Now as some of you may or may not know to keep the videostore going I work a few nights a week at bars in the city to keep the dream alive. Love the videostore and maybe one day after 14 years it will be enough to keep me alive on it’s own but until then the beautiful scent of booze, depression, shots, desperation and regrets in life, and overall good vibes of a dim lit alcohol fueled enviroment will always be around me. So I figured why not think about some random bar scenes from flicks and talk about them. Seems like a great idea after a night working at the…bar.
This is gonna be a random list. Bar life in cinema has been going on since the camera was invented so I’m totally focusing on my strange favourite moments from genre films, big or small, that I grew up on. This is not a top 10 list by any means. Just a list of rememeber this shit? And to start gonna think about 1996’s From Dusk Till Dawn. Sure we all know that Tarantino wrote the damn thing but the story was actualy born from Robert Kurtzman (part of KNB FX). More importantly this flick gave George Clooney the moment to shake off his good guy image that was Doug Ross from ER. Now he killed it as bad ass gangster Seth Gecko but in the end the star of this flick was not QT, Clooney, or even the vampires. It was all of them in the amazing setting known as the TITTY TWISTER! How this bar is still not a real thing is beyond me. Watching this film in theaters back then I was thinking I just wanna hang there with my buds minus the human killing vamps.
I mean honestly it was not one scene that made me think of this beauty of a film but the overall effect of genre goodness. It’s a crazy bar with Salma Hayek as an exotic dancer with a big fucking snake letting QT live out his foot fetish moves by having him suck on her toes. It’s FX legend Tom Savini as “Sex Machine’. It’s Fred “The Hammer” Williamson telling us the horrors of Vietnam. And finally it’s all of them teaming up to fuck shit up when the vampire insanity happens. This movie is a blast and the Titty Twister Bar is a movie nerd moment we will never forget.
Now a lot of genre films have quick moments in a bar setting. Some so quick we forget that was in a bar. Well back when I was a kid and figured my 11 year eyes would rent a BETA copy of a movie called THE FLY I never thought from that day on the image of friends arm wrestling would make me run for the hills. Well, this movie did just that because of this moment. Jeff “BrundleFly” Goldblum is on the hunt for a new mate after Geena Davis told him to piss off with his new “superpowers’ and to impress and win over a young lady he challenges her boyfriend to a friendly match of “break my arm and make sure the bone pops out” arm wrestling. Needless to say the scene in this canadian pub still traumatizes grown up me…ouch!
So I love the 80s slasher flicks. One of my favourite things about the original Friday The 13th series in the first two films was the master of doom and gloom, Crazy Ralph. None of those stupid young sexy kids would listen to him so they were doomed. Now, with knock off slasher flicks coming out shortly after fast and furious not only were they ripping off the killer’s character but the Crazy Ralph character. And one of my all time favourites was the bartender in the 1981 canadian classic MY BLOODY VALENTINE.
As the local young ones are getting ready to go against the law and have their first Valentine’s Party in years in town they talk about their plans outloud in the local pub where our amazing grizzly bartender listens in and stops them dead in their talk to give the tale…the tale of the ballad of Harry Warden. Honestly, these were and still are the best tropes from the 80s horror movie genre. Also I always say during this scene if you never were sure it could be east coast Canada the amount of Moosehead beer in this bar proves it.
Anyways, as we all know none of these people listen to the old bartender and the slaughter begins shortly after. Now as a proud canadian I love this freaking movie. It is the perfect early 80s knockoff slasher flick, hell, even the remake was decent. Anyways, the only moment that would have made it even greater for me would have been to give the bartender the very last scene in the film. Have him say some clever shit to the camera, have the camera pan left or right, and show an open mic going on in the bar with a guy performing “The Ballad Of Harry Warden” to a mellow crowd drinking their Moosehead Beer. Fade To Black.
Okay, the night is getting later and my movie memory is still strong as I write but my google search for the right images is weak. This brings me to 1980’s Without Warning. A hidden gem that literally was the blueprint for 1987’s Predator. No shit. An Alien comes to earth to hunt man for sport. Sound familiar? Even more crazy…the actor that played this alien would play the Predator in the orginal and Part 2. Ha! Anyways, when shit is going crazy and a couple of young sexy people have witnessed the death of their friends from this creature they obviously run into the local hillbilly bar which just so happens to have a crazy Jack Palance and an even crazier Marty Landeau. Seriously, what are the odds on that?
Needless to say a lot of over the top dialog and yelling and screaming takes place in the pub before finally old crazy Jack Palance uses the kids as bait for the alien because, you know, he’s fucking nuts and hosted “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” at the time. Honestly I can not do the bar scene justice. You just have to watch this random flick.
The year was 1984 and Linda Hamilton was being set up to be a kick ass female in Terminator but at the same time young Phoebe Cates was killing it as a tough as hell bartender in GREMLINS. She deserves more credit than she’s gotten looking back 25 years ago. I mean, you are a bartender. Forget the local yahoos possibly grabbing you or using shitty one liners to take you home. This woman is dealing with god damn creatures destroying her town. And serving them to the best of her ability while she is thinking about how to survive and possibly killing them at the same time. You go girl!
Some scenes in movies involving bars do not need any action. They just need one hell of a stare. They just need one hell of an iconic person to say…I’m your batender. What Can I Get for You This Evening. That person would be Lloyd.
When Jack Torrance finally hits his breaking point at the Overlook Hotel he gives himself to his desires to none other that Joe Turkel’s Lloyd The Bartender. What can be truly said about this moment except for pure acting brilliance and haunting goodness. Lloyd is the man you wanna to submit to because ,like any bartender, he’s your friend. But deep down he’s going after your soul and you know it. Yet with those powerful eyes, looks, and gentleman like words of advice you can help but give yourself to him.
In this situation even though it’s another Jack character that said it “if you’re gonna go out go out with a smile.” Here’s to you Lloyd!
Cue 2005’s FEAST. When it comes to movies in a bar this underrated B-Movie gem deserves some love. Forget the two lesser sequels that followed. The original film, with all the production issues it had, is a comtempary creature feature classic. Truly a crazy, what the hell is gonna happen next, gory, slimey, monster mayhem flick. Directed by John Gulager, son of legendary cult actor Clu Gulager, this beauty has it’s entire boatload of insanity take place in a middle of no where dive bar featuring the like of Jason Mewes, Henry Rollins, and Balthazar Getty dealing with some messed up monsters looking to rip apart anything that moves.
When it comes to genre flicks in bar settings FEAST might be the grand daddy of entertainment. When customers come in the shop and ask what a good creature feature is this film is always on the top of my list!
As I type this article newer films from recent years are popping in my head and how could I forget one of greatest DEDFEST screening flims ever. From back in 2012 the Irish monster movie GRABBERS. When a bunch of tenticle sea alien monsters invade an island town the only thing that will save your life is getting drunk because they have no interest in you if your blood alcohol level is too high. Needless to say the entire town has to get drunk in the local pub to live and that night our entire film festival crowd also got drunk in the theater. Win win I say. Good Times!
Now it is time to mention one of my all time favourites. Again, there is no order to the madness of this list. Like anyone that drinks and thinks you just go with the flow but this next thought of a film makes me smile.
1987’s NEAR DARK directed by Kathryn Bigelow is a brilliant nasty, down and dirty, road trip vampire flick that sadly missed out on the box office that summer because of The Lost Boys. Where one is an MTV music video, which I still enjoy, the other is grimy western involving the undead. And even though there is so much going on in the film the scene we all remember is the bar. On a night where the clan is testing new vampire Caleb to see if he has what it takes they enter a local pub on a mellow evening. What happens after is pure horror movie gold led by the amazing Bill Paxton in his role as Severen. Gore, brutal murder, dark humour, and simply finger licking good times ensue in this brilliant sequence that you can not help but be glued to in hypnotic horror fan awe.
Now as my eyes tell me I need sleep to make sure the shop is open sorta on time tomorrow I’m gonna give you one final fun bar moment in genre film history that I always feel is over looked from one of my favourite franchises growing up in the 80s. Enter Friday The 13th Part 2.
So it’s the night that Jason Voorhees is finally getting his first taste of revenge for those sexy camp counselors killing his mom five years earlier. He is still new to the killing thing and would still be one 3D movie away from finding his trademark hockey mask but killing young sexy people he did. All except for one Stuart “TED” Charno. Now this movie did not know it at the time because it had not quite become a trope yet but in 1981 Friday The 13th Part 2 would go down in history as one of the first ever slasher films NOT to kill off the “class clown” or “pratical joker”. Why? Because Ted loved the bar too much. You see, on the night where pillow case Jason is butchering all at the Crystal Lake Ted, Paul, and Ginny are still drinking at a bar off the grounds. Now Paul and Ginny, being responsible ones, decide they need to go back to grounds as last call wraps up. But not Ted. Oh no.
No, Ted decides to hang out after hours either trying to get it on with waitress later or simply trying to find an afterhour party to keep on drinking at. My thought was always he would wake up on the bar the next morning to a hot sobering cup of coffee and hearing the local law tell him everyone was massacred at the camp ground. Now I think Ted would feel terrible for his co-workers and friends but another part of me thinks he would look at that stale beer infront of him from hours before, lift the glass, kiss it, and say “Thank You For Keeping Me Here”. Remember kids…the bar saves lives in certain 80s slasher flicks. Never forget about Ted and his lessons.
Completely not genre related but you guys remember that scene in Superman 3 with evil Superman and he’s drunk and flicking shot glasses messing up the bar. Hell ya that was sweet!
So obviously there are hundreds of bar scenes in cinema one could choose from one. Enough to write an entire book I’m sure. These are just some of the few I thought of walking home tonight from the bar. I hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading as always.
Cheers! And never forget…the videostore and the local pubs love ya.
As always much love from your local neighbourhood videostore guy.