I’m Not Into Politics. I’m Into Survival: The Running Man (1987)

It is time for our annual Stephen King film:

I’m not into politics. I’m into survival.

So I promised back in January that I would review this film as it takes place in 2019 and inspired this year’s Dystopian theme. Plus I love this movie.

I know lots of people don’t care for Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I love his films. I just can’t enough of the puns and the comebacks and of course action.

So when Rob Cohen purchased the rights to the Richard Bachman novella “The Running Man”, he had no idea that Bachman was actually a pseudonym for Stephen King. I didn’t know it was a Stephen King film either, until a few years back I was trying to pick a Stephen King film and it came up when I googled him.

Huh?

I know I was in shock too, it didn’t seem like the other stuff he made. So without further ado, it’s time to start… RUNNING!

So it is the film starts off in 2018-the economy of the world has collapsed due to a lack of resources and they are all ruled by a totalitarian government that controls everyone through TV.

The people are kept in line with anyone who steps out gets sent to prison, or worse to be on the TV show, The Running Man. “Runners”, the prisoners, have to compete in gladiator-type battles against “Stalkers” who all have a theme character and weapons-kind of like wrestlers.

Does this remind you of anything? Like:

Or maybe:

Yes, it is very similar but lots of Dystopian films/books share similar things. The nice thing is that while all of these are similar-there are enough differences that you aren’t feeling like you are watching/reading something that was regurgitated.

So our story begins with Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a captain of the militarized police force and is sent into Bakersfield to stop a revolt. When he does get there, he finds no dangerous revolutionaries, but just hungry people-women and children.

Dispatcher: Proceed with plan alpha. Eliminate anything moving.

Ben Richards: I said the crowd is unarmed. There are a lot of women and children down there. All they want is food for God’s sake!

Dispatcher: As you were, Richards. Proceed with plan alpha. All rioters must be eliminated.

Ben Richards: The hell with you. I will not fire on helpless people. Abort mission. We return back to base.

But the others open fire and kill all, and who do they blame? Ben of course-naming him “The Butcher of Bakersfield”. This scene always made me think of Fahrenheit 451 when they have to find a scapegoat.

He is dubbed “The Butcher of Bakersfield” and sent to prison where he serves 18 months.

He and few other prisoners work on a plan and manage to break out and get free from the electric collars. Ben heads to L.A. to find his brother. Instead he finds Amber Mendez (Maria Conchita Alonso), TV show jingle writer, residing in his brother’s apartment as he has been taken away for “reeducation”.

This is so 1984, they have to “reeducate” the troublemakers-really torture ad brainwash them.

Ben ties Amber up and investigates her apartment, taking money, her flight pass, and booking a flight to Hawaii. He wants Amber to come with as they will be looking for a single man, but she refuses. He won’t take no for an answer and convinces her by picking up the machine he strapped her to and threatening her.

This reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps when Richard Hannay gets framed for murder and team’s up with Pamela (Madeleine Carroll), an unwilling accomplice. She hates him and fights with him, but discovers he is telling the truth and falls in love with him.

They get caught in the airport, and Ben is sent back to prison. There he is offered to be on the show The Running Man by the owner, Damon Killian, instead of rotting in prison. He is amazed by Ben’s survival skills and knows he will be a GIANT HIT.

Unfortunately, Killian doesn’t know what we do-it’s a bad idea to go after Ben. Ben refuses until they threaten to send his compatriots from the prison escape to the show. He agrees, but then finds out that Killian lied and they are all going on the show.

Gosh, I love how cooly he delivers that.

Meanwhile, Amber is like Pamela (from The 39 Steps), and starting to wonder if maybe Ben told her the truth. She goes into the files of ICS (The Running Man station and government) to see what the original recordings were. She discovers Ben is telling the truth but is caught.

So how the game works is that they are in a abandoned area of Los Angeles and have to go through multiple levels and fight different “stalkers”. If they defeat a stalker, they progress to the next level-although many don’t ever do that. Only a few even make it to the very end and win.

The first one Ben has to fight is Sub-Zero:

I love Arnold’s quips and his delivery of them. LOL.

Now that I have sen Logan’s Run, like Ben and Amber are just a more hardcore version of Logan and Jessica.

They move to the next level and are joined by Amber, who has been found and thrown into the ring. One of Ben’s friends, the hacker, knows he can get into the system if he just gets a chance. He gives the uplink code to Amber to memorize.

Then then have to face Buzzsaw:

Ouch!

They then fight Dynamo:

But Richards doesn’t kill him. It is interesting why he chooses to spare his life and not the others? Maybe because he isn’t defending himself, but it would be “murder” in his eyes. Maybe because he realizes they are all stuck in this life, all prisoners running in the hamster wheel of life created by the government?

They then head to the final level, Fireball. There they discover that the winning Runners didn’t win after all. They were killed! Just like in Logan’s Run!

They defeat Fireball and then Ben threatens Killian-I love this:

Killian is at a loss, Ben cannot win. He is inciting people to rebellion. There is only one thing left to do-bring Captain Freedom out of retirement.

Captain Freedom doesn’t want to fight and lose and Killian needs him to win so they decide to lie. They bring in stunt doubles of Ben and Amber to fight and lose-just like on Fahrenheit 451

” They know they can hold their audience only so long. The show’s got to have a snap ending, quick!” –Fahrenheit 451

Meanwhile the resistance has made it to the games and busted Ben and Amber out. Ben’s friends have been killed in the game, but luckily the hacker shared the uplink code with Amber. They come up with a plan to hack the system, reveal the truth, and destroy Killian and the others.

I don’t do requests, LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.

In the end Killian is killed, the truth is revealed, Ben is a hero, and all ends well.

I really enjoy this film, but I think they could have focused more on deeper themes, but the director they had was let go a week before production and new one brought in. Knowing that, I’m surprised it was good as it was.

To start Horrorfest VIII from the beginning, go to Count Dracula the Propagator of This Unspeakable Evil Has Disappeared. He Must Be Found and Destroyed!: Horror of Dracula (1958)

For more Stephen King, go to Ever Heard of the Tommyknockers?: The Tommyknockers (1993)

For more Arnold Schwarzenegger, go to Someone Has Erased His Memory: Total Recall (1990)

For more dystopian future films, go to Tonight Has Been the Birth of the Planet of the Apes: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

What are you? I’m Batman: Batman (1989)

So it is time for our Tim Burton movie!

Batman: I’m not going to kill you. I want you to do me a favor. I want you to tell all your friends about me.

Nic: What are you?

Batman: I’m Batman.

So I was trying to decide which Tim Burton movie to do next, when I saw this at the library and realized this was perfect as it turns 30 this year.

Some of you might not think this counts, as it is a superhero film but I say it does.

Yes, first of all every year on abcFamily, now known as freeform, as part of their 13 Night of Halloween they would always show this. So I always associate this film with Halloween.

The second reason it counts is because the Joker is chemically changed into a monster, but even without that he is a total psycho-killer.

So I grew up watching this film and I just love it. When I think of Batman, to me it is always Michael Keaton or Kevin Conroy. There is no other Batman (although I do recognize Adam West, I just never watched his show until I was older) This is an absolutely amazing film and Keaton is an amazing Batman. So without further ado…

We have an amazing opening with fantastic music…oh yeah, Danny Elfman did the music, Tim Burton just loves him.

Gotham city-I have always loved how it looked as it was a blend of modern with art deco giving it feeling of being both times and not of the time.

So a guy is leaving the theater with his family at night trying to get a taxi. They are tourists and lost. As they walk around the bad side of town, they get mugged, the father getting knocked out. (Although to be honest, it was kind of his fault. Why didn’t he stay in front of the theater?)

That’s not good.

So one of the robbers look like Kevin Bacon but it is totally a discount Kevin Bacon.

So the best part is when Batman creeps up behind the two muggers as they are dividing up the spoils. His cape flying out, creepy and cool. Spooky!

Spooky…

He takes them down, so tough and awesome. I know the costume kept him from moving his head right, but it looks so cool. He looks otherworldly.

Wow!

He was supposed to say something else about being justice in the night or so. But Michael Keaton changed it to “I’m Batman”, and it was awesome!

He takes those muggers down and flies out.

Meanwhile, the mayor is having a news conference with him appointing a new district attorney, Harvey Dent (Billy Dee Williams)-although why isn’t he in the third film? Why did they replace him with first of all, a white guy, and secondly why Tommy Lee Jones?

I’m surprised

Meanwhile Jack (Jack Nicholson) is a thug watching the conference. I can’t stand Jack Nicholson, he just looks creepy in EVERYTHING. That voice, that smile, it creeps me out. And not in a good way like Vincent Price.

He’s talking to his moll, mobster’s gal, about his plans for keeping control of the city.

Meanwhile, on the conference they get questioned about “The Bat”, by reporter Knox. No one believes the reporter, and laugh it off.

I love how they all wear 1940s clothes! Oh, I just love this movie. They have that film noir, Dana Andrews in Laura vibe going on.

Laura

It turns out one of the detectives is dirty, on the payroll of Jack. He tells him that D.A. Dent is onto one of their deals, a property, and he needs it to be handled. The cop insults him, but Jack is not having that, he pulls a gun on him. Watch out you are dealing with a psycho.

Don’t mess with me!

This is why you don’t become involved with bad guys, they can easily kill you.

The mayor is trying to take done crime and wants Grissom to go on trial. He wants to bring business back and revitalize the town.

Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) meets with Knox, the pressman from earlier. She’s a photojournalist and is interested in this “Bat”. She knows that if they can prove it-it’s pulitzer prize worthy. She wants a piece by trying to get a picture of it. He thinks that he might show up to Bruce Wayne’ social, and she has an invite. Already they are a dynamic duo.

Sorry!

Meanwhile, Grissom and Jack are discussing what to do about this Dent. Grissom wants Jack to take care of him. Grissom’s moll comes, and its the dame that Jack was with. Oh it looks like Jack was a naughty boy.

I love how Jack wears a purple suit. I like when movies do things like that, setting the stage for what is to come. Plus that suit is sharp, I don’t find him attractive-just creepy-but I can see why she might be into him.

Grissom sends Jack out, but I can’t help but feel that there is more to this than mets the eye.

Oh yes, he calls up Lt. Eckhardt and it seems he found out about Jack dating his girl and he is on the way out.

That’s not good.

So the big Casino Night Gala has come. All the bigwigs are there and Knox. Vicki Vale has come too, working the room searching for Bruce Wayne. She taps a guy asking for his help and it is Michael Keaton.

Our first look at him. I think I love him as Batman because he is just a regular guy. He’s not ostentatious, he’s not super serious-he’s cool, composed, and just chill. I love it as you don’t realize who he is until later as he is just so normal. Perfect intro and contrast to when we see how awesome he is as Batman.

So like I said, it is the perfect intro, but it is weird that these reporters don’t know who he is. He’s a gazillionaire and leading philanthropist in the city. I mean Vale gets a somewhat pass as she has just arrived in the city, but Knox should know!

Knox and Vale notice Commissioner Gordon speaking to a police officer. Sensing a story, they try to track him down, but end up in an armory.

Bruce Wayne comes in as they eviscerating his collection. I love it. Who are you-Bruce Wayne.

He compliments them and I can’t get over it. He’s perfect! You would never ever think a guy like this would dress up as a giant bat and run around the city protecting it.

I’m surprised

He starts flirting with Vale but has to run off. The two just can’t get him as he seems so odd? But you know what they say, the rich aren’t odd they are “eccentric.”

Bruce enters his batcave where he goes over the film he shot of the Commissioner, getting the info on what was going on. I like this version because he actually does detective work, rather than in the Christian Bale version when Morgan Freeman solves everything.

Lt. Eckhardt is leading the people who are out to get Jack. Jack, Jack, Jack the first rule of being in a mob, never get with the boss’ gal. Should’ve know.

The police shoot them and gunfire starts between the two in a dangerous warehouse full of chemicals. Gordon shows up with his people as he doesn’t trust Eckhardt. He goes over Eckhardt refusing his order shoot to kill as he wants Jack alive to get the goods.

Jack destroys the warehouse, steam and bullets flying everywhere. But then Batman descends slowly from nowhere. SO COOOL!!!

He uses his batarang to catch one of the criminals. OMG every time I watch this I feel like I go back to the age I was when I first saw this on VHS. I was probably six or seven and after seeing this just thought Batman was SO COOOOL! Still feel this way 20-21 years later.

And that music.

So COOL!!!

Anyways Jack tried to make enough steam to confuse the cops and get out of there, but he didn’t count on the Batman.

I love how he flies in his cape flowing so cool!

WOW!

He catches Jack, using his utility belt to get the gun away, but Jack’s man gets Gordon. Jack picks up his gun to shoot Batman, but he’s gone. So COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!!!!

Sorry, I can’t help it, 6-7 year old me just keeps popping out.

Jack shoots Eckhardt and tries to get Batman, but accidentally mars his own face, Then oops Barman accidentally knocks him into vat of chemicals, he tries to save him but oops, Jack falls in.

Batman throws a fogbomb and is gone! Sooooooooooooo cooooooooooooooool!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So COOL!!!

Vale and Knox are working on the story, but haven’t figured anything out yet. Knox tries to take Vale out, but Wayne asked her first.

Too slow

He invites her to his home for dinner. It always cracks me up- he’s in this ostentatious and gorgeous house, seated at a giant table that could fit 20 and acts like a regular joe. I love it. I love him. Michael Keaton is one of my favorites.

He takes her from the dining table to eating in the kitchen instead. There Alfred tells stories-good job Alfred. Doing what a parent would do.

Vale shares about herself and her family. Bruce tells her how he doesn’t have any family but Alfred. Vale says this house doesn’t seem him-and she’s right. He’s just too normal, not at all like those typical rich guys. And I love it.

So Jack survived his fall and went to the plastic surgeon. The nerves were messed up so the doctor did the best he could, but Jack isn’t happy with it.

Grissom is getting ready for bed when Jack walks in. He pretends he’s happy to see him, but Jack’s not buying it.

They start him off in the shadows so we don’t see what happened yet. But we know-it’s not going to be good!

Grissom reaches for his gun, but Jack has one on him already. He walks into the light and we see-The Joker. White face, green hair, and permanent grin. I think he looks as creepy as he always does.

Jack Nicholson is perfect. He always creeped me out when he looked his regular self and does it double as the joker.

Vale got drunk and stayed the night. She wakes up and sees Bruce doing upside down exercises? Sleeping like a bat? I’m not sure exactly what he was doing. She takes him to bed, but I personally think I would be weirded out by that.

Joker’s thrilled at the death of Grissom but mad that no one in the paper cares about him, even though he’s been the Joker for one night. But any-who, who cares about that logic, he wants fame, glory, and to enact his psychotic vengeance/reality/crime spree on Gotham.

The next morning Vale wakes up and invites Bruce out for lunch, but he’s too busy running “errands” We know what that means-Batman Business.

Meanwhile, Grissom’s gal gets home and finds Joker, fainting. Joker takes over the mafia. He covers his face with paint and tries to look normal-but still looks creepy. One guy challenges him, and Joker kills him, death by hand buzzer. Wow, love that he stays in theme.

Just noticed this boardroom has weird artwork. A lady naked but tied up, her nipples covered by the tie. Then it looks like a nude man’s chest on another wall. Weird art choices.

Weird

Oh Jack Nicholson is so creepy with that extra creepy laugh and creepiness on the side.

Knox is jealous that Vale was with Bruce, while she’s mad because she thinks Bruce just slept with her and then is going to ignore her. She finds nothing in the newspaper files as to who he is-weird as a gazillionaire there should be a gazillion clips- and then she decides to sneak over to his house and follow him.

He is walking down the street, bringing two roses outside an old hotel building. Aw. I know why he does it, but Vale is confused. Who is this guy? What is he doing? Why toss out expensive roses.

Meanwhile, the court trial of Grissom has stalled as no one can find him. Bruce goes to the courthouse when a guy announces he’ll be taking over his business. As he watches the exchange a mime shows up, then another one. Odd.  But are they just mimes?

Hmmm…

Never trust a mime. They are evil.

Then the Joker shows up and challenges the guy trying to take over Grissom’s business. He has a feather pen and uses it to stab and kill him He walks down the stairs in a top hat, spats, and shiny shoes. Man, I love that this joker has style. I like this better than today’s constant brooding , chaos, evil blah blah blah.

Blah, blah

I just love how he acts.

Meanwhile, Bruce spots Vale and storms off angry that she followed him.

The Joker’s angry that after his big show stopper number no one cares about him, they just care about the bat. I love it. I love him as the Joker. He is so evil and fun. They don’t make villains like that now. They are all so serious, brooding, and stiff.

OMG, Bruce has an amazing library! It’s going on my next library list!

Alfred tries to get Bruce to call Vale as she lifts his spirits, but Bruce is all business. He needs to take this joker down!

Vale calls Knox and gets him to check out the alley Bruce laid the roses on. She know it has to mean something but what?

Hmm…

Meanwhile, the Joker starts checking out the photos from the guy he had follow the reporters and falls for Vicki Vale. He wants her as his new gal.

Mh my goodness, I love his one liners.

Back at the Chemical factory, Joker starts working on his master evil plan.

We switch to the news, Action News, who bring up a story of models dying. They became allergic to something? But what? Three more mysterious deaths at a beauty parlor? Then the female news anchor starts going crazy laughing. She faints and is dead too.

Meanwhile, Joker cuts in to the broadcast. He reveals that he has poisoned all the makeup. and he doesn’t just reveal his plan on TV. He does his own infomercial.

THIS MOVIE IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He does an infomercial about his evil plan of poisoning makeup.

WOW!

Bruce looks into Jack Napier, the Joker. He has an interesting backstory, since 25 his rap sheet has started but he also has studied art, art history, and chemistry.

The next day we see the news anchors with no makeup. Its hilarious! They look tired and haggard a major difference from the day before.

The mayor still wants to celebrate the city’s bicentennial, even though there is a mad man and batman. Crazy mayor.

Ah, Bruce is wearing a cable knit sweater. I love men in sweaters.

So Vale goes to meet Bruce at the art museum, but it was actually a set up so the Joker could get to her. Bruce only found out when Vale called to let him know she would be running late.

She waits, and waits but no Bruce shows up. However, a package does saying urgent in child’s scrawl.

I know Jack probably wasn’t the best student but he really needs to work on an adult handwriting. It is a gas mask and she quickly puts it on as the museum is filled with noxious gas that knocks everyone out.

Joker shows up in a purple coat, purple chef hat, a posse, one dude with a boombox playing music as he robs the museum. I LOVE IT! This film. I can’t get over it!

This Joker is awesome and the kind of crazy, illogical, chaos that I love.

They don’t steal the art but destroy it.

He switches his dance music to “romance”. He looks at her portfolio and call it crap. Wow, you sure know how to romance a lady.

The only one he does like is of the dead body. He knows real art as he is:

“Joker: I am the world’s fully functional homicidal artist.”

Can you imagine if you had the Joker, Norman Bates as his mother, Jason, Michael Myers, and the other psychos all stuck together in a therapy group. Someone needs to make this into a film or short.

Joker’s former girlfriend comes wearing her mask, her face marred from the Joker as “a living piece of art”. Jack questions Vale about Batman.

I can’t get over his one liners!

“Vicki Vale: You’re crazy.

Joker: I thouht I was a pisces.”

He tries to get her to spill on batman and almost sprays acid on her face. Just when all hope seems lost, Batman comes crashing through and swings Vale to safety, crashing out the doors. SOO COOOL!

Wow!

OMG, that Batmobile! Sigh. SOOOOOOOOO COOOOOOOOOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!

I got to see it person at the Ca State fair once. It’s Amazing!

The Joker’s people drive a purple car with a green top. I just love how committed he is to his theme. I miss stuff like that in modern superhero films.

Vale and Batman ditch the car, shield coming up it as he can’t drive through the street. Vale tosses her shoes and they run for it.

Batman and Vale face an alley with no way out. He asks her how much she weighs, not cool batman.

Uh oh

He sends her up to safety and stays behind to fight the guys. They shoot him, and one guy says “Who’s this guy?” The one guy says to check his wallet. Like Batman is really going to by carrying a wallet or a credit card or something.

Flashes to Batman and Robin I know I made that joke on purpose.

Sorry!

Anyways, his body armor protects him and he take these goons out. AWESOME fight scene!!!!! Vale photographs the whole thing, although where was she carrying her camera. Her bag was tiny, but whatever.

Huh?

Batman calls his ride and Batman tells her she weighs more than 108 lbs, Haha. That makes me laugh.

They car picks them up and they drive out to the Nightmare Before Christmas wood Seriously with the Elfman soundtrack I expect to see the gate to Halloween land.

Batman drives off in silence, leaves flying as he races down the highway. SOO COOOOOL!!!!!!

I love how Vale is totally creeped out. Like adrenaline and fear kept her going, but now she’s like I don’t know this dude he could be taking me to his torture cave. She’s seriously freaked out.

Batman takes her to the batcave which is a dumb idea. You don’t take a reporter to your secret cave. In fact as a superhero you shouldn’t date a reporter! Especially one who is investigating both of you-superhero and secret identity. Batman’s Achilles heel.

Seriously dude!

He reveals what he knows as he wants her to print it. I love how he hides in the shadows. I love how Vicky is curious but uncertain.

The screen fades to black and bats and Vale wakes up passed out on her bed. Did he drug her?

Not cool bats.

She gives the newspaper what Batman gave her and its printed. Deodorants with baby powder, lipstick, and hairspray are all infected.

Joker is not so angry but hurt that Batman figured it out. I love it!

I love this movie. Sorry Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale, Ben Affleck, Zach Synder, and others. This movie is better than yours.

Sorry, not sorry!

Bruce goes to see Vale who gives him a cool reception. She was saved by Batman and you didn’t call after your night. She’s kinda over you.

This sucks for superheroes they are always competing with themselves for a girl.

Bruce tries to tell Vale about his “secret life” but it sounds like he is a creep or bipolar or has a weird love/torture room thing.

This scene is so funny. He is speaking gibberish and just sounds crazy . I love it. You know Vale is really nice, I would just been like you’re crazy get your butt outta here.

But before he can make any sense, someone rings the doorbell.

The Joker shows up and is angry that she has a “boyfriend”.

He tells Joker off and insulting him, egging him on, distracts him and pulls the fireplace poker out.

The Joker: Tell me something, my friend. You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?

Bruce Wayne: What?

The Joker: I always ask that of all my prey. I just… like the sound of it. [shoots him]

And the Joker shoots him. Bruce is dead!

Joker says goodbye and Vale cries, she dressed appropriately in black. How did she know a death would come?

But when she turns around Bruce is gone, her silver tray on the ground. He put it under his shirt and used it as armor.

SOOOO COOOL! And definitely a nod to the 39 Steps.

Vale opens the box and there is a Jack in the box hand with dead flowers. She goes to the newspaper office and Knox reveals Bruce’s sad backstory to Vale.

Meanwhile, Bruce is in he batcave. That saying that the Joker told him rally shook him up. He starts looking through the file on his parents. Hmm…how does this connect? (I know how I just like asking rhetorical questions)

Joker cuts into the broadcast again. “You guys have said some really mean things, some of which are true.” He has the best one liners.

Wow!

He announces that a midnight he will dump $20 million on the city. He announces this in PBS Masterpiece Theater style in a fancy old fashioned armchair and sweater vest. This guy. He calls out Batman to meet him and basically challenges him to a duel.

We then see a flashback of Bruce and his parents coming home from the theater.  Why they are walking and don’t have a car waiting when they are uber rich I don’t know. That makes the least bit of sense actually in all of this. Why walk down an alley. Why not have a car waiting?

How does this make any sense?!!

They get approached by a thug who steals his mother’s pearls and another who shoots them dead. The shooter asks Bruce:

“The Joker: You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?”

It was him, it was Jack. That guy looks just like that guy.

Vale storms to the batcave. How she figured it out when she is like the worst reporter, I don’t know. And like I said THIS IS WHY YOU DO’T DATE REPORTERS INVESTIGATING YOU OR BRING THEM TO YOUR SECRET HIDEOUT!!!

This was always my least favorite part. I love you stop doing this blah, blah. Vale you hardly know him.

He dresses in epic fashion. Gets going in his batmoblie, and speeds down to the warehouse, shoot the door down SOOOO COOOOOOOOL!!!!

Batmobile drops a bomb, and all are taken out at the factory. Batmobile continues down the fire and smoke. The factoy is destroyed, but the Joker is in a helocopter.

The Joker holds his own parade with ’80s music blasting. He dances on his float, OMG I love how the Joker has style. I love this movie.

Like seriously, he is Ferris Buellering it up, while his minions toss money int the street. But it isn’t real money, it is bills with his face on them. Which means, he must have some kind of evil plan, but what?

Joker says he giving money but where is Batman, and boom here he comes, flying overhead. Everyone puts masks on releasing noxious fumes from one of his balloons.

Vicky gets good pics While everyone is going crazy. Luckily Knox has a mask in his trunk and a baseball bat as he goes after the minions. He puts Vicky in the car, but that can’t really help her as air gets in the car. She should be going crazy too. It’s not like a car is air proof.

Weird

She  realizes this and drives off, hitting Knox and knocking him onto the hood, and into trash cans. Knox gets a cut on the side of his face. Ouch. Dang Vale.

Batman goes flying into the parade taking the balloons with him. Joker is seriously hurt that he stole his balloons. This cracks me up. I love this movie.

He so upset after Batman shoots his “number one guy” he needs a minute or two alone. OMG he cracks me up.

Batman goes flying down, missiles launched taking out the float. He launches it into Joker then misses because he has honor.

Joker pulls a gun out and shoots Batman from the sky with his giant gun.

His plan crashes and Vale goes charging after him. The plane is destroyed and Joker takes his giant shotgun, and Vale up into the church.

But Batman is alive, it takes more than bullets, crashed plane, fire, and a possible concussion to stop him (just kidding about concussion, he wears a helmet.)

Batman goes after them and knocks all the pews down in the church. Like this does nothing to help Vicky and to be honest it is kinda a jerky thing to do as the ushers are going to have to pick them all up next church service.

The joker forces Vicky up the staircase, like out of Vertigo, Batman follows, the police behind him.

Joker has her in the belltower, and shoots acid at the bell causing it to crash down and destroy the stairs. The police won’t save her, but Batman isn’t going to let a thing like no stairs stop him.

He’s Batman!

The police shine their searchlights at the top of the old church. Now it is time for the final showdown between Joker and Batman.

One minion really gets the punches in there and throws him over, but he’s batman, he uses his utility belt to get up and knock that guy over.

Joker continues dancing while batman stalks by. Vale spots him and distracts the Joker by kissing him.

You’re so powrful and purple, I  love purple. She ducks down and is she…? But Batman comes storming in.

Joker says you made me, but Batman counters with you made me.

WOW!

He pits glasses on and says you wouldn’t hit a guy with glasses. He manages to push both Vale and batman over the edge. They are hanging on the side of the building.

Is this he end?

Joker steps on the church’s old bricks trying to get it come crashing down on the two. His helicopter comes and it looks like it is the end.

Batman has one more thing, he shoots a batarang that gets the joker caught on a gargoyle. They can’t pull him up and  when they pull the gargoyle out, ouch as it is pulling down on is leg.

Joker can’t hold the weight, slips, and goes crashing down. So does the church roof, but Batman and Vale are saved.

The police gather around Joker’s body and  that’s his end of the reign of terror.

At the next press conference, thy reveal Batman gave them the bat signal to call him if they were ever in need. Vale walks off and looks up to the sky, then sees her man’s butler in his fancy car. And that is the amazing Batman (1989)

And just cause:

To start Horrorfest VIII from the beginning, go to Count Dracula the Propagator of This Unspeakable Evil Has Disappeared. He Must Be Found and Destroyed!: Horror of Dracula (1958)

For more Batman, go to Man-Bat: On Leather Wings, Batman the Animated Series (1992)

For more Tim Burton films, go to Once, There Was Even a Man Who Had Scissors for Hands: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

For more film-noir, go to This Is Fate We’re Talking About, and If Fate Works At All, It Works Because People Think That THIS TIME, It Isn’t Going to Happen!: Dead Again (1991)

For more Nostalgia Critic, go to Ever Heard of the Tommyknockers?: The Tommyknockers (1993)

What Are the 39 Steps?: The 39 Steps (1935)

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Beautiful, mysterious woman pursued by gunmen. Sounds like a spy story. That’s exactly what it is.

This is another one of Alfred Hitchcock’s little known gems, and celebrating its 80th anniversary. I know many of you might be wondering why I chose this film and Jamaica Inn instead of The Birds or Vertigo. I don’t know, I guess I just feel like everyone talks about those films, and no one talks about Hitchcock’s earlier works, which were also fantastic. Maybe not as stylized as he didn’t have money and the technology wasn’t as great; but they are good stories with amazing suspense.

Suspense have to know

So the film is based on a book of the same name by John Buchan. It has been remade in 1959, 1978, and more recently in 2008. I have only seen Hitchcock’s and the 2008 version, but so far this is my favorite.

love it

I first became aware of this film when I bought a DVD for a dollar at Wal-Mart that had 4 Alfred Hitchcock films: Easy Virtue, Sabotage, The 39 Steps, and Jamaica Inn. As I was watching the film, the DVD froze right in the middle, making me unable to know how the film ended.

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Now if you have never had this happen to you in the middle of a Hitchcock film then you are lucky that you don’t know how excruciatingly painful it is to be stopped in the middle. How does it end???? I was going crazy, until my mom told me that she might have a VHS copy of it. I searched every inch of our film cases, until I found it. Watching it and loving it.

Finally something GOOD!

One thing I really like about this film, is that it is one of Hitchcock’s earliest films to have the theme of an ordinary person, caught up in extraordinary circumstances.

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I’m not sure if it is the first as I haven’t seen all of his silent films. They are hard to get copies of.  So let’s get started on the prelude to SaboteurNorth by Northwest, The Man Who Knew Too Much and all those other great regular joes getting a most irregular experience with The 39 Steps. 

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This film was made in Britain, so the opening is very different, not the usual Hollywood or FBI warning type things you see.

The music hall has a special guest today, Mr. Memory a man who knows everything as he commits to memory 50 facts a day. Richard Hannay has decided to come and watch the program with countless others, as it is a full house tonight. And of course, lots of hecklers, as this isn’t a super high class program, we have working and middle class attending. People are questioning Mr. Memory, but the program stalls when some drunks start brawling and create a hoopla. Two shots ring out and everyone flees.

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A woman runs into Hannay and he helps get her out of the building. She asks to come home with.

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Richard is a bit wary, but agrees.

The two go to his apartment, his temporary one as he is not permanent here. He just came from Canada but travels all over Canada, England, Scotland, and Ireland for his job.

When they get inside Hannay notices that the girl starts acting strangely. She will stand away from windows and close to the walls. She asks him to move a mirror around, and to close the curtains on the windows. The phone rings and she pleads him not to answer as she is sure “they” are calling for her.

weird

He gives her a drink which she gulps down, clearly frightened about something. She is ready to give him an explanation, but not until they move to the more secure kitchen instead, of which she closes the curtains.

The phone rings again, Hannay compiling to her wishes, but finding the whole thing strange. Even more when she asks for something to eat.

Weird

Weird

She tells him to call her Annabella Smith, it is not her real name, as she changes it wherever she goes. Hannay starts cooking her some eggs, when they hear a thump of the stove being turned on, which frightens Annabella. Hannay assumes it is because of the gunshots they heard earlier, but she tells him she was the one who fired the shots.

Say What

Annabella tells then there were two men there that wanted to kill her. Hannay doesn’t believe her.

Richard Hannay: Beautiful, mysterious woman pursued by gunmen. Sounds like a spy story.

Annabella Smith: That’s exactly what it is.

Annabella tells him everything; she is a secret agent with no country, helping whatever one she chooses. She is here to help England, not because she loves the country but because they pay well. There is an agent that is trying to get vital information on England’s defense out of the country and she is here to stop it.

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Richard doesn’t believe her at all. She then tells him to look down in the street. When he does he sees a man waiting by the light post looking up trying to see into the apartment!

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Hannay believes Annabella is telling the truth. Annabella is scared and knows that Hannay is now stuck in this mess. That is when she decides to give him her secret.

Annabella Smith: Have you ever heard of the 39 Steps?

Richard Hannay: No. What’s that, a pub?

With that smart aleck reply, Annabella decides to tell him no more, it is all up to her she is the only one who can stop them. Hannay asks her why she doesn’t tell the police, but she points out that they will have the same response he did. She also warns him about how clever the spies are, especially the head agent.

Richard Hannay: Who is he and what is his name?

Annabella Smith: He has a thousand names can look like anyone, only thing he cannot hide is a missing finger.

Richard offers Annabella his bed while he takes he couch. She tells him the only other thing she needs is passage to Scotland, there is a man there who can help her. Richard asks if the 39 Steps are in Scotland, and she tells him they can talk more about it tomorrow.

Majorly

Majorly

No, no, no, no, no, no, no. If you have important info you do not wait until later, you give it now. Whenever people say they will save it for later, they die, and then the others have to try and figure out what they meant.

Every time!

Every time!

That night Anna wakes him up screaming throwing a paper at him. And then she’s dead!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And the phone keeps ringing, Hannay wants to answer but doesn’t . He looks out the window and sees the man still waiting outside. He hears everything Anna said in his head again, these men will stop at nothing.

OhNOthisisgonnabebad

He grabs the paper from her dead hand and sees it is a map of Scotland, with an area circled. There is only one thing for Hannay to do, get himself to Scotland.

Hannay takes off the next morning, wearing his hat low to hide identity. He waits in the lobby, running into the milkman. He asks to buy his clothes, saying that he is truing to get away from murderer and spy, but the milkman doesn’t believe him. He then tells him that he spent the night with a married woman, and her brother and husband are waiting to beat him up. They milkman feels sorry for him, and they trade clothes, with Hannay running off to the train The Flying Scotsman, heading to Scotland.

Hannay shares a compartment with three guys. One buys a newspaper when they stop at a station. They read that a woman was murdered in West End near the BBC. There is a picture of the owner of that flat. Luckily, in the picture, Hannay has his hat on low, so it is hard to recognize him.

tellyouthetruthidon'tknowTwilightzoneRealmartianpleasestandup

Richard walks out of the compartment and heads over to the policeman, thinking about turning himself in, as he didn’t do it he should be proved innocent. Right? Wrong! He hears the police to another person say that the evidence they have is enough to hang the man. Hannay decides to forget that, he wants to live.

He goes back to the train but the spy’s henchmen have caught up with him. He runs into another compartment with a woman, stopping to kiss her. The men pass them by.

He tells her he is in need of help, and that these spies are after him. He asks her to lie and say they are together. But when the men come back, she gives him up.

How rude

They question him, are you Hannay and he says no.

Just then the porter comes in and I just love this scene here so much:

Porter: Are you coming in for tea, Sir?

Richard Hannay: I’ll be right along

Instead of going out the regular door, he then goes right through the exiting door even though the train is still going. Afterwards, he crosses into another compartment and runs down the hall. A great scene done by the master. You have to watch it.

He runs through the dining car, stopping at the pet and luggage, with the henchmen close behind. The engine masters are angry as the henchmen pulled the chain to make the train stop, sure that Hannay jumped out. And he did. He is hiding on the bridge barely hanging on waiting for them to all leave.

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The train leaves, reducing Hannay to be to walking about Scotland. He reaches he circled area and stops at a country house, in the area.  He pretends to be looking for work and asks about newcomers to the area, being told of an Englishmen in town.

As night is coming he asks to stay, paying for food and lodging. There is a young girl at the home, and he thinks it is the old man’s daughter, but she is actually his wife.

clueless mybad oops

He sits at the table while she cooks dinner.

The wife is from Glasgow and tells him about how nice it is, and you can clearly she misses it. Hannay tells her that he has never been there but London, Montreal, and more. She wnts to know more about London and he answers her questions.

He asks to read the paper, and sees another article on him.

Later during dinner, while the husband is praying, his wife looks at the paper. She figures it out and makes a face to Hannay, then the two then stare at each other. Her husband is a bit worried that they might have done something, so he makes up an excuse and goes outside watching them through the window.

He's creepin' in your windows. He's starin' at your people.

He’s creepin’ in your windows. He’s starin’ at your people.

That night, the wife hears something, getting up and waking Hannay so he can flee. As she is getting him out, the husband gets up. He thought those looks were about getting it on, and he thinks they are trying to get together now. Although Hannay is fully dressed, but you know how jealousy blinds

Hannay tries to explain, but the wife urges him to leave. He says the police are after him and is willing to pay for the man for silence. He agrees to this, telling his wife to put Hannay in the barn. The wife knows the husband will betray him, so she gives Hannay her husband’s dark  coat and Hannay thanks her, running off.

Along came a spider morgan freeman running

The men walk across the moor searching for Hannay. They are having to crawl through the hills and rocks, running like in Invasion of the Body SnatchersAlthough Hannay has to cross gushing streams and rivers.

Hannay flees to the Englishmen’s house, Professor Jordan, asking to come in saying he is from Annabella Smith. He goes in, and when the men later reach the house and ask the maid if Hannay has come by, she tells them there has been no one for half an hour. She lied to help him? Maybe this really is the guy Annabella wanted to see.

Then again I could be wrong.

Then again I could be wrong.

So Annabella’s name gains him access to the house. Professor Jordan in charge asks him to wait a bit as they are celebrating his daughter’s birthday. He introduces Hannay to his wife. Hannay is then introduced to all these movers and shakers in that area of Scotland. Professor Jordan tells him to look at the view, where they see the men searching the river for Hannay.

h party beaks up and the professor locks them in the room. Hannay tells him that Annabella was murdered that is why he came. Professor Jordan asks him why he came to see him, and Hannay tells him how Annabella was coming to warn him about the foreign agent.

Professor Jordan: Did she tell you what he looked ike?

Richard Hannay: There wasn’t time. She did tell me he was missing a finger.

Professor Jordan: Which hand?

Richard Hannay: [holds up left hand] this one I think.

Professor Jordan: Are you sure she didn’t mean this one? [holds up right hand and reveals he is missing his pinky finger.]

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Too bad for Hannay, the professor has been playing him since the beginning. The professor decides tat the only thing to do is kill Hannay. He lives in Scotland as a respected citizen, he can’t have him there starting rumors or saying things against him. Besides he has his information on the defense of England and needs to get it out of the country. He tries to get Hannay to commit suicide, as it is much tidier, butHannay says no so the professor shoots him in the heart.

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTTTTT????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

And this was where my DVD died. Is that it? Is he dead???!!!! How could they do that???? Is that all there is????????

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

In the next scene we see out country couple. The husband is searchiung for his hymn book but can’t find it. It was last in his overcoat. Turns out that it stopped a bullet for Hannay.

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Hannay goes to the sheriff telling him everything. The Sheriff eagerly listens and says he will happily help him.

Finally something GOOD!

Finally something GOOD!

Turns out all a lie, the Sheriff just playing him until the henchmen, who he believes agents of the government, come to get him. He tells the sherif to call Scotland Yard in London. but he won’t as they men will be taking him there. Yeah right, they are going to kill him. Hannay manages to get away, breaking through a window and joining a Scotland parade to hide. He then quickly ducks into an assembly hall. They are waiting for their speaker who is running late and assume it is him.

OhNOthisisgonnabebad

He sits on the stage he is thrust on. They introduce the professor they are waiting for, and Hanny finds himself on stage.

Richard Hannay: Ladies and gentleman I apologize for my hesitation in rising just now, but to tell you the simple truth I’d entirely failed while listening to the chairman’s flattering description of the next speaker to realize that he was talking about me.

He has no idea what he is supposed to be talking on, and as he is talking, He looks into the crowd and spots the women he used earlier on the train.

He starts asking the crowd what they want to talk about. He grabs onto the topic of the “idle rich” and starts ranting about what he has been through carefully hiding it between political speech.

Richard Hannay: I know what it is to feel lonely and helpless and to have the whole world against me, and those are things that no men or women ought to feel.

It starts a huge momentum as everyone is cheering and wanting to shake his hand, helping him sneak out, but then he is grabbed by the henchmen, lead by the girl.

He asks the girl to help him, telling London the information. The two guys look at each other and decide it is better to be safe than sorry, telling the girl, Pamela, she has to come with them.

They drive to the “police station”, passing it as they are going to another one 40 miles away. We know they aren’t, something Hannay tries to get Pamela to understand that they are taking them to the spy, Professor Jordan, to kill him. They have to stop the car as a huge flock of sheep are in the way. They handcuff Hannay and the girl together, as they go to move the sheep.

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As soon as they are gone, Hannay gets out of there dragging the girl with him. They hide under a bridge, Hannay forcing her to be quiet until the men pass. Lucky it is a foggy night, as the two run through the moors. The girl tries to escape, but Hannay keeps pulling her along.

The two’s dialogue is just amazingly hilarious as they constantly bicker and fight.  Hannay is angry as he has not only told her three times of his innocence, but the men clearly taking them 40 miles “to the police station” and going the wrong way should prove his innocence. But she won’t listen. As she insists he is a murderer Hannay decides to use that to get her to do what he says.

They find an inn, and go inside. Hannay tells the innkeeper that they are man and wife, and he asks for a room and supper. He tells Pamela he has a gun, his finger in his pocket,  which gets her to sign the book for them. She tries to get her away, but he keeps pushing her on with him. Hannay also tells the innkeeper they are a runaway couple, with people after them. People used to elope to Scotland all the time, so the innkeeper doesn’t find it strange but romantic.

Hannay tells Pamela she should take her skirt off as it being wet could make her sick. She refuses, but takes her stockings off, and as they go over to the fireplace, Hannay hangs them up for her.

She doesn’t want to lie on the bed, but Hannay makes her as he is tired, and where he goes she goes. As I said before their conversation are hilarious. He starts making up lies about killing as she thinks he is a murderer. But you can tell they aren’t true as he is being sarcastic. The film is worth watching for the amazing dialogue. I wish I could get a copy of that scene to place here.

I love it

The two go to sleep. The professor/spy leader prepares to move out, and try to take care of this Hannay problem.

Meanwhile, the Pamela has woken up.

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She tries to use the nail file to pick at the lock but when that doesn’t work, squeezes her wrist out, rubbing it raw. She sneaks away and starts downstairs.

She sees the men who she was in the car with and plans to go to them, but overhears them talking on the phone and realizes Hannay is telling the truth about everything, They question the innkeeper about the couple, and before he can answer, his wife comes down and chases them all out.

The girl heads upstairs, feeling sorry for being so mean and cruel to him, when he’s been given a rough break. She goes to the couch and goes to sleep.

The next morning, Hannay finds himself free of the  girl. He is freaked, but sees her on the couch. He asked her why she didn’t leave and she tells him everything she overheard. Hannay starts putting everything together, and is angry that the men didn’t stay the night but left right away. The two rush over to the London Palladium, where the men said they would pick up the “package”.

In London, Pamela goes o Scotland Yard to tell them all the information from Annabella. They don’t really believe it and ask for Mr. Hannay, but she won’t tell him.

No thank youhowaboutno

She rushes out to the Palladium to find Hannay, Scotland Yard detectives behind her. They shut the Palladium down  as they are truing to catch Hannay once and for all.

Through binoculars Hannay sees that the professor is there. Hannay isn’t sure what to do, when he is joined by Pamela. When he hears the tune he has been whistling everywhere. It’s Mr. Memory!

That's it!

That’s it!

He must be the package they are after and want to get rid off. Scotland Yard finds Hannay, arresting him, when he shouts out “What are the 39 Steps? As Mr. Memory answers, the professor shoots him.

The professor tries to flee, but he didn’t know that all the exits were blocked. Hannay asks Mr. Memory about the information, and he reveals that it was a huge job to memorize, plans to build a new ship. After talking a little about them, he dies, and it is all over for Hannay. He is cleared and able to go on his way, now with Pamela in the picture.

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What a great film. And very under appreciated. You should watch it and love it, as it is amazing.

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To start Horrorfest IV from the beginning, go to You Cannot Conquer It. It Has Conquered You!: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

For the previous post, go to A Modern Mummy: Under Wraps (1997)

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For more Alfred Hitchcock films, go to That Place…There’s Queer Things Goes on in There: Jamaica Inn (1939)

For more films based on books, go to They’re Here Already! You’re Next!: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)