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The Screening Room's Top 10 Movie Deaths

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  • CNN's "The Screening Room" picks the top 10 movie deaths
  • "Psycho," "King Kong," "White Heat" head the list
  • Think we've missed one? Post your comments to the Screening Room blog
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(CNN) -- Movie deaths can be tragic, heroic, spine-chilling -- even funny. This month, we've brought together our favorite screen exits, from Psycho to Bambi.

Hitchcock's classic shower scene had to be our #1

Our only criteria? The character can't come back to life later. Sorry, E.T.

Don't agree? Think we've missed one? Send your comments and read others' views in the Screening Room blog.

Read other CNN viewers' favorite death scenes and tell us yours >>


1. Janet Leigh in Psycho
(Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
It's Hitchcock's shots and Bernard Herrmann's shrieking score that construct the terror in this, the ultimate slasher movie. Simple ingredients -- a shadow, a knife, a scream, a stream of blood -- expertly constructed had to make this our #1 killer.

2. King Kong in King Kong
(Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1933)
The noblest of apes meets his tragic destiny atop the Empire State Building. Plagued by a swarm of fighter planes, Kong fights until the end, but ultimately tumbles and falls at the hands of lesser men. Oh, the pathos.

3. James Cagney in White Heat
(Raoul Walsh, 1949)
Following his mission to avenge his mother's death, Oedipal psychopath Cody Jarrett (James Cagney) sets out on a dangerous heist. Picked out by police snipers, he empties his gun into a chemical tank, sparking his incandescent exit: "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!"

4. Paul Newman and Robert Redford, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
(George Roy Hill, 1969)
It's their last stand: even the quick-draw Sundance Kid can't outshoot a hundred Bolivian marksmen. Surrounded by police, doomed bank robbers Paul Newman and Robert Redford go out in one final blaze of glory.

5. Sean Penn in Dead Man Walking
(Tim Robbins, 1995)
"I want the last face you see in this world to be the face of love, so you look at me when they do this thing. I'll be the face of love for you."
Rapist and murderer Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn) is executed by lethal injection for his brutal crimes while death penalty campaigner Sister Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon) looks on. A painful, honest and brave acknowledgement.

6. Bambi's mother in Bambi
(David D. Hand, 1942)
Doe-eyed, spindly-legged Bambi, absolutely alone, lost in a dark forest: no film has communicated the simple grief and terror of an abandoned child like Walt Disney's classic tearjerker. A vivid exposition on the anguish that death leaves behind.

7. John Hurt in Alien
(Ridley Scott, 1979)
John Hurt gives unnatural birth to a monster. As he convulses on the dinner table, blood spurting from his stomach, his swollen belly tears open and the alien makes its escape. An explosive and gory death that's the harbinger of worse to come for Ripley and co.

8. 'Marvin' in Pulp Fiction
(Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
Tarantino gives us rich pickings when it comes to memorable exits, but there's none more shocking than Marvin's accidental dispatch in Pulp Fiction. As the contents of his head splattered the inside of Vincent and Jules's sedan we were speechless, then in stitches, then shamefaced at what we'd laughed at. And what a cleanup operation...

9. Susan Sarandon and Geena Davies, Thelma and Louise
(Ridley Scott, 1991)
Swindled by Brad Pitt and chased down by Harvey Keitel, killer girl duo Susan Sarandon and Geena Davies bow out in style rather than face prison. And what better way to go than shooting a '66 Thunderbird into the Grand Canyon? Death as the ultimate liberation.

10. Various in Raiders of the Lost Ark
(Steven Spielberg, 1981)
Sometimes you just need a hero. Indy dispatches his foes with inimitable panache: the guy backed into an airplane propeller, the swashbuckling swordsman dismissed with a single bullet, or the fabulous face-melting Nazi finale. Take your pick.


And the worst ways to go...

The Wicker Man
(Robin Hardy, 1973)
A terrified Edward Woodward is trapped inside a blazing wicker basket while deranged islanders look on -- not a good place to end up.

A Nightmare on Elm Street
(Wes Craven, 1984)
Johnny Depp's first and least notable movie performance sees him meet his end in a ceiling-splattering blender bender. You've come a long way, baby.

Jurassic Park
(Steven Spielberg, 1993)
Martin Ferrero meets an ignominious dino-death on the john. Kids, that's what happens when lawyers turn corrupt.

(Luis Llosa, 1997)
A half-digested Jon Voigt gives the giant serpent bellyache but it still returns for second helpings. Regurgitated movie stars sure ain't pretty.



Now it's your turn. What are your top movie exits -- and which are the shockers? Which ones have we missed? Post your comments and suggestions to the Screening Room blog and we'll publish the best.

Read other CNN viewers' best and worst movie deaths -- and tell us yours >> E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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