90s Movie Challenge Week 49: Home Alone (1990)

Welcome chums, to another festive 90s fest. This week Chris Lupton takes a ride in a polka-band infested van all the way back to 1990 to look at what is probably the single-most violent movie of our entire #90sMC.

That’s right! It’s Home Alone!

“I’m going to give you to the count of ten, to get your ugly, yella, no good kiester through this article before I pop your guts fulla lead… one… two…ten!”

Home Alone, the Chris Columbus 1990 Christmas Classic, has become something of an icon for the festive period. It’s a Wonderful Life, Christmas Vacation, Miracle on 34th Street – they all capture the essence of Christmas through comedy, heart or family at their core – but none do it with quite as much violence as Home Alone.

Introducing Macaulay Culkin, the film features an iconic cast from Katherine O’Hara’s hell-bent mother on a mission to Joe Pesci’s comedy-turn as the brains behind a slapstick duo of burglars (and a cameo from the quintessential era actor John Candy), with some cult quotes and generation-defining attitude (“Say goodnight, Kevin.” “Goodnight, Kevin”) that any child of the 90s would start mimicking.

He made his family disappear

In a nutshell, the film is one for the whole family to gather around. Katherine O’Hara’s turn as the mother desperate to return to her abandoned child resonates with parents (unless you’re former British PM David Cameron, who also abandoned his child – although this was at a pub, and they’re obnoxiously posh – not McCallister posh), or Devin Ratray’s iconic bullying older brother, full of the wind-ups and antagonisms that come with sibling rivalry for the teenagers.

Key, however, is Macaulay Culkin’s Kevin, the lead protagonist of the film. Here, the dream of every child is realised when the family clears off for a Christmas vacation, accidentally leaving him behind with their mansion at his fingertips.

He can enter his siblings’ bedrooms and root through their stuff without fear of taking a pounding, he can eat junk and watch crap without facing the wrath of an overbearing mother – but above all, he can tool up and booby trap his colonial mansion into a death-maze of torture and protect Christmas.

671 Lincoln Boulevard. A house more terrifying than 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville.

That’s essentially what Home Alone is about at heart. It’s not about a boy preventing burglars from stealing the family hi-fi, or mum’s expensive jewellery; It’s about saving Christmas.

I remember trying to mimic the film in my overwhelmingly less impressive childhood home, slathering doorknobs in fairy liquid and dangling pillows from bathrobe belts over the stairs (and then realising my mum was about to cotton on and bollock me into an early grave) – such an impact it had on me, and others of my generation.

Not even the Fall of Troy was this strategic

Let’s touch upon the USP for Home Alone though, because ‘kids at Christmas’ is a tried and tested method. What makes this film stand out from the rest, is the sheer, unadulterated elements of violence incorporated into the humour. To label them as slapstick would be grossly unfair on the complex engineering that went into Chris Columbus’ writing as he designed traps of maim and flame across the McAllister family home.

To inflict such violence, however, you need a pair of comical, yet villainous foes. Joe Pesci, turning his role from serious, crime genre acting to family comedy somehow works, but it’s the pairing with Daniel Stern’s amazing sidekick that makes Harry and Marv such a key pair. The ensuing torrent of physical abuse rendered upon them by a 10-year-old boy just makes it all the more funny.

You’ve got something on your head there, Joe…

I’ve been watching this film for 32 years, and Marv’s scream as Kevin places the tarantula on his face doubles me up in unbreathable laughter. Every. Time. Couple that with Joe Pesci’s constant infuriation with his dolt of an accomplice, and it’s the perfect comedy duo to melt the skulls off, penetrate with a rusty nail or bludgeon the faces off with paint cans on a string.

We’ll wrap up here by running through a list of the compiled medical injuries evaluated by a Doctor I’d found through days of deep and thorough research (okay… it’s late, I’ve got a genuine tummy ache from eating a box of Tesco mince pies so I googled ‘Home Alone medical injuries’ to speed things up…).
All I’ll say is when you pop Home Alone on this Christmas, spare a thought for Harry and Marv and their poor, poor bodies. Not even the Predator did this much damage to his foes.

  • Laceration to forehead
  • Probable concussion
  • Orbital fracture
  • Basilar skull fracture
  • Racoon eyes
  • Perforated fascia with possible deep tissue infection or tetanus
  • Second-degree burns
  • Deep blistering with long-term loss of mobility and sensitivity to hand
  • Laceration to feet with embedded foreign bodies
  • Third-degree burns and scarring with open dehydration and infection
  • Spinal fracture
  • Blunt force trauma to the head
  • Broken nose
  • Fractured skull
  • Epidural hematoma
  • Major dental fractures
  • Potential brain damage
  • Cracked ribs
  • Internal bleeding
  • Collapsed lung
  • Cervical and paraspinal muscle strain
  • Major psychological trauma
  • Temporary blackout

And a partridge in a pear tree.

Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals.

Join us again next week for – dare we say it – the final instalment of our Great Year Long 90s Movie Challenge.

Snow is gently falling, you can see your breath on the air, choirs are singing carols, barrows are selling hot chestnuts in the market. Why, it must be the very depth of…

Summer! (Have you taken leave of your senses? Ed)

You heard. Summer. Now before you think “Don’t come the raw prawn with me, you bunch of flaming galahs!”, let me explain…

Next time we are joined by our jolly good chum from Down Under (Ah! Summer! The penny drops! Ed), CJ Dee as she looks at a film from 1992 that, whenever she watches it, it feels like Christmas.

It’s The Muppet Christmas Carol!

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