Two movie blurps

Gru's mother

1. When Gru’s mother in Despicable Me kicks the punching bag, sending her karate sparring partner flying, he hollers the Wilhelm Scream.

2. I’ve finally seen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (which Avery keeps mispronouncing in an alarming and hilarious way), and couldn’t help but remember the sequence from Ace Ventura in which he hollers the CCBB song at the top of his lungs.


Wilhelm drives

In the CARS dream sequence when McQueen is thinking about the movie that Blue Lightning will be in, one of the people he shoots explodes and utters the Wilhelm scream.


Also, it’s only my second time watching the movie, so I can be forgiven for only now noticing that the Cart Talk guys provide the voices for the Rust-eze owners.

Also, my kids are grooving out to “Life is a Highway.”



Up is a beautiful movie.  My family watched it this week and we enjoyed it immensely.  Pixar hits another homerun.  I’ll hold off on slathering too much adulation, as you’ve heard it all before.  Some small thoughts:

  • As always, the characterization is excellent, with a few short scenes defining who our characters are and shaping how we understand them.  Doug the dog is my favorite; the depiction of his thoughts stands out  as the most accurate dog thinking in fiction since Christopher Moore wrote The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove.
  • The house doesn’t have enough balloons.  I remember hearing an interview with the Pixar guys where they talked about figuring out how many balloons it would really take to hold up the house (on the order of millions) and then they just made a bunch.
  • Watching the movie with Avery was hilarious–she busted out laughing at much of the physical humor, and the parts that made us cry went over her head.  We did have to navigate questions about why the man was sad, but that’s part of having a four year old.
  • Pixar has reached the top of this game, I think.  The animation is seemless enough that we stop marveling at it and enjoy, but the depth of detail and the retro design (very Incredibles) work brilliantly.  The bird stands out in this regard — genius character design.
  • Also, how old is that explorer guy supposed to be?  He was at least 25 when Carl was 10, so that makes him fifteen years older than Carl, whom I would peg in his seventies at minimum.

Definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it.  Get on that!

ps> When the dogs fall in the water after chasing the bird to the edge of the cliff, we hear a Wilhelm scream.

Another Human Target Wilhelm Scream

Did you hear that?
Did you hear that?

Another appearance of the Wilhelm Scream on Human Target.  This time, the mission takes Chance deep into the jungles of Peru(?) where he leads a bunch of ne’er-do-wells into a minefield.  The first or second “rebel” to step on a mine Wilhelms as he flies into the air.

Also, this episode introduces Kim Coates as “Bertram,” a villainous “pirate” whom I’m sure we’ll see again.  I remember Coates most distinctly for his nervous, jittery performance as the “paper paper” drifter.

Wilhelm Puncher

Troy as Kick Puncher
Troy as Kick Puncher

On Community, the group gathers in Abed’s room to watch terrible movies, including Kick Puncher, the Robocop ripoff whose punch is as hard as a fist.  At one point, in the background, we hear Kick Puncher hit someone.  The sound they make when they fly through the wall? The Wilhelm Scream.

Wilhelm Target x2

Human TargetWe’ve seen our good ol’ friend the Wilhelm Scream in two episodes of Human Target so far:

  1. The first episode, when Chance kicks a dude out the back end of the train.  Wilhelmed!
  2. In the third(?) episode, when monk’s-habit-wearing Chance kicks a dude out of a cable car over a mountain.

Black Sheep

Black Sheep
Black Sheep

My Zombies in Popular Media class watched Dead Alive on Wednesday, and it got me in the mood for some good old-fashioned kiwi gore effects. Thank goodness I had the perfect cure just sitting on my television, waiting for me.

Black Sheep tells the story of two brothers who’ve inherited one of the largest sheep ranches in New Zealand. One brother left for the city, paralyzed by his fear of sheep; the other stayed on to take over the family business and start a genetic engineering project to create the perfect sheep. As such projects usually do, the engineering project went horribly awry. Cue the hungry-sheep bloodbath. Some thoughts:

  • Part of me wants to quibble about whether this is actually a zombie movie. The sheep are pretty darn angry, but not undead. And though the people definitely get infected by sheep bites (turning them into horrible man/sheep hybrids), the infection doesn’t reanimate people who die from the bites. That said, many of the same fear tropes and kinds of plot elements that drive zombie films apply, so I’m inclined to bring it into the fold. As I told my students while we discussed this movie, if I’m willing to call Invasion of the Body Snatchers a zombie movie, I probably have to include Black Sheep.
  • I wonder if there’s something extra creepy about normally-calm animals who go bonkers and try to eat you. I think there is. The snapping teeth of the sheep in the movie are downright terrifying.
  • The movie feels a lot like Dead Alive in its gore effects. One student mentioned that the effects were done by Weta studios, Peter Jackson’s special effects studio. Not surprising that they pulled this off. My favorite bit is that the film has a very genuine look to it–the effects appear to have been practical, rather than CGI. The only computery moment in the film, for me, was the herd of sheep rampaging down the hill in one later shot.
  • It seems like environmentalists are always causing problems in movies. While mad scientists are doing their villainous deeds, they’re taking safety seriously. Tree huggers get up in their grill and mess things up. Case in point: Severed: forest of the dead and 28 Days Later, just to name two. This film includes both a total loony goofball environmentalist and another who’s sensible yet still a bit loony.
  • During the press conference, one of the Germans shrieks the wilhelm scream as he goes down.

Worth a look, whether you like zombie movies or movies about out of control livestock. I’m looking at you, Babe-fans.

Weekend Media Roundup

The murderous gardener, perhaps?
The murderous gardener, perhaps?

A few bullets from this weekend’s media meals.

  • We got an Agatha Christie Poirot from the library over the weekend: One, Two, Buckle My Shoe. One of the suspects seemed familiar, but it took me a minute or two to figure out it was Christopher Eccleston, the first of the new Doctors Who.
  • Avery discovered that she really likes the Jimmy Eat World song “The Middle” this weekend while we were playing Rock Band. We may have another video on our hands — I heard her singing it in her room later in the day.
  • We played Scene It with some friends and marveled at how mixed the “My Play” questio0ns were. On the one hand, after a lengthy sequence from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (the Dreyfus encounter), the question supplies us with the title of the movie and then asks who directed it. Then, a long sequence from Say Anything in which we’re asked to remember, afterward, how many chairs were in the dining room behind John Cusack.
  • We worked our way through the first disc of Primeval from Netflix. I enjoyed it, though it doesn’t quite hold up to more stalwart SF shows like Torchwood. As we watched the first episode, I was delighted to hear the Wilhelm Scream as a dino- cougar thing attacked a guy. In the second episode, a big spider kills a soldier and he gasps another Wilhelm Scream. When we got to the third episode, it wasn’t surprising when the plumber Wilhelmed as he got munched in a suburban basement. My verdict: once is cute. Twice is enough. Three times in three episodes? Overkill.
  • Psych is back. Entertainment Weekly thinks it stinks (C+). It doesn’t. It’s awesome, as usual. Watch and enjoy.
  • Wii Sports Resort really does kick ass. I particularly like the archery game, but the other games are really impressive. The frisbee game pays close attention to the angle of the Wiimote as you toss, giving you realistic arcs and angles; the table tennis game allows for spin; the sword-fighting game is downright fun. You must enjoy Wii Sports Resort (though you should buy at least one extra Motion Plus, so you can enjoy with someone else.)
Wii Sport Archery
Wii Sports Resort Archery

It occurs to me that The Dreyfus Encounter would make an excellent Robert Ludlum title.



The Zombie Reporting Center mentioned a new indie zombie film, Colin, made in Britain for supposedly £45 (though this obviously excludes any hardware or equipment costs), whose trailer looks pretty great. It seems to tell the story of a zombie from the zombie’s point of view. On top of it, you can hear the Wilhelm Scream somewhere around 42 seconds. Important and awesome.


An object lesson in keeping your feet on the floor of your car

Death Proof
Death Proof

I saw Planet Terror a while ago (zombie movie, natch), but only just got around to seeing Tarentino’s half of Grindhouse: Death Proof.  I think Peter Travers’ review nails much of what I like about the film.  While it does play on all the traits you would expect (indeed, DEMAND) from a car-based exploitation flick, it also eludes and overshoots them.  The plot structure seemed, to me, to mirror I Spit on Your Grave, turning the “victim” of the attack (the second attack in this film) into the aggressor.  And Russel’s performance turned at times on a dime, hovering between scuzzy and menacing for a while, dropping into horrible, and then shifting into pathetic.  A few more thoughts:

While I thought the film’s cultural references were amusing and interesting, there’s something about the Tarentino-isms that didn’t work for me as much in this film.  The conversation around the restaurant table felt like a stale style.  To be fair, QT mainstreamed that style, but with a decade’s worth of screenwriters imitating and stretching it, there needed to be something new.  I also appreciated the feel of the film (the simulacra of wear in the footage worked the best), but not having the nostalgia for the grindhouse movies themselves, something was lost on me, I’m sure.

Tarentino’s films usually have a lesson.  In Pulp Fiction, we learned to take our gun with us when we go to the bathroom.  In Reservoir Dogs, I think it was something about ears.  Death Proof shows us, in the most stark terms possible, that we should not ride with our legs or feet out the window. Really.

Update: I almost forgot!  During one of the car crashes, you can clearly hear Stuntman Mike yelp the The Wilhelm Scream.

Parodies even use it

I watched the two-part Star Wars parody on Family Guy.  In one of the fight scenes, we hear the wilhelm scream.  Yep.

Wilhelm Growl

Look out for flaming paws!
Look out for flaming paws!

When Tai Lung escapes from his supermax prison, he bounds from platform to platform, kicking the horns out of a bunch of rhino guards.  One of them Wilhelm Screams as he smashes backwards through a door.  Rule.

Snow 2: Brain Freeze

Not a lot to say about this ABC-family 25 Days of Christmas syrup-a-thon. I watched it while goofing around on the computer, so I don’t have too much to say, but:

  • I like Tom Cavanaugh. Don’t you have to? I hope his new USA show is good.
  • Perennial villain Patrick Fabian is back. Does this guy ever play anyone nice? Does he want to?

Mostly, I was excited because of the sequence in which the villain, Buck, shakes the Santa book of knowledge and out pops, um, the foppish Keeper of the Book. He falls from the ceiling and, in a bit of sound editing I’m always excited to notice, yodels the the Wilhelm Scream.

Running up the stairs

There’s a sequence in Madagascar in which Alex the lion goes running up some steps at Union Station in New York, looking for Marty the Zebra.  The people around him, unaware that he’s a nice lion, scream and run away.  Among the voluble mixture of sounds accompanying the running people?  You guessed it, the Wilhelm Scream.  Joy.

Wet Hot American Summer

Wet Hot American Summer

was most notable for the vast number of People You’ve Seen Elsewhere; it’s the Diner of the early naughts (though Diner has a more sustainable kind of comedy). I will hereby rate the movie based on other things I’ve seen these people in. Check imdb for pictures. I decided Jenny wouldn’t enjoy the film, mostly because it felt to me like one of the less-raunchy episodes of Reno 911! or one of the less obtuse episodes of Stella. Jenny tolerates but won’t usually choose to watch the former, and strongly disliked the latter.

  • Directed by David Wain. Wain is one of three members of Comedy Central’s Stella. He’s funny on camera, but his directing style isn’t distinctive enough for me to commment. Not as funny as in the coffee house episode of Stella.
  • Janeane Garofalo. JG is always equally funny. She’s like the horizon of comedy — perhaps because of her deadpan delivery. I liked her better in Mystery Men.
  • David Hyde Pierce. Still unable to convince anyone to let him do serious film.
  • Michael Showalter. Funny, co-author, co-Stella cast member. Plays the straight man and is thus funnier in Stella.
  • Marguerite Moreau. The one person in the cast you haven’t seen elsewhere. Or at least I haven’t.
  • Michael Ian Black. The third member of Stella. Moderately funny, but unable to really develop his biting sarcasm that serves him so well on I Love The Nostalgia. Funnier in Stella or in the recent Reality Bites Back.
  • Zak Orth. Okay, two.
  • A.D. Miles. Hilarious on the short run of Comedy Central’s Man Bites Dog.
  • Paul Rudd. Very funny, actually. Honing the persona that would catapult him to the level of top-notch character actor in Judd Apatow movies. I don’t find this kind of character very funny usually, but it works here; particularly amusing is the repeated gag about dumping kids who know too much on the side of the road.
  • Christopher Maloni. Playing a damaged Vietnam war vet with strange sexual proclivities. I guess he was preparing for his role on L&O:SVU. I always get him confused with Elias Koteas, who played Casey Jones in 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
  • Molly Shannon. Showing again how great she is, and how underused; where’s her sitcom!
  • Ken Marino. As the studly virgin, questing for his own “sure thing.” Would shine later as Tony the Demon on Reaper and as Vinnie Van Lowe on Veronica Mars.
  • Joe Lo Truglio. Later showed up in the Reno 911! movie.
  • Amy Poehler. I’m sure she’s been in funnier things. SNL, if nothing else.
  • Bradley Cooper. Wil Tippen from Alias. Hilarious in many films since.
  • Elizabeth Banks. Of recent fame for her roles in The 40-Year Old Virgin and the upcoming Zack and Miri Make a Porno.

Also, when the campers are playing capture the flag, one of them trips and we can distinctly hear The Wilhelm Scream.