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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 May, 2004, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
Psycho stabbing 'best film death'
Janet Leigh in Psycho
Janet Leigh's death scene took seven days to shoot
Janet Leigh's shower scene stabbing in Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 thriller Psycho has been named the best death in screen history by Total Film magazine.

The famous sequence comes just ahead of Slim Pickens' bizarre demise in 1964's Dr Strangelove - riding a nuclear bomb as it plummets to earth.

King Kong's fall from the Empire State is at three, while Alan Rickman's fatal tumble in 1988's Die Hard comes fourth.

Other films featured include Bonnie and Clyde, Gladiator and The Godfather.

"Some of the deaths in the poll, like the Wicked Witch melting in The Wizard of Oz, are iconic but laughable," said Simon Crook, deputy editor of Total Film.

King Kong
1. Janet Leigh
2. Slim Pickens
Dr Strangelove
3. King Kong
King Kong
4. Alan Rickman
Die Hard
5. Warren Beatty
and Faye Dunaway

Bonnie and Clyde
Source: Total Film magazine
"But nearly 45 years on Psycho's shower scene is still distressing."

Mr Crook attributed the effectiveness of the sequence to "the sheer violence of the edit", describing it "a masterclass of montage and audience manipulation".

The scene, which lasts 45 seconds but took seven days to shoot, is notable for never showing the killer's blade touching Janet Leigh's body.

Her "blood" was really Bosco's chocolate syrup, while the stabbing noises were created by plunging a knife into a casaba melon.

Some of the gorier deaths in the poll include John Hurt's exploding stomach in Alien, Tim Roth's fatal haemorrhage in Reservoir Dogs and David Warner's decapitation in The Omen.

But not all the passings are so gruesome. The off-camera shooting of Bambi the fawn's mother is in sixth place, while the list also includes a scene in the 1985 thriller Witness where a character is drowned by corn in a grain silo.



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