Top 10… Most Annoying Film Characters

I’ve been having a hell of a week. If you ever start thinking about moving house, just don’t, it isn’t worth the hassle. I won’t get into the sources of my strife, but let’s just say I’ve been party to some intensely aggravating people these past few days, and so I’m attempting to alleviate my frustrations by thinking about the even more annoying people that are out there that I could have come across instead (or may yet do).tumblr_lcg89rivMX1qd7rsjSometimes characters are supposed to be annoying – you’re supposed to hate them for getting the hero’s girl, or to justify why the lead girl just punched the guy in the throat – but other times some characters are just completely misjudged in terms of how they’ll stack up against Wolverine scratching a chalkboard. Oh, and whilst making this list I found a lot of times I was just writing “The kid from such-and-such”, and “The kids from so-and-so”, so my list of annoying children in film is an entirely different one, that may well come up again sometime soon. To be honest, that one could be a top 100 list, probably. I’ve also tried to limit the entries to one-per-actor, as sometimes I find characters annoying purely because of who is playing them. And I’ve shied away from characters who are irritating because they’re such antagonistic dick heads.
idharveyHonourable mentions:
So it turns out I’m fairly easy to annoy, and therefore I’ve got a hefty list of Honourable Mentions. Firstly, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) is horrendously annoying in the first few Harry Potter films, before he worked out his face could pull expressions that weren’t ‘petrified grimace’. Marty Gilbert (Harvey Fierstein), Jeff Goldblum’s boss in Independence Day, is also very annoying, but this is mainly due to his unbearable grating voice, but fortunately he dies fairly early on, so there’s not too much of him to endure. Then there’s Hart Bochner’s Ellis from Die Hard, who I never want to stop punching, and Clifton James’ Sheriff Pepper from Live and Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun, somehow managing to be even more infuriating than Roger Moore’s Bond. Beth Grant’s character in Speed, Helen, the crazy woman who tries to jump off the bus, is also infuriating, but I’m going to give the award to Leah (Olivia Thirlby) from Juno, just for using such phrases as “Honest to blog.” They made me want to seriously harm that creature.juno Continue reading

Top 10… Scenes That Creeped Me Out

It’s time for another top 10! And you know what that means… it’s time for me to tenuously link it to something in my life that happened this week! And wouldn’t you know it, I was only on another bleedin’ podcast. I even hosted it! I know! They asked me back, who’d’ve thought? Anyway, over at the Lambcast I hosted a show featuring the discussion of Peter Jackson’s Braindead (or Dead Alive, as it’s also known), along with Dan from Public Transportation Snob, Kristen from Journeys in Classic Film and Lindsay and Jess, both from friend-of-the-site French Toast Sunday. Spoiler alert: I bloody well loved the film, and recommend everyone go see it, as long as they have a little tolerance for gross-out scenes, as there’s plenty in there. Which leads me to this week’s Top 10, a celebration of the scenes in films that have creeped me out beyond belief. I tried to limit the amount of these from horror films, but some of them just crept on there, what could I do? And I’ve also limited to one scene per film, as there’s a few that could have monopolised the list, but we’ll get to that. Oh, and there’s definitely spoilers here.

Honourable Mention: Braindead 223515-dead_custard_superWell I had to include Braindead on here somewhere, seeing as it was the inspiration for this list. There’s a wealth of scenes to choose from, be it the removal of a zombie’s teeth with pliers or pushing in the bulging eyes of a recently deceased corpse (eye and teeth mutilation will be a running theme on this list), and the zombie baby came close – God I hate that zombie baby (also a theme), but the winner has to be the custard scene. After Lionel’s mother (Elizabeth Moody) is bitten by a Sumatran rat-monkey, she turns into a zombie, complete with a pulsating bite on her arm. This unfortunate turn of events just happens to coincide with an important dinner meeting she has with the Mathesons, head of a group she wishes to become a member of, so she insists her son (Timothy Balme) host the meeting anyway. During the meeting, her wound squirts a delectable blood/pus mixture into the bowl of custard belonging to Mr. Matheson – which he then eats – and her own ear falls into her own bowl, which she then eats. This is quite possibly the closest I’ve ever come to vomiting purely from a film, especially because custard is consumed with alarming regularity in my house, and ever since I’ve not been able to bring myself to eat any more without thinking of that scene, and that just turns my stomach.
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Top 10 Worst Movie Mothers

The movie of the week over at Film Vituperatum this week is Psycho, hence why I posted a review of it yesterday, and seeing as it is Mother’s Day this Sunday the two events seemed to coincide far too perfectly for me to not create a Top 10 list in celebration. I was a little unsure of which direction to take this in, but then I considered that the mother in Psycho probably wouldn’t have sat too well on a list of the all time greatest movie mothers, so forgive me but this is a more negative view of cinematic matriarchs. So here is my run down of the movie mothers that make me oh so very grateful for the one I ended up with, as opposed to any of these raving bags of lunacy.Now as it turned out Psycho‘s Mrs. Bates didn’t make an appearance on this list, as all she was really guilty of parenting-wise was maybe loving her son a little too much – something which a member of this list attempted to take a bit further. Also, any US readers who may have gotten terrified of the mention of it being Mother’s Day this Sunday should not be overly concerned; we celebrate it a couple of months earlier than you guys, so you’ve still got until May to buy those flowers. So, without further ado, here’s my list of mothers who would at best deserve a hastily purchased card from a petrol station, if that.

Honourable mention

Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
On the surface, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) doesn’t seem to be too bad of a mother. She doesn’t do much wrong other than get herself kidnapped and wear the same forced, frozen smile on her face for the entirety of this intolerable movie. In fact, she’s done a fairly reasonable job of raising a son almost single-handedly, whilst maintaining a career along the way. Yes, that son has turned out to be Shia LaBeouf pretending to be Marlon Brando, but it could have been worse. Shia LaBeouf pretending to be Shia LaBeouf, for example. No, Marion’s crime is in denying her child, Mutt Williams, of the knowledge of his father’s true identity, that of [REALLY OBVIOUS SPOILER] Indiana Jones. What boy growing up wouldn’t want Indy to be his father? He’s possibly the coolest man in existence, and even with the lack of stability and large periods of time spent travelling the globe in search of historic artifacts and sexy historians, he’d still have been one hell of a father figure to look up to for any growing boy. Plus, she let her son go around with the nickname Mutt.

The Shining

Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is a writer suffering from writer’s block. He takes a job as an off-season caretaker at the Overlook Hotel, deep in the Colorado Rockies, where he will stay for five months with just his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and their son, Jake (Danny Lloyd). Whilst at the hotel, all three members of the Torrance family experience otherworldly visions that slowly send Jack insane. Meanwhile, Danny’s ‘gift’ of the shining – the ability to see and hear things that haven’t happened yet or that happened a long time ago – grows stronger.

The Shining is widely regarded as a terrifying film, one of the best horror films made in the past 40 years, but to me it holds a deeper terror, not just because it’s the first truly scary film I can remember watching (and being far too young to watch it when I did). You see, I’ve seen The Shining twice, and both times I’ve watched it have been shrouded in a very real death of someone I know. The first time I saw it my best friend’s brother’s best friend was found dead the next morning. This time, I was interrupted about halfway through the film with a phone call from a friend, informing me that a mutual friend of ours, who neither of us had seen for a while, had been killed in a motorcycle crash. Basically, this is possibly the scariest film I know of, because I can never watch it again for fear of someone I know dying. This adds a whole new dimension to a film that’s scary enough to begin with.

On the surface, there isn’t a lot of traditionally scary elements to The Shining, especially not by modern horror standards. Instead, there’s more of an increasing sense of unease and mental disturbance as Jack descends into the horrors of his own mind, assisted by the various terrifying images thrown up by the hotel. Like the young twin girls Danny sees around the hotel, the elevator erupting with an ocean of blood, or the beautiful naked woman in room 237, who becomes a scabbed and putrid hag in Jack’s arms. And of course there’s the questionable shot of the man in a business suit, probably receiving a favour from a man dressed as a bear, that I’m sure his wife and kids would not be too happy to find out about.

As horror films go, this is impressively effective without having to resort to cheap jump-scares or a monstrous killer on the loose. I’m not often scared by films, but this one has left me a little off ever since, and not just for the personal reasons mentioned earlier. I’m a big fan of how the original protagonist – Jack – eventually becomes the antagonist once perspective focuses more on Jake and Wendy. If I were to pick a fault though, it might be that there’s a few too many elements taking place simultaneously. Firstly, the hotel was apparently built on an Indian burial ground, thereby adding an explanation to the ghostly goings on. This should have been enough, but there’s also Danny’s psychic abilities, which he shares with the hotel’s chef, Dick Hallorann (Scatman Cruthers), who has the most absurd pictures on his bedroom wall. Then there’s the mysterious suicide of the former caretaker, who killed himself with a shotgun after axing his family in the winter of 1970. And Danny’s finger is his imaginary friend, Tony, who talks to him and tells him what to do. Personally, I think Jack would have gone insane with just the intense writer’s block and having to be locked up with Shelley Duvall and an insane child for 5 months.

The film is pretty much perfectly cast, and Nicholson gives one of the most defining performances of his career. He shows real potential here for his future role as the Joker in Batman, especially once the madness sets in and his maniacal grin and eyebrows take over his face. Elsewhere his prominent brow and bright, glaring eyes are well used to strike fear into all who watch. Duvall is well cast too, though this isn’t a compliment as I think her character is supposed to be supremely annoying, and she succeeds in spades. It’s not often that you root for the axe-wielding psychopath over the innocent damsel in distress in a film, but I have absolutely no qualms about doing so here. 

This being a Kubrick film, it’s a given that a certain amount of flair has been utilised in the cinematography. The most famous example, and my personal favourite, is the long tracking shot following Danny as he wheels around the hotel on his tricycle. Infamously the camera was turned upside down to get it closer to the ground, offering a lower-than-child’s-eye perspective that really adds to the sense of dread, as does the incessant squeaking of the wheels as Danny follows an impossibly labyrinthine path around the hotel, a theme that recurs throughout the film.

The film is rife with too many unanswered questions and unquestioned answers, but due to Kubrick’s meticulous nature these can be assumed as being deliberate, present not only to infuriate the audience, but to keep them discussing the film forever more. Add to this some great quotable lines (“I’m not gonna hurt you, I’m just gonna bash your brains in.”), some of the most famous scenes in cinema (“Heeeeeeere’s Johnny!”), stellar performances, stunning visuals and a truly haunting score, and you’ve got not just a great horror film, but a great film in any genre. It’s just a shame I can’t watch it ever again.

Choose film 9/10