From ‘Psycho’ To ‘Jack Ryan’: Hollywood’s Love Affair With Bathroom Violence

Last week, a new clip from the upcoming film Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit debuted and I assume that a lot of people were probably thinking, “Oh cool, the classic Tom Clancy character is back for some more spy adventures!” But not me. After watching that clip, all I could think was, “Good Lord, Hollywood loves including scenes of graphic violence that take place in bathrooms.”

So I sat down with my trusty quill pen and some parchment and I starting thinking of some of those classic moments, not so I could rank them like any violent bathroom scene is greater than another, but so I could pay tribute to the time-honored tradition of watching people get killed next to a toilet. Also, ranking these scenes is futile, because True Romance is No. 1. I read two lists that didn’t even have True Romance on them, so just the thought of having to debate that made me ill.

Alas, this list is not complete. It is only a sample of the many, many times that fights and gruesome murders have taken place in imaginary restrooms on the silver screen, but I like to think that I’ve included the classics. Feel free to correct me by figuratively smacking me upside the head with a toilet lid.

1960 – Psycho

Was this Alfred Hitchcock classic the first film to ever include someone being killed in a bathroom? Probably. I have no clue what happened in movies that were made before 1960, because I wasn’t alive. If any of the movies made prior to my birth (long after 1960, mind you) were important, the studios would have waited for me. The people involved with Psycho (the original, not the craptacular Vince Vaughn remake) should feel lucky that I’m even talking about this film, if any of them are still alive. Anyway, the image of Marion Crane being stabbed to death in the shower might be the most famous murder in Hollywood history. (Although, I’d argue that it’s Vinh Kelly in Gleaming the Cube.)

1967 – The Dirty Dozen

You know how I said that any movie that was made before I was born isn’t worth watching? The Dirty Dozen is an exception. In fact, if your kid was born today, you better make sure he watches it tomorrow. That way he can watch Charlie Bronson do what he always did best – beat the crap out of two guys at one time with punches that looked like flies that couldn’t land on aircraft carriers. But that was the beauty of Hollywood’s era of the macho actor. They didn’t need any fancy fightin’ choreography like Jason Statham. They just punched, dammit.

(Bronson’s bathroom fighting can be seen in the trailer around the 2:12 mark. And about that trailer, they don’t make ’em like this anymore. Lee Marvin relaying what each actor said about his character is wonderful. “Trini Lopez as Jimenez… he’s crawling with hate!” Simply wonderful.)

1979 – The Warriors

The first REAL bathroom fight scene to ever be recorded (thanks to my decision to ignore five decades of cinema), The Warriors reminded us that it doesn’t matter how stupid you dress as long as you’re able to shatter a guy’s rib cage with a baseball bat. The thing I’ve always wondered, though, is if anyone stopped and said, “The Punks? Really? We’re on roller skates, dude.”

1982 – Firefox

One of those classic 80s movies created with a ridiculous fear that the Russians were about to nuke us with a moon laser controlled by their testes, Firefox told the story of a grizzled Air Force major who had to sneak into Russia to steal a top secret jet that could fire missiles with mind buttons. Along the way, Clint Eastwood stopped to hide in a bathroom and beat a Russian dude’s ass to death. U-S-A! U-S-A!

1987 – Full Metal Jacket

I shouldn’t have to explain Private Pyle’s incredible meltdown in Full Metal Jacket. Honestly, I don’t want to explain it, let alone watch it again. This scene is as haunting as it is brutal.

1993 – True Romance

Again, my standard-bearer for all things bathroom violence is this incredibly graphic fight between James Gandolfini and Patricia Arquette in True Romance. It’s so hard to watch, but just watching the above clip (the full fight scene is here, but I didn’t embed it in this post because of Live Leak’s annoying autoplay) makes me want to stop everything I’m doing and just watch True Romance again for the 600th time. Seriously, I f*cking love that movie.

1994 – Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction is one of those movies that was so influential to me as a teenager that I can remember everything that I did on the day I saw it. But I also remember watching this scene and thinking, “If you’re gonna be gunned down, at least Vincent did it after taking a huge dump.” I don’t know why, but teenage me equated bowel release with happiness. I won’t lie – I still sort of do.

1994 – True Lies

“Poor old dude on the sh*tter just reading his newspaper.” That’s all I ever think when I watch this King Kong of bathroom fight scenes, even a copy as bad as this one that some dude shot on his cell phone. I hate agreeing with YouTube commenters, but at least invest in a camera holder if you’re going to record scenes off the TV the old-fashioned way. Either way, as much as I’d never like to actually slide in toilet water, Arnold made it look totally bad ass.

1998 – American History X

I’ve watched this movie one time. I don’t ever want to watch it again. Not because of this bathroom scene, because this is a pretty tame, albeit seriously tense, scene. But the curb-stomp scene? No thanks. Never again. It has been 15 years and I still can’t leave my driveway without thinking, “God, it would suck if someone came by right now and made me put my mouth on that curb.”

1999 – The Matrix

Morphius and Agent Smith probably had the coolest bathroom fight scene ever recorded, but it was so much more than that. Like, what if, like, the Matrix is real and the bathroom is like our soul or something, and Morphius is God or something and Agent Smith is like a demon and the computers are the devil, man? Wouldn’t that sh*t be crazy? *takes bong rip, passes out without exhaling, dies*


2003 – Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

If I can take a moment to step off topic, I’d like to talk about Kristanna Loken, who played the T-X in Terminator 3. Why isn’t she a more successful actress? Is it because she’s not as talented? Because there are a ton of women who have succeeded in Hollywood without being talented. Seriously, Jessica Alba is still working. I just feel like this girl never got a chance to become a bigger star and/or fall in love with me.

In conclusion, I love when Arnold hits her over the head with the urinal. But don’t try that at home.

2004 – Kill Bill: Vol. 2

I’m never sure which part of this fantastic fight scene is grosser – the coffee can full of dip spit to the face or the face in the disgusting toilet. I guess it’s the toilet because pee and poop go in there, but still, credit is due to Quentin Tarantino for being incredible at constantly redefining the ways that people in his movies get f*cked up in bathrooms.

2006 – Casino Royale

This scene was incredibly important to the Bond franchise because it marked the rebirth of 007 as a much deadlier and grittier killer than the jovial playboy of the past. It was also a sloppier James Bond, as he couldn’t even properly drown a guy in a bathroom sink. I mean, *snorts* what is this, amateur trained assassin hour?

2007 – Eastern Promises

First off, if you’ve never seen this movie and especially this fight scene, please know that it’s incredibly NSFW for considerable blood and violence, as well as a whole lotta Viggo penis. How does YouTube let a video stay up with so much sausage? Because it’s ART!

That said, this scene is ridiculous. As enthralling as it is graphic, and seeing all that peen flapping in the air is almost a welcome distraction from the little nuances, like a guy having a knife shoved into his eyeball.

2007 – The Bourne Ultimatum

If I had to rank all of the Bourne fight scenes (excluding anything from the lousy The Bourne Legacy), I’d probably put Matt Damon’s beatdown on Marton Csokas with a magazine as No. 1 and this fight from Ultimatum as No. 2. Look, it’s a great bathroom fight, sure, but beating a guy with a magazine before choking him to death is something spectacular all on its own. And that one didn’t have Julia Stiles standing there staring like a goon without even as much as a “Thanks, Jason Bourne.”

2008 – Never Back Down

Wow, what a powerful scene! Cam Gigandet is all, “Look at me squinting, I’m holding your leg and now I’m going to kick you.” Powerful stuff right there, but I’ll let YouTube user “pyrowolf19” explain it best: “Tyler getting owned cus he thought he was so bad ass cus he learned a takedown and a few punches and kicks in MMA class lol.” Truer words have never been spoken.

2008 – Punisher War Zone

For as cheesy as this reboot of a reboot was, it’s still one of my guiltiest pleasures, if only to watch McNulty overact with a creepy skin mask covering his head. But this hotel massacre scene cracks me up every time, from the guy who looks at the grenade and thinks, “Aw crap” to the Punisher going at it with Loony Bin Jim in the bathroom. After he blows off the fat guy’s head, of course.

2008 – Pineapple Express

Okay, this isn’t a bathroom fight scene as much as it’s a dying in a bathroom scene. But still, the bathroom is often a tomb for so many of Hollywood’s great characters, and very few characters have ever been as great as Red. In fact, had Red died in his bathroom, I’d probably want to remember him as one of the best to ever go out that way. He’d easily be in my Top 5.

2013 – Bullet to the Head

This was my favorite terrible movie of 2013, partly because it was just so hilariously bad in acting and writing, and partly because I would follow Sarah Shahi to the end of the Earth if she so demanded. Now, this particular bathroom scene wasn’t very exciting, as only one bathroom stall was ruined. I mean, one stall? Please, Arnold Schwarzenegger destroys one stall in his sleep. But it was a hint of what we’d eventually see in a fight that was so great that it had axes.

2013 – The World’s End

I know people who thought this movie sucked, and I just want to tie them to chairs and make them watch this scene over and over until they respect how awesome this movie is. Especially this scene. I think back to my astonishment as I watched the grand finale in Hot Fuzz, and this bathroom fight is right there with it. I just don’t understand how people can keep pumping out money on Seltzer and Friedberg bullsh*t when the alternative is outstanding comedy like this.

2014 – Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

And here we are today. Well, this Friday, I guess, because that’s when Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit hits theaters. Will Chris Pine’s violent efforts in the bathroom rank among the best in Hollywood’s history? Probably not, but that’s no fault of his own. You see, when it comes to truly great moments of bathroom violence in movie history, the sh*tter’s full.