Holidays. We take them to get away from our troubles, perhaps see something new and expand our minds, but in the land of the silver screen holidays often tend to go wrong. Horribly wrong. In celebration of my new book Gumbi vs The World (in which I go on holiday twice, visit hospital twice, and find the world’s biggest ball of twine once) – here’s ten films that show a holiday isn’t always a relaxing affair.
1. Withnail & I
‘We’ve come on holiday by mistake,’ says Withnail, and he’s right as a ‘delightful weekend in the country’ ends up a cold, rain-sodden, near buggering, mess. Depressed by London (and their living situation) two poor aspiring thespians decide some country air will turn their fortunes around, and so make their way to the lake district to ‘rejuvenate’. And they do…sort of…that is If rejuvenation is being charged by a bull, getting arrested for drink-driving, being thrown out of a tea-room, falling foul of a local poacher and being hit on by camp and crazy uncle. Even though Marwood gets home to find his fortune has changed, it has nothing to do with the holiday. All parties would probably agree they should’ve stayed at home.
Body count: 1 chicken.
2. Jurassic Park
‘Come away for a weekend’ Hammond said. ‘See a park that will blow your minds’ Hammond said. ‘Recreated prehistoric carnivorous beasts and underpaid staff looking after them,’ Hammond said. ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ Quite a lot, as it goes. When millionaire Colonel Sanders lookalike John Hammond invites the finest dinosaur minds (that is, human minds that know a lot about dinosaurs, not dinosaurs vying for a place on University Challenge) to come and see his new fangled state of the art dinosaur park, he expects them to enjoy a weekend of wonderment. What ensues is the dictionary definition of carnage. There are crashes. There are bangs. There are wallops. And there’s blood thirsty dinosaurs aplenty. Having said that, everyone does get plenty of fresh air and exercise, so perhaps it’s not all bad, but I can’t imagine the Trip Advisor reviews would be up to much.
Body count: 4
Doug Quaid (or is it Howser?) wants to have a little break on Mars. And it’s not just any break, he’s not hoping for a weekend of Amsterdam style madness, no, he wants some quality time with his wife, y’know, taking long romantic walks along the red Martian hills, watching moonrises and all that. What he gets is a near planet meltdown and massacre of scores of innocent civilians, mutants and soldiers. Yeah, that’s a real case of ‘the holiday looked different in the brochure.’
Body count: 77 (it feels like a helluva lot more)
Life would’ve been fine for Peter Banning (see what they did there?) had he not been forced to take a holiday in merry olde England, thus reawakening his painful childhood. What should’ve been a nice Christmas break in London town descends into bloodshed, murder, kidnap and worst of all, an acting turn by Phil Collins (He plays a cockney copper, gawd-bless him, lovely-ol-job). However, all this senseless tights wearing violence does help Banning form a better relationship with his kids – so that’s nice.
Body count: 4 that I can think of (but could be more)
5. Home Alone
For the elder McCallisters their trip to Paris, France, is a disaster. They aren’t even across the Atlantic when the wheels come off their vacation. Cue panicked parents, annoyed siblings and everybody having their precious Christmas break ruined by a feckless child who couldn’t even wake up in time for his own holiday. Kids these days. Still young Kevin did have a nice time indoors by himself, so that’s something. However, he should probably face assault charges and a psychiatric review given the sadistic pounding he game to the Wet Bandits – that they are alive at the end of the film is a medical marvel.
Body count: 0 (This is despite a paint-pot to the face, blow torch to the head, nail through the foot, falling down icy stairs, burning hand on red-hot door handle etc. etc.)
A school holiday, is there anything more exciting? The promise of some time away from parents, hanging with friends, and getting up to mischief. The worst thing you might imagine happening is that you forget your lunch money, or your lucky teddy. What you don’t imagine is that the school bus will be gassed and every student on board will wake up with an explosive collar round their neck and be told they are now in a fight to the death and must butcher their classmates until only one survives. Imagine writing that postcard home… ‘Dear Mum, school trip not going too well, Weather’s ok though.’
Body count: 42+
7. My Cousin Vinny
Ah, the fabled road trip across America. A journey of discovery…finding out exactly how you react when you’re wrongfully arrested for murder and end up in court merely a hop, skip and jump away from the death penalty. The two ‘yoots’ accused of murder spend a sleepless stomach-knotting week behind bars as they watch a lawyer, with no previous courtroom experience and a sharp mouth, crash and burn as he tries to get the charges dropped. I think that’s what you’d call ‘extreme tourism’. Something the two ‘yoots’ are never likely to want to experience again.
Body count: 1
This poster says it all. Nothing can go wrong, eh? You mean robots won’t overrun the park and massacre everyone? You’re sure about that? But that’s exactly what happens when two friends take a break at the world’s most advanced amusement park. Their plan to enjoy pretending to be cowboys in a recreation of the Wild West soon goes belly-up. There’s gunfights, jail-breaks, bar-room brawls aplenty – but that’s ok, it’s part of the experience, that is until the robots start fighting back. Quicker than you can say ‘Michael Crichton loves a theme park going wrong’ there’s wall to wall carnage. Definitely a holiday where you should’ve ticked the box for travel insurance.
Body count: high, a theme park full of people get wiped out.
9. Carry on Camping
It’s the sixties, your girlfriend won’t have sex with you – what’s a fella to do? You could respect her decision and show that she’s your true love by waiting until she is ready. Or you could dupe her and a friend into coming on holiday to a nudist camp in the hope that all the nakedness would some how make them both more ‘up for it’.
The plan doesn’t work. In fact it backfires. The nudist camp turns out to be a regular camp. The girls refuse to share tents with the boys. And the boys (I’m saying boys, but Sid James was 56 at the time of filming) soon turn their attentions elsewhere, to the young ladies of Chayste Place finishing school. Any hope of anyone on the campsite getting any rest is ruined when a bunch of hippies turn up in the next field and start having a rave. It’s enough to put you off camping for life.
Body count: 0 (but don’t let that fool you)
They say half the joy of a holiday is getting there. Tell that to the passengers on board HMS Titanic. A promise of a trip on the most extravagant sea-going vessel of all time turns into a watery nightmare that remains one of the worst maritime disasters in history. Young DiCaprio could probably have survived it if Kate Winslet hadn’t hogged the bloody bit of driftwood. There was enough room for two! We all know it!
Body count: 1,517
Gumbi vs The World – a tale of two holidays gone bad – is available now from Amazon and Smashwords (free of a limited time).