Merry Christmas, Movie House! 25 Days of Christmas Day 23: Die Hard and The Year Without a Santa Claus

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You know there’s not much in common with Die Hard and The Year Without a Santa Claus. They share no common characters. There are no terrorists in The Year Without a Santa Claus. No reindeers dressed like dogs in Die Hard. The only real similarity is that they have some themes of Christmas. So why review them both at the same time? They were both on TV today. It’s that simple. The two don’t mix and match well, but I’m going to give it a whirl as Kevin McCallister would say.

The Plots

John McClane is invited to a Christmas party by his wife who he’s been having trouble with lately. Santa is also having some trouble since he thinks nobody believes in him anymore and that there is no need for Christmas. Both John McClane and Santa run into some problems as time progresses. Our favorite Hogwarts professor, Hans Gruber, is trying to take over Mr. Takagi’s big building. He has some get rich quick scheme. People are dying including Takagi and John McClane has to do something about it. Santa has to find where the elves, Jingle and Jangle, went so he can retrieve the reindeer named Vixen. Vixen has been taken to the pound, so it’s like she is taken hostage and Santa has to rescue her. The films have parallels after all! John McClane gets help in this movie from Carl Winslow. Carl hasn’t lost his mind dealing with Urkel yet, and he’s on a mission to save John McClane’s ass. Santa is also getting help from a little boy named Iggy. He didn’t really believe in Santa just like Carl at first with John, but they both come around. There’s some skeptics on both sides. The principal from Breakfast Club keeps complaining to Carl Winslow about the job John McClane is doing in the same way the mayor is doubting Santa Claus. John’s wife, Holly, tries to talk with the villains to get them to allow some things, and Hans Gruber is nice enough to comply. The same happens with Mrs. Claus. She has to deal with the Miser Brothers. It took some time to convince the Snow and Heat Misers to help, but a talk with Mother Nature straightened them out. John McClane eventually kills all the terrorists one by one in the same way Santa convinces everyone to believe in him one by one. They both get one last bit of help from Carl and Iggy. Carl shoots the last bad guy and Iggy helps other kids mail Santa. They both even end with Christmas songs!

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Final Thoughts

Clearly these two films have more in common than I imagined. It’s like watching the same film! I mean nobody dies in The Year Without a Santa Claus, but what does die is kids not believing in Santa. The parallels do not go unnoticed. I’m sure the Die Hard writers had The Year Without a Santa Claus in their mind when getting this movie made. Both are classics, so I suggest everyone should watch them in the next couple days. You won’t regret it. Look for the similarities!

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Merry Christmas, Movie House! 25 Days of Christmas Day 18: Home Alone and Home Alone 2

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Holy crap I’m actually reviewing a movie! Hell, I’m reviewing two movies today! Today is a good day! So has a series ever had a greater first two movies than Home Alone and Home Alone 2 and then fallen off so terribly. I guess you could argue the Star Wars series or even Godfather, but there’s no way those films are worse than Home Alone 3, 4, and 5. Admittedly, I’ve never seen Home Alone 5 and I have no plans to see it. So if you’ve lived under a rock since 1990, Home Alone stars Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister who is an 8 and then a 10 year old boy that lives in Chicago. I have no idea why he aged two years. Kevin seems to have trouble with his family every Christmas and he ends up being left all alone!

I’m not even going to explain the plot of these films. Well maybe a quick summary. Kevin is “crapped on” by his family. His older brother, Buzz, always picks on him by calling him names and embarrassing Kevin. The parents support Buzz and Kevin complains to his mom. Kevin is forced to sleep on the third floor with Fuller who wets the bed.The parents wake up late and they either forget Kevin or Kevin ends up in New York. Kevin enjoys his time by himself by ordering pizza or going to Duncan’s Toy Chest. He runs into the Wet/Sticky Bandits named Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (The Wonder Years Narrator). Kevin meets a nice older person (Old Man Marley and Bird Lady) who help him in the end, but he’s the one who really helps them. The best parts of both films are the parts when Harry and Marv have to go through Kevin’s funland of traps to try and get him. The films end with an emotional embrace with Kevin and his mother, a Christmas celebration, and someone yelling at Kevin very loudly. So in essence, they are the same movie but still awesome.

Ten Favorite Scenes in Home Alone (No particular order since I couldn’t decide a favorite. So much to choose from too.)

1. Buzz’s Speech about Old Man Marley: It’s the perfect backstory for Old Man Marley. It’s entirely inaccurate but it creates the fear that Kevin has of him. The idea that Marley is the South Bend Shovel Slayer who kills people with shovels is hilarious. The fact that he would turn bodies into salt and salt the streets with it make it all the better.

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2. Kevin’s Cheese Pizza Debacle: I figured I would combine a few favorites of mine into once since they start during the same scene. It begins with Kevin wanting to know if any cheese pizza was left, but Buzz being a total asshole says somebody is going to have to barf it all up. Kevin attacks causing two more classic lines in the film: “Look what you did, you little jerk” and “Kevin, you’re such a disease” Two classic lines I still quote quite often spoken by Uncle Frank and Big Pete. Uncle Frank is a total douche, but he’s great.

3. The Toothbrush Criminal: Kevin needs to buy a new toothbrush, but he’s not sure if its approved by the American Dental Association. When he’s trying to get it checked out, Old Man Marley comes walking in. Kevin runs out of the story in fear of Marley. The old lady working there sends Jimmy to stop him, but Jimmy yells for a fat cop to get Kevin instead. Jimmy should be fired. Kevin outsmarts fat cop and gets away when he proclaims himself as a “criminal.” I like to think Old Man Marley paid for the toothbrush and that he told the old lady that Kevin was afraid of him.

4. “Buzz, you’re girlfriend….WOOF!!!”: Another very quotable line! In this scene, Kevin is looking through Buzz’s things when he comes across a picture of his scary looking girlfriend. Kevin’s expression is amazing when he sees it. http://woofmaker.com/ This site is amazing by the way. Another good part of this scene is Kevin’s reaction to a Playboy magazine: “No clothes on anybody. Sickening.”

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5. “Dangly Ones”: This is the scene where Kevin’s mom is in the airport trying to get some old people’s tickets. She’s not having lucky with the old man, but she is warming the heart of the old lady. She tries offering her earrings, but the old man retorts that his wife has shoeboxes full of earrings “dangly ones.” I don’t know why, but I always find this scene funny.

6. Tic Tac Santa: Kevin decides to visit Santa Claus before fighting the Wet Bandits for some last minute Christmas wishes. He tells Santa that he’s old enough to know how everything works and that he’s not the real Santa. It’s cute, but then we realize Kevin thinks this Santa works for the real Santa. Even more cute! The guy playing this Santa looks so cheap and low rate that it’s pretty funny. This was the best guy these people could hire. The best part is when he gives Kevin some spearmint Tic Tacs. “Don’t spoil your dinner.”

7. That Damn Spider: Buzz’s spider brings many great laughs through the movie and it’s built up so well. Buzz gives the description about how it eats worm guts and all that good stuff. When Kevin destroys Buzz’s room, we see the spider escape. Periodically after that we would see the spider wandering around the house until we Kevin sees it on the steps while Marv has a hold of his leg. Kevin does the smart thing and grabs the spider sticking it on Marv’s face. Marv lets out one of the great screams in cinematic history and it’s freaking hilarious. It’s followed up with the spider landing on Harry’s chest. “What are you doing, Marv?” Marv smacks Harry’s chest with a crowbar trying to hit the spider but he fails. It’s truly hysterical.

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8. John Candy and the Funeral from Hell: While trying to get home, Kevin’s mom runs into John Candy. Candy is a member of some traveling polka group and he’s nice enough to give her a ride to Chicago. They exchange stories and she tells Barf from Spaceballs how she left Kevin home alone. John Candy tells her that he left his kid at the funeral home once and that his son got over it after about 6 to 8 weeks. It’s a scene so out there that I can’t help but laugh at it.

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9. Old Man Marley Saves the Day: Before Kevin takes out the bad guys, he goes to church and finally talks with Marley. The Slayer tells him the rumors about him aren’t true (though the way he bashed Harry and Marv’s heads I’m not so sure) and they become friends. When Harry and Marv finally catch Kevin, Old Man Marley comes in and saves the day! It’s a great scene because it has been built up because of Buzz’s story from the beginning. It’s shocking that a shovel shot is what eventually took out Harry and Marv after all the abuse they went through. I guess when you are the South Bend Shovel Slayer, your shovel shots really hurt.

10. Reunited!!!!: You have to love the heartwarming end to Home Alone. Kevin is reunited with his mother. They have such a great moment that brings you to tears. Another great moment is Old Man Marley being reunited with his family. He and his son had a falling out, but Kevin told him to call his son. He did and everything is good between them now! Christmas miracles. The tears are running down my face!

Twenty Favorite Scenes in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (I couldn’t decide on just ten for this one.)

1. Nosy Little Pervert: The film starts off well with Uncle Frank being an asshole. Kevin needs to get a tie from the shower, but he hears Uncle Frank singing. He decides to record it, but Uncle Frank catches him and says, “Get out of here, you nosy little pervert or I’m going to slap you silly!” He then goes back to singing. It’s a great moment in the film. The best part is that Kevin uses it later on Tim Curry. Tim Curry is snooping around Kevin’s room and Kevin uses the inflatable clown to make it seem like someone is in the shower. Recorded Uncle Frank yells at Tim Curry and Tim Curry’s expressions are just hilarious. I probably could have done a top ten scenes of just Tim Curry in this film.

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2. A Troubled Young Man’s Christmas Pageant: Poor Kevin is always the butt of Buzz’s jokes. This time it occurs at the Christmas pageant. Kevin is doing a solo when Buzz pretends to play the drums with two candles on his head. Kevin pushes Buzz which results in everyone except Kevin falling down. The best part is the piano lady being taken out by a fake tree. We never find out her condition. I assume she’s in a coma. Buzz apologizes for this going into a fake apology spiel. Everyone buys it, but Buzz tells Kevin, “Beat that, you trout sniffer.” Kevin gets angry and it leads to Uncle Frank not wanting his vacation ruined. Kevin drops a bomb on him though, “Wouldn’t want to spoil your fun, Mr. Cheap Skate.” You tell that evil Uncle Frank!

3. “Kevin’s not here”: This scene takes place after Kevin has landed in New York and the family has landed in Florida. They pass Kevin’s bags down through everyone, but the bags reach Fuller and apparently “Kevin’s not here.” Kevin’s bad makes it back to the mom who gives a classic laugh and then the “KEVIN!” scream. I think my favorite part might just be the look on the face of the old people when Fuller tells them to “Give this to Kevin.”

4. “Credit Card, You Got It”: Kevin made good use out of his recorder. He recorded a commercial for the Plaza Hotel earlier in the film and now it was time to use it to his advantage. He records his own dialogue and he slows down the tape to make it sound more grownup. It’s funny to me that this works, but I’m all for it. I still quote the credit card line to this day. It’s just a classic Home Alone scene. It also makes me want a little refrigerator with a key.

5. Pizahh: Tim Curry is a comedic genius. He makes the simplest things sound funny. This is a prime example of that. As established in the first film, Kevin loves cheese pizza. Of course being in New York City, he’s going to want some. He asks Tim Curry about the pizza and he says pizza in the most hilarious way possible. As a bonus entry, I forgot to include the line where he says, “Oh, Mr. McCallisterrrrr!” Tim Curry once again making everything funny.

6. Tim Curry in the Grinch: More funny Tim Curry. After he finds out Kevin has a stolen credit card, he lets out a big Grinch like smile. It’s so Grinch like that while Kevin’s watching the Grinch in his limo, they have a scene where it shows the Grinch smile and then Tim Curry’s smile. It’s so great. One of my favorite scenes in movie history. Tim Curry can do it all.

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7. “Stolennnn Credit Carddd”: I can’t get enough of Tim Curry. After Kevin’s first confrontation with Harry and Marv, he runs into the other villain of the film in Tim Curry. He’s so evil in telling Kevin about that stolen credit card. It leads to a chase with Kevin and the finest idiots in New York which leads us to number 8!

8. “I LOVE YOU”: Kevin leads the Tim Curry gang up to his room. He turns on the Angels with Filthy Souls video he had been watching earlier in the film. I should note this gag is used in the first film as well, but it’s done way better here. Tim Curry talks to the video while Johnny (the video mobster guy) talks back with Kevin’s spot on fast forwarding. Johnny wants Tim Curry to get on his knees and tell him he loves him. Tim Curry obliges, but Johnny wants him to do better than that. The way Tim Curry says it is one of the best things ever. I forgot to mention the part where Johnny says Tim Curry had been smooching with everyone like Little Moe with the Gimpy Leg and Cliff. Cliff just happens to be the name of the cop with Tim Curry’s hotel idiots. “It’s a lie.” Love it. They all get down on their knees and tell Johnny they love him but he still shoots like a “madman….with a gun” The scene ends with the classic, “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal! And a Happy New Year! Why did this film not win the Oscar that year? (Looks up winner) Unforgiven! I guarantee you that more people watch Home Alone 2 a year than Unforgiven. Screw that shit! (I’ve never seen Unforgiven. It could be a good movie for all I know.)

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9. Kevin’s Cab Ride from Hell: After running away from the Plaza Hotel, Kevin is on his own. He goes down a scary block with creepy homeless people and prostitutes. I should note that this film has a lot more New York City in it than Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. Take note, Friday the 13th people! This is how you do a New York film! You can’t have Jason walk through Times Square just once and call it Jason Takes Manhattan! Anyways, Kevin calls for a cab and he tells the driver that it’s scary out there. “It ain’t much better in here, kid!” Nightmare fuel! I would have ran out of that taxi too if I was Kevin.

10. “I made the discovery”: Tim Curry is up to his antics again. Kevin’s family has made it to New York City and they talk to Tim Curry at the Plaza Hotel. Lots of great stuff happen in this scene. When asking about the credit card, Tim Curry happily proclaims, “I made the discovery.” You don’t get better line readings than that. We also get Kevin’s mom asking what kind of idiots work there and the female worker saying, “The finest in New York.” I love how they all smile after that line. The scene ends with Kevin’s mom saying how should would go through all the muggers and murderers. Tim Curry warns her of all the dangerous people and she slaps the shit out of him. “Do bundle up, it’s awfully cold outside.”

11. Christmas in the Trenches: When Kevin was kidnapped, Harry and Marv revealed their plan about robbing Duncan’s Toy Chest. Kevin realizes he can’t let this happen since the money there goes to sick children. Kevin throws a rock through the window while they are stealing the cash. Great lines here with “Merry Christmas, Harry” and “Happy Hanukkah, Marv!” Kevin takes there picture with another great line, “How’d my hair look?” Marv is such an idiot. They chase after Kevin, but Harry jumps on a teeter thing and then Marv jumps on the other side sending Harry flying into the air and landing on a car. Kevin takes another picture and Marv once again smiles. Damn you, Unforgiven!

12 .The Bricks of Death!: Harry and Marv follow Kevin to his Uncle Rob’s house. Harry and Marv don’t know Kevin has this place booby trapped. Kevin is at the top of the place and he chucks bricks at them. They hilariously hit Marv over and over again while Harry goads Kevin on. Marv’s cries to Harry make me laugh ever time. “Harrrreeeyyyy…Harreeyyyy”

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13. “Harry, I’ve Reached the Top”: Another one of my favorite quotes. Harry after taking some nails to the butt, crotch, and face finally makes it into the house. He’s so happy that’s he got inside and he delivers that quote. It’s just too bad there is no floor for him to walk on and he falls to the basement. “What a hole!”

14. The Electrocution of Marv: This is probably my overall favorite scene in the film. It never fails to make me laugh. Every time he turns into that damn skeleton, I lose it. It’s always funny. Marv should pretty much be dead from this shock, but nothing can kill these two. I love the build to the skeleton part. His hair progressively gets bigger until he finally changes into the skeleton.

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15. “That’s 3!”: A great gag in the first film is the paint can scene where Kevin tosses paint cans at Harry and Marv knocking them both down the stairs. Harry has learned his lesson this time, and he knows not to fall for that trick again. “He busted me right in my mouth, Marv.” The two of them make of injuries to fool Kevin, but Kevin’s not dumb. “Right in the schnozz!” After that line, Harry and Marv run up the steps but Kevin has other plans. He throws this big ass thing right at them knocking them both down the stars and back down to the basement. Adding more pain, Kevin cuts the thing and it rolls down and lands on the two. This film is brutal!

16. The Sound of a Tool Chest: Harry and Marv are never tired of pain. They make their way back up and Kevin is ready to hurt them some more. They pull a doorknob and they hear something coming down the steps. Instead of moving like smart people, they keep trying to listen. They pay the price as a tool chest smashes through the door and smashes them into the wall. The best part is them fixing their broken noses.

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17. Rope in Kerosene: The roles are reversed with Harry and Marv on the roof and Kevin on the ground. Marv tries to throw a brick at Kevin, “Suck brick, kid!” but he misses by a mile. They realize they must climb down a rope to reach Kevin because going back through the house is too dangerous. These guys aren’t very smart. Marv wonders why Harry is wearing aftershave, but Harry tells him, “That’s not aftershave, that’s kerosene.” Marv wonders why someone would put rope in kerosene and he gets his answer. Kevin lights the damn rope on fire. They try to go up but they end up falling off the rope. Somehow they survive again! These guys must be inhuman.

18. The Best Scream in Film History: Harry and Marv finally catch up to Kevin because Kevin slips on some ice. I’ve never been fond of that part, but the real part is when they take Kevin to Central Park. Harry is prepared to shoot Kevin, but the Bird Lady that Kevin befriended saves his life! Harry tries to shoot her too, but the goo they landed in from the fire rope won’t let him. She throws bird seed on them and the birds storm after Harry and Marv. They are attacking the two and Marv lets out the greatest scream ever recorded. It’s amazing!

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19. Rockefeller Center: Kevin’s mom has been looking for Kevin throughout the last bit of the film. She just misses him at Uncle Rob’s place. She talks to some cop that once played a Klingon on Star Trek and she figures out that Kevin must be at Rockefeller Center because he loves Christmas trees. Kevin is there asking Santa to bring back his family, but he wants his mother in particular. She finds him and they have another happy emotional ending.

20. Turtle Doves: Earlier in the film, Kevin talks to Mr. Duncan who owns Duncan’s Toy Chest. He gives Mr. Duncan extra money to go to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and Mr. Duncan really appreciates it. Mr. Duncan lets Kevin pick something off the tree to have, and he suggest the turtle doves. You take one turtle dove and you give it to another person so you will know they will always be in your heart. I like to think a forty year old Kevin still looks at his turtle dove and remembers the Bird Lady. When Kevin breaks the window of the store, he attached a note that apologized to Mr. Duncan. He mentions the turtle doves and Mr. Duncan is so happy about it. He gives the entire family presents because of this! This leads to another great scene where Buzz thanks Kevin for this vacation to New York City and for all the presents. Uncle Frank is even more thrilled when Buzz does his little toast. That cheap skate just wants more stuff. “Enough of this gooey shi….show of emotion.” I love that line. Great film!

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There you have it! Those are my favorite scenes from Home Alone and Home Alone 2! I love the films with all my heart. I make it a tradition to watch them every Christmas. It’s always worth seeing. I probably end up watching the films multiple times per year since a television network is always showing one of them even when it’s not Christmas. The movies are just that awesome. Way better than Unforgiven. No offense to Clint Eastwood but Chris Columbus has done more for me as a director than you probably ever will. First two Home Alone films and the first two Harry Potter films. Damn! He could have retired right there and called his career a success. Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals!

Halloween Havoc 2013 Day 12: The Collector

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The good people who helped do some of the Saw movies came up with a little film called The Collector. This review will be different from my usual style today. I’ve already watched the film, so this is not a running commentary. I’m just going to go over the plot, characters, music, and other stuff that I thought about when watching this film. Spoilers!

The Plot

So this killer collects people, and we never really get a reason why he collects people. Our main character looks like Matthew McConaughey’s brother who is all coked out. His name is Arkin. He works for this family doing stuff, but his wife is in some trouble with loan sharks. He decides to rob the family he was working for, but he gets more than what he desired. The family has been taken hostage, but the Collector. He’s doing some sick torture to people. The family consists of a father, mother, older daugher, and a younger daughter. The father and mother get tortured pretty good by the Collector. He’s booby trapped the house, so the place is a death trap. Eat your heart out, Kevin McCallister.

The little girl is missing throughout the film, but she shows up near the end. The older daughter had been out when everything started. She brought her boyfriend to die with her haha. Arkin does his best to save everybody, but he hilariously fails at every corner. I’m pretty sure he is responsible for the death of everyone by accident. Arkin does stop the Collector at the end. Well, that is until those old twist endings where the Collector comes back and collects him. I hated the ending.

Acting

Everyone was pretty fine. Nobody was shit. Nobody was great. I’m always impressed with little girls who have to be around killers in these films. Uriel from the show Supernatural appeared as the loan shark. He spoke very softly, and he was hard to hear. The main character, Arkin, had his moments of good and bad. Sometimes he overacted a little.

Credits

I thought it was interesting that the beginning of the film listed the credits of all the music people and producers. The didn’t show the title or actors until the end of the film. It’s an interesting artistic direction to go, but I prefer to keep it simple. Put the actor names at the beginning.

Music

The film played some weird music. The credits had this annoying music that I made fun of while watching. There was also this weird like cultish 70s music. I expect the Wyatt Family from WWE to come out to this music. So yeah, I didn’t care for the music.

Gore

This is where the film excels. It’s really fucking gory! It’s pretty disgusting sometimes with how much gore there is. Sometimes I liked it, and other times I thought it was too much. We lost some good animals in this film. A cat and a dog died. They got pretty gory deaths. The cat really fucking got it. Poor kitty! The dog was a mean dog, so I didn’t care that it died. All the deaths in the film had some insane gore factor. I’m not sure what I would call the best death. Possibly the electrocution or the older sister’s death. Fun Fact: The older sister was the youngest daughter on the TV show The Nanny.

The Killer

I kinda liked the look of the killer. He had a simple look. I liked when his eyes would glow green. The Collector sort of looked like Batman in Batman Begins before he had the real suit and he finds Commissioner Gordon. I know I said we didn’t get a reason why this exterminator guy was the killer, but we don’t always need a reason. The best killers don’t always have reasons.

Final Thoughts

It was okay. I thought the beginning was pretty boring, but it picked up later. Arkin was a decent lead character, even though his character was only there to rob the people. He proved that he cared by trying to save the day. I think I would slightly recommend it. My girlfriend says if you are into gore, then it is the film for you. I guess there is a sequel to this. I might have to look it up. I hear Arkin returns.