Forgotten Flix

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Articles about a movie, television show, pop culture event, or stroll down memory lane.

Peter’s Retro Reviews: Top Secret! (1984)

Top Secret movie posterby Peter Nielsen

”If they find out you’ve seen this, your life will be worth less than a truckload of dead rats in a tampon factory”

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s the middle of the summer and I’m in the midst of my vacation, so I thought it was time to change decade. We’ve been staying in the 70’s for quite a while now and I actually still have a couple of good ones from that period lined up for you, but we’ll get back to those later, I promise!

This week we’re back in the 80’s by way of the Second World War, but before you think I’ve chosen a serious subject matter, let me tell you there’s nothing serious about Top Secret!. Everything is silly in this movie! And when I say everything…

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Peter’s Retro Reviews: The Glove (1979)

The Glove coverby Peter Nielsen

”Wanted: Dead, NOT Alive!”

This week I’m taking a look at the second movie on the drive-in double feature DVD that I mentioned last time. The Glove was actually the main reason for buying it, because A: I’ve never seen it, and B: the awesome cover art!

I remember seeing the VHS cover way back in the day as a teen, but for some reason I never watched the actual movie. I don’t think I saw the physical tape on a shelf in a video rental store either, but instead saw the image in a movie magazine of some sorts and stored it away in a dark corner of my brain, for later reference.

I think I’ve told you this before, but I’m a huge fan of poster and cover art and love looking at old VHS covers. (Don’t judge me!) A while back, I was browsing through scanned images on a site devoted to this art form and I happened across the cover for The Glove, and I wondered if the movie was available to buy anywhere? To make a long story short, it was…

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Sam Haynes – Ghost Stories

Sam Haynes - Horror Haunt Music - GHOST STORIES - cd cover altby Peter Nielsen

Do you remember last Halloween when we were in the midst of October Spooky Flix Fest 2013, I did a review for an album by Sam Haynes called Welcome to the Horror Show? Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s now time for another one! While it’s not yet Halloween, the new album is called Ghost Stories and any time is a good time for a great ghost story, wouldn’t you agree?

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Take that Look off your Face! (aka The Worst “O” Faces in Cinema)

office-space-05_lby Maggie Kruger

Bethany: What’s he like?

Metatron: God? Lonely. But funny. He’s got a great sense of humour. Take sex for example. There’s nothing funnier than the ridiculous faces you people make mid-coitus.

– Dogma, 1999, dir. Kevin Smith

I should give you a bit of background – a few years back I was quasi-editor of the movie pages for a (sadly now-defunct) website called The Mucky Book Club. My role was to review films based on their (ahem) muckiness, and I would also on occasion write the odd longer piece on how the beast with two backs was portrayed on film. God only knows what Big Brother (and my mum) would make of my browser history and Netflix queue around that time.

So one evening, there I sat, idly fast forwarding my way through ‘Color of Night’, the subpar Bruce Willis thriller described by a lads mags as having  “the Hottest Sex Scene ever committed to celluloid”… What follows is a (slightly edited) version of the blog post that followed…

In the name of research last night, I was surfing through Netflix, looking for movies with mucky bits that I could bring to you, dear Reader. Under the category of ‘steamy thrillers’ I discovered Color of Night, starring Bruce Willis and Jane March. Whilst I’m a bit of a Bruce fan (conveniently forgetting his ill-advised pop career in the 1980s), I’d never seen this film but remembered it got a bit of stick  on its initial release for having far too much sex in it – which obviously makes it perfect for the MBC!

As I hit play I opened up Wikipedia for the synopsis which looked a bit dull, although under critical reception I see a lad’s mag said it had the sexiest scenes in a film ever, so for speeds sake decided to fast forward through the dull bits to see for myself what those sexy sexy sex scenes were like.

Oh my days.

OK, so the shagging itself is uneventful (swimming pool, shower, kitchen table, blah blah), and less prolific than you’d expect for all the fuss that was made about it. But a fleeting moment disturbed me. Made me shriek and hide my face in a pillow.

Willis

Just above this sentence. That’s Bruce Willis’ Sex Face.

I’m all for realistically depicted sex, I really am. But let’s be honest, is there a one of us out there who hasn’t looked up, down or around mid-wriggle and wondered what on earth THAT face is all about?

Which led me on a marathon 2 hour journey on the interwebs finding a real treat for you: The worst sex faces in Hollywood! Here’s what I came up with.

Douglas

Michael Douglas (Basic Instinct): Sex scene? Or prostate examination?

McLachlan

Kyle McLachlan (Showgirls): Has just come in his pants, or shat in them. Not sure which.

 Dillon

Matt Dillon (Wild Things): I’ve never had someone do an Elvis impression when he’s in bed with me, but I can’t imagine it’s especially hot.

 Stallone

Sly Stallone (Demolition Man): He’s either doing it, or trying to work out what 23 x 945 is.

 Kline

Kevin Kline (A Fish Called Wanda): I know, I know – not serious… We’ve all been there though (haven’t we? Oh god, please tell me we’ve all been there!)

Can you think of any others? Please, feel free to share in the Rogue’s Gallery of Terrible Sex Faces!

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Sam Haynes – Welcome to the Horror Show: Haunt Music for Halloween

CD coverby Peter Nielsen

Those of you who know me, or are long-time listeners to the Forgotten Flix Podcast, know I like to go for long walks. Preferably at night!

I usually listen to different podcasts during these walks, but I do occasionally listen to music too. Most often it’s nothing upbeat or anything like what many people listen to while exercising. No, I tend to lean more towards something a little bit slower and darker. Many times I listen to soundtracks and musical scores from horror movies. In fact, I love listening to these, and the closer we get to Halloween, the more frequently I do.

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When Casting Goes Wrong… Or Does It?

Affleck1by Maggie Kruger

Poor Ben Affleck. There he is, snagging the most coveted role in Hollywood, and there’s 99.9% of the interwebs being mean to him.

Personally I think the most worrying thing about him playing Batman is less to do with his acting, more to do with Zach Snyder’s explode-by-numbers school of directing.

Anyway, these past few days I’ve had one or two….heated, shall we say…. discussions about his casting.

I maintain that Affleck’s a good enough actor to give us a convincing Caped Crusader; others hold up Daredevil as the prime example of why he’ll balls it up (you know who you are).

It got me to thinking, though, about other unexpected casting choices and whether or not they succeeded. Here are some of my favourites.

tom-cruise-lestatWee Tommy O’Cruise – Interview With The Vampire (1994)

I’ve written about this before – when they announced that Tom Cruise was going to play Lestat, the amoral, raunchy, sexually ambiguous vampire, Anne Rice (Lestat’s creator) threw her toys out of the cot:

“I was particularly stunned by the casting of [Tom] Cruise, who is no more my Vampire Lestat than Edward G. Robinson is Rhett Butler. ”

She did a superb 180 on this (perhaps persuaded by the studio) when the movie released, saying he was the best thing since sliced Brad Pitt. For my money I think Cruise is great in this movie: naughty, funny and not in it for about half of the running time.

Honorable mention should go here to the casting of Wee Tommy as Jack Reacher. That’s Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. You know, the character who is 6 foot 5 inches tall. Maybe the casting director was number dyslexic and inverted the numbers by mistake…?

Idris Elba – Thor (2011)

idris-elba-thorFanboys went to Crazytown when it was announced that Elba had been cast as Heimdal, Gatekeeper of Asgard, because… well, let’s just say there’s a certain scene in Lethal Weapon 2 that sums it up perfectly.

As it was, Elba picked up the baton and ran as far away as possible with the part, and most people agree that he is a very brilliant thing in a movie packed with brilliant things (Chris Hemsworth’s biceps, I’m looking at you). As Sir Ken himself said:

“Idris Elba is a fantastic actor – we were lucky to get him. He provides all the characteristics we need from Asgard’s gatekeeper, the man who says, “Thou shalt not pass”. When Idris Elba says that, you know you’re gonna have a problem. He’s smart, intelligent, handsome and an absolute joy to work with. If you have a chance to have a great actor in the part, everything else is irrelevant.

“If you’re going to say the colour of his skin matters in a story like this, look at 50 years of Thor comics to see how many ways great artists have bent alleged ‘rules’. Look at the Norse myths to see the way they confounded and contradicted themselves. That whole ‘controversy’ was a surprising – and daft – moment.”

If Branagh says it’s a daft thing to get bent out of shape about, then it probably is.

The-Godfather--Part-III-sofia-coppola-561823_320_480Sofia Coppola – The Godfather, Part III (1990)

When it was announced that Coppola Sr had cast Coppola Jr as Mary Corleone, the screams of NEPOTISM! rang loud and clear throughout Hollywood.

Then the movie actually came out and no-one really knew what to say, mainly because the last time anyone saw a character so wooden, he was arguing with Jiminy Cricket and singing about not having any strings.

Jim Carrey – The Truman Show (1998)

carrey_truman01On the one hand, you have Peter Weir, legendary director of such classics as Gallipoli (sob); Witness and, erm, Green Card (pretend I didn’t mention that one). Aside from his overuse of Maurice Jarre synth soundtracks, the man has made some Pretty Damn Awesome movies.

On the other hand, you have Jim Carrey, who up till that point was best known for playing Ace Ventura. Sure, he could bring in the Box Office dollars, but could he do serious?

The short answer? Hells yes. The Truman Show is an amazing film, and apart from one (to my mind) misplaced scene with Carrey pulling faces in the mirror, he gives a beautifully nuanced and subtle performance.

Now people know he can do serious, Jim Carrey’s gone on to play some excellent dramatic roles, particularly in Man on the Moon and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. You can almost forgive him for Dumb and Dumber.

Almost.

Robin Williams – One Hour Photo (2002)

OneHourPhoto-3-bigAs Jim Carrey was to slapstick comedy, Robin Williams was to diabetes-inducingly saccharine family films, although he was also partial to throwing in the odd serious role and, for the most part, TOTALLY nailing it.

I love him in The Fisher King, Good Will Hunting (‘That sonofabitch stole my line!’) and The World According to Garp. Funny? Check. Dramatic? Check. Scary? Not so much.

Then I saw One Hour Photo and a) slept with a light on that night and b) switched to a digital camera. The imdb description says “An employee of a one-hour photo lab becomes obsessed with a young suburban family.”; saying much more than that would give it away.

Go find it if you haven’t seen it. You’ll never see Mork in the same way again.

Steven Seagal – Hard to Kill (1990)

Gotcha.

Mickey Rourke  – Sin City (2005)

MickeyRourkeMarvBack in 2005, Mickey Rourke was the punchline to a very bad Hollywood joke. Handsome, charismatic leading man jacks it all in to go back to boxing then ruins his face with a series of ridiculous plastic surgeries and can’t get arrested (actually he may have managed that, I’ll have to check).

Anyway, when I went to see Sin City with My Mate Terry, I was quite surprised to see Mickey Rourke in the cast, and thought he’d probably be a bit shit. After all, Mickey Rourke was a bit mental and had forgotten how to act, right?

Wrong.

His turn as Marv was possibly my favourite performance in the film (with Bruce Willis a close second, because Bruce Willis). Sad and beautifully ugly, apparently he’s returning for the sequel. Hope so.

Anyhoo, I think Ben Affleck will be a solid Batman. No-one wanted Michael Keaton to play him and he’s my favourite Dark Knight thus far.  Everyone said Heath Ledger would suck as the Joker and look at what happened there. Give Batben a chance, Internet!

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Join the Great Movies Film Club!

Ebertby Dave Umbricht

There is a void in the world since Roger Ebert’s passing last month.  One of the great film fans and the world’s most famous critic is gone.  Roger Ebert amazingly transcended media.  He started in newspaper, evolved to television, and embraced the internet.  It was that last phase when he touched so many, interacting with his fans and creating an online community.  There are many wonderful remembrances of Roger on the internet and I urge you to seek them out.  This is not one of them.  This is not a eulogy.  This is a call for action.

We live in such a fast paced world.  Movies enter and leave our radar screens at an ever quickening pace.  With every passing year, there is an increasing film canon for fans to get through.  But what is worth our time?  What is just good and what is truly great?  Most of the words written are about the newest releases.   Fewer are written about older films, the forgotten flix.  Roger Ebert prolifically reviewed new releases, writing more in the final year of his life than ever before.  While his point of view will be missed this summer, there are many excellent critics to guide us towards the best new releases.  The true void is in the discussion of classics.

great-movies-roger-ebert-paperback-cover-artRoger Ebert’s list of Great Movies has kept many of the best movies alive for a new generation of fans.  I embarked on the list a few years ago, tackling quite a few.  I have watched films I would never have imagined.  I consumed film noir and French New Wave.  I learned that “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia” was not just a line from “Fletch”.  And don’t even get me started about “El Topo” or “Santa Sangre”.  My world has been immensely expanded by following Ebert’s passion.

Now we come to the call to action.  Let’s keep Roger’s memory alive by keeping the discussion of his Great Movies going.  Here at Forgotten Flix we will be starting a monthly film club.  Each month a different movie from the Great Movie list will be chosen to be discussed.  But it can not be done without you.  Just as Roger created a community, that’s what we want to do here as well.  I invite you to take a look at the list at the following link.

http://www.rogerebert.com/great-movies

Explore it, be inspired by it, and let’s learn together.  Comment below or email me at dave@forgottenflix.com  and let me know what movies you would love to dive into.

On June 1 we will embark on our journey with the revealing of the first monthly title.

Who’s with me?

 

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Thanks for the magic, Mr. Harryhausen

Mr. Ray Harryhausen, legend.

Mr. Ray Harryhausen, legend.

by Peter Nielsen

I seem to remember that the first glimpse I got into the world of Ray Harryhausen was a short scene from The Beast From 20.000 Fathoms (1953). It was the scene where the rhedosaurus grabs and eats the policeman… I was just a little kid and that both scared and fascinated me at the same time. I had yet to see King Kong so this was my first look at stop-motion animation and I’ve been fascinated ever since, and still is to this day.

King Kong from 1933 is one of my all-time favorite movies and one I would have loved to watch on the big screen. Mr. Harryhausen did however see it on the big screen, at the age of 13, and it made quite an impression on him. Sure, he’d been fascinated with dinosaurs and fantasy from a very early age, but King Kong changed his life. He was determined to learn how it was made, so he too could make fantasy come alive.

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Do You Remember… Nightbreed (1990)

Nightbreed-Theatrical-Posterby Joel G. Robertson

Nightbreed was Barker’s second film as a writer and director. His first was Hellraiser (1987). Based on Barker’s novella, Cabal, Nightbreed tells the story of Boone, a young man who dreams of a hellish underworld and finds himself the prime suspect in a string of serial murders.

After his psychiatrist (played with icy calculation by filmmaker David Cronenberg) gives him an hallucinogen, Boone finds himself in a drug-addled haze. He’s hit by a truck and while in the hospital encounters a man who believes Boone is a messenger from ‘Midian’ sent to test him.

Boone learns from the man that Midian is a “city” located beneath a cemetery. Realizing this is the strange netherworld that haunts his dreams, Boone seeks it out. Once he finds it, Boone learns Midian is home to the Nightbreed, a nightmarish clan of monsters that populate the hellscape.

As human-led forces bear down on Midian, Boone must join forces with the Nightbreed. Together, they must decide whether to stand and fight… or risk extinction.

By all reasonable standards, Nightbreed was a critical and commercial failure.

Made for a reasonable $11 million (reasonable for a horror movie made in the late 80s), Nightbreed didn’t even earn back its budget, grossing a meager $8.8 million at the domestic box office. Dismissed by critics and ignored by audiences, Nightbreed made its way quickly to video store shelves.

It’s not surprising to learn that much of Nightbreed’s failure stems from the way it was marketed and edited by its distributor, 20th Century Fox. Barker’s original vision was a two-and-a-half hour long epic, but the studio wanted an hour removed from the final cut. This unreasonable request resulted in the film’s editor, Richard Marden, quitting in protest. And due in no small part to the studio’s interference, Nightbreed suffers from confusing character motivations and, at times, an incoherent plot.

Despite the film’s obvious flaws, monster movie fans have to appreciate the grotesque beauty and wonder of Barker’s perverse vision. He’s a storyteller who works in the Lovecraftian tradition of balancing genuine horror with a sense of awe. This sensibility is lost on many modern filmmakers, who too often fail to capture the majesty of the macabre as well as its more bloody elements.

Of course, what makes Nightbreed a must see for fans of special effects are the monsters. These beasts live and breathe. The makeup work is stunning and helps prove why the practical aesthetic, when done well, will always be more effective than the too clean, plastic, artificiality of computer-generated creature effects.

It won’t be easy, but if you can find a copy, watch this forgotten creature feature and share your thoughts in the comments.

Film Stats:

Release Date: February 16, 1990

Director: Clive Barker

Screenplay: Clive Barker (based on his novella Cabal)

Makeup/ Special FX:

(Here’s the entire department as listed in IMDB. Everyone one of these folks contributed to what I believe is Nightbreed’s greatest strength: the creature and makeup FX.)

  • Mark Coulier… special makeup effects artist
  • Robbie Drake… creature technician
  • Chris Fitzgerald… creature effects artist
  • Tony Gardner… special makeup effects artist
  • Neill Gorton… special makeup effects
  • Shaune Harrison… special makeup effects artist
  • Heather Jones… key hair stylist
  • Mark Jones… special makeup effects artist
  • Paul Jones… special makeup effects designer
  • Grant Mason… special makeup effects
  • Martin L. Mercer… creature effects artist
  • Steve Painter… special makeup effects
  • Mark William Robinson… makeup production assistant
  • Terence ‘Doc’ Popolo Rubbio… special makeup effects artist
  • Aileen Seaton… key makeup artist

Cast:

  • Craig Sheffer… Aaron Boone/Cabal
  • Anne Bobby… Lori Winston
  • David Cronenberg… Dr. Philip K. Decker
  • Charles Haid… Police Captain Eigerman
  • Also features Doug Bradley (Hellraiser) and cameos with John Agar (Tarantula) and horror authors John Skipp and Craig Spector

Cinematographer: Robin Vidgeon

Musical Score: Danny Elfman

Editor: Mark Goldblatt, Richard Marden

Genre: Horror

Running Time: 102 minutes  

MPAA Rating: R 

Where you can find it: Currently available on YouTube!

Nightbreed Trailer

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Is that a Leprechaun in your pocket…?

Do NOT make fun of my mall bangs bitches!

Do NOT make fun of my mall bangs bitches!

by Joel G. Robertson

It’s interesting how many stars forget their roots. Where they came from. How they got their start.

I’m not talking about their familial or ancestral lines, or the crime-ridden burg they called home as a child. No, I’m talking about first movies.

It’s like they’re ashamed to admit they once starred opposite a chainsaw-wielding madman. They don’t want their fans to know they were credited as Tranny Hooker #3 in Red Shoe Diaries 18. Or that their featured role in that straight-to-video, Lorenzo Lamas-starring “epic” lasted onscreen only slightly longer than it takes to dig a popcorn shell from between your back teeth.

Take Leprechaun (1993) starring Jennifer Aniston, for example.

When this little gem showed up at the multiplex in January of 1993, I was about to turn seventeen. I was a Fangoria-loving, Bruce Campbell-worshipping, horror movie freak.

How big a freak was I? Well, I plastered an entire wall of my bedroom with horror movie stills and monster pics from back issues of Fangoria and Gorezone. My other walls (including the bathroom) were adorned with genre posters carefully selected from my local video store’s “take ‘em, they’re free” bin. We’re talking 600full-demon-wind-posterposters for cinematic gems like Howling VI: The Freaks, Demon Wind, Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers. and The Blob. (Okay, that last one actually is a great creature feature.)

Obviously, I was very discriminating in my tastes.

But I digress.

The point is, I loved me some horror movies! And when I read about an upcoming horror flick in Fango, I had to see it.

Leprechaun was no exception. In fact, I was looking forward to it. I even made sure I was there opening weekend. It played in House 8 at the Springlake 10 Cinema in Winter Haven, Florida . (House 8 was the smallest theater in the 10-screen multiplex. That really should’ve been a clue as to the film’s quality and opening weekend expectations.)

If you’re not familiar with Leprechaun, here’s a quick plot summary:

After stealing an evil leprechaun’s (Warwick Davis) gold, Daniel O’Grady captures the violent creature, imprisoning it. Years later, The Reddings, J.D. (John Sanderford) and his daughter Tory (Jennifer Aniston) move into O’Grady’s vacant home where the titular beastie is still trapped and hidden away. When one of the painters the Reddings have hired hears cries for help in the basement, he “accidentally” releases the leprechaun. Soon, the shamrock-loving monster is unleashing his own brand of unlucky charms on anyone who gets between him and his gold.

That's all ye got, Lad? And I thought I had a wee willy winky hidin' in me knickers!

That’s all ye got, Lad? And I thought I had a wee willy winky hidin’ in me knickers!

As a movie, Leprechaun is utterly predictable. It represents an unapologetic effort on the part of writer/director Mark Jones to create the “next, great horror movie franchise”. I suppose he did succeed with at least 50 percent of his goal. He did create a horror movie franchise (5 sequels and a possible reboot in the works).

While far from being “great,” Leprechaun is a fun little time waster. It has a few creative kills (death by pogo stick  anyone?). And Warwick Davis (Willow, Return of the Jedi) has a blast as he literally chews the scenery, relishing his role as the bloodthirsty, old world, Grimm’s Fairy Tales reject.

There is also the excellent work of special effects artist Gabe Bartalos (Gremlins 2, Darkman, Dolls), who designed the Leprechaun make-up. I’m a sucker for well-executed practical make-up work, and despite this movie’s low-budget, Bartalos created an effective prosthetic that didn’t overwhelm Davis’s performance.

But let’s return to the point of this post, the star of Leprechaun (after Mr. Davis, of course): Ms. Jennifer Aniston.

When Leprechaun came out, no one knew who Aniston was yet. At the time, I recognized her from her guest spot on the short-lived Fox sitcom Herman’s Head. Aniston played, Suzie, the troubled kid sister of the show’s main character Herman Brooks (William Ragsdale of Fright Night fame). She appeared in a couple episodes, but that was it.

(Fun Trivia Fact: Herman’s Head also starred future The Simpsons voice actors Hank Azaria (Chief Wiggum, Moe, Comic Book Guy) and Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson). And another Herman’s Head cast member, Jane Sibbett, went on to play Ross’s (David Schwimmer’s) ex-wife on Friends, which also starred, as I’m sure you know… Jennifer Aniston!).

Wanna taste o' me lucky charms? They're magically...

Wanna taste o’ me lucky charms? They’re magically…

Consider this: the year after Leprechaun squirted through theaters faster than a greased-up turd out a leaky asshole, Ms. Aniston starred in what would become one of the biggest sitcoms of the 1990s, Friends.

Coincidence?

Yup.

So, there it is, the early work of Jennifer Aniston. Of course, Ms. Aniston has raised her cinematic standards significantly since Leprechaun. After all, she’s starred in such memorable fare as Love HappensThe Bounty Hunter, and The Switch.

What movies can you dig out of the celluloid closet? Please share them in the comments!

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Three Decades Ago, In a Movie Theater Down the Street: Ten Favorite Science Fiction Films of the 1980s

By: Dayton Ward

The 1980s seems to be one of those “Love it or Hate it” decades. The clothes, the hairstyles, the music, the TV shows, and even the movies all have a very distinctive vibe that just screams “EIGHTIES!!,” right? I mean…neon and pastels, acid-washed jeans, leg warmers, mullets, trimmed beard stubble, Culture Club? Yikes. Sometimes, it’s hard to believe we made it to the 90s without nuking ourselves out of sheer embarrassment.

For those of us who grew up during those years, however, the 80s also carry with them a lot of fond memories, like the days we spent pumping quarters into video games at the arcade you seemed able to find on every street corner. And let’s not forget the first home video game consoles also made themselves known. Atari 2600 like a mu-uh fu-uh, yo!  Music gave us Metallica! Of course, we also got Wham! So, you know…tread carefully.

As for film, the 80s pretty much was the decade in which action movies as a genre were redefined for all time. You got your Die Hards and your Lethal Weapons and your Rambos, oh my! That alone is enough to enshrine the 80s as a decade for the ages.

For me, the 1980s also is a particularly fun time for science fiction movies. It was during this period that Star Trek finally got its act together, and it also brought the release of what many fans maintain is still the strongest Star Wars movie. A couple of 80s SF flicks gave us a peek into the future of movie-making itself, and others established looks and tropes which continue to inspire filmmakers and serve as benchmarks for how “good” is measured.

If you’ve read my previous guest blogs for Forgotten Flix or other sites, you know I don’t do “Top 10” or “Best of” lists. I’m just rattling off ten favorites here, and I’m hoping readers will offer up their own selections in the comments. To keep things simple, I’m presenting them here in order of their original release:

empire-strikes-back1The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – The first Star Wars sequel is still a lot of fans’ bet for the best of those movies set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” After having devoured the first Star Wars (excuse me, “A New Hope”) more times than I can remember when that movie was on the big screen, I remember standing in line for six hours in the hot Florida sun to see Empire at a theater that doesn’t even exist anymore. We all now know about the big revelations the movie brings so far as the heroes and villains are concerned, but back then? We were still nearly twenty years away from having to endure a prequel trilogy which would, essentially, de-ball one of this film’s defining moments and one of cinema’s most memorable bad guys. Grr. Argh.

 Outland (1981) – In a lot of ways, you can argue that Outland is something of a spiritual cousin of sorts to 1979’s Alien, particularly in its depiction of “blue-collar” types working amid dirty, well-worn SF-ish equipment and environments. Sean Connery plays Marshal O’Neill, sent to the ass-end of the solar system to be “the law” at a mining colony on Io, Jupiter’s moon. There, he pisses off the local company management after stumbling across their sweet drug-running operation, and the bad guys set out to whack him. Yes, it’s basically “High Noon in Space,” but it plays the gimmick very well. Connery is cast somewhat against type here in one of several roles he took during the late 1970s and early 80s in an effort to move beyond that whole James Bond thing. He’s aided by solid performances from Peter Boyle as the company scumbag, Sheppard, and Frances Sternhagen as the acerbic doctor who helps O’Neill unravel the whole scheme. Outland is one of those underrated movies that always seem to get overlooked in discussions like this.

Escape from New York (1981) – Here we go! The gold standard for near-future “the world’s gone to hell” flicks, Escape from New York is and remains one of writer-director John Carpenter’s most entertaining films. Elevating the premise from its B-movie trappings is Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, the cynical war veteran turned hero who’s given the opportunity to clear his record if he’ll do just one favor: Drop into the lawless, savage streets of Manhattan Island, which in the “far off” year of 1997 has been transformed into a maximum security prison, and find the President of the United States, lost somewhere amid the chaos following the crash of Air Force One. Russell owns the role of Plissken, one of the best action anti-heroes of the 80s or any decade. He gets a lot of help from screen veteran Lee Van Cleef as the lawman pulling his strings, along with a strong cast of supporting players that includes Ernest Borgnine, Harry Dean Stanton and Adrienne Barbeau. The 1996 sequel, Escape from L.A., largely is forgettable, and there of course are always rumors of another sequel or even a remake or a prequel, but Carpenter and Russell got this one right the first time.

star_trek_wrath_of_khan_movie_poster_01Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) – After popping the clutch with 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Paramount Pictures went back to basics and brought in Trek virgins Harve Bennett and Nicholas Meyer to craft this first sequel. Star Trek II hits nearly every note just the right way while avoiding the traps and pitfalls of its cinematic predecessor. Performances from William Shatner and the rest of the core cast remind us why we loved this gang so much from the original show. They’re complemented by a troupe of top-shelf supporting players, and of course Ricardo Montalban pulls out all the stops as Khaaaaaaaaaaan!, the genetically-engineered badass he first portrayed in the original series episode “Space Seed.”

Blade Runner (1982) – In between stints as Han Solo and Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford found time to add another iconic role to his soon-to-be long list of credits: Rick Deckard, “blade runner” charged with neutralizing renegade androids or “replicants” in 2019 Los Angeles. Adapted in rather liberal fashion from Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, this movie seems to have influenced the look of damn-near every other near-future/dystopian flick released since then. To this day, Blade Runner’s production aesthetic remains as breathtaking as it is unmatched in its execution. Yes, we’ve had something like two…three…eight dozen different cuts of the film, but Ridley Scott gets a pass on this because Deckard still shoots first, dagnabbit.

Tron (1982) – In the early 80s, with computers only just becoming something with which everyday John and Jane Smiths might have regular interaction, everybody seemed to have this weird, wacked-out idea of what life “inside the world of the computer” might be like. Tron is an embodiment of that weirdness, with an entire “other universe” existing amid the electrons, and programs that walk, talk, and look like the programmers (or, “users”) who created them. Indeed, “users” is a term of near religious significance in the computer world. Obviously, none of these programs ever worked an IT customer support desk. Still, Tron tapped into two things which were gaining popularity at the time: easy public access to computers and, of course, video gaming, which was all but born in those arcades about which I babbled upstream. The film is also the first to make extensive use of computer-generated imagery for several of its effects sequences, paving the way for films like The Last Starfighter and, indeed, a revolution in the art of realizing movie special effects.

2010 (1984) – As a sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010 had what many figured to be a thankless, unwinnable goal, and viewed in that context a lot of critics are more right than wrong. On the other hand, 2010 works pretty well in its own right as a standalone SF film, with eye-catching production design and a lean script adapting from Arthur C. Clarke’s novel which sends a Russian spacecraft with a joint Soviet/American crew out to Jupiter to determine the true fate of the Discovery and its crew from the first film. The Russian ship Leonov, inside and out, presents a wonderful contrast to the clean, smooth lines of the Discovery, which was recreated in painstaking detail for this film. And it’s got the always bankable Roy Scheider taking over the role of Heywood Floyd from actor William Sylvester, who at the time of filming was too old to reprise the character from the first film. Definitely undervalued, for whatever the heck my opinion’s worth.

Back to the Future (1985) – How can I not include this one? A light-hearted, smartly-written take on the old time-travel gag, Back to the Future is so quintessentially 80s—from clothes to music to slang and other trappings—and yet never feels at all dated. It also manages to do the impossible: Make a DeLorean look like something other than the ill-advised, six kinds of useless midlife crisis-mobile it really is. Michael J. Fox is pitch-perfect as the fish-out-of-water Marty McFly, an 80s teen thrown back to the supposedly kinder, simpler, more wholesome days of 1955, when no kids drank, smoke, or fooled around. Right, Marty’s Mom? Yikes. Followed by two sequels, an animated series, and a fun-as-hell motion-simulator ride at Universal Studios, this one’s also dogged by endless rumors of a sequel or even a (:: gasp! ::) remake. Leave this one alone, movie-peeps. I mean it.

aliens_ver1_xlgAliens (1986) – Jim Cameron’s follow-up to Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic Alien is that rare animal: A sequel that is as good if not better, at least in some ways, than the original. Sigourney Weaver reprises her Ripley role in order to lead a team of space Marines back to the planet where her ship and crew found the original alien life form. While Ripley was in suspended animation for nearly sixty years after the events of the first movie, that planet has been colonized and terraformed. But when contact with the colony is lost? Ripley knows what’s what. Uh-oh. Whereas Alien is a claustrophobic horror story, Aliens is a testosterone-fueled rollercoaster ride. Cameron hits all the familiar beats from the first film, while at the same time turning them on their head and giving them his own spin. It remains my favorite of the Alien sequels and a damned fine flick all by itself.

RoboCop (1987) – Paul Verhoeven’s cheerfully ultra-violent action-fest borrows a few notes from Martin Caidin’s novel Cyborg (aka, the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man) and wraps them up around a dystopic, satirical finger poking the eyes of media sensationalism and corporate corruption. In the unspecified near future, Detroit is a city rotting from the inside tanks to crime along with public and private sector exploitation. So, here comes Omni Consumer Products, laying the path to prosperity and privatization of everything including law enforcement as it seeks to build a new city on the bones and ashes of old Detroit. Of course, they’ll also be making a few bazillion fast bucks for themselves. When police officer Alex Murphy is brutally gunned down by a street gang, OCP takes what’s left of his brain and body and marries it to a brand new, state of the art cybernetic walking, talking battle tank: RoboCop. Peter Weller does a stellar job with the dual role as whatever remains of Alex Murphy fights to reassert his humanity from within the confines of his robotic prison. Ronny Cox is deliciously evil as the OCP suit, Dick Jones, doing a total 180 from all the good guy roles for which he’d been known to that point. But it’s Kurtwood Smith who steals the show as the maniacal gang leader Clarence Boddiker. The first sequel was okay, but it’s all downhill after that, and of course there’s a remake in production as I write this. It better not suck or there will be…trouble.

Well, that’s ten, and I’m out of slots. Other noteworthy favorites would include Predator, John Carpenter’s The Thing, and Alien Nation just to name a few, but I think we safely could do this all day, right? Man, the 80s were awesome for this stuff. What say you?

Dayton Ward is the author or co-author of numerous novels and short stories, including a whole bunch of stuff set in the Star Trek universe, and often working with friend and co-writer Kevin Dilmore. He’s also written (or co-written) for Star Trek Magazine, StarTrek.com, Syfy.com, and Tor.com, and is a monthly contributor to the Novel Spaces writers blog. As he still is a big ol’ geek at heart, Dayton is known to wax nostalgic about all manner of Star Trek and other topics over on his own blog: The Fog of Ward

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Top 10 80s Horror Movies

By: GregMo Roberts

Editor’s Note: In our final installment of the Spooky Flix Fest Top 10 series we asked Greg Roberts from KillerReviews.com to write up his favorite horror movies of the 80s.  Take a look at the list and let us know what you think!

Having been born in the (gulp) 60’s, I have had the privilege of experiencing films released between 1980-1989 when they were originally released and in their actual theatrical settings.  By the mid-1980’s I was already screening over 500 movies per year and my screening habits were gravitating towards the horror genre.

It was a great time to be a horror fan.  Some of the greatest titles and franchises in the horror genre found their beginnings during the 1980s.  Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Hellraiser are just some examples of the tent pole films that went on to become iconic pieces of pop culture reference.

So for Spooky Flix Fest we looked back on the decade and picked our 10 favorite films of the period.  These are the films that we look upon fondly both then and now – films that have held a special place in both our memories and on our DVD shelves.  They may not be considered the ‘best’ of the 80’s, but gosh-darn they were fun!  Our list starts here:

10.  Waxwork (1988)

We can all but guarantee that we are alone in this obscure selection.   This little respected trip centered on a waxwork museum in which the exhibits come alive if a patron steps over the red rope barrier.  Plenty of great special effects were employed in bringing a vampire, werewolf and the Marquis de Sade to life.

The ending was so atrociously over the top that it spoiled some of the better moments of the first 45-minutes, but we still think that this is one of the better 80’s films that could use a new look and a new millennium reboot.

9.  Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Writer/director Dan O’Bannon was the genius behind this story about two employees at a medical supply warehouse that unwittingly unleash a deadly toxin into the air that re-animates the dead.

A group of punk friends wasting the evening away at a nearly cemetery soon become the buffet for a horde of dead looking to feast on human brains.  Equal elements of comedy and gore collide in this brilliantly produced film that all but resurrected the zombie genre made famous by George Romero.

8.  Prince of Darkness (1987)

John Carpenter brought us this story about a group of students who find themselves up against the devil himself when experimenting on a vat of green liquid that has been uncovered in an abandoned church basement.

Zombies, possessed humans, evil green goo and even Alice Cooper threaten all of mankind but luckily, we have Donald Pleasance and a typical techno-style musical score to make the menace a fun one to experience.

House (1986)7.  House (1987)

Horror comedy abounds in this story about a haunted house and writer (Greatest American Hero’s William Katt) who stands brave amongst all the trap doors and supernatural occurrences that surround him in his residence.

Cheers’ George Wendt provides additional comic relief in his attempts at helping his neighbor fight the evil presence.  It’s goofy and at times over the top, but it’s also a lot of fun and it was able to avoid some of the usual trappings of horror films produced during the era.

6.  Lifeforce (1985)

Bad acting and bad special effects highlight our sixth favorite film of the decade.  Tobe Hooper (Poltergeist) directed this film about alien vampires that infect the city of London.

Everything that is wrong with the film is exactly why we loved the 80’s so dearly.

The premise was ridiculously inane and the whole production was outlandish.  But it was also cheesy good.

There are no sparkling vampires here, but there are naked ones (God Bless you Mathilda May) who walk around the city turning its citizens into rioting zombies.

The 80’s were classified as the ‘Decade of Excess’ and Lifeforce is exactly that.

5.  The Entity (1982)

Barbara Hershey starred in this ‘based on a true story’ about a regular single mother who is repeatedly tormented and raped by a supernatural force.  Fearing for her life, she agrees to experiments of both psychological and supernatural in nature with a rather outrageous trial expected to trick the entity into revealing itself.

Thanks to a pounding musical accompaniment every time the entity attacks and having Hershey routinely naked and vulnerable, The Entity became one of the better horror films of the decade that was overshadowed in its year of release that also saw Poltergeist, The Thing and others gets centre stage.

4.  The Hidden (1987)

Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks) and Michael Nouri (Flashdance) starred in action/horror film about an alien that transfers from human host to human host with a penchant for loud music and fast cars.  A detective and a strange FBI agent are both hot on its trail leading to a more conventional, but still satisfying conclusion.

The Hidden still remains as one of those hidden gems worth discovering and although it may be considered more ‘action’ than ‘horror’, it clearly belongs on a list of our most favorite.

The Fly (1986) Poster3.  The Fly (1986)

David Cronenberg directed this masterpiece which is a reboot of a 1958 black-and-white film starring Vincent Price.  Jeff Goldblum plays a scientist working on a teleportation device when he is accidentally merged with the DNA of a common housefly while performing human experiments.

The film is master crafted – smart and gory with Academy Award winning effects.  The Fly consistently comes up in conversation with discussions over the best horror films of all-time and rightfully so.

It is unique and grotesque and you will find yourself actually having feelings for the every morphing Brundle Fly.

2.  Poltergeist (1982)
The year 1982 was a great year for horror.  The Entity, Friday the 13th Part III, Halloween III and Creepshow were just some of the quality horror productions coming through the Hollywood machine.

And the Tobe Hooper/Steven Spielberg effort, Poltergeist was one of the best.  The general idea behind the film was simple – ghosts puncture a hole into world of an average family and kidnap their youngest daughter who can only be communicated to through the television.

Thrilling, frightening, exciting and extremely satisfying, Poltergeist is an enjoyable nightmare of a believable family going against unbelievable forces.  Never before or since has there been a better haunted house film.

The Thing (1982)1.  The Thing (1982)

The once reliable John Carpenter hits our favorites list for the second time with his masterpiece of horror, The Thing, a remake of 1951’s The Thing From Another World.  But Carpenter takes the original concept and makes it his own.  A full male cast headed by Kurt Russell fight off an alien presence thawed from the Antarctic ice.

The alien is able to replicate human forms and it does so in incredible non-CGI fashion.  The remote setting and the increasing sense of paranoia heighten the experience and the result is a smart and audacious film that was not only our favorite horror film of the 1980’s, but also ranks as our favorite horror film of all-time.

 ****

Greg Roberts is a writer for Killerreviews.com and can be found on Twitter @gregmoroberts

 

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Top 10 Scary Places in 80’s Horror Movies

By Peter Nielsen

Editor’s Note: This installment of the Spooky Flix Fest Top 10 brings us to a scary place (a VERY scary place) thanks to Peter.  We wanted him to tell us the top 10 scariest places in 80s horror and he delivered in spades!  Honestly, we’d rather camp in the middle of a deserted prison than visit any of these places.  What do you think?   

Haven’t we all watched a horror movie when all of a sudden we start looking at the location itself as being scary or creepy? Where just being there gives you the chills? It can be a mall, a train, a hospital or maybe a house or a boat, even. Have you ever walked down a darkened and quiet hospital-corridor? Yes? No? I’m not talking about the ones with all the patients, but the less populated ones? The connecting ones! Well, I have and let me tell you, those are some scary-ass corridors! If anyone opens a door or appears round a corner, it will make you shriek like a little girl AND piss your pants. Twice! You know what I mean, right? Or you look at a house and it looks beautiful with wonderful and lush surroundings and you think: “I’d like to live here!” Yeah, SURE… and then it gets dark and the lights dim, and the house takes on a more sinister look. But by then it’s most often too late!

When I first thought of this list I immediately wrote down the house from The Amityville Horror, the spaceship Nostromo from Alien and even the sweet, but oh so creepy house from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre… I then realized that, dammit, those movies are from the 70’s and didn’t belong here. The list below consists of places I think of as being scary and creepy from 80’s horror movies. It’s by no means a definitive list, so please feel free to add to it! Shall we begin? Ok, here goes…

10. The Park Plaza Mall from “Chopping Mall” (1986)

Imagine being trapped in a dark mall at night? With no means to get out of there, before it opens the next day? Not a pleasant thought, huh? It’s a huge place with lots of dark corridors and stores with mannequins in them! Not scary enough for you? Well, the high-tech security robots on a killing spree might make you change your underwear mind!

9. The house from “House” (1986)

Sure, it looks nice and cozy in the sunlight, but at night it takes on a slightly more sinister look. And all the various portals into different “dimensions” strewn around inside doesn’t make it any less creepy and it’s not really a place I’d like to spend the night. Oh, and you might want to stay clear of the zombie Vietnam soldier wandering around the premises. Just saying…

8. Camp Crystal Lake from “Friday the 13th” 1980)

It’s the summer vacation and you’re at camp with your friends, having a great time, right? Maybe you’re even thinking about getting laid, right? There’s nothing to worry about, right? WRONG!! You’re in the middle of the dark woods, there’s a lake close-by to drown in and there’s a murderous psycho on the rampage… Nothing to worry about, huh? Suuuuure… Have a great summer, pal!

7. The cabin from “The Evil Dead” (1981)

Now, this cabin really is in the middle of nowhere. It’s small and offers next to no protection at all from the darkness and all-encircling woods outside. It does have a cellar though, but… I wouldn’t recommend it! It’s a scary place to be alone in. Oh, wait… did I say alone? Hmm, maybe I should mention the demon roaming around in the woods…

6. Outpost #31 from “John Carpenter’s The Thing” (1982)

Do you like snow? No? Well, I do, but I still wouldn’t want to stay here. Not for a very long time, that’s for sure. I was thinking something in the line of a helicopter fly-over perhaps, because let’s face it… It’s cramped, it’s cold and dark, and there’s a shape-shifting alien here, which makes trusting anybody a bit difficult. Another “downer” is the fact that this is in the friggin’ Antarctic, ok! It’s not like you can just up and leave any time soon…

5. The house from “Paperhouse” (1988)

Let’s just ignore what goes on inside for a second and just look at the house itself, ok? It looks like it was drawn by a child and then brought to life, right? And you would be right in that assumption, because it is in fact a drawing which has come to life in a fantasy-world. Sure, it looks innocent enough on paper, but in “real” life it just makes you think that there’s something very, very wrong with it.

4. The Overlook Hotel from “The Shining” (1980)

Here’s another one of those snowy and isolated places, but instead of it being a single house, it’s a huge and menacing-looking building. I’ll agree that it looks good in the travel brochures, but once you’re actually there… it’s a whole different matter! There are lots of long, empty corridors and rooms for “something” to hide in. Would you want to spend a winter here? Alone? No? I didn’t think so…

3. The lighthouse from “The Fog” (1980)

It’s situated on the cliffs with a spectacular view of the ocean and it really is a beautiful spot. On a sunny day, that is! On the 21st of April, when the curse of Antonio Bay strikes, and the fog rolls in… Well, let’s just say that it’s not only the tens of thousands of steps leading down to it, that’s scary as hell! Although I must say that the presence of the gorgeous Adrienne Barbeau would help a little bit…

2. The mysterious black ship from “Death Ship” (1980)

Let’s put it this way… I’d actually rather take my chances with sharks and whatnot, and swim for land, than stay on board this nasty ship! It’s dark, eerie and claustrophobic and it has an ominous presence about it. It almost seems to be alive and very, very evil and this is during the friggin’ daylight hours! When night falls, though… Holy Crap! Get me the hell away from it!

1. The mansion from “The Changeling” (1980)

The first time you set eyes on this impressive mansion you go: “Wow!! That is absolutely perfect!” The second thought, on the other hand, would be: “What? Are you insane? Why-why-why would you want to live here?” It’s a classic case of dimly lit corridors and dark winding stairs leading up to sealed-off rooms hiding terrible secrets. And I could actually do without that loud banging noise resonating through the entire building! The look of it in the dark, from the garden (which in itself is creepy), is terrifying, yet I still can’t help feeling drawn to it. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why it’s number one on my list. Even though it makes you cry a little from fear, it still has the power to lure you in…

 

And there you have it… My list of scary places in 80’s horror movies! Do you approve or would you like to add to it? If so, please let me know your picks in the comment section below!

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Top 10 ‘Juiciest’ Alfred Hitchcock Films of All Time

By: Ken Mogg

Editor’s Note: In this installment of Forgotten Flix’s Top 10 we are honored to have Ken Mogg, one of the world’s foremost authorities on Alfred Hitchcock‘s work, contribute a list of what he considers the “juiciest” Hitchcock films of all time. Many of Hitchcock’s early films are in the public domain so we’ve included the full movie here if they are available.  (If they aren’t then we just included the trailer.)  Hitchcock fan or not, take two big leaps in your cinematic edification by watching some of these amazing classics.

Reader, make what you will of our heading – I’m happy to take it as a Halloween invitation to share some of my favourite Hitchcocks.  (Thanks there, Jason and Joel!)  For each film I’ll try to provide some worthy snippet of information, beginning with Mr. Hitchcock’s first film as a director, shot in Munich, Germany.

 

1. The Pleasure Garden (1925)

Watch for the British Film Institute release of this – they’ve started collating five different extant prints.  It’s the story of two chorus girls.  When Jill, just up from the country, has her purse stolen at the stage door, spot the symbolism that Hitchcock would use again, e.g., in Marnie (1964).

 

2. The Ring (1927)

Back home in England – but clearly having seen E.A. Dupont’s Vaudeville (1925) – Hitchcock was already refining his favourite themes.  In this boxing picture, the life- lesson is again “be happy in your league, preferably with a loving wife” (who may have to first learn a lesson or two herself).

3. Rich and Strange (1932)

(also known as East of Shanghai) Another cautionary tale, originally written as a novel by an intrepid Aussie yachtsman, Dale Collins, who apparently met with Hitch.  A plain English couple go around the world, behave foolishly, and get shipwrecked.  The risqué scene in the tropics where a native girl swims between Fred’s legs is in the novel and was going to be in the film – but the English climate intervened.  Too many goose bumps for the actors’ comfort that day!

 
4. The 39 Steps (1935)

Sometimes it seemed Hitch would do practically anything, probably inspired by G.K. Chesterton (author of Manalive – note that title).  Especially for his art.  Scholar Brian McFarlane was told that to elicit a startled look from actress Madeleine Carroll the director resorted to ‘flashing’ her.  Actually, there’s a line – ‘These men move quickly’ – that sets the spirit of Steps at the outset.  It’s all about ‘quickening’, coming alive.


5. Rebecca (1940)

Lustrous and rich.  Hitchcock’s first Hollywood film and arguably his best.  Tells two stories simultaneously – the obvious one and the ‘other’ one, expressive of author Daphne du Maurier’s secret admiration for Rebecca.

6. Notorious (1946)

Sultry and suspenseful all the way.  Fittingly, it has the most protracted screen kiss, between the spy with something to prove, Alicia (Ingrid Bergman), and her prudish minder, Devlin (Cary Grant).  Before the end, though, both must venture into ‘unofficial’ territory.  (Note.  A different matter.  The longest - uninterrupted – screen kiss occurs in Lewis Seiler’s You’re in the Army Now, 1941, clocked by Leonard Maltin at 3 minutes, 5 seconds.)

7. The Trouble With Harry (1955)

Definitely in the spirit of Chesterton.  An autumnal parable.  A group of people bond together, thanks to a dead body, and again ‘officialdom’ is the butt of the joke (here, Deputy Sheriff Calvin Wiggs).  Bring to this an open mind – open to both the ‘pastoral’ mood (optimistic) and the ‘absurdist’ comedy (potentially pessimistic, making fun of our normal seriousness).  Hmm.  I love what Alma Hitchcock said of her husband in 1960: ‘he has the most completely balanced mind I have ever known and … a talent for total objectivity’.

*Editor’s note:  Yes that is really Jerry “The Beaver” Mathers!

8. Vertigo (1958)

Great, yet needed films like Rebecca and The Trouble With Harry (and William Dieterle’s Portrait of Jennie, 1948) as ground breakers.  San Francisco ex-cop Scottie (James Stewart) is the worthy tracker of a sublime idea, embodied by ‘Madeleine’ (Kim Novak), or is he a misguided sensualist, in thrall to his own narrow subjectivity, who can’t see the forest for the Sequoias?  On hand to point the lesson at the end is the ambiguous nun – but which lesson?  She is both sinister and God’s emissary, bestowing mercy.  Choose your vertigo!

9. Psycho (1960)

Like Vertigo, a ‘big lie’ film.  Ingeniously scary.  Don’t let all the pretentious analyses obscure that fact.  If you’ve studied it once too often, maybe look at William Castle’s copycat Homicidal (1961) – which, despite its crudities, can still manage to evoke some of the original terror.  Makes you appreciate Hitchcock’s own basic craftiness.

10. Family Plot (1975)

Has just the right tone for a valedictory film, a gentle comedy suspenser.  If a part of Hitchcock once scorned the ‘moron millions’, here he clearly appreciates the little guys – represented by Blanche and George – and their absolute right to happiness.  He saw similarities between the medium Blanche and Noel Coward’s Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit.  Really, it’s the ‘all the world’s a stage’ theme of The Pleasure Garden, et al., all over again.  A big bad world, but to make what we can of.

___________________________________________

Ken Mogg has contributed to numerous books, articles, and papers on Alfred Hitchcock including a full profile of the director on Senses of Cinema, and, coming soon, an article in the UK academic journal ‘Clues.’ Ken used to teach Hitchcock to budding college filmmakers in Melbourne, Australia.  Ken would also like to add that he was completely disheartened by Australia’s miserable defeat in the T20 cricket semi-final against the West Indies [in October].

 

 

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Top 10 Slasher Movies of the ‘80s – Part 2

by Jason Pyles (aka “Jay of the Dead”)

Editor’s Note:  For this installment of Forgotten Flix’s Top 10 we’ve asked horror guru and podcasting journeyman Jason Pyles to give us the Top 10 Slasher Films of the 80s.  We loved Jay’s article.  In fact we loved it so much we couldn’t cut anything out, so broke it into two posts.  This is the second part of Jason’s list.  Check out 6-10 on yesterday’s post.   

Content Advisory: These movies are for serious horror lovers, so even the descriptions can get a little dicey.  If you are a real glutton for punishment check out some of the trailers on YouTube…*shudder.*   Parental (and intestinal) discretion is advised.

Part 2

5. The Prowler (1981) – Almost everyone recognizes the titles of the classics like Friday the 13th (1980) and John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), but only true horror fans are acquainted with second-tier slashers like The Prowler. The Prowler ranks among my top 10 because to me, it is the quintessential ‘80s slasher flick, typifying the sub-genre and representing its best-loved conventions. You’ve got a masked killer wearing World War II-era military fatigues and terrorizing a sleepy New Jersey town while wielding a pitchfork and a bayonet blade. Makeup master Tom Savini has been quoted as saying this film showcases his best work and one can see why.  There are a couple of unforgettable kills involving a blade being run down through a man’s skull and exiting his chin, and another scene in a swimming pool where the killer saws into a woman’s neck, which I think actually eclipses the famous throat-slit scene in Friday the 13th. Gruesome. Pitchforks are inherently scary, regardless of the context in which they appear, but it’s especially chilling to see one used to administer death.

4. The Burning (1981) – In 1981, the brothers Weinstein gave us a noteworthy campfire tale with a killer named “Cropsy,” a one-time summer camp groundskeeper who is severely burned after a prank goes south. Five years later, Cropsy returns to exact his revenge with a huge pair of garden shears. The Burning is most effective in its ability to misdirect the audience and defy our expectations with a vast disparity between what you think will happen and what ends up happening. But my complaint in this movie is that it has a lot of fake-outs with a long drought of kill scenes. Another detractor (which isn’t the film’s fault) is the distracting presence of Jason Alexander, who will evermore be George Costanza to me. Otherwise, The Burning is one of the great ‘80s slasher flicks. It features Tom Savini on special makeup and effects.

3. Intruder (1989) – Perhaps the last great ‘80s slasher flick of the decade, Intruder is the most fun slasher I can think of, which is why I have ranked it at No. 3. Premise: The night shift at a small town grocery store is preyed upon by a resourceful killer, who creatively uses various grocery store items to execute victims. Here is an ambitious horror movie that straddles campy fun with artistic innovation. There are many attempts at creative camera angles, such as a shot where we (identifying with the camera’s perspective) peer up through a floor while it’s being mopped. Several interesting cinematographic flares like this one are admirable, but ultimately distracting. Intruder has all practical effects (done by Greg Nicotero and company). The crowning kill involves a table saw cutting a victim’s head in two. Crazy. Intruder also features the Raimi brothers in small roles and a brief appearance by Bruce Campbell.

2. Maniac (1980) – Joe Spinell, who co-wrote and stars in the titular role, plays Frank Zito, a serial killer whose child abuse results in his own personal war on upon the women of New York City. Upon murdering his victims, this maniac collects their scalps and places them on the numerous mannequins that inhabit his apartment — mannequins that he talks to regularly. Spinell gives an uncommonly nuanced performance for a horror film, always moaning and groaning to himself, and breathing heavily. Speaking of Zito’s apartment, be sure to notice the care given to the creepy set design, which helps bring us into the killer’s twisted world. The great effects master Tom Savini gives us a Top 10 Best Horror Kill Scene in Maniac, where Savini himself plays a victim who gets his head blown off with a shotgun. My only complaint overall is the movie’s overly drawn-out pacing for the suspense sequences; otherwise, it’s nearly a horror masterpiece.

 

1. Pieces (1982) – This obscure gem from Spain combines practical effects and utter brutality for a memorable, must-see horror experience. Its tagline is “You don’t have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre.” The film opens with a boy getting busted by his mother for assembling a nudie jigsaw puzzle. She smacks the boy around, so he sinks an ax into his mom’s cranium (and it shows it). Next he saws her apart with a hacksaw. And that’s just the curtain-raiser for Pieces.  The remainder of the film takes place decades later when this same boy, now an adult, stalks girls on a college campus in Boston. As with most slasher flicks, the performances aren’t the best, but Pieces is a sleazy gore film whose style is notably reminiscent of the 1970s slashers.

 

[Check out Jason’s 6-10 picks from in Top 10 Slasher Movies of the 80s – Part 1.]

 

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Jason Pyles (Jay of the Dead) has worked as a film critic for the past seven years, contributing to the assessment and analysis of cinema through various media, including newsprint, online, and podcasting. Jason currently hosts Movie Podcast Weekly, a new podcast released every Monday, where the hosts review a film that’s newly released in theaters. Jason also hosts Podcasting Revolution a weekly podcast about NBC’s new television show, “Revolution.” Jay also contributes his “Blue Moon Zombie Reviews” audio segment occasionally to the Zombie Reckoning Podcast, which is part of the Horror Palace Network. Jason previously hosted the Considering the Sequels Podcast, The Weekly Horror Movie Podcast and another podcast called Horror Metropolis.  He can be reached at MoviePodcastWeekly@gmail.com or on Twitter at @MovieCastWeekly.

 

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Top 10 Slasher Movies of the ‘80s – Part 1

by Jason Pyles (aka “Jay of the Dead”)

Editor’s Note:  For this installment of Forgotten Flix’s Top 10 we’ve asked horror guru and podcasting journeyman Jason Pyles to give us the Top 10 Slasher Films of the 80s.  We loved Jay’s article.  In fact we loved it so much we couldn’t cut anything out, so broke it into two posts.  Catch part two of the list tomorrow.  

Content Advisory: These movies are for serious horror lovers, so even the descriptions can get a little dicey.  If you are a real glutton for punishment check out some of the trailers on YouTube…*shudder.*   Parental (and intestinal) discretion is advised.

It’s easy to admit in cocktail party conversations that we love slasher flicks because it’s thrilling to identify with the victims’ peril and plight. As soon as one victim is murdered, we immediately reassign ourselves to associate with the next, temporarily living person. A slasher movie is like a carnival ride. We get in the car, fasten our seat-belts  and endure the thrills.  Once all the victims are dead, we get off the ride.

But what we don’t like to talk about at parties is how often we find ourselves identifying with the killer, and how much we like it, but that’s okay.  According to the theory of the Ideological Safety Value it’s human nature for us to want to kill each another, so by partaking in such acts vicariously through horror movies, we actually relieve that pent-up urge within ourselves, restoring the balance of sanity within our souls…maybe.

I’m not certain if this theory is altogether true, but just in case I’ve compiled the following list to restore balance in your soul, and in honor of the much anticipated October Spooky Flix Fest.

10. Don’t Answer the Phone! (1980) – Notable because it’s a slasher that was released on Leap Day 1980 (a little more than two months prior to the release of the original Friday the 13th), Don’t Answer the Phone! is the grim tale of a Vietnam vet-photographer who rampages around L.A., killing scantily clad women in lingerie, and calling a radio disc jockey while perpetrating the murders. Good times, indeed. Ever since the original Black Christmas (1974) I think horror fans (and I suspect especially female viewers) find a filthy-talking, psychotic killer-caller to be a bit unnerving. Most people overlook this 1980 slasher, but I recommend enjoying a double-feature one night this October with Don’t Answer the Phone! and He Knows You’re Alone (1980).

 

9. Nail Gun Massacre (1985) – “Cheaper than a chainsaw!” I have to cite horror critic Bill Chete of the Horror Palace Network for introducing me to this little number. Nail Gun Massacre is an obscure horror oddity that was a direct-to-video release in 1985. For years this film was only available on VHS, until recently when it got its first DVD release. Now, I feel obligated to clearly state that this isn’t an exceptional movie; in fact, let’s be honest, it’s pretty terrible in many respects.  It has some longer than necessary sequences that were probably filmed this way to beef up the 85-minute run time, and its humble, low-budget origins are undeniably evident (not to mention some underwhelming effects and subpar acting). But Nail Gun Massacre ranks among my top 10 slashers of the 1980s, nevertheless, because of its exploitation title and the killer’s weapon of choice: a nail gun. Despite its mediocrity, Nail Gun Massacre is still a celebration of the slasher killer’s propensity to wreak death with an atypical weapon whose intended design was never murder and mayhem. Part of my affection for it may have to do with it reminding me fondly of a better slasher flick called The Toolbox Murders (1978.) I’d recommend Nail Gun Massacre, but only as a fun B-movie to watch with your friends.

8. The Mutilator (1985) – If you want an ax-murderer movie, you don’t have to look any further than The Mutilator from 1985. Actually, this film’s killer is a little more versatile than solely ax-wielding, because this slasher also employs a pitchfork, a hook (see the movie poster) and other wince-evoking implements. The tagline: “By pick, by ax, by sword, ‘bye ‘bye!” The Mutilator is probably most infamous for a kill scene with an unthinkably placed hook, and though it’s not explicitly depicted you get the point.  Another unique aspect of “The Mutilator” is that it’s set at a beach, which is a fun backdrop for a horror film. Again, this movie isn’t exactly an Oscar-caliber film, but it’s a decent little slasher with a few surprises.

7. My Bloody Valentine (1981) – Modern audiences know this title because of its 2009 remake, My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009.)  The new one is a fun horror film, and the 3D is put to good use (a surprisingly rare phenomenon), but my preference is still the original version from 1981. Filmed on location at a coal mine in Canada, My Bloody Valentine delivers an authentic-looking (and feeling) horror film that plays more like a nightmare than a movie. Without a doubt the locations enhance the film’s authenticity and credibility, but there’s something about the modest budget and dated look of this movie that make it seem like you’re watching actual events. It’s quite chilling, actually. So, if your sweetheart digs horror flicks, then this is an annual must-watch on Valentine’s Day. (Warning: If your sweetheart is not a horror fan and you try showing this movie to her on V-Day, you’re not going to get any candy that night.)

6. Madman (1982) – Not to be confused with I, Madman (1989), this madman movie refers to the legendary Madman Marz, an infamous backwoodsman/farmer who apparently lost his mind and slaughtered his wife and two children (technically their bodies have never been found), and it’s said that he will return to dismember and disembody anyone who speaks his name louder than a whisper. Here we have another camp slasher replete with blood and gore, although the practical effects aren’t always convincing. What I do think is notable (and my favorite aspect of this movie) is the appearance of the Madman himself; he’s not your conventional, masked slasher killer.  He’s genuinely creepy as an old freak with long fingernails. If you love slasher flicks with a camp backdrop, then I’d definitely recommend checking out Madman.  If for no other reason, you need to see this film to watch the car-hood kill scene. Brilliant.

[Check out Jason’s top five picks tomorrow in Top 10 Slasher Movies of the 80s – Part 2.]

 

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Jason Pyles (Jay of the Dead) has worked as a film critic for the past seven years, contributing to the assessment and analysis of cinema through various media, including newsprint, online, and podcasting. Jason currently hosts Movie Podcast Weekly, a new podcast released every Monday, where the hosts review a film that’s newly released in theaters. Jason also hosts Podcasting Revolution a weekly podcast about NBC’s new television show, “Revolution.” Jay also contributes his “Blue Moon Zombie Reviews” audio segment occasionally to the Zombie Reckoning Podcast, which is part of the Horror Palace Network. Jason previously hosted the Considering the Sequels Podcast, The Weekly Horror Movie Podcast and another podcast called Horror Metropolis.  He can be reached at MoviePodcastWeekly@gmail.com or on Twitter at @MovieCastWeekly.

 

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Top 10 1980s Horror Movie Posters

By: Kevin Spencer

Editor’s Note: In this first installment of the Horror’s Top 10 presented by Forgotten Flix we hear from show artist and Horror/SciFi master Kevin Spencer from InkSpatters.com.  We asked Kevin to give us his top 10 horror movie posters from the 1980s. Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

***

What some people may not know is that even though I’m typically tapped for my artwork, I enjoy writing almost as much as I enjoy illustrating, which is why I was so excited when asked to write this piece. I approached this list with the mindset that even though I have seen all of these films, I wanted to look at each poster as a work of art and pick this Top 10 based from that perspective. I also didn’t want to base it on the popularity of the film. What I did find though, was that most of my picks are films that people would know.

In the 1980’s specifically, it seemed the posters coming out for Horror films were pretty bad in general. Most were action shots and just showed the villain or monster, which I am not a fan of. Horror film art seems to lend itself to the easy-out option (where you can show a bloody knife or a screaming woman and be done with it) more so than other genres. If you think about it, a poster with one of those images could probably be used for dozens of films but to me that’s a bit of a cop-out. So, without explaining away every thought I had in the process, let’s jump right in to my list. I hope you enjoy it and if you don’t… well, just be glad I’ll probably be back to strictly art duties after this.

 

10. House 2-The Second Story (1987)

House 2 (1987) [which does not star William Katt]

Come on, you can’t not laugh at the title.  It’s genius. But that’s not why we’re here – we’re talking movie posters.  I remember seeing this movie poster back when I was a kid as the dusty VHS sat on the shelf. The cover was exactly the same as the poster as was typical back in the 1980’s and really up until the 2000’s [until they started releasing 45 “Special” and “Super Special” editions of every movie made. I mean, do we really need a director’s cut of @#$&ing Battlefield Earth? But I digress.  Back to my story.]    I would look at the VHS case/poster of House 2 often as I’d peruse the Horror section of the local video store (back when they still existed) and I would think how cool the cover was. It’s a beautiful illustration with enough detail in the mangled hand and door to stand out on the solid black background. Plus, with a tagline “It’s getting weirder” how could you NOT love it?

9. The Beast Within (1982)

The Beast Within (1982)

This poster was one I found after some digging around on the ol’ interweb. The moment I saw it I loved it. I mean, you can’t overlook the giant BEWARE! jumping out at you even if you tried. It reminds me a lot of the old punk rock concert posters of the 70s and 80s – very simple but bold and effective. The figure is striking and the hands with the spread fingers are a very nice touch, illustrating that this poor guy, whoever he is, is in some serious pain. The white title truly stands out on the black character and the bold red frames both the character and the BEWARE! line perfectly. The black tagline at the top might have looked better in red but they probably decided it would have detracted from the BEWARE! Either way, this poster is awesome.

8. Halloween 2 (1981)

Halloween II (1981)

You’ll notice that most of my picks are posters that don’t give much of the movie away, and that’s on purpose. I hate when a poster gives too much away and in fact I hate when any promotional materials do that. Trailers have becomes almost unwatchable if you actually want to see the movie and go into it without knowing 95% of the plot. This poster does not fall into that category. It gives absolutely nothing away. By this point in time you’ve already been introduced to Michael Myers in the first film, so they could have done the bloody knife or the mask but they didn’t and I dig it. It is still however creepy as shit and still captures the ominous, eerie feel of the film.

7. Day of the Dead (1985)

Day of the Dead (1985)

I won’t try to hide it.  I love George A. Romero and I @#$&ing love zombies. I love the feel of Romero’s films and I love the creative way they tied his previous two entries in the series into this poster. It could have just been text and it would have been fine but the night/dawn/day concept is simply brilliant. The illustration is classic and actually reminds me a lot of a book cover. It’s not overdone but has nice little touches like the sun and the projected shadow of the word “dead”. It’s just a well-conceived and well-executed design that accomplishes what it set out to do.

6. Pumpkinhead (1988)

Pumpkinhead (1988) starring Lance Henriksen

The image used for this was the perfect shot.  It shows an incredibly intense moment without revealing much of anything. They show a monster but so little of it you’d never know what Pumpkinhead actually looks like (other than the fact that he’s huge and he’s @#$&ing  terrifying.)  “A grim fairytale” is such a direct, matter-of-fact tagline that it suits the image perfectly.

5. Friday the 13th (1980)

Friday the 13th (1980)

What makes this poster for me is the fact that it’s really two posters. First, it’s the scene of Camp Crystal Lake, with the group of teenagers outside one of the cabins on a dark, creepy-looking night. The illustration is very nicely done so that in itself could have been a very cool poster, but no, they decided to plop that idea right inside of a silhouette of the killer holding a bloody knife. In this case, the bloody knife works because it’s a secondary element. Also, I like how the silhouette cuts off before the head and it really doesn’t give away anything about the killer.  The shape of the body leaves even the gender a complete mystery. So in this poster, they give you plenty of information but never reveal too much.

4. Cujo (1983)

Cujo (1983)

Look at this poster. Look at it very carefully. If you don’t know who or what Cujo is, does anything on this poster give it away? Nope! And yet this poster is both compelling and terrifying. You could imagine that whoever Cujo is it might be just out of this shot and ready to tear you to pieces. I love that all the colors are muted with only the smallest hint of yellow before you get hit with that bold red of the tagline and title. The success is in the subtlety in this piece.

3. Child’s Play (1988)

Child’s Play (1988)

Before I started writing this list I’d never actually seen this poster. I had only seen the classic ones with the Chucky the doll. This poster jumped out at me because it took me a long time to even confirm that it was indeed a Child’s Play poster and not a piece of fan art. I like that it plays off of Nightmare on Elm Street (released 4 years prior, with sequels coming out in 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988). It’s a smart marketing technique and it does it in a clever way that doesn’t come across as overly obvious. I mean, it’s pretty obvious they used the same font used on the Nightmare on Elm Street films but at the same time it’s not bothersome. The illustration is a wonderful low-angle shot that gives nothing away about Chucky or the plot of the film.

2. Poltergeist

Poltergeist (1982)

This poster is scary. It’s simple yet highly effective. The dense black and lack of a background is visually unsettling and the “They’re here” tagline just solidifies the notion that this movie is going to have you watching through covered eyes. Using the TV static glow as the only light source is brilliant and definitely sets the shit-your-pants vibe. It doesn’t give much of the movie away but has obvious connections.

1. The Thing

John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)

I’ll be the first to admit that this is one of my all-time favorite films. Beyond that admission, I would love this poster even if I hated the movie. It’s just awesome. I feel bad even calling it a poster because it really is more of a piece of art than any of the others and I really do hope that somewhere the original is framed on someone’s wall.

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The Scaredy-Cat’s Top 5 Horror Movies!

Don Knotts in The Ghost and Mr. Chickenby Maggie Kruger

Horror is a film genre seeking to elicit a negative emotional reaction from viewers by playing on the audience’s primal fears. They often feature scenes that startle the viewer, and the macabre and the supernatural are frequent themes. Horror films often deal with the viewer’s nightmares, hidden fears, revulsions and terror of the unknown. Plots within the horror genre often involve the intrusion of an evil force, event, or personage, commonly of supernatural origin, into the everyday world. Prevalent elements include ghosts, aliens, vampires, werewolves, curses, Satanism, demons, gore, torture, vicious animals, monsters, zombies, cannibals, and serial killers.” — Wikipedia.org

“Scaredy-Cat: 1) Someone frightened by almost everything. 2) Someone who shies away from facing their fears” — UrbanDictionary.com

The first definition is what Forgotten Flix will be focusing on during October. The second definition may as well just have a picture of me trying to watch A Nightmare on Elm Street next to it.

I wish I could watch horror like I used to. But then again I maintain that Horror movies are a lot more Horrible than they used to be: modern Japanese, Paranormal and Extreme Horror just don’t appeal to me in the same way that films like The Exorcist, The Shining and The Omen used to.

I have an inkling that there may be a few more cowardy-custards like me who read Forgotten Flix, and because we really, REALLY want to hang out with the cool kids, I thought I should put together a horror-lite list. Movies that you can watch at Halloween but won’t leave you needing to sleep with the bedroom light on.

So, without further ado… The Scaredy-Cat’s Top 5 Horror Movies!

1. Creature Feature: Slither (2006)

This is a big old pile of daft. An alien parasite lands on earth, infects baldy Joel G. Robertson Michael Rooker, who then turns the rest of the town into zombie parasitey things, and hot nice sheriff Nathan Fillion has to save the day.

It’s not big and it’s not clever, but it’s dark, funny, and only the tiniest bit grisly. And even when it is gruesome you’re kind of laughing about it.

2. Fangs for the Memories: Interview with the Vampire (1994)

Now, before anyone jumps on me for picking a Wee Tommy O’Cruise movie, just be glad I didn’t pick Twilight and the emo-bloodsuckers.

Interview With The Vampire is an adaptation of an Anne Rice novel about the vampire Lestat and his adventures with the very sulky Louis, and she famously slated Cruise when he was cast, saying ‘That short bloke from Top Gun can’t play my sexy whipsmart vampire and he’s really shit at Irish accents’.

And then she did a complete 180, saying ‘I love Tom Cruise, he’s marvellous and his Irish accent is the best I’ve ever heard, better than an actual Irish person.’*.

Whatevs, Anne, whatevs.

So anyway, this probably does have some slightly gory bits in it, and there’s no denying there’s an awful lot of blood in it, but it’s a great film, it looks beautiful, and Brad Pitt’s lustrous mane of hair is a thing to behold.

*I’m paraphrasing a little here.

3. Ghost in the machine: Beetlejuice (1988)

I was THIS CLOSE (“ “ ) to giving you Ghostbusters, but that’s hardly a *forgotten* flick, is it? Even my nephew knows the Ghostbusters theme tune and he’s only 2 months old. So I’ve gone with Beetlejuice instead, to remind you all of a time when Tim Burton made good movies with actors that weren’t his missus and Johnny Depp.

Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin (back when he was a sex symbol) are killed in a car crash, venture into the afterlife and come across Michael Keaton’s eponymous antihero, who proceeds to cause all sorts of mischief. This is dark, in the way that all of Burton’s early films are, but brilliant and very funny.

 

4. The Devil is in the Detail: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

A horror movie that’s more suspenseful than truly horrific, Rosemary’s Baby is a bonafide classic. Mia Farrow gets pregnant and spends a couple of hours playing Who’s The Daddy. Is it her husband, John Cassavetes, or is it someone more sinister? Perhaps the friendly Satanic cult living next door can help…

This has one of my top 5 favourite lines in a movie: ‘Oh look, he has his father’s eyes!’.

5. Which witch is good witch?: The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

I’m going to digress a bit here. I’ve just been looking through some ‘not-too-scary’ horror film suggestions on the good old interwebs, and did you know that Poltergeist had a PG rating? SERIOUSLY??!! That is one movie I really don’t want to see. (I told you I was a chicken).

Anyway, what’s Halloween without witches? For that reason (and because I thought you’d all laugh at me if I picked Hocus Pocus), I’ve gone with The Witches of Eastwick, because it’s a little bit dark, a little bit funny, and probably the scariest thing about it is Jack Nicholson’s wardrobe…

So there you have it – 5 movies that even wussies like me can watch at Halloween. And if there’s something weird in your neighbourhood, who ya gonna call?

Chuck Norris, obviously.

Maggie Kruger fell asleep on her dad’s lap on her first cinema trip to watch Return of the Jedi in 1983, and has loved the movies ever since, even going so far as to study them at college, where she worked on a number of short films. She lives and works in London, UK, and will tell you that her favourite film is Dr Strangelove, although when pressed will also admit a certain weakness for 1980’s brat pack movies and most of Adam Sandler’s early work. Follow her on Twitter: @emmizzykay .

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5 Great Movies to Kickstart Your Olympic Enjoyment

Cool Runnings (1993)by Maggie Kruger

In all honestly, I’m not REALLY that excited about the London 2012 Olympic Games. Mainly because I am a grumpy mare, and there are already too many people here for my liking – SERIOUSLY, if I get through the fortnight without being arrested for punching a tourist, I’m the one who’ll deserve a gold medal.

Also, the logo disturbs me. Google the phrase ‘London 2012 Logo + Lisa Simpson’ and see what you come up with. It’s filthy!

I realise however, that my tetchiness at tourists isn’t exactly in the spirit of the Games, and that the Olympians themselves are amazing athletes, that the Games promote global harmony, that it’s not the winni………zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Sorry, I was boring myself a little there.

Anyway.There are Olympics. They are taking place in the city I live in. Great.  Sports. They involve the open air and exercise, so what in the name of Jason’s Hairy Underpants does this have to do with the much more indoorsy world of Forgotten Flix?!

The Marathon, my friends…. the MOVIE marathon, that is. Never being one to shy away from a themed movie night, here are 5 great films for you to watch in between synchronised diving heats.

1.       Chariots of Fire (1981)

The mack-daddy of Olympic movies which left all the other Oscar contenders that year at the starters’ blocks (boom!).  This hugely inspirational true story of the British running squad at the 1924 Olympics closely follows Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell, and has features some of the most iconic scenes in British cinema.

I can’t write much more about it without a) sounding trite and b) welling up, so just do me, and yourself, a favour, and get hold of a copy as soon as you possibly can. You’ll be running in slow motion before you know it.


2.       The Cutting Edge (1992)

I have no shame in admitting to you, dear Reader, that I LOVE THIS MOVIE. It’s, like, the ultimate his and hers movie – a chick flick with ice hockey in it: genius! DB Sweeney is fantastic as oafish hockey player Doug Dorsey, who ends up partnering snobby ice dancer Kate Moseley, played with relish by Moira Kelly.  Putting everything on the line to get to the Albertville Olympics, can they overcome their differences to reach the finals? OK, you’re not going to strain a single brain cell by trying to work out the ending, but don’t let that bother you – just go with it!

Also this was directed by Starsky himself, Paul Michael Glaser. In my head, the whole time he was on set  he was wearing his big cardigan.


3.       Prefontaine (1997)

I caught this biopic one night at about 2am and I’m glad I stayed up to the end. Jared Leto (is he a man, is he a woman? NO ONE KNOWS) is actually very good as 1970s track star Steve Prefontaine, who looked set for Olympic glory at the 1976 Games before dying tragically in a car accident aged only 24. A superb piece of sports history, this is definitely worth a watch, not least for some facial topiary that would make grown men weep.

Another movie about Prefontaine, produced by Wee Tommy O’Cruise called Without Limits, came out around the same time and starred Billy Crudup. I’ve just watched the trailer and quite frankly it looks rubbish.

4.       Munich (2005)

The 1972 Olympics are sadly memorable for the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes – this Spielberg epic focuses on the Israeli government’s secret retaliation. I have nothing snarky to say about this film.

Watch it and just remember that, unfortunately, The Games haven’t always been about togetherness and world peace.

5.       Cool Runnings (1993)

Sorry chaps, that was all a bit serious, wasn’t it? SOOOOOO onto possibly one of the loveliest feelgood movies ever made, Cool Runnings!

Very loosely based on the true story of the Jamaican National Bobsled team, who against all the odds entered the 1988 Calgary Winter Games, it’s a joy from start to finish. No really, I defy you to watch this and not have a big daft grin on your face as the credits roll.

The cast are all great, especially Leon as teamleader Derice Bannock, but really the movie belongs to the late, great John Candy, playing disgraced champion turned coach, Irv Blitzer. Glorious, just glorious.

“I am feeling very Olympic today!”

So, there you go. 5 Olympic Rings, 5 great movies to kickstart your Olympic enjoyment. I still can’t promise not to kick a tourist though.

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Deep-Fried Cheese Movie Review: Bigfoot (2012)

Bigfoot (2012)

By Jason D. Grooms

There are scant few creatures that speak louder or bigger to the American fascination with monster lore than the super-hairy, unkempt, woods-tromping, barefooted beast we all know and love.  No, I don’t mean me.  I’m talking about the one and only Sasquatch or as you common folk might refer to him, Bigfoot.

OK, I admit there may possibly be a common hairy branch or two between our family trees, but that’s not the point!  The point is that the mystique and folklore that surround this mountain of a creature is without comparison in the United States.  There is no other mythical creature that comes close to this legend of Americana.

Thus it would seem logical that there would be a plethora of movies telling the tale of this long-lost pseudo-human wandering hill and dale, but alas, the pickings are actually relatively slim considering the monster’s status.  Vampires, werewolves, zombies, hell even mermaids have more movies.

I know what you’re thinking, “What about Harry and the Hendersons?” but that doesn’t count.  That had John Lithgow, Don Ameche and makeup artist legend (and goatee god) Rick Baker for God’s sake. (Rick also worked on a couple of other projects you may have heard of: Star Wars, The Howling, An American Werewolf in London, My Science Project, Thriller, Captain EO, etc. etc. etc.)

The six-million pound man vs. the six-million dollar man. [Not from this movie, duh!]

So why the gap?  Why aren’t there more successful movies about the big guy?  I have a theory.  Aside from the brilliance of Dr. Baker’s Harry, it’s really, really hard to make a good looking Bigfoot creature.  They almost always come out looking like a guy wrapped in brown shag carpet (although I have to admit that Andre The Giant gave it something special in his episode of the Six Million Dollar Man. [I miss you Mr. The Giant.])

But that has to be because no one has tried to make a CGI Bigfoot, right?  If we were able to craft an artistic rendering of the wild American yeti in computer form it would look great right? Wrong! Case in point the SyFy original movie Bigfoot (2012) directed by Bruce Davison.

Brrrraaaaaiiiiinnnnnssss…..

The Bigfoot in this most recent version is not the 7 foot-high man-beast that Mr. The Giant was, but a ginormous 20-feet tall monstrosity more like a giant Hulk than a walking ape.  Exciting and scary, right?  Wrong! He’s covered in oddly-layered, cagey, cheap, PS1-style hair and walks with a worse-then-robotic stomp that barely interacts with the scenery.  While stills of the beast’s snarl are actually rather impressive, the long shots are lackluster with odd sounds effects that don’t seem to match the action. Harsh words, I know, but stick with me.

Either I get a ride on the Partridge bus or I start biting off heads.

So you would guess that with such a tough critique that I hated the movie, right?  Wrong again cupcake! I really liked it.  In fact, I loved it, but not because of the creature. This movie has a LOT going for it and despite the low-budget creature effects it has a cast that delivers on all levels.  In a rare departure from the typical SyFy flick, the actors and actresses actually upstaged the creature.

The primary trifecta of amazingsauce comes in the form of Danny Bonaduce (Danny from the Partridge Family), Barry Williams (Greg Brady) and Sherilyn Fenn(Twin Peaks and Just One the Guys).  All three not only act the hell out of the script, they do not fail to deliver on the cheese.  While all of them seem to be fully aware of the fact

What did you say about my mom?!

that they are in a made-for-SyFy creature feature they chew up the scenery with reckless abandon.  Central (and a “Bigfoot among men” if you will) is the man Danny Bonaduce, who plays a fast talking local radio DJ and concert promoter who is determined to put on the best 80s reunion concert of all time, even if it does only have Alice Cooper.

His foil is one Simon (Barry Williams); a tree-hugging ex-band mate of Danny’s whose self-proclaimed mission in life is to save the forest where the Bigfoot lives (even if it does cause dozens of fatalities) and to do whatever it takes to make Danny look bad.  Sherilyn Fenn plays the once-big-city detective now turned sheriff of their small town. While battling her own demons (and some minor daddy issues) she tries to bring a little sanity and drama to the situation.

While the CGI is nothing to write home about (unless you hate your mother – then definitely write her about it) the kills and death scenes are truly fun.  I won’t spoil it for you but I will tell you that Bigfoot has two primary methods of dispatching his victims: 1) stepping on them and reducing them to bloody puddles or 2) biting off their heads and throwing away the body.  I have to say that the head biting does not get old at all, trust me.  I won’t give away the ending either but our 13th president, an F-16, and an epic 70s TV show death match may or may not be involved.  It’s worth the price of admission.

That is one BIG foot

The rest of the movie is packed full of famous faces that will make you jump out of your butt mold on the couch and scream “I know that guy!” more times than you can count. Of special note are Howard Hesseman, Bruce Davison (director and actor in this one) and Andre Royo.  (I’ll let you IMDB those for yourself.)

Bigfoot is a perfect Saturday evening spectacular and will leave you clapping and laughing in glee, at least it did for me.  Any true lover of big B creature features would be proud to have this gem under his or her cinephilic belt and eventually as a proud part of their DVD collection.

Bigfoot airs on SyFy channel and Space channel in Canada on Saturday June 30th at 9:00 PM EST.

Bigfoot Trailer

The trailer isn’t on YouTube (yet) but you can find it here on SyFy’s site.

http://www.syfy.com/videos/Syfy%20Movies/Promos%20&%20Trailers/vid:18676960

 

*Full disclosure – I did receive a free prescreener of this movie from Spacecast.com, however I guarantee you that had no impact on my review or thoughts on the film.

 

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Deep-Fried Cheese Movie Review: Arachnoquake (2012)

The world will quiver with fear.

 

by Jason D. Grooms

When I say “New Orleans” and “disaster” what comes to mind? Hurricane? Flooding? Levies breaking? Giant tidal surge? Katrina?  Not this time mon cheri. This time it’s something worse.  Something way worse.  It’s Arachnoquake.  I bet you didn’t think of an earthquake that unleashes giant, fire-breathing dungeon spiders did you?!  You heard me. Fire breathing spiders!  The kind that’ll lay an egg in your neck as soon as look at you. The kind that’ll suck your eyeball out if you threaten to call the exterminator.  The kind that can light up the Louisiana swamp with a deep breath and a bad attitude.  We’re talking world enders here.  Well…city enders anyway.

It all starts with a seemingly harmless earthquake that rocks Louisiana in the middle of the night which opens up a crack in the earth not far from a chicken farm.  When workers from the farm head into the woods to investigate what might have killed some of their chickens that same night, they get more than they

Bend over. This won't hurt a bit.

bargained for – eight times more.

From the crack in the earth has risen a previously unknown species of spider intent on killing everything in sight and taking over New Orleans.  It’s an unknown species because Carol Seaver (Tracey Gold) from Growing Pains told us it was.  Well, not quite Carol.  In Arachnoquake Tracey plays an 8th-grade science teacher named Katelynn and she told us so.

Katelynn: Did you see those things? This is definitely a brand new species.

Paul: Yah? Maybe they’ll name it after you.

Katelynn: You don’t get it. I have a Masters in zoology and I have never even heard of this.

Paul: You must be a big hit with the 8th-graders.

The wheels on this bus go "crunch" and "splat."

Zing! Paul, played by Bug Hall (Yes, I said Bug Hall and I’m sure he’s NEVER been teased about that) is a trouble-maker slash party-animal tour guide trying to help his dad with the family tour business.  A small band of tourist, who’ve come to New Orleans to see the sights, get wrapped up in the disaster with Paul and his giant trolley as they try to navigate the deadly streets and get out alive.

Paul: Spiders!

Katelynn: They’re coming! They’re coming!

Gramps: Jumbo spiders, some as big as dwarfs!

Clerk: Jumbo dwarfs?

Two side stories play out including that of Charlie, the father of two of the tourists on the trolley.   Charlie is played by

Daisy Dukes and bats are just part of the uniform on Charlie's team.

none other than the Edward Furlong (John Conner from T2!).  He’s driving his gang of 20-something sex-pit softball players to a tournament when their bus is attacked by the very same white-webbed demons that are overrunning the Big Easy.  Charlie has to win the trophy for Most Creepy Coach but he is supportive.  After one of his players bats away a jumping spider into a high flying home run he yells, “Yes! And that’s why you’re my most valuable pinch hitter!”  The hardest part about accepting Edward Furlong as the father of two 18-year-olds is that he’s old enough to have two 18-year-olds.  He still looks like John Connor to me.

Roy, I think there's something on you shoulder.

The other side story involves Paul’s dad (played by the amazing Ethan Phillips from Benson, Glory and Star Trek: Voyager) who finds it hard to believe that his son isn’t the cause of all of this and whose WWII grit keeps him alive…for a while.

As it turns out, all of the spiders our heroes have been fighting off are merely workers in a giant spider colony.  When they finally decide to go after the queen, that’s when all hell really breaks loose.  I won’t give away the final and exciting conclusion but I will say that one of the best shots in the whole movie is of Paul wearing deep-sea-diving gear, shooting a shotgun and big mama from at least 2 miles away.  Give ‘em hell Paul!

While the spiders do come across as a little robotic, they more than make up for it with fire breathing and with some

Nobody move. Is it still on my head?

more-than-adequate CGI.  It’s a really fun flick with some great one-liners.  This movie doesn’t disappoint in the cheese factor and has some great death scenes.  Of note is the fantastic homage to Samuel L. Jackson’s famous speech in Deep Blue Sea.  I won’t give it away, but if you’ve seen Sammy’s scene you’ll see this one coming 3 miles away.

Sit back, relax, and watch as a bunch of albino, echo-locating fire-breathing cave-dwelling prehistoric spiders take their revenge on a city that doesn’t already have enough damage.  In the end I’d put

Don't worry. I've got this one. I'll kill it with this diving suit and my shotgun.

this movie on any night of the week, although I may carry a can of spider spray in my car from now on, just to be sure.

Arachnoquake premiers on SyFy and Space (the great Canadian SciFi channel) this Saturday, June 23.  Don’t miss it!

 

 

 

 

Arachnoquake (2012) Trailer

*Full disclosure – I received a free prescreener of this movie from Space.  However I guarantee that had no affect my review or thoughts on the film.

 

 

 

 

 

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071 – TFFP: An Interview with Special Effects Artist Hank Carlson

EP71-Interview with Hank Carlson - courtesy of Kevin Spencer - inkspatters.comIn this episode of The Forgotten Flix Podcast, we’re interviewing special effects artist, Hank Carlson! Hank  worked on three of Fangoria Films earliest movies, Mindwarp, Severed Ties, and Children of the Night.

He also spent time working with the famed KNB FX Group on such films as Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) and Army of Darkness (1992).

Join us for an entertaining peek behind the Hollywood film making curtain!

Music Video: Sky Road Fly – Coyote (w/ zombie effects by Hank Carlson):


Next week we’re… wait… WHAT?!?

No episode?

Yep, we’re taking a week off, but we’ll be back next week with special guest host Kevin Bachelder! And we’re going to be discussing that 1980s genre-hybrid, cult fave, The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension!

Featured Podcast Promo: None this week

Got a promo? Want it featured on Forgotten Flix? Well, go to our Contact Page send us a message telling us about your podcast along with a link to your promo so we can check it out.

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What Are Your Top 5 Desert Island DVDs?

by Maggie Kruger

Here in the UK, we’re known for 3 things – bad teeth, crappy weather, and Hugh Grant*. What really bothers me out of that list is the crappy weather. We’ve just had the wettest April in 100 years, but because of all the dry weather we’ve had up until then, we’re getting flood warnings that immediately follow drought warnings: go figure.

All I know is that I’ve spent a very damp month and I’m keeping my eye out for a guy with an Ark.

There’s a radio show here called Desert Island Discs, wherein celebrities name the pieces of music they’d take with them if stranded. Having grumpily woken up to yet more rain this morning, and wondering if I can call in hydrophobic to the office, I compiled my own list of “Desert Island DVDs”.

Is that a ferret in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Is that a ferret in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

If I could never leave my apartment again because London has turned into the set of Waterworld, and I could only choose 5 movies  to watch until Dennis Quaid comes to rescue me a la Day After Tomorrow, which movies would they be?

1. Beast Master – 1982

This is a total no-brainer and we’ve all waxed lyrical about it before (OK so it was just Joel and myself but we’re fairly loud, let’s face it).  I swear though I watched this movie every day for a year when I was 10, so I know it’s good for multiple viewings!

In a nutshell, if you haven’t seen it: Marc Singer talks to the animals in this sword and sorcery classic that also stars Rip Torn, Tanya Roberts and 2 marvellous ferrets.

 2. The Crow – 1994

I may have crapped on at length about this one as well, but with very good reason – I love it. Brandon Lee is brought back to life by a mystical crow one year after his murder to take revenge on the men that killed him and his fiancée, in increasingly violent ways (and accompanied by a frankly awesome soundtrack).

Sadly, it’s better known now for Lee’s tragic on-set death and several painfully bad sequels, but to my mind this original is a classic – give me enough beer and I’ll spend an hour telling you why the sequence set to The Cure’s ‘Burn’ is one of the finest pieces of cinematography known to man.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWs8kdGUgDg (Nine Inch Nails/Fan Made Video)

 3. Toys – 1992

It’s easy to overlook Robin Williams’ stomach churning awfulness in Jack, Patch Adams and Bicentennial Man when you watch a movie like this – a surreal family film with a surprisingly dark heart, set in a toy factory that kicks the arse of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Sure, you’ve got an almost annoying amount of Williams’ trademark schtick, and sometimes its message is a little heavyhanded, but every time I see Toys on TV I stop to watch it – it’s glorious.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhG-6UYkb9k (Trailer)

 4. The Last of the Mohicans – 1992

Despite its critical and commercial success, I think this movie has a tendency to get overlooked – both Michael Mann and Daniel Day Lewis have made much more prominent movies, and most people only remember Hawkeye shouting at Madeline Stowe through the waterfall (which, granted, was a little bit ridiculous).

However, I think this is a stunning film – beautifully shot, an amazing supporting cast (specifically Wes Studi and Russell Means), and any oversentimentality is tempered by some ferocious battle scenes. Well worth a watch.

 5. Dolores Claiborne – 1995

Again, I think I’ve crapped on at length about this before… but if I’m crapping on about something, it’s only because you need to watch it! Many’s the night I’ve been idly channel hopping before bed, only to find this is about to start and I have to stay up till 2am watching it.

Kathy Bates is charged with the murder of her employer, and her estranged daughter comes to help her out. Simple huh? Not in the least, but you have to see it for yourself. You’ll never look at that nice David Strathairn in the same way again.

So these are my five choices… But we want to know YOUR Desert Island DVDs: don’t be shy – stick them down in the comments section below!

*Once again on behalf of my country, I can’t apologise enough for Love Actually.

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060 – TFFP: Not Bad For A Couple of Humans… Lance Henriksen Talks to Forgotten Flix

In this episode of The Forgotten Flix Podcast, we’re interviewing legendary actor Lance Henriksen (Terminator, Aliens, Millenium)! Lance shares many incredible stories about his acting experiences and what drives him.

In this interview you’ll learn

  • about his new movie Bring Me the Head of Lance Henriksen also starring Tim Thomerson and Adrienne Barbeau
  • how Lance feels about pretentious B.S.
  • why Lance loves pottery and considers it an obsession
  • why he refers to himself as a “primitive”
  • what ingredients were used to make Bishop’s white “blood” at the end of Aliens
  • why he wanted to write his autobiography
  • and so much more!

A Little Background Info About Lance Henriksen:

Go HERE for Lance’s Wikipedia page

and

Go HERE for Not Bad For A Human, the site of his autobiography, which was released in 2011.

Join us next week when our feature presentation is Near Dark (1987) starring Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, Adrian Pasdar, and Tim Thomerson!

Featured promo: None this week

Got a promo? Want it featured on Forgotten Flix? Well, send us a message telling us about your podcast (along with a link to your promo so we can check it out) to:joel@forgottenflix.com!

  • The fantastic show-notes art provided by artist Kevin Spencer. Check out his other groovy artwork at inkspatters.com, and like his Facebook page, The Art of Kevin Spencer.
  • The hilarious spoiler alert featured in this episode provided by Jay V. Please check out his hilarious podcast at JayVMail.com!
  • Send your feedback to feedback@forgottenflix.com or leave a voice mail message at 206.203.0491.
  • Be sure to subscribe on iTunes and leave us a review! Click here to visit our iTunes page.

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5 Movies To Watch On A Forgotten Flix(less) Wednesday

Clerks movie posterBy Maggie Kruger

Ah Wednesday.

You used to be the best day of the week: Humpday! You were almost the weekend and, more importantly, the Forgotten Flix Podcast day!

But now… there’s no podcast. And we have to wait till fracking Thursday? Where’s the fun in that?!

Truly, what a difference a day makes.

Some people (naming no names, but staring pointedly at a certain New Jersey-based artist) are having trouble coming to terms with the day change, and it occurs to me that other people might also be struggling.

So here are five movies you can watch on a Wednesday and then pretend it’s almost as good as having a new podcast episode to listen to.

1. Clerks

Two guys talk at length about obscure movies whilst a collection of oddballs harass them for kicks: How Kevin Smith had the foresight to make a filmic representation of the Forgotten Flix Facebook group I will never know.

2. The Aristocrats

Jason dropped an f-bomb the other week and I laughed for an hour afterwards.

Because I am childish and amused by swears. If you too are easily entertained by rude things, watch this: a documentary about one of the dirtiest jokes in the world.

3. Braveheart

OK, so it’s no secret that I hate Mel Gibson. It’s like… a lot. But before became the poster boy for anti-semitism, he made an Oscar-winning living by making factually inaccurate historical biopics.

Now, I’m not saying Joel and Jason are ever inaccurate, I’m just saying that, much as I shouted at the TV when I was watching Braveheart for the first time, sometimes I shout at my computer when neither of them can remember Marg Helgenberger’s name.

4. Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach

I live in London, and even when it’s delightful and sunny, it’s not bloody FLORIDA, is it?

So, every time I listen to the Podcast, I like to imagine Joel as Captain Harris, strutting along the beach with DORK written in sunbloc on his chest, and Jason as Proctor, drinking a Pina Colada that’s as big as his head.

5. Alien³

The final movie that I’m going to recommend is the one where Ripley doesn’t have any hair.

I’m not going to tell you why I’m recommending a movie where none of the characters have a single hair on their head.

I know that sounds baldly obnoxious, but you’ll just have to work it out for yourself. ;)

 

 

 

Maggie Signature

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