulate bullet strikes) employed by the special effects team. Maybe Pike and his boys should have tried binding arbitration instead?
The Godfather (1972) - Sonny Corleone Pays His Toll
Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather is one violent gangster flick. Hot-headed Santino “Sonny” Corleone (James Caan), the heir apparent to his father Vito Corleone’s (Marlon Brando) organized crime empire, stumbles into one of Hollywood’s all-time mobster hits. Lured out of the family compound by a vengeful Don Emilio Barzini (Richard Conte), Sonny is whacked at a toll station by Barzini’s henchmen wielding deadly Thompson submachine guns. And once the bloody dance of death is over, Sonny is dealt yet another indignity as one of the hitmen kicks him savagely in the face. James Caan was outfitted with 147 explosive squibs for this scene, no doubt earning his $35,000 paycheck for The Godfather. Bada-bing…Sonny got dinged.
James Caan takes the hit in The Godfather (1972)
Alien (1979) – Bad Space Indigestion
Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt) and the crew of the Nostromo have picked up an unauthorized passenger when checking out planet LV-426. A parasitic creature has attached itself to Kane’s (John Hurt) face, where it later retreats somewhere aboard the ship. But the alien creature has left a small calling card when it or one of its offspring literally rips through Kane’s stomach during the communal dinner. Neither Alka-Seltzer or Pepto-Bismol is effective against this kind of extraterrestrial indigestion. “In space no one can hear you scream,” the movie’s tagline announces. But rest assured, John Hurt’s terrified wails are definitely heard by both the Nostromo crew and the viewing audience. And smug science officer Ash (Ian Holm) apparently knew what was coming all along in the infamous “gut-buster” scene.
Casino (1995) – Louisville Slugger Murder
Martin Scorsese, certainly no stranger to cinematic violence, delivers a particularly horrific mob hit in the blood-splattered Casino. Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) and his brother Dominick (Philip Suriano) arrange a little meeting “out in the sticks” near Las Vegas where foul-mouthed Frank Marino (Frank Vincent) and his henchmen ambush the pair. Dominick is savagely beaten to a bloody pulp with silver baseball bats as a restrained Nicky looks on helplessly. Then comes Nicky’s turn at the plate, with both victims later stripped down to their underwear and shoved into makeshift graves. “They buried them while they were still breathing,” Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro) narrates.
Joe Pesci is forced to watch while his brother is beaten in Casino (1995)
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) – Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting
Violence-loving director Quentin Tarantino serves up an especially bloody scene in his fantasy crime thriller Kill Bill. One-time assassin The Bride (Uma Thurman), now fully awakened from a coma, takes on the all-male gang of Crazy 88 in an absolutely terrifying fight to the finish. Swords, along with the occasional axe, are the choice of weapons, with the athletic, martial arts-trained Bride dismembering limbs, lopping off heads and even giving a well-deserved spanking to a young boy warrior. Ah, you go, girl?
Uma Thurman takes on her attackers in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – Hannibal Turns the Tables
Movie serial killers can be extremely violent. Take the case of Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a self-confessed cannibal who has to be outfitted with a special mask while being transported from his prison cell. In one scene Dr. Lecter, brandishing a hidden pin, manages to escape from his cage in a Tennessee courthouse, but not before bludgeoning to death two of his keepers. Although this sequence is not particularly bloody, save for some red splatter, the terror expressed by Lt. Boyle (Charles Napier) just before Lecter delivers the coup de grace is especially effective. Dr. Lecter was not a big believer in the Hippocratic Oath.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967) – The Ambush
Director Arthur Penn’s ode to Depression era gangsters Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) and Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) is a violent, romantic fairy tale. “We rob banks,” Bonnie smugly pronounces. But the pair later meet their maker in a bloody ambush on a country road set up by Ivan Moss (Dub Taylor), the father of Barrow gang member C.W. Moss (Michael J. Pollard). While returning home, Clyde exits the car to help Ivan change a flat tire. Ivan skedaddles away, and soon all hell breaks loose as law enforcement officers hidden in the bushes open up on the two gangsters, riddling them and their car with an obscene amount of lead. Film editor Dede Allen later commented that the slow-motion massacre scene was meant to evoke shades of the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 as filmed by Dallas clothing manufacturer Abraham Zapruder.
Faye Dunaway, Denver Pyle and Warren Beatty in Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
A Clockwork Orange (1971) – Singin’ in the Rain Beating
Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange takes place in a futuristic Great Britain. In one scene, juvenile delinquent Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) and his painted-up droogs enter the home of writer Frank Alexander (Patrick Magee). While Alex croons “Singin’ in the Rain,” he proceeds to savagely kick the hapless Alexander, who is held down on the floor by a thug. After upending a table and smashing a bookcase, the sick Alex turns his attention to Mrs. Alexander (Adrienne Cory). Alex and his cohorts should of course be taken out and shot – both for their violent crimes and for his bad singing and dancing.
Jaws (1975) – Quint Does Lunch
While hunting the big 25-foot great white shark off Amity Island, Chief Brody (Roy Scheider), Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and Quint (Robert Shaw) run into some trouble. While their crippled boat the Orca slowly sinks into the sea, the monster shark comes up on the reclining deck, eventually biting into the screaming Quint and taking him into the water for a little daytime snack. They should’ve gotten a bigger boat.
Robert Shaw in a losing battle with the shark in Jaws (1975)