Exploding people: Here’s our 10 favorite films in which human beings go “kablooey”!
How many high-octane horror and action movies come armed with marketing that boasts about how
“EXPLOSIVE!” the picture is. Too many to count, I’d say. But how many actually deliver on their eruptive promises? A precious few…
But there are a series of classic films — mostly horror, naturally — that are indeed explosive. Literally. These movies employed then state-of-the-art special FX to illustrate shocking scenes in which human beings are completely and utterly blown apart. With some of these films,
only the heads go kablooey, while other go farther and let the whole torso pop.
No matter what, almost all of these movies caused their once unsuspecting audiences to either gas or cheer, sometimes both.
Here then — in chronological order — is a Friday listicle pick for our 10 favorite films featuring exploding people. See if your favorites made the cut and comment in the section below…
The Fury (1978)
Brian De Palma's stylish, pulpy telekinesis/espionage thriller ends with a bang. Literally. When Amy Irving has had enough of bad guy John Cassavetes' crap, she uses her power to blow the bastard up. It's the final shot of the film and my God is it a show-stopper!
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Tom Savini's FX work in Romero's Dawn of the Dead kick-started the splatter craze and this sequence is one of a handful of exploding noggin gags he's famous for. The head is actually a dummy of actress Gaylen Ross, filled with fake blood, corn flakes and other refuse and blown apart by Savini's shotgun. Safety first!
Luigi Cozzi's riotous Alien-inspired exploitation film sees a plague of acid-filled alien eggs erupting on humans (who often willingly commit suicide by standing in their spurt) and, after burning them, cause them to spontaneously explode into torrents of blood and flesh and bone. Viva Italian horror!
Savini returns to supply the splatter in Bill Lustig's depressing psychodrama. Here Savini casts himself - in the role and casts his head - while Joe Spinell aims a shotgun at him and blows apart Savini's own dummy head. Rendered by Lustig in tasty slow-mo, naturally.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
It's amazing how much Steven Spielberg's Raiders got away with in 1981, considering it was a PG flick. The much touted FX were obviously inspired by the wave of splatter gags in horror films and the climax sees Nazi' s melting and one villain screaming in agony before his head explodes! And God did this all, so I guess the censor thought it was okay...
David Croneberg's lively ESP shocker is a treat for Dick Smith fans. Smith (The Exorcist) built the dummy replica of Louis Del Grande's head and FX supervisor Gary Zeller crawled underneath the prop and blew it apart with a shotgun. A revolting, shocking effect!
Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983)
Python classic with an outragoeus opening that sees an obscenely obese man literally eating everything at a fancy restaurant. Soon, his stomach quakes and he asks for "the bucket" before exploding and blowing all his guts and half-consumed food everywhere. Charming!
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
John Carpenter's muscular and daffy amalgam of John Wayne swagger-Western and Shaw Brothers wire-trip is one of the master's strangest and coolest efforts. Nowhere is it weirder than when a baddie inexplicably commits suicide by blowing himself up, simply by breathing heavily. Pills might have been easier?
Deadly Friend (1986)
Wes Craven's Deadly Friend is a pretty tepid movie, a wonky blend of The Terminator, a Frankenstein flick and teen romance. But the show stopper is seeing crabby actress Anne Ramsay get her head blown apart by zombie robot Kristy Swanson's rogue basketball. Even nastier in the unrated cut!
The epic showdown between Blade (Wesley Snipes) and Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) is a sonic boom of awesome, even with the now dated early CGI effects, the likes of which see Dorff mutate into a giant, throbbing blood-filled zit that erupts everywhere. Oddly, Blade never gets a drop on him, but that's neither here nor there.