John Hughes’ Home Alone 2 bills itself as a Christmas movie, but the injuries (and insults) piled on Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern’s bumbling burglars as they navigate little Kevin McAllister’s house of horrors for a second time might be better suited to a Halloween horror flick than a heartwarming holiday movie. We asked Toronto physician Dr. Carrie Schram how well the Wet Bandits would have held up against the torture Kevin maps out for them: Is there anyway a real-life Marv and Harry would have made it through that gauntlet of pain in one piece?
Let’s go through some of the more serious injuries sustained by the Bandits and see how well our medical expert thinks they’d fare.
1. In the clutches of Marv and Harry and looking for a way to slip them, Kevin tricks a woman waiting to cross the street into socking both criminals in the mouth. New York: It’s a tough town!
“The greatest injury should be to their egos (although oddly that doesn’t appear to be the case),” says Dr. Schram. “Potential for a split lip requiring sutures and possible repair from plastic surgery depending on magnitude. There’s also potential for the loosening or knocking out of teeth, which would constitute a dental emergency.”
2. From here, things escalate quickly. Marv, trying to break into the house where Kevin is hiding out, gets shot in the face, butt and groin with staples. Then, he slips on the greased walkway, falls one storey and slides into a big shelf of paint cans (let’s say they’re all half full, and there’s about two dozen of them), which all come crashing down on him. His face gets coated in paint.
“The major risk of staples to the face would be eye trauma which, if severe, could cause blindness. In the short term they would simply cause pain and swelling but over days they could become secondarily infected. The injury sustained from slip and fall accidents can be underestimated and may also be significant producing muscle pulls, ligament strains, and back trauma which could include disc herniation and associated neurological sequelae (such as muscle weakness, numbness, and tingling in extremities and severe pain). A fall from one storey is significant enough to break any major bone in the body, including those of the spine and/or skull.
“A fall from one storey is significant enough to break any major bone in the body, including those of the spine and/or skull.”
“The paint cans could, in addition to added physical trauma, have negative effects due to the chemicals involved. Depending on the type of paint, Marv could suffer from significant eye damage (including blindness) and respiratory trauma. He should go to the nearest ER promptly.”
3. Meanwhile, Harry takes a canvas duffle bag full of tools to the face and has a tumble off a ladder from about one storey up.
“I would expect the tools to the face to, in the very least, cause a moderate to severe concussion affecting cognitive function and producing a severe headache,” says the doctor. “He may also have visual disturbances and/or nausea and vomiting from the concussion. Again, falling from that height is significant and could include major spinal and skull trauma.”
4. Marv (poor Marv) just wants to wash that poisonous paint off his face but he picks the wrong rusty old sink to do it in. Kevin has hooked the sink up to a 150-volt electrical amp, and Harry gets electrocuted for about 30 seconds. We can see his skeleton.
“Death from an electrical shock of this magnitude is certainly possible, especially since water is involved. Tetanus is also a risk from washing in a rusty sink if there are open wounds and immunizations are not up to date.”
5. Harry, perhaps hoping to take a minute to powder his nose in the middle of a hard day’s work of burglaring and child-hunting, heads to the bathroom. He should have just done his business in the dark because when he flicks the light switch, he gets more light than he bargained for. A blowtorch that Kevin has rigged up toasts the top of his toque. In an effort to put out the flames, he dunks his head in a toilet…full of flammable liquid. There is an explosion so large it lights up the first floor windows of the home.
“An explosion this large originating on one’s head ought to cause almost immediate death. If one miraculously survived, I would expect death within minutes to an hour due to severe facial and airway burns and secondary edema (swelling) unless prompt medical attention including airway support in the form of intubation was provided. If an ambulance was on scene and there was prompt resuscitation, I do not see how he could not be permanently blinded.”
But it’s not all bad news, says Dr. Schram: “If he did survive, facial transplants now exist, and he could be a candidate.” We love a doctor with a sense of optimism!
6. Marv, attempting to escape from the basement, finds a rope he thinks he can climb to the main floor. He tests it and it seems like it’ll support his weight. (Spoiler alert: It won’t!) Turns out the rope is attached to a really big bag of flour sitting two stories up and weighing only slightly less than the burglar himself. Marv takes it right in the face.
“Assuming Marv weighs 80 kilograms (175 pounds) and the flour, therefore, weighs at least 75 kg (165 lb.) I would expect blunt facial trauma (which may include fracture of the nasal bone), blunt head trauma causing concussion (likely moderate) and, potentially, cervical spine injury which should injure the spinal cord and cause paralysis. Best case scenario: moderate concussion.”
7. Reunited and it feels so good! (Not that it’ll last). Marv and Harry finally meet up on the first floor and join forces to go after the tiny sadist that is Kevin McAllister together. Kevin, an evil genius to rival the likes of Ivan the Terrible, Emperor Nero and Donald Trump (who has a cameo in this movie, BTW), is ready for them. As the Wet/Sticky Bandits ascend the stairs to the second floor, they’re greeted with a swinging steel pipe, hung at face level. The pipe sends the two tumbling all the way down to the basement where they land on their backs.
“Facial trauma, head trauma and possibly other skeletal trauma. Any remaining non-concussed brain cells are now concussed. They may have difficulties with vision, speech, memory and comprehension of even basic instruction. The fall could fracture any bone including the spine or pelvis. Pelvic fractures can lead to massive hemorrhage and death if not treated urgently.”
8. Oh yeah, that pipe? Kevin sets it free from its tethers. It lands squarely on their chests. Let’s estimate its weight at about 50 lb., falling from two storeys into the basement.
“Rib fractures would be almost certain from this impact. Organs protected by the ribs may also be injured either directly from the blunt force or from the fractured ends of bone. Lungs could be punctured causing a pneumothorax which severely affects respiratory function and is a medical emergency. The liver and spleen may also be lacerated from broken ribs causing massive internal hemorrhage, which, if untreated, can cause death. Pain from broken ribs even when the fracture is a minor ‘crack’ is significant and affects ability to breathe deeply and move normally.”
9. And now it’s tool time, Part 2. There must be some real handy people working on this home, because even after Kevin seemingly drops every tool in the house on Harry, there’s still a large, five-foot-tall metal tool chest kicking around. Kevin sends it careening down the stairs to crush the two burglars against a cement wall, faces and all.
“Massive full-body blunt trauma. Rib fractures, facial fractures and general fully body contusions.” Yikes.
10. Kevin is ready to make his exit. The nimble pre-teen shimmies down a rope he’s rigged up from the roof with the two burglars in pursuit. Obviously a student of Napoleonic warfare tactics, Kevin has soaked his escape route in kerosene. Once he’s safely on the ground, he lights it up with Harry and Marv are conveniently mid-climb. They fall three storeys, through some scaffolding, onto their backs. More paint cans fall on them.
“A fall from 3 storeys can cause death (from multiple possible mechanisms including inter-cranial bleed, major organ hemorrage, etc.),” says the doctor. “If they survived, major full-body trauma would be expected with the risk of fracture of major bones including the skull, spine and pelvis. I’d expect brain trauma even if the skull remains intact, which would once again include at least a moderate concussion.”
11. You’d think the pair’s torture would be over, but Home Alone 2 has more pain in store. At this point we’re starting to wonder if John Hughes really wrote this screenplay or if Eli Roth did. As Kevin books it away from the townhouse, Harry and Marv catch up with him, taking him to Central Park where they plan on ridding the world of a dangerous psychopath — er, murdering an innocent child. Anyway, the bad guys (that’s Harry and Marv, remember) are foiled again. Kevin’s pigeon-lady pal coats them in birdseed and a pack of blood-thirsty pigeons peck the hell out of their eyes and every inch of exposed skin. It is an unmitigated nightmare.
“Blindness. Bleeding, which could be massive and lead to exsanguination and death. Post-traumatic stress disorder and ornithophobia (fear of birds) are almost certain. Secondary infection is also possible including histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis and/or psittacosis.” We’ve got ornithophobia from just watching that scene.
“The only person who would be able to survive these cumulative injuries in one night would be John McClane.”
So, would any human, real or fictional, be able to stand up to the pain Home Alone’s protagonist doles out? Dr. Schram gives us her definitive answer: “The only person who would be able to survive these cumulative injuries in one night would be John McClane.”