Friday, December 18, 2015

Manly Holiday Movies: If it's Christmas, it must be bloody

"Rocky IV:" What says "Christmas" more than Rocky Balboa single-handedly 
ending the Cold War? 
     In the American tradition of ignoring everything non-football related after Halloween as we bully our way toward Christmas, I thought I’d take this time to reflect on one of the great American holiday traditions – movies. But not just any movies, Christmas movies.
     “It’s a Wonderful Life”? “A Christmas Story”? “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”?
     There’s a misunderstanding made by the casual movie fan that a Christmas movie has to be about Christmas. The film needs a message of love, hope, redemption and sappiness. Not at all. A Christmas movie is simply a movie that happens at Christmastime, and for a guy, the bloodier the better.
     So to enhance your yuletide movie watching experience, here is A Guy’s Top10 Christmas Movies of All Time:*
     10. “Psycho” (1960): What? You didn’t know the Alfred Hitchcock classic is a Christmas movie? There are Christmas decorations in the B-roll of Phoenix. That counts.
"American Psycho:" Serial killer Patrick Bateman wondering if those felt 
antlers could eviscerate that woman.
     9. “American Psycho” (2000): This wholly disturbing movie features a scene at an office Christmas party.
     8. “Batman Returns” (1992): A movie that begins with Pee Wee Herman and his co-star from “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” Diane Salinger tossing their newborn in the sewer on Christmas, it has to be a Christmas movie. It’s OK, folks. The baby survives and grows up to terrorize Gotham as The Penguin.
     7. “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969): Yes, Telly Savalas tries to take over the world using germ warfare, but he does so during the holidays. Ho, ho, ho. Hope you got your shopping done early, 007.
     6. “Iron Man 3” (2013): Tony Stark battles not only the Mandarin and those super freaky heat-spewing villains, but during the fight scene in Tennessee, my, oh, my, would you look at all those pretty lights.
"Gremlins:" Oh, dear God, it's cute. You hungry little fella?
     5. “Gremlins” (1984): When inventor Randall Peltzer realizes he’s nearly blown Christmas for his family, he buys a Furby-like creature from Chinatown, complete with cryptic rules. When those rules are broken, little green murderous monsters overrun his town and it’s up to two teens and a drunken snowplow operator to save them all. Now that’s Christmas.
     4. “First Blood” (1982): When ex-Green Beret John Rambo gets run out of town by a redneck sheriff, he escapes into the mountains and picks off his pursuers one-by-one – at Christmas. Ho, ho, ho.
"Lethal Weapon:" It oozes holiday spirit. 
     3. “Lethal Weapon” (1987): A suicidal cop partnered with a grumpy cop? The holidays? Violence? What could go wrong?
     2. “Rocky IV” (1985): Rocky Balboa fighting a Russian killing machine on Christmas Eve at the height of the Cold War. Not only is “Rocky IV” on this list, it’s the Number One Christmas Sports movie of all time.
     1. “Die Hard” (1988): Bruce Willis vs. Alan Rickman in a skyscraper owned by a Japanese company during a Christmas party. Gunfire, blood, explosions, quippy one-liners and Santa hats make “Die Hard” the ultimate guy Christmas movie.
"Die Hard:" The greatest Christmas movie of all time.
*Honorable mention. “Jaws: The Revenge” (1987): Sure, “Jaws: The Revenge” has a ridiculous plot (a great white takes revenge on the Brody family), it rated zero on the Rotten Tomatoes review site (if it could have gotten worse, it would have) and the tagline “This time it’s personal” isn’t even close to the first movie’s “Don't go in the water,” but the “The Revenge” is not without its charm. Especially when a 25-foot shark starts its eating frenzy a few days before Christmas.

Jason’s parody survival guide, “How to Kill Monsters Using Common Household Items,” is available at 

Monday, December 14, 2015

The light side of the Force is pretty dark

"Star Wars" is nothing like you remembered.
I saw “Star Wars” in the theater. All six movies. Although I regret George Lucas’ blatant money grab with the prequels, the earliest three movies helped shape my childhood more than I should probably admit.
“Star Wars” showed me a simple farm boy (which I was) can be important.
“The Empire Strikes Back” helped me realize nothing is ever as it seems.
“Return of the Jedi” made me think Ewoks probably taste delicious. No, that’s not it. “Jedi” told me the good guys win in the end.
Complete dick.
Boy, did that trilogy set me up for disappointment later in life.
Here’s why:
1. Although a simple farm boy is the hero of the first trilogy, he’s not a nice guy. Luke Skywalker is, quite simply, a dick.
According to the “Luke Kill Count” at, during Episodes IV, V, and IV, Luke killed 369,740 people. Admittedly 342,953 were aboard the Death Star when he destroyed it to rid the galaxy of tyranny, but minus that he’s still personally responsible for enough deaths to depopulate a medium-sized city.
Given the same three movies, ultra-bad guy Darth Vader killed, oh, let’s see, 11 people. Eleven.
So, who is the real villain of “Star Wars?” What do you say, Magic 8 Ball? “Signs point to Luke Skywalker.” You might be right.
2. Although Obi Wan Kenobi plays the part of the compassionate, all-knowing mentor to Luke, he’s an asshole.
Early in the first film when Luke asks about his father, Kenobi quickly takes the stance of Blame Vader: “He betrayed and murdered your father.”
Huh? Wait. Kenobi also said he was Vader’s teacher, and Luke’s father’s friend. But Vader is Luke’s father, so maybe Kenobi isn’t actually the affable old fart he pretends to be. Kenobi is a treacherous liar who’s poisoning the mind of a young, naive farm boy simply to make him do Kenobi’s will. We'll never know where Luke pointed to on his action figure when the counselor asked, "where did he touch you?"
We're the good guys. Promise. Wanna ride in my space Camaro?
3. The only characters that care about anyone are Han and Chewbacca. Yes, the honest good guys in the entire original trilogy are a pirate and his pet Bigfoot. This includes the fact that Han Solo kills a bounty hunter and shrugs it off like he’s late for a bridge game.
The other heroes are much worse.
In “Star Wars,” Luke arrives at his home to find Stormtroopers have not only been there before him, but they murdered his uncle and aunt – the only family he’s ever known – and set them on fire on what was essentially their front porch. And he doesn’t care.
It gets darker.
When Grand Moff Tarkin ordered the destruction of the planet Alderaan, Princess Leia watched her home planet explode like a cheap firework and had all the reaction of a character from a “Twilight” movie (my wife forced them on me. I take no responsibility). She didn’t seem to care 2 billion people – including what she thinks is her family – just died.
Hopefully the upcoming “The Force Awakens” soothes the pain. My head hurts.

Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha. May I have a pudding cup now?
Jason’s parody survival guide, “How to Kill Monsters Using Common Household Items,” is available at