Daily Archives: March 26, 2015

“In technical terminology: he’s a loon.”

So…after “Fright Night,” my parents started loosening their grip on the R rated movie viewing guidelines that they had enforced.

One of the things that helped was the made-for-tv-edited-version of movies.  I grew to hate those versions as I progressed through adulthood, but as a kid, I wanted to watch some damn movies.

We used to record them on VHS and edit out the commercials.  We would hit “play/record” and when an ad popped up, we’d hit “pause.”  Once the ad was over, we’d hit “pause” again to continue recording.  It gave us something to pay attention to during the ads.  It never went as smoothly as I just described.  One or more of the 3 things I’m going to describe always happened:

1.  We would forget to hit pause when the movie came back on and would miss approximately 10 minutes of story until we noticed again and fixed it (then it was time for another commercial).

2. The ads ended up being so long, the VCR would auto-stop after being on pause too long and we wouldn’t notice; crucial story points missed again, etc.

3. We would run out of tape on the VHS we were using; auto-stop…auto-rewind (this one always made me laugh later).

I think that our first experiment with this disaster (that we continued to do–regardless) was “The Terminator.”

People don’t remember what a big deal that first movie was.  Everyone talks about the sequel, deservedly, but for its time, “The Terminator” was an amazing story told by a special effects master that would become one of the greatest directors of the Hollywood blockbuster of all time.

For me, it was the story that carried the film.  Within the first 30 minutes, you’re engaged, but you are not sure what is going on other than knowing that a former body builder is going around L. A. killing Sarah Connors from the phone book in order.

It’s when the 3rd and final Sarah Connor is saved by another shady character on the run from the police that we get the real story and start to get invested.

come with me if you want to live

The movie was commended for its amazing special effects, prosthetic makeup, animation, spectacle explosions, and action sequences.

car chase 1 The first of 2 car chases.
be-back Infamous “I’ll be back” police murder sequence.
semi Aftermath of the second car chase.
makeup Prosthetic and makeup prep.

For me though, it was always those moments in between the action with Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor that carried the story.  It gave the audience a reprieve from all of the action and violence and helped deliver the plot elements that were necessary to get us up to speed and offer that “human” element (pun…I know).  It also helped create a “suspense payoff” in a way as they both showed us how vulnerable they really were against this juggernaut cyborg from the future.  Whenever he was within 50 yards of them, you thought they were going to die.  The film will be labeled as Science Fiction, but James Cameron was very effective at using horror violence as a suspense tactic to put the viewer at unrest.

I feel that “The Terminator” was a “light bulb” moment for me.  The movie was out for about four years before I finally got to see it for the first time.  Everyone that had been talking about it would mention the action and the violence, but I didn’t really get a sense of the premise or the story until I viewed it.

When Reese talks to Sarah in the car that they are trying to jack about her son and why she has to live–that is the moment I think about and remember how important a story is in film.  Put as many cyborg, serial killer, monsters in a movie that you want, if you don’t have a purpose for them, you just have another survival story, but if the fate of mankind depends on these moments that we are viewing, we’re going to be captivated.  Very simple and effective writing/storytelling that can make a decent sci-fi action thriller great.

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“Yes, you’re very smart. Shut up.”

When looking for a quote for this next movie, it was going to be damn near impossible without giving it away.

I did my best.

I think this might be the most quotable movie that most people do by accident.

I remember watching this movie for the first time with my family and my older sister skipped on it as she started watching it at a friends house and did not enjoy it.  She was too cool for it.

I’ll have to admit, until they reached “The Cliffs of Insanity” I was on the fence.  When Fezzik put on a saddle and carried three people up a rope to the top of the cliffs, I was hooked and realized I was watching an epic satire.

The Princess Bride” is easily my favorite Rob Reiner film.  That is saying a lot.  He has an amazing filmography as a director. “This is Spinal Tap,” “Stand by Me,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “Misery,” “The American President,” “Ghosts of Mississippi,” and “Flipped” just to name a few masterpieces.

A lot of the success has to be shared with William Goldman.  The author of the great novel by the same name and an amazing screenwriter himself of such classics as “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “Stepford Wives,” “All the President’s Men,” and “Marathon Man,” (also adapted from one of his novels) to name a few.  If you haven’t watched these, try and find them and give them a chance.  You won’t be disappointed.  Some of these will appear on my list later as well.

Back to it.

I remember taking the same journey as the grandson in the picture.  Not impressed at first with the love story (I was 11 years old) and the fact that Westley was killed off screen was annoying to me.  But as soon as Vizzini, Inigo, and Fezzik enter the picture, the film takes off and it is memorable moment after memorable moment.

circus

The shrieking eels, the cliffs of insanity, the fencing, the wrestling, the battle of wits, the fire swamp, the R-O-U-S’s, the pit of despair, Miracle Max, storming the castle….did I miss anything?  Probably.

 

Villains become heroes, heroes are unveiled as masterminds, magicians come out of the woodwork, and revenge is had.  All in less than a 100 minutes. By the end of it, I couldn’t believe that my sister didn’t love it.

I did.

I mentioned how quotable it was, but the visuals in the film are amazing too from the costumes, the externals, the sets, and the props; everything was done with such precision and care.

Years later I ended up reading the novel and enjoyed the film even more after that.  I caught a lot more of the dialogue during the fencing and understood it.  The book equipped me with a lot of back story for the characters that gave them more depth and I got the pleasure of an “extra” ending as well.

What are your favorite quotes from this picture?

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments and have a discussion about them if you’d like to share.

That would make my day.

But please do….As you wish.

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Please join my #Clintington on Film Dope Sheet.  Enter your email to be one of the first to subscribe to my newsletter.  There will be talk of my first novel (I will share my first chapter for sure…at some point) and discussions on the television that has influenced me as well.