What the hell hero

Just because you saved the day doesn’t mean you’re not a jerk

Every now and then a movie hero will do something that just bugs me. It’s a completely random and illogical obsession of mine. I don’t require my protagonists to be paragons of virtue and will forgive them all kinds of things but then I’ll find myself flipping out just because he didn’t say “thank you for the magic sword” or because he walked into the palace without wiping his feet. Petty inconsequential stuff.

For example there’s a scene in the ludicrous sci-fi/horror classic Fiend Without a Face (1958) in which one of the good guys is exploring a subterranean crypt. Then his flashlight goes out. He tries shaking the flashlight for a few seconds and then angrily hurls it to the floor breaking it.

Dude… that flashlight didn’t even belong to you! You borrowed it! Asshole!

Okay maybe this jerk is nervous and jittery because he’s been trapped in a tomb for like three minutes. Relax before you start breaking things especially things you might need later. Have you dear reader ever hurled a malfunctioning flashlight to the ground the second it goes out? Of course not! You do what we all do — take the batteries out and then put them back in again. That actually works half the time. Swap ’em around roll ’em with your finger — we’ve all tried this. You can get another couple of hours out of those batteries! Spend at least a minute or two fiddling with that thing before angrily destroying it. Your friend is going to be pissed at you for breaking his flashlight and you’re littering. Sheesh this film is supposed to be set in Canada and Canadians don’t break other people’s flashlights just because they flicker out for a second.

Again this is a ridiculous part of Fiend Without a Face to obsess over. I’m probably just focusing on it because the first two-thirds of the movie are really boring and I’m trying to find things to get excited over. By the way despite the tedium and the flagrant flashlight assholery I highly recommend Fiend Without a Face because at the end of the movie all of the invisible monsters become visible and it turns out that they’re these slimy human brains that crawl around on their spinal columns and jump on people. The finale is filled with stop-motion-animated brains flying through the air and getting shot by soldiers. It is one of the coolest endings in all of 1950s sci-fi B-movie history.

Moving on. Another movie hero who made my nose crinkle with temporary disapproval is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character (“Quaid”) from the original Total Recall (1990). Now this guys kills a lot of people so for most of the film we’re too dazed and adrenalized to really judge him. But for some reason I don’t like how he treated Dr. Edgemar the Rekall employee who told him to swallow the pill. Remember? He told Quaid that he was suffering from an “schizoid embolism” and that this entire secret agent adventure he was having was an out-of-control delusion. He told him to swallow the pill as a “symbol for his desire to return to reality.” Quaid takes the pill but then notices a trickle of sweat running down Edgemar’s forehead. Aha! He’s scared and therefore lying! Well then the obvious next step is… to blows Edgemar’s brains out.

What the hell Quaid? He was unarmed! Yeesh! And then you spat the pill onto his corpse? Classy.

Why does this bug me? No idea. I didn’t mind when he used that poor guy on the escalator as a human shield because that dude was already dead before he stopped 600000 bullets with his torso. And I also didn’t mind when he used his malfunctioning “fat lady” disguise to blow up a bunch of people for no reason instead of just running for it. Hmmm. Actually that was kind a dick move too.