Category: Trivia

Excellent Movies with Sequels that Weren’t Needed or as Good!

Did you love a movie and then go to see the movie’s sequel only to find that the sequel wasn’t really needed and definitely wasn’t as good?  Yeah.  Me, too.

What got me thinking about this was David Court’s 14 Sequels That Truly Didn’t Need To Happen posted at /Film.  Before you click over, let me comment on three films that made Court’s list that would also make mine (and a couple more that he didn’t list, but I would have).

Highlander – I loved Highlander. It had a great cast (Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Clancy Brown); a fantastic story (Gregory Widen; Peter Bellwood; Larry Ferguson) and was cleverly directed (Russell Mulcahy).  Highlander could have easily been a one and done.  Highlander II was terrible.  Now we’re dealing with an ozone problem that will destroy the earth and aliens who are like Lambert.  What happened to “There can be only one?”  In this case, there should have been only one… Highlander movie.

Jaws: The RevengeJaws is one of the best movies of all time.  Critics loved it.  Fans loved it.  Jaws should have been a one and done.  Sadly, it led to three sequels that were terrible.  Since we’re talking Jaws: The Revenge, let me give you the synopsis: Chief Brody’s widow believes that her family is deliberately being targeted by another shark in search of revenge.  Doesn’t that sound like a Saturday Night Live sketch?  Jaws: The Revenge – critics hated it.  Fans hated it.  Even Michael Caine (the star) said he didn’t watch it, but heard it was terrible.

The Matrix Reloaded – Can you imagine if The Matrix had been the only Matrix movie made?  What a legacy!  It would have been like a movie star that never grew old.  You know, how James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Bruce Lee died in their prime and their legacy’s grew?  Same thing would have happened for The Matrix.  It was so ahead of its time.  The Matrix could have been a one and done film.  The story had been told.  It’s not that the sequels are as bad as the other two films above, but was The Matrix Reloaded really needed?  No.  Was The Matrix Reloaded as good as the original?  No.  Ok then, it belongs on this list.

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Other sequels that I would have included…

  • Speed 2: Cruise Control
  • Basic Instinct 2
  • Beyond the Poseidon Adventure

Truman Capote’s IN COLD BLOOD Trivia!

In Cold Blood was the book that made Truman Capote famous.  Upon publication it quickly rose to best-seller status and is still one of the all-time best-selling true crime books.  A year after the book was released an award-winning movie adaptation premiered which only added to Capote’s stardom.  

I’ve seen the film In Cold Blood.  It’s an excellent movie which gets better with each new viewing.  I’ve had the In Cold Blood novel sitting on one of my many to-be-read book shelves for years.  After reading April Snellings’  7 Chilling Facts About Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood posted at Mental Floss, I’ve decided to finally read Capote’s book.  Before you click over to Snellings’ piece, here are my three favorite facts from her piece and my thoughts on each.

HARPER LEE WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN RESEARCHING IN COLD BLOOD.  (That’s right, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird traveled with Truman Capote to Holcomb, Kansas and assisted Capote in getting access to people with for background info for the book! Harper Lee was Capote’s assistant! – Craig)

A FIGHT OVER THE FILM RIGHTS TO IN COLD BLOOD GOT TRUMAN CAPOTE’S AGENT ARRESTED FOR ASSAULT. (Capote’s agent was Irving “Swifty” Lazar!  Lazar also represented Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Cary Grant, Ernest Hemmingway, Cher and Richard Nixon to name just a few.  When Otto Preminger learned that Lazar had sold the rights to someone else, they got into a heated argument.  Preminger ended up with a busted head and a trip to the hospital.  Lazar ended up with charges for felony assault!  Read Snellings’ account for full details! – Craig)

THE MEN RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MURDERS DETAILED IN IN COLD BLOOD ARE SUSPECTED OF KILLING A FLORIDA FAMILY AFTER THEY FLED KANSAS.  (I had never heard this fact before.  Sounds like there could be another book in the making! – Craig)

 

James Cameron’s Best Films Ranked

Dalin Rowell at /Film posted Every James Cameron Film Ranked From Worst To Best.  Before you click over, here are my rankings for top 7 Cameron films…

  1.  Aliens – I love how Cameron took the Alien franchise in a different direction.  While Alien was a haunted house in outer space, Cameron turned Aliens into a war movie.  
  2. Terminator 2:  Judgment Day – Making the Terminator into the hero AND figuring out a way to make the unstoppable machine an underdog against a more advanced Terminator was such a smart move.
  3. The Terminator – It’s hard to believe at one point there was talk of OJ Simpson playing the Terminator and Arnold playing Reese. It was a clever idea to make Arnold the bad guy (or should I say, “Machine”).  
  4. True Lies – This is one of Arnold’s most under-rated films and perhaps it is one of Cameron’s as well.
  5. The Abyss – is perhaps James Cameron’s most under-rated film. 
  6. Titanic – Before it was released a lot of folks thought Titanic would end James Cameron’s career.  Once released Titanic just kept owning the box office week after week. 
  7. Avatar – Some of the same folks who thought Titanic would sink at the box office predicted Avatar would do the same… and it went on to surpass Titanic!  Never count James Cameron out. 

Alfred Hitchcock’s Most Iconic Scenes!

Nick Bartlett at /Film came up with an interesting list of The 14 Most Iconic Alfred Hitchcock Scenes Of All Time.  Bartlett’s list is a good one.  It includes my top five which are below…

The shower scene — Psycho (1960).  I was pretty sure that this would be Bartlett’s number one Hitchcock iconic scene (and it is). It is my #1 as well.  Bartlett goes on to say:  “Not only is this the most iconic scene of Hitchcock’s career, but arguably the most impactful single scene in cinema history.”  I’m not sure I would go that far, but maybe that scene is the most iconic in cinema history.  (Sounds like another list for Bartlett to post!)

Crop dusting — North by Northwest (1959).  When people talk about North by Northwest, this is the scene that gets the most attention.  And rightly so.

Crows on the playground — The Birds (1963).  This scene is so frightening thanks to Hitchcock.  The first thing he did was compress time.  There is no way that many birds could get to the playground in so short a time.  Also his non use of sound of the birds arriving, makes the sound of their wings flapping all that scarier when they begin their attack.

The diner scene — The Birds (1963).  The birds-eye view of the town below is ALWAYS a scene that people mention when they talk about The Birds.

Lisa gets caught — Rear Window (1954).  This scene is chilling.  A wheelchair bound Jimmy Stewart is watching from across the courtyard when his girlfriend is caught in the apartment of a man who killed and cut up his wife!  Not only is Stewart helpless to do anything, but when his girlfriend secretly signals to Stewart she is caught by the killer… who then realizes he is being watched by Stewart.  Hitchcock breaks an unwritten rule of directing: actors are not to look straight into the camera.  When the killer does it appears he is looking directly at us.  Chills every time!

Harrison Ford’s All Time Best Movies!

Liam Gaughan decided to come up with a list of The 14 Best Harrison Ford Movies.  Before you click over, here are my top three using just the movies on Gaugham’s list.  I’ve also included a few that didn’t make Gaugham’s list that would have made mine.

Raiders of the Lost Ark:  Not only did Raiders give Ford his second franchise, but it cemented his place as one of the top stars in the world.

Witness:  Perhaps Ford’s best character that he never returned to play in a sequel.

Blade Runner:  There have been so many different versions and decades later a sequel so it’s hard to believe that Blade Runner was NOT a blockbuster when first released.

Movies that didn’t make Gaugham’s list but would have made mine…

  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • What Lies Beneath
  • Expendables 3

Clint Eastwood’s Greatest Performances

Yesterday we took a look at Clint Eastwood’s best roles.  Today, thanks to Brent Lang at Variety, we’ll take a shot at listing Clint Eastwood greatest performances.  Using just Lang’s list, here are my top five…

Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry.  Eastwood was perfect in the role that had us cheering for a cop in a movie that would probably make Harry the villain in today’s world.

Blondie aka The Man with No Name in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  Eastwood’s most iconic role in which he perfected the man of few words but quick guns.

Will Munny in Unforgiven.  Eastwood’s performance anchored an Oscar-worthy (9 nominations) and Oscar-winning (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Film Editing) film.

Dave in Play Misty for Me.  It was a first time for me.  Seeing a big, tough guy terrorized by a woman.  And who wouldn’t be?

Frankie Dunn in Million Dollar Baby:  For me this was the first time Eastwood was playing an old man.  The other roles came off as a guy getting older… on the brink of old age.  I loved that being old didn’t mean life was over.

Clint Eastwood’s Best Roles!

Jeremy Herbert at /Film decided to come up with his list of Clint Eastwood’s 14 Best Roles Ranked.  Narrowing down Eastwood’s best roles to just 14 is tough. Before you click over to check out Herbert’s list, here are my top five (using just Herbert’s picks) and a few more that didn’t make his list, but would have made mine.

Harry Callahan from Dirty Harry:  This is a pretty easy choice for me.  I think Harry is Eastwood’s most iconic and best role.  After that the choices become tougher, but for me Dirty Harry is #1.

Josey Wales from The Outlaw Josey Wales:  I placed Josey in the second spot, but to be honest I almost placed Blondie aka The Man with No Name at #2.  Today Josey gets the edge, but that could change.  Wales loses everything but his humanity.  And Herbert is right to mention the classic line: “Dyin’ ain’t much of a living, boy.”

Blondie from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly:  The movie that made Eastwood an international superstar.  

Will Munny from Unforgiven:  I applaud Eastwood for having the patience to wait until he was old enough to play the character.  Unforgiven doesn’t give us the typical good guy – bad guy movie.  Our good guy is a bad guy.  There’s no shooting guns out of the bad guy’s hands.  Gut shots are slow, painful deaths.  There’s no riding off into the sunset with the girl. John Wayne would have hated this film.  I wouldn’t want all my westerns to be like this, but I do love me some Unforgiven.  

Other Eastwood characters that would have made my list but didn’t make Herbert’s…

  • Hogan from Two Mules for Sister Sarah
  • Dave from Play Misty for Me
  • Ben Shockley from The Gauntlet
  • Gunnery Sargent Thomas Highway from Heartbreak Ridge
  • Chief Red Garnett from A Perfect World

Bruce Lee’s Best Non-Kato TV Roles!

The fine folks at Me-TV decided to turn the spotlight on 5 Forgotten Television Appearances by the Legendary Bruce Lee.  After playing Kato on The Green Hornet, Bruce Lee made appearances on four other US television shows: Ironside, Blondie, Here Come the Brides and Longstreet.  Me-TV also snuck in Lee’s appearance in the feature film Marlowe since it played on television in 1972 (released to theaters in 1969).  Before you click over, here are my thoughts on each…

Ironside:  I used to watch this series with my grandparents.  Lee plays a karate instructor who teaches Ironside’s female associate a few tricks.  I’d like to see the episode now to see if it holds up.  I had just turned 9 when I saw the show originally.  I remember it being just okay (it needed more Bruce Lee).

Blondie:  This is one Bruce Lee appearance I’ve never seen.  I didn’t watch Blondie and didn’t even remember the show (which looks pretty bad).

Here Come the Brides:  I used to watch HCtB regularly, but barely remember the Bruce Lee episode or much of the series.  This is another show I’d like to check out to see how it holds up.

Longstreet:  I loved the idea of Bruce Lee training a blind investigator self-defense.  Lee appeared in four of the 24 episodes.  I liked this show (with Lee in it) quite a lot.

Marlowe:  Lee only has two scenes but they are the ones you will remember!  In the first he threatens Marlowe (James Garner) and in the second they fight to the death (although the way Lee dies is pretty lame).

Quentin Tarantino Talks “True Romance”

True Romance doesn’t get enough love.  Tarantino’s script.  Directed by Tony Scott.  And look at that cast: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken, Bronson Pinchot, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Rapaport, Saul Rubinek, Conchata Ferrell, James Gandolfini, Chris Penn and Tom Sizemore!!!

Rob Hunter at Film School Rejects posted 30 Things We Learned from Quentin Tarantino’s ‘True Romance’ Commentary.  Before you click over, here are three of my favorites and some thoughts on each…

It wasn’t specified in the script that Elvis (Val Kilmer) would never really be seen all that clearly, and he was worried that the actor would be upset by Scott’s choice. He heard later that Kilmer loved it. (This was an interesting choice that many actor’s wouldn’t have liked. Credit to Val Kilmer for seeing the merit in playing it that way. – Craig)

He (Tarantino) is a huge fan of Scott’s Revenge (1990) which is the correct response to that film.  (I am a huge fan of Revenge.  It is probably Tony Scott and Kevin Costner’s most underrated film. – Craig)

He credits Scott with doing what a director should with the adaptation and make it their own. Clarence dying in the script makes sense to Tarantino, but Scott’s film is far more successful as a fairy tale of sorts meaning Clarence needed to live. “If I had made the movie he would have died. It would have been the same script but it would have been different. And in mine I think it would have worked. But in his, no, in his I think he was right.”  (In Scott’s film Clarence lives, in Tarantino’s script Clarence dies.  Both endings could work, but I’m glad Tony Scott stuck to his guns.  Like him, I wanted to see them get away. – Craig)

The All-Time Best Movie Jump Scares!

Alex Riviello at /FIlm posted A Brief History Of The Horror Movie Jump Scare with excellent examples.  Before you click over, here are my five favorites from Riviello”s list plus three that didn’t make his list, but would have made mine.

Carrie.  I saw Carrie at a midnight movie when I was 18.  It was nearly 2am and it appeared the movie was done.  Remember this was in the days when happy endings were common (and jump scares at the end of movies were not). When the jump scare happened I came out of the seat and probably scared my date more than the jump scare.

The Descent.  The first part of The Descent sets up the horror of being underground in tightly enclosed spaces.  Finally they get to an area with some breathing room.  As they use the night vision glasses to see the best way to proceed we get the jump scare and it is great one!

Friday the 13th. I saw Friday the 13th for the first time on HBO and had no idea the jump scare was coming.  It was well after midnight.  I thought the end credits were getting ready to roll so I got up to to turn off the tv (no remote control in those prehistoric days).  As I stood in front of the tv the jump scare happened and it’s a miracle I didn’t wake up the entire apartment complex.

Psycho.  Hitchcock is the master of suspense.  He slowly builds tension as Detective Arbogast slowly goes up the big staircase.  He cuts to a door with a sliver of light and then back to Arbogast reaching the top of the stairs.  Hitch switches to an overhead shot of an old lady attacking with a knife!  Wha-what?  

Wait Until Dark.  I’m glad this one was included because it is one of the best jump scares.  Audrey Heburn plays a blind lady with two killers in her house.  I don’t want to give anything away.  Watch Wait Until Dark.  It’s an underrated gem.

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Here are three classic jump scares that would have made my list…

Exorcist III:  Late at night a nurse is checking on things.  The camera views her doing this from a distance.  As she walks across the hall we see someone (something) walking quickly behind her holding huge shears at her neck level.  Perfect set-up for this jump scare with the person in background called away and then back and away again.

Play Misty For Me. Clint Eastwood plays a popular DJ who had a one night stand with a woman. She becomes unhinged when he dumps her. The jump scare happens in a scene when Eastwood wakes up to find her in his bedroom. I saw this at a drive-in when I was 13 and I’ll admit that I jumped more than Clint Eastwood — and he came out of his bed!

Alien:  Dallas has a flamethrower and is looking for the alien.  His crew members are monitoring and telling Dallas the alien is close.  Dallas sees evidence of it but not the alien itself.  The crew continues to tell Dallas the alien is getting closer and finally they tell him to run… cue the jump scare!

 

Bram “Dracula” Stoker – Facts You May Not Know!

Almost everyone knows that Bram Stoker wrote one of the pillars of horror fiction, Dracula.  Brigit Katz at Mental Floss dug deeper and came up with 11 Enlightening Facts About Bram Stoker.  Before you click over, here are three of my favorites with my thoughts on each…

IT TOOK BRAM STOKER SEVEN YEARS TO WRITE DRACULA. (What’s interesting is he liked to say the story came to him in a dream after “a too-generous helping of dressed crab at supper.”  I’ll admit his version is more fun than the reality of seven years of writing, research and rewriting. – Craig)

DRACULA WAS ALMOST NAMED “COUNT WAMPYR.” (Count Wampyr!  C’mon, man, you know that sounds wimpy compared to Count Dracula.  Plus “DRACULA in Wallachian language means DEVIL.”  Thankfully Stoker changed his mind and went with Dracula! – Craig)

BRAM STOKER SENT FAN MAIL TO WALT WHITMAN. (Whitman responded and the two authors actually did meet three different times.  I love it when I learn trivia like this.  It makes both men seem more down to earth. – Craig)

Vin Diesel’s Best Films (That’s Aren’t Fast & Furious) – Matthew Monagle Picks ‘Em and Craig Reacts

Matthew Monagle at /Film picked out what he considered  The 14 Best Vin Diesel Movies (That Aren’t The Fast And The Furious).  I decided to play along.  Here are my top 5 selected from Monagle’s list plus reasons I didn’t pick a couple of “obvious” choices…

Pitch Black: Diesel’s signature character in his first outing.  I love this film and character.

The Chronicles of Riddick: While I’m not a fan of the movie’s title, the film has improved with every viewing.  It went from a cool low-budget monster movie to a world (universe) expanding epic.  Kudos for the effort and as I said, it gets better with every viewing.

Knockaround Guys:  This underrated film should be required viewing for an Vin Diesel fan… and he’ll throw a beatin’ on anyone who disagrees.

The Iron Giant:  An animated film with something for kids and adults (or the kid in every adult).

A Man Apart:  Diesel as a DEA agent seeking revenge against the drug cartel that killed his wife.

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A couple of films that I didn’t pick but seem like obvious choices…

Guardians of the Galaxy:  is a great film and Diesel provides the voice for Groot.  I didn’t pick this because Vin doesn’t do more than say variations of the word “Groot” and is that really the best representation of a Vin Diesel movie?

Saving Private Ryan:  is another great film and the argument could be made to include it in the top five.  I didn’t because I don’t really consider it a Vin Diesel film.  It was a Steven Spielberg film.  Diesel wasn’t the star.  In fact his name was nowhere on the poster and came in around 7th on the credits.  That’s not to say Diesel was great in his role, but I didn’t (for this list) consider Saving Private Ryan a Vin Diesel film.

Finally, I would have found a spot for Riddick the second sequel to Pitch Black,

The All-Time Best Western Movies

Liam Gaughan at /Film created his list of The 20 Best Westerns of All-Time and it is a good one.  Using just his list here are my top five (in alpha order):

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid:  The right mix of humor and action paired with Newman & Redford = a near perfect film experience.

Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, The:  The movie that made Sergio Leone a household name in the US and Clint Eastwood a superstar.

Searchers, The: Some parts of the movie don’t play as well with today’s sensibilities, but The Searchers remains a classic.

Stagecoach: I love this film more and more with each viewing.

Unforgiven: Eastwood waited until he felt he was the right age to make this film.  A great capper to his western movies!

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I’m surprised that The Outlaw Josey Wales didn’t make Gaughan’s list.  It sure would have made mine.

The All-Time Best Zombie Movies!

Audrey Fox at /Film created her list of The 20 Best Zombie Movies Of All Time.  Using just her list here are my top five (in alpha order):

28 days later: Purists will argue that this isn’t a true zombie movie.  Instead of arguing, I’d just watch it again!

Dawn of the Dead (2004): Has one of the best opening scenes of any zombie movie (except for World War Z) and I love that Fox acknowledges that in her article!

Night of the Living Dead: The original by George Romero that kickstarted the zombie renaissance.

Overlord: Zombies and WW2 mash-up.  Another that some will argue isn’t a true zombie movie.  Again, I say, “Rewatch  instead of arguing.”

Train to Busan:  A modern classic.  More people should see this film!

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Some films on her list that didn’t make mine but are good: Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland and The Dead Don’t Die.  They’re funny and worth a view, but when the dead start to rise, I prefer scary to funny. (I still want to see Little Monsters!)

I haven’t seen Blood Quantum but want to.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Greatest Films

Fiona Underhill at /Film came up with her list of Alfred Hitchcock’s 15 Best Films Ranked.  Using just the films in Underhill’s list, here is how our top 5 compared….

Underhill

Zablo

1. Rebecca (1940)

1. North by Northwest (1959)

2. The Birds (1963)

2. The Birds (1963)

3. North by Northwest (1959)

3. Psycho (1960)

4. Notorious (1946)

4. Rear Window (1954)

5. The Lady Vanishes (1938)

5. Rope (1948)

I would have included Lifeboat in my list at #6 and it didn’t make Underhill’s top 15.