Thursday, May 06, 2010

Thursday's Ways Not To Die

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Does this scene still shock people today? I still find it horrifically gratuitous - mind you, if you know me you understand "horrifically gratuitous" is a compliment - but I have a feeling most audiences would shrug at this scene today. We see stuff that makes this look like kids playing shoot-em-up on our television procedurals with botoxed has-beens every night nowadays, right? Course I'm not exactly the right person to grasp at any kind of moral outrage here. I do my best to drag the culture down around us from my own lil' corner. Blood! More blood!

But still, Penn crafts this scene with such unblinking authority that I can't help but be wowed by it every time. The slowed down beauty of their beautiful bodies dancing around in front of us, their lovely faces twisted up into horrible contortions, covered with widening red spots like a disease spreading out over them... it ends up walking the same amoral line the entire tale of Bonnie and Clyde became. Who's to say this is horror when it looks so darn amazing to look at? And that about sums up the power of these larger-than-life figures and the beautiful monstrous swath they cut through the landscape. The American Dream with all its loveliness and lust and excess and violence, twisted up into a rage born of bottomless impotence and boredom. America!

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Previous Ways Not To Die: A Single Vacancy at the Roach Motel -- A School Bus Slipped Thru The Ice -- Trache-AAHHHH!!!-tomy'd - For Mel Gibson's Sins -- A Wide Stanced Slashing --- Daisies Ways #3 - Scratch n' Snuffed -- The Victim of a Viscous Hit & Run -- Curled -- Kabobbed -- Daisies Ways #2 - Aggravated Cementia -- Boo! Nun! -- 2009's Ways Not To Die -- Bug Scratch Fever -- Daisies Ways #1 - Deep Fat Fried in My Own Unique Blend of 500 Herbs & Spices -- By the Yard End of the Stick -- Screwed From A Very Great Distance -- A Righteous Bear-Jew Beatdown -- Fisted By Hugo Sitglitz -- Xeno Morphed -- Fuck-Stuck -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 4 -- Lava Bombed -- The Cradle Will Rock... Your Face Off!!! -- The Food of the Nilbog Goblins -- The Slugs Is Gonna Gitcha -- Phone Shark -- Hide The Carrot -- Sarlacc Snacked -- Avada Kedavra!!! -- Hooked, Lined and Sinkered -- "The Libyans!" -- Axe Me No Questions -- Pin the Chainsaw on the Prostitute -- The Wrath of the Crystal Unicorn -- The Ultimate Extreme Make-Over -- Drown In A Sink Before The Opening Credits Even Roll -- The Dog Who Knew Too Much -- Don't Die Over Spilled Milk -- Inviting the Wrath of Aguirre -- An Inconceivable Outwitting -- The Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique -- Nipple Injected Blue Junk -- Your Pick Of The Deadly Six -- Thing Hungry -- Don't Fuck With The Serial Killer's Daughter -- DO Forget To Add The Fabric Softener -- Any Of The Ways Depicted In This Masterpiece Of Lost Cinema -- Rode Down In The Friscalating Dusklight -- Good Morning, Sunshine! -- Mornin' Cuppa Drano -- The Cylon-Engineered Apocalypse -- Tender-Eye-zed -- Martian Atmospheric Asphyxiation -- Maimed By A Mystical Person-Cat -- The Sheets Are Not To Be Trusted -- Handicapable Face-Hacked -- I Did It For You, Faramir -- Summertime In The Park... Of A Pedophile's Mind -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 3 -- Strung Up With Festive Holiday Bulbs By Santa Claus Himself -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 2 -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 1 -- Decapitated Plucked Broiled & Sliced -- Head On A Stick! -- A Trip To The Ol' Wood-Chipper -- Pointed By The T-1000 -- Sucking Face With Freddy Krueger -- A Pen-Full Of Home-Brewed Speed to The Eye -- Motivational Speech, Interrupted -- A Freak Ephemera Storm -- When Ya Gotta Go... Ya Gotta Go -- Hoisted By Your Own Hand Grenade -- Having The Years Suction-Cupped Away -- Criss-Cross -- Turned Into A Person-Cocoon By The Touch Of A Little Girl's Mirror Doppleganger -- Satisfying Society's "Pop Princess" Blood-Lust -- Done In By The Doggie Door -- Tuned Out -- Taking the 107th Step -- Rescuing Gretchen -- Incinerated By Lousy Dialogue -- Starred & Striped Forever -- Vivisection Via Vaginally-Minded Barbed-Wire -- Chompers (Down There) -- Run Down By M. Night Shyamalan -- Everything Up To And Including The Kitchen Toaster -- Sacrificed To Kali -- Via The Gargantuan Venom Of The Black Mamba Snake -- Turned Into An Evil Robot -- The Out-Of-Nowhere Careening Vehicle Splat -- "Oh My God... It's Dip!!!" -- Critter Balled -- Stuff'd -- A Hot-Air Balloon Ride... Straight To Hell!!! -- Puppy Betrayal -- High-Heeled By A Girlfriend Impersonator -- Flip-Top Beheaded -- Because I'm Too Goddamned Beautiful To Live -- By Choosing... Poorly... -- Fried Alive Due To Baby Ingenuity -- A Good Old-Fashioned Tentacle Smothering -- Eepa! Eepa! -- Gremlins Ate My Stairlift -- An Icicle Thru The Eye -- Face Carved Off By Ghost Doctor After Lesbian Tryst With Zombie Women -- Electrocuted By Fallen Power-Lines -- A Mouthful Of Flare -- Taken By The TV Lady -- Bitten By A Zombie -- Eaten By Your Mattress -- Stuffed To Splitting -- Face Stuck In Liquid Nitrogen -- Crushed By Crumbling Church Debris -- Bitten By The Jaws Of Life -- A Machete To The Crotch -- Showering With A Chain-Saw -- In A Room Filled With Razor Wire -- Pod People'd With Your Dog -- Force-Fed Art -- Skinned By A Witch -- Beaten With An Oar -- Curbed -- Cape Malfunction -- In The Corner -- Cooked In A Tanning Bed -- Diced -- Punched Through The Head -- Bugs Sucking On Your Head
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5 comments:

Ivan said...

"Peckinpah"? JA, shame on you...

Personally, I love this ending because, and I'm a minority here, I hate the characters of Bonnie & Clyde. Just in the same way I couldn't watch Seinfeld until after the last episode (oh thank goodness, those horrible people are going to jail), I can only watch B&C with any enjoyment because I know these monsters are going to get what's coming to them.

Joe K said...

I'd contend that this scene still has the power to shock contemporary audiences--I recently showed it to my brother (21 yrs. old) and it had a distinctly profound impact on him. I would think that the violence, though less graphic than its modern counterparts, can attain the same effect because of the audience's attachment to the characters (in most cases). The same can't be said for most characters you meet in, say, Saw VI.

JA said...

Oh Christ I meant Penn of course, GAH. I fixed it, I'm a moron. I wrote this up really quick just as I was heading out to lunch is my only excuse, and visions of pizza pies were dancing in my head and distracting me and I was confused. Forgive me!!!

Michael Shetina said...

Ballet is exactly the word. The kinetics of this scene just amaze me. Penn, the late, great Dede Allen and Beatty and Dunaway make this scene endlessly fascinating. So many details to fixate on. The way Dunaway's body falls in that totally unnatural position...

Laika said...

I'll second, third or whatever the consensus of the board - just because current film-makers can top this in terms of gory detail doesn't mean they know how to use it to make the same kind of impact. The way Bonnie can't fall forward, held up as she is by the impact of the bullets, really communicates getting shot as a physical, bodily experience to the audience. I feel shaken after watching it.