Death Becomes Him: The Weekend At Bernie’s Films

Wow. I fully intended to watch both Weekend At Bernie’s (1989) and Weekend At Bernie’s II (1993) within a fairly short amount of time. Instead, it turned out to be an almost two week process thanks to watching so many horror movies and falling asleep a few times during WAB2. In fact, Rickey and I tried watching 2 after we watched Terror Train. I had watched the first one and thought I had seen 2 when it came out, but was completely blown away by it’s weirdness. Not so blown away that I could stay awake, mind you, but it’s pretty crazy.

I’m getting ahead of myself though. Everyone always remembers the WAB plot very simply: two guys pretend like their boss is dead so they don’t get in trouble. But it’s SO much deeper than that. See, our heroes played by Jonathan Silverman and Andrew McCarthy are interns at Bernie’s firm (insurance, I believe). They find a discrepancy of millions of dollars in one account. Bernie asks them to come to his house in the Hamptons to celebrate the discovery, but what he’s really doing is setting them up so his mobster cohorts can kill the guys. Flipping the script, the mob boss tells his goon to kill Bernie instead. The goon gets there before the guys, kills Bernie with a lethal injection and leaves him, passing the guys on their way to Bernie’s house. At first they don’t think he’s dead, just sleeping, but eventually they figure it out, but just as they do a traveling party shows up to rock out and have fun. The girl Silverman’s trying to bag also shows up, which is why he doesn’t say anything (he’s the straight-laced one to McCarthy’s wacky dude). So, at first it’s a “we’re already in too deep” kind of a story, but then the guys hear a message on Bernie’s answering machine with Bernie asking about killing the guys. So now they keep Bernie around so they don’t get killed.

All in all it’s a pretty fun, though fundamentally morbid film that keeps getting crazier and crazier, but in a way that WAB 2 tops in spades. See, in the sequel Silverman and McCarthy are back (it’s only a day or two after the events of the first one, but these dudes are Clearly worse for wear after the four years that passed in real time) and they’re trying to use dead Bernie to get the money that he stole from his company. To do that they have to take him to St. Thomas, but before they can do this, a couple of voodoo dudes grab Bernie and bring him half-back to life. Basically, when music plays around the corpse, Bernie gets up and dances his way toward the money (hence the “Zombies” label). It seems they were hired by the mobsters to find the money. Meanwhile, firm employee Barry Bostwick, is on the guys’ trail (they were fired from their job after returning to New York and getting blamed for the missing money), but he keeps looking crazy and getting arrested.

This is absolutely a weird movie. If you have trouble accepting the idea that two guys could haul a dead man around for two days in the original, then steer clear of this one. If the scenes where Bernie walks under water thanks to a Walkman and headphones to find the treasure aren’t enough, they meet up with a girl who’s father studies voodoo, but also accepts the fact that these men have been carting around a corpse-turned-zombie for days with little-to-no problem.

If you like bad movies, this is it. A studio actually made this movie and released it in theaters. That’s shocking to me. To add to the weirdness, McCarthy plays his character like a coked up chimp, which is distracting to say the least. But, with a few beers and friends, I think this movie is a party waiting to happen. Both are still on the NetBox, so you can hit them up whenever you want!

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