— Every "Final Destination" movie has characters and a plot, but let's be honest: Those are just excuses to get to the death scenes.
"Final Destination 5," which opens Friday, will give us what we came for. Once again, a plucky teenager will have a premonition about a horrible accident (in this case, a bridge collapse) and will convince a few people to run away. Once again, the survivors will be punished for trying to cheat their fate, dying in horrible and hilarious ways. The preview, for instance, features death by laser eye surgery. That pretty much says it all.
As we await the latest round of witty carnage, let's revisit the all-time top five death scenes from the franchise.
Ironic death of a racist
"The Final Destination" (or "Final Destination 4") is widely dismissed as a cynical cash-in on the 3-D boom, and that's fair. The movie isn't very witty, and its special effects are about as thrilling as a glass of iced tea.
But there is one classic moment: Carter Daniels, a racist tow truck driver, tries to put a burning cross on the lawn of an African-American man. His tow truck comes supernaturally to life, and by the end of the scene, Carter's on fire and being dragged down the road. The kicker? His radio is playing "Why Can't We Be Friends." That's not just a death scene. That's social commentary with a side of flames.
Death by pasta, with assist to refrigerator magnet
The "Final Destination" movies are filled with bait-and-switch deaths, where characters escape obvious perils only to be killed by something else.
The best example comes in the second film, which starts with an interstate pile-up. Lottery winner Evan Lewis makes it out alive, so he goes home, makes some pasta, and admires his expensive jewelry. Thanks to a metal fridge magnet that supernaturally flies into his microwave, his kitchen catches fire, just seconds after he gets his hand caught in a garbage disposal. Death by fire? Death by disposal? No. Evan gets outside, only to slip on some pasta that fell out the window in the beginning of the scene. When he looks up from the ground, a fire escape ladder impales him in the eye.
This scene gets bonus points because the remaining alphabet magnets on Evan's fridge spell "eye." If he had just read the magnets, he might still be with us.
Roller coaster of death
In "Final Destination 3," young photographer Wendy Christensen is about to get on a roller coaster when she foresees a terrible crash. Thanks to stellar camera work, her vision is horrifying, unfolding at high speed as we race along with the coaster. We catch glimpses of carnage, then hurtle forward to the next terrible moment, and it's tempting to scream or pass out. It's the best opening sequence in the franchise.
Most complicated death ever
Rube Goldberg himself might admire the elaborate, cause-and-effect chain reactions in these movies, and the greatest comes in the very first film. It begins when Ms. Lewton, a teacher who avoids a plane crash, pours cold vodka into a hot coffee cup. The cup cracks, the vodka leaks, and when her computer explodes a few minutes later, the sparks ignite the alcohol. A piece of the computer also lodges in her neck (gross!), which sends her stumbling to the burning kitchen. After a few more pieces fall into place, a kitchen chair pushes a knife into her stomach. It's a brilliant, gory sequence.
And, you're de--
Sometimes, the best "Final Destination" deaths are total surprises, like this one from the first movie. Terry Chaney is telling her friends that she isn't scared of dying, and then, mid-monologue, a bus runs her down. Bam. Just like that. It's shocking and funny and totally over the top, and that's why it's the best death scene of all.