Weekly Alibi's Monster Summer Film Guide
By Devin D. O'Leary
JUNE 1, 1998: After the monstrous success of films like Twister, Volcano, Independence Day and Titanic, Hollywood seems to have locked onto a sure-fire formula for big-ticket success. Put simply: bigger body count = bigger box office. This summer, the Hollywood studios are bringing this new disaster-flick stratagem into full force by unleashing not one, but two mega-budget end-of-the-world meteor movies and by letting Godzilla loose in New York City. Given this can't-miss formula, which of the summer's splashy cinematic efforts will score the biggest box office?
So far, Deep Impact has the lead. In that particular doomsday film, scientists create underground shelters capable of protecting 200,000 people from the oncoming comet collision. With an estimated world population of around 6 billion, that leaves a possible 5,999,800,000 dead--waaay more than Godzilla's estimated body count of 17,953,372 (the total population of NYC, his newest stomping ground). With a movie-filled season stretching from Memorial Day to Labor Day, can any of this summer's releases top that?
Norm MacDonald (the recently screwed-over cast member of "Saturday Night Live") stars as a slacker who starts his own business specializing in pulling elaborate revenge pranks for paying customers.
Estimated Body Count: You gotta figure there's at least one major plot point that revolves around a prank going horribly wrong. I'd say at least one stiff emerges.
A Perfect Murder
Having officially declared itself bereft of new ideas, Hollywood moves on to a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder. Michael Douglas is a millionaire trying to get his wife bumped off with the help of her money-grubbing lover.
Estimated Body Count: It's a murder mystery, so you've got to have at least a couple dead bodies.
The Truman Show
Jim Carrey teams up with Peter Weir (Witness) for this serio-comic story of a man named Truman Burbank, who lives an idyllic existence, completely unaware that his entire life is being televised for the enjoyment of a worldwide audience.
Estimated Body Count: Zilch. Although this is a darker (and far less wacky) sort of comedy than Carrey is used to, there are no dead people involved.
Can't Hardly Wait
A massive graduation party figures prominently into the lives of several teenagers, including prom queen Jennifer Love Hewitt and love-smitten geek Ethan Embry.
Estimated Body Count: It's a teen comedy about getting drunk, getting revenge, falling in love and moving on with your life. Nobody dies.
Six Days, Seven Nights
Harrison Ford and Anne Heche are a gruff pilot and an abrasive magazine editor, respectively, who crash land on a remote island, squabble for an hour and a half, then fall madly in love.
Estimated Body Count: It is a romantic comedy, but some bad guys are out to kill them, so I put the grand total at four.
This new Disney musical is based on the Chinese legend about a woman who disguises herself as a man and leads her father's army into battle.
Estimated Body Count: Well, the Chinese knew how to fight a good war. Although you won't actually see much blood, I put the body count in this decidedly militaristic cartoon at 17,000. Not bad for Disney.
Your guess is as good as mine. Something to do with them aliens.
Estimated Body Count: All the secrets are supposed to be revealed in this conclusion to "The X-Files" season cliffhanger. It starts out with the bombing of an office building in Dallas--add to that at least four or five assassinations and a bunch of alien corpses (you gotta have those), and we're looking at at least 125 dead bodies.
After the runaway success of The Nutty Professor, Eddie Murphy remakes another '60s flick. In this one, he can talk to the animals (voiced by Chris Rock, Albert Brooks and Paul Rubens).
Estimated Body Count: You gotta figure at least one dead hamster for dramatic hook.
Gone With the Wind
Boy meets girl. Atlanta burns. Boy leaves girl. A beautifully restored print of the classic film.
Estimated Body Count: It's the Civil War, don't you know. Total body count for that little dust-up: some 600,000. Our winner so far.
Out of Sight
George Clooney stars in this Steven Soderbergh (sex, lies and videotape) adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel about a convict who takes a sexy Federal Marshal hostage.
Estimated Body Count: Though comic, Leonard's books tend to have at least five full coffins.
A meteor's heading to Earth, and it's up to a heroic team of deep-core drillers (led by heroic Bruce Willis) to save the day.
Estimated Body Count: If they fail, this meteor "the size of Texas" has the potential to wipe out all life on Earth. According to the U.S. Census, that's a projected 5,925,158,495 (as of July 1, 1998). Bingo!
Lethal Weapon 4
Mel Gibson and Danny Glover are back as America's favorite rogue cops. Chris Rock (the guy is everywhere) joins the team for more comic relief. Hong Kong action star Jet Li is the bad guy.
Estimated Body Count: C'mon, it's a Lethal Weapon movie. I'm guessing at least 75 dead bodies will be littering the landscape before Mel and Danny are done.
A bunch of super-advanced prototype action figures declare war on a quiet suburb in this action comedy from Joe Dante (Gremlins).
Estimated Body Count: Dante offed a dozen or so folks in Gremlins. Since this movie looks like a remake, we can probably expect about the same.
It's based on the series of kiddie books about a little girl who lives in a boarding school in Paris.
Estimated Body Count: Although this may degenerate quickly into a series of Home Alone-style slapstick gags (there is now an evil developer who wants to shut down the school), I'm pretty darn sure no one's gonna kick the bucket.
There's Something About Mary
A man (Ben Stiller) hires a detective (Matt Dillon) to find his long-lost love (Cameron Diaz). The detective falls in love with the girl himself. Oops.
Estimated Body Count: Romantic comedy. Doesn't look like they'll muster up a one. But you never know; James Cameron made a romantic movie and managed to rack up a good 1,400 dead bodies.
The Mask of Zorro
Antonio Banderas is the newest Zorro to pick up the mask and blade and fight oppression in Colonial California.
Estimated Body Count: Although this is a swashbuckling adventure, it is from Disney--I suspect Zorro will spend most of his time slashing bad guys' pants and making them run away.
Dead Man on Campus
Two college kids find a loophole in their college rules--namely, that if your roommate commits suicide, you get an automatic A for the semester--and immediately start contemplating murder.
Estimated Body Count: Well, you'd think one, wouldn't you?
Saving Private Ryan
Steven Spielberg tries again to prove that he's not just some sappy sci-fi director (which he pretty much is). Steve's latest attempt to nab an Oscar has Tom Hanks leading a squad of U.S. soldiers behind enemy lines during World War II to rescue a lost paratrooper (played by Good Will Hunting's Matt Damon).
Estimated Body Count: Even better than Gone With the Wind's Civil War tally. WW II's body count topped 34,952,592. Of course, most of those deaths will probably occur off-screen.
Jane Austen's Mafia!
In yet another Airplane!-style spoof, the late Lloyd Bridges stars as a Mafia kingpin trying to decide which of his sons to hand his empire over to. At the very least, it's directed by Jim Abrahams, one of the Abrahams-Zucker-and-Zucker team who helmed Airplane!
Estimated Body Count: We are talking Mafioso here. At least a dozen pine box specials are in order.
The Parent Trap
I'm pretty sure Disney stopped hiring writers about five years ago. Since then, it's nothing but remakes, remakes, remakes. Here they take the classic Haley Mills comedy about long-lost twins who conspire to reunite their divorced parents and recast it with Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson--who are no Brian Keith and Maureen O'Hara in my book.
Estimated Body Count: Nil.
Speaking of Airplane!, another one of the guys who directed it, David Zucker, is directing this comedy about two idiots who invent a ridiculous new sport. The two idiots are played by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the mastermind's behind Comedy Central's "South Park."
Estimated Body Count: Since this does involve the bastards who bump off Kenny on a weekly basis, can't we expect at least one gory death?
Dance With Me
A passionate Cuban dancer teaches an emotionally repressed dance instructor (Vanessa Williams) how to open herself up.
Estimated Body Count: Oh, for an AK-47 during the inevitable dance competition finale.
Drew Barrymore stars in this newest live-action version of Cinderella.
Estimated Body Count: Nope.
A big cast (including Mike Meyers, Neve Campbell and Salma Hayek) congregate to star in this ensemble-cast tale of New York's most notorious disco-era hot spot, Studio 54.
Estimated Body Count: This was the '70s; we've got to expect at least one OD in the restroom.
Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey are two seasoned hostage negotiators who find themselves battling on opposite sides of the law.
Estimated Body Count: Three. It's just my gut feeling.
Brian De Palma (Body Double, Scarface) directs this thriller (surprise, surprise) about a detective who tries to figure out who murdered the U.S. Secretary of Defense during a boxing match in Atlantic City.
Estimated Body Count: De Palma? I'd bet on seven. Four of which will be pretty gory.
The half-swanky, half-campy Brit TV series returns with Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman as the titular secret agents out to stop evil megalomaniac Sean Connery.
Estimated Body Count: With Connery in control of a giant weather machine, there will be at least one major city destroyed as part of a "demonstration." Total dead: 24,000.
Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Sutherland and William Baldwin fight a hostile alien monster (is there any other kind) aboard a Soviet ship. Aw crap, not more waterlogged horror!
Estimated Body Count: Let's say 50 for the original Soviet crew and four more for the whitebread newcomers who'll be picked off one-by-one.
Carnival of Souls
Wes Craven has produced (but not directed) this remake of the obscuro 1962 horror flick about a woman who is haunted by ghosts after a tragic car crash.
Estimated Body Count: Only one person actually dies in the original, but there are about a dozen pale spooks chasing our heroine everywhere she goes.
It took John Woo a couple films to get back up to speed here in America, so I'm willing to give Tsui Hark some slack. This film about a CIA agent (Jean Claude Van Damme) trying to expose the Russian Mafia in Hong Kong doesn't look like much of an improvement over Hark's Double Team. At least Dennis Rodman has been replaced by Rob Schneider in the sidekick role. I think that's an improvement, but I can't be sure.
Estimated Body Count: Twenty, give or take a few broken limbs.
A Night at the Roxbury
The "Saturday Night Live" movies just keep coming! No matter how often we ignore them, they just won't go away. Here's two hours based on the sketch about the two guys who stand at the bar and bob their heads to techno music. Two hours!
Estimated Body Count: I know two dead bodies I'd like to see.
Here we go. Jackie Chan's very first American film. Of course he plays a cop. He's teamed up with high-pitched comedian Chris Tucker (which could be a very bad thing).
Estimated Body Count: Coming to America will undoubtedly toughen up Jackie's normally "light" fare. I'd say four or five.
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