Spot The Stiff

I don’t know about you, but I love watching war movies and disaster movies.

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The Towering Inferno – one of my absolute favourite Disaster Movies

One of my favourite things I like to do while watching these is to play a great game called ‘Spot The Stiff’.  It’s a game invented by the brilliantly funny comedy duo of Punt and Dennis – and I think it came from their TV show they had a while ago.

It’s a fun game you can play with all the family and it’s very easy to play.  As you might have guessed from the name, all you have to do is try and guess which characters are going to live or die before the end of the movie.  There seems to be a few simple generalisations that can help you, but I’m not going to spoil any movies by giving you examples ;)  Here is the list of ‘rules’ which these films seem to follow:

The Hero

The hero of the movie hardly ever dies.  He has more chance of kicking the bucket in a war movie, but in general he will do something death-defying and still survive.

The Fish Out Of Water

You’ll know this character as soon as you see them – they’re the useless, pathetic one that would have no chance of surviving in the real world, yet miraculously survive the movie (often at the expense of another, however).  May be a person with a disability, which will be portrayed in a condescending and demeaning manner…

The Last Mission/Turning Point

This person normally will say something like “This will be my last mission” or “Let’s do this one more time” (if it’s a War Movie), or “When I get back, we’ll get married/start a family/things will be different”.  These people are almost guaranteed dead meat and therefore, easy points can be had here!

The American President

Hollywood loves to make it’s films from the perspective of the Good ol’ USA, and with disaster movies being on the national scale at the minimum, this means the leader of the free world gets a good part in the film.  Sadly, they usually die heroically, often ‘going down with the ship’ in some way.  If they’re Black, you may as well not bother scoring points as they are guaranteed to expire before the movie does :(

As a consequence of this, the president always seems to be replaced with a bureaucrat from the White House who is so hard-nosed he decides to sacrifice lives of ordinary people to keep his evacuation plan running.  But don’t worry, the hero always stands up to him and manages to convince everyone else the hardnose is wrong and they should try and save the people.  This often will put the hero into life-threatening danger, but he pulls through saving their lives and his own ;)  The hardnose then apologises and admits he was wrong, and all is sweet again!

Pets and Children

Ah the cute little blighters.  What would we do without them?  Well we’d be without a plot device, for sure!

Pets and children are only in the film to get into danger and therefore need to be rescued.  It seems that Hollywood has decided that we cannot tolerate the emotional distress of seeing little Timmy or Snuggles the Cat kick the bucket – so they always survive.  However, their owners/parents (delete as appropriate) don’t usually share the same fate, often perishing to save them.

The Bad Guy

They can be crooks, Thieves, Fat Cats, or just generally mean and nasty types.  They will be built up during the film as a hate character who you will boo and hiss at, yet they often end up dying to redeem themselves before the end of the movie to become the Anti-Hero.  In a war movie this is often a spy or an enemy soldier.  Hard to spot, so worth good points here!

The ‘Other Lover’

In some movies, a plot device involving a main character and two lovers is used to try and inject a bit of plot around the special effects.  You can be almost certain that one of the lovers will meet a grisly end before the film does.  The trouble is that it’s very difficult to figure out which one it’s gonna be!

The “He’s not that bad you know” Type

Otherwise known as “I promise to get to know him after all this is over”.  ‘He’ is a dead-cert, quite literally speaking!

So there you have it.  Not a definitive list by any means, but a good base nonetheless.  One final word of warning is that sometimes these boundaries get muddled and you can often get characters in the movie that display a combination of traits listed above.  Be warned that this makes it more difficult to pick if they’ll survive and should be rewarded accordingly ;)

I hope you enjoyed this post – let me know if I have missed any categories and how you got on when you tried playing this game, eh? :D

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About rubbergoat

Hi there! I’m a mad keen F1 fan who has been addicted to the sport for 20 years. I watch every race and follow the sport in every way I can. I have a keen interest in numbers and I would like to analyse the races from a statistical point of view to see if the data shows something we can't see on TV. As always, I’d love to hear what you think and especially if we can discuss my analyses that would be great – but please no nasty stuff!
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2 Responses to Spot The Stiff

  1. Lisa says:

    There’s also the ‘It’s my birthday’ line, which is always a classic sign the character has only minutes to live.
    I was playing this the other night watching ‘The Hurt Locker’ and got my first one within 3 minutes.

  2. Sounds like a fun game, I’ll have to employ it myself.

    It used to be that kids were hardly ever put into movies, but Steven Spielberg sorted that. He’s obsessed with father’s and sons. Generally the father used to die in his movies, but now they seem to survive.

    On the pets front there is a book about writing good movie scripts that is actually called, “Save the cat”. The book talks about a lot of movie shortcuts to making your movie convey the message you want quickly. In the title example he talks about how in an Al Pacino movie where Al is required to play a particularly brutal detective they had him early on kill a couple of bad guys but save a cat from a building. And depending on if they included the saving of the cat in the edit you saw meant that you either liked the film or you didn’t. It was a simple way of showing, “this guy is okay”.

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