19 Things to Look for the Next Time You Watch Die Hard

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

John McClane was just a New York City cop trying to visit his wife and kids for Christmas, and then it all went wrong. Since being released in theaters 30 years ago, director John McTiernan’s Die Hard, starring Bruce Willis, has earned its spot among the best action movies of all time. But how well do you know McClane’s gun-toting adventures through Nakatomi Plaza?

Say, “yippee ki-yay” cowboys, because here are some things you might not have noticed in the action classic.

1. JOHN MCCLANE’S TEDDY BEAR HAS BEEN AROUND.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

When off-duty NYPD officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) steps off the plane in Los Angeles to visit his kids and estranged wife, he’s carrying a giant stuffed teddy bear as a Christmas gift. But the huge bear is more than just a present—the stuffed animal is a trademark of director John McTiernan, who later used the bear as a prop in his 1990 film The Hunt for Red October.

2. WHAT’S HOLLY MAIDEN NAME AGAIN?

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

When McClane makes it to Nakatomi Plaza and signs in on the computer system with his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), he’s forced to check in using her maiden name. The touch-screen computer lists her surname as “Gennaro.” But when he touches the name it switches to “Gennero.” So much for wanting to be a McClane.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

3. THERE ARE SUBTLE DIGS AT A COUPLE OF BIG-NAME ACTION STARS.

Die Hard remains a classic due to the fact that its fallible lead character was unleashed on the world during a 1980s action movie landscape that featured indestructible on-screen heroes like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Both Stallone and Schwarzenegger turned down the role of John McClane, and the movie makes some inside baseball jokes at their expense for the snub.

Terrorist Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) makes fun of McClane as a kind of one-man army out of a Stallone movie, and McClane also makes a sly dig by saying the explosives on the Nakatomi roof are “enough to orbit Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

4. THE TERRORISTS GET AROUND WITH THE SAME COURIER SERVICE.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Gruber’s terrorist group arrives at Nakatomi Plaza in a green box truck that says "Pacific Courier" on the side. A similar truck that says "Atlantic Courier" on the side was used in the New York City-set Die Hard: With A Vengeance, which featured Hans Gruber's brother Simon as the villain. "Pacific Courier" also appears in Speed. All three movies featured the same production designer, Jackson De Govia.

5. NAKATOMI PLAZA WAS 20TH CENTURY FOX.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

The exteriors of the film’s marquee location were shot at Fox Plaza, the real-life headquarters of 20th Century Fox, the film studio that made the film. The computer system Ellis hacks into sports the exact address of the actual building, and the (now defunct) emergency contact phone numbers were allegedly the actual numbers for the management of Fox Plaza. The building was under construction during filming, and the scenes that show it half-finished were filmed exactly as the building was at the time.

6. THE NAKATOMI ARCHITECTS MUST LOVE FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT.

The 34th floor of the Nakatomi building, where Holly's company Christmas party is being held, is supposed to be a recreation of the interior of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.

7. JOSEPH TAKAGI HAS A LINK TO PEARL HARBOR.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Joseph Takagi (James Shigeta) defends his homeland of Japan with a clap back at McClane’s snark by telling him, “Pearl Harbor didn't work out, so we got you with tape decks.” That’s not the only Takagi family connection to December 7, 1941.

“Akagi” is the password that opens the Nakatomi Plaza's bank vault, and was also the name of one of the aircraft carriers that took part in the fateful attack.

8. THE POLICE CHIEF WAS RIGHT ABOUT BRUCE WILLIS'S OTHER JOBS.

Lovable police officer Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson) tries to convince Deputy Police Chief Dwayne Robinson (Paul Gleason) that McClane is a cop by referencing his ability to spot a phony ID on the terrorists in the building. But Johnson doesn’t believe him, saying, “He could be a f***ing bartender for all we know!” It’s a funny quip, but also true: Willis used to be a bartender in New York before getting into the acting business.

9. WILLIS SUFFERED PERMANENT HEARING LOSS BECAUSE OF THE FILM.

A scene from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

McTiernan wanted to give the gunshots in the movie an overly realistic feel, so he had the production rig the blanks to be extra loud. Much to Willis’s detriment, the move cost him parts of his hearing. In the scene where Willis shoots a terrorist through a table, the actor is holding the gun extremely close to his face. The resulting shots caused the actor permanent hearing loss.

In a 2007 interview with The Guardian, Willis recalled the scene, saying, “Due to an accident on the first Die Hard, I suffer two-thirds partial hearing loss in my left ear and have a tendency to say, ‘Whaaa?’"

10. THERE ARE SOME REAL FALLS.

In the scene where McClane makes an epic jump into an elevator shaft, the stunt man was supposed to grab onto the first vent—but missed completely. The resulting footage shows the actor slipping further down the shaft. McTiernan and co-editor Frank Urioste kept it in the final cut because it made the scene more harrowing.

Similar trickery happened during the filming of Gruber’s death scene stunt: McTiernan allegedly told Rickman—who did his own stunt for the scene—that he would be dropped 70-feet on a count of three. But to get a look of real terror on Rickman’s face, McTiernan had him dropped on the count of two, hence Gruber’s memorably terrified look before he plunges to his death.

11. THERE ARE LOTS OF VISIBLE STUNT PEOPLE.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Willis attempted to do as many of his own stunts as he could, saying, “I think doing my own stunts whenever possible adds a lot to the production value of the film,” and “John [McTiernan] can get the camera close, because he doesn’t need to disguise the stuntman.” But the production hired as many as 37 stuntmen to pull off McClane’s death defying stunts—and a lot of them are visible. Be on the lookout for Non-Bruce Willises in most fight and explosion scenes.

A scene from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

12. HANS GRUBER AND HIS GOONS DON’T ACTUALLY SPEAK GERMAN.

Americans might think the German language that Gruber and his goons speak to one another sounds legit, but it’s actually gibberish. The grammar, diction, and pronunciation don’t actually match up. In the German release of the movie, Gruber’s group were described as being from "Europe" instead of Germany.

Weirdly enough Willis was actually born in West Germany to an American father and a German mother.

13. GRUBER’S GOONS ARE CLUMSY.

In the shot where some of Gruber’s men enter Nakatomi Plaza, the terrorist on the left as they walk through a doorway almost runs into the door frame. The camera cuts away before he actually does, but the gaffe doesn’t bode well for Gruber or his men for the rest of the movie.

14. THE TERRORISTS ARE ALSO REDUNDANT.

The rocket launcher Gruber's men use to stop the LAPD’s armored vehicle breaks the same window in two different scenes.

A scene from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

A scene from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

15. MCCLANE ISN’T ALWAYS BAREFOOT.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

McClane spends much of the movie running through broken glass with bare feet, which must have been terrible for Willis—except it wasn’t. The actor was given a pair of specially made rubber feet as a safety precaution. The fake appendages can be seen in the scene when McClane jumps off the ledge as the FBI shoots at him from the helicopter.

16. NAKATOMI PLAZA STANDS ALONE.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

The scene where McClane glances out of the window of Nakatomi Plaza to see a woman couldn’t actually happen. Shots of the Nakatomi building in the movie show that there are no buildings close by or buildings of comparable height that close for McClane to see.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

17. THE HO-HO-HO TERRORIST MIGHT STILL BE ALIVE.

A scene from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

When McClane fights and kills the grey-sweatshirt-wearing terrorist and leaves his famous “Now I Have a Machine Gun—Ho, Ho Ho” line written on him for Hans to find, the terrorist might not be as dead as we realized. When Hans goes to move the terrorist’s head, the actor playing him blinks.

18. THE INCREDIBLE DISAPPEARING AND APPEARING AMBULANCE.

A screen grab from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

When Gruber’s terrorists enter the Nakatomi building, they leave out of the Pacific Courier box truck with nothing else inside. Later in the movie, Ellis attempts to carry out their getaway plan by driving an ambulance out of the back of the same truck, even though the extra vehicle—which would be hard to miss—wasn’t there earlier in the movie.

In a behind-the-scenes twist, Gruber’s planned getaway vehicle was actually a last-minute decision on the set, which explains the incongruity.

A scene from 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

19. HOW DID MCCLANE KNOW GRUBER WAS A BAD GUY?

In the scene where McClane unwittingly stumbles on Gruber—who identifies himself as Bill Clay and puts on a convincing American accent—it’s never made 100 percent clear how McClane realizes that Clay isn’t who he says he is. We see McClane glance up at a directory of the building's occupants, but don't get a large enough view to see whether a "Clay" is or is not listed (one would think Gruber would be smart enough to see that himself and choose a fake name accordingly). Though one might assume that that's the moment our hero knows he's not dealing with a straight-shooter, it's actually Gruber's timepiece that tips him off—a tiny plot hole that can all be explained by a deleted scene.

McClane takes notice of Gruber's watch before he hands the terrorist an empty gun, but nothing about the watch is introduced in the actual movie. There was supposed to be a scene where Hans Gruber and his team synchronize the exact same watch they all wear, and, according to screenwriter Steven E. De Souza, “When Bruce offers the cigarette to Alan Rickman, Bruce sees the watch. You see his eyes look at the watch. That's how he knows that he is one of the terrorists.”

Reviews.org Wants to Pay You $1000 to Watch 30 Disney Movies

Razvan/iStock via Getty Images
Razvan/iStock via Getty Images

Fairy tales do come true. CBR reports that Reviews.org is currently hiring five people to watch 30 Disney movies (or 30 TV show episodes) for 30 days on the new Disney+ platform. In addition to $1000 apiece, each of the chosen Disney fanatics will receive a free year-long subscription to Disney+ and some Disney-themed movie-watching swag that includes a blanket, cups, and a popcorn popper.

The films include oldies but goodies, like Fantasia, Bambi, and A Goofy Movie, as well as Star Wars Episodes 1-7 and even the highly-anticipated series The Mandalorian. Needless to say, there are plenty of options for 30 days of feel-good entertainment.

In terms of qualifications: applicants must be over the age of 18, a U.S. resident, have the ability to make a video reviewing the films, as well as a semi-strong social media presence. On the more fantastical side, they are looking for applicants who “really, really lov[e] Disney” and joke that the perfect candidate, “Must be as swift as a coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon.” You can check out the details in the video below.

Want to put yourself in the running? Be sure to submit your application by Thursday, November 7 at 11:59 p.m. at the link here. And keep an eye out for Disney+, which will be available November 12.

16 Biting Facts About Fright Night

William Ragsdale stars in Fright Night (1985).
William Ragsdale stars in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

Charley Brewster is your typical teen: he’s got a doting mom, a girlfriend whom he loves, a wacky best friend … and an enigmatic vampire living next door.

For more than 30 years, Tom Holland’s critically acclaimed directorial debut has been a staple of Halloween movie marathons everywhere. To celebrate the season, we dug through the coffins of the horror classic in order to discover some things you might not have known about Fright Night.

1. Fright Night was based on "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."

Or, in this case, "The Boy Who Cried Vampire." “I started to kick around the idea about how hilarious it would be if a horror movie fan thought that a vampire was living next door to him,” Holland told TVStoreOnline of the film’s genesis. “I thought that would be an interesting take on the whole Boy Who Cried Wolf thing. It really tickled my funny bone. I thought it was a charming idea, but I really didn't have a story for it.”

2. Peter Vincent made Fright Night click.

It wasn’t until Holland conceived of the character of Peter Vincent, the late-night horror movie host played by Roddy McDowall, that he really found the story. While discussing the idea with a department head at Columbia Pictures, Holland realized what The Boy Who Cried Vampire would do: “Of course, he's gonna go to Vincent Price!” Which is when the screenplay clicked. “The minute I had Peter Vincent, I had the story,” Holland told Dread Central. “Charley Brewster was the engine, but Peter Vincent was the heart.”

3. Peter Vincent is named after two horror icons.

Peter Cushing and Vincent Price.

4. The Peter Vincent role was intended for Vincent Price.

Roddy McDowall in Fright Night (1985)
Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

“Now the truth is that when I first went out with it, I was thinking of Vincent Price, but Vincent Price was not physically well at the time,” Holland said.

5. Roddy McDowall did not want to play the part like Vincent Price.

Once he was cast, Roddy McDowall made the decision that Peter Vincent was nothing like Vincent Price—specifically: he was a terrible actor. “My part is that of an old ham actor,” McDowall told Monster Land magazine in 1985. “I mean a dreadful actor. He had a moderate success in an isolated film here and there, but all very bad product. Basically, he played one character for eight or 10 films, for which he probably got paid next to nothing. Unlike stars of horror films who are very good actors and played lots of different roles, such as Peter Lorre and Vincent Price or Boris Karloff, this poor sonofabitch just played the same character all the time, which was awful.”

6. It took Holland just three weeks to write the Fright Night script.

And he had a helluva good time doing it, too. “I couldn’t stop writing,” Holland said in 2008, during a Fright Night reunion at Fright Fest. “I wrote it in about three weeks. And I was laughing the entire time, literally on the floor, kicking my feet in the air in hysterics. Because there’s something so intrinsically humorous in the basic concept. So it was always, along with the thrills and chills, something there that tickled your funny bone. It wasn’t broad comedy, but it’s a grin all the way through.”

7. Tom Holland directed Fright Night out of "self-defense."

By the time Fright Night came around, Holland was already a Hollywood veteran—just not as a director. He had spent the past two decades as an actor and writer and he told the crowd at Fright Fest that “this was the first film where I had sufficient credibility in Hollywood to be able to direct ... I had a film after Psycho 2 and before Fright Night called Scream For Help, which … I thought was so badly directed that [directing Fright Night] was self-defense. In self-defense, I wanted to protect the material, and that’s why I started directing with Fright Night."

8. Chris Sarandon had a number of reasons for not wanting to make Fright Night.

Chris Sarandon stars in 'Fright Night' (1985)
Chris Sarandon stars in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

At the Fright Night reunion, Chris Sarandon recalled his initial reaction to being approached about playing vampire Jerry Dandrige. "I was living in New York and I got the script,” he explained. “My agent said that someone was interested in the possibility of my doing the movie, and I said to myself, ‘There’s no way I can do a horror movie. I can’t do a vampire movie. I can’t do a movie with a first-time director.’ Not a first-time screenwriter, but first-time director. And I sat down and read the script, and I remember very vividly sitting at my desk, looked over at my then wife and said, ‘This is amazing. I don’t know. I have to meet this guy.’ And so, I came out to L.A. And I met with Tom [Holland] and our producer. And we just hit it off, and that was it.”

9. Jerry Dandridge is part fruit bat.

After doing some research into the history of vampires and the legends surrounding them, Sarandon decided that Jerry had some fruit bat in him, which is why he’s often seen snacking on fruit in the film. When asked about the 2011 remake with Colin Farrell, Sarandon commented on how much he appreciated that that specific tradition continued. “In this one, it's an apple, but in the original, Jerry ate all kinds of fruit because it was just sort of something I discovered by searching it—that most bats are not blood-sucking, but they're fruit bats,” Sarandon told io9. “And I thought well maybe somewhere in Jerry's genealogy, there's fruit bat in him, so that's why I did it.”

10. William Ragsdale learned he had booked the part of Charley Brewster on Halloween.

William Ragsdale had only ever appeared in one film before Fright Night (in a bit part). He had recently been considered for the role of Rocky Dennis in Mask, which “didn’t work out,” Ragsdale recalled. “But a few months later, [casting director] Jackie Burch tells me, ‘There’s this movie I’m casting. You might be really right for it.’ So, I had this 1976 Toyota Celica and I drove that through the San Joaquin valley desert for four or five trips down for auditioning. And in the last one, Stephen [Geoffreys] was there, Amanda [Bearse] was there and that’s when it happened. I had read the script and at the time I had been doing Shakespeare and Greek drama, so I read this thing and thought, ‘Well, God, this looks like a lot of fun. There’s no … iambic pentameter, there’s no rhymes. You know? Where’s the catharsis? Where’s the tragedy?’ … I ended up getting a call on Halloween that they had decided to use me, and I was delighted.”

11. Not being Anthony Michael Hall worked in Stephen Geoffreys's favor.

In a weird way, it was by not being Anthony Michael Hall that Stephen Geoffreys was cast as Evil Ed. “I actually met Jackie Burch, the casting director, by mistake in New York months before this movie was cast and she remembered me,” Geoffreys shared at Fright Fest. “My agent sent me for an audition for Weird Science. And Anthony Michael Hall was with the same agent that I was with, and she sent me by mistake. And Jackie looked at me when I walked into the office and said, ‘You’re not Anthony Michael Hall!’ and I’m like ‘No!’ But anyway, I sat down and I talked to Jackie for a half hour and she remembered me from that interview and called my agent, and my agent sent me the script while I was with Amanda [Bearse] in Palm Springs doing Fraternity Vacation, and I read it. It was awesome. The writing was incredible.”

12. Evil Ed wanted to be Charley Brewster.

Stephen Geoffreys stars in 'Fright Night' (1985).
Stephen Geoffreys stars in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

Geoffreys loved the script for Fright Night. “I just got this really awesome feeling about it,” he said. “I read it and thought I’ve got to do this. I called my agent and said ‘I would love to audition for the part of Charley Brewster!’ [And he said] ‘No, Steve, you’re wanted for the part of Evil Ed.’ And I went, ‘Are you kidding me? Why? I couldn’t… What do they see in me that they think I should be this?' Well anyway, it worked out. It was awesome and I had a great time.”

13. Fright Night's original ending was much different.

The film’s original ending saw Peter Vincent transform into a vampire—while hosting “Fright Night” in front of a live television audience.

14. A ghost from Ghostbusters made a cameo in Fright Night.

Visual effects producer Richard Edlund had recently finished up work on Ghostbusters when he and his team began work on Fright Night. And the movie gave them a great reason to recycle one of the library ghosts they had created for Ghostbusters—which was deemed too scary for Ivan Reitman's PG-rated classic—and use it as a vampire bat for Fright Night.

15. Fright Night's cast and crew took it upon themselves to record some DVD commentaries.

Because the earliest DVD versions of Fright Night contained no commentary tracks, in 2008 the cast and crew partnered with Icons of Fright to record a handful of downloadable “pirate” commentary tracks about the making of the film. The tracks ended up on a limited-edition 30th anniversary Blu-ray of the film, which sold out in hours.

16. Vincent Price loved Fright Night.


Columbia Pictures

Holland had the chance to meet Vincent Price one night at a dinner party at McDowall’s. And the actor was well aware that McDowall’s character was based on him. “I was a little bit embarrassed by it,” Holland admitted. “He said it was wonderful and he thought Roddy did a wonderful job. Thank God he didn’t ask why he wasn’t cast in it.”

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