Homebodies (1974): Is the standard image of the elderly—doddering, smiling beatifically, Werther’s Originals at the ready—true? Or is it an inevitable byproduct of humanity’s fear of mortality and the decay of the body corporeal? Some filmmakers like to turn this stereotype on its head. After their housing block is slated for destruction, the button-cute pensioners of this sludgy B-picture turn aborably homicidal, strapping their heartless super to a wheelchair and pushing him, ever so slowly, off the roof. Do not fuck with the elderly. They will fuck you back.
Stand Alone (1985): Charles Durning may have once been the villain of a Muppet movie. But that still doesn’t prepare one for the sight of the portly granddad as a WWII vet, standing up, with baseball bat, against the gangsters and low-lifes who have taken over his neighborhood.
Deadly Friend (1986): Anne Ramsey made her mark on film history in her final years, playing pissy, juggling-joweled geriatrics in The Goonies, Throw Momma From the Train and this Wes Craven joint. After felling our hero’s homemade ’80s robot with a shotgun, her cranky coot finds the ’bot—resurrected in the body of dead hottie Kristy Swanson—hurling a basketball at her head so fast it leaves several seconds of a flailing, headless body.
Death Wish V: The Face of Death (1994): Charles Bronson was already 52 when he first went vigilante in 1974’s Death Wish. By its first sequel he was 61. In the third installment he was 64 and 66 in the fourth. By five, he was 73. Some perspective: John Wayne was 68 in Brannigan, his farewell to balls-to-wall action.
Gran Torino (2008): A welcome breath of almost-realism on this list finds Clint Eastwood’s Cranky Racist With a Heart limited in his ass-kickery. The most energy he expels is smacking around a fat kid. And even that leaves him panting for breath.
Harry Brown (2009): Charles Bronson was a pussy. Michael Caine, in his very own Death Wish, is 77. And it still blows, even with Michael Caine.
Six Long-Running Film Franchises