So, as you can gather from the main focus of this blog, MOVIES are the name of the game here. I was recently rewatching a flick from ‘back in the day’, a flick that featured a MASSIVE explosion partway through…one of those blasts where I can’t help but to wonder just how awesome it would’ve been to be on set the day they set that sucker off. And given that the movie was released in 1988, I knew that what I had watched was either one hell of a full-sized, ‘middle finger-to-Gawd’-sized ‘BOOM!’, or an impressively-shot miniature was blown to smithereens. Either way, a good movie explosion is cool. Yes, I’m a modern-day savage who gets all giddy when things go ‘BANG!’ or ‘ROAR!’ (you should see me at an airshow!) and I figured that I would take advantage of this ‘medium’ and share some of the more impressive blasts that’ve caught me eyes (and ears) from the mere handful of films I’ve seen in my life.
Article#1: THOSE HUGE (AND SOMETIMES NOT-SO-HUGE) MOVIE EXPLOSIONS!
These are not listed in any order of preference. They’re all cool for their own reasons.
1) Bat 21 (1988) – Might as well begin with the one that started this crazy idea. I remember the first time I saw this scene and how it dropped my jaw to the floor. This is the final solution to an intense helicopters-vs- VC village-while-trying-to-rescue-downed-aviator scene that just masterfully builds to this spectacular but ultimately tragic blast of fire, courtesy of a pair of F-5 Tiger 2s. The rapid-fire detonations just ripple through the village set with an eerie ‘thudding’ sound that builds into the crackling roar of the flames. Clearly, this was a one-take kinda shot.
2) The Wraith (1986) – This car-fetishistic supernatural revenge flick is dumb. Like…really dumb. It stars Charlie Sheen as a ghostly avenger who turns up in a Dodge kit car to exact revenge on the dorky gang of car obsessed psychos that blew him away (while looking nothing like himself in his past life) for humping the leaders gal back in the day. Like I said…dumb. But…it does feature one helluva ‘BANG!’ when Charlie ‘high-speeds’ his car straight into the bad guys chop shop/lair and somehow makes this…
…happen. I love debris, when it comes to movie explosions. There’s just something cool about seeing a structure abruptly explode into a fiery cloud of toothpicks. THIS one is a prime example of THAT. ‘Ba-BOOM!!!’ See ya, Skank and Gutter-boy!!!
3) Octopussy (1983)– This cheesy Roger Moore Bond flick still has one of the coolest opening sequences ever. While having to escape evil Latin American soldiers, Bond puts his patriotically painted MicroJet to the test and, while being pursued by a pesky heat-seeking missile, finds a clever and daring way to escape, while completing his original sabotage mission (what a guy, that Bond). He flies the tiny plane, at high speed, straight through the open hangar (that was his original target) and forces the chasing missile to slam into a parked F-4 Phantom ( and the officer Bond was impersonating to gain access in the first place!). The result is explosive miniature goodness!
4) Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock – Ok, so this isn’t so much of a big ACTUAL explosion…but I’m pretty sure that at least one element of this sequence contains an exploding model of the Enterprise. At least…that’s what I like to think. The sequence of destruction here is beautifully edited, giving the sacrifice of the classic ship a tense but sexy rhythm.
I love the way the remains blast out of the fireball to tear past us, looking like Cookie Monster had his way with it.
5) Apocalypse Now (1979) – This movie is an absolute classic and, like Bat 21, features a scene where F-5s are again called into put the finishing move on VC mortars in the treeline, who were fucking with Col. Kilgore’s (Robert Duvall) surfing plans. Rumor has it that this blast, accomplished via long gas-vented hoses (as I understand it), was nearly a mile long at the time of detonation. Once again…that would’ve been amazing to see for real…along with the entire ‘Ride of the Valkries’ helicopter attack scene that precedes it.
6) The Road Warrior (1981) – This blast is absolutely insane. The filmmakers built a complete ‘oil rig/good guy sanctuary’ set, in the Aussie Outback and, at the end of filming, blew the living shit out of it…as you can see below.
I love that last wide shot of the rising mushroom cloud. SO final.
7) Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – One of my all time favorite action/adventure movies. Period. It never gets boring to me. Especially Indys fisticuffs with the burly German mechanic on, around and under the out-of-control Flying Wing, which, after the Nazi bastard is pureed by the spinning propeller, culminates in both the leaking fuel truck and the plane itself blowing to pieces.
Being a Spielberg film, the sound design is incredible, especially when that fuel truck blows. On a good sound system, it feels like a punch in the gut.
8) The Last Boy Scout (1990) – Another action flick that never gets dull. This was the first R-Rated movie I ever saw in a theatre alone, as a probably-too-youngster, and when it came time for that wife-screwing asshole Mike to climb into his Mustang and turn that key…
… things suddenly got very loud. It’s the first instance that I remember of being ‘open mouthed’ awed by the way the shattered, flaming hulk of a car, flying through the air, was shown in glorious, multi-camera slow motion. The sequence ends beautifully with that last shot you see there, with the car unceremoniously slamming back down to earth. Happy trails, Mike.
9) The Return of the Jedi (1983) – My second favorite Star Wars film, I swear I wore out my first VHS copy of this by obsessively ‘Rewind, Play…Rewind, Play’ing this one Wide shot of the miniature Sail Barge as it goes ‘KaBlooee!!!’
As a kid, I always found it funny to think that those flying comet-like pieces where burning bits of that prick Jabba The Hutt. Ok, so I was a LITTLE odd. Don’t be hatin.
10) Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990) – I remember seeing this in the theatre with a buddy of mine and being horrified by the cold and calculating murder of 100+ people on this plane, by that vicious bastard Col. Stuart (William Sadler)…simply to prove a point. What made the scene even worse was that the miniature effects and use of variable camera speed is brilliantly done, and edited beautifully, giving the sequence a nasty ‘real world’ness that made me almost ache for McClane to absolutely destroy that asshole.
And thus ends the first installment of ‘The Just Cuz Files’.
-More to come.