Happy (almost) Fourth of July, everybody! Now is the time that American genre fans turn their viewing habits toward the patriotic.
Whether your Independence Day schedule includes JAWS, INDEPENDENCE DAY, or UNCLE SAM (my personal holiday preference), I hope you can all come together and enjoy this list of the six best flag-based deaths in horror movies. Check it out, the hot dogs can wait!
Trampoline Impalement in CUTTING CLASS (1989)
This is probably the most iconic scene in the late 80’s Brad Pitt-starring slasher flick. For some inscrutable reason, the evil coach is idly bouncing on a trampoline in the gym. The killer sneaks under the tramp with a flag, sticking it through the mesh (and defying the laws of physics in the process – did he open a portal in the floor or something?) and impaling the wicked man mid-jump. It’s the bloodiest kill in the movie, and kicks off the completely bonkers, totally delightful third act.
Throat Stab in THE HILLS HAVE EYES (2006)
Alexandre Aja’s remake of Wes Craven’s classic grindhouse flick doesn’t skimp on the violence. During one climactic fight scene, a small American flag is used as a stake to take down a hillbilly mutant or two. ‘Murca!
Flagpole Strangulation in UNCLE SAM (1996)
It’s perhaps not surprising that the Fourth of July-based slasher UNCLE SAM features no fewer than two flag-related deaths in its patriotically gruesome festivities. One of the deaths is a routine impalement, so we’re going to focus on the second one, which is truly brutal. A character has the rope on a flagpole wrapped around their neck, and the bloodthirsty Uncle Sam raises them all the way to the top, hanging them in the process. It’s a drawn-out scene that’s kind of genuinely terrifying in a movie that’s mostly campy fun.
Flagpole Strangulation #2 in SLEEPAWAY CAMP 3 (1989)
I guess 1989 was a good year for patriotic deaths! Seven years before UNCLE SAM, the third outing of campground killer Angela Baker saw her utilizing as much camping equipment as possible to mow down troublemakers, including another brutal instance of flagpole abuse.
Fireworks Mishap in FINAL DESTINATION 3 (2006)
The FINAL DESTINATION franchise is known for its convoluted, Rube Goldberg-esque kills, but this one is short and to the point. Quite literally. The sharp tip of a flagpole (not the Stars and Stripes, but it still counts) is sent flying right through a poor girl’s chest during a Fourth of July fireworks jubilee. Maybe Death was pissed that the movie was secretly being filmed in Canada.
Banana Split in PROM NIGHT III: THE LAST KISS (1990)
Like a lot of Canadian horror movies (see above), PROM NIGHT III tries very hard to convince audiences that it takes place in America. Unlike most Canadian horror movies, this involves two teenagers having sex on top of an American flag. But that’s not the only crazy use of the flag in the hilarious paranormal slasher! The vengeful prom queen ghost Mary Lou Mahoney stabs a teacher’s hands with ice cream cones (don’t ask) before splitting him open and stuffing him with all the ingredients of a banana split – including a heaping helping of little American flags! It’s the perfect summer treat.
Bonus: SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)
Although the infamous prison kill in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS doesn’t directly involve a flag, the cannibalistic psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter is nice enough to tastefully arrange the corpse with a draped flag after the fact. All the better to distract you with, my dears.