headwounds.jpgA long time ago, movies weren’t allowed to have any violence, not even blood. Some monster would drag its hapless victims off screen and your mind would have to fill in the bloody blanks. These days, we have “Hostel,” the director’s cut. Enough said.

Head injuries will always get a wince out of your audience because it’s the most visceral injury a human being can watch. Even though they aren’t real, they will always feel the pain. Who knows the psychological causes or the weird, subliminal connections behind them? It’s probably because we all have the same thought when we see a mob goon getting his head bashed in or a zombie’s head being blown apart six ways from Sunday with a double barrel boomstick – “Phew, sucks to be that guy.” So whip out the Band Aids and wear an extra thick helmet because here are the movies’ 10 best cranium crackers…

10. “Dead Alive” (1992), Death by Puree

Before he started making epic, CGI enhanced films that cost more and lasted longer than the national deficit, Peter Jackson was hosing his cast down with Karo syrup with violent splatter comedies like “Bad Taste,” “Meet the Feebles” and “Dead Alive.” During the film’s climatic scene when our hero Lionel (Timothy Balme) gets into a scuffle with the zombies with his trusty lawnmower, half of a head gets kicked around in the ensuing onslaught and then into an industrial strength blender where it gets totally gooified. Man, am I the only one who’s craving a smoothie right now?

9. “Hot Fuzz” (2007), Splat the Rat

There’s a very strange irony to the fact that director Edgar Wright’s British cop shoot’em up “Hot Fuzz” is twice as violent as his British zombie rom-com “Shaun of the Dead.” But when it comes to Wright’s work, the best moments are the ones you never see coming. The death of newspaper reporter Tim Messenger (Adam Buxton) is one of those moments. Just before he’s about to spill the town’s secret to Sgt. Nick Angel (Simon Pegg), a shadowy figure drops a part of the town church on his head. It completely destroys his head making it looked like the church steeple is wearing Messenger as a turtleneck sweater.

8. “jackass: the movie” (2002), Hit Me Baby One More Time

Depending on what kind of movie snob who are and how much alcohol you’ve consumed, “jackass: the movie” can either be a multimillion dollar snuff film or one of the funniest things you’ve ever seen. For me, it’s the latter and I’m stone sober. But a reenactment of the TV show’s famous “Department Store Boxing” stunt with Johnny Knoxville and director Jeff Tremaine replaced with super, super heavyweight boxer Butterbean was one of the most cringe inducing head injuries ever. Knoxville goes down faster than a boxer taking a dive, hits his head on the corner of a display counter and suffers a deep concussion. Then in true “jackass” style, the camera lets us watch the doctor put the stitches in Knoxville’s scalp.

7. “Goodfellas” (1990), Tommy Gets Made in the Face

When it comes to gratuitous mob violence, director Martin Scorsese wrote the book, inked in blood and bound in bruises. Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci), Jimmy Conway (Robert DeNiro) and Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) think Tommy’s about to get made, but it quickly becomes the set up for a hit. Tommy gets shot in the back of his head creating an exit wound on his face that goes by so quick, you don’t have a second to look away. There’s probably a hundred gorier moments we could include on this list from Scorsese’s resume, but Tommy’s death goes above the rest because it made everyone in the theater jump like their butt checks were made of bedsprings.

6. “Grindhouse” (2007), Zombieheaded

More people may have seen a solar eclipse with their bare eyes than Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s drive-in tribute “Grindhouse,” but those who didn’t missed out on some of the best grindhouse cinema violence since, well, the days of the grindhouse cinema. Towards the end of Rodriguez’s zombie holocaust “Planet Terror,” a zombie jumps out of nowhere after the survivors make their escape to the coast and Cherry Darling (Rose McGowen) whips out her new and improved chain gun leg and blows the bejesus out of the zombie’s head into more pieces than the crumbs at the bottom of a Lay’s Potato Chip bag.

5. “Hostel” (2005), The Kindest Cut of All

The story may have been ludicrous and an excuse to push the gore envelope harder than any other movie in recent memory, but no other movie in recent memory made us want to look away from the screen more than director Eli Roth’s bodily fluid bath, which is about to get the sequel treatment this summer. It dared you not to look away especially during the film’s close to climatic moment when Paxton (Jay Hernandez) tries to save a poor Japanese girl who gets blow torched in the face and then ease her pain by cutting off her dangling eyeball. Be thankful you can look away.

4. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), The Incredible Melting Men

There wasn’t a lot of blood throughout Steven Spielberg’s triumphant beginning to the Indiana Jones legacy but the climatic scene at the end of the movie when the Ark of the Covenant is finally opened made up for lost time in sheer liquid volume. The evil spirits in the ark literally wipes out all of Indy’s enemies in one divine swoop causing their heads to melt and the evil Belloq’s (Paul Freeman) head to explode silencing his piercing screams. “South Park” did a brilliant parody of the movie to protest Hollywood’s short lived tendency to digital manipulate the classics, which Matt Stone and Trey Parker said is rumored to have stopped a similar remake of “Raiders,” according to a DVD commentary. I guess Spielberg didn’t want to risk having his face melted off.

3. “Scanners” (1981), Bald Headed Blow Up

Go to Google, type in the phrase “head explosion” and hit the search button and you’ll find a hundred hits to a video of a poor bald guy’s big head bloodily blowing up in slow motion. It’s from director David Cronenberg’s sci-fi masterpiece “Scanners.” This five second piece of film footage is so well know that it’s overshadowed the whole movie after it became a historic piece of viral violence on the Internet. It’s a shame because both are hard not to watch the whole way through.

2. “Dawn of the Dead” (1978), Helicopitation

George Romero’s zombies set the standard for modern horror, satire and violence in just about every modern movie. “Dawn of the Dead” is so iconic and loved that even some of the zombie’s deaths have made them stars and no one is more is more famous than the “helicopter zombie.” Roger (Scott Reiniger) tries to refuel the helicopter when a zombie goes after him. The zombie stands up on some boxes and gets his undead head knocked clean off by the rotating helicopter blade. Man, just think, where we would be without the “Dead” trilogy? Well, we’d probably be better sleepers, more sensitive to violence and less critical about society at large. God bless George Romero.

1. The Three Stooges’ Columbia Movie Shorts (1934-1957), “Pick two…”

When it came to gratuitous skull smashing and cranium cracking, I tried to find a singular moment in the Stooges’ career that stood out. But when it comes right down to it, nothing can top their trademark double finger eye poke. Shemp (Shemp Howard) is rumored to have created the Stooges’ most famous move during a poker game when he accused Larry of cheating and went after him with both fingers blazing. It’s not only been in almost every Stooges short since the beginning of time, but it’s been copied relentlessly, the most famous and best duplicated of the group being Ash’s duel with an army of undead arms in “Army of Darkness.” It’s so well known that everyone even knows how to defend themselves from it. If you don’t, then wear sunglasses where ever you go.

Think you’ve got a beat on the best Head Wounds of All Time? Drop them in the comment box below…


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