Category Archives: Deadly Movie Connections

Deadly Movies Connections: Two Things, Two Doctors

Here’s an interesting connection between 1951s The Thing From Another World and 2011’s The Thing (prequel). While you’re probably aware of the connections between the John Carpenter’s 1982 The Thing and Its 2011 prequel, you may not have thought that Matthijs van Heijningen Jr’s film actually draws on elements of both the original novela by John W Campbell and Howard Hawk’s The Thing From Another World.  Most interestingly is Ulrich Thomsen’s Dr. Sander Halvorson (from the 2011 movie) who’s motivations and appearance are remarkably similar to Robert Cornthwaite’s Dr. Arthur Carrington (from the 1951 movie), even down to a passion for furry hat fashions. See for yourself above (I’ve made both black and white for illustrative purposes). I stick by the fact that the 2011 film deserves a little more credit than it gets, and its knowledge of not just Carpenter’s film but of the entire 75 year cultural lineage of the story’s varying incarnations only warrants a reevaluation of its place in the cannon.

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Deadly Movies Connections: 28 Days Later & The Day of The Triffids. Deserted Deja Vu?

What image do you remember the most about Danny Boyle’s superb 2002 horror 28 Days Later? A good way to judge this is with a quick Google Image search to find which of those images from the film that people most frequently post and discuss. It’s probably not much of a surprise that, posters and DVD art aside, one of the most recurring images found online is of Cillian Murphy’s Jim wondering the deserted streets of London, more specifically walking across a deserted Westminster Bridge. Seeing any major city deserted, especially one as large and famed as London, is a memorable cinematic moment, made all the more stunning by the lack of CG assistance (tut tut I Am Legend). That deserted London sequence has always been my favourite part of the movie, I find the military compound section of the movie less interesting (certainly less visually interesting at least).

So imagine my surprise when, watching The Day of The Triffids (1962) recently, I realised that many of these infamous shots from 28 Days Later had been achieved in the past. In fact I’d go as far to say that Danny Boyle knowingly recreated scenes from The Day of The Triffids. To put this in context, in both films a guy wakes up in hospital after an apocalyptic-type event has taken place (Jim in 28 Days, Howard Keel’s Bill in Triffids) to find himself all but alone and subsequently wanders the deserted streets of London in search of answers. Take a look at the comparison pictures which I’ve mocked up below, It’s actually quite staggering in terms of either framing or imagery. Scenes from The Day of The Triffids appear on top, scenes from 28 Days Later underneath: Continue reading

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I never Dreamed it Would Turn out to be the Bees! 34 years of Michael Caine and Bees.

34 years ago, In the movie The Swarm,  Michael Caine delivered some of cinema’s finest bee based dialogue (yes I realise we can now hold Nicolas Cage in such honorary company too), perhaps nothing as bee-profound than this beeauty:

We’ve been fighting a losing battle against the insects for fifteen years, but I never thought I’d see the final face-off in my lifetime. And I never dreamed, that it would turn out to be the bees. They’ve always been our friend

So profound. Such words can haunt a man. And perhaps they haunted Caine himself. Now in the twilight of his career Caine can pick and choose projects at his leisure, so it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that he’s back with bees. But this time giant bees. Giant bees that he saddles up, sits on, and flies about the place in Brad Payton’s Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Aside from being a film with a truly bizarre ensemble cast; The Rock, Caine, Vanessa Hudgens (I can’t believe she’s featured in an article on this site that isn’t about her ‘leaked’ boob shots), and Luis Guzmán, Journey 2 is also the moment that all creature feature fans have been waiting for.., Michael Caine’s reconciliation with bees. Yes he once thought they were our friends and they turned on us. Now, on this magical island, Caine has made such good friends with bees that he rides them like a fat man rides his mobility scooter.

Finally, after over three decades, the war between man and bee.., is over (for now………., oooooh).

Note to reader: I’m not really sure what the point of that was.

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From Nancy to Lisbeth: The Transformation of Rooney Mara

In 2010 I was invited to the UK press screening of Platinum Dunes remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. On a wet London evening I had to surrendor my cell phone and (embarrisingly old) backpack in exchange for a shinny press kit containing pages and pages of information praising the cast and crew who had ‘re-invented‘ a horror legend. Well, we all know how that turned out (see Deadly Movies review here). One such page heaped praise upon up-and-coming leading lady Rooney Mara, a real find and star  of the future it suggested, performing in her first real feature film of any notability. Deadly Movies was less than complimetary toward Mara’s performance back in 2010, in fact I barely mentioned her in the review at all (which is saying something as she was playing Nancy, one of slasher’s leading ladies). What little I did have to say about her can be found in these uninspiring words:

” In trying so hard to make Nancy a ‘plain Jane’ (as opposed to Katie Cassidy’s hot but disposable blonde) the filmmakers have forgotten to give her any personality. In fact she’s incredibly boring.

Ouch. So It’s time to eat some pie. And I don’t mean the kind of apple pie that only your mum makes. I talking hot, steaming, and surprisingly tasty, humble pie. Rooney Mara’s performance in David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is one of the standout reason to see the movie (along with Fincher’s usual visual flair). The transformation in 12 short months from Nancy to Lisbeth is staggering. And hats off to Fincher for making this bold, brave, and very surprising casting. Mara’s physical transformation in both the literal and performance sense results in a wonderful display in a very demanding role. Not only was Fincher asking Mara to up her game tenfold for a role that involves traversing very heavy subject matter balanced with the always tricky obstacles of a foreign accent and well placed comic timing, but she also had that Elephant in the room to deal with; Noomi Rapace’s deservedly lauded turn as Lisbeth in the original Swedish Larsson-trilogy. In short It’s a mind blowing leap in performance that has rightly earned her an Oscar nod for best actress and, for me at least, the main reason I’m keen to see Fincher head back to Sweden for two more outings with Lisbeth and Mikael.

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The Pumpkins of the Halloween Franchise

What do you mean you want more nonsensical Halloween trivia? Fine how about this.., Here’s a list of all the pumpkin motifs used in the original series of films (1978 – 2002) opening credits. Oh yes Deadly Movies actually bothered to do this, just for you:

Halloween (1978): The ‘looks a bit like Sloth from The Goonies‘ pumpkin

Halloween 2 (1981): The ‘Joaquin Phoenix‘ pumpkin (with cool skull inside when in splits in half)

Halloween 3 (1982): The ‘we’re so edgy with our 80s computer graphics‘ pumpkin (now looking like something my nephew would make on Microsoft Paint and I’d have to pretend it was good)

Halloween 4 (1988): The ‘fuck this we’re doing something different so here’s a fat hillbilly scarecrow sitting on a tractor‘ pumpkin.

Halloween 5 (1989): The ‘Swiss director edgy opening credits with jaunty angles‘ pumpkin

Halloween The Curse of Michael Myers (aka part 6, 1995): Sadly no pumpkin in the opening credits.

Halloween H20 (1998): The ‘Self referential, Scream style, fake kill sequence‘ pumpkin

Halloween Resurrection (aka The Night Michael Myers Died, 2002): No pumpkin.

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A Kiss Can Be Even Deadlier if you Mean it.

Deadly Movie Connections | Halloween 2011

I hate ‘Halloween Resurrection‘ with a passion. It’s such a misguided movie. It gets just about everything wrong. It gave nothing to movie goers, horror fans, and worse of all, the loyal Halloween fan base. In short, it was a disaster of a movie. Saying that there is one moment worthy of discussion. Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her franchise role as Laurie Strode for the forth and final time, one for the pay-cheque, and two because she specifically wanted to be killed off. Her send off is actually quite decent amongst the rest of the movie’s visual diarrhoea; Before she plummets to her death at the hands of her brother, she plants a kiss right on that famous Captain Kirk mask of his (see above).

Granted this is slightly incestuous, but it’s also kind of historically poetic (Cleopatra V, Cleopatra VII, Caligula etc), and more so (and way more likely in the filmmakers minds) it harkened back to a on-set picture from John Carpenter’s original ‘Halloween‘ (Left) where Jamie Lee is seen grabbing a kiss with Nick Castle (The Shape aka Michael Myers) with mask still on. At the time, of course, this had little to no significance as the narrative swerve of Michael and Laurie being related wouldn’t surface until 1981s ‘Halloween 2‘. Yet, looking back, It’s an undeniably fascinating image when viewed through the years of pop culture horror history which preceded it.

 

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Keeping Up With The Loomis’

Deadly Movies | Connections

The surname Loomis has unwillingly become the name of choice in slasher films and, like so many Deadly Movies connections, it can be traced back to the master’s Psycho (1960). Sam Loomis, played by John Gavin, was Marian Crane’s boyfriend, hopelessly searching The Bates Motel for clues to the whereabouts of his AWOL girlfriend. The Loomis family would return to the Psycho universe in Psycho 2 (1983). This time Sam’s widow Lila Loomis (Marian’s sister no less, now a Loomis) and daughter Mary Loomis turn up to exact some bitchin Loomis revenge on Norman.


John Carpenter’s 1979 Halloween utilised elements of Psycho to create a template that would become the modern slasher blueprint, but this wasn’t all he borrowed. He also grabbed his leading lady from Psycho stock, Jamie Lee Curtis, daughter of Janet Leigh (Marian Crane) and he directly borrowed a character name, Sam Loomis. Although rather than the grieving boyfriend, his Loomis was a child psychologist and obsessive nemesis to serial killer Michael Myers. Like Psycho before it, one film in a franchise is never enough for a Loomis. Dr Sam Loomis would return to Halloween in four more films and two remakes. It’s also worth noting that the character of Annie Brackett is played by Nancy Loomis.

Then it would be the turn of another horror legend, Wes Craven, creator of horror cornerstones The Last House on The Left (1972), The Hills Have Eyes (1977), and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). In 1996 Craven’s Scream would reference and parody the forefathers of horror, especially Halloween of which both score and movie feature directly in the film, as does the name Loomis. Here however Loomis is on the wrong side of the knife handle. Billy Loomis is the mastermind behind the ‘Ghost Face’ killings, while his mother Mrs Loomis (going all Mrs Voorhees) would take up the knife and mask in Scream 2 (1997). Although the Loomis’s would get name checks in Scream 3 (2000) and Scream 4 (2011) no actual family members reappear. 

50 years, 12 films, 8 actors, 6 characters, 1 surname

Sam Loomis (John Gavin, ‘Psycho’ 1960)

Lila Loomis (Vira Miles, ‘Psycho 2′ 1983)

Mary Loomis (Meg Tilly, ‘Psycho 2′ 1983)

Sam Loomis (Viggo Mortensen, ‘Psycho’ 1998)

Dr Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence,Halloween’ 1978, ‘Halloween 2′ 1981, ‘Halloween 4′ 1988, ‘Halloween 5′ 1989, ‘Halloween The Curse of Michael Myers’ 1995)

Dr Sam Loomis (Malcome McDowell, ‘Halloween’ 2007, ‘Halloween 2′ 2009)

Billy Loomis (Skreet Ulrich, ‘Scream’ 1996)

Mrs Loomis (Laurie Metcalf, ‘Scream 2′ 1997)

Time travelling with Spielbergo and Robby the Robot

Deadly Movies Cameos | Steven Spielberg and others in ‘Gremlins’ (1984)

The cameos, nods, winks, references, and self indulgent love-in’s that litter Gremlins (and other Spielberg produced and/re directed movies from the 80s) can become a real headache to piece together, and are worth further exploration in a Deadly Movies Connections article one day. This particular cameo is wonderful for its sheer self indulgence, yet it’s handled with huge pinches of salt by the filmmakers, as well as a displaying a great sense of timing. While Gremlins awaken in his attic, inventor, and Mogwai purchaser extraordinaire, Randall Peltzer calls home from a convention centre, allowing us to see his fellow entrepreneur’s going about their conference business. This gives filmmakers Dante and Spielberg the ideal narrative vehicle, and plot segway, to throw in as many in-jokes and cameos as possible in the space of 30 seconds.

Spielberg's Cameo in 'Gremlins': Spielberg in the foreground, Goldsmith in the stupid hat, and the Time Machine in the background (right)

So you get Senior Spielbergo ridding some kind of recumbent bike (sitting down bike to me and you) around in circles, movie score legend Jerry Goldsmith in a phone booth wearing a ridiculous hat, Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet (1956) being escorted across screen, and best of all, the Time Machine from The Time Machine (1960) can be seen revving its Victorian engine in background. Fabulous deft comic timing is at hand here, because when we cut back to the Peltzer house, and then again back to the convention centre, take a look as to where the Time Machine was – it’s now gone leaving nothing but bewildered delegates and a puff of smoke. Genius stuff. A sort sharp scene, filled with gags, taking place away from the action so as not to distract the viewer too much.

Enter Robby the Robot, and in the background the Time Machine has vanished

And if that’s not enough for you the in-jokes and cameos in Gremlins go on and on.., and on. Here’s a couple more: In school the students are watching ‘Hemo the Magnificent’ (1957), starring Marvin Miller, who also voiced the aforementioned Robby the Robot. Then there’s this little gem; sitting next to Billy at the bar, watching him sketch, is none other than Looney Tunes director Chuck Jones. As Billy gets up to leave the bar he says, “excuse me Mr Jones”. Throw that all in with further references to The Howling, E.T, Indiana Jones, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and It’s a Wonderful Life (and I’m sure I’ve left more out) and your Spielberg, Dante, Columbus, and Zemeckis nerd’o’meter starts blowing steam.

Chuck Jones (right) cameo in Gremlins

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Bee-Boop-Bee-Boop (or how r2d2 is a cameo whore)

Deadly Movies Connections | R2D2 in Close Encounters and more

It’s rare that Deadly Movies writes about the Star Wars movies (I do cover sci-fi by the way) because, these days, in the world of online film writing you need a PHD in Lucas bumming to be able to write about them without the fear of backlash over minor inaccuracies. But Hay-Ho. Connections, in-jokes, and cameos a rife in the Star Wars movies, you could choose from a host of famous Easter Egg moments such as the clan of E.T’s in ‘The Phantom Menace‘ or the two Millennium Falcons in ‘Attack of the Clones‘. But it’s the cross-movie exploits of R2D2 that I want to indulge in. Since old-man Lucas became a regular client to Mistress CGI’s whore house, little Kenny Baker has had less and less waddling to do inside the world’s most famous soup can. Today the boffins at Industrial Light and Magic can show us R2D2 zooming about the place with the utmost ease, without having to strap a 70 year-old littler-person into harness to fling him around a soundstage. With that in mind, it’s somewhat of a surprise that R2D2’s best universe trotting exploit takes place way back in 1977s ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind‘. Towards the end of the movie, when Jillian (Melinda Dillon) peers out of her hidey-hole in the mountain, one of the many space ships flies over head. Attached to the hull is non other than R2D2, hanging upside-down.., chilln’n’illn. Be Boop!

Look at the engraving over Indy’s left sholder

Close Up: R2 gets a head rub

Not content with one Spielbergo crossover, R2 also popped up in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark‘, etched into a pillar behind Indy. R2 appears to be getting a head massage from a naked man who I’ll assume is Anthony Daniels. Oh and if that’s not enough for you, ILM had a wet moment when they placed R2 flying through space in JJ Abram’s ‘Star Trek‘ reboot, presumably cashing in excess air miles.

With Abrams officially in charge of more of outer space than god himself he naturally felt obliged to shove R2 into his 2013 Star Trek sequel. Like a dildo R2 was plunged Into Darkness.

R2D2 Star Trek 2

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Deadly Movies Connections

Who Is Walter Paisley?

Deadly Movies icon Dick Miller is a legend of b-movies and horror movies alike, making numerous appearances in any and every capacity from lead to sidekick, from support to cameo. Like many actors Miller’s career took off when he was spotted by b-movie supremo Roger Corman. In 1959 Corman would cast Miller in one of his mst memorable roles, that of Walter Paisley in ‘A Bucket of Blood‘. Miller’s darkly comic turn as Paisley saw him encasing his victims in plaster and passing them off as great lifelike works of art. In one of those wonderful movie eccentricities Miller would reprise Walter Paisley in five other movies between 1976 and 1994, each time in an entirely different scenario, from bookshop owner to diner owner and from janitor to cop. 1976’s ‘Hollywood Boulevard‘ would begin the trend of the reappearing Walter Paisley, a trend that really kicked in in the 80s with appearances in ‘The Howling‘ (1981), ‘Twilight Zone The Movie‘ (1983) and ‘Chopping Mall‘ (1986). Eight years later Miller would reprise Paisley for the last time (to date) in the TV movie ‘Shake, Rattle, and Rock!‘. A great bit of movie trivia that you only get in our beloved genre movies.

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The Bateman Brothers, Bale, and Dawson’s Creek

Deadly Movies Connections

Here’s a little movie connection and titbit that’s rather interesting.., Patrick Bateman has a little brother, Sean. First things first this has absolutely nothing to do with American Psycho 2: All American Girl (2002) or the bizarre mocumentary This is not an Exit: The Fictional World of Bret Easton Ellis (2000). Indeed this connection leads to a strange ongoing relationship between Christian Bale (Patrick Bateman in American Psycho 2000) and the main cast of Dawson’s Creek. 2002’s The Rules of Attraction was the second film adaptation in as many years of a novel by Bret Easton Ellis, the first of course being American Psycho. Apart from being a decent little preppy sex romp it also features Patrick Bateman’s little brother Sean, played by Dawson Creek’s James Van Der Beek.

Continue reading

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The Mother of the 1980s

Deadly Movies Connections, Mary Ellen Trainor

Now this may not be an actress you’d connect with Deadly Movies, but take a moment and consider this; your fascination with horror, monsters, and sci-fi often starts with the fantasy films you watched as a child. And if you, like me, were a child of the 1980s then you were treated to a plethora of awesome 80s sci-fi fantasy films. None more-so inspirational to horror freaks-in-the-making than The Goonies (1985) and The Monster Squad (1987). Strangely enough one woman can, rather awesomely, lay claim to being the mother of both leaders’ of the Goonies and The Monster Squad, two true revolutionaries Mikey and Sean. That matriarch supreme is of course Mary Ellen Trainor. Trainor appeared as both Mrs Walsh (The Goonies) and Mrs Crenshaw (The Monster Squad) respectively. Not only that, she was also the mother of the petulant “we want He-Man” kid in Ghostbusters 2 (1989). If you needed a mother to a dysfunctional 80s family with a headstrong young boy hellbent on adventure, then Trainor was your woman.
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Now if that’s not Deadly enough for you, Trainor also appeared in Scrooged (1988) and an episode of Tales from the Crypt (All Through the House, season 1, 1989). But if the 80s is really your thing then shove this in your knowledge box: Trainor also appeared in Back to the Future parts 1 and 2 (1984 and 1989) as Tv news anchor and Officer Reese, all four Leather Weapon films (1997 – 1998) as Dr Woods, and Die Hard (1988) as Gail Wallens. Not bad aye? Oh and she was married to Robert Zemeckis until 2000, but I’m sure that had nothing to do with it.

The Many Disciples of JC

Deadly Movies Connections | John Carpenter’s movie family

In the 1970s and 80s John Carpenter (Above, centre) was the saviour, sent to us to save us for our sins, to deliver us to evil and horrific temptation. Then came the 90s and JC’s powers seemed to desert him, as did his legion of actor disciples. So let’s go right back to the mid 70s and take a look at how Carpenter put together a family of actors who followed him through the rich vein of form that saw him establish himself as the horror icon we know him as today (or should that be Messiah?):
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Darwin Juston: Assault on Precinct Thirteen 1976 (the awesome Wilson), The Fog 1980 (The awesomely named Dr Phibes)
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Nancy Loomis: Assault on Precinct Thirteen 1976 (Julie), Halloween 1978 (Annie), The Fog 1980 (Sandy)
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Chris Cyphers: Assault on Precinct Thirteen 1976 (Starker), Halloween 1978 (Sheriff Brackett), Elvis 1979 (legendary producer Sam Phillips), The Fog 1980 (Dan O’Bannon), Escape from New York 1981 (The Secretary of State)
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Jamie Lee Curtis: Halloween 1978 (Final Girl extraordinaire Laurie Strode), The Fog 1980 (Elizabeth), Escape from New York 1981 (voiceover)
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Donald Pleasence: Halloween 1978 (ultimate nemesis Dr Sam Loomis), Escape from New York 1981 (The President), Price of Darkness 1987 (The Priest)
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Adrienne Burbeau: The Fog 1980 (Radio DJ Stevie Wayne), Escape from New York 1981 (Maggie), The Thing 1982 (Voiceover of random computer). And Carpenter’s former wife no less.
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Keith David: The Thing 1982 (Childs), They Live 1988 (participant in worlds greatest fight scene, Frank)
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Kurt Russell: Elvis 1979 (the King), Escape from New York 1981 (McReady but with one eye and even tougher Snake Plissken), The Thing 1982 (tough guy MacReady), Big Trouble in Little China 1986 (Kung Fu tough Jack Burton), Escape from LA 1996 (ok it’s 90s but it’s still Snake Plisskin)
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John Carpenter: JC appears in 9 of his own movies in various small cameo parts. Twice as helicopter pilots (he has a pilots license).
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Did i miss anyone out? Let me know…,
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