10 Films Where Dead Bodies Were Main Characters

Saw, Swiss Army Man & more! Which movies turned dead bodies into great characters?

After Life
Anchor Bay Entertainment

At its very best, a movie is still only as good as its characters. Franchises like Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings and the MCU feature fantastic, sweeping storylines, but they would not draw fans were the characters not equally entertaining to watch.

After all, character development is one of the chief cornerstones of fictional storytelling, and those works which gloss over this key feature more often than not see their efforts quickly forgotten, if ever recognized at all.

Sure, some characters can be static – a villain must be villainous, after all – but they can still be developed and made interesting despite serving a specific role.

However, there is one particular type of character which, by its very nature, is near impossible to develop: the dead body.

A corpse is, by definition, inanimate, so you’d think that writers would have about as much luck with them as they would creating an entertaining toaster (the brave, little one notwithstanding).

But against all odds, the writers and directors of the movies on this list managed to pull off what should be absolutely impossible: they made a dead body into an interesting character. With that, let’s put to death this intro and dive right in.

11. Honorable Mention: Hellboy (2004)

After Life
Columbia Pictures

Ron Perlman’s first Hellboy appearance is an enjoyably strange piece of cinema. However, there was one bizarre plot point that was glossed over with little explanation.

Early into the third act, Hellboy’s team needs a guide to pass through a cemetery. As if it’s no big deal, the half-demon digs up a dead man’s head and torso, utters an incantation and brings the man back to life.

The zombie gives them directions, passes a few insults at the red man carrying him and then tumbles into a pit never to be seen again. So… Hellboy can suddenly raise the dead?

While this living corpse is only a minor character in the film, fans of the comics will actually recognize this from a one-shot storyline in which Hellboy is cursed by some forest spirits to transport an animated corpse to a church for proper burial.

This, in turn, is based on an Irish fairy tale, simply substituting Hellboy for the rich young man who learns the meaning of hard work through the endeavor.

The barbs and dissatisfaction echoed by the corpse are accurate to the comic and to the original fairy tale – despite its being relegated to a bit part by Del Toro – leaving this as simply an easter egg shoehorned into the first Hellboy film in order to patch up a probable plothole.


I'm a writer living in Indiana, United States, who specializes in horror, both in cinema and literature. I'm a fan of H.P. Lovecraft as well as an aspiring writer who is constantly striving to perfect my craft and become a better version of myself, while also providing for my wife and daughters.