What are the best movie scenes involving disembodied heads?
September 26, 2012 8:00 PM   Subscribe

What are your favorite movie scenes involving severed and/or disembodied heads?

For a Halloween project, I'm collecting spooky, funny, or otherwise striking moments from the cinema involving disembodied heads. Bonus points if the heads are talking, floating, or doing something bizarre. Examples: The Brain That Wouldn't Die, Re-Animator, Mystics in Bali. Silent films would be awesome. I've found interesting scenes in Les Vampires, some Méliès films, and a D.W. Griffith picture about Judith of Bethulia beheading Holofernes (spoiler!).

Decapitations might be OK, but I'm not looking for anything too upsetting so any snuff-style footage or torture porn is probably inappropriate here unless it has a tongue stuffed into its cheek. Nor am I interested in things like the otherwise awesome tortoise scene from Breaking Bad; TV is not the movies and the movies are not TV and never the twain shall meet. At least not in my project.

I've racked my brain and scoured Google and the IMDb keywords, but I haven't found the variety of scenes I'd like to have. I'd appreciate any recommendations.
posted by Mothlight to Media & Arts (74 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Tropic Thunder!
posted by changeling at 8:03 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

John Carpenter's The Thing. Sprouts legs.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:05 PM on September 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

Se7en. (What's in the box??? C'mon, what's in the box!)
posted by mochapickle at 8:06 PM on September 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Never mind, just get me a cup of hot fat. And bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia."
posted by Tanizaki at 8:08 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

The beginning of Zardoz has Arthur Frayn's floating disembodied head spewing inanities. Army of Darkness, about one-third of the way through, has a great conversation between our hero and his beheaded doppelgänger. The Whisperer in Darkness, an H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society production, has a [SPOILER].

Does porn count as movies? I saw something once called "The Devil In Miss Jones Part Four: The Final Outrage," and it had a sequence involving a disembodied pig's head cheekily notifying someone he was in Hell.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:09 PM on September 26, 2012

There's a scene in the Japanese film "Battle Royale" where a disembodied head is thrown through a window with a grenade stuck in the mouth. You can guess what happens from there. Yeah, it's a bit gruesome, but not terribly snuff-y, IMO (especially if you're the kind of person that would ask this type of question).
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:11 PM on September 26, 2012

Polanski's Macbeth.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:11 PM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Kill Bill 2. It's actually the only movie I've ever seen with a severed head - that's not really my genre - but it was an amazing scene and I LOVED that movie. I think I was laughing (nervously) through the whole scene. Great musical accompaniment, too.
posted by ms_rasclark at 8:12 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

From the recesses of my MST3k knowledge:

Tormented (disembodied head chants "Tom Stewart killed me! Tom Stewart killed me!" until it's thrown into the ocean)

The Screaming Skull (a skull hops to ring the doorbell, in a completely-serious-and-not-at-all-intended-to-be-amusing way)
posted by cereselle at 8:14 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tommy Lee Jones, playing a prison warden, gets decapitated at the end of Natural Born Killers.

Speaking of Tommy Lee Jones, he was also in Men in Black, which also featured a variety of head trauma. (The alien at the beginning wearing a human suit, the guy who gets his head blown off and then has his head grow back, and I think there was at least ne more.)

Lotsa heads being lopped off in Kill Bill, too.
posted by phunniemee at 8:14 PM on September 26, 2012

Total Recall - Two Weeks!
posted by Max Camber at 8:16 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

The scene where Ash puts his girlfriend's head in a vice and it talks to him in Evil Dead 2 always makes me laugh.
posted by princeoftheair at 8:18 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh! How about the Great and Powerful Oz?
posted by cereselle at 8:18 PM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

I was hasty in my reply. Movie amnesia once again, though thankfully this time it didn't involve a 13 year old and the movie Risky Business. I just googled and it was Kill Bill 1 with the severed head. The scene I was thinking of is at the end of the movie and I don't believe the head actually is removed, but there is a lot of blood and a really good song in the background, "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood."
posted by ms_rasclark at 8:22 PM on September 26, 2012

IIRC, Apocalypse Now is just chock full of severed heads.
posted by she's not there at 8:36 PM on September 26, 2012

In the movie "The Island," where an island is used as a no-parole prison, a society of semi-savage criminals is running things. At one point ... I forget, butthere's a coup of the leadership in this society, or something, and the new leader produces and empties a rope-net bag full of the decapitated heads of the previous leadership.

"As you can see," he quips, "I've removed the heads of state."
posted by Sunburnt at 8:38 PM on September 26, 2012

posted by likeso at 8:40 PM on September 26, 2012

posted by RobotHero at 8:41 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, how could I forget? Return to Oz! The wicked queen has a whole gallery of lovely heads that she switches out and wears depending on her mood, as casually as you might change your socks.
posted by mochapickle at 8:45 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's a scene in Braveheart where William Wallace sends someone's head to the king. I think the king reacts by throwing somebody else out of the window.

At the end of Freddy vs Jason (SPOILER ALERT), Jason carries Freddy's head into the lake and Freddy winks at the camera.

Goofier: Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey has a scene where the evil robot usses play basketball with Bill's head in their apartment.

Still Keanu: Dennis Hopper's character is killed at the end of Speed when Keanu holds him up to a signal light on the LA subway and decapitated him. Followed by the great line: "I'm taller."

Similarly: Simon Pheonix is frozen at the end of Demolition Man and John Spartan knocks his head off which falls to the ground and shatters into hundreds of pieces.

Animated: Early in Princess Monoke, a large man is impressively decapitated with an arrow.

Sporty: At the end of Hostel 2 a gang of young boys play soccer with a decapitated head of one of the villains.

Kinda Lame: In the first Austin Powers movie, one of Dr Evil's henchmen's heads is eaten by seabass and then Austin makes 4-5 stupid jokes like "He wasn't very headstrong"

Also, there's a movie called Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag that may have what you're looking for, but unfortunately I haven't seen it.

I have know idea why I know all of this, but if I think of more I'll let you know.
posted by dogwalker at 8:46 PM on September 26, 2012

Eraserhead! [Spoiler alert!]
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 8:47 PM on September 26, 2012

of course, I meant Princess Mononoke.
posted by dogwalker at 8:51 PM on September 26, 2012

Oh, and to be clear, House has the flying, talking sort of head, not just vanilla decapitation. And that's probably one of the more mundane things in the movie, you should all watch it.

There's another Japanese movie called Hiruko the Goblin, which has human heads with spider legs.
posted by RobotHero at 8:51 PM on September 26, 2012

A brief moment in Baron Munchausen. The Sultan is enraged and cuts off a eunuch's head and it falls into the lap of a harem girl, and then the head winks. And even less in the theme of spooky-Halloween, but the King of the Moon detaches his head from his body so they can pursue different interests.

In Doom Generation, in a tussle with a convenience-store clerk, the clerk's head is blown off with a shotgun and the head lands in some chili dogs and the head keeps talking and chili comes out of his mouth.
posted by RobotHero at 9:00 PM on September 26, 2012

Re-Animator (1985)

There's several creepy yet humorous scenes of the re-animated decapitated Dr. Carl Hill.
posted by plokent at 9:02 PM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

No one has mentioned the Godfather? *note, horse head*
posted by leotrotsky at 9:05 PM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Dr. Carl Hill returns in Bride of Re-Animator and gets bat wings attached so his head can fly around.
posted by RobotHero at 9:07 PM on September 26, 2012

I remembered Doom Generation wrong, it was relish.
posted by RobotHero at 9:13 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

darn. retry: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen !
posted by quiteliterally at 9:23 PM on September 26, 2012

In "The Thing with Two Heads, " Ray Milland's head, alive and talking, on a lab bench.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:27 PM on September 26, 2012

Young Frankenstein: "Abby Normal!"
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:27 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

The end of Android.
posted by RobotHero at 9:32 PM on September 26, 2012

Oops! Young Frankenstein was brains, not heads. Sorry!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:38 PM on September 26, 2012

Tomie (J-horror film series)
posted by plokent at 9:44 PM on September 26, 2012

In Apocalypse Now Kurtz drop's Chef's severed head into Willard's lap when Willard is tied up in a cage.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:00 PM on September 26, 2012

This film is pretty disturbing, but it's part of a Soviet propaganda film about scientific research into the animation of previously dead tissue, and also includes one in which the head of a dog was "isolated" and kept alive for hours, while being prodded to show its reaction to (mostly annoying) stimuli.

The link goes to a 3-minute excerpt, but the whole film is available on youtube (some 10 minutes long). This could indeed be a camera trick, but, well, it could also easily be a little Frankenscience.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:13 PM on September 26, 2012

Absolutely this Mr. Sandman (er, Mr. Hitman) scene from Eight Heads in a Duffle Bag.
posted by Addlepated at 10:14 PM on September 26, 2012

posted by carsonb at 10:25 PM on September 26, 2012

If you're a diehard Pesci fan like someone, 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag involves some chatting with heads at the end, I think.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:26 PM on September 26, 2012

In Bram Stoker's Dracula there is a fantastic scene where a severed head goes flying through the air and then the scene cuts to a large roast being carried on a platter. I saw it in the theater and the whole audience gasped loudly....
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:26 PM on September 26, 2012

Probably far too racy for your project, but in the French horror film Haute Tension, a severed head is used for simulated sexual gratification (not graphic, iirc) and then tossed out a van window.
posted by xyzzy at 10:29 PM on September 26, 2012

Dellamorte Dellamore, the marriage with a severed head.
posted by MinusCelsius at 10:33 PM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Ice Pirates! Bruce Villanch's severed--but still talking, still sassy--head on a platter. I think it was a platter.
posted by zardoz at 10:51 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


not remotely pleasant
posted by philip-random at 10:57 PM on September 26, 2012


missed it above ...
posted by philip-random at 10:58 PM on September 26, 2012

As always, TvTropes.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 11:19 PM on September 26, 2012

The titular head indirectly causes a whole film's worth of mayhem in Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia (although it's always in its bag). There's a great line where somebody pulls up his car with the head in the passenger seat and asks him what's the bag, and Warren Oates does this look, and growls "....dead...cat...".
posted by hydatius at 11:42 PM on September 26, 2012

Friday The 13th part 2 - the heroine finds Jason's shack in the woods, in which there's a shrine he's built around his mother's severed head. She then impersonates his mother to keep him from killing her, but when she moves he sees the severed head behind her and attacks.
posted by mannequito at 11:48 PM on September 26, 2012

Oh! There's the sweet severed head love interest in Cemetary Man, a movie which everyone should see anyhow.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 12:02 AM on September 27, 2012

Though not a movie, I'm a bit surprised no one's mentioned Tortuga's tortoise ride from season 3 of Breaking Bad.
posted by item at 12:51 AM on September 27, 2012

Of course, you mentioned it in your post and you're not interested in it. My reading comprehension skills suffer in the middle of the night.
posted by item at 12:53 AM on September 27, 2012

I wouldn't call it "my favourite", but Frankenhooker features a number of romantic discussions with an unresponsive severed head. There is also a scene in which prostitutes explode after smoking "super crack", and I think some heads roll around on the ground. Pretty cartoonish all round.
posted by Chichibio at 3:30 AM on September 27, 2012

Delicatessen, of course. Only it's ...
posted by scruss at 4:41 AM on September 27, 2012

Oh yeah, "The Last Starfighter." While Alex Rogan is off defending the Frontier, an android duplciate takes his place in his home trailer park. One night, the robot has a hearing problem removes his head to work on it. His little brother, with whom he shares a room, wakes up, sees the head on the workbench. The head tells him he's dreaming, and to go back to sleep, so he does.
posted by Sunburnt at 5:34 AM on September 27, 2012

The scene in Hudson Hawk where Bruce Willis cuts off the bad guy's head. And then he says, "I guess you won't be attending that hat convention in July!" is the most hilarious fucking thing. Kills me every time.
posted by windykites at 5:50 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

In Piranha 3DD, there is a decapitated head scene at the end which made me laugh so hard I cried. Just not what I expected, and everyone else was hysterical too.
posted by maxg94 at 5:53 AM on September 27, 2012

Also, in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, both the evil Bill robot and the evil Ted robot get their heads punched off by good robot versions of themselves. Ohhellyes.
posted by windykites at 5:53 AM on September 27, 2012

Early on in Heathers, there's Winona Ryder's disembodied head on a croquet lawn chatting away.
posted by mochapickle at 5:55 AM on September 27, 2012

I know you said Movies but can you also do TV? Like from Dr Who, Dorium Maldovar and the Headless Monks.
posted by Blake at 6:04 AM on September 27, 2012

I'm not sure the head is ever shown, but (spoilers) Barton Fink.
posted by celare at 6:10 AM on September 27, 2012

In Spirited Away some disembodied heads roll around and grunt.
posted by shothotbot at 6:29 AM on September 27, 2012

These are terrific suggestions, folks. Some of the more obvious ones I had already, but certainly not all of them. And even the titles I already have are welcome -- for example, I was thinking about pulling down Baron Munchausen to check out Robin Williams' floating-head schtick for possible inclusion, but I had completely forgotten about the eunuch's head and the harem girl, which is WAY more on point for this.

Thanks especially, L'Estrange Fruit, for the link to TVTropes, which I forgot to check. I do value the curation of this list more than that one, but it's also pretty helpful. I'm still watching the thread, of course, hoping for more.
posted by Mothlight at 6:48 AM on September 27, 2012

There is a beheading at the end of the Korean film, 악마를 보았다 (I Saw The Devil). (spoilers)
posted by Tanizaki at 7:05 AM on September 27, 2012

The Uruk-Hai head on a stake in The Two Towers, and also in the Return of the King, there is a scene when a bunch of decapitated heads rain down on Minas Tirith during the seige. Also, perhaps, appearances of the Cheshire Cat (who I never realized was aslo voiced by Sterling Holloway, like Winnie the Pooh).
posted by ChuraChura at 7:32 AM on September 27, 2012

In 1971, AIP released a profitable two-headed monster movie, THE INCREDIBLE 2-HEADED TRANSPLANT, which featured the head of a lunatic criminal being transplanted on to the body of a 7-foot simpleton. The following year brought us THE THING WITH TWO HEADS, with the even more palatable idea of transplanting the head of a white bigot onto the body of a convicted black man. Here's more info
**BONUS**The Thing With Two Heads also has one heck of a car chase in it.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 9:14 AM on September 27, 2012

Death Becomes Her.
posted by hot soup girl at 1:25 PM on September 27, 2012

Mars Attacks.
posted by hot soup girl at 1:29 PM on September 27, 2012

The end of this scene from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
posted by mbrubeck at 2:39 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sleepy Hollow.
posted by rjs at 4:03 PM on September 27, 2012

Thanks for everything, folks. I finally had a chance to go through the list carefully and there are a lot of good suggestions and probably a couple of perfect ones. I marked a bunch of "best answers" that included stuff that really hit what I was looking for, but I'm grateful to everyone who took the time to think of a response. (How could I have forgotten Heathers? And Spirited Away!)
posted by Mothlight at 10:40 AM on October 5, 2012

Doctor Who: Dorium Maldovar becomes a head in a box.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:04 PM on October 10, 2012

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