It’s funny how I happened upon this week’s Phenomenal 5 list. I was in somewhat of a funk, unable to come up with a list that felt fresh. Well sometimes simply looking out your car window can offer up inspiration. Such was the case this week as I list 5 phenomenal movie cemetery scenes. I passed a cemetery and I instantly started thinking on the great movie scenes that have taken place in them. In fact it’s more than you might think. Obviously there are loads of horror films that are right at home in a graveyard. But I’ve also come up with great scenes from other genres. And to make the list more intriguing, I’ve chosen scenes that DO NOT feature a funeral (you’ll read about those in the near future). So considering the plethora of great movie cemetery scenes I would be dead wrong to call this the definitive list. But I feel perfectly comfortable calling these 5 movie cemetery scenes absolutely phenomenal.
#5 – “THE THIRD MAN”
One of my all time favorite classic movies is 1949’s “The Third Man” from Carol Reed. In the film an American writer named Martins (Joseph Cotton) visits Vienna in the wake of World War 2 to find an old friend who has offered him a job. He finds out his friend has been killed in an accident but he begins to suspect murder. He befriends his buddy’s girlfriend named Anna but soon finds out that she and nearly everyone else he meets is involved in the mystery. I don’t want to spoil anything so lets just say the movie ends after a funeral. Now this isn’t a cheat because my scene of choice is the final shot of the movie. It’s a long shot of Anna walking towards the camera with Martins leaning on a cart waiting for her. She walks and walks, finally making it to us but continuing out out of the picture. Martins is left alone and the movie ends on that note. It’s the perfect ending.
#4 – “TERMINATOR 3”
How can I talk about cemetery scenes and not include the ridiculously over-the-top but ridiculously fun scene from “Terminator 3”? This franchise is known for its monster action sequences and this is one of the biggest. Thinking he is visiting his mother’s tomb, the Terminator reveals to John Connor that the casket is actually full of weapons. Arnie then busts out of the mausoleum with the casket full of weapons on his shoulder and a mini gun on his hip. He throws the casket into a hearse and then sprays every police car within 3 miles full of lead. But it doesn’t stop there. The evil terminator then appears and a crazy chase through the cemetery follows. A rocket launcher to her chest and a few broken tombstones later, and we get a wilder ending to what is a great cemetery scene.
#3 – “ARMY OF DARKNESS”
Call it a sentimental choice but I just had to include the wacky cemetery sequence from “Army of Darkness”. You know the story, our “Evil Dead” hero Ash has been sucked back to the medieval past where and the Necronomicon holds the secrets to getting him back home. The problem is the Necronomicon is hidden deep within a spooky old cemetery. Ash makes his way to the center of the graveyard where three books await, two are traps and one is the real book. After a painful process of elimination, Ash finds the real book. All he has to do is say the phrase “Klaatu barada nikto” and he can safely remove it. Of course he completely botches it which triggers the rise of the army of darkness. It’s a hysterical cemetery scene from a great movie.
#2 – “NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD”
I hate to keep including this movie in my Phenomenal 5 lists, but I can’t help it. George Romero’s 1968 horror classic “Night of the Living Dead” is such a great movie. Just think, the entire zombie craze as we know it today started in a rural Pennsylvania cemetery during this film’s wonderful opening scene. Barbra and her jerk of a brother Johnny have been making the long trip to visit their father’s grave for several years. But this year it’s a little different. As Johnny is teasing Barbra about her uneasiness in the cemetery they notice a man stumbling their way. As he approaches them he attacks. Johnny fights with the man only to have his head slammed against a rock in the struggle. The man then chases Barbra out of the cemetery which launches this classic horror story.
#1 – “THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY”
Of all the Phenomenal 5 lists I’ve done none have had a more obvious #1 choice than this one. Sergio Leone had an unmatched knack for building up and executing great western showdowns. Perhaps his best takes place in his tasty 1966 spaghetti dish “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”. In a scene destined to take place since the film’s brilliant opening, the good (Clint Eastwood), the bad (Lee Van Cleef), and the ugly (Eli Wallach) come together in a Mexican showdown at Sad Hill Cemetery. With buried gold at stake the three square off in a three-way duel not knowing who can trust who. Leone masterfully soaks the scene in tension with his camera and with Ennio Morricone’s glorious music. And even after the shootout, Leone gives us a classic finale that seals its place at the top of the list.
There are several other fantastic cemetery scenes I hated to leave off. What are your favorites? Please take time to let me know what you agree or disagree with.
Where’s Seven Psychopaths!!!?!!??!?!?!?!?!?!
Haven’t seen it. Gotta be honest, it’s not a movie that interests me at all buddy.
The cemetery scene towards the end of Drag Me to Hell is one of my favs, it’s so incredibly well shot and just overall awesome. Glad to see NOTLD make your list. They’re coming to get you Barbra!
Night HAD to be here! It’s my favorite horror movie of all time and the zombie craze as we know it started in that Pennsylvania cemetery.
Great list! I look forward to reading your list of phenomenal 5 funeral scenes. #1 for me would have to be the ending of Being There.
Thanks for the comments! The funeral scenes should be a fun one. Sooo many good ones to choose from.
Great picks. Can’t disagree with any of them, and I’m glad to see The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly at the top.
Thanks! My #1 was a clear choice. It’s such an awesome scene.
The Third Man–excellent choice! Speaking of classics, I think of Bela Lulogsi cemetery scenes….
Oh yes!!! Bela loved hanging out in spooky cemeteries!!!
It doesn’t take place in a cemetery, but there is a great description of going to a cemetery to cool down and make out in “In the Heat of the Night.”
LOL! Yes there is isn’t there. It’s funny you mention “In the Heat of the Night”. It’ll be appearing in a couple of Phenomenal 5 lists I’m putting together for down the road,
Interesting list, Keith, esp since I just saw Bernie this weekend, ahah. I haven’t seen any of these actually but the one cemetery scene I remember was in Harry Potter, oh and Stoker too, which is quite a creepy scene.
You haven’t seen any of these? There are a couple of favorites of mine here. I also wanted to put Saving Private Ryan and Raw Deal on but there just wasn’t room.
Very short cemetery scene at the end of “Carrie”…kinda jarred you back into reality…short, but effective…
Carrie? There’s one that didn’t cross my mind. Nice mention!
Return of the living dead?
I would make a case for Return of the living Dead, too, but it was part comedy…
Comedies count. I’m not focusing on any particular genre. I’m just not that crazy about that movie.
See I have back up!
T3 and The Third Man? Brilliant! Nice post, man. I dig your 5 Phenomenal lists!
Thanks bro! Really appreciate that.
and, you should see Cemtery Man.
Great post, Keith. I’d add Harry Potter (several cemetery scenes there), Kill Bill Vol. 2 and Paris, Je t’Aime.
I’ve seen Paris a couple of times but I don’t remember a cemetery scene. Which one was that?
This one here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvq2dF6Mj1o
Oh yes of course!!! That’s a really, really good scene. Totally forgot about it. There are several of those chapters that I really liked. That was one of them.
Superb stuff Keith. I instantly thought of Seven Psychopaths but I see above that you haven’t seen that. Unbelievably, I haven’t seen ANY of the films on your list, despite owning two of them!
None?!?!? Tsk, tsk, tsk! There are a couple of ‘must sees’ on this list bro! Hop to it! 🙂
So glad The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is number 1!!! That scene is so good. Sometimes I pop in the Blu-ray and fast forward to juts that scene. Well done Keith, love this list.
Thanks bro. I do the same. I love that final scene. It’s such good filmmaking.
another fun Phenomenal Five! ha. glad that Night of the Living Dead is here! I’d maybe add the shootout in U.S. Marshals with Wesley Snipes, The General’s speech to his wife at the beginning of The Rock, and the burial scene at the end of Spider-Man (Raimi’s).
I know the Spider-Man one featured a funeral, but I still had to mention it. 🙂
I don’t remember the US Marshall’s scene but I completely forgot about The Rock and the Spiderman scene. Great mentions!
Major props for including The Third Man! That is probably my favorite closing shot of all time.
I had to include it! I’m with you, it’s such a great ending shot!
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Great list Keith! I’m very pleased to see both The Third Man and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly on this list!
Thanks buddy. Yes both of those movies had automatic places on this list for me. And it’s funny that both happen to be the the setting for the ending of their movie.
Does anyone know what movie had the cemetery at the end of a ling forgittwn road, involved a girl’s boyfriend dieing then coming back to life and fighting for good causes, maybe a scarecrow type villian or antagonist? The boyfriend & her still had sort of a plutonic relationship? I’m interested in run down or forgotten cemeteries that are super creep out graveyards at dusk, best films for this. Any help appreciated.
Phantasm films ~ The first one is especially memorable for its cemetery scenes.
The Iron Rose aka La rose de fer (1973) ~ Synopsis: A young couple out for a walk decide to take a stroll through a large cemetery. As darkness begins to fall, they realize they can’t find their way out, and soon their fears begin to overtake them. / This is a remarkable, sometimes surreal film set almost entirely in a cemetery.
Great Expectations (1946) ~ Probably most versions open with that same setting and the formative meeting of boy and convict.
September 30, 1955 (1977) ~ the tragic séance-in-the-graveyard scene when they try to communicate with the recently deceased James Dean…
There are so many others though some scenes last longer than others. I do like your picks!
Ahhh yes, Phantasm. That is a series I appreciate mainly due to its corniness. A couple of the other ones I’m not familiar with. Thanks for mentioning them. I’ll have to look them up.
The Iron Rose is, to me, a must-see film! Thank you, TCM, for introducing it to me!
At this time, over at Horror Express, I just converted a thread to cemetery scenes from movies, TV and videos. So, I found your list particularly interesting. Among ones I listed are “Great Expectations”, “Doctor Zhivago”, “September 30, 1955”, and “Forget Me Not”, which opens with the children playing a game in the cemetery and comes back to that setting. How about “The Gravedancers”? Yes, I know: It’s difficult to narrow down to only five films. And, It’s great that you went beyond the horror genre.
If you’re interested: http://www.horrorexpress.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5878
I tried to sign in, but I guess this isn’t the same WordPress I belong to. So, I didn’t know what to do. It looked as if they were going to charge for membership, which I can’t afford.
I think I’m one of the only people on planet Earth who doesn’t like Easy Rider! Definitely has a well known cemetery scene!