Death is a Pale, White Guy…Usually.

After having invested so much time in Death Note, it seemed an interesting idea of a grim reaper-type figure just following you around all day. Even weirder is the idea that death would show up to tell you that you’re dead and now, you gotta go with him.

Death is a pretty wacky thing. You’re born, you start to die, then you die. What a cycle! So it’s not that crazy for the personification of death to have a few weird tendencies himself. Death comes in many forms, but a lot of times he just looks like a guy. Below is a short list of appearances Death has made in movies, ranging from the awesome…to the not so awesome.

5. The Final Destination Series (2000-2011)- Mr. Bludworth

Abilities: Being really creepy, possibly a degree to become a coronary school or something.

Death as a person isn’t really the motif in the sucktacular Final Destination series as much as it is an invisible force of nature. Being the cause himself (or it) of many characters deaths in ways that are less than natural. So this entry is something of a cheat being that “Mr. Bludworth” is never clearly mentioned as Death, while his presence and cryptic lines of “I’ll be seeing you soon” have been the discussion as to how large his role in the series really is. Creepy old coroner? Or agent of death? Tony Todd, aka the Candyman, playing the role only pushes the idea further that he’s just some guy who determines the cause of death but is death. So even though this series is pretty much crap on every level, the initial idea and presence of Todd gives it an interesting aspect that are rare, due to the story’s plot. Still, didn’t you kind of expect him to open up his jacket and be a living beehive?

4. Meet Joe Black (1998)- Joe Black (Duh)

Abilities: Vague, mystical powers like telepathy. Not really sure for this one, he seems to be able to read minds, take on the bodies of recently deceased.

Out of everything Death has ever done, out of anywhere he might have ever gone and how limitless his powers are…all he really wants is to be human. AWWWWWWW! Eating peanut butter and hookin’ up with Claire Forlani would be like, cool. Death takes on the body of a recently deceased man who looks like Brad Pitt (OH, how convenient!) and makes a deal with a dying Anthony Hopkins: be Death’s guide through the world and you’ll get more time on this earth. Ultimately while nobody can know who Brad Pitt really is, when Death wants to make a deal with you, wouldn’t you take it? If for no other reason than to say “Yeeeeah, I made a deal with Death.” And I guess you’d be telling…nobody. In many people’s eyes, the movie suffered from a long running time of 181 minutes. After a different, shorter cut of the film, director Martin Brest disowned the film and the pseudonym “Alan Smithee” was put in place of the director title. Coincidentally, the first official use of this was in 1969’s “Death of a Gunfighter.Also coincidentally, Brest has not directed a movie since 2003’s Gigli, which could have also been called “Death of a Career.”

 

3. Scrooged (1998)- The Ghost of Christmas Future

Murray opening Death’s robe to reveal previously doomed souls. Ew.

Abilities: Travel to possible futures, in and out of time

It was a long and hard debate to decide which version of the Ghost of Christmas Future to put in this article. I sat in my own blood, sweat, tears, and several other bodily fluids trying to decide. Finally though, it was time to give credit where credit is due and give it to the guy that not only has a TV for a face, but made the Bill Murray at his most cynical see the light. I remember watching this as a kid and feeling really creeped out because for a comedy, those scenes weren’t funny. The thing is like eight feet tall and every bit as freaky as you’d expect the harvester of souls to be. To make things worse, he does as you expect the Ghost of Christmas Future to do, and shows Murray how horrible his future is going to be. Keeping in mind that most people’s two biggest fears are death and failure, this guy is a terribly perfect combination of the two.

2. Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (1989)- Death

Abilities: Plays stand-up bass, one of two reapers here with a scythe.

It doesn’t get any more clear than this. Other films have Death pretending to be a man, Death trying to change a morally corrupt executive, but here, Death just wants his souls. Bill and Ted’s souls specifically. Here, if you haven’t seen it and shame on you, Death tells the title characters that if they beat him at his own game, they can be released from death and brought back to life. They do in fact beat him and several times. At Twister, Battleship, Clue, and checkers because Death is a sore loser. Eventually though, he makes good on his deal and takes them to Heaven to bargain for some extra time. Not only that, but he also joins Bill and Ted’s future band which would just beat the crap out of any other band playing. Fitting for him to play Rock, although I’d look down on him if it was that terrible metal stuff the kids listen to these days. Also, this Death still holds the title to “Only Incarnation of Death to Ever be Given a Wedgie.” I just made that up but it’s a very prestigious award I’ll have you know.

 

1. The Frighteners (1996)- Johnny Bartlett

Abilities: Travel through walls, flight, “kill” ghosts.

I can’t say enough good things about this movie. There’s a reason I was praising it in one of the first articles I’d written on here back in February. The Lord of the Rings trilogy’s first foray into special effects-heaviness is not a wasted effort. While many of the effects focus on the regulars ghosts that Michael J. Fox is blessed and cursed with seeing 24/7, the majority went into animating one of the craziest and most underrated villains of all time, Johnny Bartlett. Who else better to play a raving, maniacal serial killer than Gary Busey’s son, Jake Busey? If you answered “Gary Busey,” then shut up, he’s old. After killing twelve people in a hospital mass murder, Bartlett is given the electric chair. Years later, he starts back up again by transforming into a savage, animal-like reaper, reaching into people’s chests and squeezing their hearts. One particularly notable aspect in his design is the character’s ability to stay just underneath the surface of a wall or carpet, giving the impression an actual person is chasing you through the floor. Freaky.

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