Tag Archives: James Cameron

Top 15 Monster Movies

 

The new blockbuster movie season is almost upon us, so I’m going to take this opportunity to name and talk about my favorite top 15 monster movies over the past 100 years at the movies. Now, in the cases of series, or numerous remakes of the same monster, I’ve taken the liberty of just listing it once on the list with my favorite movie in that series and that film in essence, represents the monster. Also, if I felt that it was more of a horror film instead of a monster movie, because most can be both, I didn’t mention it on this list, although it could be one of my all time favorite movies.  The Thing comes to mind, I love that movie, but I consider it to be a horror film way more than it is a monster movie, so I didn’t include it on the list. A good way of thinking of this is if they could fall under the Universal Studios monsters group of movies.  They concentrate on adventure over horror. The best monster movies aren’t that scary at all, but truly fun and thrilling, although most will have some scary moments or moments that make you jump out of your skin.

15  I, Frankenstein (2014)

This was a very under-rated movie and one that seemed to get no marketing when it was released but actually was a rather good movie. My favorite so far of all the different Frankenstein movies that are out there. A big reason is Aaron Eckert, who plays the Frankenstein monster in this one. He’s great. It’s interesting to note, that in the original screenplay, “I, Frankenstein” and its hypothetical sequels were to take place in the same universe as the “Underworld” series (placed #14 on my list) which is from the same producers and shares actors Bill Nighy and Kevin Grevioux. Kate Beckinsale was rumored to be making a cameo as Selene. Ultimately none of these ideas were used. Since the movie didn’t make much money, it’s unlikely that any sequels will be made, making the matter moot, but boy this could have been cool.

14  Underworld (2003)

Would have to go with the first one in the series as the best one. I don’t think that’s always the case. Kate Beckinsale is the reason this series is worth watching. It’s also fun to see Vampires and Werewolves going full on war. The movie was initially pitched as “Romeo and Juliet for vampires and werewolves”. It’s interesting to see the prequel and sequels of the series, also to see how things began and finish. They have gone back and changed the original, however, as for the 2017 4K High Definition remaster of Underworld, the scene where Michael sees flashbacks into Lucian’s past/Sonya’s death was actually replaced with the 2009 scenes in Rise of the Lycans instead of the 2003 flashbacks.

13  Dracula Untold (2014)

Another version that didn’t seem to do well, or wasn’t marketed properly, but that I found to be much superior than any of it’s previous movies based on Dracula. Luke Evans plays Dracula in this version, and he’s very intense.  Dracula Untold was in production before Universal decided to build a cinematic universe. The producers caught wind of it just in time to independently add a present-day epilogue that Universal could use if they wanted to, but it was ultimately decided that Dracula Untold would not be the first entry in the Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe. That first film of the Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe is the new The Mummy film coming out in 2017, which features Tom Cruise in the starring role and also Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll to set up his stand alone film for the new Jekyll and Hyde remake.

12 Godzilla (2014)

It’s pretty obvious by now that 2014 was a pretty good year for monster movies, you just may not have known it. It’s mainly because now technology has made it a lot easier to do special effects than ever before. The technology has finally caught up with the creative in this area. This is the latest Godzilla movie to come around and I like it because after the film gets rolling, Godzilla becomes somewhat of a hero in the film rather than the creature out to destroy everything that he was presented as at times. It’s also the first in a new set of films set in the same “universe”, the 2nd being Kong: Skull Island that just came out, the 3rd being Godzilla: King of Monsters set to be released in 2019 and the last being King Kong vs. Godzilla in 2020. On this film, according to Bryan Cranston, Gareth Edwards was inspired by the shark film Jaws (1975). “The film does not immediately show the beast, but rather build up to its appearance while still delivering an eerie and terrifying off-screen presence.” In homage to Jaws, the main protagonists have the name of Brody, after that film’s protagonist.

11  Deep Blue Sea (1999)

The sharks in this film do have a tendency to grow and shrink in size depending on where they are in the film, but if you can turn your brain off of that fact, this is a pretty cool movie.  Renny Harlin directed it and he has said that it was the hardest film he’s ever made. Samuel L. Jackson happily signed on for the film, as he had enjoyed his experience working with Renny Harlin on The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996).  Renny Harlin admitted that the idea of abruptly killing off Samuel L. Jackson’s character at two-thirds of the movie was borrowed from the similar fate of Tom Skerritt in Alien (1979). Both men were the natural leaders of their respective groups, leaving the remaining survivors in utter despair, and both were the best-known actor in the cast at the time, thereby making their premature demise extra shocking and unexpected. The impact of Jackson’s sudden death scene was intensified by making his preceding speech somewhat long and corny. After watching the scene with an audience for the first time, and hearing them scream in horror and fear, Harlin said that this scene paid off for the entire movie. Just a side-note, the three sharks in this movie are killed in the same ways as the three sharks in Jaws (1975), Jaws 2 (1978), and Jaws 3-D (1983): blown up, electrocuted, and incinerated respectively.

10  Deep Rising (1998)

DEEP RISING, Treat Williams

Now this film is the best in a series of films that are about creatures from the ocean like Leviathan, Virus, Deep Star Six and The Rift. This is actually a really great film, but no-one seems to know about it. Probably because of the lower budget. Originally, Harrison Ford turned down the role of Finnegan. The production’s budget was then downsized. Stephen Sommers, the writer-director, would become known for his monster movies, and this is one of his best. He would go on to direct The Mummy, Van Helsing and The Mummy Returns. Stephen began writing this script, then called “Tentacle”, when he worked at Hollywood Pictures in the mid-90s. Go out a rent this movie, it’s a blast.

9  Lake Placid (1999)

Another film that nobody knows about.  Seemed to go straight to video, but it’s a great movie. This one has a very strange pedigree as it was written by David E. Kelly famous for Law Firm TV Shows like Ally McBeal, Boston Legal, LA Law, Picket Fences and The Practice! Then it was directed by Steve Miner, famous for giving us the real Friday the 13th killer Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th Part 2 and Friday the 13th part 3, as the first movie’s killer was his mother, Mrs Voorhees! This movie is funny but has plenty of scares to go around. It’s about a giant crocodile living in Lake Placid. The size of the crocodile in the movie is actually much larger than anything ever recorded in real life. The current largest crocodile in captivity (Guinness book of records, 2015) is 5.48 metres (about 18 ft), and although there are (unverified) reports of sightings over 20 feet in length, nothing is as large as the 30ft quoted in the movie.

8  The Fly (1986)

Now, for some reason a running theme in monster movies is the use of science to explain how a monster has been created or come about. This one has the best use of science (except for movie #2) to help build the tension for any of the monster movies. In a 1987 interview on Sinister Image (1987) Vincent Price revealed that when this remake was released, star Jeff Goldblum wrote him a letter saying, “I hope you like it as much as I liked yours.” Price was touched by the letter, he composed a reply and went to see the film, which he described as “wonderful right up to a certain point… it went a little too far.” David Cronenberg met with some opposition when he announced that he wanted to cast Jeff Goldblum in the lead role. The executive at Fox who was supervising the project felt that Goldblum was not a bankable star, and Chris Walas (Make-up) felt that his face would be difficult to work with for the make-up effects. Both, however, deferred to Cronenberg’s judgment. Cronenberg himself later had reservations when Goldblum suggested Geena Davis, his girlfriend at the time, for the other lead role, as he did not want to have to work with a real-life couple. Cronenberg was convinced after Davis’s first reading that she was right for the role. Producer Stuart Cornfeld suggested that they audition more actresses saying that it’s the “script that is brilliant”. Cornfeld relented after “nobody else even came close”. The famous tagline, “Be afraid, be very afraid!”, originated in this film as dialogue spoken by Geena Davis.

7  Tremors (1990)

If you’ve ever watched Dune and thought the best thing about it was the sand worms then this movie is for you. Writer S.S. Wilson said that he got the idea for the film while he was working for the US Navy in the California desert. While resting on a rock, he imagined what it might be like if something underground kept him from getting off the rock. Tremors was the first film directed by Ron Underwood, who would go on to direct City Slickers, Speechless, Mighty Joe Young, Heart and Souls, and tons of TV Shows.

6  Gremlins (1984)

Written by the amazing Chris Columbus and directed by Joe Dante, this was my favorite film from 1984, at the time, although since then Terminator, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Dreamscape, The Last Starfighter, Romancing the Stone, The Philadelphia Experiment, Top Secret!, All of Me, Runaway, Ghostbusters, and Beverly Hills Cop have since topped that movie in that year, for me. But at 14 years old, Gremlins was my favorite. But now that I look back, that may have been one of the most incredible years for films…I mean, wow, what a list of films all released in the same year. The set for Kingston Falls, the location this movie is set in, is the same one used for Back to the Future (1985). Both movies were filmed in the Universal Studios backlot, and you could see the set for many years afterward if you went on the Universal Studios Tram Tour. Steven Spielberg had a great working relationship with Chris Columbus on this film, and he produced the next two films Columbus scripted–The Goonies (1985), based on an idea Spielberg had, and Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), which was Columbus’ idea. Altogether, three years was spent working on those three films.

5  King Kong (1933)

Now the new film, Kong: Skull Island is pretty fun stuff, but the original is just too iconic not be on the list. It is effectively the model for almost all of the monster movies that have followed since. The other King Kong movies are pretty great too, but the original is just one of those films, especially at the time, that people’s jaws just dropped and everyone went…wow. It’s amazing, back then and today. The project went through numerous title changes during production, including “The Beast” (original title of draft by Edgar Wallace in RKO files), “The Eighth Wonder”, “The Ape”, “King Ape” and “Kong”. Art drawn for the press book for the original release of the film was contributed by Keye Luke, who was a highly regarded illustrator before he became an actor and whose works have appeared in films themselves, such as The Shanghai Gesture (1941), and who acted in such classic films as the number 1 son of Charlie Chan in a slew of films and as the old Chinese shop owner in our #5 film, Gremlins.

4  The Mummy (1999)

Great remake, much better than the original, even though I love Boris Karloff. The remake is a great mix of monster movie and adventure movie…just brilliant. It was originally planned to open the film with the old black and white Universal logo that had been used at the beginning of The Mummy (1932) which would dissolve into the blazing desert sun. Would have given a really cool connection to the old style Universal monster movies. Brendan Fraser was cast due to the success of George of the Jungle (1997). Stephen Sommers also commented that he felt Fraser fit the Errol Flynn swashbuckling character he had envisioned perfectly. The actor understood that his character “doesn’t take himself too seriously, otherwise the audience can’t go on that journey with him”. Before Brendan Fraser, the role of Rick’ O’Connel was offered to Sylvester Stallone. That would have been a very different film. I’m glad that Stephen Sommers stuck to his vision of the film. Stephen Sommers described his vision of the film as “as a kind of Indiana Jones or Jason and the Argonauts (1963) with the mummy as the creature giving the hero a hard time”.

3  Aliens (1986)

This one almost didn’t make my list as it literally scared me half to death when I first saw it. It’s hard not to think of it as a horror film, but what James Cameron brought to this franchise is so good and so ground-breaking that it literally transcends many genres. Sigourney Weaver had initially been very hesitant to reprise her role as Ripley, especially because Cameron had cut the scene where Burke had brought Ripley the news of just missing the death of her character’s daughter (which Weaver felt would have completed the circle of the mother-daughter bond with Newt) she had rejected numerous offers from Fox Studios to do any sequels, fearing that her character would be poorly written, and a sub-par sequel could hurt the legacy of Alien (1979). However, she was so impressed by the high quality of James Cameron’s script – specifically, the strong focus on Ripley, the mother-daughter bond between her character and Newt, and the incredible precision with which Cameron wrote her character, that she finally agreed to do the film.

2  Jurassic Park (1993)

Harrison Ford was offered and turned down the role of Dr. Alan Grant, as he felt that the part just wasn’t right for him. After seeing the film, he says that he had made the right decision. James Cameron has stated that he wanted to make the film, but the rights were bought “a few hours” before he could interview with Crichton. Upon seeing Jurassic Park, Cameron realized that Spielberg was the better choice to direct it as his version would’ve been much more violent (“Aliens (1986) with dinosaurs”) which “wouldn’t have been fair” to children, who relate to dinosaurs. The special effects were directly influenced by Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). Originally, Michael Crichton’s agents circulated the book to six studios and directors. Warner Brothers wanted it for Tim Burton to direct, while Columbia Pictures was planning it for Richard Donner. 20th Century Fox was also interested, and was intending the project for Joe Dante, while Universal Pictures wanted Steven Spielberg to direct. Crichton was reluctant to submit to a bidding war. He instructed his agents to put a set price on the film rights and he could decide who was more likely to actually get the film made. After interviewing all the prospective directors, he agreed to sell the rights to Universal and Steven Spielberg, who was already his first choice.

1  Jaws (1975)

Kind of fitting to me to have a Universal Studios film as my number 1 monster movie of all time, but probably not the one people would instantly think of as a Universal monster movie…Jaws. It  is, although one of the few that was a highlight on the Universal Studios Tram Tour, but not the reason why it’s number one on my list. It’s just a fantastic movie. Is it iconic that Steven Spielberg directed both of the top two films? It’s also interesting that each of these films were based on books, bought before the books were released into stores. Peter Benchley’s novel was first discovered in galley form at early 1973 by then Cosmopolitan Magazine editor and producer David Brown’s wife Helen Gurley Brown who was to be excerpting part of the novel to be published in an upcoming issue. Brown saw it by accident, having read it then a few days brought it to the attention of his partner Richard D. Zanuck, subsequently obtaining the rights to the book at the end of the year. Director Steven Spielberg said that when he first read the novel, he found himself rooting for the shark because the human characters were so unlikeable. There was a lot of sub plots in the book that was cut from the screenplay and even Peter Benchley eventually liked how cutting the subplots from the novel allowed for the characters to be fleshed out properly. Steven wanted the movie to be different. Because the film the director envisioned was so dissimilar to Peter Benchley’s novel, Steven Spielberg asked Richard Dreyfuss not to read it. Steven Spielberg always considered Jurassic Park a sequel to Jaws, but on land. People saw differences though, where the latter focused on character development as much as on its creature, while the former only used the dinosaurs to sell the film, and not the characters. As far as monsters go, the shark in Jaws is pretty scary, as it has kept whole generations from going into the ocean for decades. The shark was ranked the eighteenth greatest villain on the AFI’s list of 100 Heroes and Villains.

The Deep

 

My all time favorite movie about sunken treasure hunters has got to be Peter Benchley’s The Deep (1977). Made just a few short years after his seminal Jaws (1975), it had a lot of similar elements including a great part for actor Robert Shaw. Nobody seemed to embody a Peter Benchley character better than he did. Starring Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset as a married couple that go treasure hunting in Bermuda and find an important shipwreck of gold and jewelry that just happens to be hidden underneath another WW II shipwreck full of medical supplies including thousands of vials of morphine. Just as they attempt to get to the treasure, they are threatened by drug runners who want the morphine for themselves.

robert-shaw-eli-wallach-the-deep-1977

The screenplay was based on the book by Benchley and written by him and Tracey Keenan Wynn, the son of Keenan Wynn, grandson of Ed Wynn. Benchley only wrote 3 screenplays based on his books, this one, Jaws and The Island (1980) with Michael Caine, but several of his other books would be adapted to movies or miniseries over the next couple of decades. He would, however write 2 TV movies, not based on any of his novels, The Great Houdini (1976) and Jeremiah of Jacob’s Neck (1976), which stars Keenan Wynn and is where Benchley met the son Tracey.deep-d

The Deep was directed by Peter Yates who made the seminal stunt movie, Bullitt (1968), which we discuss in a blog post here.  The Deep has some of the best underwater cinematography that I have ever seen outside of James Cameron’s The Abyss (1989). It was shot on location at an actual sunken ship! The shipwreck featured in the movie is actually the Royal Mail Ship RMS Rhone, which sank in 1867 off the coast of Salt and Peter Islands in the British Virgin Islands. The RMS Rhone broke into two pieces during the sinking. This movie was filmed at the bow section of the ship located about 75 feet underwater. The production shoot ran for 153 days, conducted 8,895 dives, spending 10,870 person hours underwater, and consumed 1,054,000 cubic feet of compressed air.bisset-deep

The picture was notable for its opening underwater diving sequence featuring Hollywood actress Jacqueline Bisset in a black bikini bottom and see-through wet t-shirt thus launching her as a Hollywood sex symbol and contributing big word-of-mouth for the movie, assisting with its box-office success. According to the book “Hit and Run: How Jon Peters and Peter Guber Took Sony for a Ride in Hollywood” (1996), producer Peter Guber allegedly once said, “That t-shirt made me a rich man!”. Though actors Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset’, for authenticity, did many of the underwater scenes themselves, the more dangerous sequences were still performed by stunt doubles.

Zoe Saldana Takes Over The World

 

If you don’t know the name, you will definitely know the face, soon to become the number 1 actress in total box office revenues of all time. Earlier this year, Scarlett Johansson was announced as the 1 actress in total box office revenues…but with the films that Zoe Saldana has lined up in the next few years, she could definitely be the one to take Scarlett’s place at the top. Scarlett has had a fantastic year with the release of The Jungle Book and Captain Marvel: Civil War, but Zoe has some pretty hefty releases of her own, especially over the next 6 years.zoe saldana avatar

Lifetime gross for Scarlett’s films hit over $330 Billion Dollars at the box office this year, and it will still be rising as she is at her peak right now.  Zoe Saldana is currently at $214 Billion Dollars at the box office this year so far with Star Trek Beyond having released over the weekend and with Live By Night with Ben Affleck and Scott Eastwood and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 being released next year and Avatar 2, 3 and 4 to be released every 2 years starting in 2018. If the Avatar films do as much as expected then Zoe will very much be in contention, even with the 2 upcoming Avengers Infinity War movies to come for Scarlett. It will be a very interesting race to watch.zoe saldana guardians of the galaxy

Zoe Saldana has racked up a very impressive list of roles in a very short period of time. Her pinnacle year was 2009 when she released Star Trek and Avatar. The thing I think I like best about her is that she plays very strong and intelligent women. She’s no-pushover in any of her movies. I also think it’s amazing that she has managed to have a family and a great career at the same time.  She gave birth to twins (yeah!) in 2014 with her husband Marco Perego. She recently said of directors that created strong female characters, “I’ve learned this about men who write good roles for women – there’s a very beautiful sentimentality to them. Their exteriors are sugarcoated with this manly presence, but deep on the inside, there’s also this [fragility]. During the shortness of my career, I’ve managed to work with Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, and now Jim Cameron- all directors who are known for having strong female protagonists. They don’t feel diminished by it as men; they can tap into the complexities of how woman really are.”Zoe-Saldana-Uhura-Star-Trek-Beyond-Movie

She has shown an interest in getting behind the camera and directing in the future.  She said, (on expanding her career to become a film director), ” It is more satisfying. You are more of a participant in the conception. I like having control. I think I have the capability. I am a storyteller and an artist and I love what I do. So I want to be part of it more and not just show up and say my lines.” Maybe after all the big movies coming up are gone and she starts her second career as a director, we’ll be talking about her amazing directing, but for now we are pleased to have her in front of the camera, entertaining us!

Best Movie Stunts of the Year List 1990-1999

 

Here is the list for the Best Movie Stunts for the Decade 1990-1999 as listed in the book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!

1990 – The Rookietherookie1990

It was reported that over eighty stuntmen worked on this film. There were way more stuntmen on this film than there were actors! It’s no wonder when you have legends Terry Leonard as the stunt coordinator and Buddy Van Horn as the 2nd Unit Director.  Great action film directed by Clint Eastwood himself.

1991 – Terminator 2: Judgement DayT2

Another great Director that loves to do live stunts is James Cameron.  The action summer blockbuster is on full force with this one.  A great little stunt by Peter Kent  doubling for Arnold Schwarzenegger as he jumps a Harley into a canal.

1992 – SupercopSupercop_003-550w1

It’s not Jackie Chan who gets the nod on this one (although, he does some great stunts in it too), it’s Michelle Yeoh who does some fantastic stunts on a motorcycle and on the hood of a little red convertible.

1993 – CliffhangerCliffhanger-Airplane

Obviously, this film has some great climbing sequences, but it’s a plane to plane transfer by Simon Crane that really wows the audience. These days we would just do this in a computer, they decided to do this as a practical stunt. With Jets.

1994 – True LiesJamie Lee Curtis hangs from a helicopter in True Lies

Another great action film by James Cameron, and he manages to talk Jamie Lee Curtis to hang underneath a helicopter for a few slow-mo shots.  On her birthday none-the-less.

1995 – GoldeneyeGoldeneye2-1024x768

James bond does it again, this time Pierce Brosnan as 007.  The opening jump from a dam was performed by Wayne Michaels doubling for Brosnan however, and it’s a fun one to open the movie with.

1996 – Mission: Impossiblemission_impossible

Tom Cruise is the finest actor ever to do his own stunts and he proves it time and time again.  He’s got nerves of steel.  In this film I count at least 3 stunts that he performs himself that most stunt performers themselves would turn down.

1997 – Titanictitanic_ship-HD

The 3rd movie this decade directed by James Cameron on the list. It’s a wonder he has time for anything else. There are a lot of special effects in this one, but there are a lot of practical and dangerous work done throughout by the cast and crew as a whole.  It won Best Picture at the Academy Awards that year, and if there was an Oscar for Stunts, it should have won that too.

1998 – Ronanroninlc

Fantastic car chase sequence, right at home in a Bourne movie, John Frankenheimer hits the list again 32 years apart! The first time was with James Garner in Grand Prix, another movie with great car stunt driving.

1999 – The Matrixmatrix-logo

The Wachowski Brothers revolutionized the Action film with this one and studios scrambled to make films like this for years after. The actors worked very closely with the stunt performers in this film and Yuen Woo-Ping made sure they were ready with months and months of training beforehand.

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

Peter Kent for Terminator 2

 

Stuntman Peter Kent’s resemblance to Arnold Schwarzenegger was the basis of a 14-year association with the ex-action hero. As Schwarzenegger’s stunt double he performed the T-101’s famous motorbike jump into a massive storm drain. To get the effect, his motorbike was rigged up to a web of one-inch cables, to cut the impact when the bike and rider hit the ground. The cables were later digitally erased.T2
Peter Kent performed the stunt again in the Canadian TV Series, StuntDawgs. It’s a great peek at how the stunt performers and the stunt team on a movie production plan and execute their stunts. I recommend this series for anyone who wants to see how stunt people make their magic, right in front of your eyes. A rare glimpse into this fascinating part of film making.

 T2peter kent
Peter Kent on StuntDawgs

Terminator 2: Judgement Day was directed by James Cameron for Carolco Pictures.

Things to look up (go to IMDB page):

  • Peter Kent
  • Terminator 2
  • James Cameron
  • CarolCo Pictures

History of film companies as defined by Wikipedia: Carolco Pictures, Inc. was an American independent film production company that, within a decade, went from producing such blockbuster successes as Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Total Recall, and the first three movies of the Rambo series (First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II, and Rambo III) to being bankrupted by box office bombs such as Cutthroat Island and Showgirls.

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

Cast and Crew of Titanic

 

This is one of those rare movies that would have won every award it’s nominated for just because of the incredible scope of the production. It’s hard not giving it the best movie stunt nod for that year as the stunts for cast and crew was enormous. Another example of a film where the crew deserves the award just as much as the stunt performers and the actors as everything is harder and more formidable when done in water.titanic4n-3-web

There was more water poured on these sets than any other movie in history. For example, when the scene where a wall of water bursts through a doorway was first shot, James Cameron said that the 40,000 gallons of water dumped into the corridor set were not enough, and asked for triple that amount. The set had to be rebuilt to stand up under the additional weight of water.

The water scared everyone. Approximately 120 tons of water were released for Eric Braeden’s final scene. Braeden said that he has never been more terrified in his life than when he was preparing for it, as there was obviously no possible physical rehearsal. And then in the scene of Rose looking through the corridors for Jack, the water used was actually from the Pacific Ocean at the Baja California, Mexico set. The water was so cold that when Rose gasps when she first dives into the water, it was actually Kate Winslet’s genuine reaction to the frigid ocean.

Titanic was directed by James Cameron for 20th Century Fox.Titanic-tit

Things to look up (click on item to go to IMDB page or Website):

  • Titanic
  • James Cameron
  • Kate Winslet
  • Eric Braeden
Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!
Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 8.23.28 PM

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and The Abyss

 

Some of you are reading this and saying, “Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and stunts? What?” It’s true, she’s not known for stunts. But what she is known for is realistic, gutsy, 100%-all-in, committed-to-the-role, fantastic acting.  If you don’t know what I mean, see Scarface.abyss_mary-elizabeth-mastrantonio_01

In the case of the movie, The Abyss (1989), however, this full commitment may have been too much.  The shoot, because of its 16-18 hour work days, mostly all underwater, was already going down in history as one of the most grueling movie shoots ever.  So much so that cast and crew had T-shirts made later that said, “I survived The Abyss”.

Then to top it off came what has to be one of the most uncomfortable and brutal scenes ever put to film.  The scene is this: Mary’s character Lindsay has sacrificed herself for her husband, Ed Harris’s Virgil (Bud), by literally drowning and letting him tow her body back to the main underwater rig.  He pulls her out of the water with a handful of his crew and they proceed to rip her shirt off her and perform CPR to try and bring her back.  It’s an intensely dramatic scene that seems to last a good 20 minutes. At one point in the scene, they even pull out the emergency paddles with an electric current to shock her alive several times.Abyss-Ed-Harris

Its hard to watch as an audience as its relentless, but you can imagine how hard it was to film. Virgil pounds on Lindsay’s chest, screams at her and slaps her several times. Lindsay is finally revived after several stops and starts simply because her husband refuses to give up.  It’s a great and exciting scene with a powerful and happy outcome, but behind the scenes it was very hard on the cast.

First off, Mastrantonio was wet, from just being pulled from the water and had to stay wet for the entire scene, which took a whole day to shoot.  Second is, she was exposed from the waist up as they tore her shirt off of her, and lastly had to endure all the pounding, slapping and shocking all while not breathing or moving as she was playing a person who had already died.Abyss Death Scene

After several hours of this, she had a complete nervous breakdown, screaming, “We’re not animals,” to Cameron as she ran back to her dressing room.  It took a while for them to coax her back out to finish the scene, but was a real trial of patience.  I’m adding her to the list of great stunts, because of the sheer superhuman willpower it had to have taken to complete the scene.  And I’m so glad she did too, because it is an incredibly awesome bit of filmmaking.  I’m sure she had nightmares after this was filmed but now I hope she can look back at that experience and be proud to have done it and gotten through.  Great scene, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.  Great scene.abyss-Lindsay

I’m going to finish off here with one of my favorite quotes about the film, (I truly love this movie by the way) she said, “The Abyss was many things. But fun to make was not one of them.”

People to look up on IMDB:

  • Mary Elizabeth Matsrantonio
  • Ed Harris
  • James Cameron

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

Jamie Lee Curtis and True Lies

 

Jamie Lee Curtis, True Lies:  I jump right in and talk about this movie as if you’ve seen it already, because if you haven’t…why the hell not? It’s so great!  It really is an amazing film with some amazing action scenes and incredible stunts!Jamie Lee Curtis True Lies

When Arnold Schwarzenegger rescues wife Jamie Lee Curtis from an airborne chopper, he grasps her by her arm just as the chopper heads out over the water. The woman you see dangling below the chopper skid is no body double, but Curtis doing her very own stunt work. At her insistence, director James Cameron agreed to let her perform this scary spectacle. True Lies Storyboard

True Lies StoryboardsAccording to Jamie Lee Curtis, on the TV special promoting “True Lies”, it was Cameron’s idea for her to do the helicopter work; she said, “Oh, yeah. And just where are you going to be while I’m dangling way up there in the air, Jim?” And, according to her, he said, “Hanging out the door filming you with a hand-held camera.” So she decided that if he was willing to do that to get the shot, she could stand to do it, too. Curtis did the helicopter stunt on her birthday.Jamie Lee Curtis in a scene from true liesIt’s interesting to note that at one point Helen remarks that she “married Rambo.” James Cameron co-wrote the screenplay to Rambo: First Blood Part II, the second film of the Rambo series. There’s also a connection here to two Marvel franchises, as when James Cameron made this film he was seriously considering directing the first Spider-Man movie, even going so far as to write a lengthy “scriptment”, which Cameron called it – a mix between a film treatment and a script. If you’re really lucky you can still find this “scriptment” floating around on the Internet.

The second link, is that the appearance and traits of Spencer Trilby (Charlton Heston) is based on Nick Fury, a Marvel Comics character. Like Fury, Trilby has an eye-patch and the same mannerisms as well as heading a peacekeeping organization.  Just remember that this Fury was based on the comic character before Samuel L. Jackson was cast in the Marvel movies.


Things to look up (click on item to go to IMDB page or Website):
Jamie Lee Curtis
True Lies
James Cameron
20th Century Fox

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