Tag Archives: The Breakfast Club

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)

Harry Lime.jpg

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)

Vincenzo Coccotti.jpg

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…

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John Hughes Retrospective

Remembering one of my favourite writer/directors of the 80s, following on for my “In Memorandum” on what would have been his Birthday.

I initially thought this would be an easy list to compile, what with some of John’s films being as iconic as they are. So there are some obvious choices here.
But then there were some films of his I remember not liking all that much years ago or films I loved back then, only to find that my tastes have changed as well as my opinions which made me rethink what some of my favourite now are.
I’ll tell you now, there will be no Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or Home Alone here. Sorry, I really can’t stand those films.

So lets crack on with a look at some of my favourite John Hughes films as a writer and director.

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National Lampoon’s Vacation: Released in 1983 and directed by the great Harold Ramis this one was written by Hughes after a string of not so great films and was the film that really kick started his film making career.
Starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Dana Barron, and Anthony Michael Hall with a brilliant cameo from John Candy.

Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) decides to take his family, wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) and two children Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall) and Audrey (Dana Barron) on a cross country road trip from Chicago to Los Angeles to visit “America’s Favourite Family Fun Park”, Walley World.

Along the journey, the family are struck with a series of mishaps from vandals in St. Louis a slight problem with a dog and even becoming stranded in the desert. Clark also gains the attention of a beautiful young woman (Christie Brinkley) driving a Ferrari.
They make a stop in Kansas to visit Ellen’s cousin Catherine and her husband Eddie (Randy Quaid) who eventually convince Clark to give Aunt Edna a ride to Phoenix. This goes as well as can be expected.

After a while, the family become disheartened with the whole trip and beg to go back home, but Clark refuses and becomes obsessed with wanting to reach Walley World. They eventually arrive at the theme park only to find that it is closed for repairs. Clark finally snaps and takes the security guard Russ Lasky (John Candy) hostage and demands he allows the family into the park and on the rides. Eventually the police turn up to arrest Clark along with Walley World owner Roy Walley.

National Lampoon’s Vacation was a huge hit and cemented John Hughes as bankable writer, the film also opened doors for him as a director too. The film went on to become a successful franchise in it’s own right with three official sequels, two spin offs and even a sequel/remake/reboot in 2015. There were even two more films that were being worked on but never got off the ground, National Lampoon’s Australian Vacation and Swiss Family Griswold.

Clark Griswold:I think you’re all fucked in the head. We’re ten hours from the fucking fun park and you want to bail out. Well I’ll tell you something. This is no longer a vacation, its a quest, its a quest for fun. You’re gonna have fun, and I’m gonna have fun. We’re all gonna have so much fucking fun we’re gonna need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles! You’ll be whistling ‘Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah’ out of your assholes!

BC

The Breakfast Club: A brilliant coming of age comedy/drama written, produced, and directed by John Hughes and released in 1985. The title comes from the slang invented by students for morning detention.
Starring Emilio Estevez, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, John Kapelos, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy. The five main teenage actors would become known as “The Brat Pack”.

Five students report in at 7:00 a.m. for all day detention at Shermer High School on On Saturday, March 24, 1984. The five are not complete strangers and all know of each other, but none of them are friends as they each come from a different clique and share no similar interests.
One is a beautiful and spoilt rich kid Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald), school wrestler Andrew Clarke (Emilio Estevez), bookish nerd Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall), outcast and misunderstood Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy), and rebellious John Bender (Judd Nelson).
The detention is overseen by principal Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason) who instincts the five students to write a 1,000-word essay where each of the five must describe “who you think you are” and leaves them to it but occasionally returns to check up on them. Even the school janitor Carl (John Kapelos) appears now and again to offer his worldly views and opinions.

Bender has a particular antagonistic relationship with Vernon and throughout the film he continues to push and agitate the principal. Even when Vernon is out of the room, Bender turns his bad attitude towards the other four students constantly needling and making snippy comments. He teases Brian for his nerdy style and the fact he does so well at school, Andrew for being the jock and he even has a go at Claire for being rich and spoiled by her parents.
The tension keeps building until Andrew snaps and decides to bite back at Bender. They pass the hours of the detention by arguing with each other. Bender get bored and decides to take a trip to his locker to retrieve his stash of cannabis. After some more arguments, Bender starts smoking as the others slowly join him. This is when they five strangers begin to open up to each other and reveal their personal secrets and even tell each other why they are in detention to begin with. The group ask Brian to write the essay and he agrees.

They slowly begin to form friendships and relationships as the day continues. The detention finally comes to an end but there are doubts that some of them would remain friends afterwards as they all go their separate ways.
The film ends with principal Vernon reading an essay written by Brian which he signs “The Breakfast Club”.

The Breakfast Club is a fantastic, bitter sweet comedy/drama which really seems to capture teenagers attitudes without insulting them. John Hughes was often praised for how her wrote teenagers and this film is a prime example for that. A small cast and the film largely takes place in one room which makes it suitable for a stage play…which I would love to see.
This is probably my favourite film John Hughes was ever involved in and for me, his true masterpiece.

The film was a huge success too with it being made on a budget of $1 million and brining in $51.5 million at the box office, not bad eh?
The film has gone on to become a favourite of many people and received high critical acclaim.
With Bender’s catchphrase of “eat my shorts” being replicated by Bart Simpson and Bender as a character being self absorbed, selfish, obnoxious and someone who hates rules…he reminds me of another character called Bender…

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I wonder if Matt Groening is a fan?

John Bender:
Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?

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National Lampoon’s European Vacation: The first sequel in the Vacation franchise written by John Hughes and directed by Amy Heckerling, released in 1985.
Starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo back from the original film, however the two children have been recast with Dana Hill and Jason Lively as Anthony Michael Hall declined to return as Rusty so he could appear in Weird Science (more on this next) instead. The decision was then made to recast both the children.
Also of note, this is the only film in the series to misspell the family name as “Griswald”, instead of “Griswold”.

The Griswald family take part in a game show called “Pig in a Poke” and they end up winning an all expenses paid tour of western Europe. Their first country is England where they stay in London (of course) and the mishaps begin. They hire a Austin Maxi and go for a driving tour of London, where they literately run into a well mannered cyclist played by Eric Idol who then reappears throughout the film. Clark even manages to destroy Stonehenge before they leave for their next port of call.

They arrive in Paris and Clark buys the family some berets to “blend in”. They family go to a French restaurant where Clark “impresses” the waiter with his use of the French language. Rusty goes to a typical French live show involving semi naked women where Clark and Ellen also happen to be. While they ask a stranger to take a photo of them, their video camera gets stolen before they have to move onto the next country.

Germany in where they go to next and they have previously arranged to meet up with some German relatives. The Griswalds can’t speak a word of German and their “relatives” can’r speak a word of English. This all leads to a misunderstanding but they stay the night after a hearty meal. The next day, the family Clark takes part in a Bavarian folk dance but manages to turn it into an all out street brawl instead and get involved in a car chase. They leave Germany for their final country in the tour.

Now in Italy, Rome for the end of their vacation. They lose all their money but manage to hire a new car and even get given some spare cash by the owner of the car rental place…who is actually thief holding the real owner hostage. While in Rome, Ellen discovers that certain footage from their stolen camera has been turned into a film she is not to happy with as she storms off to their hotel. The kids grow tired of Clark’s constant troubles and decide to explore Rome on their own leaving Clark alone. Back at the hotel, Ellen encounters the guy from the car hire place who takes her hostage Clark has to then chase down the thief to get his wife back and manages to find his kids along the way. The vacation comes to and end and the Griswalds go back home to America.

This one was not as well received as the original, but I still really enjoy it. The humour is largely the same from the previous film and the added variation of scenery from the different countries is also a nice welcome as it provides a visual treat along the way. Some of the jokes can be hit and miss, but there are still some great funny scenes.

Rusty Griswold:Dad, I think he’s gonna pork her.

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Weird Science: The film that Anthony Michael Hall decided to do over National Lampoon’s European Vacation. Written and directed by John Hughes in 1985. The film’s title comes from a series of 1950s EC comics of the same name and the films plot is an expanded version of the story “Made of the Future” from one of the comics.
Starring Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, and Kelly Le Brock with early appearances from Robert Downey Jr. and Bill Paxton.

Gary Wallace (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt Donnelly (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) play a couple of nerdy outcasts who are often humiliated by the school bullies Ian (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Max (Robert Rusler). Gary convinces Wyatt that they need to boost their popularity in order to get girlfriends. Wyatt’s parents are away for the weekend and while the duo are watching the classic 1931 version of Frankenstein, Gary comes up with the idea to create a simulation of the perfect woman using Wyatt’s computer, a simulation they can use to learn more about girls. They continue to feed the computer more and more information to help the simulated girl become as “real” as possible, they take things a little too far when they decide to copy Frankenstein and hook up a electrodes to a doll to perform a ritual. They even hack into the government’s computer system for more power and input.

Eventually a power surge causes Wyatt’s computer to make their simulated woman real and Lisa (Kelly Le Brock) is “born”…hey if you are going to create the perfect woman, you can’t do much better than Kelly Le Brock. Lisa is not only stunningly beautiful, but she is also highly intelligent and goes about trying to make the boys more popular. She also has the power to make anything appear from cars to clothing and anything else she wants.

Lisa takes them to a bar for a few drinks where Gary reveals he names the woman Lisa after a failed relationship from his past. As they return home, we met Wyatt’s older brother, Chet (Bill Paxton) who has been left in charge while their parents are away. Chet is a complete asshole and extorts money from his brother to keep quiet about his drunken behaviour. All while Gary and Wyatt try to keep Lisa a secret.

The next day, Lisa takes Gary and Wyatt to a shopping mall. Also at the mall are the bullies Ian and Max who manage to humiliate the boys by dropping ICEE drinks on them in front of everybody at the mall. Ian and Max discover Lisa and try to peruse her around the mall. This is when they find out that Lisa is with Gary and Wyatt and are shocked, Lisa also mentions they are having a party at Wyatt’s house that night that Wyatt knows nothing about. Lisa throws the party to try and help the boys become more popular.

That night, the party gets a little out of hand with more people turning up than expected. Ian and Max ask where Lisa came from and Gary and Wyatt tell them. The bullies don’t believe a woman could be created on a computer, so Gary and Wyatt show them to try to become more popular. Only this time they forget to hook up a doll and instead they create a ballistic missile which was on the cover of the magazine the electrodes were resting on. A real missile appears and crashes through the house. Lisa then decides the boys need a real boost and makes a gang of bikers (al la Mad Max 2) appear with the idea that Gary and Wyatt would stand up to them showing everyone at the party that they are pretty cool after all. Instead of standing up to the bikers, Gary and Wyatt run away and hide. The biker stake two girls hostage, two girls the boys just so happen to really like. After a talk from Lisa, Gary and Wyatt finally stand up to the bikers and convince them to leave the party.

Gary and Wyatt are hailed as heroes and they even get the girls at the end. Lisa puts the house back to normal before Wyatt’s parents turn up the next day. Lisa reveals to the boys she has to go now her work is done and she leaves.

Weird Science is a stupid film in many ways, its plot is really “out there”…but its also extremely funny and I used to watch this almost weekly as a teenager. Its still a lot of fun even today. The film received a lot of mixed reviews at the time but has gone on to become a cult favourite. It even had its own TV spin off in which ran from 1994-1998. There have even been rumours that Universal Studios are planning a remake.

Lisa:You know there’s going to be sex, drugs, rock-n-roll. Chips, dips, chains, whips. You know, your basic high school orgy type of thing. I mean, uh, I’m not talking candlewax on the nipples, or witchcraft or anything like that, no, no, no. Just a couple of hundred kids running around in their underwear, acting like complete animals.

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles: This is when Hughes wanted to try something a little more “adult” as he felt he was being pigeon holed by doing teen comedies. Written, produced and directed by John Hughes, relased in 1987.
Starring Steve Martin and John Candy.

Neal Page (Steve Martin) is an advertising executive trying to make his way home to his family for Thanksgiving from New York to Chicago. The misadventure begins when Neal tries to hail a cab on the streets of New York, yet he is beaten to the cab by another man (Kevin Bacon in a cameo). Neal then haggles for another cab from an attorney but while they are fighting over the price Del Griffith (John Candy) mistakenly gets in the cab as he believed it was free.

Neal eventually makes it to JFK airport to catch his plane home and also at the airport getting on the same plane is Del. Neal recognises him as the man who stole his cab. Del apologises for stealing the cab as he didn’t realise it was Neal’s. They both board the plane and just so happen to be sitting next to each other. The plane is diverted due to bad weather and what should have been a 2 hour flight becomes a longer trip where everything goes wrong.

All fights are grounded due to the weather and Neal has no choice but to wait it out and tries to find a hotel he can stay in. Del says he thought ahead and while Neal was trying to get another flight, he already book a room in a hotel. Neal tries to get his own hotel room but discovers they are all full so Del invites Neal to stay with him. The hotel ends up being a shabby motel but Neal has no other options and agrees to stay the night. The two just do not get on at all with Del’s behaviour starting to grate on Neal. They agree to make a truce for the night and then go their separate ways in the morning. However, during the night, their room is broken into and their money is stolen as they sleep.

The next morning, they find their money is gone and have to resort to other means to try and get home. Neal buys both of them train tickets using his credit card to get back home and they decide to travel together for a while. The train breaks down forcing the duo to find other means. Neal sees Del struggling with his huge case and offers help. They have to use a but but it is only going as far as St. Louis. When they arrive, the two part ways and Neal tries to hire a car with disastrous results (my favourite scene in the film), with no car Neal is left stranded again…until Del turns up in a car he has managed to hire and offers Neal a lift.

While driving together they start arguing again and end up in a near death experience which results in the car being set on fire. Neal starts to gloat over Del’s predicament as he would be liable for the damage to the car. However, Neal’s amusement quickly changes to anger when Del reveals he used Neal’s credit card to rent the car after their cards were accidentally switched on the first night at the hotel.
With the credit cards destroyed in the car fire, they have no money. Neal offers his designer watch in exchange for a hotel room while Del has to stay in the burnt out car in the snow. Neal eventually feels sorry for Del and invites him to stay in the hotel room. They begin to bond a little while drinking and slowly become friends. The next day they set out again in the burnt out car but get pulled over by the police and what is left of the car is impounded. They get lift in a refrigerated truck back to Chicago and they are both finally back in their home town.

The two part ways again at the train station as Neal boards a train to take him home. Neal begins to reminisce over the last few days and slowly starts to piece together that Del is all alone and has no family or no home either. Neal heads back to the train station and invites Del home to meet his family.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a hilariously funny film full of great jokes and brilliant performances from both Steve Martin and John Candy. The film met with rave reviews and is still considered one of the best comedy film ever today. The film is funny but also touching as the two main characters start out hating each other, but slowly begin to warm to each other as the film progresses.

Neal:And I really don’t care for the way your company left me in the middle of fucking nowhere with fucking keys to a fucking car that isn’t fucking there. And I really didn’t care to fucking walk, down a fucking highway, and across a fucking runway to get back here to have you smile in my fucking face. I want a fucking car right fucking now!

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Uncle Buck: Written and directed by Hughes yet again and teaming up with his friend John Candy once more. The film was released in 1989.
Starring John Candy and Amy Madigan with Jean Louisa Kelly, Gaby Hoffmann, Macaulay Culkin, Jay Underwood, and Laurie Metcalf in supporting roles.

Bob and Cindy Russell with their three children move to Chicago from Indianapolis due to Bob getting a promotion at work. Their eldest daughter, Tia (Jean Louisa Kelly) resents the move. One night Cindy receives a phone call teller her that her father has suffered a heart attack. Bob and Cindy decide to leave so they can be with Cindy’s father in his time of need. Bob suggests they ask his brother Buck (John Candy) to look after the kids while they are away.

Buck is an unemployed lout who’s favourite pastimes are drinking and smoking while gambling on horses…not the best guardian for three children but there is really no other choice. Bob agrees to look after the children to avoid starting a job his girlfriend, Chanice (Amy Madigan) has found for him.
Buck quickly becomes friendly with the two younger children Miles (Macaulay Culkin) and Maizy (Gaby Hoffmann) but Tia becomes rebellious. Buck meets Tia’s boyfriend Bug (Jay Underwood) who is only using Tia for sex. Buck continually thwarts Bug and Tia’s dates and various attempts to be together.

Over the next few days, Buck entertains the children by visiting his favourite bowling alley, making huge pancakes for Miles’ birthday. Buck even tries his hand at laundry with comical results.

Bug continues to pursue Tia much to Buck’s disapproval. But when Buck literally tells Bug he would like to “bury the hatchet” (with a real hatchet), Tia decides to extract revenge by making Chanice think that Buck is cheating on her with their neighbour, Marcy (Laurie Metcalf). Tia sneaks out to a party and Buck decides to go looking for her, at the party Buck believes Bug is taking advantage of Tia in one of the rooms. He tracks down Bug and threatens him with a drill only to find Bug is with another girl. Buck then ties Bug up and pouts him in the trunk of his car.

Buck finds Tia wandering the streets and she apologies to him and acknowledges that Bug was not worth it after all. Buck pulls over and lets bug out of the trunk so he can apologise to Tia, now relased Bug threatens to sue Buck. However, Buck using some impressive golfing skills to get Big to retract his threat. Back home, Tia tells Chanice the whole Buck cheating with the neighbour was a lie and Buck agrees to take the job Chanice found him.

Uncle Buck is one of those cheesy “everything works out fine in the end” films and definitely not one of John Hughes’ best…but John Candy is so likeable as the loutish Uncle Buck and makes the film really enjoyable. There are some great gags in the film too alongside some not so funny moments. The film received positive reviews and good critical reception overall.
There was even a TV show spin off that ran from 1990-1991, which was panned by critics. But this has not stopped the Uncle Buck franchise as another TV show reboot is planned for release this year.

Buck:Hey, Bobby we should really get together sometime. I haven’t been over at the new house since you moved. By the way, I want to apologize for last year at your old house about those bushes. I had no idea they all would catch on fire like that. You were right. I should never have put the barbecue grill that close.

So there are some of my favourite John Hughes films. The man had a great career and is often recognised as one of the best writer/directors of the 80s…and rightly so too.

Happy Birthday John.

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John Hughes

I think growing up in the 80s was where my love of film steamed from and when it comes to 80s cinema, John Hughes was one of the very best writer/directors of the time. It would have been his birthday today too (18/2).

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So this here is going to be my tribute to one of my all time favourite film-makers.
Starting with this “In Memorandum” here and with me also taking a look at some of my own favourite films of his in a retrospective.

Born John Wilden Hughes Jr on February 18 1950 in Lansing, Michigan.

Hughes dropped out of the University of Arizona and started his career by selling jokes to well known performers of the day such as Rodney Dangerfield and Joan Rivers. Hughes subsequently penned a story, inspired by his family trips as a child called; Vacation ’58, this story caught the attention of the famed comedy magazine National Lampoon magazine where he was offered a staff job.

His first credited screenplay; Class Reunion, was written while still on staff at the magazine and was eventually turned into the movie; National Lampoon’s Class Reunion (1982). This was the third film produced by National Lampoon. The first film being; Animal House (1978), which was a success. So National Lampoon wanted to repeat that success and followed it up with; National Lampoon’s Class Reunion (1982) National Lampoon’s Movie Madness (filmed in 1981 but not released until 1983). The second two films were a disaster and almost closed the movie branch of National Lampoon for good.

Yet Hughes had another film script up his sleeve, one based off his story; Vacation ’58. What we got from that was…

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National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) was a major hit and put National Lampoon back on the map.
Shorty after, Hughes landed a three movie deal with Universal Studios.
His directorial debut; Sixteen Candles (1984) was another big hit and proved Hughes was a writer/director worth watching. John followed up this success with other big hits like The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Weird Science and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Not wanting to be pigeon-holed as a writer/director of teen comedies, he decided to go a more ‘adult’ route in 1987 with the amazing; Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

trio

John had a relatively short career as a director with only 8 films to his name between 1982 to 1991 with his last film as a director; Curly Sue (1991).
He was more known for his writing. But despite such a short directing career, he did make some of the most memorable films of that era.
In the 90s, Hughes concentrated more on his writing, with his biggest hit as a writer being; Home Alone (1990).

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Many would suggest his writing during the mid 90s got slowly worse and worse with some people claiming that Hughes became lazy and uninspired. That he just began phoning in his work around the mid 90s and was living off the success of one of his bigger hit films of that decade as a writer, Home Alone.
However, I’d like to offer my own personal reason and even explanation as to why John Hughes went ‘off the boil’ in the 90s and never truly recovered.
John Hughes was very close to and best friends with the amazing John Candy, who unexpectedly died in 1994. I quite honestly believe that Hughes lost much more than just a friend with the loss of John Candy.
I believe Hughes lost his whole drive and passion for the industry when John Candy died.

Despite the loss of his close friend, Hughes still maintained a popular writing career when he penned sequels to Home Alone, the Beethoven series, Dennis the Menace, Baby’s Day Out, the live action 101 Dalmatians, Flubber and various other screenplays.

Hughes had an amazing but short directing career in the 80s and he defined and inspired a generation, but despite being a prolific movie writer in the 90s, he would never see that level of success ever again.

John Hughes died August 6, 2009 after suffering a severe heart attack. He was 59.

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John Hughes:Many film makers portray teenagers as immoral and ignorant, with pursuits that are pretty base. But I haven’t found that to be the case, I listen to kids, I respect them. Some of them are as bright as any of the adults I’ve met.

Thanks for all your work in the 80s John, the decade just wouldn’t have been the same without you. I won’t forget about you.
Also check out my personal retrospective look at my favourite John Hughes films.

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