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The five most kick-ass R. Lee Ermey movie roles

R Lee Ermy in Full Metal Jacket

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If there’s a character actor on the planet that’s better at yelling loudly at people onscreen than R. Lee Ermey, I’d be very surprised. The retired United States Marine Corps Drill Instructor-turned actor has been around for a long time and has racked up some of the most easily recognizable performances in cinematic history. In honor of Ermey’s most famous role (as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman) in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” hitting Blu-ray this week in a fabulous 25th Anniversary Digibook Collection, we decided to run down the actor’s top five greatest, and most memorable, performances. Company…. Halt!


“Willard” (2003)

Glen Morgan’s 2003 re-imagining of the 1971 rat-loving film “Willard” is easily one of the most underrated horror films of the last decade. A true slow burn of a film, “Willard” boasts amazing performances by the ultra-creepy Crispin Glover, R. Lee Ermey, Laura Elena Harring, and hundreds of rats both real and CGI. And while Glover’s offbeat performance as the eccentric outsider tasked with taking care of his sickly, cantankerous mother is often praised as the film’s greatest asset (and for good reason), R. Lee Ermey’s turn as Willard’s jerk of a boss is nearly as impressive. If there’s anything that Ermey does well, it’s berate people, humiliate them, and play up the mean old crank in his characters, and Frank Martin is no exception. By the time he eventually bites it, at the hands of many an angry rat, the audience is thrilled to see him go. It’s a testament to Ermey’s performance that he not only effectively gets under the skin of his fellow characters, but he also drives the audience equally as mad. Bonus points goes to “Willard” for an ingenious and absolutely perfect use of Michael Jackson’s classic song “Ben.”


“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (2003)

Nobody really wanted to give Marcus Nispel and Michael Bay’s remake of Tobe Hooper’s horror classic “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” a shot, and I don’t really blame them. The 1974 original is a seminal film in the genre and one that is nearly possible to replicate. What audiences didn’t count on, however, was that Nispel’s vision would actually be pretty interesting. His version of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” might not be the original, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a fun re-imagining of the film and one that stands on its own pretty well. And much of that success is due to R. Lee Ermey’s turn as the no-nonsense Sheriff Hoyt. He’s loud, angry, and obnoxious but he’s also one of the highlights of the film. Ermey makes the character evil to the core and, again, it’s a relief when he’s finally dispatched (this time via the hulking mass of a car being driven over his body repeatedly).


“Toy Story” Series (1995, 1999, 2010)

And so we come to the softer side of R. Lee Ermey. Since the film “Toy Story” film in 1995 until the most recent entry in the series hit theaters in 2010, Ermey has played the leader of the plastic Army men, Sarge, to perfection. It’s not nearly the biggest part in a huge ensemble of excellent voice actors (the Army men don’t exactly have a ton of screen time in the series), but it’s a memorable one that helped introduce the grizzled voice of the character actor to a whole new generation of kids raised on Pixar awesomeness. Imagine an extremely toned-down version of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman and you’ll have a good idea of what Ermey is doing here. Fun stuff.


“Se7en” (1995)

Probably one of the most overlooked roles in Ermey’s illustrious career is that of the police captain in David Fincher’s 1995 hit “Se7en.” Ermey takes the limited role and makes it his own in a way that only R. Lee Ermey could do. The captain is quick-witted, impatient, and smarmy in a way that’s completely unique and captivating. He’s a no-nonsense guy that doesn’t want to deal with all the B.S. and just wants to close his cases – something that neither Mills (Brad Pitt) nor Somerset (Morgan Freeman) are making easy for him. Ermey’s role in “Se7en” is another one of those character actor parts that might make audiences say, “Hey, I know that guy! He’s that guy from that movie!” but it’s also an important one that’s help make the Fincher thriller a classic.


“Full Metal Jacket” (1987)

R. Lee Ermey’s role as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 film “Full Metal Jacket” is easily the actor’s (and, I would argue, cinema’s) most memorable characters. The foul-mouthed, sharp-tongued Marine is the piece of the puzzle that keeps the first half of Kubrick’s film together and has become so ubiquitous in pop culture that it’s been parodied, copied, and even turned into an Internet meme numerous times. What is perhaps most amazing in all of this, however, is the fact that Ermey wasn’t even supposed to play the drill instructor role when Kubrick was first putting together his classic. He was simply a technical advisor on the film until the legendary director heard the actor going on a drill instructor tirade and knew he was perfect for Hartman. So impressed, Kubrick even relinquished some of his storied control of the product by letting Ermey write and ad-lib much of his own dialogue. We’d say it worked. Ermey’s scenes in “Full Metal Jacket” are some of the most recognizable in cinematic history.


What’s your favorite R. Lee Ermey movie role? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Soap tv show

As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

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IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

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When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

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Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

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Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

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First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

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In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

Ten funny things about Batman

Adam West as Batman

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These days, Batman is dead serious in Christopher Nolan’s gritty trilogy about Gotham City’s Dark Knight. Why so serious? Because for a long time, Batman was anything but. There were a lot of wacky comic book adventures, the highly campy Adam West TV series from the 1960s, and that Joel Schumacher thing with Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze that most of us try to forget. Of course, now that we have the new Academy-Award-winning Batman saga, we can much more easily relax and enjoy the funny side of the Caped Crusader without fearing that it will ruin any chance of getting him taken seriously. Batman, these days, is the epitome of cool, the unstoppable guy, the guy who will always win if he has time to prepare. That makes him fun. So let’s take a look at 10 funny things about Batman, be it classic clips or the things the internet can do to whatever it loves.


1. The Bomb

We have to start with a focus on the Adam West “Batman” from the 1960s. A ridiculously colorful psychedelic bit of wackiness, it featured flashing title cards for punching sound effects, Bat as a prefix for anything from a computer to shark repellant, and a lot of goofball fun with folks like Cesar Romero as the Joker, Burgess Meredith as the Penguin and Frank Gorshin as the Riddler. However, the calm rock in the midst of all this was West as the unflappable straight man dressed in the silliest of costumes. As we see here, the comedy was played to the hilt, as Batman finds out that some days, you just can’t get rid of a bomb.


2. UALEUALEUALEUALE

What? Exactly. If you’ve listened to “Macarron Chacarron” by El Chombo, you’ll know that’s about as close as you can come to putting into writing the weird-ass chorus that sounds either like a guy trying to speak through a mask or the kind of thing that little kids imagine dumb guys blurt at all times. However, when you combine that with the dopey-looking head of Adam West’s Batman doing a weird spastic pseudo-dance, you get the most random bit of unsettlingly consistent hilarity the internet can conjure. It’s hard to say WHY this is funny, and after a minute, you may not think it’s funny anymore, but give it another 30 seconds or so after that point, and it will get hysterical all over again. Let it go for the full 9 minutes, and you’ll be certifiable.


3. Batman: The Brave and the Bold

Recently, after years of the highly-acclaimed “Batman: The Animated Series” which paved the way for dramatic animation of all kinds, Warner Bros.’ animation wing decided to hearken back to the more fun and kid-friendly days so exemplified by West’s series, but with a modern spin. Thus, this show ran for three seasons, featuring Diedrich Bader as the voice of Batman, who teams with a revolving door of wild superheroes like Plastic Man, Booster Gold, the fourth-wall-breaking Bat-Mite and the show-stealing boisterousness of Aquaman. What other superhero show would figure out a way to include Roastmaster General Jeffrey Ross? Check out this collection of clips from the show’s first season.


4. That Voice

Even in Nolan’s ultra-serious Batman films, there are some things to laugh at – and the most mocked aspect was Christian Bale’s growly Bat-voice. It was subtle enough in “Batman Begins,” but in “The Dark Knight,” he had to give monologues in it, and it just started sounding sort of ridiculous. And that’s what this spoof video is taking great delight in teasing him about, illustrating Batman’s journey towards finding that right voice.


5. The Riddle That’s Too Hard

And in another win from the College Humor crowd, a second spoof video takes the piss out of the mental duel that happens between the enigmatic quizmaster The Riddler and the hyperintelligent Dark Knight Detective, most notably in beloved video games like “Batman: Arkham Asylum” and “Arkham City.” What would happen if there was one time the master of riddles managed to confound the hero?

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E3 2012: 10 upcoming video games that movie fans should check out

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LOS ANGELES, California — There were hundreds of games present at the Electronic Entertainment Expo last week that appealed to a vast variety of gamers. Everyone from the most hardcore video game enthusiasts to those who prefer to stick to “Angry Birds” and “Words With Friends” would have found something to like during the three-day industry-only event. Since we here at IFC have a soft spot for film, we decided to focus our time at E3 on the best-looking video games that have some sort of movie angle.

Well, we went, we saw and we conquered. Of all the games in attendance, we parsed out the 10 titles that we thought would be the most interesting to our movie-minded readers. If you like flicks like “Star Trek,” “The Avengers,” “The Lord of the Rings,” “Super,” “Star Wars” or “The Amazing Spider-Man,” this list probably pertains to you. Feel free to navigate through our previews for the games through the links below or the numbers listed at the bottom of this page. We hope you enjoy reading them, because we sure liked playing them for you.

Select a title:

-“Star Wars: 1313″
-“Star Trek: The Game”
-“Batman: Arkham City: Armored Edition”
-“Lollipop Chainsaw”
-“The Avengers: Battle for Earth”
-“007 Legends”
-“The Amazing Spider-Man”
-“Transformers: Fall of Cybertron”
-“Harry Potter Kinect”
-“Guardians of Middle-Earth”

Honorable mention: “Aliens: Colonial Marines” — We didn’t get a chance to check out the latest installment in the “Alien” games franchise, but if you’re looking for something to sate your interest in the series after “Prometheus,” this spin on James Cameron‘s “Aliens” could be worth your time.

The 10 funniest superheroes (with video)

Iron Man movie image Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark

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“The Avengers” is going to be the big hit of the whole year, certainly, but while it has its fair share of funny moments, there are actually superheroes whose stock in trade is comedy. One of the most glaring omissions from the otherwise solid Sam Raimi “Spider-Man” films are the crucial element of Peter Parker’s wiseacre nature. In the comic books, he’s always got some snappy patter going to distract his enemies in the midst of a fight – and sadly, “The Amazing Spider-Man” reboot doesn’t look to be going in that direction, either. So, in the interest of four-color funny, here’s a rundown of ten superheroes known for their comedy stylings.


1. The Tick

Gloriously insane and gleefully dorky, Ben Edlund’s lumbering blue lummox of a superhero lived in a weird world where all the goofiest superheroes ever ran about The City and fought criminals like Chairface Chippendale (a criminal mastermind with a chair for a head), El Seed (a talking flower man), and The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight. With his neurotic moth-themed sidekick Arthur, he bellowed his mighty battle cry of “Spoon!” before tossing his nigh-invulnerable self into the midst of chicanery everywhere. Spoofing the superhero genre while reveling in it, it’s hard to get any funnier than this.


2. Batman (Adam West)

Now that the perception of comic book adaptations is a vastly different beast than it was in the decades immediately following the 1960s “Batman” series, nerds everywhere can unclench about good old Adam West and Burt Ward fighting crime in a cheeky, campy and ridiculously stylized version of Gotham City. For years, no one wanted to take comics seriously enough to make a good movie, and folks blamed this show. These days, however, it’s a golden oldie that’s so over-the-top that you can’t tear your eyes from it. Burgess Meredith’s Penguin lives on as everybody’s Dick Cheney impression, Cesar Romero’s Joker and Frank Gorshin’s Riddler are unfortgettable, and every punch lands with a thunderous zowie! And no one can forget the Shark-Repellent Bat-Spray.


3. Spider-Man

As previously stated, the wall-crawler has always had a sterling wit, but you wouldn’t know that by watching Tobey Maguire sling the webs. Even most of his animated adventures are more corny and painful with the quips than they are funny. The current comic books are pretty sharp, however, and the recent “Spectacular Spider-Man” cartoon and the new “Ultimate Spider-Man” animated series bring a really modern comic sensibility to the adventures of Peter Parker and his high school buddies. This current one is big on cutaways to wacky sequences underscoring the goof of the moment. It may be a little hard to take at times, but hey, it’s for kids!


4. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.)

Tony Stark was a smooth ladies man, but he was never quite the quipster he is today until Robert Downey Jr. stepped into the role of the Armored Avenger for the 2008 film that made all the Marvel films which followed possible. Is it essentially Downey playing himself and forcing the established comics character to follow suit? Well, yeah, probably, but it works. It works so damn well that it managed to hold its own and vie with “The Dark Knight” as the best comic book movie ever – certainly of that year – thanks in no small part to Downey’s unstoppable quipping and relentlessly charming bastardry. You never know what’s going to come out of this guy’s mouth, and we love it that way. It’s all RDJ’s doing that Tony Stark is now a household name.


5. Deadpool

Wait, didn’t we just do Spider-Man? Ha ha, no, this guy is much more of an antihero than anything else. Fabien Nicieza took a half-assed Rob Liefeld sketch of what was essentially DC’s Deathstroke, gave him Spider-Man’s sense of humor but with a broken bad-guy edge, and thus Wade Wilson was born. It wasn’t until Joe Kelly gave him his first solo series that The Merc With A Mouth really began to flourish into the manic maniac he’s come to be known and loved as. That series bounced back and forth between fourth-wall-breaking craziness and dark and twisted melodrama with stunning ease, and made him into the unluckiest guy in the world despite his unbelievable regenerative abilities. Every time he tries to be a hero, it blows up in his ugly, scarred face, and that just makes him crazier and crazier. Forget what you saw with Ryan Reynolds in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” The best animated appearance was in the feature “Hulk Vs.,” which you can see here to get a sense of how nuts this guy is.

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The Top 10 Kidnapping Scenes in Movies (with video)

Liam Neeson in Taken

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You’d think movie kidnappers would’ve caught on by now that movie kidnappings never, ever go according to plan; in fact, if you want to experience complete and total disaster, then by all means go kidnap somebody. Here are some kidnapping scenes that start a domino effect of cinematic chaos.


“Bananas” (1971)

One of Woody Allen’s silliest — and laugh-out-loud funniest — comedies, “Bananas” stars the writer-director himself as Fielding Mellish (one of the most character names of all time), a neurotic New Yorker (natch) whose attempts to impress a cute activist (Louise Lasser) end up leading him to the fictional South American country of San Marcos, where he gets involved with a group of revolutionaries. There’s lots of crazy (and oh so ’70s) goings-on in “Bananas,” including a truly bizarre courtroom sequence featuring a middle-aged African American woman who believes she’s J. Edgar Hoover, but one of the best sight gags is this bit of physical comedy in which the chaotic struggle during an attempted person-snatching causes Woody to inject knock-out drugs to everyone involved — including his co-conspirators. It’s the kind of situation that Lt. Frank Drebin of Police Squad! and The Naked Gun might’ve found himself in, once upon a time.


“Fargo” (1996)

The title of the Coen Brothers’ bittersweet love letter to their home state of Minnesota actually refers to a town in the neighboring state of North Dakota, where struggling car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) meets with bumbling criminals Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare) to discuss the kidnapping of Jerry’s wife — a scheme bound for disaster as it’s wrought with contradictions and complications from the start as the kidnappers insist their meeting was supposed to start an hour before Jerry’s arrival. The fact that these two clowns actually succeed in snatching poor Mrs. Lundegaard (in broad daylight and from her own house, in fact) is pretty remarkable, ’cause that’s pretty much the only thing that ends up being checked off from the list of How It’s All Supposed to Go.


“Labyrinth” (1986)

Jim Henson and Frank Oz’s follow-up to the still-astonishing “The Dark Crystal” hasn’t aged nearly as well as its now-classic predecessor, but it’s still quite the enjoyable nostalgia piece; you just can’t help but crack a whimsical smile whenever you think of the first time you noticed that rather prominent bulge coming from the nether regions of David Bowie’s Goblin King costume. Surely, “Labyrinth” still makes for a fine fairy tale, with young Sarah (Jennifer Connelly, mega-hot even before she was old enough for that to be mentioned) wishing that the Goblins would come and take her meddlesome baby brother away; the scene where she says just the right words for this to actually happen makes for one of the scariest moments in the film, thanks to a rather robust thunderstorm and the excitable Greek Chorus commentary coming from the Goblins themselves as they huddle together in some sort of Hensonian limbo state. Shudder!


“Man on Fire” (2004)

The second of what would end up being many collaborations between Denzel Washington and director Tony Scott (and the first since 1995’s “Crimson Tide”), “Man on Fire” features Denzel as a former CIA operative saved from alcoholic despair and self-loathing by becoming the bodyguard of a young American girl (Dakota Fanning) in Mexico City; when the little tyke is kidnapped, he embarks on the kind of “roaring rampage of revenge” that would make even Liam Neeson blush as he stabs, shoots and blows up everyone even vaguely involved with the snatching of his ward. The scene where Dakota is kidnapped makes for one of the most harrowing moments in the film, cranked up to panic mode all the more by the hyper-aggressive visual style in which Tony Scott loves to indulge.


“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)

Tim Burton’s much-celebrated 1993 stop-motion double-holiday classic might now look a little, well, quaint compared to some of the more contemporary films that feature the animation technique (including Burton’s own “Corpse Bride”), but “A Nightmare Before Christmas” is still a triumph of character and storytelling; indeed, Jack Skellington might now very well be as popular a Christmas figure as ol’ Saint Nick himself. Speaking of Saint Nick (or “Sandy Claws,” as he’s mistakably referred to for the first two acts of this dark fable), he’s been targeted for kidnapping by Jack as he attempts to merge both Halloween and Christmas, a task which the Pumpkin King has entrusted to Halloween Town’s trio of troublemakers, Lock, Shock and Barrel. This scene features the ghoulish whippersnappers psyching themselves up to snatch the jolly old elf, complete with rather macabre lyrics that help to paint a rather grim Christmas portrait.

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