Yippie Kay Yay: 30 Years of Die Hard

A look back at the iconic action film and the landscape that it changed.

 

Let’s take a jump back in time, the year is 1988 and a little known actor, whose biggest role to date was in a comedic television series, the most unlikeliest of action heroes, was about to become just that. That actor’s name was Bruce Willis. The name of the film; Die Hard. To truly understand what makes Die Hard such an iconic film you need to think about the landscape of American action movies at the time of its release.

 

The biggest action films of the 1980s were vehicles for either Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone about muscle bound heroes who don’t feel any real pain and gun down swarms of disposable baddies without even blinking. Die Hard changed that because it’s main character wasn’t a body builder, he wasn’t a Special Forces trained badass with unlimited bullets and the ability to be shot, stabbed and blown up and then brush themselves off as if they had just walked through a cloud of dust. John McClane was just a New York cop trying to reconcile with his estranged wife on Christmas Eve. This was not an action hero, this was just an ordinary blue collar guy, someone you could share a drink with at a bar. The list of actors who were offered the role of John McClane is extensive, both Schwarzenegger and Stallone turned down the role, amongst many others, by far the strangest was Frank Sinatra who the studio had a contractual obligation to offer the role to. To think we could have ended up with an action film that had a 72 year old Frank Sinatra in the role.

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Halloween

Back when trailers had no rules and totally ruled!

 

Man I love old trailers.  They didn’t have any rules and no one really cared about them.  Just show 3-5 min of the movie, have a guy who smoked an entire carton of cigarettes talk the whole time, and tell me the name of the movie.  That’s it. My favorite old trailer of all time is Taxi Driver. That thing is just a short 4 min summary of the entire movie, gives away everything from the movie.  Halloween is no better, and somehow, SO MUCH BETTER.

 

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Why I’m Hooked On Horror

Guest columnist Michaela Bayas walks us through the horror films that made her fall in love with the genre!

 

The first movie I remember being so scary it kept me up at night was Signs. I know that’s not, according to the world, a scary movie. But to be fair, I was only eight when that it came out, and I already had problems sleeping at night because I was (am) weird. After graduating high school, finishing Navy boot camp and A-school, and moving out of the country, I decided I was ready to take on horror movies. Little did I know, it would be a dive into my now favorite genre.

 

So there I was, living in Navy barracks in Rota, Spain. A nOOb to life and the Navy. I saw a story about Ed and Lorraine Warren and one of the many hauntings they investigated. This, oh man, this was right up my alley. You see, my mom got me big into ghost hunting shows in high school. In fact, we watched one, Paranormal State, in which Lorraine appeared many times. You can say what you want about demons and the Warren stories, but I like that shit. Anyway, it was time! One of their stories is now a two-hour movie, and I must see it!

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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Sam’s first dive into fandom!

The end of summer always brings with it a sense of nostalgia. Even though I am not longer concerned with back to school or even the changing weather, the end of easy summer traffic and dearth of action movies still makes me wistful. In reflecting on summer’s past, I often find my thoughts drifting back to 2003. It was the summer before I began high school. I had just discovered my beloved Lord of the Rings trilogy and with it, one of my first celebrity crushes: Orlando Bloom. Because he was such a new presence, there was only so much I could consume, but I waited with baited breath for his next lead role: that of Will Turner in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

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Crazy Rich Mommy Issues

Move over, Thanos. Eleanor Young is this year’s most formidable and well-written movie villain.

 

This past week saw the release of Crazy Rich Asians. Based on Kevin Kwan’s popular book of the same name, the film tells the story of Rachel Chu, a Chinese-American economics professor who goes to her longtime boyfriend’s home of Singapore to meet his family for the first time. Nick Young, her handsome and humble beau, neglects to mention that his family is one of the wealthiest in Singapore. Rachel is tossed into a world where social status, protocol, and family are everything, and she has to justify her love for Nick despite coming from what they consider nothing. Her biggest detractor is Nick’s mother Eleanor, played by Michelle Yeoh.

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A Hype To Remember: Hanna (2011)

A Dark, Violent and delightful surprise, with a kickin’ score!

I hadn’t been in Los Angeles all that long, really. Wasn’t acclimated to the temperature, and still thought sixty degrees was “warm.” In-n-Out was a novelty for me, and so were all the movie theater options available (you mean I can go to the theater Tarantino owns whenever I want??).

 

Joe Wright as a director was on my radar, but I had only seen his Pride and Prejudice, which I thought “was fine.” Both Atonement and The Soloist were a skip for me based on the marketing, which made the trailer for Hanna a bit of a surprise when I saw it.

 

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A Hype To Remember: Hannibal (TV)

It was a gory, three-course meal with complicated start and a ravishing finish.

My favorite television show of all time is Hannibal, the surprising NBC adaptation of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon. The show focused on FBI Special Investigator Will Graham and his relationship to Psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a relationship that the internet would lovingly dub “murder husbands.”

 

SEE??! MURDER HUSBANDS ARE REAL AND IMPORTANT!

 

As someone who enjoyed Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs, found an amusing appreciation for Ridley Scott’s Hannibal, and found himself bored by Brett Ratner’s Red Dragon, I was interested to see how NBC (of all channels) was going to take a stab at the polite cannibal.

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A Hype To Remember: Spider-Man (2002)

Raimi’s Spider-Man was a revelation, and it’s hype was an unforgettable event!

 

When I was a kid, live-action superhero movies were limited to a series of Batmen with costumes so stiff that they couldn’t turn their heads. Aside from an obscure Captain America VHS tape that I could rent from the local gas station, Marvel – my chosen comics company – was completely absent from the field.

 

Bryan Singer’s first X-Men film was a revelation. I hopped up-and-down on my way out of the theater as I explained to my father why Toad’s immortal line “Don’t you people ever die?!” was a perfect summation of the genre.

 

Much like Jason Bourne, the X-Men were just the tip of the iceberg. Two years later, the most highly-anticipated cinematic event of all time was unveiled: Spider-Man.

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A Hype To Remember: The Matrix (1999)

The Matrix presented itself as the movie that needed to be seen, and that made all the difference!

 

Y’all. I certainly liked movies a lot before I saw The Matrix, but this is the first film I remember NEEDING to see. In the trailer, Morpheus was all “No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself” and I was like “HOLY SHIT I NEED TO KNOW WHAT IT IS LET ME SEE IT.”

 

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A Hype To Remember: Batman Returns (1992)

Batman Returns turns 25 this week, and to celebrate we’re looking back at the hype for the movie!

 

My introduction to Batman Returns wasn’t typical in that I came to it much later and played the video game first. As a young kid my Batman was the Adam West Batman, so this darker take from Tim Burton never really connected. It certainly looked cool, and piqued my interest thanks to its edgier tone, but it felt “other” to the goofier Gotham I was used to.

 

I decided to take a look back at the hype surrounding this movie, especially since I don’t remember much of the marketing for it compared to the ’89 Batman film.

 

 

For some this was probably “their” movie Batman, and the trailer definitely brought the hype for that. For me, I had much of the same reaction I had for the first movie: “It’s fine.” What I didn’t expect was that in the marketing for this movie (and for the movies themselves) Gotham would feel like a tangible location and not some dressed up “insert-city-here.” That’s unique, and in my opinion one of the legacies of the Burton era of Batman.

 

Do you remember the marketing for Batman Returns? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below!