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Action Jackson

10 Reasons Why Die Hard Is the Best Action Movie Ever Made

Catch Die Hard as part of IFC's July 4th action movie weekend.

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Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

Forget all the sequels, which have morphed from carbon copies of the original to blue tinged exercises in bland action. For our money, the original Die Hard is the greatest action movie ever made. With Die Hard and Die Hard 2 airing as part of IFC’s Independence Day weekend action extravaganza, we thought we’d look back at the original ’80s classic, and figure out once and for all why it was the best of the best. So welcome to the party, pal, let’s do this!

10. The Title Kicks Ass/Makes No Sense.

Die Hard
20th Century Fox

Here’s a fun fact: Die Hard is based on a novel called Nothing Lasts Forever by the awesomely named Roderick Thorp. Here’s another fun fact: Nothing Lasts Forever is a terrible title. Seriously, it sounds like a late period Sean Connery Bond film that would’ve costarred, say, Daryl Hannah.

So clearly the title had to be changed, which gives us Die Hard, aka the perfect movie title. But what does it actually mean? Is it because it’s “hard” to make John McClane “die,” much like it was “hard to kill” Steven Seagal in the 1990 action thriller of the same name? The phrase “die hard” usually means someone who cannot be swayed from a point of view, no matter the evidence. So…was John McClane unwavering in his belief that he was a badass? If that’s the case, he was right, but it’s still sort of confusing. Whatever the title means, it is amazing, and as a die hard fan of Die Hard, we can’t picture this movie called anything else.


9. Every Character is a Classic. Even Argyle the limo driver.

Die Hard cast
20th Century Fox

How many movies have such a memorable collection of side characters? From ’80s douchebag master William Atherton’s sleazy newscaster, to doomed cokehead Harry Ellis, from limo driver Argyle, to Special Agents Johnson and Johnson, no matter the part, every character makes an impression. Has there ever been a more delightfully Eurotrash collection of random bad guys than Hans Gruber’s killer crew? Heck, even Nakatomi Plaza has a distinct personality of its own. Just think about the fact that this movie has the bad guys from Ghostbusters 2 and The Goonies AND The Breakfast Club all in supporting roles, and we haven’t even gotten to Reginald VelJohnson, aka lovable dad Carl Winslow from Family Matters, playing his first of many cop roles here.


8. It birthed the entire “Die Hard on a…” genre.

Die Hard
20th Century Fox

You have to wonder how the filmmakers originally pitched this movie. Every action movie that followed simply used it as a reference point. Speed is Die Hard on a bus. Cliffhanger is Die Hard on a cliff. Snakes on a Plane is Die Hard on a plane with snakes. How easy it would have been if they could have just pitched Die Hard as Die Hard in a…building? The fact that countless other movies got their green light by aping the premise of this movie speaks to how brilliant it was. All you need is a location, a bunch of bad guys taking it over, and one guy crazy enough to try to stop them. It’s the perfect action movie premise, with no frills — just the ultimate engine for righteous violence.


7. Yippee ki yay, mother…

Die Hard
20th Century Fox

Has a movie ever had a more memorable collection of one-liners than Die Hard? “Welcome to the party, pal!” “Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho.” “Nine million terrorists in the world and I gotta kill one with feet smaller than my sister.” “Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs.” “Yippi-ki-yay, motherf—er.” While Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme were stuck delivering cheesy puns as they dispatched forgettable villains, John McClane and Hans Gruber’s lines always felt genuine, hilarious and cool at the same time. This was a real world, filled with people who also happen to be badass mofos.


6. The Action!

Die Hard
20th Century Fox

Holy Jamoley, the action! How a movie can have such over-the-top action, and yet keep it grounded, is a miracle of writing and directing. Die Hard still has some of the best action ever committed to film, without the help of CGI, superheroes or karate kicking on wires. Characters get hurt here, and when they die, you feel it. McClane needing a pair of shoes becomes a major plot point when he’s forced to run across shards of glass, and then has to spend a scene picking the remnants out of his shredded feet. By the time we reach the explosive finale, the gritty, grounded action had set a highwater mark that has yet to be topped.


5. Hans Gruber is a bad guy with style…

Hans Gruber
20th Century Fox

There’s never been a better action movie villain than Hans Gruber, the slick European terrorist who reads Time Magazine and is an expert on both hostage taking and tailored suits. Amazingly, Die Hard is Alan Rickman’s first film, having made a name for himself in theater and television. Bringing a certain intelligence and class to what could have been a typical heavy, Rickman created a stone cold killer with ice in his veins. Nothing could fluster him, not even John McClane. Even his final plummet to his death is a moment of pure action movie style and grace. Speaking of…


4. …Who dies in spectacular fashion.

Hans Gruber death
20th Century Fox

Spoiler alert, but Hans Gruber dies. I know, shocker. But while action movies too often look for the most overblown way to take down their villains (like when Travolta took a missile to the stomach in Broken Arrow), Die Hard went the other way. After building up a complicated rivalry between Gruber and McClane throughout the movie, John had a chance to save this killer’s life. Instead, he let gravity take its course. Great villains deserve great deaths, and none are more memorable than the panicked look Alan Rickman gives as he takes one last look at Nakatomi Plaza from the outside.


3. It has a simple premise filled with twists and turns.

Die Hard gun
20th Century Fox

For a movie with such a straight-ahead, good vs. bad plot, the movie has a remarkable number of twists and turns. A brutal scene in which McClane is forced to sacrifice one egotistical cokehead in the name of saving countless other lives. Hans Gruber pretending to be a goofy American businessman in over his head, talking McClane into giving him a gun, only to realize that the NYPD cop was one step ahead of him the whole time. The fact that Gruber was playing terrorist, while actually there to pull of a heist. Even the ending, with McClane seemingly losing, only to pull a Christmas surprise off his back just in time. Ho, ho, ho, indeed. This movie, with its silly premise and overblown action, has no business being as clever as it is.


2. John McClane is all of us having the worst day ever.

Die Hard party
20th Century Fox

It was the era of the steroid freaks as supermen. Arnold. Sly. Action heroes were more than human, thanks to a gym membership and a syringe. Thankfully, Die Hard zigged when everyone else zagged, giving us a relatable protagonist who bled when you pricked him, and always felt like he’d rather be taking a nap than having to deal with this crap. Bruce Willis, with his rapidly retreating hairline and sarcastic New York attitude, was someone we could relate to.


1. It’s a freakin’ Christmas movie!

Die Hard Christmas
20th Century Fox

It’s Christmas! Who doesn’t love Christmas? While most action movies take place in a sort of all purpose season that allows for lots of rippling muscles and skin to be seen, Die Hard goes all in on Christmas, with our favorite jingles, and some Yuletide joy. You can keep your Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Story — we want a little blood and badassery with our eggnog.

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Holiday Extra Special

Make The Holidays ’80s Again

Enjoy the holiday cheer Wednesday December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Whatever happened to the kind of crazy-yet-cozy holiday specials that blanketed the early winter airwaves of the 1980s? Unceremoniously killed by infectious ’90s jadedness? Slow fade out at the hands of early-onset millennial ennui? Whatever the reason, nixing the tradition was a huge mistake.

A huge mistake that we’re about to fix.

Announcing IFC’s Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special, starring Tony Hale. It’s a celeb-studded extravaganza in the glorious tradition of yesteryear featuring Bridget Everett, Jo Firestone, Nick Thune, Jen Kirkman, house band The Dap-Kings, and many more. And it’s at Joe’s Pub, everyone’s favorite home away from home in the Big Apple.

The yuletide cheer explodes Wednesday December 21 at 10P. But if you were born after 1989 and have no idea what void this spectacular special is going to fill, sample from this vintage selection of holiday hits:

Andy Williams and The NBC Kids Search For Santa

The quintessential holiday special. Get snuggly and turn off your brain. You won’t need it.

A Muppet Family Christmas

The Fraggles. The Muppets. The Sesame Street gang. Fate. The Jim Henson multiverse merges in this warm and fuzzy Holiday gathering.

Julie Andrews: The Sound Of Christmas

To this day a foolproof antidote to holiday cynicism. It’s cheesy, but a good cheese. In this case an Alpine Gruyère.

Star Wars Holiday Special

Okay, busted. This one was released in 1978. Still totally ’80s though. And yes that’s Bea Arthur.

Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special

Pass the eggnog, and make sure it’s loaded. This special is everything you’d expect it to be and much, much more.

Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special premieres Wednesday December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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It Ain't Over Yet

A Guide to Coping with the End of Comedy Bang! Bang!

Watch the final episodes tonight at 11 and 11:30P on IFC.

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After five seasons and 110 halved-hour episodes, Scott Aukerman’s hipster comedy opus, Comedy Bang! Bang!, has come to an end. Fridays at 11 and 11:30P will never be the same. We know it can be hard for fans to adjust after the series finale of their favorite TV show. That’s why we’ve prepared this step-by-step guide to managing your grief.

Step One: Cry it out

It’s just natural. We’re sad too.
Scott crying GIF

Step Two: Read the CB!B! IMDB Trivia Page

The show is over and it feels like you’ve lost a friend. But how well did you really know this friend? Head over to Comedy Bang! Bang!’s IMDB page to find out some things you may not have known…like that it’s “based on a Civil War battle of the same name” or that “Reggie Watts was actually born with the name Theodore Leopold The Third.”

Step Three: Listen to the podcast

One fascinating piece of CB!B! trivia that you might not learn from IMDB is that there’s a podcast that shares the same name as the TV show. It’s even hosted by Scott Aukerman! It’s not exactly like watching the TV show on a Friday night, but that’s only because each episode is released Monday morning. If you close your eyes, the podcast is just like watching the show with your eyes closed!

Step Four: Watch brand new CB!B! clips?!

The best way to cope with the end of Comedy Bang! Bang! is to completely ignore that it’s over — because it’s not. In an unprecedented move, IFC is opening up the bonus CB!B! content vault. There are four brand new, never-before-seen sketches featuring Scott Aukerman, Kid Cudi, and “Weird Al” Yankovic ready for you to view on the IFC App. There’s also one right here, below this paragraph! Watch all four b-b-bonus clips and feel better.

Binge the entire final season, plus exclusive sketches, right now on the IFC app.

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Everybody Sweats Now

The Four-Day Sweatsgiving Weekend On IFC

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This long holiday weekend is your time to gobble gobble gobble and give heartfelt thanks—thanks for the comfort and forgiveness of sweatpants. Because when it comes right down to it, there’s nothing more wholesome and American than stuffing yourself stupid and spending endless hours in front of the TV in your softest of softests.

So get the sweats, grab the remote and join IFC for four perfect days of entertainment.

sweatsgiving
It all starts with a 24-hour T-day marathon of Rocky Horror Picture Show, then continues Friday with an all-day binge of Stan Against Evil.

By Saturday, the couch will have molded to your shape. Which is good, because you’ll be nestled in for back-to-back Die Hard and Lethal Weapon.

Finally, come Sunday it’s time to put the sweat back in your sweatpants with The Shining, The Exorcist, The Chronicles of Riddick, Terminator 2, and Blade: Trinity. They totally count as cardio.

As if you need more convincing, here’s Martha Wash and the IFC&C Music Factory to hammer the point home.

The Sweatsgiving Weekend starts Thursday on IFC

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