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Top 10 Movies Starring Death

5. Meet Joe Black (1998)

A big-budget remake of ‘30s romance, Death Takes a Holiday, which starred Fredric March as the title figure, Brad Pitt’s surge towards the triple-AAA-list temporarily stumbled with this ponderous plodder. Pitt is the Reaper, the cunningly aliased Joe Black, who takes up with Anthony Hopkins’ tycoon (uh, just platonically) in a bid to learn something about mortal existence.

Directed by Martin Brest, the man who gave us two quintessential ‘80s action-comedies, Beverly Hills Cop and Midnight Run, the failure of this and his subsequent Gigli meant that it was soon enough his own directorial career feeling the icy touch of the Grim Reaper.

4. Final Destination (2000)

movies about death
For all the possible quibbles about the Final Destination franchise, hard not to argue that the timing of this first helping was spot-on, as it capitalised on the revival of the teen movie (American Pie, Scream, The Faculty), where the basic concept was king, as opposed to expensive, older stars like Schwarzenegger. And the box office appeal has proved enduring, as audiences seemingly can’t get enough of dumb teens meeting their maker via increasingly and improbable accidents. Here he is at work (but not safe for your work).

3. The Meaning of Life (1983)

In an otherwise patchy film, comedic perfection comes courtesy of an appearance by Death at a nauseatingly smug dinner party, he having dropped in to collect a batch of particularly irritating souls. “Who is it, darling? “It’s a Mr. Death. He’s come about the reaping.” Watch out for Palin as the brassy American wife.

2. Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)

Having been tossed into a nether-world, the eponymous San Dimas dudes meet up with a rather hapless Death (William Sadler), a Reaper very obviously inspired by another screen incarnation that is coming up in just a second. And though he turns out to be seriously rubbish at a wide variety of board games, he still goes on to prove his musical worth and all-round good egg status by the time of the movie’s KISS-powered denouement.

1. The Seventh Seal (1957)

movies about death
Hea-vy! The patron saint of movie gloom, Ingmar Bergman, wrestles with the kind of deep theological issues that captivated his generation but which now seem almost as quaint as Hollow Earth theory to the modern majority. A knight, played by von Sydow, bloodied and wearied after the Crusades, is stalked by an iconic Death (Bengt Ekerot), the pair engaging in a game of chess as time runs out for the former. These days it’d be online FIFA.

Who’s your favourite Death? Anybody missing? Let me know in the comments.

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  • Thom said

    I was starting to panic that Death from Bill & Ted wasn’t going to be in there and he was all the way up at #2!
    Thanks to that I was never really scared by the concept of Death as I thought I could always beat him at a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos 🙂

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  • James Reynolds said

    A wonderful film, “On Borrowed Time” (1939), starring Lionel Barrymore & Bobs Watson should have at least been included. I would have listed this work of art at the top of the list.

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  • Sheridan Passell said
    Sheridan Passell

    Death certainly didn’t win that chess games with Max von Sydow, he’s 82 and still working.

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  • Colin Gibbons said

    Surely Powell and Pressburger’s “A Matter of Life and Death” (1946) should be very high on this list.

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  • Joker said

    Hmmm, guess some of us forgot about Christopher Walken in “Click”.

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  • FinderDog said

    Woah, what about Sixth Sense!? I haven’t seen some of these on here, but you can’t skip the best out-of-body reality ever put on screen!

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  • FrankenPC said

    Not the greatest movie…but lots of death: The Frighteners.

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    • Sheridan Passell said
      Sheridan Passell

      In The Frighteners it’s not actually Death, it’s a serial killer pretending to be Death.

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  • gobbles wells said

    I was gonna say what about that movie, The Frightners, but I see someone beat me to it not even a few hrs ago lol

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  • Joe King said

    There is a character in All That Jazz (1979) who represents Death, but it is so subtle that most people miss it. When Jessica Lange takes off her veil, Roy Scheider has his heart attack. He gets delivered to her at the end. At one point his mother confides to her, “He’s always had a crush on you.”

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  • KJ said

    I love that bill and ted is number two i watched that movie for the first time when i was like five pair that with who framed roger rabbit no wonder i was a twisted child! 😀

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  • TacoHead said

    Coffin Joe is a lot older then Freddy. His first movie came out in 64.

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  • Soulcreepa said

    You compare Coffin Joe to Freddy Krueger? Dude, SHAME on you!

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  • JJ7070 said

    Didn’t Robert Blake play Death in LOST HIGHWAY? Or am I making that up?

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  • Imperion said

    And the best film ever made that dealt with death – The Fountain – gets snubbed again.

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