Rogue 10: Ten Poorly Covered-Up Corpses

Wednesday, 15 February 2012 16:37 Written by  iamrogue
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Rogue 10: Ten Poorly Covered-Up Corpses

On the Ice, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last year and opens in wide release this Friday, is an often startling look at life in Barrow, Alaska.  The setting – with its desolate, seemingly endless frozen plains – looks alien to those of us in the Lower 48, but the film creates a vivid portrait of a cultural issues familiar to both rural and urban American citizen, complete with popular music,alcoholism, rebellious teens, drug use, and poverty. 

Despite the well-observed ethnographic qualities of writer-director Andrew Okpeaha MacLean's film, the story centers on two young men, Qalli (Josiah Patkotak) and Aivaaq (Frank Qutuq Irelan).  While on seal-hunting trip with their friend James (John Miller), tensions escalate between the three, resulting in a violent confrontation and Frank's death.  Rather than come clean, the two teenagers hide his body and claim he was lost in a snowmobiling accident.

It's an old trope: the accidental death or even murder that must then be kept secret, no matter the moral or personal costs.  In a situation like the one depicted in On the Ice, in which a character deliberately chooses to conceal the horrific truth, it pays to at least be thorough in crafting a believable lie and disposing of any incriminating evidence.  Sometimes, though, characters just do a terrible job of one or both. 

In conjunction with the release of On the Ice, IAR is happy to present, in no particular order, ten films in which a death is covered up with undue sloppiness.

Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead

When the despotic and hateful old woman tasked with babysitting them for two months dies unexpectedly, the Crandell kids face a profound dilemma, forced to choose between their desire to have an unsupervised summer and giving the elderly tigress some basic dignity in death.  Naturally, they give very little thought to the moral implications, stuff her body in a steamer truck, and drop it off at a mortuary with an attached note reading, "Nice old lady Inside.  Died of natural causes."

Mean Creek

A plan to play a punitive prank on a bully, played by a still-plump Josh Peck, was woefully misconceived from the start.  After it goes horribly awry, the young ensemble in Jacob Aaron Estes's down-and-dirty drama follow up his death with the classic sign of a misconceived cover-up, the shallow grave.

A Simple Plan

Three guys stumble upon a crashed plan in the middle of the woods and inside they find millions of dollars.  Their scheme to keep it gradually unspools in the word possible fashion.  In a blunder as sure to end badly as the shallow grave, two of them return to the plane, where the end up having to deal with a witness.  That one isn't concealed terribly well, but the eventual betrayals result in bodies and a cover story that only holds water thanks to Bill Paxton's standing in the community.

The Deep End

How good a mother is Margaret Hall, played with the requisite intensity by Tilda Swinton?  When she discovers the body of her son's lover, suspecting he'll be implicated for murder, she dutifully takes the man's body and dumps it in the Lake Tahoe.  She does so in broad daylight, and chooses a spot that's about five feet deep.  She may be maternally dedicated, but that doesn't mean she's a proper crime-scene cleaner.

Bully

The Florida teenagers who conspire to kill the truly repugnant title character are vacuous, sex and drug-addled imbeciles, so it's not terribly surprising that they couldn't carry it off a murder successfully.  Larry Clark's often pervy, over-sexualized camera distracts from compellingly stupid and misguided characters who murder someone, dump his body in a marsh, return to the scene of the crime, and even confess to friends for no apparent reason.

Double Indemnity

Being an insurance salesman, Walter Neff actually does a damn fine job of murdering a dangerous woman's husband in Billy Wilder's classic, but Neff's whole plan is fundamentally flawed.  Phyllis, who convinces him to take part in the murder from which she'll profit enormously, just isn't trustworthy, which she proves repeatedly and which would've been abundantly obvious to Neff, were he not thinking with his junk. 

Wonder Boys

The sole entry on this list where the body involved belongs not to a human, but to a dog.  Specifically, a dog named Poe, who happens to belong to the chancellor of the university where novelist Grady Tripp is a professor.  After his unbalanced student James Leer blasts the beast, Tripp tosses the formerly-living Poe in his trunk, but that's pretty much the extent of the cover-up.  The casual effort is reflected in a dialogue exchange with James saying, "Now, that is a big trunk. It holds a tuba, a suitcase, a dead dog, and a garment bag almost perfectly," and Tripp replying, "That's just what they used to say in the ads."

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Gay Perry, a hyper-competent and acerbic private investigator, should have no trouble dealing with a body, even one that isn't his responsibility.  Unfortunately for Perry, his attempts at dealing with the discovery of a young woman's body are thwarted by the idiocy of Harry Lockhart, a quippy moron posing as an actor.  Not only do the duo botch the cover-up, but they end up getting framed for the murder when the body shows up in Harry's hotel room.*

Psycho

Technically, Norman Bates didn't do such a bad job after the famous shower-knifing of ill-fated embezzler Marion.  He clears the evidence, cleans the bathroom, and ditches everything in a swamp.  But the unhinged motel owner just can't hide that something isn't right with him, and Anthony Perkins performance communicates to anyone interested, from P.I. Arbogast to Marion's lover and her sister, that this dude isn't on the up and up.  Throw in some holes in his story about his mom, and Bates just can't get away with murder.

Weekend At Bernie's

No explanation required.  Really, the shenanigans of Larry and Richard could only succeed in a world populated exclusively by mouth-breathing morons with senses of smell so horrible that they don't pick up the stench of a rotting corpse.  Luckily for Larry and Richard, that appears to be exactly the case, since nobody picks up on the fact the Bernie is, you know, dead.  The sequel, Weekend at Bernie's II, was disqualified because a voodoo curse causes him to dance, making more like the undead.

On the Ice hits theaters limited release this Friday, February 17th.

*As a bonus, this is what happens in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang when the body reappears:

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