Posts tagged “movies

If you were stranded on a desert island…

So I was watching an old episode of The Office with Suzanne the last week. I’m relatively new to the series because I purposefully never watched it when it first came out because of my extreme bias towards the Americanization of series adaptations the States tend to do. However after constantly hearing about how funny the show was (and knowing pretty much all the cast members from other works) we buckled down and started watching it vigilantly. Still not quite caught up yet fully but we’re getting there.

Anyway… this one episode in particular revolved around the employees hanging out in the parking lot during a fire drill (I believe). Jim decided to play a game called which was aptly titled “If You Were Stranded on a Desert Island What 5 Movies Would You Have”. Yeah I know, the semantics of it baffle even the greatest minds but it got me to thinking about the subject days later. What movies could you tolerate for potentially the rest of your adult life? I gave the topic an undeservedly long amount of thought and finally came up with the following list:

Aliens (1986) – I absolutely love this movie. Even as it celebrates its 25th anniversary this year (wow…25th… holy crap I’m feeling pretty ancient now) I still rank this flick high in my all-time movie list. Hell I’ve dissected this movie so much that I can probably turn off the volume and give a voice-by-voice and sound-by-sound performance of epic geek proportions. Ask Suzanne. I’ve pissed her off more than once by reciting entire scenes under my breath. I don’t know what it is about Aliens though. Alien was (and still is) an awesome space horror movie but the sequel took the franchise in a whole new direction. The super macho attitude shown at the beginning of the movie quickly turns into stir fried panic by the end. Sigourney polarized everything with her iconic portrayal of Ellen Ripley. She became the poster child for girl power in the 80’s but her character was so much more than just that. It showed millions of movie fans that it’s just not wise to piss a lady off.

Se7en (1995) – Ahh… how can someone not like this movie? Whenever it comes on TV I find myself mindlessly watching it without realizing it. It’s by far one of the best horror movies to date. I can say that without hesitation. It’s one of those rare movies that understood what it takes to make a good suspense ridden thriller. Se7en showed just enough disturbing content to get its point across and nothing more. They left the brunt of it up to the audience to imagine and that’s what set it apart from the rest. An intelligent movie for an intelligent audience. Plus it had the magical black man Morgan Freeman, the super brooding Brad Pitt and the King of Creepy Kevin Spacey. What more could you ask for?

Airplane! (1980) – If I had to be stuck with one comedy for the rest of my life, it’d have to be Airplane. I don’t know what it is about this movie but it’s got a direct line to my funny bone. Sure many of the jokes are outdated but it still slays me after all these years. I remember seeing this movie when I was as young as 7 or 8 and I got it then. While there are tons of comedies out there I can and have watched a dozen times over, this is one that I don’t think twice about watching. If it’s on I watch it. Surely I can’t be serious when I say I watch it every time, right? Of course I am… and don’t call me Shirley.

Scrooged (1988) – This is a surprise to me as well. It’s a Christmas movie. I generally can’t stand Christmas movies with their toothache sweet repetitive storylines told over and over again. However this is a Christmas movie with Bill Fucking Murray (Sorry for the profanity. I had a Tallahassee moment there). Bill has cracked me up for ages and while Ghostbusters could have easily fit in this spot I figured my beloved wife would have that on her list at #1 so if we’re stranded together I’m good to go. Anyways, this movie boggles me as much as the others with my mindless attraction to it. I start avoiding everything Christmas related the moment I walk into a store and start hearing the annoying jingles scratching at my ear drums. Somehow though I always manage to watch this movie. It’s never on purpose. It’s just on and I end up being sucked into it. I can honestly say I’ve watched this flick faithfully for the past 20 years straight every Christmas. I know… sad, right? But it’s BILL FUCKING MURRAY!

The Terminator (1984) – Why is it actors have their best roles when they play a bad guy? Sure the “terminator” character got miraculously transformed into a “good guy” in later movies but there was no denying that the Governator was an absolute bad ass in The Terminator. In fact he set the standard for bad ass in the first 20 minutes when he walked up butt-naked and put his fist through someone’s chest. Like all the others on this list I’ve seen this movie more times than I even care to admit and yet I never get tired of it. While there are times I’ll turn it off when it’s on TV in favor of something else there are still bizarre instances where I find myself watching the movie from beginning to end without realizing it.

You end up finding a lot about a person by the choices they make in this exercise. Me… I’m about as transparent as a Windexed window when it comes to mine. It’s no secret that 4 of my 5 choices are pre-1990. I’m a child of the 80’s and that’s where my heart lies. Even though I spent my tumultuous teens in the 90’s the Decade of Decadence left a lasting impression on my young mind.

I’m actually profoundly intrigued to find out the picks of the warped minds who actually come by and regularly visit my funky little blog so please, by all means, share your choices and be judged by your peers. >:D

The Return of the Revenge of The Night Before the Dawn of the Living Dead

I had heard buzz about this movie some months ago. It was touted as a “really cool zombie flick” but didn’t pay it too much attention because (a) we were in the process of moving up north and (b) I tend to not follow anything that critics like. Such is the case with anything I’m interested in, once it becomes mainstream I lose all faith in it being good anymore – at least until it becomes unpopular once again. It happened with vampires. Heck I was all about vampires back in the late 90’s but then along came the Queen of Teen Prattling, Stephenie Meyer, and that brought an abrupt end to my vamp love. The unthinkable happened. Vampires became mainstream and soon everyone and their mother had a story, book, tv series or movie about vampires. Even though I’m a die-hard fan of True Blood, the love for the genre isn’t there right now.

My last place of horror refuge lay in everybody’s favorite brain munching meanies – zombies. The undead have been iconic throughout modern movie history and have seen a rollercoaster of popularity over the past 40 or so years. They’re always a safe genre to fall back on. When I first heard about the 2009 French film aptly titled The Horde it immediately piqued my interest. It’s always fun to see foreign zombie flicks because they have a totally different feel than North American ones. Unfortunately when critics started chiming in on how good it was I feared for the worst.

Last night I got to finally sit down and watch it.

Let me start off by saying it’s not a movie for everyone. Horror fans seem to be split down the middle with some praising it as being brilliant while others tear it down with a bloody hatchet. It all seems to trace back to the age-old debate of Fast Zombies vs. Slow Zombies. It’s always amazed me how venenate both sides are over the subject. If you’re locked into the slow dopey zombie preference this is definitely not a movie for you. However if you enjoy track star, parkouring and insatiable undead (or just don’t care either way and just wanna see some bloody goodness) then welcome to the Horde.

The story centers around a group of vigilante cops who stage a raid on a gangster’s headquarters based in an old condemned building in the ghetto. They’re out for revenge against the band of thugs who killed one of their fellow police officers but soon realize they’re outgunned and are eventually taken hostage. The first 20 – 30 minutes screams of a Guy Ritchie-like gritty gangland crime drama with tense dialogue and graphic violence between the Nigerian drug lords and the captive cops. The story suddenly veers in a whole new disturbing direction when the building is besieged by throngs of fast-moving zombies. Makeshift alliances are formed between bitter enemies as both the criminals and the renegade cops try to escape the death trap.

Sounds like the makings for a rambunctious time, eh?

It’s a bona-fide gorefest with plenty of fast paced bloody violence to satisfy even the biggest action junkies out there. I can’t justifiably label it as one of the best zombie flicks I’ve ever seen but it definitely deserves its merits. Being a fan of the hyper zombies I tend to give it more bonus points than if it were a classic zombie film. The characters, although a little undefined are decent enough to carry the film. It’s always cool watching a horror movie in which you’re not familiar with the leads because you never know who’s making it to the end.

The special effects and makeup were on point as was the cinematography. It reminded me very much of 28 Days Later with the overwhelming grittiness and purposefully washed out and desaturated film quality. The confined spaces and tight hallways within the decrepid apartment building adds to the anxiety levels especially when you have ravenous zombies collapsing in at all angles. Story wise, it had potential but at times leaves your mind wandering only to be brought back when a psychotic zombie beatdown breaks out. Some people have panned the fact that the explanation for the zombie outbreak isn’t explained but I actually appreciated they didn’t. The living dead scenario has been used so many times that you can insert any number of “reasons” for the cause so why go into yet again. Cheers to them for letting the audience use their imagination.

Overall, if you’re a zombie fanatic it’s a must see if only to add to your mental database of zombie knowledge. Take from it what you will. Me, I’ve decided to list some of the things I’ve learned from this oddly entertaining film:

  • You can quite literally beat the holy hell out of a zombie like he owes you money. Great way to relieve stress.
  • Despite our incredible advances in science the past 50 years, flashlight technology seems to have fallen by the wayside. When will we ever see some common household flashlights that can actually light up more than a 4ft circular area?
  • Being black during a zombie epidemic is still not a good career choice.
  • Crazy guys have good hooch.
  • A Browning Heavy Machine Gun in the hands of a Vietnam vet is a very effective zombie deterrent.
  • Going to the roof never turns out well.
  • Going to the basement never turns out well.
  • Zombies don’t play rugby well.
  • If someone says “run”, you run.
  • It’s always good to hold onto personal grudges amidst a catastrophic series of events.
  • Setting off a grenade in a hallway is bad.

Things I’ve Learned From Watching Movies (that can help everyone in real life).

Having been a fan of movies for many years I must say I have been enlightened by all of the practical knowledge I’ve gained from them so I figured I’d share some of my conclusions with you. Feel free to chime in with your observations as well.

  • Aliens…
    • …always want to take over Earth because they’ve either exhausted their resources on their home world or have an illogical, deep seeded hatred for humankind despite never having been in contact with them.
    • …always know English but not any other human language.
    • …are highly intelligent but can always be thwarted by humans somehow.
    • …can develop interstellar travel but can’t come up with a quick-kill solution for taking out humans.
    • …are always humanoid to an extent if they’re intelligent. You’ll never see an amorphous blob demanding the surrender of Earth.
    • …always approach the US government or attack US soil first (New York in particular).
    • …always build perversely large ships that like to just hover above large cities or in orbit.
    • …despite not being able to comprehend emotions can have a miraculous change of heart and want to help humans in the end.
    • Their technology can always be deciphered by our top scientists.
  • Animals
    • (from Amy) Dogs are always super smart and hop in the car with just a whistle.
  • Fighting and Injuries
    • Blows to the head do not cause concussions or brain trauma
    • You can be shot or stabbed and not suffer from shock
    • You can fight bare-fisted for minutes on end without breaking any bones in your hands or gassing out completely.
    • You can get shot in the shoulder and still be able to use your arm effectively enough to either hang off an edge or pull someone up who is hanging off an edge.
    • None of these rules apply if you are a henchman for the bad guy – then you can be taken out with one stab wound, a punch or kick that could have easily been brushed off, be choked out or have a single bullet to anywhere in your body kill you.
  • Government and Institutions
    • The US government (or any government) is always bad, has unlimited resources no matter how much debt they’re in and has secret agencies that they fund.
    • All other governments always need help in some form from the US.
    • Government agents always wear black suits and ties and have earpieces so they can blend in with the rest of society.
    • There’s always corruption in the police department, even if it’s just a sheriff and deputy operation.
    • It’s mandatory that a prison has a brutal guard and an evil scheming warden, as well as one kind hearted prisoner who regrets helping out a hero later in the movie.
    • All corporations are inherently evil, above the law, have access to cutting edge technology, private armies and can manipulate multiple governments but seem to have trouble stopping a single individual.
    • It’s easy to assemble world leaders and top scientists in one place in less than 24 hours when the world is in danger.
    • In times of global crisis the world always turns to the US because they’re so super awesome and have the coolest technology.
  • Heroes…
    • …are never brought up on charges despite committing heinous crimes like murder, arson, kidnapping and destruction of public property.
    • …have marksman-like accuracy even if they have no training with firearms.
    • …have incredible range with whatever firearm they have being able to take out villains with a handgun form over 75 yards away.
    • …never have weapons that misfire or jam no matter the condition they’re in.
    • …have a remarkable amount of spare ammunition despite not carrying as much.
    • …can overcome whatever physical or psychological issue that has troubled him or her for years before the end of the movie.
    • …can go without eating or sleeping for at least 72 hours and have no ill effects on their physical or mental faculties.
    • …can travel via any means necessary without issue (e.g. they can run cross country without resting at intervals, drive any vehicle (boat, plane, car, etc.), obtain tickets without reservations, and cross borders effortlessly.
    • …can take a vicious beating and show no pain yet will wince if a chick puts a rag to his wounds.
    • …can utilize casual clothing as body armor effectively.
    • … gain incredible resiliency when they remove their shirt and go bare-chested.
    • …always have glistening white teeth, despite being in an environment or situation which should cause them to have dirty, missing and/or bloody teeth.
    • If a sidekick mentions his family in the first ten minutes of the film he will surely die before the end of the movie in spectacular fashion prompting the hero to avenge his death.
  • Language
    • If the movie is set in ancient times, everyone has a British accent no matter the region.
    • Everyone in the world apparently knows English; be it writing, understanding or speaking it.
    • (from Omawarisan) If there is a dragon in a movie everyone is british
  • Misc
    • (from She.Is.Just.A.Rat) Bomb diffusers and those trying to disable above mentioned self destruct mechanisms are only successful in the last 5% of the time available during the countdown. It is apparently one of the first lessons given to these technicians to NOT be quick with their work. Dragging it out the last possible second adds so much more drama.
    • (from Wendy) Even if they’re rebellious/messed up, teenagers always come around by the end of the movie to the parent’s/authority figure’s point of view.
  • Science (?)
    • Wooden tables and desks can stop large caliber bullets.
    • Shooting a gas tank will make it explode.
    • You can stay within a burning building for a long period of time and not even suffer 1st degree burns, just slight coughing and soot marks.
    • You can run full speed for many blocks without completely exhausting yourself.
    • Exposing yourself to radioactive material won’t make you sick and in fact give you special powers.
    • Viral epidemics can only be contained by firebombing the affected area.
  • Sex
    • No-one ever needs a towel or to wash up after sex.
    • You can pull up the sheets, lay back, and go to sleep after sex just like in real life.
    • All women moan but don’t sweat during sex.
    • You can always reach an incredibly intense, mutual, and simultaneous orgasm on the first try.
  • Racial Stereotypes
    • Native Americans can sense things via some sign in nature
    • Asians are all born with innate martial arts skills
    • Black guys (and girls) always die before the end of the movie
    • The black guy always knows how to use a gun or has one in his possession and has keen street knowledge despite his station in life.
    • Caucasians always have connections to higher-ups and big wigs.
  • Technology
    • High-tech government agencies (and villain hideouts) own computers that have multi-linked monitors with virtual reality, touch screen, three-dimensional, active animation, photo-realistic graphics capabilities on custom stylishly funky operating systems.
    • You can crack any password on any system with only two or three tries no matter your level of computer science knowledge.
    • All computers are networked even when turned off.
    • Operating systems are always fast and you never have to save or wait for shut downs.
    • All wireless communications work at 5 Gigabyte per second speed.
    • Sitting in front of a computer screen will produce a glow in the shapes and text  that is on the monitor.
    • Computer screen resolutions are always high enough for the movie audience to see exactly what’s on screen.
    • Satellites can zoom to person-sized magnification with real time video no matter its position.
    • (from Omawarisan) When the lights go out you hear that sort of turbine winding down sound.
    • (from She.Is.Just.A.Rat) Large ships and complexes invariably have a self destruct mechanism with an abnormally long countdown that always ends up breezing by. No one ever does anything of importance until the last minute anyway.
  • Vehicles
    • Cars always explode when shot with bullets or dropped off a cliff.
    • Cars and planes can explode with empty gas tanks.
    • Commercial flights, no matter how small the plane is, are always roomy and spacious like real life.
    • Planes and helicopters are easy to learn how to fly.
    • Hiding behind a car door can protect you from gunfire despite most high caliber bullets being able to crack an engine block.
    • Airplane tires always screech when they touch down.
    • You can get into a violent car accident and walk away with merely a bump on your head if you wear your seatbelt.
    • Cars can screech on dirt
  • Villains…
    • …will always explain themselves before trying to kill the hero.
    • …usually have a traumatic childhood event that made them the way they are.
    • …have a British accent no matter their descent.
    • …have incredible vigor allowing them to sustain a deathblow and yet get renewed life for one more attempt at killing the hero
    • …always employ stupid henchmen with the smartest of the them being the right hand man.
    • …get paid yet they tend to dress well and carry very expensive weapons.
    • …have no firearms training (even army soldiers) and therefore always miss
    • …have armor that is ineffective.
    • …throw their guns away when they run out of ammunition instead of reloading.
    • …always lure the hero to an elaborately setup, overly exaggerated location for a final showdown that has the potential to either collapse or blow up easily.
    • …never get to have the last word.
    • No matter if the hero is unaware and being targeted for the duration a villain will always miss the first shot.
    • Whenever bad guys outnumber a lone hero they will always fight one at a time instead of gang beating him or her.
    • Henchmen have no social lives. They only hang out with other henchmen at the hideout.
  • Women…
    • …always needs to be pulled in by the man when being chased – even if she’s more physically fit than him.
    • …can deliver a baby in mere minutes (not hours) in hostile environments and suffer no ill effects from child birth AND in some cases be ready to run immediately afterward.
    • …are rarely depicted as alcoholics only drug addicts and whores (or both).
    • …never help the hero in a one-on-one fight. If she does she waits for an opportune moment instead of just jumping right in.
    • …wake up in the morning with their hair and makeup in place.
    • …can go through traumatic and devastating worldly events and have stylishly disheveled hair throughout.
    • …almost certainly scream and/or panic at the wrong moments. Men never do. (‘cept for Will Farrell)
    • If she’s a strong character she has to have an attitude or be bitchy because she’s had to deal with being tough in a man’s world.
    • (from Hippie Cahier) …usually happen to be wearing clingy white tee-shirts when there is impending water catastrophe.

My murderer was a man from our neighborhood…

The wife and I happened to catch The Lovely Bones the other night and I have to say, that’s a damn good movie. I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was even with Peter Jackson’s stellar track record of likable movies. Whether he’s directing it or producing, you’re pretty much guaranteed a decent movie. The Lovely Bones took creepy serial killer movie to a whole new level. Without dropping too many spoilers let’s just say Stanley Tucci has elevated himself to Jackie Earl Haley and Keven Spacey status as being uncomfortably chilling with regards to his performance. If you haven’t seen it, check it out – but don’t expect a bunny-hugging happy ending. There’s a 90% chance of being depressed by the end.

Anyway, I got inspired once again. I even told the wife that right when I saw a particular scene with him being exceptionally creepy in the darkness that I got hit with creativity. No I don’t intend to go out and try my hand at serial killing. I lack the proper tools and stomach to undertake that. No, I decided to create a little eerie piece of artwork of course. Forget monsters, witches and demons. Imagine this guy giving out candy…

It's 10 o'clock. Do you know where your children are?

Who’d want to be my friend? I hate everyone and everything seems stupid to me.

As part of the Hippie Cahier Algonquin Experiment we were asked to write a little bit about the magnificent search terms used by people to find your blog. In my particular case I don’t have many searches at all. Those who find my blog usually unknowingly come wandering in from other blogs I’ve posted on. I mean why not, right? You see a creepy little hand on a keyboard and the name The Zen Assassin how can you not take a peek?

I equate my blog to an exotic dish – tasty and treasured by some but otherwise disgusting and uninteresting to most. My writing style – if you can call it a style – can be summed up as psychotic pessimistic paranoid schizophrenic cynicism. Wait a minute. That’s not a style. That’s just random technical terms all mashed together. Bah… regardless my writing has all those elements in it which makes my work a hard read at times. When my top two searches happen to be “you probably don’t think i’m a very nice guy” and “mcdonalds zesty mcmini commerical” you can get an idea of how random my thoughts can be. One was a post about my favorite movie badasses and the other was a rant about how racist McDonald’s is. That’s the reason why my blog is titled “The $#&! I Think About” because frankly that’s all it is. I tend to think that those who search and find this diatribe of ramblings came here by accident. It’s no secret that my blog titles are movie quotes. I even try to relate the movie I’m quoting from to the subject matter which makes naming my entries more of a task than actually writing them. Unfortunately this throws people off most of the time. They’re expecting one thing and end up reading about something completely different.

I’m not a complicated guy… just very muddled. They say geniuses keep very cluttered and unorganized work spaces. My workspace is my brain so what’s that say about me? Sociopath? Megalomaniac perhaps? Have no fear ladies and gentlemen. I just draw and write. I’m a geek and everyone knows geeks aren’t dangerous, right?  If only more people had a creative outlet perhaps we wouldn’t have so many pissed off chaps in the world. I’m living proof that you can be morbidly pessimistic and still be a productive member of society.  I’d be more concerned about the people who actually read my blog. I have a tiny but loyal following of people who keep pace with my twisted mind and actually enjoy what I ramble about.

Isn’t that how cults are started?

No worries though. There’s no Kool Aid here… just Pepsi.

From cats to the apocalypse, nothing is really out of my range of thought. What were people thinking when they searched? Probably the same shit I think about. We’re more alike than you’d ever care to admit. Scary, huh?

Till next time people.

You guys think you’re above the law… well you ain’t above mine!

He burst onto the action movie scene in 1988 during the height of martial arts madness. The Muscles From Brussels Jean Claude Van-Damme had beat down the box office earlier that year with the wickedly kick ass masterpiece Bloodsport so the time was right for Fumio Demura’s prized pupil to take Hollywood by storm. With his unique form of Japanese martial art known as aikido, the 6’4″ fighting machine with the boyish good looks blessed us with the action epic Above The Law.

Yes ladies and gentlemen. This is a Steven Seagal post.

Who is Steven Seagal? You’d have to have lived under a rock for the past 25 years not to know of the enigmatic wonder. We’ve seen the movies even when we didn’t want to. We’ve been mesmerized by his ever increasing belt size and wonder how he can even see anymore through those ultra squinted eyes. But who is Steven Seagal? He’s an artist, activist, musician, author, law man, martial artist, actor, film producer and quite possibly even more interesting than The Most Interesting Man in the World. I am here to prove to you all that the man born Steven Fredric Seagal wreaks of so much awesomeness that he can even blur racial boundaries.

Born in 1951 to an Irish American mother and Jewish father, there’s no doubt with a name like Seagal what his heritage is. That didn’t stop him from embracing the Japanese culture. He moved to Japan in his late teens and became the first foreigner to operate an aikido dojo there. He became a 1st dan degree black belt at the tender age of 17 and continued to train in aikido as a student of various world renowned sensais. He later married Miyako Fujitani, whose father is an aikido instructor. When Miyako’s father retired from his job as an instructor, Seagal became the new head of the organization called Tenshin Aikido.

Having conquered the Japanese culture in real life it was time for Mr. Seagal to dazzle the film world with his phenomenal acting skills and uncanny ability to be whatever nationality or creed he desired. In Above the Law he played Detective Nico Toscani. You can guess by the character name that Seagal set his sights on the Italian American culture. Armed with his Crisco soaked pony tail, thick breathy Brooklyn accent, and barrel of whup ass the man without fear rattled off a number of memorable action adventures in the late 80s and early 90s from Marked For Death and Out For Justice to Hard Kill and Under Seige. Although the character names changed from movie to movie, there was no denying Seagal’s tough Italian guy persona. He was so utterly convincing that the world accepted the man with the obviously Jewish last name as an Italian wrecking machine.

Lord Seagal conquers again.

Having pulled off the greatest trick since Keyser Soze he prepared for his next amazing feat by posing as a Native American in On Deadly Ground. Okay so his character Forrest Taft wasn’t a Native American but it was hard to argue that wasn’t the look he was going for. He probably would have tried to land the role of Geronimo but during the filming of  The Glimmer Man Seagal got paired up with Keenan Ivory Wayans. The exposure to the African American community posed a new challenged the master. Determined to prove he really had no limits Seagal teamed up with hip hop icons Ja Rule, DMX, and Anthony “Treach” Criss for Half Past Dead, Exit Wounds and the direct to DVD showcase Today You Die. Who said the Jewish-Irish almost Italian sorta Native American couldn’t be gangsta as well?

Some might scoff at the string of straight-to-video movies he put out in the 2000s, but that only solidifies that fact that he’s the hardest working man in showbiz. Many action stars of the 80s had wound down their careers by this point, but not Seagal. He was just getting started. He returned to his Irish roots by assuming the mantle of police officer. No he wasn’t about to play a defective for the uhmteenth time. That was old news. He had to go above and beyond being just the baddest man in Hollywood. He had to be the baddest man in real life as well. Grasping the reality world by the balls, the fully-commissioned deputy with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana brought us Steven Seagal: Lawman, the real life adventures of him as an actual officer of the law.

Surely there’s nothing more that the sprightly 59 year old King of All That Rocks can accomplish, right?


Not only is he slated to be in a TV series in 2011 called Southern Justice, but he shocked audiences this year by pulling off the impossible yet again. Although Sylvester Stallone snubbed Seagal in the summer blockbuster The Expendables he managed to stamp his footprint into the 2010 action movie landscape by playing opposite the Mexican God of Tattooed Greatness Danny Trejo in Robert Rodriguez’s Machete. It was an action fan’s wet dream watching Steven Seagal steal the movie by playing a Mexican drug lord.

Yes. A MEXICAN drug lord. Case closed.

This post could have easily been a detailed review of his movies but words can’t do him justice (no pun intended). He’s traveled the world, been married to a model, has his own Steven Seagal knife, confers with the Dali Llama, rocks out in a band, is a sensai, an acclaimed author and even trained  UFC Champion Anderson Silva for his 2010 title fight. The man pisses excellence and has probably forgotten more things he’s done than any of us will actually do in our lifetimes.  If you haven’t seen his movies, then watch them – multiple times. If you’re not a fan watch them anyway. Bask in aura of his greatness. Who is Steven Seagal? Only the most obscenely tremendous person our eyes will ever get to behold in this lifetime.

Bow down to the king.

You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!

Nuclear fire rains down and blackens the land plunging us into eternal darkness. A mysterious contagion spreads throughout the land eradicating 99% of the planet’s population while hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanoes tear the world asunder. Let’s not forget about the doomsday rock barreling it’s way to Earth that’s set to impact right about the same time cosmic radiation from a super solar flare is about to wash over our soon-to-be gone atmosphere. Yes ladies and gentlemen it’s the apocalypse.

Blockbuster disaster movies like 2012, Armageddon and The Day After Tomorrow have always had good turnouts at the box office due to people’s insatiable appetite for destruction. We’re awed by CGI overkill and ADD-like editing as we gobble down heaping handfuls of popcorn never caring much about plot holes and campy one-liners until after the adrenaline rush is over. There’s no doubt that there’s big money in disaster movies however, what happens after the world has been devastated? Welcome to the proving grounds otherwise known as post-apocalyptia. Disaster movies are fun but post-apocalyptic movies challenge you to do a bit more thinking during and after the movie (in most cases). In honor of my new Fallout-like layout (and having paid a visit to Educlaytion’s Gen X Movie page) I’ve been inspired to do top 10 list of my favorite post-apocalyptic movies of all time. Bear in mind these are just personal favorites and in no particular order as to not show preference over one another. Many of the listed titles originate from fantastic novels. Some miss the mark of the original written work while others stay true to the word. Just to avoid getting into a screenplay translation war I’ll just let the movies stand on their own free from comparison to their respective origins. If you have seen a movie that hasn’t been mentioned here and you feel I should know about it, by all means chime in. I love seeing something new and jump at the chance to expand my Urkel-like movie knowledge.

Bear in mind, being a movie geek of epic proportions, my criteria for classification into the post-apocalyptic genre is quite strict. Some movies I feel don’t quite fit into that category despite being widely regarded as such or having elements in it. For example, let’s look at  The Terminator. While it does revolve around a post-apocalyptic future the majority of the movie takes place primarily in (then) present day with time travel being the driving force. This would fall into my upcoming Top 10 Time Travel Movies post more than this one. Another contested title is The Quiet Earth. That was a particularly twisted movie revolving around the last man on earth scenario. However that centered on alternate realities more than the aftermath of an catastrophic event therefore doesn’t quite make the list. It does rank pretty high on the mindf*ck meter so I’m sure it’ll make a future Top List down the road.

Now onto the business at hand:

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Plot: This film tells the story of an American astronaut crew that crash lands on a strange planet in the distant future. Although the planet appears desolate at first, the surviving crew members stumble upon a society in which apes have evolved into creatures with human-like intelligence and speech. The apes are dominant species and humans have been subjugated into slavery.

Why I like it: Who can forget the classic line of  “Get your hands of me you damn dirty apes!”? Between Heston’s rockin’ old man bod and over-acting and eye candy pin up girl Linda Harrison’s perpetual shock and awe expression in every single scene you have the makings for a classic B movie. For some reason though this film manages to crawl out from bad movie hell and ascend to the top of cult flick charts. I love it. Sure Heston is at his overly-dramatic prime in this but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The majority of the movie is cleverly disguised as an alternate reality story until the end. In one of the most memorable twists in cinematic history it’s revealed that Taylor, the last surviving astronaut, is in fact on a post-apocalyptic Earth and not a foreign world like he presumed. Although the argument can be made that this could quite easily be classified as a time travel movie, the duration takes place in the post-apocalyptic world and deals with the trials and tribulations of said world therefore qualifying it in my book.

The Omega Man (1971)

Plot: When the world’s population is killed by a man-made plague an experimental vaccination makes Dr. Robert Neville the last man on Earth… at least that’s what he believes.  He struggles to find a cure while trying to avoid the trappings of  the plague’s survivors – nocturnal homicidal mutants known as The Family that terrorize him daily in an effort to destroy what they perceive him to be as the last remnant of the technological society that caused all of this.

Why I like it: I should really be shot for claiming to be all about everything post-apocalyptic yet not having read  Richard Matheson’s novel I am Legend by now. I always hear how this movie differs so greatly from the book but it really doesn’t matter to me. I dug this when I first saw it and still do to this day. It’s yet another Charlton Heston survival classic. Although severely dated the premise of the movie is still strong. Will Smith’s 2007 I am Legend almost tied in this spot due to his amazing performance in pulling off that isolated-slipping-into-dementia feeling but once again, CGI killed it for me. I’d rather lean more towards the Count Chocula cape having, pasty white, wig wearing 70’s freaks from the Omega man than some fake green screened creatures any day.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

Plot: It’s the tale of a community of settlers struggling to defend themselves against a roving band of marauders with a aide of a reluctant drifter known as Mad Max.

Why I like it: Classic. Classic. Classic. Seriously. How iconic is that picture of Mel with his leather outfit and gun? This movie has long been the measuring stick that all other post-apocalyptic flicks compared against. From Fallout to South Park, everyone has referenced it to some extent. It’s the future that everyone dreads, bondage freaks gone wild. Gimp outfits and stylized shoulder pads aside, what makes this movie work so well (more so than even Mad Max) is the whole archetypal Wild West frontier motif that’s achieved with Mad Max’s role as a cynical, hardened drifter who rediscovers his humanity when he decides to help the proverbial town under siege. It’s good old fashioned cowboy movie topped with a nice buttery coating of S&M and depravity.

The Road (2009)

Plot: The story follows a man and his son as they journey through the wastelands of a devastated Earth trying to survive by any means necessary.

Why I like it: Again, another book I should really read (Cormac McCarthy’s The Road) because the movie was so deep. I can’t figure out why it didn’t get more recognition than it did because both Viggo Mortensen (Hollywood’s most underrated actor) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (starring in October’s Let Me In) dominate this film with their strong performances. This is as bleak as it gets with regards to cinematography. The desaturated destroyed landscapes paint a portrait in itself of how desperate the world they live in is. The cause for the catastrophic events that lead to their predicament are tastefully never explained leaving you to formulate your own conclusions. Though the movie takes place in a wasteland populated by raiders, cannibals and miscreants the story is more about a father’s love for his son and what they have to go through just to get by day to day. It’s extremely depressing and not recommended for those looking for some kind of knock ’em down drag ’em out action flick. However if you think you’re having a bad day, watch this movie and you’ll absolutely know you don’t have it that bad.

The Matrix (1999)

Plot: This film depicts a future in which the reality that is perceived by most humans is actually a complex simulation created by sentient machines to pacify and subdue the human population, while their bodies are cultivated and  used as an energy source for them. A young computer hacker is drawn into a rebellion involving others who have been freed from the “dream world” and their quest to rescue mankind from imprisonment.

Why I like it: It only happens once in a blue moon but every so often a movie comes along and shakes Hollywood up and spawns countless knock-off and wannabe imitations. This was one of those instances. When this movie burst onto the scene it rocked the world because of its perfect timing with events in pop culture. The Internet and computer revolution were just starting to gain speed and The Matrix took full advantage of that momentum introducing us to a world within a world. Great story, stunning effects (at the time) and Ted Theodore Logan. What more could you ask for? I’m sure some can contest that it isn’t quite a post-apocalyptic theme considering the majority of the story takes place in the simulated world. Despite that they are actually in the scorched Earth environment while all of this is taking place so I suppose it can go either way. It’s my list so I say it stays so there. ;p

Children of Men (2006)

Plot: The story takes place in the United Kingdom in 2027 and explores a grim world in which two decades of global human infertility have left humanity with less than a century to survive. In the midst of societal collapse, terrorism, and environmental destruction, a former activist must find safe transit for a pregnant African woman who is in danger of being persecuted by the government’s fierce anti-refugee policies.

Why I like it: This one was a shocker for me because I didn’t know what to expect when I first heard about it. True this is a dystopian theme and not quite post-apocalyptic but considering the circumstances at hand with the world being in a destabilized state I let it slide. To me the whole key to a good post-apocalyptic tale is the removal of the conventional institutions we have in society today such as government and religion and the injection of a loss of morality and anarchy. This film has all of that. Gritty and forceful it serves as a exaggerated commentary on how governments currently manage their immigration policies.

Logan’s Run (1976)

Plot: Set in a Utopian yet ageist future society in which both population and the consumption of resources are maintained by requiring the death of everyone reaching a particular age, the story follows the actions of Logan, an officer charged with enforcing the rule, as he tracks down and kills citizens who “run” from society’s inevitability — only to end up “running” himself.

Why I like it: The concept of ritualistic extermination of people 30 and over is just mind boggling. I’d be screwed if that were the case. The movie puts the theory of utopia on its head by challenging us to come to grips with our own mortality and humanity. Add to the mix a very scantily clad and provocative Jenny Agutter and a dynamic Michael York and it’s great romp with through the future that mysteriously looks very much like the 70’s.

The Book of Eli (2010)

Plot: The story revolves around Eli, a nomad in a post-apocalyptic world, who is charged by an inner calling to deliver his copy of a book, the last remaining King James Bible, to a safe location on the West Coast of the United States.

Why I like it: I was a bit leery about seeing this movie at first because of the strong religious overtones in the commercials but it had Denzel in it (which is always a plus) and looked pretty darn post-apocalyptic so I caught it in the theaters. Wonderful movie. Everyone kind of knew the general premise so I was expecting it to be a bible-thumping preachy film about how we need God and what not. Instead I found it to be pretty spiritual without forcing any belief structure on the viewers. Eli is a man who believes in what he believes in and that’s all that is conveyed. Religion’s role in this is from a observational stand point showcasing how it can be used for good or evil. Regardless of all that the almost monochrome tone to the film and desolate lifeless landscapes pretty much pull you right into that world. Not to mention the fact that it’s just awesome to watch Denzel whup some ass, it just makes for a enjoyable thought provoking experience. One of the better films of this genre in recent years.

Escape From New York (1981)

Plot: In 1997, World War III is nearing an end. Both the United States and Soviet Union have suffered greatly in the conflict and are looking for a peaceful resolution. Ex-soldier and legendary fugitive “Snake” Plissken is given 24 hours to find the President of the United States, who has been captured by inmates after Air Force One crashed in Manhattan – now a converted maximum security prison island.

Why I like it: Come on. This movie wreaks of cheesy goodness. Everything about it from Russell’s awful one liners to his trademark patch just screams anti-hero. Like Children of Men this leans heavily on the dystiopian theme rather than post-apocalyptic but a lot of details are purposefully left out allowing audience to fill in the blanks. I tend to believe that if there was a World War III  in it’s conclusion there wouldn’t be much stability anywhere. Considering the script was written during the mid 70’s when the nuclear arms race was starting to boil over it’s reasonable to assume bombs got dropped at some point or at the very least there were global skirmishes.  Either way it makes my list albeit tentatively.

A Boy and His Dog (1975)

Plot: In 2024 a young man and his telepathic dog scour the wastelands in search of food and women.

Why I like it: That is the premise of the movie. I do not lie. When I heard about it a while back I thought to myself “I have to see this”. With the King of the 80’s Don Johnson in the title role of Vic I figured it should be worth a laugh or two. This is highly criticized for it being misogynistic and often cruel towards women. It’s hard to argue with that point since Blood, the rather snarky canine companion, has the ability to sense and track women so that Vic can “fulfill his manly urges”. When you strip away the comical facade the movie tackles a lot of controversial subjects like cannibalism, beastiality, murder and even rape. Nothing is ever graphically shown but they’re certainly explicitly implied . It’s an interesting film to say the least and had a profound influence on the Fallout game series. My wife enjoyed it so I guess it can’t be all that bad.

Worth Noting: The Last Man on Earth, The Postman, Akira, 12 Monkeys, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Idiocracy, Equilibrium, I am Legend, Mad Max, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Matrix Revolutions, Matrix Reloaded, Escape from LA, The Blood of Heroes, Reign of Fire,

Geek Fact: I’ve said post-apocalyptic 15 times in this post. Geez I need to use a thesaurus more often. ;p

Disclaimer: As always if you are the rightful owner of any image used in this post and want it removed just contact me and it’ll be resolved asap. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the free publicity.

review review

When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth…

Long before the Team Jacob vs. Team Edward teenybopper wannabe vampire nonsense there was (and is) a difference in opinion as bitter as the most savage rivalries. In 2002 Director Danny Boyle tantalized horror fans with his hit 28 Days Later. First and foremost it should be made abundantly clear that Danny Boyle’s “infected” are not zombies but in fact (like the name suggests) living human beings that suffer from a viral infection. This virus turns the hosts into mindless berzerkers that pretty much kill anything and everything in their path. In the movie the infected resembled undead creatures in their marred and often bloody appearances. They chased down victims with cheetah-like speed and tenacity. The infected would do everything from devouring their victims to ripping them apart with their bare hands. While this movie never claimed to be a “zombie flick” it is often accused of being the birthplace of the fast zombie. The true catalyst came in the form of the 2004 remake of uber-cult classic Dawn of the Dead by Director Zack Snyder.In it we got to see zombies in a whole new light, to the chagrin of many old school fan boys and girls. Undead marauders charged through city streets like feral children chasing down the ice cream truck. They were relentless, agile and downright nasty in every aspect. Those who grew up in the Age of Zombies had mixed reactions to this new take on such an grounded source. Much like the True Blood vs Twilight warfare we’ve seen in the vampire genre, people quickly separated into two camps.

You see the patriarch of the modern zombie, George A. Romero, introduced the world to one of the most identifiable horror characters in cinema to date. The term zombie was most commonly associated with voodoo and the trance-like state victims would be placed under (as seen in the 1943 movie I Walked With a Zombie). They were few and far between in numbers and overall not too terrifying to behold. Romero changed all of that.  At the time movie goers had never experienced such a radical concept as “the undead” so when Night of the Living Dead debuted in 1968 it took the world by storm. The low budget marvel terrified audiences across the nation and brought forth Hollywood’s newest movie menace. In 1978 he followed that iconic film with Dawn of the Dead which served to strengthen the fascination with the modern zombie. people couldn’t get enough of them. Zombie Mania was running in full effect. Romero has admitted in numerous interviews since then that he never anticipated the phenomenon to grow as much as it did. They were more socio-political statements about the times he was living in. As a result a lot of the nuances about his zombies were never really addressed. As of late Romero has lost his grip on the genre he helped create with disasters like Land of the Dead and Diary of the Dead and culminating in the straight to DVD flop Survival of the Dead. Thankfully author Max Brooks quietly assumed the mantle as the face of zombie knowledge with his books World War Z and the Zombie Survival Guide. They not only reinforced the original concepts of Romero’s zombies but gave them chilling detail. To many fans Brooks’ dedication to the genre made him the unofficial new authority on all things zombie. They’re slow, lumbering, clumsy and generally move no faster than an old man getting out of bed. For 30+ years this is the form of zombie we’ve all become accustomed to and the faithful remain true to this vision to this day.

Then along came Zack Snyder and his “fast zombies”. This new unfamiliar twist didn’t fly too well with many who had grown comfortable with the classically slow and painfully stupid breed we’ve all come to know and love. Pro-Slows were in an uproar. You had fanatics go as far as bring up  all kinds of biological contradictions in an effort to “disprove” the logic behind Snyder’s Fast Zombies – as if slow zombies had any more factual basis for their existence. There are any number of reasons why some people like the fast or slow ones. I personally have mixed responses to both. I’ve never been afraid of the classic zombies – even when I first watched them as a wee child. Sure the acts they committed were gross and gory and I never wanted to be caught by one (or a dozen) but that was the extent of the fear factor. They were dopey and even comical at times so it was really hard to be scared. Snyder’s zombies removed that comfort zone of being able to casually jog away from a zombie and put a bit of anxiety back into the genre. While they never really scared me either the reinvention did make zombies fun once again especially after Romero’s recent film sequel debacles.

So where does this leave us in the great debate?

Absolutely no where. Let’s not forget the most important thing – this is all make believe. How can we have a debate over a subject matter that has no factual basis whatsoever. I’m sure there are people who will toss biology logic and terminology around but you can’t validate or disprove something that doesn’t exist in the first place. Putting aside that sobering reality, I propose a compromise between the two sides. Let’s have the best of both worlds. It’s fair to assume that fresh kills would have a bit more pep in their step than ones that have been dead for a while so why not let them be fast initially. Decomposition and wear will eventually make them the uncoordinated moaning pussbags we’ve grown accustomed to. Viola. Problem solved, right?

At least neither type sparkle in the daylight. We can all agree on that at least. 😉

Are you saying it’s from the future?

I’ve been a fan of the Terminator franchise since the first one. Heck I remember seeing it in the theater with my parents. Couldn’t have been more than 9 or 10 at the time. My parents rock.

I even liked Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles. Even though it wasn’t recognized by any of the creative forces behind the movie franchise and really stretched the boundaries of the storyline, it still held a soft spot in my heart. Course Lena Headey and Summer Glau had a lot to do with that. Nothing like some eye candy to peak one’s interests.

Anyway, one thing that’s always puzzled me about the Terminator franchise is their whole concept of time travel. People have been getting turned off to the movies because the time paradoxes are too complicated. In an attempt to make sense of it all I hereby present a Guide to Understanding Terminator 1 – 4.

Let’s take this one step at a time…

Terminator – The original 1984 movie tells the story of a post apocalyptic world where sentient machines had caused the near extinction of mankind. A resistance force, lead by a man named John Conner helps overthrow their oppressors in the year 2029. In an attempt to prevent their ultimate destruction the machines send a cybernetic assassin back in time to kill John Conner’s mother therefore preventing him from being born and in essence, averting their own destruction at his hands.

1984 —– John is born ——— Judgment Day ———— John smashes the machines

That’s the way the time line played out prior to the machines sending a terminator back in time. When they altered the past by doing so they caused a tangent thread to the existing timeline…

1984 —– John is born ——— Judgment Day ———— John smashes the machines
——-\(t1 events) — John is born —– Judgment Day ——- John smashes the machines

Terminator 2:  Judgment Day – A now teenage John Conner must contend with a new advanced terminator that’s been sent back to kill him. This time a terminator defender is sent back instead of a human to help protect him. John, Sarah and the terminator protector not only try to stay alive but try to prevent judgment day form happening by destroying all traces of the original terminator that was sent back.

1984 ——————————- John is born ——————————- John smashes the machines
——\(t1 events) — John is born — Judgment Day — John smashes the machines

Once again intervention from a future timeline causes yet another tangent thread to the tangent thread…

1984 ——————————- John is born ——————————- John smashes the machines
——\(t1 events) — John is born — Judgment Day — John smashes the machines
——————————————–\(t2 events) — Judgment Day — John smashes the machines

Terminator 3:  Rise of the Machines – John Conner, now a young adult,  must deal with yet another even more advanced terminator that’s been sent back to kill him. Yes.. another terminator defender is sent back instead of a human to help protect him. John, his future wife and the terminator protector try to stay alive again and try to prevent judgment day from happening by destroying Skynet before it goes online and takes out humanity. I know… sounds like the same thing as T2 but hey… I didn’t make the movies.

1984 ——————————- John is born ——————————- John smashes the machines
——\(t1 events) — John is born — Judgment Day — John smashes the machines
——————————————–\(t2 events) — Judgment Day — John smashes the machines

…and yes… because of future interference we have yet another tangent reality…..

1984 ——————————- John is born ——————————- John smashes the machines
——\(t1 events) — John is born — Judgment Day — John smashes the machines
——————————————–\(t2 events) — Judgment Day — John smashes the machines
————————————————————–\(t3 events) — Judgment Day — John smashes machines

Terminator Salvation – Set in post-apocalyptic 2018, John Connor is charged with leading the human resistance against Skynet and its army of Terminators. But the future Connor was raised to believe in is altered in part by the appearance of Marcus Wright, a stranger whose last memory is of being on death row. Connor must decide whether Marcus is truly a friend or foe when the revelation is made that he is part machine. Together the embark on a quest to not only take down Skynet but rescue Kyle Reese, John’s one-day father.

1984 ——————————- John is born ——————————- John smashes the machines
——\(t1 events) — John is born — Judgment Day — John smashes the machines
——————————————–\(t2 events) — Judgment Day — John smashes the machines
————————————————————–\(t3 events) — Judgment Day — John smashes machines

This latest movie adds yet another tangent onto the string of threads already spawned…

1984 ——————————- John is born ——————————- John smashes the machines
——\(t1 events) — John is born — Judgment Day — John smashes the machines
——————————————–\(t2 events) — Judgment Day — John smashes the machines
————————————————————–\(t3 events) — Judgment Day — John smashes machines
—————————————————————————————————–\(salvation events) — John smashes machines (?)

So what the hell does all of this mean?

Firstly, the subject of time travel shouldn’t be taken lightly when writing. Because there are uber-nerds out there (like me) they’ll pick apart and question every little aspect of what was presented in order to make sense of it.  I’ve never come across a “perfect” time travel story yet. There have been some good ones (like Primer) but the subject is so ambiguous, there ends up being many theoretic holes that can and often will be exploited.

A common hiccup that comes up is chicken-and-egg theory. Kyle Reese is John Conner’s father. Kyle Reese is from the future. Sarah Conner gives birth to John Conner before the war (and before Kyle Reese is born). How is that possible? It gave me headaches when I first saw the movies. After watching many movies about time travel the tangent reality theory suited this movie series best. Terminator’s time travel concepts differs from Back to the Future’s which differs from Donnie Darko’s. To understand (and/or appreciate) Terminator you need to understand its vision of time travel which is what I believe is tangent realities.

In the original Terminator movie John Conner’s upbringing is very cloudy. The only things the viewers are told for certain are that Sarah Conner taught her son to survive and that John Conner never talked much about his father. That leave a lot up to interpretation. During the course of the movie we learn that Sarah is a shy, demure and introverted woman who is often stepped on (figuratively) in life. It’s also determined that she didn’t have much luck with relationships either so it can also be speculated that she probably got involved with someone (whom she later parted ways with) and gave birth to John. In the original timeline (in which no future interference occurred) it can be reasonable speculated that at some point in her life she got fed up with her station in life (of being a doormat) and toughened up a bit. Those sort of letdowns, disappointments and harsh treatment could have contributed to her becoming a harder woman by the time judgment day came around.

There are certain constants in the Terminator franchise that you kinda have to accept in order to understand and cope with the confusion:

  1. Doomsday occurs no matter what. It’s a paradox in its own because one of the tag lines in Terminator 2 happens to be “There’s no fate but what we make”. The irony is that no matter how much the protagonists try to prevent the apocalypse it still happens regardless therefore proving that fate (as they define it) isn’t something you can change after all.
  2. John Conner is born and leads a human resistance against the machines in the post apocalyptic world. Again, another ironic twist to the concept of being able to change your fate. This is explained in more detail further down in the movie/timeline breakdown.
  3. This is science fiction – not science fact. Who knows if displacing matter from one point in time to another point will have cataclysmic consequences? Who knows for sure if you go back in time and accidentally prevent your parents from meeting you’ll cease to exist? Until someone actually time travels and proves one way or another we’re left to just speculate. Science fiction was invented to creatively explain things we don’t have concrete answers for.

Have I given this far too much thought? Of course! I’m a movie geek so it’s my calling to overly analyze movies that I find interesting. I love stories. I love science fiction. Anything that gets me thinking about anything other than pixels and web coding is a welcome escape for me. Now mind you, the guide here is just something I came up with to help me understand the movies. Many won’t agree with it. Some will. Either way I’d love to hear about other people’s ideas about the subject of time travel. It’s such a vast and open concept that it makes for good thinking.

Disclaimer: As always if you are the rightful owner of any image used in this post and want it removed just contact me and it’ll be resolved asap. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the free publicity.

You probably don’t think I’m a very nice guy… do ya?

Movie bad asses.

That’s been on my mind for some time now. Every once in a while I watch a movie that has a character in it that leaves a helluva impression on me. It’s not so much that I admire them or want to emulate them (course going postal on my upstairs neighbors could be very therapeutic) but more rather I appreciate the character’s cinematic completeness.

What the hell does that mean?

Villains have been a staple in movies since the images first started flickering on the big screen however not every villain can be considered an certified badass. No offense to old flicks and actors, but let’s be real… while they paved the way for the development of big screen acting, they were still pretty horrible when you compare them to actors of later generations. They were overly dramatic (and understandably so considering most came from theater backgrounds and you had to act that way on stage) and too unbelievable for my taste. Perhaps if I grew up watching them then I’d possibly consider some of the old school characters, but I’m not a dinosaur so to hell with anything prior to the 70s.

Anyway… back to “cinematic completeness” mumbo jumbo. In my book, a character needs to fall into the following criteria:

  1. The character needs to be well developed within the confines of the movie –  I don’t wanna hear about books, screenplays or tangent publications that further the detail of the said character. It’s a director’s job to pull that off in the movie. A good villain shouldn’t have his entire story explain in a few sentences. He/she should be complicated enough to leave room for speculation yet leave no doubt as to how bad ass they actually are.
  2. The character has to have superior dialogue – What’s the point of being a memorable movie villain if he/she doesn’t have some memorable lines. I’m not talking cheesy lines either.
  3. The actor must own the role – Nothing’s finer than seeing an actor (or actress) almost convince you that they are that character. Not everyone can pull that off but those that do are forever immortalized. If you can see someone else in the role of the character in question then that character wasn’t owned.
  4. The character has to be bad… I mean really bad – I’m so sick of the villain-with-the-heart-of-gold theme. A badass should be a badass all the way to the end. You have to be able to look at that character and say…”Damn… that’s a bad muthaf*cka”.

It’s rare to find a character that hits on all four points but here are a handful of characters that deserve some recognition for being – in my own estimation – real deal movie bad asses. They’re in no particular order so don’t think of this as a Most Baddest poll or anything like that)…

Otis Driftwood

...I am the devil... and I'm here to do the devil's work...

Otis DriftwoodThe Devils Rejects
Actor: Bill Moseley

Some could argue about this choice or the fact that I say it hits on all four points but there’s no denying how ruthless he is.  Those familiar with Rob Zombie’s characters will remember him from House of 1000 Corpses. In that Otis was branded more as  a militant mass murderer than a serial killer. Rob had many developmental issues with the studio during the course of filming and  I’m sure he sacrificed a lot of creativity just so he could get it on screen.

That all changed when he got his dirty little hands on The Devils Rejects. That was pretty much his baby and he had free reign to take the characters wherever he wanted – and did. The beauty of the character (I know… just doesn’t sound right saying beauty in conjunction with serial killers but oh well…) is that a lot is left to speculation about his past. All we find out about Otis, according to the movie,  is that he kills on a whim, likes tighty whities,  and revels in mindfucking people. Rape, pedophilia, necrophilia, murder… nothing is really out of Otis’ comfort zone. That in itself is a good basis for a badass villain but it’s Bill Moseley’s performance that makes Otis that much more creepier.  Some of you may remember him from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 where he played “Chop Top” Sawyer.  It was a god-awful movie but any true horror fan has to appreciate him in that and may recognize traces of Otis in that performance. Bill took the character of Otis to an all new level of crazy. He wrapped himself up in that role so much that at times it makes you wonder if he’s really acting or just being himself (Sorry Bill. That’s my way of saying you put your heart into that).

If you haven’t seen the movie or don’t like any of Rob Zombie’s work, who cares. See it anyway. If you’re a real movie fanatic you treat them like a Chinese buffet and take what you want from it.

The Joker

Wanna know how I got these scars?

The JokerThe Dark Knight
Actor: Heath Ledger

No I’m not a bandwagon jumper.  I believe in giving credit where credit is due and I thank Chris and Heath for purging the memory of Jack Nicholson’s Joker from my mind. I’ll say it… I was never a fan of Mr. Ledger.  It wasn’t so much that I hated him or his acting – he just never stood out to me. Even playing the gay cowboy didn’t really knock my socks off… not that there’s anything wrong with that. Australia is known for putting out good actors (don’t count Mel… he’s crazy and was born in NY so he’s not a real Aussie) so I knew the potential was there. He just needed a good character and director. Unfortunately this role would be his last but boy was it a memorable one. I can’t say I was an avid Batman comics reader but I knew enough about it to know The Joker was a villain that villains were supposed to fear. Chris Nolan and Heath brought that to fruition when the Dark Knight was came to the big screen. I was real hesitant about all the hype surrounding Heath’s performance and went into that theater looking to continue on with my unimpressed streak regarding him.

I’m glad I went in looking to pick that role apart because it made me appreciate what he did that much more. Here you have the Joker – a criminal with no conscious that has an affinity for dressing a bit eccentrically. Simple enough premise but it’s the writing, dialogue and of course the acting that sends that character to a whole new level. In a make-believe world where dressing up in costumes and what not is the norm, the Joker seemed to bridge that gap between comic book campiness and real life macabre. He’s the kind of guy you wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see on the 11 o’clock news and that’s what made him stand out from all the rest.

Russell Edgington

You are not our equals. We will eat you after we eat your children. Now time for the weather. Tiffany?

Russell EdgingtonTrue Blood
Actor: Denis O’Hare

You either love True Blood or you hate it and if you love it you have to love Russell Edgington. Yeah, I know. Not a movie villain but that’s what makes him so great. Now here’s a character that’s a bit less grounded in reality than some other villains but leave it to the fantastic acting of Denis O’Hare and creative (and often humorous) writing in bringing this seemingly impossible character to life. Many of the deviants in True Blood tend to be a bit over-the-top (which I enjoy) but Russell takes the cake.  A 3000 year old vampire with severe emotional issues, a serious lack of conscience, a big fat zero on the morals index and temper that can’t be matched. Oh I forgot to mention that he’s also a megalomaniac, suffers from delusions of grandeur and – on top of it all – is a bonafide sociopath. It’s awesome television for those who delight in depravity.

The Eclectic Russel Edgington was introuduced in Season 3 and boy did he make an impact. At first glance he didn’t appear to be more than yet another egotistical socialite vampire but as you got to know more and more about him, only then could you appreciate the sheer twistedness of this individual. He’s about as complex as a giant ball of knots and crazier than Joan Rivers. To describe his demeanor wouldn’t do it any justice whatsoever. If you really want to experience it, watch the series. If you already know about him, soak it up. The end of the season is fast approaching. You won’t get another dose of Edgington for almost a year.

Clarence Boddiker

Bitches. Leave.

Clarence J. BoddikerRobocop
Actor: Kurtwood Smith

Where the hell did I dig him up from, eh? True, Robocop was as campy as hell (and we’re talking about a late 80’s movie here so that’s like campy squared) but I hold a soft spot in my heart for this guy. Even surrounded by poor acting and even worse writing, somehow the character of Clarence Boddiker worked. There was nothing flashy or outrageous about him in the movie but I tend to appreciate the little nuances. Kurtwood (probably best known as Red on That 70’s Show) has made a career on being the scruff, no nonsense guy with the awesome  super-nugget head. However getting to be the nemesis in this set him loose as far as being a bastard is concerned. There was nothing you could like about Clarence.  He was a murdering, lying, scumbag from beginning to end and you gotta appreciate that. Kurtwood took  pride in belting out some of the priceless lines he has throughout the flick and at points, you really loved to hate the guy.

Crappy movie aside, next time you find yourself up at like 2 in the morning and Robocop is on… kick back and soak in his performance. You’ll be surprised at how sinister he actually is in it. Perhaps he should be just an honorable mention in the list but who cares… bad is bad.

Col. Hans Landa

May I smoke my pipe as well?

Col. Hans LandaInglorious Basterds
Actor: Christoph Waltz

Congratulations to the Academy for finally getting it right for a change and giving a stellar performance its rightful dues. We all know Tarentino. His movies always produce characters you’re bound to remember. Jaw-dropping dialogue and outrageous storylines are his trademark but with  but this time he took it to a whole new level. I can’t say I put this movie in the same echelon as Pulp Fiction but it has its moments. What stands out most for me is the incredibly disturbing performance by Mr. Waltz.

Nazis are always a great foundation for movie villains. Col. Landa was particularly ominous because he rarely had to physically demonstrate how intimidating or nefarious he was.  Highly intelligent and uncomfortably calm, he’s the kind of person that would flash a warm and welcoming smile right before he runs you through with a saber or shoots you between the eyes. Christoph somehow manages to convey that feeling of untrusting intimidation to perfection. Again, to try and use simple words to describe the vibe he gives just doesn’t work. If you don’t care to watch the whole movie, just see the opening sequence.  It sets the tone for the whole movie.

Patrick Bateman

You're a fucking ugly bitch. I want to stab you to death, and then play around with your blood.

Patrick BatemanAmerican Psycho
Actor: Christian Bale

I had to watch this movie a few times before I could really appreciate it. I’ve yet to read the actual book (from what I hear is totally deranged) but I have to say the movie itself was entertaining primarily due to then relatively unknown Christian Bale’s performance.

Patrick Bateman is crazy.

No seriously. He’s get-naked-smear-yourself-gore-while-rocking-out-to-Huey-Lewis crazy. He’s also delusional,  a perfectionist, a possible paranoid schizophrenic and a narcissist to boot. Mix all that together and you have the making for a wild ride in Insanityville. The selling point of the whole journey is following along side him as he descends slowing into depravity. Bale broods. That’s what he does but he goes into a whole new realm of menacing with his cold lifeless stare-downs and wildly erratic screaming fits. It’s one of those roles that he, as a method actor, must have really switched the sanity button off for a while in order to pull off some of the scenes. Not the greatest movie in the world but definitely worth watching if just to sit in awe of his utter madness during the course of the move.

John Doe

I visited your home this morning after you'd left. I tried to play husband. I tried to taste the life of a simple man. It didn't work out, so I took a souvenir... her pretty head.

John DoeSe7en
Actor: Kevin Spacey

Ooooooooh man. What can I say about this that hasn’t already been said? When I first saw Se7en I thought it was an awesome movie all the way through. Great story, gritty cinematography and a pretty damn good pairing of Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt. Serial Killer movies have always sent chills down my spine because that shit is real. There really are people out there that are that twisted and malicious and can very well live right next door to you. You always hear it on the news… “Oh he was a nice guy”.

Uh huh.

Little did you know he was pickling people in his basement while dressing up like Bea Arthur and singing show tunes to his cocker-poodle.

Anyway, the serial killer premise set the tone for the entire movie. Slowly and painfully you get to learn more and more about this mysterious individual commiting all these hainus crimes. By the end of the movie you’re kinda expecting to see some wild haired jungle freak that’s foaming at the mouth but instead you’re presented with perhaps the most frightening alternative – Kevin Spacey. Let’s be real here. Kevin Spacey is probably one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. He kills it (no pun intended) in pretty much every roles he takes on… but the man is terrifying. He’s terrifying because he’s unassuming. Maybe it’s his voice or his diminutive stature, receeding hairline or piercing glances that do it. Heck it’s probably all of that. All I know is that he gives my wife nightmares and would probably make me feel uneasy if I ever met him in public. That’s not a shot at him as a person or anything, just a tribute to his phenomenal acting ability. If you’re able to convey that level of fear without so much as raising your voice, that’s talent.

John Doe (as he’s referred to in the movie) has no past. Has no identity. Has no real motive for his actions other than being inspired by words and passages from the bible. His soft spoken demeanor and utter disregard for any consequences for his actions make him probably one of the scariest movie villains of all time. What seals the deal for me is the fact that he doesn’t even really make a solid appearance until the last 20 – 30 minutes of the movie. If you can make that kind of mark in that little time that’s a fantastic, well written, well acted villain.

Darth Vader

You are part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor! Take her away!

*Darth VaderStar Wars
Actor(s): David Prowse / James Earl Jones

Notice the asterisk I have next to this one? His nomination comes with a catch. I only recognize Lord Vader as being a unquestioned movie badass only in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Mind you I’m talking about original release New Hope and ESB (not the crap they’re trying to perpetrate as the only Star Wars nowadays).  He started turning into a wussy little douche in Return of the Jedi so I tend to ignore him in that movie. I don’t even acknowledge the prequels so let’s not even go there. Hearing “PADME….. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” just makes me feel like I was punched in the gut by a large angry man.

I, along with many others in my age bracket, had the privilege of seeing A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back when they first came out in the pure untouched forms. There was no denying Vadermania swept over the world. Everyone loved Vader. Why? Because he was a badass.

What made Darth Vader a badass?

For starters he was huge. He looked like a damn pro wrestler the way he loomed over people. Secondly he had the most tremendous voice in cinema. Everyone knows James Earl Jones’ iconic voice and it was the perfect fit for such an intimidating character. Match that with him saying some of the most memorable (albeit cheesy) lines in movie history and he dominated the screen whenever he was on. Not to mention the fact that he was black.

C’mon now. Vader was black. You all know it. He wore black. He sounded black. You were all disappointed in RTOJ when he had his mask removed only to reveal some frail old white dude. Don’t deny it. ;p

Most of all Vader didn’t take any shit from anyone. He’d kill you in a heartbeat and wouldn’t even have to raise a hand to do it. There was enough mystery around Darth Vader to keep people speculating about his past for decades. That’s what made him cool. Vader became what you as an individual wanted him to be. It’s all about letting your imagination go wild.

That all came to a crashing end when Mr. Lucas decided to tell you exactly what happened to him. In my opinion that singlehandedly killed the Vader legacy and dispelled the mystique around him. He was no long this ominous villain that inspired and compelled millions.

He became Hayden Christensen.

Nuff said…

[Disclaimer] Any and all images in this post were plucked from various sites using Google’s image finder. If you are the rightful owner of any of the said images and would like them removed please let me know and I’ll do so immediately, otherwise take a chill pill and enjoy the free publicity. No harm, no foul.