Monday, May 26, 2008

The 8 Least Intimidating Gangs in Movie History

To upper middle-class white suburbanites, few things are more terrifying than a roving gang of hooligans, with the notable exceptions of poor fuel economy and the maid stealing decorative soaps.

But even those people would be hard pressed to find too many reasons to fear the following gangs, most of whom would probably be mistaken for dance troupes and second-rate children's entertainers in real life.

Red Triangle Circus Gang from Batman Returns

The entire Batman franchise is responsible for some seriously awful gang activity. None so heinously combined our fear of gang violence with our terror of carneys as the Red Triangle Circus Gang as portrayed in the second Batman film.

Answering to the Penguin, this gang was a random bunch of freaks who apparently were so moved by a deformed Danny DeVito that a life in the sewers spent strapping cartoony explosives to aquatic, flightless birds seemed all too beautiful a dream for them.

So with clown makeup, fire eaters and a tiny poodle that catches Batarangs, they left their big-top roots behind and went to work trying to fulfill their vision of whatever the fuck it is a group of malevolent circus freaks thought they'd accomplish by making their dumpy leader mayor of Gotham.


The Greasers from The Outsiders

Nothing epitomizes badass street cred like rolling with Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise and C. Thomas Howell. Unless C. Thomas Howell is playing a character named Ponyboy, in what apparently isn't meant to be anything overtly homoerotic.

Following the same gang format that has existed since Shakespeare made it popular, The Greasers fall in love with some chicks from the other side of the tracks and that means someone really wants to drown Ponyboy, which is understandable. Instead the Karate Kid does some stabbing and the foolish gang violence is soon replaced with two skinny boys on the run, both of whom look like they'd lose a boxing match to Hannah Montana.

Then it degrades into burning school house heroics and poetry, along with deeply profound deaths and other assorted girly aspects of gang life that make it seem like semi-organized crime really isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Los Locos from Short Circuit 2

While not prominently featured in the film, this gang has a memorable turn as the bad asses that turn Johnny 5 into a streetwise thug. Which, in a talking-robot movie targeted towards middle-class white people meant the gang was a group of singing minorities who live on the streets and commit no actual crimes beyond some graffiti and using the word "balls."

The Regulators from Young Guns

Undoubtedly conceived as cool by some people in a studio somewhere desperate to make teenage girls of the '80s want to watch a western, Young Guns was a veritable Calvin Klein underwear ad of a movie featuring men who were at the time considered young and popular.

Little did anyone suspect that only Kiefer Sutherland would ever salvage something close to a respectable career while both Lou Diamond Phillips and Emilio Estevez would live out their days having cashiers at the 7-11 ask them if they used to be famous while they try to trade food stamps for porno (only Charlie Sheen suffered a worse fate, dying and getting sent to Two and a Half Men).

While we don't want to question their pistol-handling abilities, the fact remains that if these four came up behind us in a dark alley, we'd probably fear they were just going to steal our Chapstick.

The Cowboys from Tombstone

Tombstone was a pretty kickass movie that made Kevin Costner's Wyatt Earp look like Kevin Costner's The Postman. Even Val Kilmer was good in this movie, something most people can't say about many Kilmer movies with a straight face unless they happen to own a lot of Hummel figurines or let their dogs eat from their mouths.

Unfortunately, for all the bad-ass appearances that the villainous cowboy gang brings to the movie, it's hard not to notice that they're the only thugs in a town of about 1,000 people, and they get their asses handed to them by four men. Four men including eternal ass hat Bill Paxton, septuagenarian Sam Elliot and a tubercular, half-drunk Val Kilmer.

Suddenly the gang of badasses, lead by Curly Bill and Johnny Ringo, seems decidedly less impressive and more like a group of dicks who couldn't shoot Kurt Russel even when they have him surrounded, in the open, just inviting death as he walks across a river yelling, "No!"

The Albino Gang from Vamp

An '80s horror movie starring the frightfully mannish Grace Jones that was seen by fewer people than the number that currently have the plague in the United States, Vamp is remarkable for having the most incredible gang fight in the history of cinema: A fight between vampire strippers and asshole albinos.

Scary as shit actor Billy Drago, who you may recognize as not being an albino, leads a gang of albinos who apparently like women with terrible dental work and have no idea there's a club full of vampires next door.

Nothing instills fear quite like a group of people who burn easily in the sun, have observation skills on par with patients from Awakenings and get their asses handed to them by small girls.

Tranny Ninjas from Escape from LA

Proving John Carpenter is madder than a shithouse rat strung out on Drano, the sequel to Escape from New York is supposed to demonstrate the decay of society and some shit about criminals and whatnot in LA. All we saw was a terrible CG tidal wave, bizarre Bruce Campbell and Peter Fonda cameos and Pam Grier playing a transsexual gang leader named Hershey. All of it makes us feel soiled.

While the rest of his/her gang just appear to be small Asian men, we can only assume they're Thai lady boys and we're far deeper in the rabbit hole than even Snake Plissken realizes at this point. What any of the gangs in LA are up to in this movie is just one of many questions Carpenter never chooses to answer. Seeing Snake and his tranny friend fly into a Disney World knock-off on hang gliders shooting machine guns makes this gang the most flamboyantly ridiculous of the lot.

The Hi Hats/The Furies/The Punks from The Warriors

In fairness, this whole article could be about the Warriors, a semi-classic, full of the worst gangs ever conceived of and put to film.

But in the interest of variety, we'll merely make mention of some of the most egregiously stupid ones. Making only minimal waves in the film are The Hi Hats, a gang of mimes who wear top hats.

Why--in a New York overrun with gang violence, when everyone is at war with everyone else and turf needs to be defended violently--anyone would allow a gang of mimes to exist is a question that cannot be logically answered.

That the Furies, or Baseball Furies, are also allowed to roam free is a mystery as well. On the other hand, when you consider how lame the titular Warriors are, it seems like New York is full of fancy lads so maybe it's reasonable that a gang of baseball fans who take the time to slap on jerseys and paint themselves with random team colors before heading out into the night exists.

The Punks may not be as flamboyantly horrifying as the rest of the gangs, but there's still something off-putting about grown men in tight overalls and roller skates that is hard to express in words.

Seeing this gang roll on screen, all form-fitting denim and early '80s hair, it almost seems like fear would be a natural reaction. Maybe not fear of gang violence at this point, but a real fear nonetheless that somehow, some way, after these punks are through with you, you'll be rolling away in a vibrant blue pair of overalls too.

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'Indiana Jones' Unearths Box Office Gold With US$126 million Since Thursday

'Indiana Jones' Unearths Box Office Gold With US$126 million Since Thursday

(All figures in US dollars)

Indiana Jones unearthed box office gold at US theaters with a performance that puts the film on track to become the second biggest beginning-of-summer Memorial Day movie opening ever, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The fourth installment of the whip-cracking professor's exploits, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," grossed an estimated $101 million (€64.16 million) from Friday to Sunday, plus $25 million (€15.88 million) from its opening Thursday, distributor Paramount Pictures said. The company expects it to earn another $25 million (€15.88 million) on Monday.

That would put it behind only "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," which had a Friday-through-Monday total of $139.8 million (€88.81 million), in the pantheon of Memorial Day weekend blockbusters.

Including Thursday's receipts, "Indiana Jones" was expected to collect $151 million (€95.92 million) over five days, slightly behind "Pirates," which took in $153 million (€97.19 million) with a partial Thursday included.

"'Indiana Jones' did incredibly well for a film that comes 19 years after the previous installment," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of tracking firm Media By Numbers LLC.

The adventure flick received a lackluster reception from critics at the Cannes Film Festival, but audiences thought otherwise.

Box office estimates grew from $25 million (€15.88 million) on its opening Thursday through $37 million (€23.5 million) on Saturday, suggesting strong word of mouth, Dergarabedian said.

"This is the definition of a summer movie from two of the architects of the summer movie season _ George Lucas and Steven Spielberg," he said. "These guys have it down to a science and audiences want to go along for that ride."

The first three Indy movies took in $1.2 billion (€760 million) worldwide.

Disney's action sequel, "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," slipped to second place with $23 million (€14.61 million), for a total of $91.1 million (€57.87 million) over two weeks. The company expected the movie to continue to play well as school lets out.

"Once you start getting the mass number of kids out of school, it turns into some serious money," said Chuck Viane, president of distribution for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Marvel Studios' "Iron Man" clinched another $20.1 million (€12.77 million), bringing its domestic total to $252.3 million (€160.27 million). A sequel is set for release in 2010.

The 20th Century Fox comedy, "What Happens in Vegas," continued to roll with $9 million (€5.72 million) in its third week, for a total of $54.2 million (€34.43 million).

Fox senior vice president Bert Livingstone said high gas prices were encouraging people to see movies rather than take long trips away from home.

"This is the last great bargain," Livingstone said.

But movie receipts were about 16 percent smaller than last year's Memorial Day weekend, and revenue for the year to date is down nearly 4 percent at $3.3 billion (€2.1 billion), with attendance off nearly 7 percent.

By this time last year, there were seven movies that grossed over $100 million (€63.52 million) : "Pirates," "Shrek the Third," "Spider-Man 3," "300," "Wild Hogs," "Blades of Glory" and "Ghost Rider," according to Media By Numbers. This year, there are only three: "Iron Man," "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!" and "Indiana Jones."

"It's no wonder that we're down in terms of revenues and attendance," Dergarabedian said. "You don't get out of a deficit like this overnight."

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released Tuesday.

1. "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," $101 million (€64.16 million).

2. "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," $23 million (€14.61 million).

3. "Iron Man," $20.1 million (€12.77 million).

4. "What Happens in Vegas," $9 million (€5.72 million).

5. "Speed Racer," $4 million (€2.54 million).

6. "Made of Honor," $3.4 million (€2.16 million).

7. "Baby Mama," $3.3 million (€2.1 million).

8. "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," $1.7 million (€1.08 million).

9. "Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay," $900,000 (€571,718.97).

10. "The Visitor," $800,000 (€508,194.64).


Universal Pictures and Focus Features are owned by NBC Universal, a joint venture of General Electric Co. and Vivendi Universal; Sony Pictures, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; DreamWorks, Paramount and Paramount Vantage are divisions of Viacom Inc.; Disney's parent is The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is a division of The Walt Disney Co.; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight Pictures are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros., New Line, Warner Independent and Picturehouse are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a consortium of Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Sony Corp., Comcast Corp., DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and Quadrangle Group; Lionsgate is owned by Lionsgate Entertainment Corp.; IFC Films is owned by Rainbow Media Holdings, a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corp.; Marvel Studios is a division of Marvel Entertainment Inc.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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