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15 Things You Might Not Know About Thelma & Louise

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Ridley Scott's Thelma & Louise was controversial at the time of its release on May 24, 1991. To write that the two main characters’ weekend getaway went awry would be a massive understatement, and the actions resulting from it made some men uncomfortable. Six Academy Award nominations (and one win), plus almost a quarter-century later, it’s considered a classic, important film. Before you can say “peaches” (don’t say “peaches”), here are some facts about the film.

1. IT WAS CALLIE KHOURI’S FIRST SCREENPLAY.

Intrigued by the idea of “women outlaws,” the Kentucky-raised Khouri spent six months writing Thelma & Louise in 1988 while producing rock videos for artists like Alice Cooper. She won the movie’s only Oscar, for Best Original Screenplay. Khouri later wrote the films Something to Talk About and Divine Sisters of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, and created the current ABC TV drama Nashville. It’s theorized that Thelma was based on Khouri’s friend, country singer Pam Tillis.

2. KHOURI HAD DOUBTS ABOUT RIDLEY SCOTT DIRECTING.

Scott, who was then mostly known for his sci-fi action movies like Blade Runner and Alien, allayed her concerns upon their first meeting. For one thing, the Englishman proved to understand the south of the Mason-Dixon line humor in the script. For another, Scott pointed out that he had cast a woman in a lead role that would usually go to a man in Alien.

3. GEORGE CLOONEY AUDITIONED FIVE TIMES TO PLAY J.D.

Clooney was on the short list for the role that eventually went to Brad Pitt, and became his big break. “The funniest thing is, I didn’t watch that movie for a long time,” Clooney admitted during a Q&A at the Telluride Film Festival. “I was really stuck doing a lot of bad TV at that time. And I had auditioned and auditioned, and it got right down to Brad and I, and he got it. And I just couldn’t watch that movie for a couple of years ... When I saw it, I thought actually that was the right choice. [Brad] was really good in it, and I would have f***ed it up somehow."

4. BRAD PITT WAS PAID $6,000 FOR HIS WORK IN THE FILM.

That was in 1991. Just five years later, he earned $10 million for his work in Barry Levinson's Sleepers.

5. GEENA DAVIS HAD A HAND IN CASTING PITT.

Geena Davis admitted that she kept messing up her lines when auditioning with Pitt because he was so attractive. When Scott and the casting director were discussing who to cast, she reportedly jumped in: "The blond one. Duh!” Julie Strain was hired to play Davis’ body double in the movie, but Davis opted to shoot her sex scene with Pitt directly.

6. GEENA DAVIS WAS DARRYL’S EX-FIANCéE IN REAL LIFE.

Christopher McDonald and Geena Davis were engaged before she met Jeff Goldblum on the set of Transylvania 6-5000. McDonald, who had since married, described the experience of acting with Davis on Thelma & Louise as “cathartic.” Davis was equally game, despite not initially being informed of McDonald’s casting.

7. MCDONALD GAINED 36 POUNDS TO PLAY DARRYL.

The actor wore Darryl’s Roman numeral gold chain to the audition, as well as a polyester leisure suit. After the movie came out, two girls recognized him, one telling the other to shoot him.

8. HOLLY HUNTER, FRANCES MCDORMAND, JODIE FOSTER, MICHELLE PFEIFFER, MERYL STREEP, AND GOLDIE HAWN WERE ALL CONSIDERED FOR THELMA OR LOUISE.

In its early stages, Khouri pictured her movie as a low-budget affair, with Hunter and McDormand as the leads. (In what was probably a coincidence, Hunter and McDormand knew each other from when they were roommates at the Yale School of Drama.) With Ridley Scott as producer, Foster and Pfeiffer were attached, but eventually moved on to do other work. Streep and Hawn met with Scott, with Streep wanting either Thelma or Louise to survive the movie.

9. GEENA DAVIS WANTED TO PLAY LOUISE, NOT THELMA.

Davis’ agent called Ridley Scott every week for a year to get Davis in a room with the director so that she could convince him to let her play Louise. Then she met Susan Sarandon: "Pretty much the second Susan walked in the room, I was, Are you kidding that I could play Louise? Susan was so self-possessed, so centered and together."

10. THE ACTORS WEREN’T ALWAYS SOBER.

Upon Sarandon’s request to do some Method acting, Davis admits that for the roadhouse scene, “We asked the prop guy, ‘Do you have any real tequila? Because it’s easier to act if we taste alcohol.' So we pounded back quite a few, and we’re laughing between takes and both feeling, We’re so drunk! This is great!” Michael Madsen (Jimmy) said that he and Pitt smoked a few joints during filming.

11. HARVEY KEITEL STOLE SOME OF STEPHEN TOBOLOWSKY’S LINES.

After Tobolowsky (Max) was told by Ridley Scott before a scene that Keitel (Detective Hal Slocumb) wanted to improvise, he was okay with it. Then Keitel proceeded to say some of Max’s lines. The veteran character actor made improvisation work to his advantage later on when he ad-libbed the funny “deli run” order riff to flesh out the surveillance scene.

12. THE GRAND CANYON SCENE WAS ACTUALLY SHOT IN UTAH.

Most of the film was shot around Bakersfield, California. But Thelma and Louise were near Moab, Utah when they drove off the precipice, under Dead Horse Point State Park.

13. SUSAN SARANDON INSISTED THAT THE ENDING NOT CHANGE.

Thelma and Louise drive off a cliff at the end of Khouri’s original script. Sarandon told Ridley Scott that she didn't want that to change. Scott responded that while Louise would definitely die, she might shove Thelma out of the Thunderbird at the last second.

14. THERE WAS AN ALTERNATE ENDING.

On the DVD release, it was revealed that a different cut of the ending was made where you could see the Thunderbird descend to B.B. King’s “Better Not Look Down.” In the final, more upbeat version, the car and its occupants freeze in mid-air.

15. THE MOVIE INSPIRED TORI AMOS TO WRITE "ME AND A GUN."

“Me and a Gun” tells the true story of one of Amos’ fans kidnapping and assaulting her after a gig. Seven years after the incident, the singer-songwriter cried while watching Thelma & Louise in a theater, then went home and wrote the song.

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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]

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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.”

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