Two days ago, Moon.com featured a post about “tombstone tripping” – visiting graveyards not with a purpose but with fascination. Perhaps I’m a little disturbed, but I love strolling through interesting cemeteries. I respect the fact that they memorialize others’ loved ones – and I always walk quietly and with care. But I must admit – I’ve long been a fan of cemeteries, especially at this time of year, when Halloween and the Day of the Dead are upon us.
Part of this fascination comes from the thrill of being just a little unnerved, and part of it stems from the curiosity of some cemeteries, especially ones where famous movie stars are buried (like the Hollywood Forever Cemetery) or the architecture is particularly creepy and/or stunning (like the aboveground cemeteries and mausoleums in New Orleans). While there’s nothing quite like visiting a cemetery in person, I often get just as effective a fix from watching graveyard scenes in certain movies – comedies, dramas, thrillers, and horror flicks, it makes no nevermind. Here, in chronological order, are some of my favorite morbid movie moments:
Easy Rider (1969) – Amid a drug-induced haze, counterculture bikers frolic with some lovely ladies within an aboveground cemetery in the Big Easy. After seeing this film as a teenager, I never looked at Mardi Gras – or Dennis Hopper – the same way again.
Harold and Maude (1971) – The intergenerational title characters first meet at a funeral, where neither one belongs, and soon realize their mutual fascination with death. Oh, how I adore this movie – and hope it’s never remade.
Phantasm (1979) – The entire story revolves around a graveyard and a funeral home operated by a lanky alien, bent on destroying humanity. All I can say is... cloaked midgets, flying orbs, and marble walls are one freaky combination.
Poltergeist (1982) – During a torrential rainstorm, Carol Anne’s mommy falls into a muddy pool, filled with corpses. And, seriously, who can forget the line, “You son of a bitch. You moved the cemetery, but you left the bodies, didn’t you?!”
The Return of the Living Dead (1985) – Most of this classic zombie flick takes place in a cemetery, where a small band of young partygoers offer easy access to the undead. Bloody hilarious!
Army of Darkness (1992) – In an utterly memorable scene, Ash, a hero of questionable ethics, ventures into a graveyard to retrieve the Necronomicon, only to misspeak the magic words and inadvertently raise an army of the dead. Oops.
Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) – It’s a brief moment, but I find it hard to forget. Assassin Martin Blank visits his father in a hometown cemetery, only to pour an entire fifth of alcohol into the grass above his father's grave. What a thoughtful son!
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997) – The reporter and the millionaire venture into a creepy Savannah cemetery, where a spiritualist tries to quiet the soul of the millionaire’s murdered lover. There’s no doubting the effectiveness of some well-placed mist and moss.
Stir of Echoes (1999) – A loving mother takes her strange little boy for a walk that ends up in a cemetery, where a touched police officer stalks them, only to demonstrate his psychic connection to the child. Truly an underrated film!
My Dog Skip (2000) – A remorseful young boy finds his beloved dog in a cemetery, where moonshiners have nearly beaten him to death. Don’t worry – the doggy recovers.
Hellboy (2004) – The climax of this entertaining yarn occurs in a Russian cemetery, where the resurrected Rasputin attempts to open a doorway to the Seven Gods of Chaos. Every time I watch this movie, I believe this place is sinister – and cold.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) – If you’ve seen this movie (or read the book), then you know where I’m going with this one. At the end of the labyrinth lies a portkey that transports Harry and Cedric to a moody cemetery, where You-Know-Who is waiting...
So, what’s your favorite cinematic cemetery scene?
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