We’re fascinated by and fear death. We never want this crazy ride to end! To escape is one of the many reasons why we watch movies and to see what someone else’s life is like for awhile, but what happens after the character on screen dies? Usually they are left behind in some room by the hero and they are forgotten, but what happens when the situation isn’t so tidy and convenient? What if you have to hide that body before going on with your life? Or worst yet, you have to pretend that the dead body in your arms is a living, breathing person? There have been several movies that feature actors portraying dead people getting into shenanigans with living people. This list celebrates those actors’ stiff performances. Sorry.
5. That Guy in the Freezer Full of Ice Cream in THE GOONIES (1985) - We all remember that scene. Chunk (Jeff Cohen) has had it with his adventuring buddies. He wants out of the Fratellis’ abandoned restaurant hideout, but just as he’s about to exit he smells… ice cream! He finds a walk-in freezer and proceeds to inventory all the flavors before realizing he’s sharing the tiny, cold room with a body with a bullet hole in its head! Gulp!
4. Benicio Del Toro as Jackie Boy in SIN CITY (2005) - After Miho (Devon Aoki) chops Jackie Boy’s gun hand off with her Samurai sword, he pries his weapon from its dead fingers and takes aim at Miho and fires. Unfortunately, she jammed the barrel, causing the slide to explode and impale itself into Jackie Boy’s forehead! Ouch! The subsequent scene where Dwight (Clive Owen) is driving Jackie’s body to the tar pits and imagining it to still be alive and wheezing is a classic.
3. John Vernon as Curtis Mooney in KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (1988) - What do you do when you’re the only cop left to watch the station amidst a killer klown outbreak? Well, if you’re Curtis Mooney you leave the phone off the hook, pour some booze into a Styrofoam cup and let the trouble come to you. After being strangled by a blowout noisemaker, Mooney’s body is transformed into a macabre ventriloquist dummy. Shudder!
2. Jeff Bridges as Noah in TIDELAND (2005) - Noah is a down and out rocker whose wife dies of a drug overdose. Fearing being caught, he takes his daughter, Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland), to his old abandoned childhood home in the country. Noah then O.D.s as well, leaving Jeliza to fend for herself while rigor mortis sets in. Unfortunately, due to her young age and extremely overactive imagination, she just thinks he’s sleeping day and night. Ewww!
1. Terry Kiser as Bernie Lomax in WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S (1989) - After Larry (Andrew McCarthy) and Richard (Jonathan Silverman) report that they have uncovered a $2 million insurance fraud to their boss, Mr. Lomax. Being behind the fraud Bernie puts a hit on Larry and Richard, but his mob friends double cross him and take Bernie out instead. Larry and Richard proceed to dance Bernie around like he was still alive for the entirety of the movie. Terry Kiser’s performance is amazing.
HONORABLE MENTIONS -
Terry Kiser as Bernie Lomax in WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S II (1993) - Kiser reprises his role as the bespectacled smirking corpse in this ridiculous sequel where Bernie gets partly resurrected during a bungled voodoo ceremony where he proceeds to dance-walk towards treasure Bernie buried in the Virgin Islands. FILM GEEK ALERT!: The scene of Bernie walking underwater was a nice ZOMBI 2 (1979) reference to the infamous zombie vs. shark fight.
Lee Ving as Mr. Boddy, Jeffrey Kramer as The Motorist and Kellye Nakahara as The Cook in CLUE (1985) - It’s no surprise that in a whodunnit comedy that one or two dead bodies might turn up, but what happens when a policeman shows up? You make pretend everything is alright by turning your three dead bodies into drunken revelers. That’s what you do! Oh, and as grody as it may be, making out with a corpse goes a long way to convincing a cop that everything is A-okay.
Michael J. Pollard as Herman in SCROOGED (1988) – The moment that has always stuck with me in this film is when Frank Cross (Bill Murray) discovers Herman, a homeless man, frozen to death with an eerie smile on his face. Cross wrestles with his conscience; would Herman still be alive if he had given him the money he asked for? Interestingly, Murray returns to this theme in GROUNDHOG DAY (1993) when he tries repeatedly to save the life of another homeless man.
Al Berkowitz as Old Man in CLERKS. (1994) - Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) was about to reignite his relationship with his high school ex, Caitlin (Lisa Spoonhauer). Instead, thinking it was Dante, she has sex with a corpse of an old man in the dark convenience store bathroom. The forgotten old man had died of a heart attack while fwapping it, making it perfectly plausible for Caitlin to think Dante was waiting for her in the dark, naked, sitting perfectly still with a full… Blargg!
Michael V. Gazzo as Torelli in LAST ACTION HERO (1993) - Jack Slater (Arnold Schwarzenegger) needs to stop a bomb from going off and killing a bunch of mobsters at a rooftop funeral. Wait… the bomb is where? That’s right, it’s inside the deceased. Schwarzenegger steals the show by yanking the body out of the coffin, avoiding a barrage of gunfire, hangs off a crane and eventually ends up in the La Brea Tar Pits with the corpse. While toweling the tar off his body with paper towels, the bomb goes off in the tar causing a gigantic bubble to emerge prompting Slater to commiserate, “Silent, but deadly.” Have I told you how much I love this movie?
Have a happy Halloween and a merry Dia de los Muertos!
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