POW POW POW!!! Everyone loves a good action movie. The more bone-crushing fight scenes, the better. Whether we’re rooting for the good guy, the bad guy, or just hoping each scene will be bloodier and more bad-ass than the last, thrilling action films are something easy to become obsessed with. Just in time for Halloween, here are 15 movies with huge, gruesome death counts.
If you know much about the history of King Leonidas and the Spartans’ last stand against the invading Persians, Zack Snyder’s 300 gives you a pretty big clue as to how bloody it’ll be in the title alone. There are 600 onscreen deaths in the film — interesting because that means that each Spartan warrior only managed to kill an average of one foe, which is pretty paltry considering their hero status. Maybe next time a little less work on the eight-pack abs and a little more on the whole battle-training thing is needed. Not counted in this respectable death toll are the animals who met their demise in the heat of bloody battle, including one wolf, one rhinoceros, and three elephants. If you tally that up in terms of gross killed-pounds, that puts another 50 or so guys on the total. It’d be cruel to let those poor pachyderms die in vain.
In the tragic events that befell the RMS Titanic in 1912, 1,517 passengers perished. In the film Titanic, directed by James Cameron, exactly 307 on-screen deaths are depicted, leaving the rest to our own extrapolation. Also amongst the casualties were some high-quality stringed instruments – hopefully none of them were Stradivariuses. Of all the deaths in the film, however, there is definitely one that stood out as the most poignant. Who didn’t cry when Jack’s hand slipped silently out of Rose’s and he sunk into the murky depths? Tears of joy count, too.
If we only include human deaths in the film Starship Troopers, the body count is still a respectable 128. To include their nemeses, the alien bugs, would blow the figure up to a much more hefty 256. This means that, just as we saw in 300, two warring factions have the exact same death toll. Maybe this is some unwritten filmic code that’s only now being unearthed.
Fresh from his turn as the frightening yet irresistibly funny Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, Christian Bale turned his hand to a role in a far lesser known film: 2002’s Equilibrium. This film is set in a futuristic dystopian society in which lawmen (known as clerics) are responsible for upholding civil order. The film’s body count reaches a staggering 236 deaths, thanks in no small part to a scene in which Bale’s character goes postal (clerical) and turns on the paternalistic government, mowing down dozens of faceless henchmen. Equilibrium introduced the world to the concept of Gun Kata, a new style of gun fighting that kicks some serious ass.
Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan is often lauded as one of cinema’s most realistic depictions of the trials, tribulations, and horrors of war — so it’s not surprise that in depicting its grim realities, the film racks up a very substantial body count. The film’s onscreen body-count hovers around 255, a fact that renders the film’s powerful effect on audiences understandable when viewed in conjunction with its extreme realism. It also completely outstrips the body count of its ill-fated sequel, Shaving Ryan’s Privates, in which the only thing resembling a casualty was an unfortunate case of razor burn to the unmentionables. Without doubt, it is the mass carnage of the opening D-Day scene that both captured the film’s audience and propelled it into the records for highest death count.
Much like the newest Rocky film, Stallone’s latest entry in the Rambo canon was going to be called John Rambo before they settled on the simple surname-alone approach. This was the fourth film in the franchise, so they could have just simply called it Rambo IV… It’s almost surprising that they didn’t go with Rambo CCXLVII. That’s 247, the death toll that Rambo racks up throughout the film’s bloody proceedings. Rambo doesn’t discriminate – he slays people with guns, knives, bows and arrows and even kills one man by crushing his head between his rippling pectorals.
The Scots don’t just fell their enemies — they moon them before doing so. All things told, Mel Gibson’s pre-insanity jaunt Braveheart reaches a respectable on-screen body count of 184. It’s not immediately clear if that includes horses, who get punished particularly hard in this film, leading to a boom in the English glue industry. Even though the film was nominated for (and won) a slew of Oscars, it was widely decried for being wildly historically inaccurate, but audiences didn’t didn’t really care about silly stuff like historical facts. All they needed to be sated was the gentle glint of broadswords in the sun of the Scottish highlands, and lots of men lifting up their anachronistic, incorrectly-worn kilts.
The Wild Bunch
The Wild Bunch has definitely earned its place on this list. Despite the fact that it’s on-screen death toll only adds up to 145, shy of many of the more modern films, it must be taken into account that this film was made in the 60s. Seriously, over 40 years ago this thing was cut together by madmen and was almost left unreleased because of its brutality. Yet, that’s not the coolest part. The coolest part is that when this film was re-released in the 90s, they almost slapped it with an NC-17 rating for violence. Now that’s some timeless badassery. It’s rumored that in the final scene of this film alone (the body count of which is a staggering 112), more blanks were fired than real bullets were discharged during the entire Mexican Revolution. The Wild Bunch; a classic shoot ‘em up that never loses its spice.
Hot Shots! Part Deux
You probably didn’t expect to see a comedy on the list, but Hot Shots! Part Deux has the balls to have an on-screen body count tally displayed during its climactic battle scene, although the counter itself is nonsense, going above 289 and declaring the film the ‘bloodiest movie ever.’ In reality, the film only boasts 114 on-screen kills, but you have to give it extra marks for trying to BS its way higher up on the list. The hilarious image of Charlie Sheen up to his knees in shell casings is forever burned into the memory of any mid-90s postmodern genre parody fan.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly brought together three fantastically different actors – Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach – for a multilingual bloodbath that could never disappoint. The film boasts an on-screen body count of 128, and like it’s fellow western, The Wild Bunch, the majority of the films deaths occur in one climactic scene — in this case, a gunfight on an old bridge. Eastwood’s character leads the kill-o-meter, with 11 deaths to his name. An impressive showing, but nowhere near the murderous shenanigans some of our other entries get up to.
Army of Darkness
In Army of Darkness, sometimes known as Evil Dead III, our hero, Ash, takes the killing to completely different level from the first two films, all with the help of his trusty boomstick. Trapped in the past, Ash must make his way back to his own time, and along the way he has no qualms with mowing down anyone who poses a threat or is just a general nuisance. The primary casualties in the film are skeletons…that counts as bodies, right? In this scene, Ash is first attacked by the skeleton army, imbuing him with a lust for revenge and a permanent hatred of anatomy class. The death toll in this film eventually reached 107 casualties, 91 of which are in the epic battle finale alone.
Team America: World
South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s opus of puppetry, Team America: World Police, undoubtedly deserves a place on this list, having by far the largest number of marionette deaths of any film in existence as well as some of the steamiest love scenes in American cinema. The total body count for the film is 78 — if you include goats, it’s 79. But goats are terrible people! The most carnageous (we invented this word, don’t google it) is the scene in the team’s assault on the palace, where the casualties include countless henchmen as well as a slew of Hollywood celebrities.
Death Wish: III
Charles Bronson is such a badass in the Death Wish series of films that it looks more like he’s casually playing Duck Hunt than mowing down countless aggressors in an ice-cold vigilante slaughter-fest. Granted, the body count is only a comparatively measly 49, but that is all Bronson, and he hardly blinks the entire time. So prodigious is Bronson’s killing-power that internet users have constructed their own body-count meters for his films. This one shows every single death in Death Wish III, and this one tallies up every Bronson strike-down from the entire Death Wish series. Only watch that second one if you have a spare twenty minutes and a deep-seated hatred for petty thugs. Dirty Harry would be proud, Mr. Bronson.
South Korea’s Old Boy, released in 2003, is a must-see film. It is a brutal revenge fantasy that plunges into the deepest depths of the human heart and psyche. Also, the main character, Oh Dae-Su, kills dozens of assailants armed only with a hammer, all in one unbroken shot, which should be enough in and of itself. The exact body count of the film is unknown, but it certainly earned its title as extremely violent and bloody. There is also a scene where Oh Dae-Su eats a live squid — take that PETA! Oldboy burst on to the scene in 2003, winning the Special Jury Prize at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, and earning particularly high praise from the Jury’s head, one Quentin Tarantino. The film is both a bloodbath of epic proportions and an emotional roller coaster, and is recommended view for any movie fan.
Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell
The Lone Wolf and Cub series of films were released in the 1970s and based on the manga of the same name by writer Kazuo Koike and the artist Goseki Kojima. The film Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell earns a special place on our list for having the highest body count inflicted by just one character, Ogami, at a mind-numbingly awesome 150. The film’s total body count weighs in at 169, meaning (for you killing-spree stats nerds out there) that Ogami was responsible for nearly 89% of the film’s casualties, further solidifying his status as a complete killing machine.