There’s no doubt that the horror genre has a ton of really fucked up sub-genres. We have the Italian cannibal flicks, Nazi exploitation films, nun-sploitation, Squatch-ploitation, and of course torture porn sub-genres.
But what about sub-sub-genres? One of my favorites is the exploding head sub-sub-genre. This is a sub-sub-genre because an exploding head can appear in any kind of film, horror or otherwise. As we’ll see below, exploding heads pop up in zombie films, sci-fi films, dramas, and even killer robot films.
Read on and lay down a tarp… things are gonna get messy.
Here’s a list of my favorite exploding and bursting head moments. These are in no particular order and come from films I could watch over and over again. Enjoy!
You can’t have an “exploding head” list without kicking it off with the granddaddy of exploding heads. What makes this scene so goddamn good is that no one expects it. Scanners, directed by David Cronenberg, is a kick-ass film that doesn’t have much gore in it (up until this scene). When this happens, though, it’s a definite show stopper.
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Another classic scene from another classic horror film. This is just one of those scenes that still catches audiences off guard. You all know it. This racist, homicidal cop is raiding an apartment building in Philadelphia. Everything is in complete chaos and the viewer isn’t even sure who’s in charge. Said racist cop is kicking in doors and shooting any minority that gets in his way. Suddenly the cop kicks in one particular door and, without even waiting to see who’s inside, blows off the resident’s head. This poor fellow wasn’t a zombie and he wasn’t any kind of threat to the cop. This is the level of violence we get in Dawn of the Dead before the actual zombie violence starts.
Chopping Mall (1986)
Here we get the ever rare “exploding head by laser blast.” This is a super fun movie that stars Barbara Crampton and is about a mall that decides to use robots to protect the stores after hours. Security guards are apparently too lazy and irresponsible. Well, of course some horny teens decide to hide out in the mall after hours, and when a freak electrical storm shorts out the robots, they hunt down the hornified teens. This is when the sweet suffering begins.
Directed by the infamous Jim Wynorski, Chopping Mall 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 from A Bucket of Blood). This is a great pizza, beer, and buddies flick. Plus there’s the exploding head.
Deadly Friend (1986)
We switch from laser blasts to basketballs for this entry! Who can forget this Wes Craven classic? Well, okay… pretty much everyone. This is a real stinker of a film, folks. In it a nerdy guy Paul (Matthew Laborteaux) builds a robot and has a next-door neighbor, Samantha (Kristy Swanson), whose abusive father just threw her down a flight of stairs. So Paul does what any sane teen would do: He removes Samantha’s brain and replaces it with the robot’s “brain.” The kid’s got some skills!! Samantha then goes on one of the most boring killing sprees ever filmed. Boring, that is, until we get to the basketball scene. This is the only watchable scene in the film. Seriously, you’ve been warned.
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Apparently 1986 is a great year for exploding heads, and you know I’d somehow get John Carpenter onto this list!! As an added bonus, not only do we get an exploding head, but we get an entire body that explodes. The character of Thunder is one pissed-off demi-god. He sees that his master is dead and proceeds to throw one of cinema’s greatest temper tantrums… and explodes. Let this be a warning to all you people with anger issues; get your shit under control before this happens!!