Horror Movies to Amp Up Your Heart Rate! (“It’s the big one, Elizabeth!”)

Michele Debczak at Mental Floss posted the results of a survey to determine The 10 Horror Movies That Are Most Likely to Get Your Heart Racing.  I thought this was an interesting angle to look at horror movies.  Here’s how they got their list…

To compile their list of the most terrifying horror flicks, GIGACalculator.com showed movies to 150 first-time viewers while tracking their heart rates. The film selection was determined by a survey of 2500 self-proclaimed horror fanatics prior to the study.

Before you click over for the full story, here are the rankings of the top ten compared to how I would rate them.

Michele Debczak

Craig

1. Hereditary (2018)

1. The Descent (2005)

2. Saw (2004)

2. A Quiet Place (2018)

3. The Babadook (2014)

3. Us (2019)

4. Insidious (2010)

4. Saw (2004)

5. A Quiet Place (2018)

5. The Exorcist (1973)

6. The Descent (2005)

6. Insidious (2010)

7. Us (2019)

7. The Conjuring 2 (2016)

8. It (2017)

8. It (2017)

9. The Conjuring 2 (2016)

9. The Babadook (2014)

10. The Exorcist (1973)

*. Hereditary (2018)

* I haven’t seen Heredity so I didn’t include it in my list.

I’m surprised John Carpenter’s The Thing didn’t make the list.

Kurt Russell Trivia!

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Jake Rosen at Mental Floss presents 8 Fascinating Facts About Kurt Russell.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. KURT RUSSELL PASSED UP A CHANCE TO BE IN STAR WARS TO DO A TELEVISION WESTERN. (Since he hadn’t been offered either of the Star Wars roles he was up for, he made the right decision.  A bird in the hand… – Craig)

5. KURT RUSSELL WAS PAID TWICE HIS GOING RATE FOR STARGATE BECAUSE HE WAS CONSIDERED IMPOSSIBLE TO DISLIKE.  (Who doesn’t like Kurt Russell?  I went to see Stargate and didn’t particularly like it.  I went because I like Russell, so it was money well-spent by the Stargate producers. – Craig)

6. KURT RUSSELL MAY HAVE STEALTH-DIRECTED TOMBSTONE. (Turns out that Russell may have directed Tombstone the way that Stallone directed Rambo, First Blood: Part Two! – Craig)

“The Descent” – Trivia for this Under-rated Horror Movie!

Rob Hunter at Film School Rejects reminded me of a very good and very under-rated horror movie with his piece, 21 Things We Learned from ‘The Descent‘ Commentary.  Before you click over, here are three of my favorites and my thoughts on each…

10. Claustrophobia is a big aspect of the film’s fear, but Marshall had no clue how many people were affected by it until he started showing the film to audiences. (My wife does have a bit of claustrophobia and it was getting to her.  I don’t have any issues with closed in places and it was also getting to me! – Craig)

14. The sequence where the women see the crawler for the first time, via the night vision camera, was actually their first real glimpse of the creature. Marshall had kept the performers separate so the women wouldn’t see the costumed beasts beforehand. They had the lights off and brought the performer in, and then revealed him as the visibility returned — it went over well with screaming and running on the part of the cast.  (The Descent has one of the best monster reveals! You’ll love it! – Craig)

19. The young performer playing the “child” crawler also plays a child zombie in 28 Days Later (2002). (That kid has two of the best films of the decade on his/her resume! – Craig)

The All-Time Best Final Horror Movie Scares

  • Carrie (1976):  I saw Carrie at a midnight movie with my girlfriend.  I thought the movie was over except for the credits when Carrie’s hand reached out of the grave and grabbed her friend.  I came out of my seat and am pretty sure I let out a yell.  Not my most macho moment.
  • Friday the 13th (1980): Another late night movie, but this time I was watching alone.  My wife was in bed asleep and I was on the couch and it was well past midnight.  I thought the movie was over, again except for the credits.  I walked over to turn off the tv (no remote in those days – at least for us) and the kid/monster came out of the water to grab the girl.  I backed up so fast you’d have thought it was reaching through the tv for me.
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978): I saw this on cable and thought it was ok.  I like the original a lot better, but I have to give credit to the final scare.  It still gives me chills to think about it.

The All-Time Best TV Bromances

The fine folks at Me-TV decided to take a look at The 10 most timeless TV bromances that all friends should aspire to.   Their list is a good one.  Here are my three favorites from their list (and my thoughts), followed by some that didn’t make the cut but should have.

  • James T. Kirk and Spock – ‘Star Trek‘ came in at number 8.  I would have put them in the #1 spot.  Kirk and Spock’s friendship was never in doubt despite them often having different points of view.  Probably the most “equal” friends on the list.
  • Andy Taylor and Barney Fife – ‘The Andy Griffith Show‘ came in at #4 and would have gotten my #2 spot.  Another great example of male friendship.
  • Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton – “The Honeymooners”  got the top spot on the Me-TV list.  Ralph and Ed were great friends although Ralph wasn’t above taking advantage of Ed when it served him best.

Here are some bromances that I would have included…

  • James West and Artemus Gordon “The Wild, Wild West” would have been in my #1 or #2 spot.  
  • Matt Dillion and Festus Hagen – “Gunsmoke“.
  • Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza – “Seinfeld“.
  • Walter White and Jesse Pinkman – “Breaking Bad“.
  • Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstadter – “The Big Bang Theory“.
  • Howard Wolowitz and Raj Koothrappali – “The Big Bang Theory“.

Who did I miss?

Ranking Every Arnold Schwarzenegger Sci-Fi Movie!

Phil Pirrello at Syfy.com took on the task to Rank Every Sci-Fi Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie.  I decided to play along.  Below is the chart comparing our rankings and some thoughts after.

Phil Pirrello

Craig

9. Terminator: Salvation (2009)

** Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

8. Terminator: Genisys (2015)

8. The Running Man (1987)

7. The Sixth Day (2000)

7. The Sixth Day (2000)

6. The Running Man (1987)

6. Terminator: Salvation (2009)

5. Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

5. Terminator: Genisys (2015)

4. Predator (1987)

4. Total Recall (1990)

3. Total Recall (1990)

3. The Terminator (1984)

2. The Terminator (1984)

2. Predator (1987)

1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

  • I haven’t seen Terminator: Dark Fate, yet so I didn’t include it in the ratings.
  • I was surprised The Running Man rated so high for Phil.  I’m not a fan of it.
  • Seems neither of us are fans of The Sixth Day.
  • I was surprised Phil didn’t rate Predator higher.
  • I almost rated Terminator at #2 and Predator at #3.

COLUMBO: “Just One More Thing…”

Not quite two weeks ago I posted that my wife and I had been watching and enjoying Columbo.  We still are.  It seems that many of the folks who stop by here have a fondness for Columbo as well.  One of them, Papa Stas, even directed me to a site called The Columbophile: The blog for those who LOVE Lieutenant Columbo.

The Columbophile has everything that a Columbo fan would want including an episode guide, episode rankings, Columbo facts, links to resources including where you can view full episodes, gifts and more!  Before you click over, let me share three of the facts I learned while there…

  • Peter Falk won 4 Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Lieutenant Columbo in 1972, 1975, 1976 and 1990.
  • In 1997, Murder by the Book was ranked at No. 16 in TV Guide‘s ‘100 Greatest Episodes of All Time’ list. Two years later, the magazine ranked Lieutenant Columbo No. 7 on its ’50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time’ list.
  • Peter Falk had a sometimes fractious relationship with Universal. During the filming of Season 1, and believing the studio was trying to renege on an agreement to let him direct an episode, Falk was even barred from the set. Filming of Dead Weight and Lady in Waiting was affected.

The Best Action Film for Each Year of the 1980s!

Ben Sherlock at ScreenRant decided to take on the task of determining The Best Action Movie From Each Year In The ’80s and then he ranked them.  Ben’s list is a good one and it got me thinking about the best action movie I’d choose for each year in the 80s.  So here we go…

  • 1980:  The Empire Strikes Back.  This one surprised me since I’m not a big Star Wars fan.  Truthfully, there wasn’t a lot of competition for the 1980 title and I ended up going with Ben’s choice.

  • 1981: The Road Warrior.  Ben selected Raiders of the Lost Ark.  1981, was for me, one of the toughest years of the decade because we had so many films in the running.  I considered Raiders, of course, but I also looked at Escape from New York and Nighthawks before deciding on The Road Warrior.  All of the others had merit and are great films, but for pure action, give me The Road Warrior.
  • 1982: First Blood.  Ben and I agreed again.  First Blood it is

  • 1983: Sudden Impact.  Again, Ben and I agree.  I was surprised because going in, I didn’t think that Sudden Impact would be my top action film for the year, but 1983 wasn’t a strong year for action films.  Sudden Impact is good, but not great, yet it still got out votes.

  • 1984: Terminator.  Again, Ben and I agree.  The only other contender in my view was Red Dawn and Terminator is so much better.

  • 1985: Rambo: First Blood, Part II.  Ben went with Jackie Chan’s Police Story.  I considered it as well as Commando and Runaway Train but ultimately went with Sly Stallone returning as John Rambo.

  • 1986: Aliens.  Ben and I are back on the same page.  Aliens was so amazing, how could any other film get the nod?

  • 1987: Lethal Weapon.  Ben went with Robocop.  I considered that and Predator.  1987 was a tough year with three great action films but ultimately I went with Lethal Weapon.

  • 1988: Die Hard.  Ben and I agreed that Die Hard was the best for 1988.

  • 1989: Lethal Weapon 2.  Again Ben and I were on the same page.

  So Ben and I agreed on 7 of the 10 films.  I’d be curious as to how many you agreed with and were there films you would have picked that I didn’t even consider?  Comments below!

“Yakuza” Starring Robert Mitchum

Rob Hunter at Film School Rejects presents 35 Things We Learned from Sydney Pollack’s The Yakuza Commentary.  I like the Yakuza and think it was ahead of its time as far as the subject matter.  Having a legend like Robert Mitchum as your star doesn’t hurt either.  Before you click over, here are three of my favorite comments…

He (Director Sydney Pollack) loved Brian Keith and describes him as a sadly underrated actor for most of his life.

(I 100% agree.  Growing up I just knew Brian Keith from the tv sitcom Family Affair where he played good old Uncle Bill.  It wasn’t until I became an adult and started seeing Keith in westerns and crime movies that I realized his talent.  – Craig)

He (Director Sydney Pollack) was concerned that American audiences “don’t really like to read subtitles,” and Warner Bros. was hoping he could avoid using them all together.

(I think that subtitles, so you can hear the natural dialogue, adds  depth to a film.  Would The Godfather or Godfather II lost something without them?  I think they would have.  – Craig)

“He was capable of a lot,” says Pollack about Mitchum, “but you had to push him.” He thinks the actor, who often referred to himself as “an actress,” didn’t consider himself to be all the good without being ridden hard. “He was a real mule. He would give you what you wanted, but you had to beat him.”

(Mitchum comes off as a tough guy in film and I think that was just a reflection of his true life persona.  I also think that he and guys like Bogart felt that acting wasn’t a manly profession, but it was their calling. – Craig)

John Woo’s “The Killer” Trivia!

I remember the first time I saw John Woo’s The Killer.  My mind was blown.  I called my best bud, John Beatty to talk about the amazing action movie I had just seen.  This cat Chow Yun Fat was just too cool and the director John Woo?  Forget about it.  This dude had guys shooting with two guns while doing crazy stunts, gun to gun stand-offs from guys close enough to touch each other, and just all out over the top action.  I still have my The Killer poster (the same as the one above and a gift from Mr. Beatty) hanging in my fortress of solitude (right behind me).

Rob Hunter at Film School Rejects reminded me of all this with his post, 26 Things We Learned from ‘The Killer’ Commentary.  Before you click over, here are three of my favorites…

Woo has previously acknowledged that the film was inspired by Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samurai (1967) which was in turn inspired by a novel titled The Ronin by Joan McLeod. Other inspirations mentioned include Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets (1973), Francois Truffaut’s Jules and Jim (1962), and the films of Sam Peckinpah.

(I haven’t seen Le Samurai, but it does show up on TCM, so I will.  Jules and Jim is another I’ll have to watch for.  I’ve seen Mean Streets and of course many of the films of Sam Peckinpah. – Craig)

The commentary was recorded in 2002, and even back then there’s mention of rumored US remakes of the film. He mentions supposed remakes with Denzel Washington & Richard Gere and Michelle Yeoh & Sharon Stone. A Hollywood redo is still currently listed on IMDB.

(Sly Stallone was also attached to a US remake — he was working on the screenplay and it was titled Maggie’s Eyes. – Craig)

Fat turned down offers to star in Alien: Resurrection (1997) and as Morpheus in The Matrix (1999). He chose The Replacement Killers (1998) and The Corruptor (1999) instead.

(I always thought that Chow Yun Fat should/could have been a much bigger star in the US.  I actually would have preferred him in Alien Resurrection (which I really liked) or The Matrix (the first one I loved). – Craig)

TV Western Stars – Which Role was Better?

MeTV put together a piece on The Overlooked Second Roles of TV’s Greatest Western Stars and it’s a good one.  I actually liked some of the second roles better than the ones the stars are more famous for.

James Arness began world-famous for his role as Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke.  The show ran for 30 years and then spun-off into tv movies when the series ended. Yet, I prefer Arness as Zebulon “Zeb” Macahan in How the West was Won.  I used to make it a point to see each weekly episode.  Remember this was back in the pre-dvr, pre-vhs days.  I wonder if the show holds up.

Everyone knows Chuck Connors as The Rifleman, but I preferred him as Jason McCord, the only survivor of Custer’s Last Stand, and wrongly accused of being a coward and kicked out of the army.  Again, I haven’t seen Branded in years and wonder if it would still be as enjoyable.

Richard Boone’s most famous role was as the gentleman gunfighter, Paladin, on Have Gun Will Travel.  I liked him better as Hec Ramsey, an older cowboy in a world that has moved on to the early 20th century.

I also watched and enjoyed Nichols starring James Garner.  It’s another show I’d like to revisit.  I do remember being surprised and disappointed when they killed off the character and brought in his “twin brother” for the second season.

“Columbo” Trivia!

My wife and I have been watching Columbo quite a bit lately.  Since the show is available on several networks throughout the week, we’ve been DVRing them all to watch at our convenience.

I watched Columbo pretty regularly when it first aired, but I was at the age where I missed more than a few due to other priorities.  My wife never really tuned in.  We’re both enjoying the show now.  It’s fun to see the number of stars appearing as the murderer (or murdered) and even more fun spotting future stars getting their first breaks as a background player.

The fine folks at MeTV posted 13 Little Details You Probably Missed in Columbo.  It’s a fun piece you’d probably enjoy even if you don’t watch Columbo.  Before you click over here are three of my favorites and my thoughts (but for the full details click over)!

Columbo does secretly reveal his first name, once.

(This was a surprise to me.  I didn’t think Columbo’s first name was ever revealed.  In fact we just watched an episode where Columbo was flat out asked his first name.  His response was something to the effect of only his wife uses it and everyone else calls him, “Columbo”. But thanks to MeTV, now we know! – Craig)

The author from the first episode has books in later mysteries.

(I love this.  It shows that the people who made the series were paying attention to what went on before, and it creates a universe for Columbo that feels real. – Craig)

Captain Kirk makes a cameo.

(Ha!  This is a great trivia item.  Captain Kirk makes a cameo. Not William Shatner – he guest stars, but Captain Kirk appears in the same show.  Eagle eyed viewers would catch that.  I’ll be on the lookout when I see the episode. – Craig) 

“John Wick” Trivia

Jake Rosen at Mental Floss presents 8 Fully-Loaded Facts About John Wick. Before you click over, here are three of my favorites and my thoughts on each.

1. JOHN WICK WAS ORIGINALLY TITLED SCORN.
Screenwriter Derek Kolstad wrote a revenge thriller titled Scorn that first circulated back in 2012. Kolstad said he was inspired by films like 2008’s Taken and 2004’s Man on Fire, which both featured determined men with special skills out for revenge. By the time the movie was released in 2014, it had become John Wick. The reason, Kolstad explained, was that Keanu Reeves kept referring to the script by the character’s name and distributor Lionsgate believed it would be too much free publicity to lose.

(I did not know this.  Scorn is nowhere near as good a title as John Wick.  Thank you Keanu! – Craig)

7. JOHN WICK HAS A HOBBY THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE FINAL CUT.
While John Wick’s interests in life seem to be mostly restricted to killing people in creative ways, he’s apparently able to express himself through less violent means, too. According to Reeves, the script for John Wick included a scene in which Wick works on restoring old leather-bound books. It was filmed but didn’t make the final edit.

(I understand why the scene didn’t make the movie, but what a cool choice for a hobby for Wick.  – Craig)

8. A JOHN WICK TELEVISION SERIES—MINUS JOHN WICK—IS IN THE WORKS.
Each John Wick film reveals more about the professional code of conduct governing the assassin’s trade. Their common ground is the Continental, a hotel designed to cater to killers without fear of being attacked. (This sometimes doesn’t work, as people try to kill John Wick there anyway.) Lionsgate is pursuing a television series, The Continental, based on the hotel, that’s expected to premiere sometime following the release of John Wick 4, which is currently scheduled for May 2022.

(I love the idea of a tv series set in John Wick’s world as long as it doesn’t become “the hit <as in execution assignment> of the week.  – Craig)

“Deliverance” Trivia!

Rob Hunter at Film School Rejects posted 31 Things We Learned from John Boorman’s ‘Deliverance’ Commentary.  Before you click over, here are three of my favorites…

9. Dickey took Boorman aside, made him promise not to repeat this, and said, “I’m going to tell you something I never told a living soul, everything in that book happened to me.” The director later learned that he did the same with other members of the cast and crew. “When I got into a canoe with James Dickey and he capsized it, I realized that nothing in this book had happened to him.”

(Dickey was not well liked on the set — there’s another quote in the piece that talked about Dickey’s drinking and interfering with the movie and Burt Reynolds has a funny response. – Craig)

15. “I had no doubles, no stuntmen,” says Boorman. “I don’t like the idea of stuntmen because if a shot is dangerous enough that you need a stunt man then you shouldn’t be doing it.” He acknowledges that there are exceptions including one instance where Voight was doubled (while Reynolds insisted on doing his part himself), but in general he prefers doing the scenes with the actual actors.

(Reynolds, as most folks know always wanted to do his own stunts and respected the stunt crew.  But stunts were not the only differences between Voight and Reynolds are you’ll see in the next quote. – Craig)

26. While Reynolds preferred to move quickly through every scene, Voight challenged almost every decision in need of explanation and reason which dragged things out. Voight would also require three minutes before shooting scenes where he’s meant to seem exhausted because he would run around the area to tire himself out. Reynolds, by contrast, would spritz his face to simulate sweat and then breath hard. Boorman found the two to be good influences on each other.

(They have two different schools of thoughts in preparing for a scene.  Some like to prepare, research and stay in character and others are able to just do it.  I can’t remember the actor and I’m paraphrasing but when asked how he was able to just jump into a scene and take on whatever emotion without first preparing, his response was, “I act.” – Craig)

Remembering Burger Chef, Star Wars, Mike Kott and Me!

If you’re of a particular age, it is almost a certainty that you dined ate at a Burger Chef.  If you’re younger, then you may not have ever heard of the one-time fast food giant. 

Back in the 1970s, Burger Chef was second only to McDonalds as far as fast food franchises went.  Burger Chef was a hit and as a result their investors were earning returns where 50% wasn’t unheard of. 

Burger Chef’s popularity was because they served a comparable (some would say even better) meal than other fast food joints and Burger Chef was making innovative moves.  Burger Chef was the first with…

  • Funmeals: geared towards kids.  Each Funmeal came with a sandwhich, small fries, small drink and a toy!  Five years later McDonalds started serving Happy Meals using the same concept.
  • Works Bar:  Burger King said you could have it “your way”.  Burger Chef took things a step further with the Works Bar.  Each Works Bar contained everything you might want to doctor up your sandwhich!
  • Salad Bar:  Burger Chef offered a fully stocked salad bar and this was waay before the health craze hit.
  • Media Tie-Ins:  Burger Chef saw the importance of media tie-ins and so they made deals linking their food to kid popular franchises like Star Wars and The Brady Bunch.

I worked at a Burger Chef when I was in college.  I’ve shared this story before but if you missed it or would just like to revisit it, check out Star Wars, Burger Chef, Mike Kott and Me.

I have good memories of the folks I worked with and the food we served at Burger Chef.  It’s too bad the chain didn’t survive.  MeTV posted What ever happened to the Burger Chef chain? that explains their rise and fall.  Since you’ve read this far, you’d probably enjoy it.