The Guys that Just Won’t Die

Charles Graham Dixon

It can be infuriating when you either kill someone or order their death only for them to reappear. It happens to me all the time and I assume it’s a common problem. As Commodus says to Maximus in the bowels of the Colloseum in Gladiator: ‘What am I going to do with you? You simply won't... die.’ Don’t feel alone, Commodus – we’ve all been there.

Michael Myers in Halloween (Halloween series)  

Michael Myers, aka The Shape, aka the masked bloke with the knife that just won’t die because he’s needed for sequels.

John Carpenter’s 1978 classic set the standard for every slasher film since. The film’s chief antagonist was also horror’s original, indestructible and relentless boogeyman – a killer that could seemingly survive anything. Ahhh, he’s finally dead. No, he’s sat up and is right behind you.

John Ryder in The Hitcher (Roger Harmon, 1986)  

John Ryder (Rutger Hauer) is The Hitcher and he WILL NOT DIE. This is an underrated and beautifully shot road movie with a truly relentless villain. There’s no explanation as to where The Hitcher came from, why he decides to torment the film’s hero, why he murders everyone in his path, and how he is able to survive gunshots, explosions and car wrecks. But he does.

Annie Wilkes in Misery (Rob Reiner, 1990)  

Annie Wilkes is a problematic woman. Not only does she claim to be Paul Sheldon’s number one fan, imprison him in her remote farmhouse, burn the only copy of his manuscript, shatter his ankles and be an utter psychopath, she also seems to be able to survive life-ending injuries. For most of us, a mouthful of burning paper and a headfirst fall onto a typewriter would be enough to put us away. Not for Annie. No, it takes an iron doorstop in the face to get the job done. Finally.

Richard Kimble in The Fugitive (Andrew Davis, 1993)  

Yes, our hero Dr Richard Kimble survives this fall. How?? I hear you cry. Well, the truth is, I have no idea. The most likely explanation is that killing Harrison Ford, the fugitive himself and the film’s hero may have gone down badly. I looked for a way to cleverly segue the Simpsons parody into this and was unable to. So here it is.

Phil Connors in Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)  

Phil Connors is perhaps the ultimate guy that just won’t die. As he says to a bemused Andie MacDowell: "I didn’t just survive a wreck, I wasn’t just blown up yesterday. I have been stabbed, shot, poisoned, frozen, hung, electrocuted and burned." We all feel for ya, Phil.

Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction (Adrian Lyne, 1987) 

The original bunny boiler is as relentless and seemingly invincible as they come. Alex Forrest clearly drowns here. She is held underwater until she stops breathing and then lies motionless. Somehow she manages to rise from the water for a final time, death cheated, as she attempts to carve up Michael Douglas. Perhaps being really bitter that the guy you had an affair with thinks you’re nuts and wants to go back to his wife brings on feats of impossible survival.

The Terminators (Terminator series) 

OK, so these guys are not human and should be expected to have an extremely high threshold of pain. They also have a real never-say-die attitude (LOL) and commitment to their work that sees them attempting to terminate others, even when they've been reduced to a small clump of wires. Some of what Terminators have survived: being blown in half, being shot into millions of pieces after being drenched in liquid nitrogen, exploded in a truck and hit repeatedly with an iron battering ram. Molten metal and hydraulic presses seem to be the only things that actually kill them off.

Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street series) 

With a ridiculous ability to survive everything from sledgehammer hits, being blown up, set on fire and decapitated, ol’ pizza face himself is like the Timex watch of horror - he takes a lickin’ but keeps on tickin’. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare was presumably released by New Line Cinema to convince very bored audiences that, yes, Freddy is indeed dead. The words ‘dead’ and ‘final’ were the clues. However, only three years later Freddy returned in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and a whole new batch of sequels followed. Sigh.

Chucky (Child’s Play series)  

Chucky is many things - irritating, plastic, Brad Dourif, the star of many sequels. Crucially, he is resilient. This is a doll that, like many classic horror villains, does not seem to be concerned with fire, explosives or decapitation. Dying is not a problem for Chucky. The way he sees it, he’ll be back for the sequel.

The Crow (Alex Proyas, 1994)  

A classic film trope is for the guy that won’t die to be cornered, seemingly without an escape route - surely the time has come for them to die. The gun is cocked, loaded and fired. But, oh look, bullets have no effect, wounds heal up, the shooter looks on incredulously and may utter the words: ‘Don’t you ever fu**in’ die?’

Follow Charles on Twitter: @CharlesGD 


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