Wednesday, January 26

Hail blood and gore

Janet Leigh is the original scream queen
tears in rain
See Bonnie dance

The UK's Total Film magazine came out with their list of 50 Greatest Movie Deaths in their July 2004 issue. You get to pick your preferred death scene as #50, and then it proceeds to give you, in reversed chronological order the blood and gore which seemed to be one of the more pertinent criteria. Action and horror movies dominated the list that included Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch , the pre-Passion Mel Gibson's Braveheart, a smattering of Ahnold and Freddie Kruger, and Bruce Willis with a wee bit more hair.

Among those listed, I like Quentin Tarantino's Resorvoir Dogs which contains the best ear cutting scene ever, Drew Barrymore hanging from the garage door in Scream, Rutger Hauer's "tears in rain" speech in Bladerunner, and Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty's bullet dance in Bonnie and Clyde.

The best death moment of all time is that iconic shower scene from the 1960 Psycho (definitely not the Gus Van Sant)
The list is supposed to encompass all of cinema history, but of course, there will always be something left out.

My personal blood and gore cinema favorite is the decapitation scene from 1984's Karnal. Karnal is set in a rural Pinoy town called Mulawin in the 1930s. While there are no bird people at war, what's there is a catty cast of small town folks who raise their eyebrows when Narcing (the pre-action hero Philip Salvador) brings home a wife from Manila, the despachadora Puring, who eeriely looks like Narcing's suicidal but now dead mother. Puring catches the fancy of her father-in-law Gusting (I don't know why they all end their names with -ing. Maybe they fancy themselves as a family of gerunds? Nyahaha.), and there's this father-son tug of war over the same woman. Gusting makes a pass at Puring, Puring is caught with Gorio the deaf-mute guy played by the very young Joel Torre, and things come to a head and that makes Narcing furious. Philip Salvador swings that bolo and down the ground rolls Vic Silayan's head. If that's not gory enough for you, I wouldn't know. The last scene pictures the lone survivor of that family, Doray, scurrying out of that town, never to be heard from again.

I particularly like this movie because everything is so understated. The time and space it creates is so suffocating, you would understand why everyone speaks in an almost whisper. And when the violence finally breaks out, in a vibrang spurting of blood, it makes sense. Karnal is one of my Top 3 Marilou Diaz Abaya -al movies, the other two being Moral and Brutal. When she came out with Rizal, it's not the same anymore.

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