Charles Austin Miller

24th May 2019

Poltergeist (1982)

New this week Trivia: Steven Spielberg originally conceived "Poltergeist" as a science-fiction thriller, a sequel of sorts to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"; however, when Spielberg brought in Tobe Hooper to direct the film, Hooper convinced Spielberg to drop the science fiction approach and make it a straight-up supernatural horror story.

Charles Austin Miller

24th May 2019

The Return (1980)

New this week Revealing mistake: In this very-low-budget but star-studded flick about UFO contactees and cattle mutilations, Jan Michael Vincent's semi-auto handgun runs out of ammo during a firefight after firing only 3 rounds (the slide locks open, indicating the magazine is empty). Without reloading or racking the slide, Vincent audibly continues firing 5 more rounds; but we see again, in close-up, that the slide is locked open, indicating an empty magazine. (01:00:55)

Charles Austin Miller

22nd May 2019

Djinn (2013)

New this week Continuity mistake: By the end of the film, we realise that the Djinn (in this case an invisible and shape-shifting earthly entity of Islamic lore) has staged most of the film's events as a mass illusion. Meaning, the Djinn is a deceiver and can lead humans into dangerous and even deadly situations, but the Djinn cannot perform miracles (or else the whole movie would end almost as soon as it started). At the story's climax, the lead characters, Khalid and Salama, end up in the 62nd-floor penthouse of a luxury high-rise, where Khalid drops Salama to her death from the penthouse balcony, just as the vengeful Djinn intended. However, only minutes earlier, we see that the high-rise building is actually still under construction, and it's stated that the building is months away from completion (its main entrance and plate glass have not even been installed). The Djinn only created the illusion that the building was completed to deceive the lead characters. In reality, without electricity and functioning elevators and hundreds of feet of completed stairwells, there was no physical way for Khalid and Salama to reach the 62nd-floor penthouse suite of the high-rise for the climax scene, even if they were being deceived by illusion.

Charles Austin Miller

New this month Trivia: This low-budget suspense/adventure was produced during the early Cold War and the flying saucer craze of the late 1940s and early 1950s, and it's often hailed as the first UFO-themed feature film. But, except for a crude saucer prop and a couple of cheesy, split-second visual effects, this movie is primarily a Cold War espionage story with Russian spies attempting to steal American weapons technology. The filmmakers' original intent was to include actual government-authorized flying saucer footage; accordingly, the film's prologue reads "We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of those in authority who made the release of 'The Flying Saucer' film possible at this time." However, the filmmakers apparently never obtained any flying saucer footage (government-authorized or otherwise), and no such footage appears in the movie.

Charles Austin Miller

14th May 2019

Death Wish (2018)

New this month Factual error: When Dr. Paul Kersey pays a visit to Joe Gannon, the garage mechanic, Kersey slices open Gannon's leg with a scalpel, then pours automotive brake fluid into the wound. The brake fluid sizzles and foams on contact with the blood, which is chemically impossible. Brake fluid is simply hydraulic fluid formulated for extreme temperatures. The diethylene glycol in brake fluid may be toxic and may sting slightly in open wounds, but it does not violently react with blood and sizzle like acid as depicted in this film. (01:14:45)

Charles Austin Miller

New this month Trivia: In this and other Avenger films, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) is depicted as standing much shorter than Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr). In reality, Ruffalo is only one inch shorter than Downey (who is 5'9" tall); but Bruce Banner is always portrayed as a diminutive character in contrast to his gigantic Hulk persona.

Charles Austin Miller

3rd May 2019

Donovan's Echo (2011)

New this month Revealing mistake: When Donovan witnesses a fatal traffic accident on a rainy night, he suffers a mild heart attack and collapses in the street. Although he's lying on his back, unprotected from the downpour, surrounded by rain striking the pavement in both foreground and background, closeups show that no rain strikes his face, his felt hat, or his clothing. (00:12:20 - 00:12:50)

Charles Austin Miller

3rd May 2019

41 (2012)

New this month Plot hole: In this Australian time-travel fantasy, a college student discovers a one-way time portal that allows him to travel one day into the past each time he uses it. While he at first attempts to rescue his girlfriend from a traffic accident that occurred a day earlier, he eventually travels back 50 years (one day at a time) to save his young grandfather. However, in order to go back 50 years (one day at a time), he'd have to repeatedly climb through the portal over 18,000 times. Apparently, it's not an issue, because the movie just glosses right over it in less than a minute.

Charles Austin Miller

2nd Apr 2019

Amadeus (1984)

Trivia: At the 1985 Academy Awards ceremony, 78-year-old Sir Laurence Olivier appeared onstage to announce the Oscar nominees and winner for Best Picture. Olivier had been ill for years and was suffering dementia at the time, and the ceremony producers immediately knew something was wrong when Olivier started opening the envelope as soon as he reached the podium. Sure enough, Olivier completely forgot to mention the four other nominated films and simply announced, "The winner for this is Amadeus." After a bit of embarrassed confusion, Olivier presented the Best Picture Oscar to "Amadeus" producer Saul Zaentz, who saved the day somewhat by spontaneously and graciously thanking the producers of the other four nominated films, by name.

Charles Austin Miller

1st Mar 2019

The Exorcist (1973)

Trivia: During production of "The Exorcist," director William Friedkin abandoned the movie's original musical score (by Lalo Schifrin), and he turned to Atlantic Records for replacement music. During a visit to Atlantic Records, Friedkin picked up a random white-label recording, listened to its intro, and immediately wanted it in his movie. That random white-label recording was "Tubular Bells" by 19-year-old musician Mike Oldfield (his very first album). Although Friedkin used just a scant few seconds of Oldfield's music at only two points in the movie, "Tubular Bells" became a popular sensation, selling many millions of copies by virtue of its association to Friedkin's film. The enormous success of "Tubular Bells" made Mike Oldfield a worldwide star overnight. It was also the very first album released by Virgin Records (a young Richard Branson had provided the studio and equipment for Oldfield's work). Ironically, Mike Oldfield said he wouldn't watch "The Exorcist" because he heard it was too scary.

Charles Austin Miller

Trivia: For decades after "The Wizard of Oz" premiered, Margaret Hamilton was often called upon by adoring fans to render her witch's cackle and her most famous movie line: "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!" Although she obliged her fans, Hamilton always publicly expressed regret that her Wicked Witch of the West was too frightening for small children. However, after she died in 1985, her only son (Hamilton Wadsworth Meserve) admitted that his mom frequently used her wicked cackle and "I'll get you, my pretty" line in private life as he was growing up, just because she loved doing it.

Charles Austin Miller

17th Jan 2019

Mary Poppins (1964)

Trivia: As well as singing the lyrics for "A Spoonful of Sugar," Julie Andrews also provided the voice of the robin, whistling in harmony with herself.

Charles Austin Miller

16th Jan 2019

Mary Poppins (1964)

Trivia: Child actor Karen Dotrice (who played Jane Banks) said in later years that she and Matthew Garber (who played Michael Banks) were shocked at Julie Andrews' frequent foul language and smoking on the set of "Mary Poppins"; and they were also aware of something very wrong with Dick Van Dyke (who was seriously hungover much of the time and having bouts of suicidal depression).

Charles Austin Miller

12th Jan 2019

Common mistakes

Deliberate mistake: Rather than gradually exploring character backgrounds as the story unfolds, characters in cheesier movies awkwardly rush to reveal whole biographies in just a couple of lines, right at the beginning of the film. Such an unlikely conversation might go like this: "I'm the luckiest girl in the world, married to the lead developer and network administrator of NASA's most ambitious interplanetary program ever"; and the husband replies, "Well, it helped that your father created the program and took a chance on me after that Wall Street computer-hacking scandal six years ago." There's no subtlety at all, it's just fast-food character development.

Charles Austin Miller

Factual error: Loosely based on the novel by Jules Verne, the entire story takes place on a remote Pacific island in the early 1860s. However, as pirates come under attack by a sea monster (in the second half of this two-part film), a modern fishing trawler or tugboat appears momentarily on the far right of the screen. (00:59:05)

Charles Austin Miller

6th Jan 2019

Westworld (1973)

Trivia: Yul Brynner, whose Man In Black character was made famous in earlier American western movies, agreed to reprise the character in Westworld for only $75,000, because he sorely needed the money.

Charles Austin Miller

Trivia: Science-fiction author Harlan Ellison wrote the original novella "A Boy and His Dog" in 1969, and director L.Q. Jones wanted Ellison to also write the screenplay for this 1975 film. When it became apparent that Ellison could not provide a screenplay (due to "writer's block"), Jones co-wrote the screenplay. In a DVD commentary decades later, Jones said that Ellison was pleased with the finished screenplay and movie except for certain dialogue. Ellison was especially offended by the last line of the movie, spoken by the telepathic dog, Blood: "Well, I'd say she certainly had marvelous judgment, Albert, if not particularly good taste." (This grisly line alluded to Vic and Blood eating Quilla June Holmes, the female love interest, in an act that happens off-camera.) Harlan Ellison said it was a "moronic, hateful, chauvinist last line, which I despise."

Charles Austin Miller

29th Dec 2018

Westworld (1973)

Trivia: When Yul Brynner chases Richard Benjamin into the android lab, Benjamin douses Brynner with concentrated hydrochloric acid (attempting to blind the killer android), and Brynner's face sizzles, bubbles and starts melting. The acid effect for this shot was achieved in a decidedly low-tech manner: Pulverized Alka Seltzer antacid tablets were mixed with Yul Brynner's facial makeup; Brynner's face was then doused with water, and the Alka Seltzer fizzed away Brynner's makeup as piped-in stage smoke swirled about his head. (01:16:50)

Charles Austin Miller

27th Dec 2018

Common mistakes

Stupidity: Ground troops armed with semi-auto handguns, automatic rifles and even heavy artillery just keep wasting ammo, barrage-after-barrage, magazine-after-magazine, against giant robots and monsters 100 feet tall, long after it becomes obvious that the weapons have zero effect. This is an ongoing stupidity dating back to some of the earliest giant monster movies, and is still seen in giant monster and superhero films today.

Charles Austin Miller
Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: Surely in the face of a no-win scenario, doing something that may or may not work is better than doing nothing and awaiting your doom. They would be doing everything they could to stop the enemy in the hopes of saving lives. Even if it takes every last round of ammunition, it may eventually be enough to wear down the monster / robot etc.

I hate to disagree. I think one of the best examples is the lates Godzilla movie whre they keep firing their hand guns on it knowing it would be better to just get out, there was absolutely no point to do that. Same goes for Man Of Steel.

lionhead

Agreed. Even in a no win situation, why waste ammunition and time firing on a target that impregnable when you could be doing more to evacuate and save lives.

Ssiscool Premium member

In everything from old Godzilla movies to modern superhero and kaiju flicks, we see military forces line up and throw every bit of small arms and heavier artillery they have at the giant monsters or giant robots, with zero effect. The military always retreats, regroups, then lines up and wastes all their ammunition again, as if they learned absolutely nothing from the first experience.

Charles Austin Miller

In a no-win scenario, you beat a hasty retreat and live to fight another day, hopefully better armed and better prepared next time. You don't hold your ground, futilely trying to bring down a giant monster the size of a Hilton Hotel with small arms fire.

Charles Austin Miller

It's strange because I can understand why filmmakers still do this, even though it makes little sense. They are trying to show that the monster, robot, whatever is unstoppable by conventional means and honestly I don't know how you would do that without these kinds of scenes. Even though they are dumb. It's extra dumb to me when you hear the General yell "Stand your ground, men!" or something like that. Or when the cop runs out of bullets and throws his gun.

BaconIsMyBFF

17th Dec 2018

Dr. Strangelove (1964)

Trivia: In later interviews, Stanley Kubrick revealed that George C. Scott did not want to portray General Buck Turgidson as a campy character in the film; he very much wanted to play Turgidson straight and serious (just as Kubrick had originally envisioned the entire film). Kubrick agreed and filmed Scott playing the role straight, but only on the condition that Scott rehearse the role as over-the-top camp. Scott agreed to camp it up in rehearsal only if the cameras weren't rolling, and Kubrick assured him they weren't rolling. However, Kubrick lied and filmed the campy rehearsals, as well, which were used in the finished film. As a result Scott refused to work with Kubrick again.

Charles Austin Miller

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