Across much of the United States it has long since begun to feel like the winter that wouldn’t end. Right here in Lawrence, KS, the snow, ice and unforgiving temperature just keep coming. I’m desperate for a thaw, and in lue of a magic weather machine, I’ve decided to bust out a list of ten “hot” modern films, those that take place primarily in the midst of what now seems a distant memory – a deep, sweltering and sticky heat. After I started coming up with a list to narrow down, I realized there are simply too many great movies with feverish climates to throw down a definitive list of ten best, but why waste a perfectly good list. These are just ten sweaty movies I like, out of literally hundreds of notable films, so fire back and let us know what some of your favorite warm-weather pictures are while we all wish for sunnier days.
10. Tremors (1990)
Ah, Fred Ward and Reba McEntire together again…what sweet, sweet music. A tiny town in middle of a blazing desert is terrorized by gigantic, demonic earthworms that sense the slightest vibrations in the arid dirt. This is no doubt a ridiculous film, and one that has spawned a series of straight-to-video sequels, but the original was totally over the top and that much more enjoyable for it. Unlike so many monster movies (including the recent “Cloverfield”), “Tremors” had a sense of humor and didn’t take itself so seriously that it sucked out the fun.
Valentine McKee: They’re mutations caused by radiation. No, wait; the government made ‘em. Big surprise for the Russians.
Rhonda LeBeck: Well, there’s nothing like them in the fossil record… Okay, so they predate the fossil record.
Rhonda LeBeck: That’d make them a couple of billion years old… and we’ve just never seen one until now. Right.
Earl Bassett: I vote for outer space. No way these are local boys.
9. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, with a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino, “From Dusk Till Dawn” was more than a vampires-in-the-desert movie, it was a major part of George Clooney’s risky departure from the safe, coddling arms of “E.R.” It was a risk well calculated; Clooney has hardly looked back since, and Tarantino and Rodriguez have occasionally gotten together for a bit more blood-and-gore-infused fun, al a last year’s brilliant mash-up “Grindhouse.” By the end of “Dawn,” you could almost smell the humid stench of the roadhouse bar that endures all that ass-kickin.’
Kate: Are you okay?
Seth: Peachy, Kate. The world’s my oyster, except for the fact that I just rammed a wooden stake in my brother’s heart because he turned into a vampire, even though I don’t believe in vampires. Aside from that unfortunate business, everything’s hunky-dory.
8. Tombstone (1993)
This is one of several films that prove without a doubt that if Val Kilmer wasn’t such a pain in the ass he might be one of his generation’s finest actors. “Tombstone” is a pretty decent Western when it’s not trying to give you a hug with the borderline cringeworthy romance between Kurt Russell (as Wyatt Earp) and Dana Delany. The good/bad guys-vs.-actual-bad-guys stuff is fantastic and Kilmer is so phenomenal as Doc Holliday that “Tombstone” still gets bandied about by Kilmer supporters in his defense who hold out hope for another golden moment despite having been “Island of Doctor Moreau”-ed a few too many times (That’s me I’m talking about). For the most part, “Tombstone” gets it right, and between the shoot-out at the OK Corral and the Doc Holliday vs. Johnny Ringo duel, it brings the heat.
Billy Clanton: Why, it’s the drunk piano player. You’re so drunk, you can’t hit nothin’. In fact, you’re probably seeing double.
Doc Holliday: I have two guns, one for each of ya.
7. Predator (1987)
Two governors, one “Action Jackson,” and an invisible alien killing machine stalking human prey in the sizzling hot tropical Latin American jungle– what’s not to love? Director John McTiernan would follow “Predator” with a pair of marginally well-liked films called “Die Hard” and “The Hunt for Red October,” and the Predator would get a few sequels, some comic books, and eventually a rivalry with another intergalactic baddie, who like Madonna, just needs one name- Alien. Say what you will, but the O.G. “Predator” was like a sci-fi “First Blood,” and Arnold was in top form, at the peak of his powers post-”Terminator” and pre-”Twins.”
Dutch: Get to the chopper!
Dutch: What the hell ARE you?
The Predator: What the hell are YOU?
6. ¡Three Amigos! (1986)
Easily one of my all-time favorite warm-weather scenes in any film has to be during El Guapo’s (Alfonso Arau) birthday celebration. Jefe, “Ugly Betty’s” Tony Plana, informs El Guapo that the fellas have all chipped in to buy him a gift. He opens the package and gleefully announces in the blistering Mexican sun… “It’s a sweater!!” “Three Amigos!” remains one of the best comedies of the 1980s and a high watermark for all would-be comedy-titan trios.
Dusty Bottoms: What is it doing here?
Ned Nederlander: I think it’s a male plane.
Dusty Bottoms: How can you tell?
Ned Nederlander: Didn’t you notice its little balls?
Mr. Flugelman: Do you know what “nada” means?
Dusty Bottoms: Isn’t that a light chicken gravy?
5. Do The Right Thing (1989)
The poster tagline for Spike Lee’s classic joint about bigotry and racism in the Bed-Sty neighborhood of Brooklyn “Do The Right Thing” reads… “It’s the hottest day of the summer. You can do nothing, you can do something, or you can”… do the right thing. One of Lee’s best films, “Do the Right Thing” uses the heat as a central character, adding tension and pushing a cast of superb characters past their breaking points. Lee isn’t one to shy away from difficult themes and storylines, and “Right Thing” confronts racism and socially motivated violence as head-on as any film had ever dared to previously.
Radio Raheem: Give me 20 D Energizers.
Sonny: 20 C Energizers?
Radio Raheem: Not C, D.
Sonny: C Energizers?
Radio Raheem: D, motherfucker, D. Learn to speak English first, all right?
4. Star Wars (1977)
Sure, maybe only a third of “Star Wars” took place in the parched desert of Luke’s home planet Tatooine, but the actors who traveled to the African deserts of Tunisia for principal footage in the sandy dune hills aren’t likely to forget the searing temperatures and sandstorms they endured to bring Luke’s humble beginnings to life. There’s a great photo of Lucas with face-shield sized goggles on from this shoot that is indelibly seared into my mind that I always think of when I watch the film. Until “Firefly/Serenity,” “Star Wars” was the best Western in space ever, and the cantina at Mos Eisley spaceport will always be the ultimate saloon in the ‘verse.
Obi-Wan: How long before you can make the jump to light speed?
Han Solo: It’ll take a few moments to get the coordinates from the navi-computer.
[the ship begins to rock violently as lasers hit it]
Luke: Are you kidding? At the rate they’re gaining?
Han Solo: Traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star, or bounce too close to a supernova and that’d end your trip real quick, wouldn’t it?
3. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Steven Spielberg had followed pal George Lucas to Tunisia for much of the principle work on “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” but for the third installment in the Indiana Jones series, “The Last Crusade,” he decided to hop continents and shoot in a wide variety of locations ranging from the Moab desert in Utah to Texas, California, England, Austrailia, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Jordan. All three Indiana Jones films are premium examples of fine “hot” films, but “The Last Crusade” gets overlooked in favor of “Raiders” on a regular basis, so I like to throw it a bone whenever I can fabricate an opportunity.
Professor Henry Jones: [Examining the broken vase] Late 14th Ming Dynasty. Oh it breaks the heart.
Indiana Jones: And the head. You hit me dad.
Professor Henry Jones: I’ll never forgive myself.
Indiana Jones: Don’t worry I’m all right.
Professor Henry Jones: Thank God… it’s fake. See you can tell with the cross sections.
2. Cast Away (2000)
The first time I saw “Cast Away,” I wasn’t taken with it. Months later, I caught a re-run of a Charlie Rose with Tom Hanks and Robert Zemekis talking about the film and after that interview I was dying to watch it again. Since then, it has become, for me, a modern classic, and yet another example of the apparently endless talent of Hanks. The transformation from pre-Island to Island survivor required a break in principal filming for a year, during which time Zemekis took most of the crew and made “What Lies Beneath” and Hanks kicked his own ass and ate very little. And while the two versions of Chuck Noland are impressive, it’s the emotional and philosophical journey that makes the film so interesting, and – as history will no doubt show – such a lasting piece of work. It has remarkable depth and, unlike the campground vibe and airplane-luggage mall that turned up for the lucky survivors of Oceanic flight 815, Chuck has just some videotape, a pair of ice skates, and a volleyball to keep him company in the sizzling island heat.
Chuck Noland: We might just make it. Did that thought ever cross your brain? Well regardless I would rather take my chance out there on the ocean, that to stay here and die on this shithole island spending the rest of my life talking to a god damn VOLLEYBALL.
1. Jurassic Park (1993)
On the Isla Nublar, some super-rich white guy decides to build an adventure park, bring back the dinosaurs, and then feed a few of beasts his grandchildren – oh, and Jeff Goldblum is there too. “Jurassic Park” is still kicking the asses of tons of brand-spanking-new films in both the story department and most notably in the visual-effects department. So many new-school pictures don’t have the quality and creativity that Spielberg’s team pulled off over 15 years ago now. One of the hottest movies of all time, the jungle and the tropical temperatures are most definitely characters in this adaptation of Michael Crichton’s now-classic novel. And let’s face it, no one goes crazier from the heat than a pack of ravenous brainiac velociraptors suffering from a mind-numbing case of boredom.
John Hammond: All major theme parks have had delays. When they opened Disneyland in 1956, nothing worked, nothing.
Dr. Ian Malcolm: But, John. But if the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.