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Top 10 Movie Depictions of the Grim Reaper or Death

As if we didn't already fear death, some movie depictions of the Grim Reaper or death are absolutely terrifying.

Death is a fact of life, but he also moonlights as an actor on the side. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 depictions of death or the grim reaper in movies.

For this list, we’re taking a look at fictionalized representations of death, brought to life on film. These creepy characters aren’t content to wait silently in the wings; they make their presence known in the most dramatic of ways. And while it makes for good movie viewing, we can’t help but shudder a little at these personifications of the grim reaper. 

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#10: Angel of Death “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (2008)

In this visually stunning sequel, Hellboy is on the brink of death when he’s brought before a lifesaver. That lifesaver, ironically enough, is the Angel of Death who just so happens to be hanging around waiting for the opportunity to speak cryptically about forthcoming tragedies. While this angel does have wings, it’s also breathtakingly disturbing, with its eyeless face, heart of sand and ability to disappear when its job is done.

#9: Death “Cemetery Man” (1994)

Obviously, if you’re going to run into Death anywhere, a cemetery would be a likely place. Rupert Everett plays a beleaguered groundskeeper tasked with keeping the town’s reanimated corpses at bay. But when Death himself suddenly materializes from fresh ashes, he has some sage advice: kill the living instead. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that Death is a major advocate of murder. 

#8: Joe Black “Meet Joe Black” (1998)

It makes sense for Death to choose the body of Brad Pitt in order to woo the daughter of the man he’s supposed to be ushering to the other side. Yes, it’s completely creepy, but also genius because it’s freaking Brad Pitt. With his meat suit on, Death is pretty much as cool and measured as you’d expect Death to be, and pretty good at living undercover. He also manages to have a lot of game with the ladies. 

#7: Grim Reaper “Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life” (1983)

When you’re hosting a dinner party and happen to be in a particularly good mood, unexpected dinner guests can be a welcome addition. That is, when they’re not actually there to claim your mortal soul. In this Monty Python comedy, Death joins a lively group of diners at their home. Despite Death’s skeletal frame and tattered robes, the group seems relatively nonplussed. Maybe that was just a side effect of the salmon mousse. 

#6: The Red Death “The Masque of the Red Death” (1964)

In a movie featuring a satanic cult, you sort of know that Death is going to show up at one point or another, whether he’s mysteriously handling his tarot cards or dealing out deadly roses. Death opts for a red cloak as opposed to his standard black ensemble in this 1964 horror flick, which stars Vincent Price. Price plays Prospero, a prince and major Satanist who attempts to strike a deal with Death by the end of the film. Unfortunately for him, the Red Death don’t care. 

#5: Death “The Last Action Hero” (1993)

For a movie with so many twists and turns and contemporary film crossovers, you’d think The Seventh Seal would somehow be too old school. Alas, ‘tis not the case, and Sir Ian McKellen strolls through a portal onto the screen in Death’s black robe, ready to claim a soul. As it were, however, the mortally wounded party belongs to a fictional character, and Death doesn’t do fiction. 

#4: Sam “Trick ‘r Treat” (2007)

Kids can occasionally be creepy enough without an association with Death attached to them. In this Halloween-themed horror flick, there happens to be a particularly severe pint-sized trick-or-treater who’s not in it for the fun; he wants to make sure you follow the rules of Halloween. Mess up, and you’re probably going to die because Sam didn’t approve of your choice candy. Or maybe he thought you phoned it in with your jack-o-lantern carving. While this wee-one may not necessarily be a reaper, he’s definitely a death dealer.

#3: Grim Reaper “The Frighteners” (1996)

A ghost that can kill ghosts is pretty much doubly horrifying. The ghost of a serial killer posing as the Grim Reaper? Well, consider yourself screwed. Michael J. Fox stars as a con man with supernatural partners-in-crime who stumbles upon a pattern of real-life murders. He eventually encounters the ghost imposter, who’s doing a remarkably effective cosplay as the Reaper, complete with leaving dead bodies in its wake. When you meet up with this Reaper, your number is most definitely up.

#2: Death “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” (1991)

This pair’s excellent adventure eventually led them to Death, which sounds like a total bummer. This sequel follows the time-traveling duo as they work to ensure a future utopian society. Since everyone doesn’t enjoy utopias all that much, the two end up staring Death in the face… and then beating him at some board games. Death actually seems like a pretty stand-up guy by the end of the whole thing, and we gotta admit having someone as powerful as that indebted to you seems like a pretty sweet deal.

Before we unearth our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

  • Unseen Spirit of Death, Final Destination franchise (2000-)
  • Death, Deconstructing Harry (1997)
  • The Devil’s Reaper, Solomon Kane (2009)
  • Morte, Embodiment of Evil (2008)
  • Angel of Death, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

#1: Death “The Seventh Seal” (1957)

Never has a game of chess been so intense and with such high stakes. In this 1957 classic, a knight returns from battle to Plague-ravaged Sweden and attempts to make his way home when he encounters Death. Pale, and dressing in a cloak like all good Reapers, this Death seems just as keen to board games as the Bill and Ted’s, and agrees to a chess match that would determine the knight’s fate. It’s a game that lasts the duration of the film with a fairly depressing outcome.

Do you agree with our list? Which personification of death or the grim reaper is your favorite? For more morbid top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

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