That Scene From ‘American History X’ (1998)

“Hey, have you seen this movie? What did you think about THAT SCENE?!” We have all used that phrase at one point during our discussions of movies with the other person’s eyebrows raising, “Oh yea, THAT SCENE!” You go on to pick that memorable scene apart by listing what you loved or didn’t like, how it made you feel and the impression it left on you. 

In this series, we will do just that. We will take a scene from a movie and discuss its impact on us. Some of these scenes may be frightening, weird, iconic, controversial, hilarious, and everything in between. Let us know your impression of the scene and the impact it left on you the first time you watched it down below in the comments. Enjoy!

 *Warning: May Contain Spoilers*

Movie: American History X (1998)

Scene: Curb Stomp


Director: Tony Kaye

Characters: Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton), Danny Vinyard (Edward Furlong), Stacey (Fairuza Balk), Lawerence (Antonio David Lyons)


American History X could very well be considered a horror movie for its subject matter and its portrayal of an all too real present evil. We follow the story of Danny Vinyard as he slowly begins to fall under the Neo-Nazi movement. Through Danny’s narration, we witness flashbacks (in black and white which is fantastic btw) of his older brother Derek Vinyard. During these flashbacks, we see that Derek is a recently reformed and fresh out of prison former a skinhead and leader of a violent white supremacist gang. Derek struggles with the influence he had on his younger brother and the fateful event that landed him in prison. In a flashback, we see a confrontation during a basketball game where the white supremacist gets the upper hand on a group of black men and forcing them to leave the park unable to return. This leads us to our scene as those same guys try to get payback on the skinhead.



Man is that brutal and no matter how many times I watch, it puts my stomach in knots. Derek gets vengeance on some gang members who are trying to steal Derek’s truck that was his late father’s.

In this scene, we see the gang members arrive at the Vinyard’s in the middle of the night with Danny seeing this and proceeding to tell Derek. Derek grabs his gun and goes out of the front door guns blazing shooting two gang members and chasing away the getaway car. As intense as this already is, it goes one more brutal step further as Derek hands out his own form of justice.

Once Vinyard empties the clip as the car drives away, he sees that one guy is still alive and proceeds to drag the man to where his face is lined up with the curb. (Shivers run up spine just writing about it) Derek then forces the man to open his mouth and place it on the curb.

The stomp isn’t that graphic but the scraping of the man’s teeth on the cement, the scene being shot in black and white, the score, Danny screaming for his brother to stop and Edward Norton’s performance just makes this scene as gritty and real as they come. You will forever hear the teeth scrape in your dreams after watching this scene. American History X still resonates twenty years later.

What do you think of this scene? Did you find it intense and well done?

Author: Vincent Kane

I hate things.