One of the things we most enjoy about horror are the insanely memorable death scenes. Horror often introduces new ways to die that we hadn’t yet thought of, from chest bursting baby aliens in Alien to group bisection by wire in Ghost Ship, it’s often easier to remember the deaths more than the characters. Luckily, for the characters suffering these creative deaths, they’re over in a moment. Their only respite for major trauma and pain is that it passes quickly before the villain or killer moves on to their next target.
Sometimes, though, horror reminds us that death isn’t always swift at all, no matter how vicious. Some characters are put through the wringer, dealt blow after blow in cringe-inducing fashion as their wounds pile up, proving that the human body can handle quite a lot before finally succumbing to injury. In honor of those characters, the ones that are forced to crawl, limp, and squirm their way to the end due to extreme torture and agonizing bodily damage, we salute the 10 worst character beat downs in horror.
Sheriff Franklin Hunt – Bone Tomahawk
The most memorable death hands down goes to poor Deputy Nick, the victim brutally scalped, and bisected alive like a human pistachio by the Troglodytes. But, however painfully, it happens quickly. That’s not the case for Sheriff Hunt (Kurt Russell). Like the true hero he is, he goes down in a blaze of glory, but that’s only after having his abdomen sliced open, a hot flask shoved inside the gaping wound, and then getting shot twice by own gun. Even still, he stays behind to kill the remaining cannibals, mortal wounds and all.
Mari Collingwood – The Last House on the Left
Both in Wes Craven’s original 1972 film or the 2009 remake, teen Mari Collingwood is put through the absolute worst. Yet, in the 2009 remake, Mari’s torture is drawn out for a lot longer, giving even more heightened suspense but also hope. Her torture and eventual rape at the hands of Krug and his gang stretch out a bit further, with unflinching gaze. This version of Mari does manage to break free and escape their clutches, but she’s shot in the back and left for dead in the lake. Mari manages to make it back to her parents, barely alive, who are unable to rush her to the hospital as Krug and the gang are there. This means Mari’s suffering in pain for hours, leading to one of the most severe tracheotomies by way of household objects committed on screen. Mari’s story had a mostly happen ending, but boy was she put through a lot.
Wade Felton – House of Wax
This underrated gem has a lot of memorable deaths, and the typical go to is that of Paris Hilton’s infamous demise. But the worst death is that of Wade Felton (Jared Padalecki), the unsuspecting boyfriend of lead heroine Carly Jones (Elisha Cuthbert) who earned the most prolonged death for being the most curious. Snooping around the Sinclair household after using their restroom, a trap door opens behind him and the killer cuts through his Achilles tendon with large shears. The ensuing battle finds Wade getting stabbed and then knocked out. Then, we see a long drawn out sequence that shows him getting painfully prepped for a scalding hot wax shower. You’d think it’d end there, but his friends find him later in the house of wax, try to free him only to gruesomely discover the wax has fused to his skin. The killer slashes his face with a machete when trying to attack his friend Dalton, and it’s still not clear if he finally took his last breath in that moment or later in the climax’s fire. Either way, it was not slow.
Shigeharu Aoyama – Audition
This film will make you think twice about dating. Long after director Takashi Miike lulls the viewer into thinking they selected a quaint romance, he flips it on his head with one of horror’s most disturbing villains in Asami. She can’t stand the concept that her lover could love anyone else but her, including his own son and the memory of his long-deceased wife, so she does what any disturbed individual does and drugs him. When he comes to, he finds himself unable to move due to a paralytic agent that means that while he can’t move he can feel every bit of the torture Asami inflicts. Needles in his eyes, unhurried piano wire amputations, and watching her attack his son while powerless. That Asami giggles as she slowly tortures her lover is unnerving.
Steve – Eden Lake
James Watkins directorial debut is as harrowing as it is infuriating. For Steve (Michael Fassbender) and his girlfriend Jenny (Kelly Reilly) a romantic camping trip by the lake turns to hell when delinquent teens steal their car and belongings. Steve should have just walked away or called the police. Instead, he confronts them. It escalates when they come at him with knives and the dog winds up the victim. He escapes, but the resulting car crash leaves him banged up. The kids tie him up, with barbed wire no less, and take turns choking him with a chain, shoving things in his mouth, cutting him, and stabbing him. Battered, bruised, and bearing deep wounds that won’t stop bleeding, the proverbial knife is twisted further when he proposes to Jenny in his weakened state when she stumbles upon the engagement ring he intended for her.
Andy – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Marcus Nispel’s remake ups the ante on the gore, and none of the characters come away unscathed by the twisted Hewitt family. The characters that do perish tend to go quickly, by way of chainsaw or sledgehammer to the head. Except for poor Andy, that is. Trying to find his lost friend Kemper, Andy enters the Hewitt home only to lose a leg during an encounter with Leatherface. Then he’s impaled on a meat hook. Erin later finds him in the basement, still alive and suspended by hook, and having endured a lot of painful torture by way of dipping his raw stump in salt. A lot of it. Inflicting even more damage by trying to remove him from the meat hook, Erin eventually ends his suffering.
Brent – The Loved Ones
I suppose there’s no better way to appreciate life than to undergo harrowing torment at the hands of a deranged princess, Lola, and her father. For Brent, he’s attacked from behind, tied to a chair, and his voice box injected with bleach to render him unable to speak or scream. Then, he’s pelted with rocks, his feet are nailed to the floor with knives, and initials are carved into his chest. Still not enough, Lola drills a hole into his skull to lobotomize him by way of boiling water, but laments that the hole isn’t big enough. After going through all that, he still must fight off Lola and her father if he has any hope to live.
Meg Loughlin – The Girl Next Door
Adapted from Jack Ketchum’s novel and loosely based on the true events surrounding Sylvia Likens’ murder in 1965, The Girl Next Door is downright grim. It’s not an easy watch, nor was it meant to be, and the slow torture of teen Meg over the summer of 1958 at the hands of her own aunt and her sons is nightmarish. It begins small enough, with Aunt Ruth starving Meg and verbally abusing her. It soon escalates to tying her up in the basement and degrading her, all the while withholding the necessity of water. Aunt Ruth allows her sons and other neighborhood children to beat, cut, and burn Meg, cauterizing all wounds with cigarette burns. She’s branded, carved into, raped, and devastatingly given a clitorectomy with a blowtorch. It’s sick, and worsened by its loose truth basis. In terms of sheer level of suffering, Meg ranks near the top.
Eric – Evil Dead
A pure descent into insanity, none of the characters get off easy. As the one responsible for loosing the demons from the book of the dead, though, poor Eric gets it worst of all. Of all the characters in horror, Eric can truly take a beating. From getting stabbed in the shoulder with glass, a syringe needle broken under his eye, nearly breaking his back crashing into the toilet, a brutal beatdown by crowbar (that splits his hand down the middle), multiple nail gun injuries, it’s insane just how much damage Eric takes. It doesn’t even touch on the box cutter stab wounds. That he humorously tries to contain it all with duct tape only further illustrates just how brutal Fede Alvarez’s film really is.
Anna Assaoui – Martyrs
Pascal Laugier’s extreme French horror film is not for the faint of heart. While the first half follows the very traumatized and unbalanced Lucie, clearly still reeling from a horrific childhood, it’s Anna that gets it the worst. Discovering a secret dungeon beneath the family home of Lucie’s victims, Anna is captured and subjected to systematic torture for scientific/religious purposes. Beaten, degraded, and inhumanely tormented on repeat for an unbearable length of time, Laugier lingers on Anna’s physical and mental breakdown for what feels like an eternity. So, drawn out that it would be enough on its own to count as among the worst beatdowns in horror history, but then Laugier takes it a step further by having Anna flayed alive. Poor Anna suffers most of all.