Monthly Archives: January 2015

One Lovely Blog Award-WHAT?!

Okay.

So I woke up two days ago to this amazing news. I have been traveling for work all week and this pick-me-up was way better than any latte (mmmm lattes….I do love lattes) anyways, thank you Angela from MY COLLEGE ODYSSEY. I am flattered that a young writer with your talent would ever think my meager blog would be decent enough for such a nomination. Yours is TOTALLY “One Lovely Blog worthy.”

Thinking just that, I was flattered, but felt foolish trying to think of what to write for my nomination and pretty much decided not to….

Until…..

Brooks P. Weaver was kind enough to mention me again.

Okay, papa’s gotta write one now.

My apologies for what you’re about to get. Even I don’t know what I’m going to do.

Let’s get to the rat killi’n’ as my grandpa always said.

7 facts about myself:

1. I have a 2 (almost 3) year old son. He has made my life relevant over the last 3 years in ways I would’ve never thought possible and I am blessed to be the molder of such a pleasant young child.

2. I am twice divorced before 40. Yep ladies, this guy’s single. Look out!

3. My girlfriend is going to kick my ass for number 2.

4. You all know I love movies. I like to read as well. Weird, I know. I generally enjoy “great” science fiction and fantasy but I LOVE the classics (Twilight, 50 Shades, etc.)

5. That last part of 4 was bullshit. Not the reading part, the “what I like to consider classics” part. I consider Gone with the Wind, anything by Mark Twain (My favorite), and The Idiot classics.

6. I used to play soccer in high school and college. Love it. Miss it.

7. I work full time at an agency in which we support person’s diagnosed with intellectual disabilities and I love it.

Okay 15 to nominate. Here we go:

1. jordanandeddie
2. Kevin J. Hotter
3. razorbackwriteraus
4. penshift
5. ToddMedicii
6. risahlymbicky
7. mstoywhisperer
8. inspiredbyabook
9. The Black Hat Writer
10. meohmila
11. Mike Fuller Author
12. januarygray
13. c0ral33
14. AlexF
15. Gratuitous Rex

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What I’ve become…so far.

I was going to try to do this for my 10th post but when I sat down and tried to make the list, I realized how many movies I did not post yet.

I’m doing a review so far of what I have put out there. The list is chronological so that we can take a look together at what I was becoming as a viewer at age 8 while on my way to 9.

1. Disney’s “The Jungle Book” 1981 (At the cinema–what a douchey way to say “I went to the theater.”)

2. “E. T.” 1982 (I went to the theater)

3. “Poltergeist” 1982 (watched it at home on a sick day on HBO with my sister)

4. “Clash of the Titans” 1982 (I watched it at a friend’s house, then later I watched it a million times on HBO)

5. “The Dark Crystal” 1983 (HBO)

6. “Return of the Jedi” 1983 (I went to the theater–with my uncle and cousins)

7. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” 1983 (we rented it–it was released in theaters in 1981)

8. “Krull” 1983 (I went to the theater–with my cousins…again)

9. “Gremlins” 1984 (I went to the theater–COUSINS)

10. “The Goonies” 1985 (I went to the theater with a group of my friends that weren’t my cousins–What?!)

11. “Ghostbusters” 1985 (we rented a VCR and the movie to watch it at a holiday party–later we copied it and I watched a few trillion more times than any movie…ever)

It started innocently enough with a cartoon and a friendly-alien, family movie and then BAM!  Polter-GEIST!  Innocence lost and it was my own doing…my sister did lead me astray.

I appreciate it.

Then I went into an action-fantasy viewgasm for the next year.

Now, some of the things I’m going to relay are not going to make sense.

Sorry.

I know that “The Goonies” is considered a kids movie, but I have never seen it that way.  I feel that it is a family movie that has kids doing adult things–swearing, kissing, fighting, saving the day.  I feel that is the first step into taking a more mature taste in viewership.  I do know how ridiculous that sounds, thank you.

“Ghostbusters” was it for me.  I know that I have already talked about this movie at length, but I want you to know that I have probably spared you a dissertation on the brilliance of every scene of this movie.  The subtleties of the comedy they show helps the big laughs be even bigger.  I am going to give just one example of this:

Dana, Sigourney Weaver’s character, can just walk past her nerdy neighbor Louis Tully’s (played by the brilliant comedy actor Rick Moranis) apartment and he will come out and engage with her.  Dana’s subtle facial expressions show that he annoys her.  His expressions show through that he has a crush on her.  Later when Louis is having a party and the music is blaring from inside his apartment, Dana tries to quietly sneak past on her tip-toes, thinking that she has a chance not to have to encounter Louis–wrongo.  He opens the door as she reaches the exact same point of the last encounter and she shrugs her head down in defeat.  This makes their “make out scene” when they encounter each other as the possessed Keymaster and Gatekeeper twice as funny.

Brilliant writing and acting.

God I love that movie.  Probably way too much but I don’t care.  Its creativity deserves my unhealthy obsession with it.

You’ll find that this movie is a bridge to some other movies that I wouldn’t understand if I did not watch this one and ask my parents what some of the jokes meant.

Looking back like this is so enjoyable watching my taste change over time.

I recommend it.

“Martin Sheen? That’s President Kennedy you idiot!”

Couple of big steps for me on this film.  It was my first movie out to the theater with friends that weren’t my cousins.  I also got to see kids swear on screen for the first time (my mom really struggled with that later). It was also a movie that I walked into blind.  I had some friends that were REALLY excited to go and couldn’t wait to see it.  I had no idea what they were talking about, I hadn’t seen any of the trailers on television.

Things I learned from this movie:

1) The attic in my house was boring.

2) Figurines are fragile in all the wrong places.

3) “A” sharp and “B” flat are the same note.

4) Adding a pirate ship to a movie makes it awesome…no matter what.

5) Kids can be heroic too.

6) How to truffle shuffle.

Yeah.  “The Goonies“.  Still love it.

From the opening car chase montage where we meet all of the different child characters, to the elaborate automatic gate opener, to Data and his inventions, to finding the map in the attic that leads to their real adventure, the Fratellies hide out, gentle giant Sloth chained up in the basement, Chunk being tormented by the Fratellies, the “booty traps” (That’s what I said!), and a pirate ship…you really can’t go wrong with all of this stuff.  There is no way this movie gets made today.  It just sounds ridiculous.  One thing I give to the 80s…they didn’t say, “No” to much.  Take that for what it’s worth.

The score of the film was decent, but the song “Good Enough” by Cyndi Lauper puts this movie over the top for me. It’s played when they strap Brand to his chair with his own weight band, release all of the air out of the tires of his bike, and set off on their adventure to save the “Goon Docks”.  Hearing that song just brings a smile to my face.

It is one of those liberating movies that is both excellent and deluded at the same time.  The entertainment value is stellar.  The message that kids can do anything and save the day is VERY 80s.  I remember being told by all of those baby boomers that we (Gen Xers) could do anything if we “put our minds to it.”  “Goonies” completely screams that message so much so that it glorifies the crazy kid who never stops believing that this adventure is real and that this group of “The Wrong Stuff” will be the saving grace of an entire town.  “The Goldbergs” do an excellent parody of this in the episode “Goldbergs Never Say Die“.

I don’t mean to sound like I do not appreciate the movie.  I most certainly do and it will always have a special place in my movie-viewing heart.  I have just observed these things about a lot of the 80s movies regarding children heroes looking back.

I guess that the difference here is that the majority of the movies I did see with the children as the heroes were set in a fantasy type world; “The Goonies” is not.  It is meant to be a real adventure in our world in which the fate of a town’s future lies on the shoulders of a rag-tag group of very dangerous delinquents.  Dangerous is the wrong word…naive?  Sure.  Aren’t we all?

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“Death and power are close cousins.”

This next film has it all.

I thought that “Clash of the Titans” was awesome…I watched “Krull” and it was a smorgasbord of nerdy-geekdom…aka = awesome sauce.

It features a prince and princess whose marriage will be an alliance to save the known world, aliens, a prophet, a shiftchanger, a blind seer, and that’s just in the first 20 minutes.  There is also a gang of wild bandits that aid the prince on his quest to save his love and world, giant spiders, quicksand, horses that run so fast they start the ground on fire and jump canyons, a cyclops (a BADASS CYCLOPS), and oh did I mention an ancient weapon that will help them destroy THE BEAST?  It also features a very young energetic Liam Neeson in his first role I believe.

I was able to see this feature at the theater and I loved every minute of it.  The action never stopped.  From the touchdown of the Alien Fortress to the devastation of it’s remains, the movie was an action packed sword and sorcery full of amazing set pieces.

Looking at it again, there are a few scenes that no longer hold up.  The giant spider I mentioned and the showdown with THE BEAST are two scenes that immediately come to mind.  Did they work in 83?  Absolutely, but we continue to become jaded the older we get and the better that special effects are.

Do I still love this movie?  Yes. I was captivated by the story, the visuals, and the action at a very young age and a part of me always remembers that first viewing on the big screen every time I re-watch it.

It is very rare to be able to mix science fiction and fantasy elements and sell it as a product (there are no aliens in “The Lord of the Rings”).  I feel that this film delivered that and I have yet to see another film duplicate those elements as well as this one has.

My favorite thing about the film is the score by James Horner.  Writing about it is going to be difficult to describe, but let me list a few of his other famous scores to give perspective:

Cocoon

Aliens” (which you have heard on every action movie trailer ever cut)

Willow

Field of Dreams

Honey I Shrunk the Kids

Glory

Braveheart

Titanic

All of those films have some pretty amazing and memorable scores.  I would put the score that he composed for “Krull” against the likes of any of those I mentioned.  To me it matches the theme, the action, and the emotion seamlessly and it is a big reason why I feel it is so easy to get lost in all of the set pieces that this film has to offer.

Plus, Neeson does horse stunts.  How can you look away?

For anyone that is a fan of this genre, I would recommend you give it a shot.  Again, if you’re a person that lets old special effects ruin a movie, you won’t appreciate this film, but if you have the ability to accept things for their creation in film history, you might give this one a try.  I watch it at least every other year when I go to visit my mom.

She’s a sucker for nostalgia too.

I had to get it somewhere, right?

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“SMELL like Gelfling…”

I feel that going to the movies when I was little was a rare treat. Most of the films that I got to see were after their theater release on HBO.  This next movie was one that all of my friends were able to see at the theater months before me.  I remember seeing trailers for it and asking my friends after they had gone to them for specific information….they did not really want to share with me.  1) They didn’t want to spoil me.  2) They saw the movie and they were over it.  They wanted to play cops and robbers.  I was briefly jealous.  Two movies in particular come to mind that this happened with.  “The Dark Crystal” and “The Neverending Story.”

For those of you that read this that are not children of the 80s, you will not understand what a rock star Jim Henson was for us.  “Sesame Street,” “The Muppet Movie(s),” “The Muppet Show,” not to mention “Fraggle Rock,” and “The Dark Crystal.”

I remember seeing the characters on the trailers being as close to looking, moving, and acting like real life people as I had ever seen since Yoda on “Empire Strikes Back“.  The sets looked epic, and the dialogue was extremely interesting.

aughra

That was just the trailer.

I really wanted to go to the theater but the timing never worked out and we ended up doing something else. I’m sure it was outside and active, which is a good thing.  So, months later I was able to see it and the movie delivered.  I looked for the strings and could not see any.  The movements to the creatures was well attended to in this feature and the story was great.

I really enjoyed the “child likeness” of the heroes and really made a connection with them on an equal level.

jen

To this point, I felt that all things possible in a fantasy type setting had to be animated.  Not for Jim Henson. He was always amazing at finding a way to make us believe that all things were possible in live action with the characters he created and manipulated with his hands.

“Sesame Street” to me doesn’t seem as epic as a film like this.  Don’t get me wrong, “Sesame Street” is neverending and you have to continue to come up with different teaching topics and different ways to teach a lot of the same topics #Respect.  I just feel that introducing an entire edition of new characters on a different planet, with a number of different set pieces, on an large scale the way Henson took on this picture made it truly Epic.

I feel like my friends growing up not wanting to give you too much about this picture.  I really want to encourage people to view this if they have not seen it. If you and your children have not seen it, watch it with them for the first time together. If you don’t have children, nieces/nephews? Young cousins? I think that it will be an enjoyable experience.  I don’t feel that I can “hype it up” too much.  It’ll deliver.

I hadn’t connected with a lead character like this since viewing “E. T.” and it was different.  Eliott was still a real child in the real world that had a cool friend that could help him do amazing things.  Jen (I know, it’s a girl’s name, but it is the dude lead character) was a boy who was thrown into a quest and had to figure things out along his adventure and save the only world he knew.

If that kid could do that, why couldn’t we?

As we continue this writing adventure together, you’ll notice this children hero theme resonating through a lot of the movies that I watched in the 80s.  It’s going to be fun writing about my theories on how that type of pop culture effects us Gen Xers and how our parents talked to us.

But let’s save some of that for the next one…

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“Fortune is ally to the brave.”

As far as my parents knew, this next movie was my first introduction to monsters and gore.

(Remember, they had no idea my sister and I were having nightmares over “Poltergiest.”)

I saw it at a friends house at a birthday party.  I told my parents afterward, and they were less-than thrilled about me doing so, but there was nothing to be done about it now.

Every time that it was on HBO, I made sure I watched it.  My parents were always good sports and watched it with me.

I think the things I remember most about this film were the shiny metal objects on display as gifts from the gods.

In “Clash of the Titans” Perseus is given a helmet that makes him invisible, a SHINY shield that has a mirror on the inside of it, and a bright sword (it was used to kill bad guys–nothing really special about it other than it was polished and light reflected off of it).  He was also given his trusted mechanical owl Bubo (the smartest and most loyal character in the movie) from Zeus and Hephaestus.

owl

I wanted to be Perseus every day for a year after I watched that movie.  My mom took me shopping and I got a plastic toy sword that I convinced myself looked like Perseus’.  I started constructing togas out of my blankets, and then I started acting out my favorite action scenes (they were always sword fights, imagine that) in my bedroom with the door closed.

Perseus got to do everything a five year old boy wants to do.  Win sword fights, break in a flying horse and ride him to a far off land,  kill 8 foot tall scorpions, slew Medusa and the Kraken, and save the damsel (oh Andromeda–I had a crush on you!) Remembering these things is so exciting and depressing at once.  I yearn for those days again as an older man and know that those days are done, but remembering what I did and how much I enjoyed it always makes me smile.  Movies now rarely give me the joy I felt when I watched my first sword and sorcery movie at 5 years old.  Part of getting older I guess.

I want to be there with my son with these movies and experience that fun again with him.  Will he want to watch this movie?  Who knows?  I do believe that there is a “Clash of the Titans” for everyone out there, they just need to allow themselves to find it.  I’m here to help my son do just that.  It might not be a movie.  It could be a sport, a craft, music…who knows?  I just want to be there to see him find it and help him enjoy it like my parents did.

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“The TV people.”

Ok.

So I promised the “Poltergeist” story.

Between 1980 and 1985 (somewhere in there) we had HBO.  One of the big releases that hit HBO was “Poltergeist“.  My parents, being the protective, viewer-micro-managers that they were, did not want us to be subjected to such scary material and thus have nightmares. When you tell a person they can’t have something, they want it most (and cannot stop thinking about getting it until they do; human nature).

Well, I remember the day we finally watched “Poltergeist“, my sister and I were both home sick coming off a bout of the flu (I want to say it was day 2 of 3 that we would both be home sick.  My mom cleaned homes for some elderly people around town and was out for approximately 2-3 hours on the second day.  My sister immediately looked in the guide in the hopes of finding a viewing of “Poltergeist” while mom was out–I think this is a good thing to note: at some point in the 80s HBO caught a lot of slack for playing “adult themed” films during the day and later made it their in-house policy to play those films after 9pm (I like to think that my sister and I had something to do with that law). I caught my sister watching that and tried to remind her that mom did not want us to watch that.  She simply stated, “Mom’s not here.” I shrugged it off and started watching.  I was distracted as I was keeping an eye out for mom the entire time.  Even though I was the “look out” I still had enough time to catch the big scenes that TOTALLY FREAKED ME OUT OF MY GOURD!

There are four big ones in particular that I remember:

1. Dad and mom swimming around in the muddy/bloody swimming pool

2. The man’s face “peel off” that turned into hamburger

3. The effing toy clown that ends up jumping on the kids back while maniacal laughter ensues, and

4. The damn tree

Being that I was distracted through a lot of the film and going in-and-out while checking to see if mom came back, I still watched enough of the movie to get disturbed (I think I was 6 at the time). The worst part about these nightmares or difficulties falling asleep at night–I couldn’t tell my parents about it.  If I ratted, my sister would never trust me again.  So I had to endure my fear alone and try and keep it down when I did it because I shared a room with my 2 year old brother.  I had a street light right outside my bedroom window that always cast a shadow of our two huge elm trees we had in our front yard.  I just stared at those shadows–wide-eyed–until I passed out with total exhaustion. Did I mention the “damn tree” up above?  Watch the movie and picture yourself as a 6 year old child of the 80s that has the shadow of two elm trees cast over your windows all night and get back to me.  Again, OUT OF MY GOURD!

The film doesn’t hold up over time.  For those of you reading this thinking that it might be a good movie to rent on Halloween or what not, don’t bother.  It is more campy now as special effects have gotten WAY BETTER over the years.  Watching it again however without any distractions, did help me gain a better understanding of the story, as it was no longer fragmented for me.

I was still scared a little in some scenes–I think that was more PTSD than anything.  I’m still glad that I watched it again if nothing but for the nostalgia of it all.

I appreciate that it is extremely challenging to get any kind of “static channels” on the tv with digital signals now.

 

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I would like to give a “shout out” to some of my loyal followers that share similar interests.  These bloggers follow me and I follow them.  They have great content that is informed and are great critics.  I read them and feel that they have a great ability with their criticisms of film and I trust them when they both recommend and do not recommend a film:

jordanandeddie.wordpress.com

Also razorbackwriteraus.wordpress.com puts out a TON of material that is both entertaining, educational, and informative. Please check out their stuff. It’s worth your time.

Thanks

“Get out of my kitchen!”

Looking back at these movies as I have, I just realized, I watched a lot of damn movies with my cousins.

Here was another.

This was one that we did under the radar if you know what I mean.  So I’m just going to say it.  My parents were a little over-protective in the watching movies department (Shit–I just realized I forgot to tell you guys my “Poltergeist” story.  I will go back to that one on a later post).  They were good parents, but their monitor jive was bagging on my flick focus if you know what I’m saying.  Anyways, my aunt and uncle were not that strict (most likely why I watched a shitload of movies with my cousins now that I think about it-duh).

We did attend the theater for this one.

It was a bit slow for me at first.  There was a dad that wanted to get his son an amazing present in Chinatown, late at night…nothing weird there.  He sees what he wants (we can’t, it’s behind the magic curtain) the guy that has it doesn’t want to sell it so dad leaves.  At the last second the salesman’s grandson brings out the item he wanted with three sacred warnings (keep him away from bright lights, especially sunlight, it will kill him, never get him wet, and NEVER feed him after midnight).

Dad doesn’t really seem like the kind of guy that would pay attention to the little details.  Of course, he is very laid back about delivering the details to his son and the last two rules are eventually broken.  We finally see the gift, he’s a Mogwai named Gizmo, and when he gets wet, 7 more Mogwai pop right off of him–brutal bullies to Gizmo, mind you.

bullymogwai

The new Mogwai also start plotting and setup the third rule being broken by destroying the lead character’s clock; which makes them generate into cocoons that transform them into “Gremlins“.

You would think that the movie would be interesting by this point, but the cocoon stage took way longer (even in the film) than I thought it should.  Eventually they hatch and the title for the film finally begins well past 45 minutes into the movie.  I have to admit, the gremlins killing the teacher at the school freaked me out.  I was 7 at the time and the movie was starting to get “Poltergeist” scary for me (I promise, next post).  It seemed like there was nothing anyone could do to these havoc raving monsters that were allowed to roam around the town and destroy machinery, cause traffic accidents, and kill old people.

Enter Mom (2nd badass to Ripley on “Alien” but I get ahead–that one is coming later too).

I can’t remember if Mom killed 2 or 3 G’s, but she did it with extreme prejudice.  I remember a Gremlin diving head first into a blender full of chocolate.  Mom turned on the blender and ground him to oblivion.  Then she stabbed another one with a kitchen knife.

Finally, some people kicking some ass, these things weren’t invincible.  I appreciate the writers going with mom as a badass.  I think that my mom would’ve been too if she knew she had to protect me and my little brother, and that gave me solace.  The rest of the movie was just fun.

I remember not being sure whether to laugh or be sad when the little monsters killed old people and caused mischief, and I felt really bad for Gizmo.  He just wanted to be loved and he was more responsible than a lot of the people that were tasked with taking care of him.  In the end, I think that I was relieved, not sad to see Gizmo go back home to Chinatown.

Those idiots should’ve never been allowed to look after him.  The rules seemed very simple to me at 7.

WTF?

Poltergeist” next.

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“Truck? What truck?”

All right.  I will attempt to get back on track as I jumped out of sequence last time.  So, to re-cap, this next film was prior to “Ghostbusters” but after “Return of the Jedi.”  My viewing of this was not on the big screen (looking back now, there are a shitload of movies that I love that I have never seen on the big screen–sad in a way but thank you inventor of the VCR).

As I said in Growing up movies…we did not get a VCR at our house until 1986.  My aunt and uncle however, got a VCR in early 1985.  It was a top feeder/no slide and it had a cable remote attached to it.  It wouldn’t surprise me if my aunt still has that in her garage somewhere (she doesn’t like to let go).  I remember breaking that baby in with a film that was released in 1981.  It was what I would call a “spectacle movie” i.e. a lot-o-special effects.

The director of these films was always so great at creating mood.  From the opening titles, to the music, to the lighting, and editing:

Paramount logo:

FADE IN:

A mountain that matches the logo almost perfectly.  A group of men trudge through the jungle slowly as they reach the bank of a river and the back silhouette of a man wearing a fedora steps into frame.  He pulls a map from the pocket of his jacket and reads it.  A shady fellow behind him pulls a gun and cocks the hammer.  

Closeup of the fedora man’s ear as he hears his impending doom.  

SWOOSH CRACK! goes the fedora man’s whip as the betrayer with the gun has it slapped from his hands.  Pull in on a dusty–HAN SOLO?  Wearing a fedora.  

Here started the relationship of Ford and Spielberg that would generate a number of amazing blockbusters together under a new franchise that America was ready for.  “Indiana Jones and….

This particular film was “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”  I really remember it being a set piece film.  Of course at the time, I would just say, “…and remember when they were in the plane and the snake crawled on him,” or “remember when he put the staff in the ground and the sun lit the crystal up and showed him where to dig,” or “remember when Marion was taken in a basket and he went around the corner and there were 50 baskets!”  I think you get the point.

Looking back now, I think set pieces.  The jungle, the campus, the lodge in the snow where he found Marion, Cairo, the sub, the “face melt” island, and then back to the warehouse where all of our secrets are hidden.  It feels like a film that had a lot of great atmosphere that needed a little bit of action added to them, mix with a really heroic score from a movie music genius, stir in a french arch enemy and some Nazis, and blow some shit up and we will have a blockbusting cinematic masterpiece that will spawn a new franchise!

You gotta love it.

Of all the set pieces, I think the chase on horseback, climbing onto the truck, hijacking it, getting the truck taken away and having to re-hijack, was by far the one that has stayed with me in my mind over the years.  The action itself is awesome, but Spielberg can’t just let action be action for action’s sake–the subtle bits of humor that he can add to a scene make them classic cinema gold.  Indy can get on the truck, cool.  Now he has to deal with the platoon of Nazi’s behind him in cars and on motorcycles.  The little grin that Indy wears when he nudges the motorcycle over is hilarious to me and still makes me grin as I write this.  When he is hijacked by a very tenacious Nazi and is thrown through the front window himself, the sound editing of Indy pulling on the hood ornament and holding it for dear life is hilarious and suspenseful–eat your heart out Hitch and Blake Edwards.

A number of other images pop in there too:

The Snake Pit where the Ark is buried.

The exploding plane that Indy and Marion try to escape in.

The shoot out at Marion’s Lodge.

and…

The melting Nazis…

But I continue to go back to the truck sequence in my mind after all of those years as my favorite sequence in an amazing action movie.

I remember having a marathon with a friend who had never seen these films a few years back.  It wasn’t their cup of tea unfortunately, but they did enjoy the truck hijacking.  I made sure to ask…

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