I don't know about you, but I love a good exploding head. Ever since I saw psychic mutant head-exploder flick Scanners as a tot, I've tracked all the ways a head can explode in film. Sometimes it just pops like a watermelon dropped off a roof; sometimes it gets all bulgy and eye-poppy; and sometimes it goes slowly, with gradual brain leakage. Of course, science fiction is the perfect vehicle for the exploding head. And here's why.
First of all, there are a zillion reasons why your head might get into an explody situation. Here you can see Arnold Schwarzenegger's character in the flick Total Recall after he's ejected from a dome on Mars. With less pressure in the atmosphere, his head starts to explode, his eyes bug out, and it almost seems like his teeth get bigger. Is that possible? Arnie's teeth are already super big.
Another great head explosion, which isn't quite an explosion but more of a violent reconfiguration, comes in John Carpenter's superlative remake of The Thing. A bunch of guys, including Kurt "hellz yes" Russell are trapped in a remote antarctic station being stalked by an alien whose frozen body they dragged out of the ice. Of course, the first thing the alien does is try to hide by killing and duplicating members of the group. In this scene, the doctor is trying to revive a guy who turns out to be . . . THE THING! Check out what the hell happens to this guy's head. Seriously fucking cool.
One of my favorite directors in the whole world is Frank Henelotter, who brought you the fantastic Frankenhooker and Basket Case trilogy. His least-known flick is this one, a bizarro tale of a boy and his brain parasite called Brain Damage. The parasite, named Ayler, has gotten our hero addicted to a drug he oozes into our hero's brain. The price the kid has to pay? He's got to bring Ayler fresh brains to eat. In this scene, the poor guy tries to stop killing hookers for brains and goes through the worst drug withdrawal you've ever seen. OK, this isn't exactly a brain explosion, but it's kind of like a slow disintegration. And it's so winningly gross. Henelotter is working on a new flick called Bad Biology. Can't wait!
The head-explosion subgenre of futuristic prison flicks is well-known to aficionados of Escape from New York, where Kurt "hellz yeah" Russell is given a neck implant that will blow up his head if he doesn't complete his mission in twenty-four hours. Less known is this flick, Deadlock, set in a futuristic prison where everybody wears collars that will BLOW UP YOUR HEAD and the head of your buddy if you step over the wrong line or tinker with the collar. Here, an amusingly-coifed Rutger Hauer schools his enemy in a prison fight, jimmys his collar, and well . . . you guessed it. Double head pop. Now it's your turn — tell us your favorite head-exploding moment in scifi. Because it's Friday and all of our heads are blowing up.