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A Glossary Of Movie Terms

Topic: g-rated

A GLOSSARY OF MOVIE TERMS

PRINCIPLE OF EVIL MARKSMANSHIP

The bad guys are always lousy shots in the movies. Three villains with Uzis will go after the hero, spraying thousands of rounds that miss him, after which he picks them off with a handgun.

PRINCIPLE OF PEDESTRIAN PATHOLOGY

Whenever a character on foot is being pursued by one in a car, the pedestrian inevitably makes the mistake of running down the middle of the street, instead of ducking down a narrow alley, into a building, behind a telephone pole, etc. All that saves such pedestrians is the fact that in such scenes the character on foot can always outrun the car.

RISING SIDEWALK

No female character in an action film can flee more than fifty feet before falling flat on her face. Someone then has to go back and help her up, while the monster/villain/enemy gains ground.

SEEING-EYE MAN

Function performed by most men in Hollywood feature films. Involves a series of shots in which (1) the man sees something, (2) he points it out to the woman, (3) she then sees it too, often nodding in agreement, gratitude, amusement, or relief.

SEMI-OBLIGATORY LYRICAL INTERLUDE (SEMI-OLI)

Scene in which soft focus and slow motion are used while a would-be hit song is performed on the sound track and the lovers run through a pastoral setting. Common from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s; replaced in the 1980s with the Semi-Obligatory Music Video (q.v.).

SEMI-OBLIGATORY MUSIC VIDEO (SEMI-OMV)

Three-minute sequence within otherwise ordinary narrative structure, in which a song is played at top volume while movie characters experience spasms of hyperkinetic behavior and stick their faces into the camera lens. If a band is seen, the Semi-OMV is inevitably distinguished by the director's inability to find a fresh cinematic approach to the challenge of filming a slack-jawed drummer.

SEQUEL

A filmed deal.

SEVEN MINUTE RULE

In the age of the seven-minute attention span (inspired by the average length between TV commercials), action movies aimed at teenagers are constructed out of several seven-minute segments. At the end of each segment, another teenager is dead. When all the teenagers are dead (or, if you arrived in the middle of the movie, the same dead teenager turns up twice), the movie is over.

SHORT TIME SYNDROME

Applies, to prison, war, or police movies, where the hero only has a few more days before he is free, his tour is over, or he can retire with a full pension. Whenever such a character makes the mistake of mentioning his remaining time ("Three days and I'm outta here!"), he will die before the end of that time.

STANTON-WALSH RULE

No movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmett Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad. An exception was CHATAHOOCHEE (1990), starring Walsh. Stanton's record is still intact.

STILL OUT THERE SOMEWHERE

Obligatory phrase in Dead Teenager and Mad Slasher movies, where it is triggered by the words, "The body was never found. They say he/she is..."

STURGEON'S LAW

"Nintety percent of everything is crap." (First formulated in the 1950s by the science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon; quoted here because it so manifestly applies to motion pictures.)

THIRD HAND

Invisible appendage used by Rambo in RAMBO, in the scene where he hides from the enemy by completely plastering himself inside a mud bank. Since it is impossible to cover yourself with mud without at least one hand free to do the job, Rambo must have had a third, invisible, hand. This explains a lot about the movie.

TIJUANA

In modern Horny Teenager Movies, performs the same symbolic function as California did for the Beatniks, Marrakech did for the hippies, and Paris did for the Lost Generation.

TURTLE EFFECT

Once knocked down, a character just lies there as if unable go get up. Cf. Sigourney Weaver in ALIEN.

UNDEAD DEAD

In horror movies, whenever the killer is killed, he is never dead. This rule is as old as the movies, but was given its modern shape in HALLOWEEN (1978) when the killer arose from apparent destruction to jump up behind Jamie Lee Curtis. Since then, all of the Dead Teenager Movies, most of the Bond pictures, and many other thrillers have used a false climax, in which the villain is killed - only to spring up for a final threat. In an ordinary thriller the cliche of the Undead Dead is part of the game -but its use in FATAL ATTRACTION was unforgivable.

UNMOTIVATED CLOSE-UP

A character is given a close-up in a scene where there seems to be no reason for it. This is an infallible tip-off that his character is more significant than at first appears, and is most likely the killer. See the lingering close-up of the undercover KGB agent near the beginning of THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER.

UNSILENCED REVOLVER

Despite dozens of movies which think otherwise, a revolver cannot be silenced, because the sound escapes, not from the barrel where they fit the silencer, but from the gap between the frame and the cylinder. Only closed-breech weapons, like pistons and magazines in the grip, can be silenced - unless you wrap them in a pillow.

"WAIT RIGHT HERE!" RULE

One character, usually male, tells another character, usually female, to "Wait right here. Do NOT follow me into the warehouse, cave, house, etc." The woman inevitably does so, is captures, and must be rescued. Often inspires the line "I thought I told you to wait outside."

WE'RE ALIVE! LET'S KISS!

Inevitable conclusion to any scene in which hero and heroine take cover from gunfire by driving side-by-side into a ditch, and find themselves in each other's arms, usually for the first time. Cf. HIGH ROAD TO CHINA.

WEDDING CAKE RULE

In any movie comedy involving a wedding, the cake will be destroyed.

WET

In Hollywood story conferences, suggested alternative to nude, as in: "If she won't take off her clothes, can we wet her down?"

WRONG-HEADED COMMANDING OFFICER

In modern police movies, the commanding officer exists solely for the purpose of taking the hero off the case, calling him on the carpet, issuing dire warnings, asking him to hand over his badge and gun, etc. Cf. the Dirty Harry series, BLUE STEEL, etc.

WUNZA MOVIE

Any film using a plot which can be summarized by saying "One's a..." For example, "One's a cop. One's an actor." Or "One's a saint. One's a sinner."

X-RAY DRIVER

In many thrillers, the hero crashes his car or truck through the window or wall of a building at the precise time and place to allow him to rescue a victim or kill the bad guys. How can he see through the walls to know exactly where his car will emerge? Why doesn't he ever drive into a load-bearing beam?


ALPHA v0.3