Tag Archives: 90s

“No, if it were our plane, it would be crashing.”

I have not hidden my deep love for Bill Murray as an actor.  There is something about his charisma that is captivating.  He’s not the best looking guy on the planet, but I feel like he is the most confident.  He feels like a man that’d be a lot of fun if you were lucky enough to be his friend, but he also feels like a man whose bad side you’d never want to be on.

I grew up watching “Meatballs,” “Saturday Night Live” reruns on the holiday specials, “Tootsie,” “Caddyshack,” and of course “Ghostbusters.”

This next one is a Murray feature that I feel is extremely underrated.  I found it very creative, interesting, it kept my attention (I was 13 at the time–not an easy feat) and I also found myself on the ground floor with the main trio as they bounced from one run of bad luck to the next.


The trio are the villains of the feature.

I’ll explain…

We open with a clown committing a bank robbery at closing time.  He is very relaxed for a man with such a challenging task ahead of him, and he is not worried when the cops show up outside.  Already as a viewer we are intrigued…

I feel like I can go one of two ways here–I can spill the beans on this very creative premise; or I can be discreet and let you experience “Quick Change” for the first time fresh without all of the details of the plot…

Of course the latter.

I will say this though, Murray is the clown, he has some “inside” help at the bank with a very hilarious duo via Geena Davis and Randy Quaid.  They have a very clever plan that helps them escape the bank with the money; but as any great movie does, there are some foils that impede our unlikely “heroes” and the chase is on in a New York city backdrop as an equally clever Jason Robards is the police chief, hot on their trail.

Quaid’s Loomis is one of the most forgotten, great comedic performances by an actor playing an oaf.  As necessary as he is/was for Murray’s Grimm, he sure does create a world of chaos for our trio to dig themselves out of.  We forgive Loomis because he is such a lovable loser; on par with Haim’s Lucas and Broderick’s Gaston.


Davis’s Phyllis Potter is everything she needs to be–funny, confident, sexy, and loaded with spunk.

I’ve found that when I mention this movie as one of my favorite Murray features, a lot of raised eyebrows point at my face.

1990 was a pretty amazing year for movies.  I’m not going to get into all of the films that we were fighting to get into that year (I’ve already written about a small sample of them), but when you guys check out the list, you’ll see that there was not a lot of room for this movie unfortunately.  Sometimes box office success can be the luck of the draw–“Silverado” had the same bad luck in 1985.  With all the millions of people that want to go to the movies, when there are ten amazing features in one year, there just aren’t enough seats to go around…1990 arguably had twenty.

That’s why I’m here… 😉

I enjoy letting people know about a movie they might have missed that they can try and catch now.

Quick Change” should definitely make that list and I cannot be more discreet…there is oh so much more to this movie than I have let on.

Give it a chance.  It’ll deliver.


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“Dost mine ears deceive me?”

I’ll admit…there was a period of time that I was too cool for Disney “cartoon” movies.

After “The Black Cauldron,” a lot of their features didn’t interest me.  I tried out “The Great Mouse Detective,” and found it rather dull.  “Oliver and Company,” didn’t appear to have a lot of heart based on the trailers I watched.  My sister’s infatuation with “The Little Mermaid” made me hate it and “Beauty and the Beast” didn’t have Ron Perlman in it…why would I waste my time? (I found out on a later viewing that disregarding “Beauty and the Beast” was a huge mistake.)

There was one that caught my eye and has been the one that I measure against all of the rest.  I’ll admit, Robin Williams was the reason I wanted to watch this movie.

I grew up watching re-runs of “Mork and Mindy,” “Popeye,” and later, “The World According to Garp;” along with his HBO stand up specials.  He caught fire in the 80s and we watched “The Survivors,” “The Best of Times,” “Club Paradise,” and the movie that made everyone take Robin Williams seriously–ironically–“Good Morning Vietnam.”

I loved “Dead Poets Society,” had an intelligent laugh at an underrated “Cadillac Man,” and adored “Awakenings.”  There are a few I have left off the list intentionally, because they are SO GREAT they will get their own spotlight.

Aladdin,” could’ve been a retread that fell on its face and I still would’ve loved it because of Robin.

Aladdin Genie

It was anything but a retread and DID NOT fall on its face.

I was not a person that was versed in the Arabian Nights stories.  I didn’t learn until later that year that it was based on a fable from that folklore.  So I thought that it was a very original story for a time.  Even after learning that it was an adaptation, the cleverness with which Williams brought the Genie to life made it seem beyond original.

There’ll never be a greater voice performance than the one he delivered for this film.  Rumor has it that there was so much ad-libbing on his part, there was 16 hours of unused footage.  I’d love to be able to hear that.  I’m sure there is plenty of footage that is not fit for Disney’s ears.

I used to get into arguments with people about the greatest Disney animated films.  In the 80s it was “The Sword in the Stone,” and “Robin Hood.”  Those were re-played and re-played on the Disney Channel over and over.  I’m not complaining, I re-watched and re-watched them.

I find that arguing over those things is a waste.  Rarely will you ever persuade someone to change their mind about a movie.  Your argument was so sound, I will now make that one my favorite.  

People like what they like.  I prefer “Aladdin” to the rest and I doubt that there will be any animated feature from Disney that will be able to change my opinion.

My friends all loved “The Lion King.”  That was a HUGE movie.  I watched it and it was good…It just didn’t have “it.”

“It” was Robin Williams.

Unfortunately, no other movies will.  I am grateful that I lived in a lifetime where I could wait with anticipation for his next performance that would wow us.




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“Of course I’m alright! Why, what have you heard?”

The late eighties tended to be short on satires. 

Satires were great, but people were getting sick of the same tired jokes that come with farces. 

Spaceballs” had great moments, but it didn’t have the heart that “Blazing Saddles,” “A Shot in the Dark,” “Young Frankenstein,” and “Silent Movie” had.    

One thing the 80s were not short on were action movies; a lot of them were a block of sharp drizzled with Velveeta. 

The target of this movie was “Top Gun.”

I am hesitant to admit, I watched “Top Gun” way more than I should’ve.  It came out around the same time that we had finally purchased a VCR and no one had ever shot fighter jets in a movie like that before.  The jet-fighting was pretty amazing!  I was still a little naive to understand that between the jet-fighting scenes, the movie was just corny at best.  Can someone please explain the volleyball on the beach?  … Please?

Now, it’s hard to believe it took five years to make a satire of “Top Gun.”  I mean it’s a movie that just lobs the material over home plate for the writer of “Hot Shots!” to hit it over the wall.

You have to mention Charlie Sheen first at this point in his life.  Outside of a #Great small role in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Major League,”  Charlie Sheen was more well known and praised for his work in his dramatic films (“Lucas,” “Platoon,” “Wall Street,” “Young Guns,” etc.).  He had gone on to make a number of different flops, two of which I really enjoyed: “Men at Work” with his brother Emilio and “The Rookie” starring alongside Clint Eastwood.  He needed a win and “Hot Shots!” provided it.


Charlie is at his best when he is able to  deliver ridiculous dialogue with the expectation of making it sound dire:

“I’ve fallen for you like a blind roofer.”


“My heart is falling down around my ankles like a wet pair of pants. My whole life, all I’ve wanted to do is fly. Bomb stuff. Shoot people down.”

This movie is full of great actors. Cary Elwes plays the Iceman role to counter Charlie and the underrated and often forgotten comic genius of Lloyd Bridges is on full display.  If you are skeptical about this movie because of the polarity that Charlie Sheen can bring, see it for the benefit of Bridges.  He is right up there with Leslie Nielsen and Walter Brennan when it comes to stealing a scene and has grand comedic delivery/timing.  


I always think of “Hot Shots!” as the movie that gave Charlie a career.  He had a decent one before this one, but he found his true niche in farcical comedy.  There is something about his delivery of dialogue period, that makes us believe everything that he says; whether it be a drama or a farce–we buy it.  That is a rare gift and Charlie made a career out of farces over the next decade.

Like any farce, if you’re not in the mood or if you’re feeling pretentious, do us all a favor and avoid it.  If you need a laugh, watch this and the sequel back-to-back.  They’ll deliver.

Remember this:

“You can be my wingman any time.”

“Bullshit! You can be mine.”

Yes, “Hot Shots!” was able to make lines like that even funnier…and on purpose…


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“Who dis?”

It’s no secret to anyone now that I LOVE MOVIES.

It wasn’t a secret when I was 15 years old either.

My idea of a great birthday was playing basketball with my friends at the hoop we had in our driveway all day, and then watching movies in the evening before we slept out on the trampoline overnight.

We’d drink Mountain Dew, eat salsa/chips, and have cake later.

I was most excited about the movies.  Some of my friends weren’t; but it was my birthday…tough shit.

There was a movie that escaped my view the year before that I really wanted to see.  It had John McClane and the Banana Man from “Beverly Hills Cop” in it.   I had forgotten the title because I thought it was stupid, so I told my mother the wrong title of a movie that I thought had a great title (also of a movie that I wanted to see, but hadn’t yet).

Long story…I thought I was going to see one movie, I ended up seething this one and I am DAMN glad I got to see this one (one of my friends was not–again, my birthday… #SuckIt).

Boyz n the Hood” has to be the most educational movie I have ever seen.  Talk about a culture shock for me.  I was a privileged white boy that grew up in a small town with a very close family with parents that did not divorce, siblings that I got along with (within reason), and my cousins lived one house down from us.  I had no idea there was an America like this until I saw this movie.

Like all movies, I’m sure there are instances of hyperbole given certain life dynamics in order to create drama.  In general though, this movie felt like a slice of life.  Much credit has–deservedly so–been given to John Singleton, the then young writer/director of a very instant classic tale of inner-city life in Los Angeles in the late 80s-early 90s.

I loved the dialogue.  There is no other way to put it.  I’m talking L-O-V-E…it was unlike any other dialogue I’d heard in a movie before.

The only people I recognized were Laurence Fishburne and Ice Cube…he was known then for his “controversial” music.  Everyone else was a new face and you’d recognize the majority of them now.  They all started here:

Cuba Gooding Jr.

Morris Chestnut

Nia Long

Regina King

Jaki Brown did not get paid enough.  The movie’s budget was only $6 million…it grossed over $57 million.  You want to talk about the “margins?”  This movie has to be among the best ever made from money spent to numbers earned.

Over 400 words in and I’ve found I really haven’t talked about the movie.  At its basic core, it’s a snapshot of one young man’s life growing up in the inner city.  There is a culture that is captured in this movie that most people had not experienced at this depth if they had not grown up in it.  We meet his friends, his love interests, his father, his friend’s family and their unsavory acquaintances.

Like all great stories, there is humor, drama, tragedy, choices, and above all, the ability for our characters to learn something about themselves.  This movie is not short on any of those points.

I find myself watching it every other year.  I’m just in the mood sometimes.  The second time I viewed it, it was on DVD and I used the subtitles.  That helped.  Since then I have not needed them. I was not privy to the lingo at the time…it was helpful.

In my first viewing, I do remember my friend being annoyed throughout…he didn’t want to watch movies much anyway, let alone one so fresh as this.  He struggled with the environmental aspects and the way that the men talked about their “girlfriends.”  I remember being so ensnared in the different points of view that I’d never experienced before that it was not offensive to me; it was interesting, and I wanted to know more…

…kinda like any groundbreaking movie worth it’s weight should be.


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“This is deep…”

There are moments in everyone’s life that cannot be replicated.

Driving for the first time, without parental supervision. Graduating from High School together with your peers.  Waiting in line to see “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace,” (one I’d rather not relive).  The anticipation of a lot of these things is what makes them great.  There is raw emotion that you feel before “the event” actually happens.

Often times, we build ourselves up for those moments, and when “the event” actually happens, we’re sometimes let down.  I feel that happens more-often-than-not; the “Phantom Menace” is definitely one of those experiences.  I don’t want to wait in line for over 10 minutes for a movie ever again.  I do remember having fun during the anticipation, but when “the event” is a let down, it tends to cloud the joy you had during the anticipation period.

Imagine waiting seven years for a sequel.  Presently, Hollywood won’t even green-light a film series unless there is already a second set of scripts.

Through the 80s and early 90s before the Internet was a major part of our culture, the only entertainment news that the masses were able to get were in Hollywood featured magazines or “Entertainment Tonight.”  For this next feature, I remember vaguely listening to Leeza Gibbons deliver a package on “Entertainment Tonight” while I was focused on eating my dinner.  It was about the ridiculous budget that was continuing to grow and grow and grow as complications occurred during production.  The numbers were outrageous, even by today’s standards, and that is probably why I made note of that in 1990, a year before its expected release.

I remember people being outraged by the decadent numbers.

“A 75 million dollar budget!?  How can a movie cost that much?  Now you’re telling me 75 million wasn’t enough and they needed 13 million more?  Be damned if I go see it!”

I think it grew an additional 14 million dollars on top of the next 13 mill.  Outrageous, right?

I feel that the early intermittent news reports regarding all of this chaos that occurred on set and during production lead to a years worth of buzz.  You want to talk about anticipation?  Everybody was curious, even my grandma, bless her heart.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day” was released in 1991 a year later, and everyone forgot about the laments regarding the budget.  Every penny may not have been well spent (watch the making of commentaries on the Blue Rays if you don’t believe me), but the effort and nightmares of the budget were well worth it.

I confidently say that this sequel, well out does the original from script, to scope, to effects, and to the overall vision.

I find that when you hear about an outrageous budget, you need to see that money within the confines of the film itself.  I remember “Waterworld” being a movie that would later break this movie’s budget records.  I remember viewing “Waterworld,” which similarly benefited from the budget buzz like “Terminator 2,” and thought to myself, “What the hell cost them so much money in that piece of shit?”

Long story…”T2” held nothing back from showing where all of that money went.  There are three amazing “vehicle” pursuits (the second being when the T-1000 is on foot running down a police car).  The visual effects of the liquid metal T-1000 changed filmmaking.  People (Hollywood people in particular) began to think differently about what was really possible with “live action” and started making ALL things possible to see on film.

The first step in making a great sequel is having the people that were a part of the first successful story be involved in the next.  Actors are always the obvious ones in this endeavor, but I am talking the director, writers, crew, makeup, etc.  When you have a team of people that want to have another go, you can generally be headed in the correct direction.

A little detail that I find great, may not seem like a big deal, but it proves that everyone that was involved in the passion of creating the first “Terminator” movie were involved in some of the decision making in the second.

Earl Boen is an underrated Hollywood character actor.  His role as Dr. Peter Silberman in the first movie is one of my favorite parts.  Silberman offers a very light moment in a pretty serious movie by calling Kyle Reese a “loon.” His line is the quote I used for my blog post on it, and it is one of the lines that has stuck with me over the years.  Probably because it made my father laugh and I remember that joy.  He had a great laugh.

earl b

Point being, Boen’s Silberman is back in the sequel as the doctor that is overseeing Sarah’s therapy at the state hospital.  I find that he is playing the very same, cynical therapist we see in the original, until finally he witnesses what the T-800 and the T-1000 can do, and his mind is blown right before us.  That is a very rewarding fan-service type moment for those of us that really enjoyed his character the first go around.  It lets your audience know, “Hey, we didn’t forget the important subtleties in the midst of our chaotic production,” as they wink their eye.

Pity is not the correct word, but I do feel sorry for some of the people that cannot experience those kinds of anticipations any more.  We can know about every in-and-out of all the things that are happening on a set before the movie is released in some situations.  It’s getting harder and harder for people to create real stories with real surprises, thrills, suspense, and reversals.  If we don’t read about it online, we’ll probably have crucial plot moments forced upon us in a trailer.

I know, I went grumpy old man there…don’t get me wrong, people like me that had to wait are why we don’t have to wait anymore.  It annoyed us a little at the time and we wanted to make things easier on people that were coming up behind us.  Little did we know that yes, “The waiting is the hardest part” Tom, but without it, we generally don’t get the great pay off either.


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“Utah! Get me two!”

When I got into high school, my friends started to have an influence on the different types of movies I’d be exposed to. I remember my friends telling me about this movie.

I’d seen trailers for it and didn’t have that much interest.  I recall it had Johnny Castle and Ted Logan in it and a few other people I’d seen, but they were not big enough to put my butt in a seat at the theater.

Then one day, my friend started talking to me about it at school and I was intrigued.

“The old guy in it is hilarious; he punches his boss in the face.”


I was 14…and easily amused…I miss that sometimes.

So I rented “Point Break” and watched it with Dad (of course).  We loved it and made it a part of our VHS collection the following year.

I wasn’t new to the whole undercover cop idea; but there was something different about this one.  Most undercover cop movies use the “danger element” as a device to keep the tension at the surface.  This movie wants the viewer to meet the villains at their level.

Take Bodhi.


Surfing is his religion, with a chaser of adrenaline rushes like tackle football on the beach, and skydiving.  He seems like a good Samaritan at first as he welcomes Johnny Utah into his beach bum family, but like all great villains, he soon bears his teeth without mercy.

johnny utah

I always felt that Reeves was born for this role.  When we first meet him, he’s a square.  He “takes the skin off the chicken,” he wears suits to work, and he wants to follow the rule book.  Enter one of my all time favorite mentors from the movies: Pappas.


I’ve written about Gary Busey in my “Lethal Weapon” post.  I stand by his very underrated talent to this day.  I know that awards for art are bullshit and set themselves up for failure trying to pick winners and losers.  They always pick the wrong ones it seems like.  Busey deserved an academy award nomination for his portrayal.  Like Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson’s War,” every moment he is on screen is electric. Pappas doesn’t present well as a special agent for the Bureau, but what he doesn’t have in physical attributes, he more than makes up with his moneymaker in his brain case.  He takes on the rearing of Johnny Utah, selflessly, and helps him become a great agent in a very short amount of time by embracing his youth.  

Under the tutelage of Pappas, Utah is able to move from square to surfer dude and well on his way into Bodhi’s crew.   

Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of tension.  When Utah almost gets his face eaten off by a lawn mower, you start to suffocate and smell burnt grass alongside him.

There were a lot of “unexpecteds” I found.  Many things you might find have ended up becoming cliches after this movie; but when this was released, it was fresh.  There is definitely sympathy for Bodhi, devil as he might be.  There are thrills, bouts of intense action, humorous moments, and tragedy as well.

I remember feeling a sense of many different movies in one movie, especially when Utah chases Bodhi through a neighborhood on foot.  You have the bank robberies, the skydiving, the unlikely damsel in distress, and the surfing.  The first time that Bodhi puts on the ex-president mask and does his deed, he’s a completely different person that the audience is not ready for.  It’s as if we were lulled into getting to know, understand, and enjoy his company, and the rug is pulled out from under us while we’re on our way to sit down anyway.

In the end we’re left to choose…but we still don’t know which one is the “right” choice.  Why is the FBI agent better than the renegade?  He’s conflicted about the renegade himself…why shouldn’t we be…?


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“Did you notice anything weird a minute ago?”

For those of you that are familiar with my blog, you know that I enjoy a movie that knows what it is, and that can give itself a wink.

This next one does just that, close to better than any other movie I’ve already written about.

“Creature Features” used to be about the jumps, the loud screeches, the shock, the aw–they became comedic in the 60s and 70s (excluding “Jaws” and it’s brilliance) when the audiences started realizing how phony all of the props became and “Mystery Science Theater” had a purpose.  I feel that the creators of this movie knew that they could create an atmosphere of suspense and danger, while encouraging us to laugh along with them.

Like all great Creature Features (and taking a lead from “Jaws“) we start out with an unknown force from below that can attack at a whim and devour a person in seconds…when I say below, I mean underground.

Yes, this movie borrows a lot from “Jaws,” in a good way and creates one of the most interesting monsters for a Creature Feature in a while.  An underground “land shark” if you will…and there’s more than one.  Why not ratchet the tension up?

Tremors” offers more than suspense and laughs.  For instance, I truly enjoyed the chemistry between Kevin Bacon‘s Valentine McKee and Fred Ward‘s Earl Bass.  I will be as bold to say that I’d put it right up there with Robert Redford and Paul Newman in “The Sting” or “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”  There is a true sense of life struggle, camaraderie, frustration, and years of understanding that these two share within the first minute of their screen time together.  We get a sense that the two of them know what the other is thinking, and could really finish each other’s sentences if they needed to.


I have a limited number of people in my life that can sit in a room with me during a meeting, read the expression on my face, and know what I will want to do about the challenges we are facing together to remedy the situation, just by looking at me.  Having a bond like that with a co-worker, friend, spouse, can alleviate  a lot of pressure and allow for confidence and support as they know you are aware of what to do, and will not need to have another discussion about it as you carry on with your problem solving.

Valentine and Earl share that bond. What better interesting blue-collar duo to save the world from these monstrous freaks of “pseudo nature?”

Many people die along our journey…it is a Creature Feature after all, and the necessity for danger must always be at the forefront if we want to stay interested.  The monsters turn out to be more formidable than expected throughout the endeavor and leave us clenched to our seats until the final, fulfilling moment of truth.

I’ve had a recent post about the “Silence of the Lambs.” Those of you that have read me for some time are familiar with my “Jaws” post as well.  Those movies were very great at creating true tension against very honest environmental antagonists.  “Tremors” is aware from the get go that we’re dealing with a fantastical element that no one has seen before, and attempting to create a tone of absolute crisis would be dishonest with the spectacle matter.  There is tension, but there are also deep breaths that allow for pause, with humor and wit.  After all, when was the last time you saw the town drunk get eaten feet first by an underground, overgrown crustacean with five eel tongues?

What’s that?

Didn’t think so.


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“…you’re about a half a bubble off plumb…”

This next one I remember enjoying because my sister’s pseudo boyfriend (Varsity Quarterback, singer, 6 foot hunk–I wanted to be him) watched it with our family and he let us know ahead of time that it was a really good movie as he had already seen it.

So…did I like this movie because it was good, or because of the experience I had watching it?

Does it matter?

I like the damn movie.

It’s a movie that has a story that is completely based around a gimmick.  It’s set in Australia and a very rich rancher, Sheriff of Nottingham (obviously I’m talking about the late great Alan Rickman-RIP), pays A-LOT-O-MONEY to a protagonist that has a very special set of skills…eat your heart out Liam.

Ok, really he has only one skill and that is that Matt has an 1874 Sharps rifle that can accurately murder “game” from 1200+ yards away.

The movie is a simple good vs. evil story with a really cool gimmick that the writers and directors were very good at showcasing.  I feel like before they decided to write this movie, someone had gone to a gun show where they saw the Sharps in action and they were like, I’m going to make a movie about this and BOOM…”Quigley Down Under” was born.

We love Tom Selleck in our family. We watched “Magnum P. I.” We saw “High Road to China,” “Lassiter,” “Runaway,” “Three Men and a Baby,” (and it’s sequel) “Her Alibi,” and “An Innocent Man.”  “Quigley Down Under” is easily my favorite.

A lot of it starts with the writing.  Matt Quigley is true to character with a lot of interesting sayings and great “cowboy speak” lines:

“We already run the misfits outta our country. We sent ’em back to England.”

“I don’t know where we’re goin’, but there’s no sense bein’ late.”

“God created all men. Sam Colt made them equal.”

“I don’t eat things that are still movin’.”

Matt is a different man than all of the men he will be facing in opposition at the plantation when he finds out that the real reason he is there is to kill Aborigines.

tom selleck quigley down under

He is beaten along with the “whore with a heart of gold” character, played by an underrated Laura San Giacomo, as Crazy Cora–they are to be left in the Outback to die.  

Of course that doesn’t happen and of course we have a build up that leads Matt back to the plantation for the final show down.

Is it simple?  Sure.  It makes for a great adventure and has a sound climax and conclusion outside of your expectations the first time you see it.

I remember I had a theory about what would happen in the final showdown.  The film is very good at making Matt look invincible when he is conscious and has his Sharps in his possession.  He is vulnerable throughout the movie without it.

The night before the showdown, Rickman is seen emptying his six-shooter into the air–without purpose.  I proposed that he’d be out of bullets during the shoot out, giving Matt an advantage with a weapon “he never had much use for.”  I remember turning and looking at my sister’s pseudo boyfriend as he was sitting next to her with a HUGE grin on his face as he acknowledged what I had said.

Know that I was very wrong…and thankful that I was.


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“What does he do, this man you seek?”

In 1990 at age twelve, I passed for age eleven…

Ok, I passed for nine…I was a little guy.

It was the end of May, the first weekend of summer break, and being eleven was important, because eleven year olds and younger got into the  Drive-In for free in Shelley, ID.  It was the first time I was hanging out with my older cousin and his friend–who could drive–away from my aunt and uncle’s house with no supervision.  My cousin was thirteen, his buddy was fifteen.

Our goal was to go get some fast food and hit the Drive-In.  It was a double feature.  I can’t for the life of me remember the other movie, but the one I can remember is one of the best I’d ever seen…I’m not exaggerating.

I remember being nervous when we went to pay for our tickets since one of the features was rated R and children under seventeen generally had to be accompanied by their parents.  I knew I could pass for eleven, but I thought I’d still mess things up because I wasn’t with my dad.  I can’t remember what my cousin’s friend said to the ticket clerk, but we all got in and I didn’t have to pay.

I love the Drive-In experience.

Summer time…outside under the stars…in the back of the pickup on a mattress pad with a blanket if it started getting a little chilly, the analogue speaker right next to you.  The screen looked like a floating saucer in the sky.  I always felt like we were on the bridge of the Enterprise, watching those scenes unfold in front of us.

I remember the MGM Lion with the patented double roar as the opening of the film begins in the eerie woods “Near Quantico, Virginia.”  I am sure the adults knew this was going to be an FBI story…I was elev–twelve.  I didn’t know that FBI training occurred there until after I saw this movie.

While in the woods, the camera panned to a set of two ropes, and I remember seeing a very disheveled, woman use one of the ropes to make it over the steep hill and into the frame.

The score by Howard Shore was ominous.  It had a tinge of, “Things are okay, we’re out in nature…but you better have eyes in the back of your head Clarice.”


Yes, for those of you that have guessed it by now, the feature was “The Silence of the Lambs,” and rarely has there ever been a movie with lasting power like this one.

Jonathan Demme was masterful at dealing with mood and tone with his use of lighting (lack there of; some would say), filming on I believe 16mm–gave it a sense of a documented news reel; and the focus and attention that was put into the Starling character made it a fascinating thriller.

People would classify this as a “horror” movie.  I have never liked the label of “horror” for a film that did not have Bela Lugosi as Dracula or Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster.  Films like “Jaws” and the “Exorcist” are given that label too, as well as a lot of Stephen King novels.  I don’t like the label because I believe our initial, gut reaction is not to take them seriously and hold a small smile at the notion of ghouls, ghosts, and goblins. I find all of these as examples of things that thrill us.  These are thrillers that help us experience a range of human emotion like holding us in suspense, shocking us, disgust, anguish, and redemption.

It’s fair to say that those emotions, and many more, can be felt by the viewer that is willing to become engaged with these characters.

It was an experience to see a woman like Clarice Starling that took the lead to find a murderer.  Prior to this, I found myself watching men chase down bad guys.  This was a breath of fresh air.  Never had I seen a hero seek out help from a maniac before.  Another interesting concept.


I remember the second that we are introduced to Dr. Lecter, as the camera pans around the corner into his cell, that he would be a character that would not be easily forgotten.  Rarely has there been a performance with such little screen time with SO much impact.  Truly a performance worthy of the label “art.”

I found out later that this was based on a novel and I had to read them.  I started with Red Dragon and then read The Silence of the Lambs.  Thomas Harris is a great writer and I find them to be must reads for people that enjoy writing.

After it was over, I had to spend the night at my cousin’s house.  The spare bed that they had for me was not in a bedroom with a door.  It was part of a jumbled, unfinished basement that would eventually become a very nice family room.  The ceiling was not covered in sheetrock yet and there were a lot of pipes and beams jutting out of it.  Being that the room was a “work in progress” it became a place where extra stuff started to gather–like a large junk drawer.  There was a spare bed in the corner that I was to sleep on that night.

Yeah right.

If you haven’t had a chance to see it, do it.  Just make sure you’re sleeping in a familiar environment.  That’ll give you at least half-a-chance at a nightmare-free night; but I make no promises…


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“We call it the Ego Trip.”

I want to tell you that I was interested in this next one because the plot was intriguing.  I want to tell you it was because it’s special effects were fresh and innovative.  I want to tell you that it was because it had multiple twists and turns that kept you second guessing yourself at every point.  The film had all of this…but those were not the reasons I really wanted to see this movie to begin with.

Unfortunately at 13 years old, I was shallow, and *clears throat* … developing?

It’s a phrase.

Anyways…the movie was released in theaters when I was 12, it was available on VHS when I was 13 and all my friends had seen it.  I of course, had not.  It was rated R after all and there was no way I was going to wait for a made for TV version for three crucial reasons…

I’m realizing this will be the post that finally gets me into trouble with some of my audience.  Apologies, but without honesty, what are we, really?

My friend Jimmy:  So I saw Total Recall

Me: Yeah?

Jimmy: You seen it?

Me: No.

Jimmy: There’s a lady with three boobs in it…

Me: (jaw drops, eyes widen)…

Jimmy: Yeah…three.

At this very simple stage in a straight young man’s life, the only goal is “more mammary.”

Deal with it.

So I did what I always did when my parents wouldn’t let me watch something I wanted to.  I went over to my cousins and made sure they rented it.

On my first viewing, this is what my brain was doing:

Where are they? Where are they? Where are they? Where are they? …

At approximately the 45 minute mark (the pseudo moment of truth).


I had built myself up too much for it and found out the hard way that two’s plenty and thank you.

Needless to say, I watched it again and shifted my focus.

It was a great movie.


This is the fourth Schwarzenneger  movie that I am writing about.  “Predator” is easily in my top three of best “pure action” movies of all time.  “The Terminator” introduced me to great science-fiction and story elements.  “Commando” was just fun. “Total Recall” was fresh, exciting, intriguing, packed full of action and kept you guessing even through the end credits.  It’s the first Arnold movie when I finally sat down and watched it for what it was and realized that Arnold was actually a better actor than anyone gives him credit for.  Like John Wayne, I think we right him off as typecast and as another big dumb guy that talks funny.  I’m here to tell you that “Total Recall” proves he is much more than that.

Our premise is a future world where Mars has been semi-colonized for its resources and a man that is living a dreary life decides to take a virtual vacation (lays in a machine and experiences his adventure in a dream state) to Mars.

This is a movie with mutated human/martians (three boobs–remember?), brain probes that need to be extracted through your nose canal, malfunctioning robotic disguises, eye-popping suffocation scenes, and femmes fatales  galore.

It sounds ridiculous, but this is a movie winking at itself the entire time while delivering a very suspenseful tale trickled with moments of great action.  I mean, Arnold is in it after all.

The entire setup is to determine whether what he is experiencing is real or virtual.  I’m telling you, I’ve seen the movie five times.  I don’t know if it is real or virtual.  I believe what I want and I think that Paul Verhoeven wants all of us to draw the same conclusion; whatever you desire.


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