You’re looking at the amazing modern beach house from the 1989 comedy Weekend at Bernie’s. If you’re like me, you may have resisted seeing this movie because you wondered how funny it could be to see two friends repeatedly try to pass off a corpse as a living, breathing Hamptons homeowner. How many times can you laugh at Bernie with a drink in his hand? Or Bernie with a string rigged to his arm so he appears to be waving. If you’ve seen this movie, you know one really good reason to watch: the design! Keep reading for details…and LOTS of photos!
I’ll start by saying that even as a child of the ’80s and ’90s, I had never seen this movie. What?! Well, this 4th of July weekend, I finally reveled in its irreverent, polished little world, and it was quite entertaining. For one thing, it’s impossible not to appreciate the physical comedy involved. After all, Bernie (Terry Kiser) has some over-the-top scenes, and even though there’s a stunt double, this actor had to appear as a lifelike dead person time and time again…which must have been a tricky balance to strike!
And then there’s the beach house. THAT. BEACH. HOUSE!!! I’ll talk more about the color palette and furnishings below, but basically this place is a character in and of itself. Even if you’re done with the plot of this film after the first half hour, keep watching for the design. And speaking of the plot (and all of the photos that follow), some CRAZY stuff goes down. So if you see a screen shot with Jonathan Silverman using a piece of firewood as a weapon, just smile and check out the amazing staircase behind him, mmkay?!
The plot of this film unfolds like a wacky play with a strong ensemble cast. Larry Wilson (Andrew McCarthy) and Richard Parker (Jonathan Silverman) are determined to upsize their low-level insurance company jobs. Although we’re loving the rooftop setting above (that pool!), these two would rather be successful execs with the means to vacation at the beach at a moment’s notice. Wouldn’t you?!
So when they discover a paperwork glitch that could point to insurance fraud, they share the news with their boss, Bernie (Kiser) in hopes of receiving a BIG pat on the back. They do–and they’re invited to spend the weekend at Bernie’s place in the Hamptons. What they DON’T know is that Bernie is behind the fraud, he’s in cahoots with the mob, and he orders them to be killed. But the mob decides to off Bernie instead.
So when Larry and Richard show up for their dream Hamptons weekend, they discover that Bernie is no longer in the land of the living. Here are a few pics from their arrival! Aren’t we loving the primary colors on those beach umbrellas?!
Uh oh! What do you do when you arrive at the perfect ’80s modern beach house, you discover that your host is dead, and your ultimate beach weekend is no longer a reality? It seems obvious, but apparently there’s a gray area…
Disclaimer: this is Andrew McCarthy like you’ve never seen him before. Gone is the tender heart of Blaine from Pretty in Pink or the sensitivity of Kevin in St. Elmo’s Fire. And the character that remains is quite entertaining! It’s just as entertaining when James Spader plays a good guy, right?!
And Jonathan Silverman–what’s not to love?! He’s the perfect straight arrow to Andrew McCarthy’s loose cannon. The screen shots above and below are from the moment they realize Bernie is dead.
In a nutshell, Larry and Richard eventually decide to phone the cops, until they discover that Bernie planned on having them killed but preferred not to be around when it happened. The answer: making sure he’s around them at all times…and that he appears to be alive. But who needs to focus on a corpse or the mob when you have such amazing ’80s design to enjoy?! On that note…
The Beach House
While it’s hard to believe the beach house used for the exterior shots was a fleeting moment of architectural glory, I’m going to be honest with you: the house was built solely for the purpose of filming and was subsequently torn down. No, it’s not possible to make a pilgrimage to check it out and have your photo taken in front of those beautiful two-toned slats. Alas, we still have the screen shots! Side note: this beach is not in the Hamptons. Seaside filming was done in North Carolina!
Continuing on our tour, even the pool deck furniture is amazing, with its deep teal finish and cylindrical head support pillows in an array of ’80s stripes:
The home’s color palette: eggplant, mint and peach. It’s a nice departure from the usual teal and mauve, and it leaves the door open for a variety of purples, greens and peachy hues. You can see the colors play out in the amazing screen shots that follow:
Aren’t the minty blue/turquoise planters a nice touch?! Richard is quick to point out the original Lichtenstein that hangs in the living area. Can you see him reaching out to it below?
Roomy sectional sofas and ample throw pillows featuring gold squiggles create a decadent look that rivals the apartment in Wall Street, while octagonal coffee tables with peach marble finishes further the opulent vibe. Basically, the interior takes lounging to a new level.
And then there’s the bar, with its textured finishes (bring on the speckles). What might you find in an upscale ’80s bar area? Plenty of neatly arranged glassware, green marble accents (that ice bucket might even have a malachite finish), and sculptural objets d’art to top it all off. Aren’t the barstools sleek?
The dining room has a darker look, with black chairs featuring an abstract art pattern, as well as dramatic candles and floral statements. Don’t you love the way pastels and glass block come together to create a beachy look in the screen shot below?
And that fireplace!!! Check out the mural behind Catherine Mary Stewart in the final featured screen shot. Traces of lavender, eggplant and peach make a powerful statement without taking over the room. Retro design meets one of the film’s most exciting moments!
So do yourself a favor and watch (or re-watch) this movie. You’ll feel like you’ve been on a beach vacation. A slightly stressful one, but one where there’s always a chaise lounge ready to catch you after a long night of partying and evading hit men.
Thanks for reading! Check out more ’80s Movie Style posts here. XOXO, Kate