There’s no doubt that the horror genre has a ton of really fucked up sub-genres. We have the Italian Cannibal, the Nazi Exploitation, the Nuns-ploitation, the killer Sasquatch, and of course the Torture-Porn sub-genres that have at one time or another dominated the horror scene. But what about sub-sub-genres? One of my favorites is the Head Exploding sub-sub-genre. I consider this a sub-SUB-genre because an exploding head can appear in any kind of horror flick. As we’ll see below exploding heads pop up in zombie films, sci-fi films, and even killer robot films (to name a few).
So I decided to make a list of my favorite exploding and bursting head moments. These are in no particular order … they all kick ass and are extremely gooey. Enjoy!!
1. The Exploding Head in SCANNERS (1981). Yeah I know this is an obvious choice but come on; this is also a great scene. I even listed this in my recent Halloween list of the 16 Greatest Horror Death Scenes. What makes this scene so goddamn good is that it was unexpected. SCANNERS, directed by David Cronenberg, was a kick ass film but was also not too gory up until this scene. But when we kept getting close-ups of Michael Ironside as he was shaking and staring at his victim, well we all knew something good was about to happen!!
2. The Shotgun Blast in DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978). You know I couldn’t leave this one out either. This is another one of those unexpected head exploding scenes. The main difference between this and the SCANNERS scene is that we were expecting something like this to happen more in DAWN OF THE DEAD than in SCANNERS.
So we get this totally racist, homicidal cop raiding a Philadelphia project. By this point in the raid there were no rules and the scene was already devolving into complete chaos. Our racist cop is just running through the hallways of the project kicking in doors and shooting minorities. Then in a flash he kicks in one particular door and without even aiming blows off a guys’ head. No, he wasn’t a zombie. This is the level of violence we get in DAWN OF THE DEAD before the actual zombie violence starts. I love it!!
3. Exploding Head by Laser Beam in CHOPPING MALL (1986). I don’t know if you ever saw this flick but this one is a lot of fun. Its about a mall that decided to use robots to protect the store after hours. Security guards are just too lazy and irresponsible (this film is also known as KILLBOTS). Well of course a few horny teens (one of then being Barbara Crampton) decide to hide out in the mall after hours for the hell of it. There’s a freak electrical storm that shorts out the robots making them … KILLBOTS, and this is when the fun truly begins.
Directed by the infamous Jim Wynorski and has cameos by Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov, who portray their characters from EATING RAOUL, and Dick Miller, who reprises his famous role of Walter Paisley. This is not a film to take seriously, it certainly doesn’t, and is just a great “pizza, beer, and buddies” flick.
4. Exploding Head by Basketball in DEADLY FRIEND (1986). Now who can forget this Wes Craven classic. Well ok; pretty much EVERYONE has forgotten about this film. This is a real stinker folks. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about nerdy guy Paul (Matthew Laborteaux) who built a robot and lives next door to a girl Samantha (Kristy Swanson) who’s abusive father just threw her down a flight of stairs. So what does Paul do; what anyone would do who has a crush on the abused next door neighbor … he takes the brain out of his robot and implants it into the lifeless body of Samantha. It’s amazing just how easy it was to do!! Well Samantha of course goes on a pretty fucking boring killing spree, but there is one death that stands out. Just watch it for yourself but please don’t be fooled into thinking this movie is worth watching because of this scene. It’s not. You’ve been warned.
5. Self-Caused Exploding Head in BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1986). Wow, 1986 was a great year for exploding heads, and you just knew I’d get John Carpenter onto this list somehow!! Yes I’m taking some liberties here: this film isn’t a horror film (but it’s directed by a bone fide horror director), and technically this guy’s entire body explodes (and the head is a part of the body). But it’s my list and I wanna include it!!
This is one pissed off Asian. He sees his master has been killed and gets so angry that he can’t contain it. Instead of taking it out on the people who killed his beloved master, he simply throws a wicked temper tantrum and explodes. Let this be a warning to all you people with anger issues; get your anger under control before this happens.
6. Head Explosion by Shotgun in MANIAC (1980). There’s a lot of sleaziness that goes on in this film. The whole film makes you need a long hot shower after watching it, and I love that about this film. So it should come as no surprise that there’s an exploding head scene here that makes my list. But what makes the scene even more fun is that none other than Tom Savini executed the special f/x AND he was the actor in the film who gets his head blown a part. Good times, good times.
As an extra bonus I included a video of all the juiciest moments from MANIAC. The head exploding scene starts at the 1:01 mark.
7. Head Smashing Scene from THE TOXIC AVENGER (1984). Oh Toxie … from the first time I saw you I knew I’d be including you on a few on my lists!! Again, I’m taking some liberties here … this isn’t an exploding head scene, but it is a classic scene of a head getting crushed. Toxie is pissed and can smell evil a mile away. In this particular instance his nose takes him to the local gym where some poor schmuck is about to get “avenged”. Do ya think this scene will be in the remake?? Yeah; I seriously doubt it.
8. The Accidental Shooting in PULP FICTION (1994). Again, not a traditional horror movie, I know. But Tarantino always has a foot in the horror genre in all of his films, and this is perhaps one of the greatest horrifying and hilarious scenes ever put on film.
9. Head Squeezing in GALAXY OF TERROR (1981). The most famous scene from this classic “this film goes too far” flick is when a completely nude girl gets raped by a gigantic worm. But we all know there’s no exploding head in that scene (well maybe when the worm cums). But everyone seems to forget the scene where Alluma, played by Erin Moran (Joanie Cunningham from HAPPY DAYS) gets her head squeezed so hard that it bursts. Classic scene in a hugely entertaining film.
Now don’t leave me a ton of comments telling me my list is totally incomplete. I know it is. These were the first 5 scenes I thought of off the top of my head (ah-hem). So tell me your favorite head exploding scenes!!