CLOSE
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

4 Rom-Com Heroes Who Would Be Arrested in Real Life

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

As I’ve said before, pop culture has traditionally been a particularly terrible place for people to go for advice about sex and romance. Things are slowly getting better, but the rom-coms and teen movies my generation grew up with portrayed romantic gestures as things that would warrant felony charges.

Let’s take a look at some of the worst movie role models for love, and be thankful we didn’t follow their leads.

1. Jake Ryan and Ted, 'Sixteen Candles' (1984)

People always defend this film by saying it’s 30 years old—well, so am I, and yet I manage to have a working understanding of consent.

It’s a shame, because the movie does a few things very well. Molly Ringwald’s Sam Baker is an awesome early example of a developed female character with her own point of view at a time when that was a rarity in teen movies. It’s also pretty great that Sam and Jake’s love story is primarily driven by Sam. And yes, “the Geek” (one of the earliest pop-culture uses of that term) is a pretty effective takedown of aggressive stalkery “seduction” techniques that are to be avoided by all.

But let’s be real about this. Jake straight-up hands his falling-down-drunk, barely-conscious girlfriend Caroline to Ted (after musing that he could “violate her ten different ways” but feels no desire to because he’s fallen for Sam). It’s strongly implied that Ted and Caroline have sex, i.e. without her consent. Caroline wakes up the next morning with no memory of what happened but “thinks” that she liked it. She and Ted are now an item, and this is played for laughs against the contrast of Jake and Sam’s sweet first kiss over her birthday cake.

Look. I am an awkward, self-conscious Asian guy. I remember all of Geddy Watanabe’s scenes as Long Duk Dong very clearly. I still think the thing with Ted and Caroline is by far the worst and most unforgivable thing in this movie.

2. Knox Overstreet, 'Dead Poets Society' (1989)

Dead Poets Society is another film that hasn’t aged that well. While the advice Robin Williams’ Professor Keating doles out is, in retrospect, pretty bad, the worst thing about the film is its side plot with Josh Charles’ Knox Overstreet and his crush on Alexandra Powers’ Chris Noel.

Whatever your personal interpretation of “carpe diem” might be, “declare to all your friends that you will commit suicide if you can’t get a girl you just learned the name of” is not a particularly great one. If you must pursue this as a goal, following her into her classroom and reciting a self-penned poem about her in public is not a great strategy, particularly if you are given to turns of phrase like “hair and skin of gold” that make her sound like an Oscar statuette.

And, of course, if you don’t know a girl very well, caressing and kissing her while she is asleep is not just a bad idea but, in fact, a criminal act. Her boyfriend reacting with physical violence to this might not be very nice, but it would, in fact, be both predictable and justified.

3. Lester Burnham, 'American Beauty' (1999)

As much as this movie wants Lester Burnham to be a likable, sympathetic protagonist, he does a lot of things that are fundamentally terrible.

Winning an argument at the dinner table through physical intimidation, by impulsively flinging a plate against the wall? Not cool.

Randomly quitting your job and buying a Pontiac Firebird when you’re responsible for a daughter who’s going to college soon, then snapping at your wife and daughter for questioning this decision? Not cool.

Passive-aggressively masturbating in bed next to your wife and then angrily demanding she have sex with you when she objects to this? Not cool.

In addition to all this, the fact that he has been creepily lusting after his teenage daughter’s underage friend is presented almost as an afterthought. It’s his “redemption” when he stops seeing her as sexually available because she reveals her virginity, implying that whether or not it’s okay for him to have sex with someone who’s legally a child is based mostly on whether she's done so before or whether she’s “pure.” (Which is, you know, all sorts of messed up.)

Oh, and I know I’m the 50,000th person to say it, but it’s just a plastic bag.

4. Edward Cullen, 'Twilight' (2008)

While I understand that what we like in fantasy does not necessarily reflect our values in reality and so on and so forth, I just can’t help being creeped out by Twilight.

Despite the progress movies have made in rejecting the stalker romantic hero, this movie celebrates and elevates this behavior to literally supernatural levels. You know, to the level of breaking into her house, standing in her room watching her sleep without her knowledge, and steeling himself against touching her because it’s all he can do not to violently kill and consume her. (Later on in the series we get gems like Edward sabotaging Bella’s truck to keep her from going to a party where she’ll see Jacob, his rival, and this is treated as romantic rather than a criminal act.)

We don’t need a generation of young boys watching earnest YouTube videos about “How to Be A Boyfriend Like Edward Cullen” and actually taking the lessons to heart. Even Robert Pattinson, whose breakout starring role was playing Edward and who had a strongly vested financial interest in promoting the films, was unable to stop himself from publicly admitting that he found his character to be a “dangerous weirdo.”

nextArticle.image_alt|e
TAKWest, Youtube
arrow
entertainment
Watch Boris Karloff's 1966 Coffee Commercial
TAKWest, Youtube
TAKWest, Youtube

Horror legend Boris Karloff is famous for playing mummies, mad scientists, and of course, Frankenstein’s creation. In 1930, Karloff cemented the modern image of the monster—with its rectangular forehead, bolted neck, and enormous boots (allegedly weighing in at 11 pounds each)—in the minds of audiences.

But the horror icon, who was born 130 years ago today, also had a sense of humor. The actor appeared in numerous comedies, and even famously played a Boris Karloff look-alike (who’s offended when he’s mistaken for Karloff) in the original Broadway production of Arsenic and Old Lace

In the ’60s, Karloff also put his comedic chops to work in a commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee. The strange commercial, set in a spooky mansion, plays out like a movie scene, in which Karloff and the viewer are co-stars. Subtitles on the bottom of the screen feed the viewer lines, and Karloff responds accordingly. 

Watch the commercial below to see the British star selling coffee—and read your lines aloud to feel like you’re “acting” alongside Karloff. 

[h/t: Retroist]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
arrow
entertainment
15 Must-See Holiday Horror Movies
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment

Families often use the holidays as an excuse to indulge in repeat viewings of Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Elf. But for a certain section of the population, the yuletide is all about horror. Although it didn’t truly emerge until the mid-1970s, “holiday horror” is a thriving subgenre that often combines comedy to tell stories of demented Saint Nicks and lethal gingerbread men. If you’ve never seen Santa slash someone, here are 15 movies to get you started.

1. THANKSKILLING (2009)

Most holiday horror movies concern Christmas, so ThanksKilling is a bit of an anomaly. Another reason it’s an anomaly? It opens in 1621, with an axe-wielding turkey murdering a topless pilgrim woman. The movie continues on to the present-day, where a group of college friends are terrorized by that same demon bird during Thanksgiving break. It’s pretty schlocky, but if Turkey Day-themed terror is your bag, make sure to check out the sequel: ThanksKilling 3. (No one really knows what happened to ThanksKilling 2.)

2. BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974)

Fittingly, the same man who brought us A Christmas Story also brought us its twisted cousin. Before Bob Clark co-wrote and directed the 1983 saga of Ralphie Parker, he helmed Black Christmas. It concerns a group of sorority sisters who are systematically picked off by a man who keeps making threatening phone calls to their house. Oh, and it all happens during the holidays. Black Christmas is often considered the godfather of holiday horror, but it was also pretty early on the slasher scene, too. It opened the same year as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and beat Halloween by a full four years.

3. SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984)

This movie isn’t about Santa Claus himself going berserk and slaughtering a bunch of people. But it is about a troubled teen who does just that in a Santa suit. Billy Chapman starts Silent Night, Deadly Night as a happy little kid, only to witness a man dressed as St. Nick murder his parents in cold blood. Years later, after he has grown up and gotten a job at a toy store, he conducts a killing spree in his own red-and-white suit. The PTA and plenty of critics condemned the film for demonizing a kiddie icon, but it turned into a bona fide franchise with four sequels and a 2012 remake.

4. RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE (2010)

This Finnish flick dismantles Santa lore in truly bizarre fashion, and it’s not easy to explain in a quick plot summary. But Rare Exports involves a small community living at the base of Korvatunturi mountain, a major excavation project, a bunch of dead reindeer, and a creepy old naked dude who may or may not be Santa Claus. Thanks to its snowy backdrop, the movie scored some comparisons to The Thing, but the hero here isn’t some Kurt Russell clone with equally feathered hair. It’s a bunch of earnest kids and their skeptical dads, who all want to survive the holidays in one piece.

5. TO ALL A GOODNIGHT (1980)

To All a Goodnight follows a by-now familiar recipe: Add a bunch of young women to one psycho dressed as Santa Claus and you get a healthy dose of murder and this 1980 slasher flick. Only this one takes place at a finishing school. So it’s fancier.

6. KRAMPUS (2015)

Although many Americans are blissfully unaware of him, Krampus has terrorized German-speaking kids for centuries. According to folklore, he’s a yuletide demon who punishes naughty children. (He’s also part-goat.) That’s some solid horror movie material, so naturally Krampus earned his own feature film. In the movie, he’s summoned because a large suburban family loses its Christmas cheer. That family has an Austrian grandma who had encounters with Krampus as a kid, so he returns to punish her descendants. He also animates one truly awful Jack-in-the-Box.

7. THE GINGERDEAD MAN (2005)

“Eat me, you punk b*tch!” That’s one of the many corny catchphrases spouted by the Gingerdead Man, an evil cookie possessed by the spirit of a convicted killer (played by Gary Busey). The lesson here, obviously, is to never bake.

8. JACK FROST (1997)

No, this isn’t the Michael Keaton snowman movie. It’s actually a holiday horror movie that beat that family film by a year. In this version, Jack Frost is a serial killer on death row who escapes prison and then, through a freak accident, becomes a snowman. He embarks on a murder spree that’s often played for laughs—for instance, the cops threaten him with hairdryers. But the comedy is pretty questionable in the infamous, and quite controversial, Shannon Elizabeth shower scene.

9. ELVES (1989)

Based on the tagline—“They’re not working for Santa anymore”—you’d assume this is your standard evil elves movie. But Elves weaves Nazis, bathtub electrocutions, and a solitary, super grotesque elf into its utterly absurd plot. Watch at your own risk.

10. SINT (2010)

The Dutch have their own take on Santa, and his name is Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas travels to the Netherlands via steamship each year with his racist sidekick Zwarte Piet. But otherwise, he’s pretty similar to Santa. And if Santa can be evil, so can Sinterklaas. According to the backstory in Sint (or Saint), the townspeople burned their malevolent bishop alive on December 5, 1492. But Sinterklaas returns from the grave on that date whenever there’s a full moon to continue dropping bodies. In keeping with his olden origins, he rides around on a white horse wielding a golden staff … that he can use to murder you.

11. SANTA’S SLAY (2005)

Ever wonder where Santa came from? This horror-comedy claims he comes from the worst possible person: Satan. The devil’s kid lost a bet many years ago and had to pretend to be a jolly gift-giver. But now the terms of the bet are up and he’s out to act like a true demon. That includes killing Fran Drescher and James Caan, obviously.

12. ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE (2015)

Another Santa slasher is on the loose in All Through the House, but the big mystery here is who it is. This villain dons a mask during his/her streak through suburbia—and, as the genre dictates, offs a bunch of promiscuous young couples along the way. The riddle is all tied up in the disappearance of a little girl, who vanished several years earlier.

13. CHRISTMAS EVIL (1980)

Several years before Silent Night, Deadly Night garnered protests for its anti-Kringle stance, Christmas Evil put a radicalized Santa at the center of its story. The movie’s protagonist, Harry Stadling, first starts to get weird thoughts in his head as a kid when he sees “Santa” (really his dad in the costume) groping his mom. Then, he becomes unhealthily obsessed with the holiday season, deludes himself into thinking he’s Santa, and goes on a rampage. The movie is mostly notable for its superfan John Waters, who lent commentary to the DVD and gave Christmas Evil some serious cult cred.

14. SANTA CLAWS (1996)

If you thought this was the holiday version of Pet Sematary, guess again. The culprit here isn’t a demon cat in a Santa hat, but a creepy next-door neighbor. Santa Claws stars B-movie icon Debbie Rochon as Raven Quinn, an actress going through a divorce right in the middle of the holidays. She needs some help caring for her two girls, so she seeks out Wayne, her neighbor who has an obsessive crush on her. He eventually snaps and dresses up as Santa Claus in a ski mask. Mayhem ensues.

15. NEW YEAR’S EVIL (1980)

Because the holidays aren’t over until everyone’s sung “Auld Lang Syne,” we can’t count out New Year’s Eve horror. In New Year’s Evil, lady rocker Blaze is hosting a live NYE show. Everything is going well, until a man calls in promising to kill at midnight. The cops write it off as a prank call, but soon, Blaze’s friends start dropping like flies. Just to tie it all together, the mysterious murderer refers to himself as … “EVIL.”

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios