Also known as: Die Hard 2 (simplified title), 58 Minutes (working title)
Release Date: July 2nd, 1990 (Los Angeles premiere)
Directed by: Renny Harlin
Written by: Steven E. de Souza, Doug RIchardson
Based on: 58 Minutes by Walter Wagner, characters by Roderick Thorpe
Music by: Michael Kamen
Cast: Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, William Atherton, Reginald VelJohnson, Franco Nero, William Sadler, John Amos, Dennis Franz, Art Evans, Fred Thompson, Tom Bower, Sheila McCarthy, Vondie Curtis-Hall, John Leguizamo, Robert Patrick, Mark Boone Junior, Colm Meaney, Robert Costanzo
Twentieth Century Fox, Gordon Company, Silver Pictures, 124 Minutes
“Oh man, I can’t fucking believe this. Another basement, another elevator. How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?” – John McClane
Why the fuck do people shit on this movie? It’s a solid action flick with a solid action star that also boasts one of the manliest casts ever assembled for a motion picture not named The Expendables.
I love this movie and while I can recognize that it isn’t a perfect masterpiece like its predecessor, it is still a fine motion picture that helped to make the original Die Hard Trilogy one of the greatest trilogies of all-time. That was all undone and fucked up once Hollywood went back to the cow to milk the tits off of the franchise years later but I still consider the first three Die Hards to be a trilogy and that’s that.
John McClane is back and honestly, that’s all you really need. However, they set this one at Christmas, once again, and then padded out the rest of the cast with some of the coolest male actors of the time: Franco Nero, William Sadler, John Amos, Dennis Franz, Art Evans, Fred Thompson, Tom Bower, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Robert Patrick, John Leguizamo, Mark Boone Junior and Colm Meaney. Not to mention that they also brought back Bonnie Bedelia, William Atherton and Reginald VelJohnson in a cameo.
There is so much testosterone in this picture that it is hard to see the movie sometimes as it’ll spill over the top of the screen and ooze down the front of it. If that’s not what you’re looking for in an action flick circa 1990, then go watch Fried Green Tomatoes with your Aunt Millicent!
This film grabs you from the get go and doesn’t let go until the credits roll. It’s packed full of action and when shit isn’t blowing up or getting shot at, we’re treated to solid scenes between the solid cast and thus, there isn’t a dull moment in this entire picture.
I love the chemistry between just about everyone in this film. Bruce Willis, at least in this era, could work with anybody and bring the best out of them. While the guy has unparalleled charisma, it always seems to carry over and rub off on anyone he works with. I absolutely loved his banter with Dennis Franz and I also loved his camaraderie with Art Evans.
Looking at another tandem that’s great in this picture, I have to tip my hat to Bonnie Bedelia and William Atherton. This is their second time playing these characters that are at odds with one another but they work so well together that it kind of sucks that they never came back for any of the other films.
Look, it is hard to top perfection, which is what the first Die Hard was. But, man, this is a really good attempt at trying to follow it up and just give the fans more of what they wanted.
Pairs well with: the other Die Hard movies, as well as other Bruce Willis action films of the era.
From Yesterworld’s YouTube description: Exploring the little known History behind the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, how it came to be and why it’s one of the Star Wars Franchises most infamous blunders. The idea by George Lucas began with promise, but ultimately became “so bad it’s good” of the Star Wars universe.
Release Date: March 6th, 1987
Directed by: Richard Donner
Written by: Shane Black
Music by: Michael Kamen, Eric Clapton
Cast: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Mitchell Ryan, Tom Atkins, Darlene Love, Traci Wolfe, Steve Kahan, Mary Ellen Trainor, Ed O’Ross, Al Leong, Jack Thibeau, Renée Estevez (uncredited – Director’s Cut)
Silver Pictures, Warner Bros., 109 Minutes, 117 Minutes (Director’s Cut)
“I’m too old for this shit!” – Roger Murtaugh
Since there have been rumblings, once again, about Lethal Weapon 5, I was reminded that I haven’t really watched the original film in quite awhile. So, since I have the DVD box set, I figured that I’d give them all a rewatch and a review.
I actually forgot how dark this first film was in regards to Martin Riggs’ depression and suicidal thoughts. Sure, I remember that part of the story but I see a lot more layers with it now, as an adult that has dealt with depression his entire life and many of the experiences and thoughts that come with it. I can also relate to the loss and grief that Riggs felt over his wife’s death, as I lost someone very close to me, which had me in a similar head space for a few years.
As a kid and a teen, I don’t think I understood the real depth of Riggs’ despair and I also didn’t fully understand how this is a movie about a broken man finding something to live for and that he is essentially adopted by a family that grows to love him as one of their own. And honestly, I’m not sure if Shane Black’s script meant to take it that deep but Mel Gibson and Danny Glover add so much to their roles and this story, emotionally, that lesser actors couldn’t have achieved this on quite the same level with this much human emotion.
That being said, the film is really about a man emerging from absolute darkness and finding his way in the world again. And while this isn’t the main plot thread of the sequels, it helped to establish the bond between Riggs and Murtaugh so well, that the emotions and connections in this film created such a strong foundation that it made the camaraderie in the sequels natural and frankly, easy.
The movie is an action comedy, despite the really heavy emotional stuff, and within that, it has a great balance between the darker stuff and its lighthearted playfulness. It’s also full of badass action and just makes me wish that Hollywood could still make pictures like this that are this good.
Action comedies in the modern era just don’t hit the right notes. You can’t compare any of those Kevin Hart buddy action comedies to the Lethal Weapon films and that’s not a knock against the talented Hart, I think it is just a product of the times we live in and their contrast to what the 1980s (and ’90s) were.
A lot of the credit has to go to Richard Donner, who was on his A-game as a director in the ’80s, as well as producer Joel Silver, a man that was involved with some of the most iconic films of all-time, especially in this era and the action genre.
But it all really comes back to the greatness that is the pairing of Gibson and Glover. They’re bond and their banter is absolute perfection. You buy into what they’re selling and they feel like they’re your friends too. On top of that, Glover’s family is great and they make the scenes they share with the two leads pretty special.
While the actual plot dealing with the crime element in the film is a bit thin, it’s still interesting and it also brings in great performances from Gary Busey, Tom Atkins and the grossly underappreciated Mitchell Ryan. I also love seeing and hearing Al Leong actually speak in this beyond just being a voiceless henchman.
On top of all that, the action sequences are superb, the stunts are fantastic and this is a movie that still packs a punch and is just as exciting as it was over thirty years ago.
Lethal Weapon is a stupendous film. It has the greatest tandem in buddy cop movie history and it has aged tremendously well.
Pairs well with: the other Lethal Weapon films, as well as most ’80s buddy action movies.
Also known as: Lassie’s Adventures in the Goldrush (alternative title), Lassie’s Christmas Story (DVD title)
Release Date: April 21st, 1951 (Los Angeles premiere)
Directed by: Harold F. Kress
Written by: True Boardman, Alexander Hull
Based on: The Lassie novels by Eric Knight
Music by: Daniele Amfitheatrof
Cast: Pal (credited as “Lassie”), Paul Kelly, Bruce Cowling, Gary Gray, Ann Doran
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 68 Minutes
This must have been featured on one of the few Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes that I missed because I don’t remember Joel and the ‘Bots ever riffing a Lassie movie.
In fact, based off of the film’s title, I had just assumed this was a standard western. Now while it is a western and a pretty basic one, Lassie the dog is front and center and gets top billing.
All that being said, this is a pretty boring movie even for a Lassie one but full disclosure, I’ve never been a big Lassie fan.
It lacks the energy and spirit of the television show, the version of Lassie I, and probably everyone, am most familiar with.
The story actually doesn’t even feel that much like a Lassie story, as the dog is named Shep. It’s also a darker tale than the television plots, as it focuses on a nice old prospector who finds gold but is then murdered by his partner. The evil partner also poisons Shep the dog and nearly kills Tommy, the little kid in the story. Lassie… er… Shep gets revenge though, as she chases the evil bastard until he falls off of a cliff to his death.
I should’ve prefaced that paragraph with a spoiler alert but I’m saving my readers from watching this dud. However, I guess it’s palatable if you watch it on MST3K.
Pairs well with: the other Lassie movies, as well as the long running television show.
From The Attic Dwellers’ YouTube description: Come hang in the attic and build some Lincoln Log houses with us. Check out some Lionel Model Trains too. Wax nostalgic about Xmas Specials, and maybe even break into some songs! Grab a jacket and join us in the attic!
From Yesterworld’s YouTube description: Explore 7 Abandoned Disneyland, Disney World, Universal Studios & More Theme Park Christmas Overlays and attractions. From Hollywood Studios Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, to Frozen Fever: Olaf’s Snow Fest, Universal Studios “Christmas” King Kong Encounter, and Knott’s Berry Farm Christmas Elf Mountain.
Also known as: Scrooge: A Christmas Carol (original script title)
Release Date: November 17th, 1988 (Los Angeles premiere)
Directed by: Richard Donner
Written by: Mitch Glazer, Michael O’Donoghue
Based on: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Music by: Danny Elfman
Cast: Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe, Bobcat Goldthwait, Carol Kane, Robert Mitchum, Michael J. Pollard, Alfre Woodard, John Glover, David Johansen, Mary Ellen Trainor, Mabel King, John Murray, Wendie Malick, Brain Doyle-Murray, Lee Majors (cameo), Miles Davis (cameo), Robert Goulet (cameo), Paul Shaffer (cameo), Buddy Hackett, Mary Lou Retton, Jamie Farr, Anne Ramsey, Logan Ramsey, Delores Hall, Joel Murray
Paramount Pictures, Mirage Productions, 101 Minutes
“That’s the one good thing about regret: it’s never too late. You can always change tomorrow if you want to.” – Claire Phillips
Scrooged is my favorite Christmas movie that doesn’t fit in the action or horror genres, even though it has a wee bit of those two things. It’s a comedy starring the legendary Bill Murray and it was directed by Richard Donner, coming off of Lethal Weapon, Ladyhawke and The Goonies.
The film also has an all-star cast comprised of a few legends, a few solid character actors and the always lovely Karen Allen and Alfre Woodard.
It’s a modernized adaptation of Charles Dickens’ most famous story, A Christmas Carol. Bill Murray essentially plays Ebeneezer Scrooge but in this story, he’s named Frank Cross and he is the president of a major television network, stressed out over the live televised adaptation of A Christmas Carol that he is producing.
As can be expected with adaptations of this story, Cross is visited by three ghosts: The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present and The Ghost of Christmas Future. He is taken on a journey through his life and is shown his fate if he doesn’t wise up and change his ways.
There aren’t any shocking twists or deviations from the traditional story structure of A Christmas Carol, other than setting it in contemporary times and modifying some of the smaller details to fit what was ’80s pop culture society.
The film has a good bit of crude humor but it’s nothing that’s off putting or that takes away from the spirit of Dickens’ classic story. In fact, I love the update and frankly, for the time that this came out in and the inclusion of Murray, this was probably the most palatable version of the story that had been adapted. It’s not strict to the source material but it benefits because of that while keeping the original plot structure intact.
Scrooged may feel dated to some and like a product of its time but it is a classic Christmas film for many, myself included, and it doesn’t get old. I think a lot of that has to do with the charisma supernova that is Bill Murray while the kind nature of Karen Allen, as well as the fantastic cast around Murray, make this something unique, special and entertaining.
Plus, there is just something perfect about Danny Elfman’s score in this film. It sets the tone for the picture immediately and it just accents and enhances the movie like a great musical score should.
Pairs well with: other great non-traditional Christmas movies of the ’80s like Trading Places, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Die Hard, Gremlins and Lethal Weapon.
Release Date: April 10th, 1987
Directed by: Lee Harry
Written by: Lee Harry, Joseph H. Earle, Dennis Patterson, Lawrence Appelbaum
Music by: Michael Armstrong
Cast: Eric Freeman, James L. Newman, Elizabeth Kaitan, Jean Miller, Lilyan Chauvin (archive footage), Robert Brian Wilson (archive footage), Linnea Quigley (archive footage)
Silent Night Releasing Corporation, 88 Minutes
“[about to shoot a man carrying a garbage can] Gaaarbaaage daaay!” – Ricky Caldwell
While I enjoyed Silent Night, Deadly Night, I’ve never seen the sequels except for the fifth one that stars Mickey Rourke as the creator of killer Christmas toys.
Seeing this one now, I was surprised to discover that I like it more than its predecessor. While the first third-to-half of this film is bogged down by flashbacks of the original movie, once this becomes its own story, focused on the younger brother of the original killer, the film becomes pretty awesome.
Frankly, you can probably just start with this film as everything important from the first movie is shown in this chapter and honestly, you’re not missing much from the scenes that were omitted.
While this movie has been panned for years because of how bonkers and absurd it can seem at face value, I absolutely love the performance of Eric Freeman as the killer younger brother. His performance is over the top but that just adds to the insanity and tone of the film, which honestly, would’ve been kind of drab without his intensity. He makes the picture work and if I dare be so bold, he saves it from just being a rehash of shit we’ve already seen.
The whole sequence surrounding the infamous “garbage daaay!” moment is schlock of the highest caliber. From the moment he kills his girlfriend’s ex, his girlfriend, the cop and then goes on a gun toting killing spree that ends in a damn good car stunt, we’re treated to one of the most entertaining, bizarre and unintentionally stupendous cinema moments of ’80s horror.
While the average person would find this movie off-putting and stupid, I found it to be a true hidden gem that hits the right notes, perfectly, for those of us that like hearty helpings of ’80s horror schlock. Plus, it’s a Christmas movie.
Pairs well with: it’s predecessor, but then again, that whole movie is basically re-told in the first half of this film. So I guess the sequels, which all veer off in their own weird directions.
Release Date: November 18th, 1997
Directed by: Michael Cooney
Written by: Michael Cooney, Jeremy Paige
Music by: Chris Anderson, Carl Schurtz
Cast: Christopher Allport, Stephen Mendel, F. William Parker, Rob LaBelle, Shannon Elizabeth, Jack Lindine, Zack Egniton, Brian Leckner, Marsha Clark, Eileen Seeley, Kelly Jean Peters, Scott MacDonald
Frost Bite Films Ltd., Moonstone Entertainment, Storyteller Films Ltd., A-Pix Entertainment, 89 Minutes
“Gosh. I only axed you for a smoke.” – Jack Frost
I’ve heard people refer to this as the movie that made Shannon Elizabeth famous. Actually, I think this is the movie that Shannon Elizabeth made famous after she blew up from her part in the original American Pie and rumors that she was also nude in this flick.
Apart from Shannon Elizabeth, there really isn’t anything in this film worth looking at.
It’s a horror comedy about a killer that has his body turned into shapeshifting sentient snow. So basically, he’s a killer snowman with some nonsensical snow-based powers and lots of really bad one-liners.
While this isn’t a movie made by Full Moon, it has a similar vibe in its cheapness, its terribly bad humor and its lack of anything that will make you want to sit still for 89 minutes. Well, except the infamous Shannon Elizabeth scene but that only takes up about three percent of the film’s run time.
The special effects are bad, the acting is bad, the jokes are even worse and the film is pretty boring, even though it features one of the strangest horror monsters of its time.
There’s not much else to say about the movie, as there isn’t much worth talking about other than Shannon Elizabeth. But you can just watch her important scene online and skip the other 97 percent of the movie.
Pairs well with: it’s sequel and other terrible, terrible horror movies.