If you loved Clue, you should check out these other campy murder mysteries!
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, my favorite movie of all time – CLUE! In 1985, Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Madeline Kahn, Leslie Ann Warren and a host of other fantastic actors and actresses, put their stamp on this board game turned cult classic – bless their hearts! Since then, I have never (and will never) love a movie more.
If you’ve read some of my prior blog posts, you know that I have a fondness for the macabre. All I can say is, I come by it honest. While I love true crime and horror movies, I think it may have all started in the living room when I was just a kid, where I watched intently as my family tried to figure out the who, the where…and the with what!? If you never had the pleasure, let me just tell you – it was Clue, the board game, but with a VHS tape that you had to watch to find out whodunnit! If research and memory serve, this version of the game came out the same year as the movie (1985). And if you didn’t have enough reason to love the 80s….
I wasn’t allowed to play at the time. Or at least, I wasn’t allowed to really play but they did let me stay in the room and probably, they pretended to let me play. But the game is not the point. The game was a gateway drug. I don’t remember the first time I watched Clue but what I can say is this, I have watched it hundreds of times. Hundreds is what I’m willing to admit. Anything more and I’m afraid you’d send the men with the white coats.
I didn’t see it in the theater – though, if I had, I would have only gotten ONE of the THREE possible endings! Did anyone see it at the actual movie theater in 1985? If you did, PLEASE make my heart happy and tell me all about it, particularly – WHICH ENDING DID YOU GET TO SEE? I can’t imagine a world where I don’t get to watch all three endings back to back. To have one ending forced on me would be cruel but apparently, that’s how Paramount released the movie – they played each of the endings in a third of the theaters. Crazy!
I am not doing a plot recap here and I’m sorry for that. I just can’t. So, if you didn’t know that the ending of Clue is akin to a choose-your-own-adventure well…shame on you! Go watch it and come back and read this later, you ninny!
Look, I’m not gonna lie, Clue did not win any major awards – it was not critically acclaimed (even though the cast was stellar and Tim Curry was at his whimsical best). Critics practically hated it (but I bet they hated Rocky Horror too so what do they know?!?). But, in terms of screwball comedy and memorable one-liners, it doesn’t get any better than this movie. For my money, Mrs. White has some of the best lines which is why, when my sister and brother-in-law hosted an 80s party, I donned my best black wig and fake pearls and practiced, “Flames…flames…on the sides of my face, breathing…breathless…heaping breaths…heaping…” until I had channeled Madeline Kahn to the best of my ability. Who dresses up as a Clue character instead of Madonna for an 80s party? This girl. I also forced the whole family to watch the movie the night before but that’s beside the point.
So, what do you do when you want more Clue but there isn’t more to be had? There’s no sequel! There was a rumor that they were going to do a remake with Ryan Reynolds and the writers from Deadpool but alas, I have not heard a peep about this since 2018. If ever there was a movie where I could get on board with a sequel or a remake!! Not to worry, there are some diamonds in the rough out there that will satisfy your campiest guilty pleasure needs. I’m here for you friends…just wait.
In middle school, when libraries were still a thing, I rented the VHS Murder by Death (1976). I watched it with my mom – she is also a guilty party in my becoming a true crime/mystery fan girl. Murder by Death is the answer to your Clue withdrawal. I mean really, a murder mystery with Truman Capote AND Peter Sellers?!?! Be still my heart. Again, memorable lines abound but some of the best come from Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers): “Conversation like television set on honeymoon…not necessary.” And truthfully, if you watch Murder by Death, you’ll appreciate Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of Capote even more. So, in terms of a Clue “back-up plan”, Murder by Death is where you should start but there are some other movies that will tickle your murder mystery funny bone.
In no particular order (though it’s no coincidence that Murder by Death is first on this list:
Murder by Death (1976)
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Knives Out (2019)
Death on the Nile (1978)
Once Upon a Crime (1992)
Identity (2003) – Not a comedy but a decent whodunnit.
Murder on the Orient Express (2017) – Not on par with the original but fun enough to watch.
Ready or Not (2019) – Don’t judge me, ok? This is not exactly a mystery and honestly, it’s a bit gory (but that’s a plus if you’re me) from time to time but the female lead and the supporting cast have some pretty epic one-liners.
Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)
There are more (and please feel free to recommend them!) but these are the ones that I’ve seen and know fairly well. Check them out. But don’t mind me, I’m not not saying you should. “But that’s a double negative! Sounds like a confession to me. In fact, the double negative has led to proof positive!”
And P.S. Yes, I love Pink Panther…but that’s a story for another day!