When it comes to film, I do love the 80s…I could probably just write about the 80s for the rest of my life. There are that many good movies. We all move on though, sometimes out of necessity and I have to give the 90s a shot too (I’m actually excited to do that since that’s my favorite decade–more on that later).
I thought it only fair to give some of the movies that I love that I didn’t have time for to get a little #ShoutOut.
“Harry and the Hendersons” is a very underrated and often forgotten 1980s family movie. It has one of my top 10 favorite actors of all time the #Great John Lithgow, and the puppet effects that were used to create a warm hearted “Bigfoot Monster” were well ahead of their time. Lithgow is a great actor because he is comfortable in high drama, horror, farce, and family comedy. His performance is what makes this film so believable about a dad who wants to keep his family safe, but he wants to teach them about protecting your friends as well. It’s streaming on Netflix now and I just watched it with my son. He couldn’t stop laughing.
How cool would it be if our Legend of Zelda scores allowed us to go back in time to another dimension, become Link, and save the princess from the evil Gannon? “The Last Strarfighter” has a similar premise. Alex is a bored teenager with big dreams who happens to be the highest score on the local Starfighter arcade game. Little does he know that game is a test and he has to save the Universe from a galactic empire. I found it intriguing, entertaining, and yet another example of an 80s movie building up their children to save the world.
What if we could learn how to do anything? …Okay, we kinda can. What if we could learn how to do anything…in 30 seconds. “D. A. R. Y. L.” is about an android that gets adopted into a family and has to learn who he was, where he is from, and what he needs to become. There’s really not a whole lot to the story other than a few cool set pieces. What’s great about it is how it makes the impossible seem possible for the children yet again in this strange world we all live in. He might save the day…not giving it away.
It’s been well documented that I love John Hughes. Here’s another Hughes film that seems a little sexist…and then we meet Lisa and it’s all good…okay, it’s still a bit sexist, but I do find this movie entertaining. Basically, two geeky high school kids that only have each other set out to create the “perfect woman.” SEXIST–they end up creating Lisa played by Kelly Lebrock and what you might think happens next, does not. I find it hilarious, silly, and in the end, warm and entertaining like all Hughes films. Check it out.
“Real Genius” is the movie that introduced us to Val Kilmer. Don’t get me wrong, “Top Secret” was great, but Kilmer’s true acting genius (See what I did there?) was on full display in this film. How do you play the smartest person in the world? Are they quirky? What genius isn’t? We’ve all seen interviews with Steve Jobs and heard the stories about Thomas Edison only needing 2 hours of sleep at night. Quirks galore come out in this movie and everyone should experience it without knowing much about it their first time. Go see it. It will deliver.
The atmosphere that was created in “To Live and Die in L. A.” is what makes it brilliant, but what also might have made it less desirable at the box office. This is not your average cop thriller by any means. I have seen nothing like it and I don’t want to. It is a thrilling masterpiece; original and couldn’t pump the breaks if it wanted to. The different themes that the creators explore about obsession, art, greed, and revenge are enthralling and tragic. It’s a tough one to find, but well worth the effort. Friedkin is a true auteur that is comfortable in this genre (“The French Connection“) and has upped the ante with thrilling “chases” in this picture. Find it. Watch it. Watch it again.
In the 80s, if I watched a trailer that had a hero with a sword in it, I didn’t care if it was good, I had to see it. Such was the case with “The Black Cauldron.” I remember seeing the commercial, telling my mom, and seeing it opening weekend with my mom, my little brother, my best friend, and her mom. We were not ready for how dark and scary this Disney animated feature was going to be. It is engaging, well crafted, thrilling, and not given the respect it deserves amongst the best Disney Films over the decades. I try and watch it once a year…for nostalgia and because the villains in it have depth for a Disney picture creating a very intriguing atmosphere.
I know I’ve probably left some out. I know that I will get a lot of shit for not writing about “Fletch.” You need to understand, I didn’t see “Fletch” for the first time until last year. Sorry. Others that I liked: “The Untouchables,” “Dead Poets Society,” “Escape from New York,” “Legend,” “Flight of the Navigator,” and “Better Off Dead.”
Believe it or not, there are still some very cult classic 1980s movies that are still on my list to see: “They Live,” “Something Wild,” “Local Hero,” “Angel Heart,” and “The Brave Little Toaster.” I will see all of these before I die…I’ve said that to myself a lot and haven’t got around to it. If I hit 50 and am still saying this, I’m going to start to worry.
So, goodbye 80s. I loved you, but the 90s is going to get their fair share too. We’ll also start to see some classic movies (30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s) hit the upcoming blog posts as I started going to college in the mid 90s and my taste in film changed and became more educated. We are saying goodbye, but you will always be there. Without you 80s, I wouldn’t have a film foundation to draw from as I watched older films. That equals a very special place in my heart. Thank you.