Category Archives: 1982

Top 15 Kurt Russell Movies

 

With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 coming out soon, I thought it would be a good idea to list my favorite top 15 Kurt Russell movies. He’s definitely one of my favorite actors and has so many good roles over the years.

15 – Used Cars (1980)

Now leading up to the release of this film, Kurt Russell was a Disney name. My brother and I were 10 years old when this film was released and Kurt was our favorite Disney actor, so of course, my Mom took her twins to see Used Cars as soon as it came out…only to walk out of the theatre halfway through, shocked…she never realized it was rated R. Definitely not a Disney film. I have seen it since as an adult, and I can appreciate the film now, but back then, not so much. I am glad that he did this film early on as he had to break the Disney mold somehow, otherwise he would have never done some of his later great films as an adult.  This film was shot in and around Mesa and Scottsdale, Arizona, and we moved there when we turned 15 years later and recognized many of the locations. The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis and executive produced by Steven Spielberg. The movie is about the owner (Jack Warden) of a struggling used car lot, who is killed. His hot-shot car salesman (Kurt Russell), wanting to keep the car lot going and to save his job, steps in to save the property from falling into the hands of the owner’s ruthless brother and used-car rival.

14 – Elvis (1979)

Shot the year before by director, John Carpenter, Elvis would be the first pairing for the director and Kurt Russell. They would go on to make four more movies together. Kurt Russell made his initial film debut in It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963) which starred Elvis Presley. According to Russell, Presley was 27 years old when he did “…World’s Fair” and Russell was 27 years old when he did this film.

13 – The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969)

This is part of the series of films Kurt Russell did for Walt Disney, playing a character named Dexter Riley, which my brother and I love. I’ll just mention this one as the first and best one, but they are all fun family films. They include Now You See Him, Now You Don’t (1972), The Strongest Man in the World (1975), and we’ll throw in The Barefoot Executive (1971), because he pretty much plays the same character in that one too. Kurt Russell’s co-star in these was Joe Flynn, a very under-rated character actor that is hilarious in all of these movies. Joe Flynn played Dean Higgins of Medfield College, where student Dexter Riley goes to school. The name of the educational institution, “Medfield College” is also the setting featured in other Disney films such as this movie’s sequels Now You See Him, Now You Don’t and The Strongest Man in the World as well as the earlier The Absent Minded Professor (1961) and its sequel Son of Flubber (1963) where Professor Brainard (Fred MacMurray) teaches science.

Side note – these 4 films were written by Joseph McEveety, who also wrote Disney’s Superdad (1973), No Deposit, No Return (1976), and Hot Lead and Cold Feet (1978). He’s the brother of directors Bernard McEveety and Vincent McEveety, who would go on to direct for Disney, the films; The Bears and I (1974), Napoleon and Samantha (1972), One Little Indian (1973), and Donovan’s Kid (1979) for Bernard and Menace on the Mountain (1970), The Million Dollar Duck (1971), The Biscuit Eater (1972), Charley and the Angel (1973), Superdad, The Castaway Cowboy (1974), The Strongest Man in the World, Treasure of Matecumbe (1976), Gus (1976), The Ghost of Cypress Swamp (1977), Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977), The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979), The Watcher in the Woods (1980) and Herbie Goes Bananas (1980) for Vincent. These 3 brothers were very effective at driving a lot of the Disney films in the 1970’s.

12 – The Art of the Steal (2013)

A little known film about Crunch Calhoun, a semi-reformed art thief, who agrees to get his old gang back together to pull off one last heist. Kurt Russell plays Crunch. This is a great heist film with some fun twists, written and directed by Jonathan Sobol. Cool cast includes Matt Dillion, who I think is an under-utilized actor. He should be in more movies than he is.

11 – Follow Me, Boys! (1966)

This is a fantastic movie and simply the best film ever done that features the Boy Scouts. It’s about Lem Siddons, who is part of a traveling band who has a dream of becoming a lawyer. Deciding to settle down, he finds a job as a stockboy in the general store of a small town. Trying to fit in, he volunteers to become scoutmaster of the newly formed Troop 1. Becoming more and more involved with the scout troop, he finds his plans to become a lawyer being put on the back burner, until he realizes that his life has been fulfilled helping the youth of the small town. Kurt Russell plays a boy that Lem reaches out to help and the main boy in the movie. It was Kurt’s first movie for Disney and it established him for the next 12 years in the studio. He would go on to star in 9 more Disney movies as well as numerous Disney TV shows.

10 – Breakdown (1997)

This movie was Taken, before Liam Neeson came around. Not really but technically the same story, but with his wife instead of daughter. Kurt Russell has starred with J.T. Walsh three times before, in Tequila Sunrise (1988), Backdraft (1991), and Executive Decision (1996). Kurt Russell has killed J.T. Walsh twice in a movie. In Tequila Sunrise he shoots him. In this film, he throws him off the bridge, and Amy puts the truck in neutral, causing the truck to land on him.

9 – Executive Decision (1996)

When terrorists seize control of an airliner, an intelligence analyst accompanies a commando unit for a midair boarding operation. The real surprise in this movie happens about 20 minutes into the film when Steven Seagal, who you think is going to be a major character, dies. It was the first time in a movie, where Steven Seagal’s character gets killed. It would happen again in Machete (2010). Kurt enjoyed the script as soon as he read it. He said later, “When I read Executive Decision, it was a real page-turner. I read scripts for the stories more than I do for the characters. I’ve read lots of characters I’d like to play, but I didn’t enjoy the movie itself that much. I liked the fun of Executive Decision, you know, I feel when an audience sees my name attached to a film, they think it’ll probably be a pretty good movie. The movies I do, if we make them well, will be fun to watch. They may not be the best movie of the year, and I may not be your favorite actor, but people come up to me all the time and say, “I like the movies you do”.

8 – Escape From New York (1981)

This movie has an incredibly unique premise; in 1997, when the U.S. president crashes into Manhattan, now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in to rescue him. That man of course is Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell). He reprises the role again in Escape From LA, but that movie is really cheesy. I mostly like cheese, but that sequel is too much at times. Kurt Russell has stated that this (the first one) is his favorite of all his films, and Snake Plissken is his favorite of his characters. Snake Plissken’s eyepatch was suggested by Kurt. Clint Eastwood was considered for the role of Snake Plissken. Kurt based his performance on Eastwood, in his westerns. The line “I thought you were dead” was probably borrowed from Big Jake (1971). Every time John Wayne tells someone his name, the standard response is “I thought you were dead.” Which would mean that parts of this film were inspired by two legendary western stars, or their films; John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. Snake, being based on Clint, has the added irony that Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef were in several “spaghetti westerns” together, who also stars in this movie.

7 – Stargate (1994)

An interstellar teleportation device, found in Egypt, leads to a planet with humans resembling ancient Egyptians who worship the god Ra. In a magazine interview, James Spader said that he found the original screenplay “awful” but also that it was so bad it actually intrigued him. He then met with Roland Emmerich, was inspired by the director’s passion for the project, and decided to make the movie because he felt the energy and craziness of making such a film would translate into an exciting final film.

6 – Backdraft (1991)

Ron Howard directed film about two Chicago firefighter brothers, who don’t get along, who have to work together while a dangerous arsonist is on the loose. Kurt Russell, Kevin Casey, Scott Glenn, and William Baldwin did a lot of their own stunts, and the Stunt Coordinator Walter Scott was so impressed by their performances, that he credited them as stunt performers in the credits. William and Kurt went to a firefighter “boot camp” to learn the ropes. They even slept at a Chicago firehouse for about a month. Ron Howard described Kurt’s approach was “aggressive, but entertaining, and totally honest.” Kurt was originally considered for the lead role of Connor Macleod in Highlander (1986), which was written by the same writer of this film.

5 – Overboard (1997)

A cruel but beautiful heiress screws over a hired carpenter, who later is the first one to find her when she gets amnesia. Looking for a little revenge he convinces her that she’s his wife. Great romantic comedy by Garry Marshall and also starring Goldie Hawn, Kurt’s real life love. As of 2017, this is the third and last of three movies that real-life couple Goldie and Kurt appeared in together as co-stars. Their earlier collaborations were Swing Shift (1984) and The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (1968). Looking back on the film, Garry Marshall thinks that it’s “still one of the funniest pictures I ever made,” he said later.

4 – Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

An All-American trucker, Jack Burton, gets dragged into a centuries-old mystical battle in Chinatown. Kurt Russell confessed on the DVD commentary that he was afraid of starring in the movie, because he had made a string of movies that flopped at the box-office. When he asked John Carpenter about it, he told Kurt that it didn’t matter to him – he just wanted to make the movie with him. It did flop at the box office initially, but became a huge hit on video and DVD years later. Now it’s considered a cult classic. John and Kurt explain on the audio commentary that the first test screening was so overwhelmingly positive, that both of them expected it to be a big hit after they made it. However, 20th Century Fox put little into promoting the movie, and it ended up being a box-office bomb. According to John and Kurt in the DVD commentary, the story was originally written as a western, but Carpenter decided to set it during modern times. They even mention that instead of Jack Burton’s truck being stolen, it was originally his horse. Kurt Russell turned down the lead role of Connor MacLeod in Highlander to appear in this film. Both movies were made and released by 20th Century Fox. An interesting side note, in the scene where Kurt is attempting to infiltrate the brothel, he is wearing the same outfit that he wore in Used Cars.

3 – Tango and Cash (1989)

The original idea for this film was to get Rambo and the Terminator together for a buddy cop film. They couldn’t get Arnold Schwarzenegger back then so it became a Rambo and Snake Plissken film. Not really, but it had Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell, two action stars in one movie. Kurt was originally considered and offered the role of Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon (1987), but he turned it down, and it went to Mel Gibson, with whom he worked on Tequila Sunrise. His character in this film is loosely based on Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon.

2 – The Thing (1982)

It’s no secret that I love this movie. I write about it in a blog post: http://brothers-ink.com/2016/02/the-thing/

It’s the finest horror film ever made and is about a research facility in Antarctica that comes across an alien force that can become anything it touches with 100% accuracy. The members must now find out who’s human and who’s not before it’s too late. John Carpenter has stated that of all his films, this is also his personal favorite. John Carpenter’s film is a much more faithful adaptation of John W. Campbell, Jr.’s original novella “Who Goes There?” than The Thing from Another World (1951). For example, the 1951 version introduced female characters including a “love interest” for the hero. This film, like the original story, has no roles for women. Also, the use of a hot needle, to check the blood of the characters to see if they were still human or not, was taken directly from the original novella, and was not used in the 1951 movie. When the crew are all discussing what the alien spacecraft might be, one of them explains it by saying “Chariots of the Gods.” This is a reference to the famous 1968 book by Swiss-German author Erich von Däniken entitled “Chariots of the Gods?” which hypothesized that many of the world’s great historical monuments, such as the Egyptian Pyramids, were built with the aid of technologies and religion provided by extra-terrestrial beings, who were treated as deities by ancient peoples.

1 – Tombstone (1993)

I mention this film as the top film for a list for Val Kilmer as well in a post from our blog: http://brothers-ink.com/2016/12/top-15-val-kilmer-movies/

It’s the best film you can find about Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday and the fight at the OK Corral. Unbelievable cast with Kurt, Val, Bill Paxton, Sam Elliott, Powers Booth, Stephen Lang, Thomas Haden Church, Dana Delaney, Charlton Heston, and Michael Biehn. In an interview with True West magazine in October 2006, Kurt admit that after original director Kevin Jarre was fired, he directed a majority of the picture. According to Russell, George P. Cosmatos served merely to make things run smoothly. Also, in the True West interview, Kurt stated that the film was nearly cast with Richard Gere as Wyatt Earp, and Willem Dafoe as Doc Holliday.

Failed Movies Make the Best Broadway Musicals

 

So what do you do with a movie that fails at the box office? Why not make it into a Broadway Musical! It’s actually fitting that one of the most popular of these is a film about making a bomb, that just happens to turn out to be a big hit…The Producers.Producers

In 1967, Mel Brooks wrote and directed The Producers, starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. Kenneth Mars also has a great role in the film, I wrote about it in another blog, you can ready that here… The film initially was not very well liked, people didn’t know what to make of it. Actress Estelle Winwood said about the film – “Oh, that dreadful picture. I can’t bear to watch it, even on a small television. I must have needed the money – living in Hollywood weakens one’s motives. It reminds me of the saying that nobody ever went broke underestimating the American public’s taste.”ProducersLaneBroderick

Regardless, years later when Mel Brooks was considering adapting one of his movie into a play he decided to adapted The Producers as a Broadway stage musical and it opened at the St James Theater in April 2001, with Nathan Lane as Bialystock and Matthew Broderick as Bloom. The renowned musical went on to run for 2502 performances and won a record-breaking 12 Tony awards. A new movie which included Nathan Lane and Mathew Broderick was released in 2005, but that one didn’t fare too well either. It’s better as a stage play.victor_victoria

Another one to take the stage was Victor Victoria. Originally written and directed by Blake Edwards in 1982, starring James Garner, Julie Andrews and Robert Preston, the movie did not do well. We absolutely loved the film, however. It’s well suited for the transition to stage, as it’s about a struggling female soprano who finds work playing a male female impersonator, but it complicates her personal life. Robert Preston is just amazing in the film and really steals the show with his musical number at the end of the movie. Robert Preston did the final musical number in one take, which explains why he was so clearly out of breath, physically stressed, and sweating profusely during the second half of the number. So it’s very easy to see it transferred to Broadway.Victor-Victoria-Play

In 1995, Blake Edwards decided to transfer the movie to Broadway and convinced his wife Julie Andrews to reprise her role. The hit Broadway musical Victor Victoria opened at the Marquis Theater on October 25, 1995 and ran for 734 performances. Liza Minnelli substituted for Julie Andrews while she was on vacation and Raquel Welch took over for her when she left the show.xanadu

In 1980, Olivia Newton-John, Michael Beck and Gene Kelly starred in the box office bomb, Xanadu. Again, we loved the movie but it was a huge fail. Famously received the one sentence review: “In a word, Xana-don’t”. I think the main problem is that MTV ruined that movie. What I mean by that is, it’s totally designed to be a musical, but MTV was so popular at the time that they put all the musical numbers into the music, with none of the characters actually singing the songs. It’s just in the background and designed as like music video numbers scattered throughout the film. They dance plenty, but they never really sing.  When I ask people about the movie, it’s funny that people don’t realize that no one in the film ever really sings any of the songs until the end of the movie when Olivia is on stage at the roller rink.  The Broadway stage version opened at the Helen Hayes Theater on July 10, 2007, and ran for 512 performances. It was nominated for the 2008 Tony Awards for Best Musical and Book.spamalot

One of the most unusual film-to-Broadway adaptations would have to be Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In 1975, the Monty Python’s Flying Circus cast wrote and directed a small independent film called Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It did fairly well at the box office but really achieved cult status on video and DVD. It’s a very funny but strange film. The theatrical release contains 527 jokes, including 42 in the opening credits, for an average of one joke every 10.5 seconds. According to Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones got the directing job because they were the only ones who were interested in it. The movie was adapted as a Broadway musical in 2006 called Spamalot. The Broadway play was a huge hit. The original 2005 Broadway production, directed by Mike Nichols, won three Tony Awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical of the 2004–2005 season and received 14 Tony Award nominations. During its initial run of over 1,500 performances it was seen by more than two million people and grossed over $175 million.newsies_musical_main-logo

Newsies was another musical disaster for Disney initially, but managed to make for a very fine Broadway play.  It was directed by Kenny Ortega, who would head up the very successful High School Musical series a few years later. (High School Musical, being way too successful to consider making into a Broadway play has never made the transition…) Newsies was released in 1992 with pre-Batman Christian Bale, Bill Pullman, Ann-Margret  and Robert Duvall. At the time, this was one of the lowest grossing live action movies in Walt Disney studio history. The movie was a critical and commercial flop upon its initial theatrical release. However, it gathered a cult following after its home video release, eventually made its filming budget back on rentals, and was deemed popular enough to be adapted into a stage musical, which premiered at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey in 2011. The musical had music and lyrics by Alan Menken (who composed the movie’s music as well) and Jack Feldman (the movie’s lyricist), and a new book by playwright and actor Harvey Fierstein. This musical moved to Broadway in March 2012 and closed over two years later; a North American tour also launched in 2014. The show went on to earn eight Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, winning Best Choreography and Best Original Score.Harispray

Now, Hairspray is another very unusual adaptation as the first movie in 1988 directed by John Waters was not a hit, but did moderately well and found cult status on Video and DVD, then was adapted into a very successful Broadway Play and then again translated into a very successful movie in 2007. The original was not a musical, which tells me that certain stories just lend themselves very well to being told as musicals. Jerry Stiller, who plays Wilbur Turnblad in this film, also appears in Hairspray (2007) as Mr. Pinky. Remade on the Broadway stage in 2002 as a musical by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman, Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, starring Harvey Fierstein (and later, Bruce Vilanch, Michael McKean and John Pinette) in the role of Edna Turnblad (played in the film by Divine) and Marissa Jaret Winokur in the role of Tracy Turnblad (played in the film by Ricki Lake) The musical opened at the Neil Simon Theater on August 15, 2002 and ran for 2641 performances. It won the 2003 Tony Award for Best Musical. Adam Shankman directed the 2007 film with John Travolta playing Edna and Nikki Blonsky playing Tracy. With $27.5 million, this had the best opening ever for a movie musical until Mamma Mia! (2008).little shop of horrors

Another film-to-broadway-back-to-film adaptation is Little Shop of Horrors. Low budget Independent producer Roger Corman and Charles B. Griffith. The shooting schedule for this film was two days and one night because Roger Corman had made a bet that he could make a movie in two days. Charles B. Griffith took a little more than that to write it. A young Jack Nicholson has only a small part as Farb’s masochistic patient, Wilbur Force. But later, as the actor’s career began to take off, he was prominently featured on the home-video releases to help generate interest in the film. The film was remade as a successful stage musical in 1982, by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman. (who would go on to do Disney’s The Little Mermaid and then many other successful animated musicals) The musical premiered Off-Off-Broadway in 1982 before moving to the Orpheum Theatre Off-Broadway, where it had a five-year run. It later received numerous productions in the U.S. and abroad, and a subsequent Broadway production. When it closed on November 1, 1987, after 2,209 performances, it was the third-longest running musical and the highest-grossing production in Off-Broadway history.little shop of horrors audrey seymour

Ellen Greene reprised her role from the play as Audrey in the 1986 movie of the musical. Frank Oz directed with Rick Moranis playing Seymour. Ellen Greene as Audrey (I) is the only member of the Off-Broadway cast to appear in this film. When she originated the role in 1982, it was her idea to wear a blond wig over her brunette curly hair. Howard Ashman originally saw Audrey as a brunette, based on Jackie Joseph’s look in the original The Little Shop of Horrors (1960).  The original script called for Audrey and Seymour to be eaten by Audrey II, just like in the stage play. Frank Oz reluctantly had it changed after negative reactions from test audiences. Oz claims that the difference between the success of the scene in the play and the same scene in the film is that there is no curtain call to remind the audience that the actors were okay.

 

Top 15 Fantasy Films of the 80’s

 

The 1980’s was a GREAT time for movie lovers. The studios and production companies were full of NEW ideas and willing to take risks to find and create great stories. We received a slew of fun fantasy films, some were really fantastic, then some not so fantastic. Here’s my list for my favorite 15 fantasy films of the 80’s:

15.  The Barbarians (1987)BB

Now, right up front…this is not a great movie. With that said, I totally enjoyed the movie when I first saw it in a movie theater. My father saved up for a decade to take his family on an 3 week European vacation and in that time we saw 1 movie in a french movie theater and YES, you guessed it…it was this film! Don’t ask me why we picked this one, we were 16 years old, looking for something in the action genre, because none of us wanted to read a lot of captions…and it features 2 twins, so to us at the time…win/win. As it turns out, I really enjoyed it. I will let you know that I do enjoy “cheesy” and “campy” as two adjectives for movies I enjoy. If you have a tendency to roll your eyes and switch the channel when you experience these things then, some of the films I present in this blog post are simply not going to be your cup of tea.

The best thing by far in this movie is the villain character actor, Richard Lynch. He pops up in another film on this list, a really good actor and mostly typecast as the bad guy in his films due to his gravelly voice and to the fact that his face was severely burn-scarred. In 1967, after taking LSD, he set himself on fire in Central Park. He managed to turn into a career, something that would have stunted so many other people. The Barbarians was directed by Italian director Ruggero Deodato, who had a reputation as a nasty director. Richard said of him, “Ahh, Ruggero Deodato. Yeah, he’s all bullsh#t. He’s a little man, he’s short, and he’s got a big mouth. But I love Ruggero — I had more fun working with him than anybody else. I know all about his crassness and his brutality, but you can’t let it reach you. He’s very talented, and he can be very funny — you have to have a thick skin with him. He’ll test your mettle, but when he knows that you know he’s bullshitting you … I had a lot of good times with him.”

14.  Excalibur (1981)john-boorman-excalibur

Directed by John Boorman, and starring a slew of great actors that only got better with age, this is a very ambitious re-telling of the Arthurian legend. John Boorman wanted the story to be the focus of the movie rather than the actors. Therefore, he cast actors who were relatively unknown at the time to American audiences. Among them were Gabriel Byrne (Uther), Patrick Stewart (Leondegrance),Liam Neeson (Gawain), Helen Mirren (Morgana) and Nicholas Clay (Launcelot). Only Nicol Williamson (Merlin) was relatively familiar to American moviegoers. John Boorman was originally aiming at making a movie based on “The Lord of the Rings”. However, he did not acquire the rights, and decided to make this movie instead. He has gone on to say that he loved Peter Jackson’s vision for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, that were filmed much later and was thrilled when someone finally made the movies.

13.  Dragonslayer (1981)dragonslayer

This one is a Disney film directed by Matthew Robbins, who my brother and I liked from directing Corvette Summer and then later from The Legend of Billie Jean and Batteries Not Included. The movie as about a young wizard apprentice who goes on a quest to kill the dragon Virmithrax Pejorative, who has been eating the sacrificial maidens from a nearby town. Slow moving movie, but it has some good parts. George R.R. Martin, author of the “A Song Of Ice And Fire” novels upon which the HBO series Game of Thrones (2011) is based, has stated that Vermithrax Pejorative is “the best dragon ever shown on film.”

12.  Krull (1983)Krull

My brother and I loved the hero’s weapon in this…it looked like a giant throwing star. We would spend hours throwing frisbees at each other in the yard mimicking this movie. Directed by Peter Yates and also stars Liam Neeson in another of his seldom seen roles before he made it truly big. In this film, a maiden is kidnapped by an alien race and a band of medieval misfits  ventures out to rescue her. It can be thought of as a film where a bunch of sword wielding knights break into a fortress to fight a laser-shooting alien race, only with fire Clydesdales and a cyclops added for good measure. Show-business trade-paper ‘Variety’ described the movie as Excalibur (1981) meets Star Wars (1977)”. The movie was actually massive, taking up over 10 sound stages at Pinewood Studios. It has some great creative ideas and inventive scenes…at least in theory. Execution is a bit clunky, but you can definitely watch this and appreciate the scope of what they were trying to do.

Legendary stuntman and stunt coordinator Vic Armstrong (I write about him again later for the Indiana Jones series here) scoured allover the United Kingdom for 16 Clydesdale horses to purchase and then train. Moreover, horses from the Queen’s Household Cavalry near Buckingham Palace were borrowed and brought to the studio’s back-lot.

11.  Legend (1985)Legend

This has Ridley Scott directing Tom Cruise in their first fantasy film, but the stand-out here is definitely Tim Curry as the Lord of Darkness. It also features some of the best make-up prosthetics you will ever see on film, by make-up artist Rob Bottin and his crew. He would later be nominated for an Oscar for his work on this film, but this makeup was really hard on Tim Curry. Tim Curry had to wear a large, bull-like structure atop his head with three-foot fiberglass horns supported by a harness underneath the makeup. The horns placed a strain on the back of the actor’s neck because they extended forward and not straight up. Bottin and his crew finally came up with horns that were lightweight enough. At the end of the day, he spent an hour in a bath in order to liquefy the soluble spirit gum. At one point, Curry got too impatient and claustrophobic and pulled the makeup off too quickly, tearing off his own skin in the process. Ridley Scott felt both horrified and sorry for Curry. Scott decided he didn’t want Curry to put more make up on his torn skin, so he shot around the actor for a week.

With the exception of Tom Cruise and Mia Sara, all the principal actors spent hours every morning having extensive makeup applied. Between 8 and 12 prosthetic pieces were applied individually to each face, then made up, molded and grafted into the actor’s face so that the prosthetics moved with their muscles. Each person needed three makeup artists working on them for an average time of three and a half hours spent applying prosthetics. Out of all the characters, the most challenging one in terms of makeup was Darkness.

10.  Labyrinth (1986)Labyrinth

The first of 2 Jim Henson movies to make the list, this one features David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. This one also features some incredible songs by Bowie. Bowie was keen to make a children’s movie, he liked the concept and found the script amusing and of more interest to him than many other contemporary special effects movies. The movie is about a selfish 16-year old girl who is given 13 hours to solve a labyrinth and rescue her baby brother when her wish for him to be taken away is granted by the Goblin King.

9.  Dark Crystal (1982)The Dark Crystal

This one was co-directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz. Frank Oz would go on to direct so many good films over the next 20 years. Hard to believe he started out as a puppeteer, but he’s so creative and talented, it taught him a lot of the things he needed to become a top director. This movie is about a Gelfling who embarks on a quest to find the missing shard of a magical crystal in order to restore order to his world. All the characters in the film are all puppets. Conceptual designer Brian Froud was behind the look and feel of virtually every aspect of the film’s production, from creatures and landscapes right down to the font of the opening title. In total, it took up five years of his life. He was also the conceptual designer for Labyrinth. Froud and puppet designer Wendy Midener met on the set of the Dark Crystal and were later married.

8.  NeverEnding Story (1984)neverending story

This film is about a troubled boy who dives into a wondrous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book. This is directed by Wolfgang Petersen, and is a very inventive movie. It’s a favorite of a lot of the kids who grew up in the 80’s. It’s actually a film shot and produced in Germany, based on a book by the very popular author Michael Ende.

7.  Beastmaster (1982)beastmaster

Beastmaster is a sword-and-sorcery fantasy about a young man’s search for revenge. Armed with supernatural powers, the handsome hero and his animal allies wage war against marauding forces. Directed by Don Coscarelli and starring Marc Singer and Tanya Roberts. Producer Dino De Laurentiis liked the movie and offered Don Coscarelli to direct Conan the Destroyer (1984). Coscarelli declined because he thought the script was quite bad. Hence the reason that movie, doesn’t make this list. Coscarelli decided to set the story in a sort of Bronze Age milieu because he was a long time fan of Steve Reeves, Ray Harryhausen and sword and sandal flicks. Ironically, Ray Harryhausen made this list next at number…

6.  Clash of the Titans (1981)THE KRAKEN CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981)

This is a film adaption of the myth of Perseus and his quest to battle both Medusa and the Kraken monster to save the Princess Andromeda, directed by Desmond Davis and special effects by Ray Harryhausen. Funny thing about the title of the film, no actual Titans actually appear in the film as the “Titans” were the gods who preceded the Olympians in power. Kronos (also spelled Cronus) and Atlas were the most famous Titans. In the movie, the Titans are the Norse Kraken (who never appeared in Greek mythology at all) and Medusa (who was never considered a Titan by the Greeks).

5. Conan the Barbarian (1982)conan-the-barbarian

1982 was an amazing year as a lot of the films on this list were released in 1982 as well as ET, Blade Runner, The Thing, Poltergeist, Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, Tron, First Blood, and Tootsie! Conan was directed by John Milius and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan. There’s a lot of stunts in this film, Arnold Schwarzenegger had weapons training, martial arts training, and horse riding lessons from specialists. He trained with an 11-pound broadsword two hours a day for three months, and learned how to handle one; each broadsword cost $10,000 and had to look weathered. He also learned climbing techniques, and how to fall and roll and jump from 15-feet in the air. John Milius made sure all of these were videotaped, and according to Schwarzenegger, they were just as intense as training for bodybuilding competitions. Franco Columbu was his trainer and was rewarded with a small part in the film. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sandahl Bergman did their own stunts, as suitable body doubles couldn’t be found. Arnold Schwarzenegger modelled his performance as Conan after Steve Reeves and his performances as Hercules. Conan was created by Author Robert E. Howard.

4.  Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)sword and the sorcerer

This is the other film on the list that features the actor Richard Lynch. It’s actually my favorite Sword and Sandal film of all time. I think it’s even better than Conan, and it’s crazy to me that nobody knows about it. I even watched it recently and it totally holds up over time. This is simply a great little unknown film! It’s about a mercenary with a three-bladed sword who rediscovers his royal heritage’s dangerous future when he is recruited to help a princess foil the designs of a brutal tyrant and a powerful sorcerer in conquering a land. It stars Lee Horsely, who my brother and I loved as Matt Houston!

3.  Ladyhawke (1985)Layout 1

The real reason to watch this is Matthew Broderick. He’s just fantastic as the mouse, the thief that technically narrates the film. He is so good that I thought he should have been nominated for an Oscar that year.  The film is directed by the incredible Richard Donner and is also memorable for the score of the film by Andrew Powell and Alan Parsons from the Alan Parsons Project. They are my favorite “band” (in quotes because they’re not really a band, more like studio produced music, but still awesome). The movie is about Captain Etienne Navarre, who is a man on whose shoulders lie a cruel curse. Punished for loving each other, Navarre must become a wolf by night whilst his lover, Lady Isabeau, takes the form of a hawk by day. Together, with the thief Philippe Gaston, they must try to overthrow the corrupt Bishop and in doing so break the spell.

2.  Willow (1988)Willow

Ron Howard directed this fantasy film based on the story by George Lucas. You can really tell by this time that Ron Howard was going to be one of the very best directors ever. The film is about, Willow Ufgood, a reluctant dwarf who must play a critical role in protecting a special baby from an evil queen. George Lucas specifically wrote this film for Warwick Davis after meeting him on the set of Return of the Jedi (1983). The box office receipts were less than expected (but still very good when considering International and Video/DVD sales), so writer George Lucas continued Willow’s story in books rather than in movie sequels. The three books are collectively known as “The Chronicles of the Shadow War” and share a writers credit for Chris Claremont and Lucas. They are: “Shadow Moon” (1995), “Shadow Dawn” (1996) and “Shadow Star” (2000). I enjoyed Val Kilmer in this movie a great deal. I heard later that much of his dialogue for this film was ad-libbed by him. Various major film studios turned down the chance to distribute and co-finance it with Lucasfilm because they believed the fantasy genre was unsuccessful. This was largely due to films such Dragonslayer (1981), Krull (1983), Legend (1985) and Labyrinth (1986). (Argh! That’s almost half of my list!)

1.  The Princess Bride (1987)princessbride

The ultimate fantasy film and a lot of people’s favorite, including mine. Directed by Rob Reiner.  A lot of people think this is his finest film. The film is about the lovely Buttercup, who  is kidnapped by a ghastly gang intent on fermenting an international incident. They find they are pursued by the Dread Pirate Roberts who just might be Westley, her one true love. Also after everyone is nasty Prince Humperdinck to whom Buttercup is now betrothed but who seems to care little for her continued survival. The stage is set for swordfights, monsters, revenge and torture…and of course, true love. It has a fantastic cast which includes Mandy Patinkin, Cary Elwes, Christopher Guest, Andre The Giant, Robin Wright, Billy Crystal, Mel Smith, Wallace Shawn, Chris Sarandon, Peter Falk, Fred Savage, Peter Cook and Carol Kane. Cary Elwes was cast because of what Rob Reiner called his Douglas Fairbanks or Errol Flynn quality. Fairbanks and Flynn both played Robin Hood (Fairbanks in Robin Hood (1922) (which I discuss in a blog post here) and Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) (which I discuss in a blog post here). Elwes would later spoof their performances in Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993). Ironically, the costume for Wesley as the Dread Pirate Roberts was designed after Douglas Fairbanks in The Mark of Zorro (1920). You can see pictures of him in a blog I wrote here.

In order to create the Greatest Swordfight in Modern Times, Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin trained for months with Peter Diamond and Bob Anderson, who between them had been in the Olympics; worked on Bond, Lord of the Rings, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), and Star Wars films; and coached Errol Flynn and Burt Lancaster. Every spare moment on set was spent practicing. Eventually, when they showed Rob Reiner the swordfight for the movie, he was underwhelmed and requested that it be at least three minutes long rather than the current one minute. They added steps to the set, watched more swashbuckling movies for inspiration, re-choreographed the scene, and ended up with a three minute and 10 second fight which took the better part of a week to film from all angles. This is my favorite scene in the movie.

 

 

 

Ruckus or First Blood

 

Here is the plot for a movie:

Kyle Hanson is a Vietnam veteran whose traumatic war-time experiences have left him unable to rejoin mainstream society. When Kyle, unkempt and in dirty fatigues, stops in a small town for some food, the local bullies can’t wait for an opportunity to harass him. After Kyle uses his Special Forces training to escape the bullies, he becomes the subject of a community-wide manhunt. Only Jenny Bellows, a local girl whose husband was declared missing in action in Vietnam, is willing to give Kyle a chance.first blood

You may be thinking that it’s the movie, First Blood, only all the character names are different, but you’d be wrong. It’s actually the plot listed for the movie Ruckus, made in 1980, two years before First Blood was released. Just to share the plot of First Blood as listed on IMDB.com:

John Rambo is a Vietnam Veteran, winner of the Medal of Honour for serving his country in the Vietnam war and the last surviving member of the unit he was in. Rambo arrives in a small town, where he is arrested by the abusive local Sheriff Will Teasle for refusing to leave town. Rambo is mistreated and he relives his painful memories of being tortured in a prison camp, which goes too far and Rambo escapes from police custody. Rambo is pursued by Teasle and the local police into the woods and Rambo begins a personal war with Teasle, and uses his combat skills and hunts down Teasle and his men. Rambo’s former commanding officer Colonel Samuel Trautman arrives believing Teasle and his men don’t stand a chance with Rambo, and tries to put Rambo’s personal war to a end, as Teasle wants Rambo dead.

Now the history may go back even further than that. First Blood was originally written by David Morell and published in 1972. He started the book in 1968. In 1972, Morrell sold the film rights to First Blood to Columbia Pictures, who in turn sold them to Warner Bros. This trend continued for ten years. The story passed through three companies and eighteen screenplays. Finally, Andrew G. Vajna and Mario Kassar, two film distributors looking to become producers, obtained the film rights.Morrell_First_Blood

Now during the development time of 10 years, word of mouth on productions can spread and several competing projects at various studios can begin based on similar ideas or the same idea or subject. That’s pretty common and as long as the same script is not used, it’s not usually a problem or a copyright issue, as you can’t copy an idea, just a script or novel or treatment can be copyrighted. But similar elements pop up all the time in the movies.  Just look at 3 movies all released in 1989 by different studios that all have similar elements:

Leviathan:  An American deep-sea mining colony stumbles upon a sunken Soviet vessel hiding a horrific secret.

Deep Star Six:  At the bottom of the ocean, the DeepStar Six has just discovered a new and deadly alien menace.

The Abyss:  A civilian diving team is enlisted to search for a lost nuclear submarine and face danger while encountering an alien aquatic species.Max KLeven

Now, in the case of Ruckus, the man behind the picture is Max Kleven, a stuntman/second unit director of over 25 years at this point with work on movies such as Rollerball, Silver Streak, Charlie Varrick, Never a Dull Moment, just to mention a small few and TV Series such as Star Trek and Streets of San Francisco, and many more. He wrote and directed the film Ruckus and it was his first film as director and was produced by independent production company International Vision and distributed by Indie favorite New World Pictures. It was the only film produced by International Vision, which tells me the company was probably formed to produce this one film only, which is very common in independent filmmaking.ruckus

Now the APEX of where the two meet, could have been F.I.S.T. (1978), which just happens to have been written and starring non-other than Sylvester Stallone, who also wrote the screenplay and stars in First Blood. Max Kleven was the Stunt Coordinator for F.I.S.T. and was looking to move over into directing his first film. Now I’m not sure if David Morell’s book was on the set somewhere and both happened to see it, or if either Max or Sylvester was having discussions with each other or other people regarding the book or the idea or what, I’m not sure, but there seems to have been something that happened somewhere to give each an idea that culminated in their two films.ruckus dirk benedict

Regardless, Max Kleven made it to the screen first. He hired an actor straight off a huge TV Series, Battlestar Gallactica, Dirk Benedict and an actress famous for The Exorcist and was deemed as a young up-and-comer, Linda Blair and even hired an ex-stuntman Richard Farnsworth (in fact I write about him as a stuntman for the movie Wells Fargo HERE) in a key role, who was nominated for an Oscar for acting in 1978 for Comes A Horseman.  All the elements seemed to indicate this could be a BIG hit, but it wasn’t! There was a key element missing and that element simply was Sylvester Stallone. I liked Ruckus and saw the film in theaters when I was a child. My brother and I enjoyed it very much, but it’s no First Blood. First Blood is amazing and became the standard in a slew of films that would come after.first_blood

A lot of people have thought over the years that since Ruckus came out first that First Blood ripped it off, but with the extra knowledge about David Morrell and the fact that both screenwriters were key members on F.I.S.T., I would have to say that First Blood has a case that they were the ones ripped off. Now if Ruckus had been a HIT, I’m sure they would have gone after them in court, but since it wasn’t and they moved forward with their own production and became the big HIT, then I think it all worked out. With this said, Ruckus is a fun little film and should be watched if you get the chance.firstblood sylvester stallone

Just a side note, in his commentary, author David Morell cites the inspiration for John Rambo as being World War 2 hero and later Hollywood actor Audie Murphy. We have another great blog post about him here.

 

 

Stories From Snowy River

 

In 1890 A.B. “Banjo” Paterson wrote a poem called “The Man From Snowy River” that was published in The Bulletin and then later as a book as a collection of Australian verse. Little did he know then that the poem would spawn 2 movies and a TV show almost 100 years later.the-man-from-snowy-river

In 1982, George Miller (not to be confused with the “other” George Miller from Australia) directed The Man From Snowy River. It starred Tom Burlinson as Jim Craig, the man in the title, as well as Kirk Douglas in a dual role as twin brothers. The female lead and love interest to Jim Craig is played by Sigrid Thornton. The film was shot and released first in Australia and then came later to the US, where it did well in the theatres but really took off when it was released on video. My family loved this movie.the-man-from-snowy-river-banner

The most famous scene, being the downhill gallop featured prominently in the movie and the poem, was really performed by actor Tom Burlinson, who had never ridden a horse until he was cast in the movie in the title role. This stunt is amazing and should be highlighted as a perfect moment in the film.  It was shot and performed in one take. No one wanted to take any chances again, as you can see in the film , it’s quite dangerous.ManFromSnowyRiver romance

The film was so popular that a sequel was produced by Disney in 1988, called Return to Snowy River in the states. Tom and Sigrid return in their roles, but due to a dispute, the Kirk Douglas role was filled by actor Brian Dennehy. The film was directed by Geoff Burrowes, the producer of the first film. It’s a fantastic sequel and makes for a perfect box set on my shelf.return from snowy river

As for the TV Series identified as Snowy River: The McGregor Saga (1993), let’s just say it’s inspired by the poem and really was produced to take advantage of the success of the movies. It’s actually really good in it’s own right, and features an incredible cast over it’s four year run. Among the stars were, Andrew Clarke, Brett Climo, Guy Pearce, Hugh Jackman, Josh Lucas, Victoria Tennant, Olivia Newton-John, Lee Horsely, Chad Lowe, Dean Stockwell, and Francis O’Connor.  It’s really hard to find a complete set of the TV Series, but is definitely worth owning if you can find it.snowy river

LINKS:

THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER (1982) TRAILER

 

Best Name Change For a Movie? My Top Four!

 

Several really great movies had their names changed right before release.  Here are a few of my all time favorites: The 13th Warrior, While You Were Sleeping, Field of Dreams and Blade Runner.

The movie based on Michael Crichton’s novel, Eaters of the Dead was changed at the last minute to The 13th Warrior (1999).  It’s the best single name change for a movie that I can think of, but to the dismay of the studio, did not help the film at the box office, which is a real shame, because the finished film is fantastic.  It’s my favorite viking film ever.13th warrior

They had a lot of problems with the film in production. The film was directed by John McTiernan, but after they were finished, the film got previewed by an audience and didn’t do well.  Michael Crichton then took the film into hand and re-shot many scenes and re-edited the film, even going so far to recast the main villain to be a much younger and deadlier foe. Another thing that was changed completely was the score. The original score was composed by Graeme Revell and the new score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith.  The studio lost faith in the film and after a lengthy post production, finally dumped the film into theatres with virtually no marketing.  It was held off from release for two years.13th-warrior-poster

The next one that I can definitely appreciate was originally titled Coma Guy and was changed at the last minute to While You Were Sleeping (1995).  This one was Sandra Bullock’s breakout role and made her America’s sweetheart.  It was a bit of a sleeper hit when it was released and no one was ready for the success of the film. The movie was directed by Jon Turtleltaub.while-you-were-sleeping

I love this movie, but I’m not so sure if I would have watched it with the original title, so good move studio. I loved the cast and thought they did a perfect job filling the roles. Early on in the process of casting a lot of famous faces were considered for the main roles of Jack and Lucy. Demi Moore, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Geena Davis and Jamie Gertz were considered before Sandra Bullock got the role of Lucy.  Matthew McConaughey, Russell Crowe, James Spader, Dylan McDermott, Harrison Ford, Patrick Swayze, Dennis Quaid, and Pierce Brosnan were considered for the role of Jack before Bill Pullman was cast.While-You-were-Sleeping-bill-pullman-25401175-960-540

My 3rd favorite for title change was Shoeless Joe, which was finally changed to Field of Dreams (1989).  I don’t think Shoeless Joe was a bad title, but it failed to convey what the film was ultimately about. Field of Dreams was directed by Phil Alden Robinson. Now this one has an unusual story behind the name change. When the studio previewed the film, of course the audience hated the original name, thinking it sounded like a movie about a guy with no shoes. So the studio made the name change to Field of Dreams and called Phil Alden Robinson and let him know. He was upset and called the writer of the book, W.P. Kinsella and “broke” the bad news to him. W.P. Kinsella was thrilled because his original title of the manuscript he turned into the publishers was called, Dream Field! The publishers had changed the title for publication, thinking Dream Field was too vague.field_of_dreams

When it comes to underrated films, this would probably top my list, which is fitting because the magazine Premiere named this film as Top Twenty of Most Underrated Films of All Time, but was also included in the list, 1001 Movies You Must See before You Die, by Steven Schneider. Last film to have the legendary Burt Lancaster. What a great movie.

The last title change that I’ll mention is the original Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which was changed to non-other than Blade Runner (1982).  This one is 4th for me because I really do LOVE this title, but it doesn’t fit a movie poster very well.  I’ve come to love the title, Blade Runner, over the years. Blade Runner was directed by Ridley Scott, based on a short story of the original title by Phillip K. Dick.  I will say there’s a caveat, although because I was NOT a fan of the original film. The studio’s overlay of Harrison Ford’s voice ala’ Film Noir was not necessary. My brother and I prefer the Director’s Cut that came out a decade later.blade runnerSpeaking about the voice-over, for many years Harrison Ford refused to talk about the film, but he did contribute to the 2007 DVD documentary Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner (2007), claiming he has reconciled with Ridley Scott and made his peace with the film. In fact, Ford says the thing he remembers most is not the grueling shoot or the arguments with his director, but being forced to record the voiceover which executive producers Jerry Perenchio and Bud Yorkin insisted be in the film. Ford doesn’t actually mention any names, but in discussing the voiceover which was used in the theatrical cut, he says it was written by “clowns”. In actual fact, Darryl Ponicsan was initially hired to write it, but his version was tossed out. Then Roland Kibbee was hired and his version is the one that was used.

It may not be a favorite film, because of these things, for Harrison Ford or the director, Ridley Scott, but it is, however the favorite film of Rutger Hauer. This was in part to one of the most brilliant improvised moments ever caught on film. Rutger Hauer’s speech as he “dies” was pieced together by the actor on the spot and is brilliant. Originally, Roy Batty was to have a lengthy monologue just prior to his death, as written by David Webb Peoples. Rutger Hauer felt this didn’t help in creating any dramatic impact in the scene, so he removed much, keeping the pieces he liked, and then added the last two lines, “All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”

The Thing and an Unused Treatment For The Prequel

 

Adam and I have always been fascinated with and loved the move, The Thing by John Carpenter. The things we especially loved about it was the isolated feeling of the movie, the distrust between characters, the paranoia that creeps in and the ultimate scenarios that play out throughout the film to ferret out who is a “Thing” and who isn’t.  It really ratchets up the tension in the film.thing-1982-03-g

So with this in mind, I felt compelled to write down and share our experience with, or I should say our near-experience with the making of what was to be a prequel of sorts, but with what ended up with an identical title,  (so as to confuse the audience even more; is it a prequel or is it a remake?!?) ultimately released to theaters in 2011.thing-logo-r

Now for some background, The Thing (1982) is already a sequel of The Thing From Another World (1951), which was a subject of a previous post of mine.  John Carpenter had the screenplay written by Burt Lancaster’s son Bill Lancaster. ( A little trivia about their relationship is shared in my post regarding The Flame and the Arrow where I mention another one of Bill’s scripts, The Bad News Bears where reportedly the Walter Matthew character is based on Burt.)

Anyway, the film was released with some real nifty marketing posters by a young Drew Struzan who would gain fame with the Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Harry Potter posters he would paint later. It had some strong competition that year, but really grew an audience on video and my brother and I loved it right away and to this day I think it’s the best horror film ever made.thing-struzan-screenprint

(Original Drew Struzan Concept For the Poster 1982)

So skip forward a couple of decades and Adam and I have written several screenplays by this time, written several book to script adaptations, and made a few films and even won an Emmy; generally seeing a spark of success which is very fleeting in Hollywood. Overall, feeling pretty good, getting our feet wet and having fun. In 2008, a company convinces Universal to let them produce a sequel to The Thing and posts in the trades a search for pitches and treatments for the production.

Antarctic Region Map
Antarctic Region Map
Bentley Subglacial Trench
Bentley Subglacial Trench

I have to admit, we got very excited about putting together a pitch for submission to see if we could possibly convince them to let us write the script.  We do a lot of research when we do a script and this treatment was no different.  We researched the location, the original film and story it’s based on and elements we wanted to put in our “prequel”.  Our idea was pretty similar to what was eventually put onscreen when it comes to general plot. We loved the idea of telling the story of what happened at the original Norwegian Station that was a catalyst for bringing the “Thing” to Kurt Russell’s movie in the beginning.  We also were excited to be able to make it possible to bridge the first film with a “third” film by providing a way for the “Thing” to hit the mainland at the end of our treatment.

We quickly outlined what we loved about the Carpenter movie; the isolation, the desperation, the paranoia, the suspicions and key scenarios playing out pitting different groups of people against each other, in this case the different nationalities that were at work within our version.  I think the key thing that the new version got wrong was having a woman in the mix, I just didn’t think that worked and if we wanted to stay within the confines of the Carpenter version, we decided to keep it an all male cast.

Anyway, I’m going to let you choose for yourselves, if you think our version would have made for a fantastic companion to the Carpenter film, as I think it does. I’m going to print it here in it’s entirety.  Now, just for history’s sake, you know up front they didn’t pick ours.  We’re not even sure if we were in the running as we were never notified and none of our real elements seemed to make it into the film they ultimately made.  Right or wrong they went on to make the film they decided would do best, but ultimately I think they made another mistake by naming it the same name as the Carpenter film.  They should have added, The Thing: Exodus or something.

The Thing Prequel  (Treatment by Adam Montierth and Donovan Montierth, All Rights Reserved 2008-2016)

ANTARCTICA – 1982

On a routine reconnaissance mission under the Ronne Ice Shelf, HMS VALIANT, a British Nuclear Submarine discovers an anomaly of dense mass hidden under the ice in the Antarctic. CAPTAIN JAMES MUNRO,  a veteran of the British Fleet is notified as he feeds his pet mice. The Sub receives orders to investigate.

They drift along the Bentley Subglacial Trench at the lowest point of Antarctica and find a place thin enough for them to break through the ice and exit through the conning tower. As soon as the sub has settled, LIEUTENANT GILBRETSON, a big bear of a man, stations himself outside the sub and chain-smokes his way through several cigarettes.Ice Station

A group of five MEN, including Captain James Munro, and Roald Amundsen, a reluctant midshipman recruited as an interpreter, leave Lieutenant Gilbretson, as well as the remaining 122 crew members, and hike five kilometers to the geological research facility owned and operated by the Norwegian Polar Research Establishment with eight current occupants; six NORWEGIAN, one GERMAN and one ITALIAN SCIENTISTS.

They convince the scientists to go out and do some core samples where they find a spaceship buried in the ice. Captain Munro, concerned, ventures back to the Sub to receive his orders. Meanwhile, the scientists celebrate the historic discovery with a video camera and prepare to take samples from the spaceship.The_buried_UFO_(The_Thing_-1982)

Waiting for orders, Amundsen discovers an alien creature, the THING, frozen in the ice not far from the spaceship. Under protest from Amundsen, the scientists cut the block of ice containing the Thing out of the frozen tundra and drag it back to the research station using a snow tractor. KEEGAN GYLDEN, a top Norwegian scientist cuts a thin sample from the skin of The Thing and places it in a plastic container.Thing-in-ice

Captain Munro returns from the sub with an armed force of ten GUARDS to secure the station and to prevent the release of information regarding the spaceship. His orders are to retain all scientists and to collect all data, samples and specimens from the craft, until a proper research team can be deployed from Great Britain to examine the find properly.

The scientists are prevented from communicating back to their headquarters and are confined to the facility. Mistrust and anger, begin to grow between the two groups. The scientists continue to examine what materials they have from the craft, while the guards keep watch over them from room to room.

The Thing from the ice block, given time to thaw, slowly comes back to life and takes his first victim, WILLIAMSON, a guard passing between rooms.thingd

In the lab, Keegan removes the thin sample of The Thing and places it carefully on a slide and onto a microscope. He looks into the   microscope. The sample appears to be moving. Keegan rubs his eyes and looks back into the lens when a shout is heard from the next room. Keegan and the GERMAN rush out of the room to see what is going on.

It is the room with the block of ice, now empty. ALBIN, one of the Norwegians, is yelling at two guards and pointing to the empty block. As scientists and guards enter the room they become angry over the missing creature. The scientists accuse the guards of stealing the Thing from the ice block and the guards are suspicious of the scientists regarding the missing guard. Tempers rage and the scientists are sent to their sleeping quarters. As they sleep, the Thing, as Williamson, visits several men in their rooms.

Williamson Thing reappears the next morning, seemingly normal, except for slightly odd behavior, Amundsen notices. This doesn’t seem to mend the friction between the two groups but the scientists are allowed to continue their research. The language barrier enhances the groups frustrations as Amundsen is the only one who can speak Norwegian and it becomes increasingly difficult for him to mediate between the scientists and the guards.

Captain Munro takes a few men to go and examine the spacecraft a little closer. They get down to the ship and crack open a hatch in the top and go in. In the dark, they turn on the flashlights and make their way down several corridors. The ship is a frozen disaster. The inside of the ship lay in ruins, wreckage everywhere.thingSB Saucer in the ice 005

They find what appears to be a corridor with cells. Heavy iron doors with locks on the outside and little glass windows. One of the cells is busted outward, as if something massive broke through the door. A few dead bodies lay scattered about, ripped and frozen. Red ice glints off the floors and walls. Frozen blood everywhere. Captain Munro looks at the familiar body pieces and gasps when he realizes…they’re human.

Back at the lab, the scientists go back to their work. The Italian, complaining about the working conditions, helps GUSTAV, a Norwegian, carry a metal panel from the ship over to a table just as Keegan gets back to his microscope. Keegan yells at the Italian to keep his voice down and peers down into the lenses just as the skin slice of the Thing explodes upward through the microscope and into Keegan’s eye.

Keegan’s head snaps back as the microscope explodes and he falls to the floor, dead. The Italian and Norwegian yell and scramble over to Keegan. Keegan’s eye dangles from the socket and blood pours from his head. A few scientists and guards rush in. Confusion erupts as the Italian attacks the guards thinking they have sabotaged their equipment and killed his colleague. They manage to subdue the Italian and handcuff him and Gustav.thingguy

The guards take the Italian and Gustav to another building and  lock them into a room by themselves. Williamson stays to watch over them. Keegan’s body is taken to a room and covered with a sheet.

Captain Munro gets back from the spaceship and seems shaken.  To try to ease tension, he sends a group of guards back to the Sub. Amundsen pulls him aside to let him know what’s happened. He takes him to view Keegan and then tells him that the men’s nerves are at their breaking points.

Meanwhile, in the room with the two handcuffed men, Williamson paces back and forth nervously as the Italian continues to barrage him with Italian insults. Gustav tries to calm him, but finally Williamson walks over to the Italian and faces him. The Italian shuts up. Just as he thinks Williamson is going to walk away, he opens his mouth and a long tentacle comes out and wraps around the surprised Italian’s head. The Thing starts to assimilate the Italian. Gustav freaks out and starts yelling at the top of his lungs.

A guard runs over from the other building and throws the doors open to find Williamson Thing and the Italian melted together. Gustav runs over to the guard and tries to pull a grenade from the guard’s belt, but Gustav’s handcuffs make it difficult for him to grab the grenade, and in his haste manages to only pull off the pin. When he realizes, he dives outside into the snow, leaving the guard fumbling with his belt to get the grenade off. A few seconds later the building explodes from the inside.thing fire

Captain Munro and Amundsen run outside just as the building bursts into a fireball. The remaining scientists and guards filter outside to see the aftermath. The scientists are asking Amundsen what is going on and the guards are all in shock. Confusion erupts as they grill Gustav as to what was happening. Capt. Munro stands in shock looking at the fire, when he notices Keegan Thing standing next to him looking at the fire as well.

Keegan Thing turns to face Captain Munro and reveals his eye still sitting on his cheek, but acting as if everything is normal. The guards and scientists all look at Captain Munro when he yells in surprise. Keegan Thing looks around as if confused as to what is wrong with him. Amundsen points at his face and mentions the eye.

When he does this, recognition sets into Keegan Thing’s face and the eye on his cheek looks up and then juts up from the socket on it’s own accord and begins to look where Keegan Thing’s normal eye looks. At this, a few of the guards pull their guns from their holsters. Keegan Thing’s not getting the response he’s expecting so the eye plunges back into his head, then he looks around again as if to say, “Is this right?”. The men back away.

Finally not getting anywhere, Keegan Thing’s head cracks open into a giant mouth and launches out at Gustav. The Thing quickly overtakes Gustav as he screams in sheer terror. After the guards overcome their surprise they open fire at the Thing. Wounded, it busts through the door and back through the building. The guards chase it into the main room, but the Thing disappears into the ceiling.

Everyone comes running back outside to get answers from Captain Munro. Captain Munro tries to calm everyone down and explains as best as he can that the alien from the spaceship must have been alive but dormant from his frozen state. Everyone, visibly shaken and upset, argues and rambles about what to do. Amundsen tries to interpret as best as he can to the Norwegians and the German. They all decide that they need to track the Thing down. They assign pairs of men, pass out guns and grenades and spread out to look.thing

Each pair of men take different areas of the station to try and find the Thing. They look down every corridor, store room and work shed, but find nothing. A man yells from the kennels and shots are fired. The guards and the scientists all run to the kennels to find the Thing in the middle of the room assimilating dogs. They open fire on the Thing and it stops moving as if dead.

Albin speaks to Amundsen that they should pull the Thing out to the snow and burn it. Amundsen translates to the group and they all agree. They get the snow tractor and pull the Thing out to the snow and pour fuel on it. As they all stand around watching, Captain Munro lights a match and the Thing goes up in flames.thing on fire

Confused, the scientists and guards argue about what to do next. Amundsen mediates as best as he can when he realizes that MIKAHIL, one of the Norwegians is speaking perfect English. He asks him  how he’s able to speak English fluently. The group gets quiet and stare at Mikhail Thing. The other Norwegians and the German all back up, scared. The guards take their lead and everyone distances themselves from Mikhail Thing and pull out their guns.

Mikhail Thing tries to explain himself, but nobody believes him. They know that he’s the Thing. He gets angry and lashes out at Albin and one of the guards shoots him. Mikhail Thing, jumps at Albin and he falls into the fire, screaming. The men scatter, afraid. The two remaining Norwegians and the German run into the main room, then the German gets into one of the labs by himself and barricades the door.

Amundsen runs out of bullets as they fight Mikhail Thing. He runs inside and finds an axe. Mikhail Thing disappears behind one of the buildings. Inside, the Norwegians step toward Amundsen and he threatens them not knowing who to trust. The guards and Captain Munro come inside and try to calm Amundsen down. He looks at everyone as if they could be the Thing. The guards rush him, trying to get the axe away from him. Amundsen swings the axe and hacks one of the guards in the leg, he goes down on the ground screaming.thing axe

HAYES, a guard, grabs Amundsen. Amundsen chop one of Hayes hands off. The hand hits the ground and Hayes holds his amputated arm in pain. The Captain holds the men off and tries to reason with Amundsen that their fight is not with each other but with the creature. Amundsen argues that anyone can be the creature, how can they trust anyone. Captain Munro talks to Amundsen to try and keep him busy while the guards step closer and closer. Finally they all jump on Amundsen and he takes one last swing and embeds the axe in the door.

They hold Amundsen on the floor until they realize that Hayes, who just moments ago got his hand amputated, now has two hands again.  He is helping to hold Amundsen down. The guards look at his two hands then look at his third amputated hand on the ground. They look back up at him and Hayes Thing gives them a “what?” look. The amputated hand suddenly grows spider legs out of the fingers and two eyes pop out of the back of the hand. It crawls frantically towards the guard that is laying down bleeding profusely from his leg.

The guards all jump up and pull out their guns and point them at the Hayes Thing on Amundsen. Hayes Thing immediately runs out of the room and the men follow, firing. The man on the ground bleeding, screams as the spider-hand crawls over and embeds itself into his bleeding leg. His leg and the spider-hand fuse together as one, as the Thing attempts to assimilate him. Captain Munro shoots the bleeding man dead. His leg continues to move. Munro drags the body outside and throws it into the fire.

The guards come back and shake their head as if to say the Thing is gone. All men become paranoid and point guns at each other suspecting everyone of being the Thing. The Norwegians try to calm everyone down. They speak as Amundsen translates. They explain that the Thing is learning how to act human. He mentions that they can identify the men that are the Thing, by amputating fingers and seeing who’s grows back.

Reluctantly, everyone agrees. The Norwegians get a surgical kit out and with scalpels cut a finger off of everyone’s hand one by one. They all hold up their bloody hands to show that none have grown back. The remaining men; four guards, two Norwegians, Captain Munro and Amundsen are all human.

The lights and heaters in the facility go out. They run outside to the generators to find Hayes Thing and Mikhail Thing are destroying the generators together. The men open fire at the Things and they both go down as if killed. To make sure they pour fuels on the bodies and burn them in the snow as the Norwegians check the generators.thing dog

They explain to Amundsen that they are not repairable and only have a few hours left before everything at the station freezes. A dog comes around the side of the building and everyone realizes that they haven’t killed all of the Thing. The dog runs away. The Norwegians tell Amundsen that they can’t let the Thing live and that they will use the helicopter to find it and kill it. After they are done, they will fly to the nearest city. Captain Munro lets them know that the rest of them are going back to the sub to report what has happened at the station. The Norwegians take their guns and grenades and start the Helicopter. Captain Munro, Amundsen, and the rest raise their amputated hands in a four finger salute, signifying still human. The Norwegians return salute and fly away.thing1

The four remaining guards, Captain Munro and Amundsen head out to the sub. Forgotten and barricaded in the lab, the German cuts his wrists knowing that the cold will kill him soon. Sadly, he cuts his own throat.thingEnd_game_x-files

thingEndGameThe men get back to the sub to find Lieutenant Gilbretson back outside waiting for them. Amundsen notices that he is not chain-smoking and casually asks him about it. Gilbretson looks at him confused. This alarms Amundsen and the guards all pull their guns on Gilbretson. Captain Munro tells Gilbretson that they will have to cut a finger off to prove he is human. Just as a guard goes to cut his finger off, Gilbretson Thing morphs into a GIANT THING and grabs the surprised guard and tears him in half.

The guards open fire on the Giant Thing and Captain Munro and Amundsen throw grenades at it. They find cover just as the grenades go off and open a fissure in the ice. The Giant Thing slips into the water and screams like a banshee. The salt water reacts as acid to the Giant Thing and it foams up and dies horribly, sliding back into the sea.

The three remaining guards, Captain Munro, and Amundsen enter the sub to find it a ghost ship, everyone is gone and the communications boards are destroyed. They are concerned but relieved that they are back aboard and seal the sub back up and make arrangements to go home. Captain Munro leaves one of the guards in charge and goes to get some sleep in his cabin. He finds his mice alright and feeds them. Just as Captain Munro lays down, one of the mice grows tentacles and lashes out.

Amundsen, still unnerved from his ordeal, seals himself in his room and begins to record his fresh thoughts into a tape recorder. Later, he makes his way back to the navigation room. The three guards and Captain Munro are busy at the controls of the sub. They all ignore Amundsen as he enters and they stare at a TV monitor which shows them what is outside the sub.

Amundsen, curious, peers to see what they are looking at. Underwater, outside the sub, they are scanning another spaceship. As the sub moves further, Amundsen sees more ships and what appears to be a spaceship graveyard. Deathly, dark and sinister ghost spaceships lay scattered along the bottom of the sea where they have fallen.thing graveyard

Amundsen looks at Captain Munro and notices that he has all of his fingers again. Smiling, Captain Munro Thing looks directly at Amundsen and begins to explain that he was a captive on a ship headed for another place long ago. He managed to take over the ship, but crashed here in the process.

Amundsen looks at the guards to see if they notice that the Captain is now the Thing. All of the guards turn to face Amundsen. Eerily, they all stare at him along with Captain Munro Thing, and speak to him in perfect unison.

They explain that they sent a distress signal and had wondered what happened to those that followed. They now realize that they landed here and the sea swallowed them up.

After sending the signal, when they couldn’t wait any longer, they exited the spaceship and the weather was too much for them and they froze. Until Amundsen came and found them in the ice. They tell him that now they will survive and take over the planet, thanks to Amundsen.

Amundsen pulls out a gun and points it at Captain Munro Thing, who smiles and says that it won’t be long before he joins them. Instead of shooting Captain Munro Thing, Amundsen quickly aims at the pipes above their heads and a stream of salt water fills the cabin. The Things all scream together and scramble to reach Amundsen and find cover. Amundsen seals them in the room and soon the Things foam up once again in a horrible death, ending Amundsen’s worst nightmare.

Beaten and worn, Amundsen quickly programs the subs computers to the nearest port. Soon the sub reaches land and is seen entering Christchurch, New Zealand harbor.

Off in the small confines of the sub, a small Mouse Thing grows tentacles and lashes out.

The End

Now you can see from our version that we got some inspiration from Ice Station Zebra (1968), as they are also on a mission to get to one of the Science Stations, in that one under the guise of a rescue mission in ours, an exploration mission.  This is great because we can now explore more of what’s underneath the ice, we maintain the claustrophobic feeling and now we also have a vehicle that can take the danger to the mainland for the possible 3rd movie.ice

Anyway, we would have loved to see our version as I think it really had a chance of creating a new Franchise for the film series and I for one would have LOVED to see the possible 3rd movie where the THING hits a population and then really can do some damage.  Oh, well, I hope you liked our version too, we can only hope that someone somewhere gets the idea to keep this film series going again.

Best Movie Stunts of the Year List 1980-1989

 

Here is the list for the Best Movie Stunts for the Decade 1980-1989 as listed in the book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!

1980 – The Blues Brothersblues-brothers (1)

For a musical comedy this movie has the longest car chase sequence in history.  The cars are just piling up at the end, hundreds of cars destroyed…it’s awesome!  $3.5 million was spent on this sequence alone and lasts over 20 minutes of the movie.

1981 – The Raiders of the Lost ArkRaiders-Of-The-Lost-Ark-

Although there are plenty of fantastic stunts in this film to mention, Terry Leonard does another through the windshield-off the front hood-then undercarriage crawl underneath an Army transport truck, then up the back and into the driver’s side for another round of fighting.

1982 – Mad Max 2: The Road Warriormad-max-2-the-road-warrior-1981

A case where the sequel is so much better than the original. This film rocks from beginning to end and has an unbelievable chase that lasts the second half of the movie.  Great stunts throughout.

1983 – Project Aproject a clock stunt

Jackie Chan makes a name for himself and becomes a stunt legend in this movie.  From this movie on he is untouchable worldwide as a stuntman that does his own acting or as an actor that does his own stunts, whichever way you want to say it. He created his legendary Jackie Chan Stunt Team for this movie and for years to come sets a new standard for stunt teams worldwide.

1984 – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doomindiana-jones-and-the-temple-of-doom-screenshot

This decade is unique as the decade ruled by Indiana Jones in stunts and action sequences.  The first 3 Indiana Jones films make the list. Also, the second rope bridge sequence to hit since last decade’s The Man Who Would Be King. Vic Armstrong is a stand out here as Harrison Ford‘s stand-in.

1985 – Police StoryPolice-Story-1985-Chinese-Movie

Jackie Chan‘s chance to shine in a modern setting this time, and to really showcase what the Jackie Chan Stunt Team can do.  To be quite frank about this movie, it’s all stunts from start to finish and I’m surprised that all the stuntmen survived the making of this film. It’s amazing.

1986 – A Better TomorrowA Better Tomorrow Pic

The combination of John Woo and Chow Yun Fat is just too good to be true.  This film is viewed by many as the finest action film ever to come out of Chinese cinema, and put both Woo and Yun Fat in Hollywood’s viewport.  John Woo really gets Chow Yun Fat to do some fun stuff in this movie.  Very bloody stuff though.

1987 – Lethal WeaponLethalWeapon_Quad_SMALL_zpsf1d5e6c0

The next two films became great series and both just happened to be set during Christmas.  Lethal Weapon became the standard for buddy-buddy cop movies.  This film is dedicated to legendary stuntman Dar Robinson who died the year before, and features some great fight choreography by Cedric Adams, Dennis Newsome, and Rorion Gracie and a great backward high fall by actress Jackie Swanson. 

1988 – Die Harddie hard hans gruber

This movie became the template for many action films to come for years after it was made.  So much so, that pitching an action screenplay to studios became as easy as saying, “It’s Die Hard on a plane… or It’s Die Hard on a boat”.  The whole film rocks, but the highlight here is Ken Bates as he doubles for Alan Rickman in a fall from the Nakitomi building.

1989 – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusadejones45

Five years later, Vic Armstrong does it again as the stand-in for Indiana Jones.  His jump from a horse to a german tank has been voted in the top ten of movie stunts of all time on many lists over the years.

Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 8.23.28 PM

Stunt Team for Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

 

I only saw this film as The Road Warrior (1982) when it was released in the US, but the Mad Max 2 title has since been added to the film in North America to re-establish it’s place in the series. This one is a lot like Evil Dead 2 in execution, where the 1st film in both of those series, Evil Dead and Mad Max were both very low budget films done independently of any studio. When those films were released and both were hits, the Directors, Sam Raimi for Evil Dead and George Miller for Mad Max were inundated with offers from Hollywood but both decided to do “sequels” of their films instead. What they are really, are just the proper films the directors would have made the first time around if they had the proper budgets to work with originally. Both Evil Dead 2 and The Road Warrior are highly superior films to their originals.mad-max-2-the-road-warrior-1981

I also want to add that it was this film and not the original film that caused a huge fervor and drew a whole slew of copycats of apocalyptic road pictures that has come after it.  The first one is good, don’t get me wrong, but I really think it’s this movie, specifically the last 20 minutes, that caused the cult status that it has attained.  It is arguably, the best road battle that has ever been put to film. It is utterly fantastic. That’s why it gets the nod for Best Movie Stunt for 1982.madmax2-carchase

More than 80 vehicles were involved in the production. According to cinematographer Dean Semler, the camera rig used to get medium close ups of Max driving required him and an ac (assistant camera) to stand on a small platform mounted to the driver’s side of the car. They found out during one sequence that they miscalculated the lift, because whenever they went up or down a hill the platform would actually scrape the ground, sending out a shower of sparks. (Initially alarming all involved, they just shrugged and kept shooting without cutting.) Most of the final action sequences (including Pappagallo’s death by trident machete, Wez’s final attempt to kill the Feral Kid, then the collision between Max’s truck and Humungus’ hot rod) were filmed on 24 July 1981. The collision caused more damage to the truck than expected, so the truck’s turnover (scheduled for the same day) had to be postponed. The truck was repaired, then crashed the following day.madmax road

The Road Warrior was directed by George Miller for Kennedy-Miller Productions.

Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 8.23.28 PM

Things to look up (go to IMDB page):

  • George Miller
  • The Road Warrior
  • Kennedy-Miller Productions

History of film companies as defined by Wikipedia: Kennedy Miller Mitchell (before 2009 known as Kennedy Miller) is an Australian film, TV and games production house in Potts Point, Sydney, that has been producing television and film since 1978. It is responsible for some of Australia’s most well known and successful films, including the three Mad Max films, the two Babe films, and the two Happy Feet films.madde

Kennedy Miller Mitchell is one of Australia’s oldest existing film production companies, and the internationally most successful.

Many of the films are directed by the co-founder, George Miller, though he sometimes takes an organisational role and prefers to use someone else to direct, as with Babe, which was directed by Chris Noonan.

The company’s main current project is the fourth Mad Max film, titled Mad Max, Fury Road. After being “in development hell for 25 years”, according to Miller, the film went into pre-production in 2009.

Kenny Rogers and Six Pack

 

I’m going to start a new series of blogs for the 100 Years Blog, based on great little films that seem to have been forgotten over time.  My first post is with the great little family gem called Six Pack (1982) that came out in the early eighties.  It’s arguably the best movie that Kenny Rogers ever starred in and is most remembered for his hit theme song Love Will Turn You Around that was featured in the film.six pack kenny rogers

My only complaint about the film would be the title that seems to be a play on words and seems to be in direct conflict with it’s family theme because it’s a reference to Beer.  Which is also interesting that Kenny’s name in the film is Brewster and he goes by Brew for most of the film.  I really think that the marketing was a big miss on this one as I think it really kept some families from going to see the film, which is a shame, because it’s really good.  The title makes it feel like an adult contemporary comedy about drunk guys out for a wild night, not a cute family movie. So I guess you could also file this one under missed opportunities.

The film is notable for having a young Diane Lane and you can definitely see the potential for being a great actress even that early in her career.  It also stars Anthony Michael Hall in his first movie role, before he made it big in National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), Sixteen Candles (1984) and Breakfast Club (1985).  I want to also state that he’s a very under-rated actor!  He’s still fantastic, and I found him to be just hilarious in Psych last year and Rosewood this season. He needs to get more work.six pack kids

The film was directed by Daniel Petrie for 20th Century Fox.  Daniel Petrie is best remembered as the man who directed Sally Field in an Emmy Award winning role for Sybil, and for Fort Apache the Bronx and for the classic film A Raisin in the Sun starring Sydney Poitier.

People and companies to look up on IMDB:

  • Kenny Rogers
  • Diane Lane
  • Anthony Michael Hall
  • Daniel Petrie
  • 20th Century Fox

six-pack