Tag Archives: Back to the Future

My 12 Movies Of Christmas… And When I Watch Them

I have a tradition every year where I watch my choice of Christmas flicks in the 12 day run up to Christmas Day. Now I don’t only watch these 12, I sit through other films in the festive build up, but it is these 12 in particular I always watch on these specific days. It’s not as obvious a list as others as some of my choices have nothing to do with the annual celebrations that are Noël. Now I do have some undisputed Christmas classics here, yet some just are completely unrelated.

Okay, so before I get into this one, I just need to clarify something, why a few of these films have nothing to do with Christmas. Not set at Christmas, no Yuletide characters, not even a slight whiff of a mention of the festive period or any kind of Christmasy message at all. But there is a reason for this, I covered it in my Die Hard/Christmas article last year, but I’ll just quickly recap here to explain…

So back in the 80s here in the UK, we only had 4 TV channels and 2 of them (BBC 2 and Channel 4) tended to concentrate on alternative, indie, ‘outside of the box’ type shows and films. This left the other 2 (BBC 1 and ITV) which were more mainstream and would, over the Christmas period, always fight for viewers by securing big, popular films for the holidays, often TV premieres. Meaning that I got to see a lot of flicks over Christmas as a kid. So even though some had absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, they still take me back to my childhood and remind me of those family gatherings over the festive period and (to me) are very much Christmas movies despite having zilch to do with Xmas at all. So with that out of the way, on with my list.

December 14th

So you know my explanation of how some of the films in my list are not connected to Christmas? Well the first is very much one of those.

Rocky III#

Yeah Rocky III is a Christmas film for me. See, this one takes me back to Christmas of 85 or 86. It was one of those big TV movie premieres I mentioned. We had Nan and Granddad staying with us for Christmas and after dinner, after playing with my new toys but before bedtime. 9 or 10 year old me sat on the sofa with my Nan and we watched Rocky III for the first time. I like to watch this one as my festive movie marathon begins just to spark off that Christmas childhood memory once more and remember by much missed Nan.

December 15th

Well at least this one is set at Christmas. Okay it involves parents abandoning their deformed child, a dead woman brought back to life by cats, a corrupt business man and other man who dresses up as a bat… but it’s set at Christmas.

Batman Returns

Batman Returns is the sequel to the awesome 1989 Batman flick. It’s dark, brooding, moody and very Gothic. Not as good as the first film, but it’s Christmas setting is mainly why it makes this list. I love the juxtaposition of director Tim Burton’s dark vision against the film’s happy setting. Seeing those wonderful sets and buildings that offer a very
foreboding atmosphere decorated with bright and colourful Christmas decorations is beautiful and always gets me in the festive mood.

December 16th

Follow the yellow brick road.

1939, THE WIZARD OF OZ
I have to confess, I really do not like The Wizard of Oz. I don’t like the music, I don’t like the characters, I don’t like the story. So why is it on this list? Because this is another one of those films from my childhood that always seem to be on TV over Christmas when I was growing up. This one takes me back to memories of those family gatherings as we all sat there watching The Wizard of Oz, it just became tradition year after year. I don’t like the film, but I love the memories it brings back.

December 17th

It’s another one of those nothing to do with Christmas films from my childhood. It’s time to go back in time…

Back to the Future
This film was actually released here in the UK in December, 1985, so at least I can say that Back to the Future is Christmasy-ish. But I first saw it on TV years later (and after I watched the sequel in the cinema in 1989) over the Christmas period. There’s not much I can say about this time travelling classic that has not already been said before. A glorious melding of comedy, sci-fi, and awesome music too. One of my all time favourite films that I still love to revisit every year for Christmas.

December 18th

Okay, so nothing but actual Christmas films from this point onward. My all time favourite Christmas story is the Charles Dickens penned A Christmas Carol. I even like to read the original story over the festive period if I get the chance. But when it comes to film adaptions, there are dozens and dozens to choose from.

Scrooge

Scrooge (A Christmas Carol in the US) starring Alastair Sim from 1951 is my pick here. A great and very British re-telling of the tale with a lot of charm and personality. This version also adds a lot more meat to the bones over the source material and none of it feels out of place either. It’s just brilliantly told version of the classic story. The first, but not only version of A Christmas Carol on my list…

December 19th

What’s Christmas without a little fun and merriment? Quite possibly the funniest Christmas film ever about the worst family Christmas ever.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is third film in the Vacation franchise starring Chevy Chase as Clark, the head of the long suffering Griswold family. A nice family Christmas soon turns into chaos as guest and family members turn the festive gathering into a disaster. This is crude with toilet humour and slapstick… and I love it. A stupid film for a stupid season that packs a lot of heart warming Christmasy felling into it. Just don’t watch the sequel…

December 20th

Cuteness, monsters and quite possibly the most disturbing story of how a little girl learned there was not Santa.

Gremlins

Monster movies and Christmas is a cocktail that just should not work. But Gremlins gets the mix just right and serves up a tasty concoction. A scary “family film” that is at times a little to intense for kids but great fun for adults. I remember the first time I saw Gremlins, I was about 12 years old and a neighbour rented it out on VHS and asked me over to watch.  It was all I could talk about at school for the following few weeks, I loved it as a kid and even more so as an adult. That story Kate tells of how she found out Santa wasn’t real… that’s dark man.

December 21st

So I may be cheating a bit here as this isn’t really a film. It’s a TV show, but a feature length episode of a TV show… but it is Christmas.

Black Mirror White Christmas

Black Mirror is an anthology show where technology takes centre stage and shows the (mostly) dark and disturbing way it can be abused. Black Mirror: White Christmas is the festive special and it’s just as bleak as it’s standard episodes. This one is actually an anthology within an anthology as this episode features four interconnecting stories about 2 men stuck in a small house over Christmas and just how they are connected is slowly revealed. This is very, very downbeat and depressing and I think it’s brilliant.

December 22nd

It’s back, that darned Dickens descriptive. Told you I love this yarn and here’s another adaption I always watch over Christmas.

Scrooged.jpg

Directed by Richard Donner and starring Bill Murray. Scrooged is a much more comedic and contemporary take on the classic tale. Bill’s take on the Scrooge character (Frank Cross in this version) is sarcastic, bitter and still not without charm. Behind the scenes stories tell that Richard Donner and Bill Murray never got on and how the plot kept changing. Apparently Bill hated working on this film… and yet it and he are still brilliant to watch. 

December 23rd

Who’d have thought that a film about a man wanting to commit suicide would make for an all time Christmas classic film?

It's a Wonderful Life.jpg

I love Jimmy Stewart, he’s one of my all time favourite actors ever. His good looks, charm and that voice all add up to one of the most charming and charismatic people ever seen on film. It’s a Wonderful Life is a wonderful flick. Despite the fact this film has very, very little to do with Christmas, it’s still an undisputed Christmas classic and one I watch year after year after year.

Christmas Eve

There is really only one film you can watch on Christmas Eve. The greatest Christmas Eve film ever made.

Die Hard.jpg

Watching Die Hard the night before Christmas has become a decades long tradition for me now going back to Christmas of 1989 when my older brother first came home with a copy of Die Hard on VHS to watch. I must have been around 13 years old at the time and loved the film. This year will mark the 30th year running I’ve watched Die Hard on the night before Christmas and I hope to continue it for at least another 30.

Christmas Day

So it’s the main event and I’ve already included some surefire (and no so) Christmas classics. But for the grand finale, I’ve got to pull out the big guns and those lovable marionette/puppets.

The Muppet Christmas Carol

I grew up watching The Muppet Show on TV and even now as a 43 year old… I have a major soft spot for them. So when they made their version my all time favourite Christmas story, it was lighting in a bottle. I have already said how much I adore A Christmas Carol as a piece of storytelling and no matter how many times it is told and re-told year after year in it’s many different versions, I can just not get bored of it. The Muppet Christmas Carol is the best of the lot. That melding of music, humour, heart and of course, Muppets is genius. Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge is the most perfect casting and the way he plays off his fuzzy co-stars and they off him is flawless. The greatest Christmas film ever made.


 

I’m a little bit late with this list as it’s now the 15th as I publish this and not the 14th when my Christmas movie watching begins. The delay is due to the fact I was in hospital on the 14th as my son was born. Yup, I became a Daddy… best Christmas present ever!

Merry Christmas

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m a little behind with my list and have to go watch Rocky III and Batman Returns tonight. Have a good Christmas and New Year folks, see you in 2020… unless something big happens I feel I need to express an opinion on.

Why I Miss VHS Rental Stores

To paraphrase Madonna.

“We are living in a digital world. And I am a digital girl…or boy.”

Quite honestly, I think the digital age of media that we are living in is amazing. Any and everything we want/need at the click of a button and most of the time we never have to leave our nice, soft and comfy sofas. Then if we do need to leave the comforting warmth of our homes, we can just download media to our mobile devices to enjoy on the move. Movies, TV shows, music and games, we have everything we need for hours upon hours of entertainment. Just give me a beer (or seven), my smart TV/Xbox and I’m good for a few days – happy as a pig in…well you know.

The convenience of the digital age, the speed and sheer variety of things we can watch/play is astonishing. You’ve got yer Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play and many others. All services that offer all the movies and so much more besides at the touch of a button. But I want to take you back to the dark ages, before digital media and to an age when we actually had to leave the house if we wanted to watch a film at home. The age of the VHS rental shops.

Blockbuster

Now, I’m from England and yes we had the likes of Blockbuster Video over here too, they were everywhere at one point. Blockbuster were the kings of VHS rentals, love em’ or hate em’, you can’t deny they were the best of the best until their inevitable downfall. But I don’t want to talk about a giant store like Blockbuster or their fall from grace, I want to cover those smaller, independent rental shops. Those tucked away, grubby, sticky floored, stale popcorn selling shops that us older generation went to before Blockbuster became king. I also want to try and paint a picture with words (and a few pictures) to show just how great these places were and try to explain just why I miss them so.

A nice little history lesson for those too young to remember or know the excitement of VHS rentals or even a trip down memory lane for those old enough to remember/care and who miss the whole rental experience as I do.

My Memories

My local VHS rental place was in Kings Norton, Birmingham – where I grew up in the 80s. It was just opposite The Navigation Inn on Pershore Road. Can’t remember what it was called, but they all had generic names like Bob’s Rentals or VHS Village, etc. They were never impressive places, often dully lit, stains on the carpet and had that weird/hard to place smell. They were grim places and yet, they were the highlight of the week at the same time.

VHS Store

Yeah, they looked like that, complete with carpet stains and dozens of movie posters plastered everywhere. The VHS rental visit would always be on a Friday night after school and this was something you looked forward to from Monday morning onward. Spending all week during break-times between classes chatting to your school friends about the films you watched over the weekend, swapping stories, film suggestions, talking about the trailers you saw. Sometimes even during class if and when you got bored.

Those five days from Monday to Friday seemed to go on forever and ever. Then, Friday afternoon at 3:30 pm, the school bell would ring and it was the sweetest sound you’d hear all week. School was done and what lay in wait was two days of watching movies, just hours away and that weekly trip to Terry’s Tapes (or whatever it was called) was on the horizon. But first, homework, something to eat and tidy your room just to build that an-tici-pation. Once all the annoying time wasting stuff was out of the way sometime after 5 pm, it was VHS rental time.

VHS Village

As you’d make your way to the shop, you’d be thinking about the films you wanted to watch and remember the ones you and your friends were talking about at school over the last several days, looking forward to the posters you might see hanging in the window or stuck to the walls via Blu-Tack. Then before you knew it, you were there, standing outside the door of the shop and just like Father Merrin standing outside the MacNeil house, you’d stop, look at the windows and pause just staring at the shop in wonderment.

The Exorsict

After the pause, you’d eagerly push open the door while your eyes darted between the many posters on display and that smell would hit your nostrils. That stale, stagnant odour only independent VHS rental shops had and one I’ve not smelt for decades. It was a strange mix of body odour, the plastic of the VHS boxes, cigarette smoke (as people could still light up indoors back then), finished off with whatever the hell was staining the carpet. And trust me when I say that the distinct aroma was even worse during the summer. Then you stepped inside and you were finally there. The annoyances and frustrations of a hard week at school just melted away – had a painful and laborious double science class on Wednesday? Fugetaboutit. You were standing right in the middle of your own personal nirvana and loving every single second of it.

Four of your five senses kicked into overdrive. Your sight was almost blinded by the images on the posters and the rows upon rows of VHS boxes. Your hearing bombarded with the sounds of films and trailers being played on the 12 inch TV resting on the shop counter. Your smell took in every last whiff of that horrible, yet familiar odour. While your touch was put into practice as you held and caressed the VHS cases as you browsed the impressive collection. Your fifth sense, taste, would just have to wait until later when you bought some of that out of date Toffee Butterkist sitting in a wire basket/shelf near the counter as no one ever bothered checked the use by date.

Merrily making your way through the labyrinthine rows of VHS tapes and heading straight to the horror section that was always at the back of the shop, away from the front door and windows. Not necessarily because you wanted to rent a horror film (though you mainly did), but because you knew that the very top row of the highest shelf of the horror section was where the shop owner always kept the ‘discrete’ porn section (we didn’t hide our VHS porn behind a curtain in England). You’d intensely look at the wide array of horror film covers as you walked back and forth along the horror section pretending to be really, really interested in Hellraiser, Demons, Dawn Of The Dead, etc –  but then quickly flit your gaze upwards toward that top shelf in a vein attempt to catch a glimpse of some Russ Meyer movie cover, maybe a little side boob or censored nipple as this was the equivalent of hardcore porn of today to a 14 year old in the 1980s.

ELECTRIC BLUE VHS

Your hands were at the point of breaking into a clammy sweat as you picked up the numerous empty VHS boxes and your eyes soaked up in every little detail of the cover art. Awesome box art like; The TerminatorMad MaxHighlanderBig Trouble in Little China as well as numerous others – images that still bring a smile to your face even today. You’d flip the empty box over and read the synopsis, see who was in the film and look at the tiny screen caps as you thought about renting the tape out. But even though you were browsing…you already knew what films you wanted rent. One of them was always the holy grail of VHS rentals in the 80s – Back to the Future. Even though you saw it seven times at the cinema, you wanted to watch it again at home, but every time you tried to rent it, all copies were already out as the shop only had two tapes and the waiting list was around seven to eight weeks. Still, you’d always ask anyway in case someone brought it back early...they never did.

Back To The Future VHS

So you’d pick your three or four films for the weekend, one of which would probably be Raiders of the Lost Ark for the eighth time that year (and it was only March). Taking your arm-full of empty boxes to the counter and picking up a couple of bags of that several months out of date Toffee Butterkist too, the shop owner would ask for your membership card despite the fact you’ve been going in every Friday night like clockwork for the last five years and he knows you by name and your address better than you do. As the server frantically searched the wall of VHS tapes behind the counter for your chosen rentals, you would glace over at that 12 inch TV most probably showing a trailer for Death Wish 3 or maybe Breakin‘ 2Electric Boogaloo. That’s when you’d notice the ex-rental basket where older VHS tapes were being sold off cheap so you could own them yourself. I still remember buying the Making Michael Jackson’s Thriller tape for 75p…bargain.

If you were lucky, if you were a regular and if the owner liked you, then they may let you rent one for free or even better…the behind the counter stuff, the banned or fully uncut versions of The Evil Dead or The Exorcist that were not readily availableYou see, in the 80s here in England, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) went a little mad and created the infamous video nasty list. Where a lot of (mainly) horror films were either cut to shreds and censored to the point of being unwatchable or they were just outright banned. So getting to see these films in tact in the 80s was an even more sought after holly grail than a VHS copy of Back to the Future. You didn’t know how he got these films and didn’t care either. All I knew and cared about was that I got to see a fully uncut version of The Evil Dead in 1984, which (if you know anything about the infamy this film had in England at the time) was simply impossible. Still, ask no questions, tell no lies. There were no real age-checks back then, no ID required as long as you were not renting out porn, everything else was fair game if you had the membership card. Yeah blood soaked violence, horror and swearing were okay but nudity and sex? That was a major taboo. You may have been only fourteen years old but if you wanted to rent out John Carpenter’s The Thing…okay. I quite honestly think I saw more horror films as an underage teenager in the 80s via my local VHS store than when I was legally allowed to and after becoming an adult.

Then after paying for your rentals, the guy behind the counter would thrust your chosen VHS tapes into a plastic bag with that not at its best Butterkist and hand it to you along with your by now very used, slightly torn and curled at the edges membership card. Then you’d step out of that odorous, stuffy VHS rental shop into the fresh air which provided an instant hit like no other legal high could manage, that smell of freshness that indicated it was almost movie time.

VHS Player.jpg

Hurrying home and thrusting your rented VHS tapes into that monster of a top-loader player (about the size of 4 Xbox One consoles combined…and I don’t mean the slim version). The loud mechanisms and servo motors would whirl into action as the top loading tape-tray eagerly swallowed the VHS tape and digested it. You’d have to adjust the tracking (look it up), sit through direct to VHS trailers of so bad they’re good action films that most probably starred Chuck Norris and were produced by Cannon Films. Movies that most people have long forgotten about or secretly still admire to this day, those guilty pleasures all us VHS enthusiasts love to watch but don’t tell anyone about, like the Missing In Action trilogy. Then the main event began, the film(s) you have waited all week to watch. You rented out Best Defense only because Eddie Murphy was on the cover and he was the big comedy star of the 80s. Yeah the film was terrible…but you still enjoyed it, not because of the film itself but because of the entire experience of choosing the film previously and an experience you couldn’t wait to repeat the following weekend.

Then after the weekend of watching films. One of which was probably Raiders of the Lost Ark…again, while eating that stale Toffee Butterkist. You’d go back to school on Monday morning to tell your friends about the films you’d watched over the weekend, swapping stories, film suggestions, talking about the trailers you watched, etc and restart the whole cycle once more as that five day countdown to Friday and 3:30 pm began again.


 

That, all of that is what I miss about VHS rentals. Yes, I do love and very much appreciate the digital age…but we have lot something very special to make way for it. We have pretty much any movie at the touch of a button now, we don’t have to worry about something not being in stock as its always going to be there and with that, we have lost the anticipation and excitement of getting your hands on the film you really want to watch. We no longer get to explore cover art, flip the box over, read the synopsis and soak up those movie stills, etc. We now just click on download/stream and instantly have whatever we want. Convenient? Yes. As enjoyable? Not at all.

RIP VHS

R.I.P VHS rental stores. I for one miss you.

 

Great Scott! Back To The Future: The Plot Holes!

Okay, so I’m no snob that thinks my favorite films are 100% perfect with no problems. All films have problems, goofs and errors because they are made by humans and us humans are not infallible, we make mistakes…all of us, I’ll probably make some mistakes in this article. But I do have a problem with people calling out a film for having a plot hole when no such plot hole really exists. Such as with my look at a supposed “major plot hole” in Die Hard not long back. As with that article, right here I’m going to take a look at some plot holes that people believe they have found in the Back to the Future trilogy. I have scoured the interwebs for videos, comments and other blogs that have brought up the most popular plot holes and I will now attempt to cover the supposed plot holes using only basic logic, information from the movies or from the film makers themselves.

There are quite a few to cover over the entire trilogy and the Back to the Future films can get a little confusing if you don’t pay attention (which is where a lot of the supposed plot holes come from, the lack of attention). So prepare yourselves as this is going to get heavy.

Back to the Future Alternate Poster.jpg

Why Don’t 1985 George & Lorraine Think That Marty Looks Like Calvin Klein From School?

George and Lorranie 1955

This is probably one of the biggest and most referenced plot holes from the first film. So at the end of the flick, Marty returns to 1985 from 1955 and a lot has changed (more on that later), one of the biggest changes is how in love his parents George and Lorraine now are compared to the start of the film pre-time travel. But seeing as Marty spent time in 1955 interacting with his then teenage parents, why do they not recognise him in 1985? Why doesn’t George think it suspicious that Marty looks just like that Calvin Klein kid from his school?

Okay so this is how I look at it and how I think the film looks at it too. It had been thirty years from when Marty was in 1955 to 1985. There were no pictures of Calvin for his parents to look back on. Do you really expect the now middle aged adults to remember the face of someone they met thirty years previously while they were teenagers with nothing to remind them? Even more so, Marty/Calvin hardly spent any time with George and Lorraine when he was in 1955 under strict instructions from Doc, he only interacted with them when necessary (after messing up the time line). Marty may have been in 1955 for a week but would have spent only a handful of hours with them over those seven days. But people expect George and Lorraine to remember what Calvin Kline from school looked like three decades ago who they only knew for a few hours over the course of a seven day period? Yeah he helped them get together and of course you’d think they would remember that right? Well…

Then to finish, it could be as simple as George and Lorraine just do not remember Calvin/Marty. The film itself even highlights as much in its dialogue. George and Lorraine credit Biff with getting them together and not Calvin.

George:Ahh… Biff. What a character. Always trying to get away with something. I’ve had to stay on top of Biff ever since High School. Although if it wasn’t for him…

Lorraine:We never would have fallen in love.

Then there is this bit of dialogue too…

Lorraine:Oh, honey! Your first novel.

George:Like I’ve always told you, you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.

George uses Marty’s quote about putting your mind to something, which Marty said to his father back in 1955…except he doesn’t credit Calvin with the quote and says “Like I’ve always told you…”. Is that’s George remembering the quote but not necessarily remembering who said it, so credits himself?

So my conclusion is that they just do not remember Calvin from 1955, memories fade especially over a thirty year period. The film itself even spells this out. If they clearly don’t remember him nor have anything to remind themselves of Calvin from 1955 – they would have no reason to think Marty looks like Calvin would they? No plot hole.

Marty Disappearing At The Dance

Martys Hand

I didn’t even think this was considered a plot hole (because its not) but as I found this particular one on whatculture.com, I thought I’d address it anyway. They point out how the picture of his siblings that Marty has with him in 1955 shows them slowly disappear after Marty has interfered with his parents getting together. As they say about this plot hole that “Over those first several days, Marty’s brother and sister were gradually erased, as indicated on the photo that Marty so quaintly carried with him before smart phones.” Which is very true, so what is the plot hole here?

Well according to this site, during the dance near the end of the first film, Marty (and I quote) “began to disappear on the stage with Marvin Berry and company at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance, but all at once and very rapidly.” Pointing out that Marty’s disappearance was much quicker than his siblings shown in the photo.

So there are two ways to look at this one as far as I can tell. The first can be explained using the ‘ripple effect‘. Basically, how like throwing a stone into a body of water causes ripples to eventually expand across the water. They start out small but become bigger and bigger the longer the effect continues. So one could say that the erasing of Marty was part of that ripple effect that started out small but by the time it make its way through his siblings, the ripples were much larger and made a bigger impact. Makes sense to me anyway. The other way to look at it is to watch the damn film properly as Marty never does begin to disappear (as the site claims) “all at once and very rapidly” at all. ONLY his hand begins to fade, which is most definitely not “all at once”, that’s just a hand, plus its a slow fade too which is not “very rapidly”. Then just to finish, we only see his brother and sister fade via a photo and have no idea how that would be depicted in in “real-life” as it were, for all we know his family could have disappeared EXACTLY the same way Marty began to right?

So I chalk this one up to whoever pointed this plot hole out as just not paying attention.

Marty Being Called Marty

Lorraine and Marty

After the big dance and after Marty does his best Chuck Berry impersonation, he bumps into his now very much in love parents to be. After a little humorous exchange of words and advice, Lorraine makes a fun comment after Marty leaves.

Lorraine:Marty…such a nice name.

So if Lorraine likes the name Marty so much, why didn’t she name her first born son (Dave) Marty instead of Marty? Major plot hole there eh? Well no. Lorraine just makes a throwaway comment on how the name Marty is nice, she does not say “Marty…I really must call my first born that.” She just likes the name and for all we now she could have called the family dog Marty sometime after these events. Maybe they had an agreement that George would name their first born? There are various possibilities. Even more so, Marty was called Marty even before going to 1955 (because Lorraine has ALWAYS liked the name without Marty’s interference?) so could there be a chance that the name didn’t come from his time-traveling escapades? Oh yeah I got this one backed up too.

Not many people know this but his name isn’t actually Marty, that’s just a nickname as his full name is in fact Martin Seamus McFly and do you know where that name came from? In Back to the Future III, Marty crosses paths with his great-great grandfather, Seamus McFly and it is reveled that Seamus had a brother named Martin, Marty’s great-great granduncle.

Anyway, the point is that Marty’s real name of Martin Seamus comes from his great-great grandfather and great-great granduncle and always has done even before his went to 1955. So Lorraine liking the name Marty is a moot point really as the name is a family one handed down through the generations, though maybe not for every generation. Even 2015 Marty has a son and his name? Martin “Marty” Jr keeping that Martin family name alive.

Rich And Famous George & Lorraine In The Alternate 1985 And Other Changes

George McFly Book

So pre-time-travel and the McFly family are a bunch of losers…except super cool Marry of course. Lorraine is an overweight, raging alcoholic. George is a pathetic wimp with greasy hair. His brother, Dave works in a crappy fast food place and his sister Linda is shown to be having trouble with the boys. They live in a shitty little house that is clearly unkempt.

However, post-time-travel and things have dramatically changed. Lorraine is not longer drinking and looks amazing. George is a massively confident and a successful writer with much nicer hair. Dave has a cushy job in an office and Linda seems a bit more successful with the opposite sex…and they still live in the same house but its much decorated much more tastefully.

So much to cover here but I’ll start with an easy one. A lot of people see it as a plot hole that both Dave and Linda are still living with their parents if their lives are so much better. But the film never makes it clear that they still living with their parents. Yeah they are there at the house having breakfast – but how do we not know that a family breakfast on a Saturday morning is not a McFly family tradition? Maybe they always get together on a Saturday morning and Dave and Linda were just there as normal. Maybe Dave and Linda were just passing on their way to work and popped in to say hello? Several possibilities that make sense.

Another one of the most popular plot holes in regard to all the changes. So seeing as George is such a rich and successful writer, then why are they still living in the same house? Well who says that George is rich and successful? Allow me to quickly bring up another quote form the film…

Biff: “Mr. McFly! Mr. McFly, this just arrived. Oh, hi, Marty. I think it’s your new book.

Lorraine: “Oh, honey! Your first novel.

His FIRST novel. Does this not indicate that just maybe his is not as rich and successful as people think he is? Maybe his novel will be a huge flop, maybe it was be a worldwide bestseller. Point is, its his FIRST novel so we the viewer do not know how rich and successful he is or if he ever will be. Maybe that is why they still live in the same house, because that’s all they could afford?

Another plot hole people seem to bring up about all these changes is why hasn’t Marty changed and why would he still hang out with Doc? If his parents and family have changed for the better then wouldn’t that lead to a different upbringing for Marty? This is another one of those simple issues that we the viewer just do not see. Yeah I guess Marty would have a different upbringing and he quite possibly did. But this is how I see it. It was Marty going back to 1955 and interacting with his parents that kick-started the changes…so if it was Marry that was the main influence then why would Marty himself change? Would he not still have the same interests (including befriending Doc) if it was ultimately Marty influencing himself? Even more so, he did change as a subtle detail at the end reveals. Pre-time-travel and Marty has serious doubts about sending his band’s demo tape to a music producer as shown when he and Jennifer talk near the start of the film. However by the end, Marty is seen holding an envelope ready to post which has been confirmed as being that same demo tape. So Marty’s confidence has grown after his 1955 trip.

But before I finish up on these non-existent plot holes there is one major factor people seem to miss. The Marty we see at the end of the film is the original Marty from the start of the flick and the one from the original parents. The alternate Marty, the one that would’ve been brought up by the more successful George & Lorraine we see get sent back to 1955 near the end of the film. As we do not get to really see this Marty, he could be vastly different for all we know. Or (going back to a previous point) he could be pretty much the same seeing as it was Marty who influences his family anyway. Point is, there are two Marty’s, the original who wouldn’t really change and the now “new” Marty who has gone to 1955 who could have changed but we just do not see any of that.

Hiring Biff The Rapist

Lorraine and Biff

So I’ve always felt that “rape” was a bit too strong a word to use when describing Biff and what he got up to with Lorraine in the first film. Yeah he forced himself on her…but rape? Anyway, regardless of my own personal views and opinions on that particular scene, I’ll allow the rape description for this one. Some people feel its a plot hole that George would hire the person who attempted to rape his future wife to clean and polish his car at the end of the film and call into question why George would put his family in danger like that.

I see this as a massive shift in power and one George relishes in. All through high school, George had been bullied by Biff right up until that day when he (via the help of Calvin) had the balls to stand up to Biff and lay him out with one punch. George’s popularity soared to heights as conversely Biff’s reputation sank. The school began to see Biff for the true coward he really was. Given that kind of a situation, wouldn’t you hire your ex-nemesis as a dogsbody to clean your car as an insult and payback for years and years of bullying abuse? And if you don’t like that reasoning, then maybe Biff’s Auto Detailing is the only car cleaning business in the small town of Hall Valley?

Exactly When Did Lightning Hit The Clock Tower?

Clock tower lightening

So this is one I’ve seen pop up several times. The climax of the film includes a thrilling race against time (irony?) during the infamous Hill Valley electrical storm of November 12, 1955. Where Marty has to drive the DeLorean at 88 MPH towards Doc’s “weather experiment” that will harness and direct the lightning into the car creating the needed 1.21 gigawatts to send it and Marty back to 1985. But the plot hole is how could they know when the lighting would strike? Yeah they knew it would hit the clock tower at 10:04 pm but don’t minutes have little segments to them called seconds so the lighting could strike anytime in those sixty seconds – which would completely throw off the timing of the experiment, hence the plot hole.

The answer to this one is given in the film itself. When Marty and Jennifer are talking near the start of the film, they are approached by the Hill Valley Preservation Society who were raising funds and awareness for their hopes to…well preserve the clock tower in its current state as they feel that the lighting storm and the damage it caused to the clock tower is historically important to Hill Valley. Marty gives them a donation and in return he gets given a flyer. This flyer has all sorts of information on it about the clock tower including the precise time it was hit by lightning – Doc even mentions this himself when coming up with the plan to send Marty back. So they knew EXACTLY to the second when the lighting would hit.

Doc Rips Up The Letter

Marty's letter

So during the climax of the first film, Doc discovers the letter Marty wrote to him about the night he is shot and killed in an attempt to save Doc’s life. Doc tears the letter up and throws it away and yet back in 1985 he is wearing a bulletproof vest that saves his life and pulls out the torn up letter now fixed with sellotape. But he threw the letter away so how can he still have it?

This one is a plot hole I see popping up a lot and it really boils down to something so simple and another one of those people just not paying attention things. Yes Doc tears the letter up…but he doesn’t throw it away. If you watch the scene on question Doc just places the torn pieces into his coat pocket. So its pretty safe to assume that Doc simply took the letter from his pocket and reconstructed it sometime after the events of the first film.

Back to the Future II Alternate Poster

Old Biff And Young Biff Chatting

Old and Young Biff

So Doc says that you should avoid running into yourself when time travelling as it could cause the space-time continuum to destroy the universe or maybe you’d just faint? There is quite a big difference between those two factors eh? Anyway, if this is the case then how come 2015 Biff when in 1955 manages to have a lengthy chat with his 1955 counterpart and nothing happens? I mean when 1985 Jennifer sees her 2015 self, they faint. So there’s a major plot hole right there.

Of course its not, have you not got the gist of this article yet? When Doc talks about time travel, he uses a lot of vague speeches that offer no certainties or definites. Yes Doc invented a time machine…but even he does not know exactly how it all works, he has his ideas and theories – but that is all they are, ideas and theories. So yeah, maybe running into yourself via time travel could destroy the universe, maybe you would faint…or maybe nothing would happen at all? That’s the thing about time travel, no one knows.

If you don’t like that explanation, I can offer another. 1955 Biff just did not recognise 2015 Biff to cause any problems. The film itself even makes a point that young Biff does not know who old Biff is and this could be the key. As long as your younger self has no idea who you are then there can not be any space-time continuum universe destroying or fainting. I guess ignorance can be bliss. If you want further proof of this idea then it happens again when 1985 Doc bumps into 1955 Doc during setting up the “weather experiment”. Though the two converse and interact, older Doc keeps himself hidden as much as he can from his younger self. The young Doc has no idea that he is talking to the future version of himself and just as with the whole Biff thing…nothing happens.

Biff Returning To The Same 2015

Hilldale 2015

This one is probably the most popular plot hole of the film. Every Back to the Future fan knows this one but I’ll just do a quick recap anyway. So while in 2015, as Doc and Marty are trying to get the unconscious Jennifer out of the house and back to the DeLorean, old Biff steals the time machine, goes to 1955, changes the time line and returns to 2015. The problem is that Doc makes it very clear later that one can not travel to the same future you came from if you have changed the past as you will be in a future altered from the point the past changed. This is even shown at the end of the first flick when Marty returns to 1985, but its a different 1985 with his improved family. So if the rules of the film(s) point out you can not return to the same future, then how did Biff manage to do just this after coming back from 1955?

Simply put, he didn’t return to the same future. There you go, on with the next plot hole.

Okay so this one does need some explaining. As I said, Biff did return to a now alternate 2015 when he came back from 1955. There are several hints through the film that can be used to back up this claim too. One of the easiest (and laziest) explanations is to go back to the classic ripple effect and say that the changes in the time line from 1955 had not yet caught up to 2015. But I said that Biff did return to an alternate 2015 and the ripple effect just does not cover that claim.

First point to make is that Doc says how the time line changes around the time travelers, he mentions this when Marty is concerned about leaving Jennifer on the porch to pick her up later after they fix the time line. Another point is the location the scene takes place in, Hilldale a residential area that was quite highbrow and affluent in 1985 but a run-down shithole in 2015. Even the police, when they find the unconscious 1985 Jennifer and take her home mention how Hilldale is a rough neighbourhood full of junkies and thieves. As does the cabbie that drops Biff off in Hilldale. So taking these two points and seeing as Biff going back to 1955 made his future self incredibly rich, so much so that he ran Hill Valley into the ground as shown in the alternate 1985 later…exactly what would’ve changed? Hilldale would have changed from a shithole to a slightly more of a shithole? I don’t see that many, if any changes would have caught the attention of Doc and Marty as the timeline changed around them. I mean look at how long it takes them to work out they arrived in an alternate 1985 later compared to how much time they spend in 2015 after Biff returns. If it took a good few hours to realise the timeline has been changed in 1985 I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t notice small changes in Hilldale within a few minutes.

Another factor is the direction of the whole scene. Doc and Marty have already got Jennifer out of the McFly house when Biff returns to 2015. It is said on the commentary for the film that it was shot this very specific way as to get the characters out of the house as the timeline changed so anyone could have been living in the now ex-McFly house due to the changes…we just never see who.

There is also a much bigger clue and that is when Biff exits the DeLorean and is seen to be having some kind of difficulty. He’s struggling to breath and walk…something has changed. There is a famous deleted scene that shows Biff disappear, being erased from existence after returning to 2015. So yeah, Biff does return to an alternate 2015 and not the same one he left.

Lack Of Memories And How Can Marty & Jennifer Exist In 2015?

Marty and Lorraine

I suppose this is a pretty big one too. If Marty & Jennifer leave 1985 to go to 2015 then how can they exist in the future if they have skipped over that period of time and even more so, why don’t future Marty and Jennifer know that the 1985 versions of themselves are there?

As Doc says “the future is not written”, it may not be written but it is at least penciled in. I have always looked at it as the future being extrapolated from where they are in the current timeline and the moment you leave the timeline a future is ‘predicted’ using the information of that moment. This would also go some way to explain how Doc is able to go to 2015 and discover that Marty’s son will get into trouble in the future. In fact in Back to the Future III when Marty and Doc are discussing the fact the name on Doc’s tombstone had disappeared – but the stone itself and date of death remains, Doc says this…

Doc:This photograph represents what will happen if the events of today continue to run their course into tomorrow.

So the future is not written, but it is at the very least still outlined and if the events of today carry on through tomorrow and the next day, and the next day and so on then that is the future you will have. So, in short the future shown in 2015 is simply extrapolated and penciled in based on the events of 1985 at that time. Does that make sense? The way I see it is the future shown in 2015 is just an estimate drawn from the events of 1985 pre-time travel escapades. This also goes some to to explain why neither future Marty or Jennifer know that their 1985 counterparts are in 2015…because in this future predicted, they didn’t time travel to 2015.

There is another possible explanation. Future Marty and Jennifer exist in 2015 because they will ultimately return to 1985 and live out their lives up to 2015. I can back this one up with in-movie logic too. Where is the 2015 version Doc when they go to the future? We never see him. There are various explanations to this, first the most depressing one, Doc is dead by 2015 and that is why we don’t see him. Second, he is very much alive, we just do not see him in 2015. Third and the one that I think ties in best with the whole theory – Doc never returns to 1985 (as shown at the end of Back to the Future III) to live his life through to 2015 so he can not exist in the future. You can even go back to the first film to find an example of this idea too. When Doc first tests the time machine using his dog Einstein, he sends his faithful pal one minute into the future. When Doc and Marty eventually catch up to that future (all be it only sixty seconds), there is only one Einstein and not two because he never goes back to his original time of one minute in the past to live out that time.

Old Biff Stealing The DeLorean

Biff Delorean

So while Doc and Marty are busy recusing Jennifer from the 2015 McFly house, old Biff steals the DeLorean and takes it back to 1955 to give his younger-self the sports almanac. But the plot hole many people bring up is how does Biff not only know he is in a time machine but also how to use it?

This is another one of those not paying attention things. Going back to the start of the film and during the re-cap of the end of the previous film as Doc Marty and Jennifer head off to 2015, Biff comes running out of the house and sees the DeLorean time travel. He does not fully understand exactly what is going on then, but its an event he will recall in 2015. Now in the future and Biff sees a flying DeLorean and that kick-starts his memory form thirty years previously – he still has not worked everything out, but he is suspicious, especially when he sees two Marty Jnrs running around. One the real son of Marty from 2015 and one Marty himself from 1985. Then when Doc discovers Marty’s plan of betting on sporting events, he throws the sports almanac away while berating Marty for his idea. While Doc talks about the dangers of time travel, Biff overhears them and now finally has all the pieces of the puzzle. He knows that Doc and Marty have time traveled and he also knows about the sports almanac.

Okay so Biff knows the DeLorean is a time machine…but how does he know how to use it? I have numerous possible explanations to this one too.

Time Circuits.jpg

See that image? Its taken from the first film when and is (obviously) an interior shot of the car, in particular the time circuits – notice anything? Everything is clearly labeled, time circuits including destination time, present time and last time departed. Even the digital speedometer has a label on it pointing out you need to go 88 MPH. There is a label for the plutonium chamber, one for flux capacitor…everything has a label – seriously next time you watch the film(s) just look at the DeLorean’s interior and Doc has conveniently ensured everything has a label. So all Biff had to do was read and piece things together on how to use the equipment. Here’s another theory, he didn’t know how to use it and just went back to 1955 by accident. I mean, Marty went back to 1955 by accident in the first film when he unintentionally turned on the time circuits while changing gear, even Doc did the same near the end of this film when he goes to rescue Marty from the school and accidentally flips the time circuits on which will eventually send him to 1885. So if both Marty and Doc can unwittingly get sent back through time….why not Biff?

Then there is my final point and one I think people seem to overlook…HE’S IN A TIME MACHINE! Biff could have taken hours, days, weeks, months to work out how the time machine works and just as long as he reruns the DeLorean back to 2015 for Doc and Marty to use, there would be no problem.

Why Go To 1955 To Get The Almanac Back?

Biff Wins Newspaper

That’s the thing about having a time machine, there is not real urgency to do anything as you have all the time in the world. So why do Doc and Marty feel the need to go back to 1955 as soon as they learn that 2015 Biff gave his younger-self the almanac, couldn’t they have waited until sometime in 1956 or 57 or any point after 1955 Biff receives the book? There is even the fact that 1955 Biff doesn’t make any bets until a few years after he gets hold of the book anyway, so there is no rush really.

First thing I need to address with this one is why Biff waits a few years to make his first bet. The film itself points out he was too young in 1955 so had to wait until he was 21 years old to gamble. Then there is the simple fact that Doc or Marty would have no idea where the almanac was after 1955, given the evidence they had discovered in the DeLorean including the receipt of the book and the bag it came in, the top of 2015 Biff’s cane and of course the time and date on the time circuits. They knew for a fact that 2015 Biff must have given the 1955 Biff the book at some time during that period of time. Plus while in the alternate 1985, Biff tells Marty that the old geezer who gave him the book (his 2015 counterpart) told him to keep the book in a safe and the film shows the 1985 Biff take the book from a safe, so it would be safe (no pun) to assume that 1955 Biff would eventually lock the book away making it hard to get to. Taking all of that into account, Doc and Marty really had little choice other than to go to 1955 to where they were sure 2015 Biff would give 1955 Biff the book and try to retrieve it then.

Back to the Future III Alternate Poster.jpg

Beloved Clara And Clayton Ravine

Doc and Clara

So the tombstone Doc and Marty find in 1955 which is the entire plot point of the whole movie, the reason Marty goes to 1885 to save Doc from being killed, the tombstone is erected by Doc’s ‘beloved Clara’. But Clara Clayton falls into Clayton Ravine hence its name but how can she put up a tombstone for Doc if she died?

The main thing to keep in mind here is the fact there are three timelines to remember.

  1. The first original timeline with no Marty or Doc in 1885. In this timeline, Clara turns up at the train station. There is no one to meet her. She hires a buckboard and heads into town. Horse gets spooked by a snake and Clara falls into the ravine. The ravine is named Clayton Ravine out of respect. This is the timeline Marty and Doc know as they were from a future after these events.
  2. The first alternate timeline with only Doc in 1885. Doc is asked by the mayor to meet Clara from the station. They fall in love. Doc gets shot in the back by Buford and dies. Clara lives on in this timeline, erects the tombstone, and has inscribed on it “Erected in eternal memory by his beloved Clara”. This is the tombstone Marty finds in 1955 and of which he takes a photo.
  3. The second alternate timeline with Marty and Doc in 1885. This timeline is a mix of the first two and the one show in the movie. Doc is asked to meet Clara and he agrees. This time Marty turns up, and Doc forgets all about meeting her. You can even see Clara waiting at the train station for her escort in the film as Doc and Marty look at the railway map. Anyway, Clara hires a buckboard and heads into town. Snake, ravine, etc. But this time Doc is there to save her, as shown in the film.

So that is how Clara can erect the tombstone for Doc because of the second timeline shown above. But if Clara lives and doesn’t fall into the ravine thanks to Doc…then why is Clayton Ravine still called Clayton Ravine as Marty recalls? Well I can offer two possibilities.

  1. When Marty tells the story of Clayton Ravine while in 1885, he is talking from his memories from before Doc gets sent to 1885 and before Doc saves Clara because as Doc pointed on in the second film, the timeline changes around the time traveler, so they would retain their original memories . The only way Marty would know what the ravine was called after Doc saved Clara would be to time travel to a point after these events but before the train crash at the end of the film. But he does not, so he keeps his original memories including the name of the ravine. What the ravine is called in 1885 from that point (but before Eastwood Ravine at the end of the film)? Maybe it retained its original name of Shonash Ravine.
  2. Clara (after Doc dies) throws herself into the ravine through depression after losing her true love. The townsfolk call the ravine Clayton Ravine out of respect as they feel sorry for Clara. So, even in the second timeline shown above, it’s possible for the ravine to have still been called Clayton Ravine.

Getting Gas In 1885

DeLorean

So when Marty gets to 1885, he is attacked by ‘Injuns’ and the DeLorean takes an arrow (to the knee) in the gas-line which in turn leaks gasoline rendering the car useless. So Doc and Marty have to come up with a plan to get the time machine up to 88 MPH so they can get back to 1985. But here’s the thing, gasoline was available in 1885, it was not easy to come by, but it was available, I mean kerosene was readily available back then and a by-product of  kerosene is gasoline. So if Doc can create a machine that creates ice in 1885, why not a machine that turns kerosene into gas?

I actually can not believe this is being brought up as a plot hole. Yes I guess Doc could build a machine and turn kerosene into gas, in theory this could work. In practice though? Seeing as the plot of the film is Marty going to 1885 to save Doc from being shot and killed and that Doc being shot happens in just a few days…how the hell is Doc supposed to find parts, build and create a machine to make gas given the tight time frame?

The Two DeLoreans Of 1885

Buried DeLorean

One of the most brought up plot holes of the third film and kind of ties onto the previous one. The fact that there are two DeLoreans in 1885. The one Marty travels from 1955 to 1885 in and the one Doc buries in the cave that Marty uses in 1955 to ultimately go to 1885. Seeing as they needed gas in 1885, why don’t they just take the gas from the buried car and put it in the other one?

That makes perfect sense but there is a flaw in this plan. The buried car doesn’t have any gas in it. Here is a line from Doc just before he sends Marty from 1955 to 1885.

Doc Brown:I’ve put gas in the tank.

Why would he need to put gas in the tank if it already has gas in it? There is also the fact that anyone with an ounce of basic knowledge would now that when you put a car in storage for long periods of time (like seventy years) you drain the fuel to prevent corrosion and damage to the gas tank.

Plus even if we ignore the draining of the fuel, there is a major paradox risk, If when uncovering the buried DeLorean in 1885 Doc and Marty cause damage to the car, then that damage would be there in 1955 when Marty comes to use it. If the car is damaged then he couldn’t go to 1885… Seeing as Marty is in 1885, that proves that the plan to send him back in time worked, so why risk it?

Why Didn’t Doc Know He’s Going To Die In 1885?

Doc and Buford

This is another one where I feel people just do not pay attention. So when Marty does get to 1885 and eventually meets up with Doc, Doc is surprised to learn that he will be shot and killed by Buford. But here’s the plot hole – the Doc living in 1885 is the Doc from 1985 and it is while in 1955 with Marty that Doc discovers his own tombstone and the date of his death. So if 1955 Doc is aware he will be shot and killed…then shouldn’t 1985 Doc (who is now in 1885) now know this information and therefore wouldn’t be surprised to learn of his own death?

I see two possible explanations for this one. The first is to go back to the trusty, previously mentioned ripple effect. One can quite simply say that the changes in the timeline – eg: Doc being shot and killed in 1885, have not yet caught up to 1985 Doc.

The other is the more reliable one I feel and goes back to Doc’s idea that the timeline changes around the time traveler. Throughout the entire trilogy it has been shown that the person that does go through time retains their original memories regardless of ‘when’ they are. Going back to the first flick and Marty still remembers his parents meeting and falling in love at the school dance even though it has not yet happened – he remembers this because he is from a timeline where this is exactly what happened. Also, As I previously mentioned in an other plot hole above in regards to the whole Clayton Ravine thing, Marty remembers it being called Clayton Ravine because he comes from a time when that is what it was called despite the fact that Clara no longer dies in the ravine post-time travelling. The same rules can be applied to 1985 Doc who is also a time traveler and would retain his original memories. Originally Doc does not go back to 1885 and so therefore would not be shot and killed by Buford. Ergo, he would not have any memory of being shot because it never happened in his original timeline. Also note that Doc when living in 1885 had no idea that Marty was coming back for him and then there is the funny exchange about the clothing Marty is wearing…

Doc: “Marty, you’re going to have to do something about those clothes. You walk around town dressed like that, you’re liable to get shot.
Marty: “Or hanged.
Doc: “What idiot dressed you in that outfit?
Marty: “You did.

It was 1955 Doc who picked out Marty’s clothes for his 1885 trip, yet the 1985 Doc was not aware that it was him from 1955 who dressed Marty. Does this not prove that the time traveler retains their original memories? So no, the Doc living in 1885 wouldn’t know he was going to get shot and killed despite his 1955 counterpart learning of it because 1985 Doc would keep his original memories and originally, Doc is not shot and killed. Makes sense to me anyway.

Why Didn’t Doc Change His Letter?

Doc's Letter

So the reason Marty knows Doc is alive and well in 1885 is due to the letter Doc sends Marty explaining what happened to him and where/when he was. It is this letter that kick starts the whole plot of the third movie when Marty and 1955 Doc accidentally discover that 1985 Doc will be shot and killed while in 1885, the entire reason Marty goes to 1885 to begin with and the reason the DeLorean is damaged and has no fuel to get back to 1985. So here’s a good question…when in 1885, why doesn’t Doc just alter his letter after learning of what will happen to inform Marty of the problems with the time machine, why doesn’t he ask Marty to bring some gas with him from 1955? If you think about it, writing a letter to alter the future works seeing as that is exactly what Marty did in the first film to inform Doc that he will be shot by the Libyan terrorists.

The first problem with this is that by the time Marty gets to 1885, Doc had already written the letter and given it to Western Union to be delivered to Marty in 1955…so he couldn’t really get his hands on it to change it could eh? Yeah he could write another letter I guess, but that brings up another big problem. Just as with messing with the buried DeLorean. Marty is in 1885, the plan worked so why change it? Then there is the whole paradox issue – I mean if Marty brings some gas back with him to use in the DeLorean, then Doc has no need to write a letter asking Marty to bring back gas…so Marty does not bring back any gas, which means Doc has to write a letter telling Marty to bring back some gas, if Marty brings some gas back with him to use in the DeLorean, then Doc has no need to write a letter asking Marty to bring back gas…so Marty does not bring back any gas…and so on. Its a paradox. Best to just leave things as they are then.

Marty’s Hand And The Car Accident

Rolls Royce

So in the second film we learn that Marty gets involved in a race with Needles which results in Marty crashing into a white Rolls Royce in which he breaks his hand. It is this injury that causes Marty to stop playing the guitar leading to the not so impressive future depicted in the movie. At the end of the third picture, Marty avoids this race and crash by not raising to Needles calling him a chicken, something he learns not to react to after his time in 1885. But here is the plot hole, Marty avoids getting into the race at the end of the film after picking up Jennifer from leaving her on the porch in the second film…but Jennifer would not have been left on the porch in the original timeline where Marty crashes breaking his hand. So if Marty had no reason to go pick up Jennifer in the original timeline, then he wouldn’t have meet Needles, there wouldn’t have been a race and there never would have been a crash to begin with.

This one had me scratching my head for a while I admit, but I think the answer lies in the original flick. A sub-plot in the film is that Marty and Jennifer were going away camping to the lake for the weekend. The race and crash happen on Sunday, so taking the original timeline into account – couldn’t Marty have been involved in the crash originally AFTER taking Jennifer home after their trip to the lake? Its never said that Jennifer was with Marty during the crash of the original timeline, so maybe she wasn’t because Marty had already dropped her off home after their camping trip to the lake and crossed paths with Needles on his way home afterward?

Triptic


So there you have it, a few of the more popular Back to the Future trilogy plot holes I think I’ve managed to cover pretty well. Can you think of any I may have missed, let me know in the comments and I can include them in an edit if I feel they can work out?

The Best (Or Worst) Cinematic Villains

With the major disappointment of a bad guy that was the boring CGI-fest, Steppenwolf from the recent Justice League flick. I got to thinking about some of my favourite on-screen villains over the years. From total, outright murderous killers to more subtle antagonists that have you rooting for the bad guy or feeling sorry for them despite their nefarious ways. There is one thing all the villains on my list have that Justice League‘s Steppenwolf does not… personality, character, depth, charm and screen presence – okay so that’s more than one thing – but you get the point, Steppenwolf was shit.

A film’s bad guy (or gal) can be both despised and revered at the same time if they are written/acted well enough and a good villain is required for the film to work. So here we go and in no particular order – with my top (whatever number as I’m not counting) list of cinematic antagonists. Pre-warning SPOILERS ahead for some films…

Terminator (The Terminator)

Terminator

The movie role that catapulted Arnold Schwarzenegger into Hollywood fame. A killer cyborg sent from the future to kill the leader of the resistance that will stop the machine’s rule over the humans – before he has even been born. The Terminator is a low budget sci-fi/horror flick with a lot of heart and ambition. Still one of the all time great pictures that sticks in the mind thanks to its then unknown star, Schwarzenegger playing the titular Terminator… or The Cyberdyne Systems Model 101, Series T-800 – if you prefer.

A chilling villain that is seemingly unstoppable and for me, still Schwarzenegger’s finest on screen role that packs in a hell of a lot of screen presence even though he only has only 14 lines of dialogue in the entire flick.

Terminator: “Fuck you, asshole.”

The Kurgan/Victor Kruger (Highlander)

The Kurgan

Cruel, ruthless, megalomaniacal and brutal – The Kurgan (real name unknown) is the antagonist from Highlander, played to perfection by Clancy Brown. He sees no issue with running people through with his sword or terrorising nuns in a church. Not much is known about the character other than he used to be a member of an ancient tribe of the Russian Steppes known only as ‘The Kurgan’… which is where he took the name from. When he became an immortal is also unknown and its the unknown that makes the character so damn enjoyable. All we do know about him is that he likes to kill people – especially other immortals.

Brown’s performance as The Kurgan is both terrifying and humorous at the same time. A dark charm that should be wrong, but feels so very right with just the perfect amount of fun thrown in.

Kurgan: “I have something to say! It’s better to burn out than to fade away!”

Biff/Griff/Buford Tannen (Back to the Future)

Biff-Griff-Buford

I think Marty McFly pretty much summed it up when he said “He’s an asshole!” when describing Buford Tannen. Pick any of the iterations of the character from any of the Back to the Future flicks and they are complete assholes… yes even the mild and meek post 1955 time travel version of Biff is somewhat ‘off’ despite him being transformed into a ‘good guy’. Through the Tannen family history, they have killed lawmen, bullied and beaten up countless school kids, attempted to rape Lorraine Baines… oh and murdered George McFly. Yet each and every time they meet a rather repugnant end involving manure.

With Tom Wilson playing each of the Tannen kin through the years. There has been around 130 years of sheer ‘assholery’ through the Back to the Future trilogy and every second of it has been a joy to watch.

Biff Tannen: “Since you’re new here, I’m gonna cut you a break… today. So why don’t you make like a tree and get outta here!”

Roy Batty (Blade Runner)

Roy Batty

Whenever Rutger Hauer plays a bad guy – he proves why he’s one of the best. In fact, when it came to putting this list together – I had a tough time between choosing Roy Batty or ‘John Ryder’ from The Hitcher. I settled on Batty because I have something else planed for Ryder later…

Hauer plays the role as cold as he could giving Batty a chilling persona as the replicant (android made identical to humans but with a shorter life) just trying to find his creator to ask for more life. And when he does finally find his ‘father’, he ends up killing him in a brutal manner. One of the few cinematic villains you genuinely end up feeling sorry for, thanks to the amazing performance from Hauer – especially after his short but eloquent farewell speech.

Roy Batty: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain. Time to die.”

Tommy DeVito (Goodfellas)

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Tommy DeVito is a cruel, psychopathic sadist with ‘short man syndrome’ who’ll share a drink with you one second and then stab you in the neck with a pen the next or shoot you in the foot for not walking fast enough. With the mighty Joe Pesci playing the role, we are given a bad guy that is as fun as he is twisted.

Pesci made the character much more memorable than anyone could have guessed. Going from laughter to sheer rage on a sixpence and often without warning. DeVito really is one of cinemas all time great bad guys… or Goodfellas. Plus he also gave us one of the greatest and most tense scenes caught on film…

Tommy DeVito: “You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe. But I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”

Joan Crawford (Mommie Dearest)

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So this one is a little ‘different’ as its a portrayal of a real person and not just anyone – but one of Hollywood’s greatest actresses ever, Joan Crawford – played by Faye Dunaway. Mommie Dearest is a biographical dramatisation flick telling the true-ish story of Joan Crawford adopting a little girl whom she named Christina and finally became a mother after a number of miscarriages.

The film is wonderfully terrifying and that is thanks to Dunaway’s stunning performance as Hollywood royalty – Joan Crawford. The relationship between mother and daughter is disturbing as Crawford pushes and punishes Christina for pretty much nothing. The film was panned by critics when originally released, but has since found its audience today and rightfully so too.

Joan Crawford: “No wire-hangers, ever!”

Nurse Ratched (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)

Nurse Ratched

From one crazy-ass bitch to another. Enter Louise Fletcher playing Nurse Mildred Ratched, the main antagonist from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. She’s cold-hearted, vindictive and strict as the head nurse of a hospital for patients with mental illnesses. Its when a new patient, R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) enters the hospital that she is pushed to her limit and beyond.

Okay, so I have a confession to make here. I really didn’t want to include Nurse Ratched as a ‘villain’ because I quite honestly do not see her as one. Yeah she’s tough and manipulative – but I’ve always seen her as ‘just doing her job’. For me, I personally find R.P. McMurphy to be more antagonistic in the film than Nurse Ratched. But she is generally seen as the main antagonist so I’ll include her (cos she’s an awesome character) even if I don’t necessarily agree.

Nurse Ratched: “If Mr. McMurphy doesn’t want to take his medication orally, I’m sure we can arrange that he can have it some other way. But I don’t think that he would like it.”

Richard Vernon (The Breakfast Club)

Richard Vernon

Much like the previous Nurse Ratched, here was have a villain who is only considered bad because they are doing their job… except this character is a real asshole and played brilliantly by Paul Gleason. Vernon is the vice principal of Shermer High School, and one Saturday – he holds a detention for five students and tells them to write a thousand word essay on who they think they are.

The Breakfast Club is easily my favourite film from the legendary director John Hughes and I feel a big part of that enjoyment comes from the extremely controlling, devious and egotistic nature of ‘Dick’ Vernon who controls the students with an iron fist and shows no mercy or remorse either.

Richard Vernon: “But someday when you’re outta here and you’ve forgotten all about this place and they’ve forgotten all about you, and you’re wrapped up in your own pathetic life, I’m gonna be there. That’s right. And I’m gonna kick the living shit out of you. I’m gonna knock your dick in the dirt.”

Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds)

Hans Landa

When it comes to Quentin Tarantino bad guys – we are spoilt for choice; Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson), Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson)… but I’ve gone for the Nazi officer of the SS, Col. Hans Lander and his impressive smoking-pipe. Lander, nicknamed ‘The Jew Hunter’ – a name his is extremely proud of, is ruthless in his investigations and capture (and often killing) of Jews.

Christoph Waltz (rightfully) won an Oscar for his performance as the relentless SS officer and the opening, very tense scene shows just why he fully deserved the award too. Waltz’s multilingual performance is a pure joy to watch and this is one bad guy I love to hate.

Hans Lander: “What a tremendously hostile world that a rat must endure. Yet not only does he survive, he thrives. Because our little foe has an instinct for survival and preservation second to none. And that, Monsieur, is what a Jew shares with a rat.”

John Doe (Seven)

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Real name unknown – John Doe is a clever and manipulative character who keeps diaries and notes on his crimes and victims. The film does a great job of keeping him in the shadows and we only learn who he really is in the latter part of the flick – he first ‘real’ entrance in the movie when he walks into the police station covered in blood and calmly saying “detective” over and over as he hands himself in (until he snaps and has to scream) is both twisted and revealing once you know just who’s blood he is covered in and why.

Recent allegations aside – Kevin Spacey is fucking awesome in this flick. He performance is so memorable that you’ll be talking about it for years later… as I am right now. The acting is subtle and calming. This all just adds to the performance and creates one of the best killers ever caught on film.

John Doe: “Wanting people to listen, you can’t just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you’ll notice you’ve got their strict attention.”

‘Angel Eyes’ (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly)

Angel Eyes

Some more pipe-smoking action now from Lee Van Cleef playing ‘Angel Eyes’ (real name unknown, though he is named in the original Italian version of the film) in one of the best Westerns ever made. Also known as the titular ‘Bad’ from the film. ‘Angel Eyes’ is a ruthless and cunning killer who is not afraid to pull the trigger on anyone who gets in his way. Still, if shooting people is not enough – he’ll also have the living shit beaten out of you until you are barely alive… as Tuco discovers in the film, while just gleefully watching on.

Van Cleef’s performance of ‘Angel Eyes’ is undeniably cool but also cruel and unforgiving. He barely thinks twice about murder as he shoots his way through people just to find a man called Bill Carson.

‘Angel Eyes’: “Even a filthy beggar like that has got a protecting angel. A golden-haired angel watches over him.”

Hans Gruber (Die Hard)

Hans Gruber

Of course I had to include quite possibly THE greatest bad guy in an action film ever. Hans Gruber is cool, calm and collected – he dresses well and is a very reasonable person. But don’t let any of that fool as as he’s also ruthless and thinks nothing of shooting someone in the head at point blank range. He was once part of the Volksfrei West German terrorist group – but was expelled from the group… probably for being too damn bad-ass.

God damn it, I miss Alan Rickman and this is his best role ever. He dulcet, super smooth voice added to the character’s laid back attitude and persona. Check out any ‘top (whatever) bad guys list’ on the interwebs and you’ll find Hans Gruber pretty much always near the top if not at the top. The only reason he’s not at the top here is because I just don’t do ‘top lists’. Rickman’s performance is just memorising and makes Gruber one of those rare villains you can’t help but love and just wish he got away with it at the end.

Hans Gruber: “I wanted this to be professional, efficient, adult, cooperative. Not a lot to ask. Alas, your Mr. Takagi did not see it that way… so he won’t be joining us for the rest of his life.”

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (Full Metal Jacket)

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A foul-mouthed drill sergeant who bullies his recruits – especially the struggling Private Pyle (Vincent D’Onofrio) played to his shoutiest best by R. Lee Ermey. So strong and memorable was this performance that he has been held up as the template for any drill sergeant in TV and films ever since. He’s racist, obnoxious, uncaring and ruthless – his dialogue has gone down in movie history as being some of the very best from any single film character.

Ermey’s performance is shocking but he also makes it impossible to not ‘enjoy’ the character despite his sheer awfulness. The way he verbally,  physically and mentally abuses his recruits is tremendous but uncomfortable to watch and all comes to a boiling point when he pushes Private Pyle too far.

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: “Holy dog shit! Texas? Only steers and queers come from Texas, Private Cowboy, and you don’t look much like a steer to me, so that kinda narrows it down. Do you suck dicks?”

Don Logan (Sexy Beast)

Don Logan

You remember the movie Gandhi right? The one where (Sir) Ben Kingsley plays the eponymous peace-seeking pacifist and won the best actor Oscar for it too? Well this role is the polar opposite of that and in my opinion just as worthy of an Oscar too. This is Kingsley at his foul-mouthed, frenzied, frightening finest. Logan is a recruiter for the London criminal underworld who turns up in Spain to convince retired expert safe-cracker Gary Dove (Ray Winstone) to take part in a major London bank heist. But it is when Dove turns the offer down that Logan shows his true colours.

I avoided this film at first because I thought it sounded like a crap porn flick. So when I did finally sit down to watch it – going in completely unaware of what it was about, I was blown away by Kingsley’s stunning performance. Not only is Sexy Beast a great ‘London gangster’ flick – it features a brilliant bad guy with Logan and one that’ll stick in my head forever.

Don Logan: “You’re the problem! You’re the fucking problem you fucking Dr White honkin’ jam-rag fucking spunk-bubble! I’m telling you Aitch you keep looking at me I’ll put you in the fucking ground, promise you!”

Norman Bates (Psycho)

Norman Bates

Norman Bates – the man with severe ‘mommy issues’. Probably one of the greatest villains to ever grace the cinema screen. A young, shy and retiring man who’s nervousness hides a deep, dark secret. With Anthony Perkins playing the role in a charming and enduring manner which helps to hide just exactly what is going on in his head. Psycho is one of the greatest films ever made with such iconic imagery, music and of course that ending…

If you’ve ever read the novel Psycho – then you’d know just how different the character of Norman is in the film. In the book, he’s a fat, balding alcoholic. A million miles away from Perkins. But it was director Alfred Hitchcock who wanted to make the change so the audience would sympathise with Norman, and its a change that really works well and helped by the charismatic performance of Perkins himself which makes the ending all the more shocking.

Norman Bates: “It’s not like my mother is a maniac or a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven’t you?”

Harry Lime (The Third Man)

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Not to be confused with the burglar Harry Lime from Home Alone. This Lime is a criminal who was killed in a car accident… or was he? When one of his close friends claim to have seen Lime alive and well, his grave is opened up only to find that Lime is not the man buried. Which all leads to a cat and mouse chase to track down the criminal.

Lime is effortlessly played by Orson Welles. He is amoral, careless but also wickedly charming and charismatic too. The Third Man is a wonderful flick that is most definitely lifted several levels by Welles’ performance – his infamous wry smirk hides a thousand lies.

Harry Lime: “In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

Vincenzo Coccotti (True Romance)

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Vincenzo Coccotti is a Sicilian consigliere for local Detroit mobster ‘Blue’ Lou Boyle. Only a minor character in the film – but one you won’t forget in a hurry. Coccotti is cold and calculating played beautifully by Christopher Walken. He is hardly in the film and only appears in one scene… but what a great scene it is.

My second Tarantino bad guy on here, but he does create such awesome villains that I could probably do a list just full of them. The aforementioned scene in which Coccotti appears alongside Clifford Worley (Dennis Hopper) is a tense and wonderfully written scene that has Tarantino’s fingerprints all over it. Walken’s performance is both terrifying and engrossing at the same time.

Vincent Coccotti: “I’m the Anti-Christ. You got me in a vendetta kind of mood. You tell the angels in heaven you never seen evil so singularly personified as you did in the face of the man who killed you. My name is Vincent Coccotti.”

Amon Goeth (Schindler’s List)

Amon Goeth

This guy is one psychopathic, sadistic, brutal, abusive and emotionless Nazi. He’ll sit on his balcony and shoot Jews for no reason other than they are Jews and he is bored. He also beat the shit of his maid because she turned down his advances. And these instances are some of his more tame crimes. At the end of the film, Goeth is executed by hanging, but not before calmly patting his hair into place and uttering “Heil Hitler” – showing his total lack of remorse perfectly clear.

Played by Ralph Fiennes to chilling effect, this performance is one of the most disturbing and difficult to watch in film. Some bad guys have a redeeming quality, if not more than one. Goeth has nothing redeeming about him, he’s just pure fucking evil personified. One of the most disgustingly, despicable movie villains ever.

Amon Goeth: “Today is history and you are part of it. Six hundred years ago, when elsewhere they were footing the blame for the Black Death, Casimir the Great – so called – told the Jews they could come to Krakow. They came. They trundled their belongings into the city. They settled. They took hold. They prospered in business, science, education, the arts. They came with nothing. And they flourished. For six centuries there has been a Jewish Krakow. By this evening those six centuries will be a rumour. They never happened. Today is history.”


Well there you have it, a selection of some of my favourite on screen villains… and all of them far more impressive and memorable than Steppenwolf. To be honest, there were a tonne I left off this list with plenty more antagonists I enjoy just as much if not more. But I had to pick and choose to keep this list at a reasonable length – still, I could always do another list in the future or even feature some of my other favourites in much more detailed articles…

Great movie trailers

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There is a massive online backlash over the trailer for the upcoming Ghostbusters remake… and it is a remake. It has become known as the most disliked movie trailer… ever.

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I think the whole backlash is getting out of hand. I watched the trailer and thought it looked “okay” at best. There have most definitely been far worse movie trailers before. I admit that I have no desire to go and see the film though, but the trailer was not that bad.
But this got me thinking about trailers and how you can’t really judge a 2 hour film on a 2 minute clip. Let me look at another example: that last trailer for Batman v Superman made the film look amazing, when in fact the film was horrible. Trailers can be very misleading.

Then I got to thinking about movie trailers in general and some trailers I lovingly remembered sprang to mind.
So here, I’m going to take a look at some of my favourite movie trailers. Whether the film itself was any good or not isn’t important. I’m just going on the quality of the trailer and what is showed, how/why it was good. From simple teasers, full trailers to sheer master class examples on how to do an effective movie trailer.

Back To The Future: A great example on how to do an amazing teaser. Bearing in mind that when this was released, nobody knew anything about the film at all. It starts of with the household name of; Steven Spielberg and that alone is enough to get you hooked. Then its is this abstract collection of futuristic looking lights, wires, etc along with a few quick shots of the DeLorean itself. Before revealing the star of the film, Michael J Fox who seemingly disappears in flames while the rousing “Back in Time” from; Huey Lewis and the News plays in the background as the title of the film appears.

A great little trailer for a film that would go down in history as an all time classic.

Godzilla (1998): This one was released in 1997 when Jurassic Park fever was still quite high as it was the same year that The Lost World: Jurassic Park was released. In fact, many people believed this was a trailer for Jurassic Park 2 at the time. Its a clever, misleading teaser as The T-Rex was the big bad monster of movies then and hugely popular. The way the museum curator builds up and talks about the impressive stats of the T-Rex, only for it to be literally crushed by the foot of something even bigger. This teaser was a great way to have a little pop at Jurassic Park while promoting the up and coming new Godzilla flick. It showed us that the T-Rex may not be the king of movie monsters for much longer.

Brilliant little trailer, shame the film itself was not very good though.

Schindler’s List: What an stunning trailer. Pretty much silent, except for a few instances and some haunting music in the background. This one really hits home the horrors of the Holocaust without revealing too much of anything. A powerful and moving trailer for a film that was just as equally powerful and moving… nuff said.

This is how you do a trailer well.

The Shining: This one is very unnerving. You have big names like Stanley Kubrick, Jack Nicholson and Stephen King appear on screen all while some strange but wondrous music builds in the background. Yet we are just looking at a hallway with a pair of elevator doors at the end… and nothing else. Nothing appears to be happening, there is no action, we do not see any of the stars of the film as the music just keeps building and building. Its memorising and pulls you in as you can’t take your eyes off the screen as you wait for something to happen… an finally it does.

Kubrick, Nicholson, King. Who wouldn’t want to watch this film? This trailer is hugely effective, suspenseful and yet it shows nothing.

Spider-Man: The first teaser of the big budget Spider-Man film from Sam Raimi. This one is fairly controversial as it was quickly removed following the events of 9/11. A nice little action scene that got to showcase the new Spider-Man and didn’t contain any main footage from the film itself. Its quite heart pumping and offers an adrenaline rush. This one got me really looking forward to a Spider-Man film from one of my favourite directors.

An effective trailer that leaves a lasting impression and really got people talking… before 9/11 that is.

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: A great sense of humour with this one. The narrator’s build up as he describes cutting edge technology, millions of dollars budget, best animators in the world, etc. Just for it to cut to the crappy animation South Park is famed for while Cartman does his infamous “German dance”. Its a funny little trailer that really got people looking forward to the film.

Quite surprising the film came about while the TV show was still in its infancy. But this trailer got us South Park fans hyped.

The Exorcist: Wow, what a trailer. This one just shows some disturbing images of the film that flash up and really shows nothing of the film itself. Some interesting titbits about this one. It features the original score for the film before it was ultimately rejected from the final cut and the trailer was even pulled from cinemas as it was deemed too scary at the time. Just try to imagine watching this in a darkened cinema on the big screen…

One of my favourite films and a really unsettling trailer. Though, if I’m honest. I feel it goes on a little too long. I think this trailer would have been better if it was slightly shorter.

The Birds: Hitchcock was a master of his craft and this trailer proves just as much. Its more like a mini movie in itself coming in at just over 5 minutes long. Hitchcock takes us though interesting lecture about how we humans mistreat birds. Killing them, eating them, caging them, using them for trophies, etc. This is a wonderful little talk as Hitchcock beautifully uses the English language to paint a picture of why birds are the subject of his latest film and the whole thing is very calm. Then as Hitchcock goes to pet a caged bird, things take a disturbing twist…

I love me some Hitchcock and this is one of my all time favourite trailers and all without showing a single frame of the film. Hitch’s trademark dry humour is rampant in this one and really makes for a great watch. But he made an even better trailer just a few years before this one…

Psycho: Yes, Hitchcock again. Best film trailer EVER! Just like his; The Birds trailer, this one is like its own mini movie. We join Hitch as he takes us on a tour of the infamous Bates Motel and house. Hitch describes very specific events from the film, but still manages to hold back on any major spoilers. His marvellous wording as he covers the murder on the stairs, “the twisting of the… well I won’t dwell on it.”, is sublime. The way Hitch talks to the audience and give subtle nods and references, cheeky little winks as if he is tormenting you. “This picture has great significance because… lets go to cabin number 1”, arrrghhhhhhhh the teasing is almost unbearable. All leading up to a surprise in the shower…

My favourite trailer for one of my favourite films and based on one of my favourite books. Nobody does movie trailers better than Hitchcock. This trailer works brilliantly as a prologue as it just hints at pretty much every major scene in the film without telling us all the details. Then watch it after the film as an epilogue and you can see just how well crafted the trailer is and all the clues Hitch was hinting at.
Utterly sublime.

Well there you go, a few of my favourite trailers. But I have many more trailers I really enjoy, though nothing tops Psycho. I may cover more at a later date…

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