The Worst Ways to Die in Film - With Science

The Worst Ways to Die in Film – With Science

by | May 6, 2016

Whether your dropped into a volcano or shoot off into space, when you die in films it’s always gloriously captured like some sort of sick ballet. But movie makers often over looks the real science behind things, instead choosing to do something bigger bolder and more visual than it’s real life counter part. We look at 5 horrible ways to die…and the real science behind it.

Eaten Alive


Watching someone getting swallowed whole by some nasty creature may look very dramatic on film, but the truth is much worse. Snakes eat their victims whole, and larger snakes, such as Anacondas, have been know to eat animals as large as antelope and alligators. Anacondas are not venomous; they use constriction instead to subdue their prey. They can exert about 90 lbs. per square inch. That is like a 90 lb. dumbbell sitting on every square inch of your body, or the weight of medium truck. So having something like this trying to eat you, the pressure is going to break bones and crush your internal organs, making you much more squishy to eat. You’d be dead long before you hit the acidic stomach content. Having a larger creature snapping is jaws shut on you would have a similar effect, with you body crushed by the sheer force of creatures bite.




Sudden decapitations are a striking visual representation of death. Is there anything more final or conclusive than missing a head? No amount of plasters or bandages is going to make that better! But the truth is much worse. Once a head is severed, brain activity continues for a few minutes, meaning that you can probably see and hear everything. If you head found itself in the right position, you could literally see you own headless body. urghhh!!

Exposed to Space


Pop open a space suit in a film and your more than likely explode into a gooey space mess, or instantly freeze as your body succumbs to the coldness of the void. It’s a classic scene that really hammers home juts how dangerous space travel can be. However, the real truth is a lot less visual. You body manges to keeps its own internal pressure, being an inclosed bag of organs and blood vessels. As long as they remain inside, the liquid that makes up your body will not boil away, nor will you expand or explode. However the liquid in your mouth and anus would start to boil away. Yep I said Anus…nasty!  In a vacuum, there is no pressure. This is critical for most liquids to remain in a liquid state because with no pressure, the temperature at which they start to boil drops, and the warmth of your body would be enough to start the boiling process. You wouldn’t Freeze either, at least not in the way you see in film. Space is a vacuum and without any conductivity, there is no way for the cold to be conducted to your skin, Your body would lose heat pretty quickly, as you body adjusted to spaces cold backgrounds temperature, but you’d suffocate long before your core temperature reached a critical low. Sorry films…but you’re wrong! Science RuLEs!

Buried Alive


Remember the scene in Kill Bill where the bride punches her way out of a buried coffin? How cool was that! The only problem being the oxygen levels inside that box. Within minutes, that coffin is going to fill up with carbon dioxide, you know..that stuff your breathing out. Without any fresh oxygen your going to start suffering from Hypercapnia, also known as CO2 retention.  Apart from the raised blood pressure and muscles twitches, you’ll also suffer from confusion, lethargy and diminished consciousness. Within 10 minutes, you would be finding it difficult to breath, think and move, let alone punching your way out of 6 feet of dirt. Within 20 minutes, your dead.



We so used to seeing things gently fall below the surface of lava in films, that we never really stopped to think about the science. Lava is just liquid rock, so it has a much higher density than water. When we fall into water, our greater density makes us sink, but in lava, you’d actually float. At the same time the high temperatures of the liquid would be burning you alive, whilst you bobbed up and down like a cork in water. That’s actually much worse….Yikes!

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