Tagged: 1990s

From Dusk till Dawn: Tom Savini as Sex Machine

Tom Savini as "Sex Machine" in From Dusk till Dawn (1996)

Tom Savini as “Sex Machine” in From Dusk till Dawn (1996)

Vitals

Tom Savini as “Sex Machine”, whip-snapping biker

Mexico, Summer 1995

Film: From Dusk till Dawn
Release Date: January 17, 1996
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Costume Designer: Graciela Mazón

Background

Though it may be a few days late to celebrate Halloween, it’s always the right time to celebrate Tom Savini, my fellow Pittsburgher who turns 76 tomorrow!

Born November 3, 1946, Savini grew up in the Bloomfield neighborhood and served in the Vietnam War before following his cinematic passion to become an iconic figure in horror movies, working extensively on both sides of the lens as a prosthetic makeup artist, stunt performer, actor, and director. (Non-horror fans may recognize Savini as the beleaguered shop teacher Mr. Callahan in the Pittsburgh-filmed The Perks of Being a Wallflower.)

Perhaps best known for his six (to date) collaborations with George A. Romero, Savini memorably appeared in From Dusk till Dawn, perhaps one of his earliest prominent roles in which he was solely credited as an actor. Savini co-stars as “Sex Machine”, a biker who becomes one of only a half-dozen initial survivors after the vampiric employees of a rowdy bar in the Mexican desert turn on its customers. Continue reading

Reservoir Dogs — Mr. Orange

Tim Roth in Reservoir Dogs

Tim Roth as “Mr. Orange” in Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Vitals

Tim Roth as Freddie Newandyke, aka “Mr. Orange”, member of an armed robbery crew with a deep secret

Los Angeles, Summer 1992

Film: Reservoir Dogs
Release Date: October 9, 1992
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Betsy Heimann

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

This month marks the 30th anniversary since the wide release of Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino’s influential debut that introduced many of the director’s own cinematic trademarks and has been described as one of the greatest independent films of all time.

As we’ve come to expect from QT, Reservoir Dogs pays homage to classic noir and crime films, including Kansas City Confidential (1952), The Big Combo (1955), and—most specifically—The Killing (1956), with a plot centered around a gang of tough guys hired for a what should be a straightforward diamond heist… only to be stymied when it becomes evident that a member of their crew is an informant. Continue reading

Point Break: Gary Busey’s Wild Shirts

Gary Busey in Point Break

Gary Busey as FBI Special Agent Angelo Pappas in Point Break (1991)

Vitals

Gary Busey as Angelo Pappas, beleaguered FBI agent

Los Angeles, Summer 1991

Film: Point Break
Release Date: July 12, 1991
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Costume Supervisors: Colby P. Bart & Louis Infante

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

“When are you gonna write about Gary Busey?”

“Where are your posts about Busey’s style in Point Break?”

“Show us the Busey, you coward!”

These are the kinds of questions and comments I never get, and yet, on the 78th birthday on this most idiosyncratic of actors, I want to take a deep dive—or surf—into the wardrobe of one of Gary Busey’s best-known roles. Continue reading

Pulp Fiction: Tim Roth’s Surfer Shirt

Tim Roth in Pulp Fiction (1994)

Tim Roth in Pulp Fiction (1994)

Vitals

Tim Roth as “Pumpkin”, aka “Ringo”, an otherwise unnamed small-time crook

Los Angeles, Summer 1992

Film: Pulp Fiction
Release Date: October 14, 1994
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Betsy Heimann

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Now that it’s summer—and already a hot one!—I’ve started rotating my favorite aloha shirts and tropical prints into my wardrobe. Luckily for me, bright Hawaiian-style resort shirts have been undergoing a wave of revival each summer, perhaps encouraged by Brad Pitt’s now-famous yellow aloha shirt in Quentin Tarantino’s latest, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Style in QT’s early movies typically conjures the well-armed professional criminals in their uniforms of black suits, white shirts, and black ties, but outside of this lethal look, characters in the Tarantino-verse often pulled from the Hawaiian shirts in their closet. The first example would be Harvey Keitel’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it palm-print shirt before taking Tim Roth’s Mr. Orange for tacos in Reservoir Dogs. Two years later, it was Roth himself that would be tropically attired for the next of Tarantino’s defining cinematic works. Continue reading

The Sopranos: Tony’s Cookout Camp Shirt and Shorts

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 1.01)

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 1.01)

Vitals

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob chief

North Caldwell, New Jersey, Summer 1998

Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “The Sopranos” (Episode 1.01)
Air Date: January 10, 1999
Director: David Chase
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Father’s Day today often means cookouts and looking ahead to the start of summer. From its first episode, The Sopranos centered around the two “families” beleaguering Tony Soprano: the network of gangsters comprising the DeMeo crime family and as the suburban dad at the head of his biological family.

On a day celebrating dads and to honor James Gandolfini on the ninth anniversary of his death, let’s revisit the final scenes from the pilot episode as the actor ably balanced both of Tony’s “family” roles during a backyard cookout ostensibly for his son Anthony Jr.’s birthday. Continue reading

Sonatine: Ken’s Red Aloha Shirt

Susumu Terajima as Ken in Sonatine

Susumu Terajima as Ken in Sonatine (1993)

Vitals

Susumu Terajima as Ken, laconic yakuza lieutenant

Ishigaki Island, Japan, Summer 1993

Film: Sonatine
(Japanese title: ソナチネ)
Release Date: September 10, 1993
Director: Takeshi Kitano
Costume Design: Junichi Goto & Alen Mikudo

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Takeshi Kitano wrote, directed, edited, and starred in Sonatine, an offbeat yakuza film that blends the genre’s usual violence with elements of black comedy and an almost surreal, dreamlike beauty. Kitano stars as Murakawa, a Tokyo crime boss who has grown increasingly numb as he advances into middle age.

Murakawa and his loyal right-hand man, Ken (Susumu Terajima), are sent to Okinawa with a gang ranging from veteran gangsters to young gunsels like the eager Ryōji (Masanobu Katsumura).

Before any progress can be made in their ostensible mission to mediate and intra-gang conflict, the body count rises after their headquarters are bombed and their number further diminished during a barroom ambush. Murakawa and his fellow survivors—including the increasingly convivial Ken and Ryōji—take refuge on the isolated beaches of Ishigaki Island, where their day-to-day life devolves into a surreally idyllic getaway full of games, gags, and gunplay. Continue reading

True Romance: Clarence’s Rockabilly Wedding Style

Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette in True Romance

Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette in True Romance (1993)

Vitals

Christian Slater as Clarence Worley, comic store clerk and rockabilly enthusiast

Detroit, Winter 1992

Film: True Romance
Release Date: September 10, 1993
Director: Tony Scott
Costume Designer: Susan Becker

Background

Happy Valentine’s Day! In the spirit of today’s love-centered holiday, it felt like the right time to start exploring the style of True Romance, specifically the slapdash quasi-rockabilly wardrobe worn by its leading character, the energetic comic enthusiast-turned-killer Clarence Worley (Christian Slater).

True Romance begins with Clarence striking out at a bar before celebrating his birthday in solitude at a local cineplex with a Sonny Chiba triple feature… instantly signaling writer Quentin Tarantino’s involvement to the informed viewer. Among the scattered audience, Clarence makes the acquaintance of the bleach-haired amateur call girl Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette). Despite Alabama’s post-coital admission that Clarence’s boss hired her to assuage Clarence’s birthday loneliness, the two almost immediately fall in love and impulsively marry, appropriately scored by Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”. Continue reading

Jingle All the Way: Schwarzenegger in Cashmere and Corduroy

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Jingle All the Way (1996)

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Jingle All the Way (1996)

Vitals

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Howard Langston, massive Austrian bodybuilder midwestern mattress sales executive and family man

Minneapolis, Christmas Eve 1996

Film: Jingle All the Way
Release Date: November 22, 1996
Director: Brian Levant
Costume Designer: Jay Hurley

Background

With only a few more shopping days left until Christmas, some may still be scrambling for that perfect gift to put under the tree. This family-friendly ’90s comedy satirized the lengths to which people had to go in the blessed pre-Amazon days, represented by Minneapolis mattress king Howard Langston’s increasingly desperate attempts to track down a prized Turbo-Man action figure for his son… on Christmas Eve!

Continue reading

Sneakers: Redford’s Varsity Jacket and Karmann Ghia

Robert Redford in Sneakers (1992)

Robert Redford as Martin Bishop, seated in his Karmann Ghia in Sneakers (1992)

Vitals

Robert Redford as Martin Bishop (formerly Martin Brice), digital security consultant and fugitive hacker

San Francisco, Fall 1991

Film: Sneakers
Release Date: September 11, 1992
Director: Phil Alden Robinson
Costume Designer: Bernie Pollack

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Robert Redford looks like he’s having a great time in Sneakers, Phil Alden Robinson’s 1992 crime comedy about a gang of professional computer hackers. Redford stars as Martin Brice, a digital “sneaker” who has spent more than 20 years on the lam legitimizing his talent to become a security consultant, re-christened Martin Bishop. His background leads to recruitment by two men claiming to work for the NSA, forcing Martin and his team to take on a dubiously legitimate job.

Despite its subject matter, Sneakers never feels excessively dated as it focuses less on the technical aspects of digital hacking and more on the camaraderie among Redford’s motley band, consisting of Sidney Poitier, Dan Aykroyd, David Strathairn, River Phoenix, and Mary McDonnell. Redford’s character zips through the City by the Bay in a classic Karmann Ghia convertible, weathered but reliable like the then-56-year-old actor himself. Continue reading

Point Break: Keanu Reeves’ Wet Lee Storm Rider Jacket

Keanu Reeves as Johnny Utah in Point Break (1991)

Keanu Reeves as Johnny Utah in Point Break (1991)

Vitals

Keanu Reeves as Johnny Utah, ambitious FBI agent

Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia, Spring 1991

Film: Point Break
Release Date: July 12, 1991
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Costume Supervisors: Colby P. Bart & Louis Infante

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Happy birthday to Keanu Reeves, born September 2, 1964. Born in Beirut, Reeves spent his childhood moving between several countries around the world, including Australia, which would later be the setting for the finale of Point Break, one of the Reeves’ first major movies and a cult favorite 30 years after its release.

Continue reading