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6 Must See Movies

6 Must See Movies from 1990

by Joel G. Robertson

It’s 1990 and we’ve reached the end of this year-themed series of “6 Movies You Must See” posts; however, for those of you who’ve enjoyed them, I’ve got some good news:  “6 Movies You Must See” will not only continue on via the podcast, but right here on the blog as well!

Of course, rather than basing each list on a year, I’ll explore different themes. Some serious, some not so. But be sure to check back every Friday to see what movies YOU MUST SEE!

So, let’s get this party started right with a quick breakdown of the box office returns for the top 10 films from 1990 (according to Wikipedia):

1. Ghost (Paramount) $505,702,588

2. Home Alone (20th Century Fox) $476,684,675.

3. Pretty Woman (Touchstone) $463,406,268

4. Dances with Wolves (Orion) $424,208,848

5. Total Recall (TriStar) $261,299,840

6. Back to the Future Part III (Universal) $244,527,583

7. Die Hard 2: Die Harder (20th Century Fox) $240,031,094

8. Presumed Innocent (Warner Bros.)  $221,303,1889. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (New Line Cinema) $201,965,91510. Kindergarten Cop (Universal) $201,957,688

Know what strikes me most about that list? It’s not just the movies. Or that several of the final domestic grosses from the top 10 are what some of today’s blockbusters make in their first 10 days.

Nope, it’s the distribution companies represented on that list. Specifically, their logos and “theme” music and how much of an emotional connection we have to these brands.

I gotta be honest. Whenever I hear those horns blasting, followed by Pegasus freezing mid-leap over the TriStar logo, I get chills (or at the very least goosebumps). Same for the starry-sky background of the Orion Pictures logo.

Or whenever those segmented pieces of a silhouetted film frame fell onto the screen, letting us know it was New Line Cinema. Do you remember when their logo was simply a line of video noise that flashed until the New Line title appeared? Check it out on Youtube here if you don’t.

And while Universal, Warner Bros., Paramount, and the like continue on, Orion is gone and so are some of the lesser known names.  Does anyone else remember Carolco, The Cannon Group, or the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (DEG)?

I suppose waxing nostalgic over a company logo and brand just speaks to how pervasive mass consumerism has become in our culture. Or could it be that since each of those brands preceded movies that affected and touched all of our lives we have such a connection to them?

So what if I get a warm fuzzy whenever I catch the regal horn blowing of a Morgan Creek intro?

Hey, that reminds me… I think Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is on!

Horror:

Tremors - Rated: PG-13; Dir. Ron Underwood; Starring Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward and Finn Carter

The tiny desert town of Perfection, Nevada has a very big problem. It seems they have some new neighbors: prehistoric, subterranean, school bus-sized, man-eating worms. The good news for the townsfolk of Perfection: the damn things are blind. The bad news:  they can sense the slightest vibration through the ground.

Sucks for that little girl on the pogo stick…

Tremors Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • Fred Ward starred in the first film to receive an NC-17 rating, Henry and June (1990).
  • Tremors originally received an ‘R’ rating. Not for violence, but for language.
  • Tremors was Reba McIntire’s acting debut.

Comedy:

Quick ChangeRated: R; Dir. Howard Franklin, Bill Murray; Starring Bill Murray, Geena Davis, and Randy Quaid

After Grimm (Murray), Phyllis (Davis), and their friend Loomis (Quaid) rob a bank, they think they’ve gotten away with the perfect crime; unfortunately, there’s one thing they didn’t count on… getting out of New York City.  

Quick Change Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • Bill Murray has starred in two other movies from Howard Franklin, The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997) (written by Franklin) and Larger Than Life (1996) (Franklin directed).
  • Quick Change was based on a novel by Jay Cronley, which was made into a movie five years earlier called Hold-Up.
  • Bill Murray co-directed Quick Change with Howard Franklin (a decision made after original director Jonathan Demme bowed out), making it Murray’s directorial debut.

Sci-Fi:

Darkman - Rated: R; Dir. Sam Raimi; Starring Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand, and Larry Drake

Peyton Westlake (Neeson), a scientist, is horribly disfigured and left for dead by mobsters. Hungry for revenge, he uses his invention of “synthetic skin” to replicate the faces of others as a way to get closer to those who wronged him.

Darkman Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • Julia Roberts was almost cast as Julie Hastings, the part played by Frances McDormand.
  • Frances McDormand’s husband Joel Coen edited Raimi’s first film, The Evil Dead (1981).
  • Larry Drake, who played Durant, also played the titular killer in Dr. Giggles (1992).

Drama:

Pump Up the VolumeRated: R; Dir. Allen Moyle; Starring Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis and Annie Ross

Mark (Slater) is a mild-mannered, introverted teen by day. You know the type: quiet, unassuming, ignored, if you blink he’s gone– even though he’s still standing right in front of you. But at night he transforms into the pirated-radio show host Hard Harry, the chain-smoking, cynical voice of the frustrated American teen (or any teen for that matter). However, when his controversial ideas begin to permeate his small Arizona town he’s racing against the clock to get his message out before the FCC shuts down his signal.

Pump Up the Volume Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • Actress Annie Ross played Granny Ruth in Frank Hennonlotter’s Basket Case 2 (1990) and Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1992).
  • Christian Slater and Samantha Mathis also starred together in the John Woo actioner Broken Arrow (1996).
  • Writer/ Director Allan Moyle also made Empire Records (1995).

Action:

La Femme NikitaRated: R; Dir. Luc Besson; Starring Anne Parillaud, Marc Duret, Patrick Fontana, and Jean Reno

After a drug deal goes bad, Nikita is arrested and found guilty of her crimes. However, rather than a prison sentence, she’s enlisted and trained by a government agency to become an assassin.

La Femme Nikita Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • La Femme Nikita was remade in 1993 as Point of No Return, starring Bridget Fonda.
  • Anne Parillaud starred in Innocent Blood (1992), a tale of vampires and Mafiosos directed by John Landis.
  • Director Luc Besson also made Léon (aka The Professional [1994]), starring Natalie Portman, Jean Reno, and Gary Oldman.

Family:

Edward ScissorhandsRated: PG-13; Dir. Tim Burton; Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, and Anthony Michael Hall

Starring

After his inventor/father dies, a strange young man named Edward (Depp) with scissors for hands is taken in by a kind woman named Peg (Wiest) and her family. But suburban life ain’t what it seems as Edward tries to fit into his new surroundings.

Edward Scissorhands Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • Edward Scissorhands was the last on-screen theatrical film performance of Vincent Price.
  • One of Tim Burton’s earliest short films was titled Vincent.
  • Edward Scissorhands was shot in central Florida, including the Southgate Shopping Plaza in Lakeland. The giant arch is still there. (I can personally vouch for that!)

Now that you’ve read my 6 must see movies from 1990, what are yours?

Until next time, remember, a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it!

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6 Must See Movies from 1989

by Joel G. Robertson

Evil Dead 2 was part of a triple feature on HBO Halloween night, 1989.

I remember it so vividly. It was not only the last Halloween where I trick or treated, but it was also my first official introduction to Ash, The Book of the Dead, Sam Raimi’s deliriously wonderful, hyperkinetic filmmaking, and when I was introduced to the actor (via my Dad’s 52″ rear projection big screen television) whose filmography best exemplifies my own eclectic (i.e. oddball) tastes– Bruce Campbell.

This was also the year I realized that my movie obsession made me stand out from the other kids. Sure, there were some that shared my love for horror flicks and sci-fi. But for me, it was a steady diet of raw, unfiltered, cinematic excess; in particular, horror movies.

I’d “charm” the other 8th graders sitting around the table in Mrs. Hill’s Art class with sordid tales of Cenobites, 70s savage cinema titles, the latest straight-to-VHS release from Chuck Band and the boys at Full Moon Entertainment, or whatever else I’d binged my eyeballs on during my usual weekend quadruple-feature.

Oh, how I relished my half-imagined position of power!

I’d developed an interest in Fangoria Magazine the year before, but it was ‘89 when that interest morphed into a crimson-spattered, full-blown passion for those 80-some-odd pages of behind-the-scenes grue.

Yes, ’89, especially the latter half, holds a special place in my heart. What about you? What are your favorite movie memories from 1989?

Horror:

Pet SemataryRated: R; Dir. Mary Lambert; Starring Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, and Fred Gwynne

After the Creed family loses their family pet to the two-lane highway near their home and buries it in an ancient Indian burial ground, they soon learn why, sometimes, dead is better.

Movie Trivia:

  • Actor Fred Gwynne, who played Jed in Pet Sematary, was best known as Herman Munster from the 60’s sitcom The Munsters.
  • Actress Denise Crosby starred on Star Trek The Next Generation as Lt. Tasha Yar.
  • Mary Lambert is the only woman to direct a theatrically-released movie based on the work of Stephen King (Kari Skogland directed the direct-to-video Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return). She’s also the only director to direct both the original film and sequel of a movie based on one of King’s books.

Pet Sematary Trailer

Comedy:

Uncle BuckRated: PG-13; Dir. John Hughes; Starring John Candy, Macaulay Culkin and Jean Louisa Kelly

When a family emergency arises, irresponsible, life-long bachelor Uncle Buck (John Candy) agrees to watch his nieces and nephews for a week; however, Buck gets more than he bargained for… and so do the kids!

Movie Trivia:

  • Uncle Buck was John Hughes last film as a director (I know, I know, but I REFUSE to accept Curly Sue as his final film).
  • This WAS the last film Hughes and Candy made together.
  • The scene with Culkin waiting at the door inspired Hughes to write Home Alone.

Uncle Buck Trailer

Sci-Fi:

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure - Rated: PG; Dir. Stephen Herek; Starring Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves, and George Carlin

When two slacker metalheads need to put together a project for history class, they get the opportunity to literally travel through time and do their research first hand.

Movie Trivia:

  • Actor Alex Winter (Bill S. Preston, Esq.) went on to become a director. His first feature as a director was the woefully under seen Freaked (1993).
  • Jane Wiedlin of the 80s girl band the Go-Go’s played Joan of Arc.
  • Director Stephen Herek also made Critters and Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure Trailer

Drama:

Say Anything…Rated: PG-13; Dir. Cameron Crowe; Starring John Cusack, Ione Skye, and John Mahoney

Lloyd (John Cusack) is in love with Diane Court (Ione Skye), a beautiful girl that seems out of his league. But after graduation, Lloyd decides to take a chance and charms his way into her life.

Movie Trivia:

  • Say Anything… was writer/director Cameron Crowe’s first film.
  • Actor Jimmy Piven (Entourage) had a small part as one of lloyd’s (Cusack) friends.
  • Rumor has it that Kirk Cameron was almost cast as Lloyd Dobler.

Say Anything… Trailer

Action:

Black RainRated: R; Dir. Ridley Scott; Starring Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia, and Kate Capshaw

A New York City detective (Douglas) and his partner (Garcia) follow the trail of a killer to Japan where they must battle Yakuza and local cops.

Movie Trivia:

  • The cinematographer on Black Rain was Jan De Bont, who would go on to direct Speed and Twister.
  • Actor Yûsaku Matsuda was dying of cancer while filming Black Rain. He passed soon after its completion.
  • The filmmakers’ visas ran out during production, forcing them to shoot the final showdown in Napa Valley, California.

Black Rain Trailer

Family:

Honey, I Shrunk the KidsRated: PG; Dir. Joe Johnston; Starring Rick Moranis, Matt Frewer and Marcia Strassman

Wayne Szalinski (Moranis) is a scientist who creates a machine that miniaturizes objects. When his kids get caught up in its ray, they learn that great danger and adventure can happen in your own backyard.

Movie Trivia:

  • Director Joe Johnston, a former special effects artist, also made Jumanji, Jurassic Park 3, and most recently the remake of The Wolfman.
  • The Honey, I Shrunk the Audience ride, a semi-sequel to the original film, at Disney’s Epcot replaced the classic Captain EO movie/ride; however, in 2010 it was itself replaced by, none other than, Captain EO!
  • Horror filmmaking legends Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator) and Brian Yuzna (Bride of Re-Animator) wrote the story and screenplay for Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Trailer

So, as the decade where so many of us discovered our unnaturally intense love for movies comes to a close, so does this series of posts.

Well, almost.

We’re going to do one more year. Next week it’s 1990, but that’s where this “6 Movies You Must See” train pulls into the station. After that, well, you’ll have to wait and see. We have all sorts of goodies planned as we creep our way into the second decade of the new millennia.

So, until then remember, a flick’s only forgotten if you’re not talking about it.

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6 Must See Movies from 1988

by Joel G. Robertson


Horror:

The Lady in WhiteRated: PG-13; Dir. Frank LaLoggia ; Starring Lukas Haas, Len Cariou, Alex Rocco, and Jason Presson.

When a young boy (Haas) gets locked in his school’s coat closet overnight, he witnesses the ghost of a murdered little girl. Soon, he suspects her murderer is still around, waiting to claim another young life… possibly his own.

The Lady in White is haunting, chilling, and downright creepy at times. The story is retold as a flashback as a writer (very much a Stephen King-type figure) returns to his hometown, remembering the fateful events that led to his own loss of innocence many years earlier. The acting is top notch throughout the film, especially Haas, who carries the movie on the shoulders of his shy, unassuming protagonist.

Director LaLoggia pulls us right into the story and into a world where people aren’t always as they seem. He and D.P. Russell Carpenter did a fantastic job capturing the “feel” of autumn in the small town of Willowpoint Falls. Only a handful of films (the original Halloween and Halloween 4 come to mind) have captured this Halloween-time quality, and The Lady in White is one of them.

And while you can enjoy The Lady in White as a simple, straight-forward ghost story, if you just dig a little deeper you’ll discover a rich, layered story about deadly, small-town secrets and innocence lost.

The Lady in White Trailer

Comedy:

Killer Klowns from Outer SpaceRated: PG-13; Dir. Stephen Chiodo ; Starring Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson, and John Vernon.

A sheriff, another guy and his girlfriend must stop man-eating clowns from outer space from turning the residents of their small town into a dessert bar buffet.

Sure it’s campy. Yep, it’s silly, And you’re right, sometimes it’s downright dumb, but Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a staple of B-movie greatness. This is a movie that wears its absurdist colors with pride. Directed by Steven Chiodo and written by Steven and his brothers Charles and Edward, Killer Klowns goes over the top, WAAAAAY over the top (or should I say big top?) and somehow manages to stick that perfect 10 landing for the judges.

Featuring Suzanne Snyder, an unsung 80s scream queen who also starred in Return of the Living Dead Part 2, Night of the Creeps, and Weird Science, Killer Klowns also stars John Vernon, who played Dean Wormer in Animal House.

And for you Christopher Titus fans out there, be on the lookout for a young, bespectacled Titus as he carries a load of beer back to his car on Lover’s Lane. If you just want to have a cheesy good time at the movies, then bring your nachos ’cause this flick’s dripping with it!

Killer Klowns from Outer Space Trailer

Sci-Fi:

Alien Nation - Rated: R; Dir. Graham Baker; Starring James Caan, Many Patinkin, and Terence Stamp.

Years after “The Newcomers,” an alien race land on earth, Sykes (Caan), a cynical, alien-hating cop finds himself partnered with a Newcomer  cop named Francisco (Patinkin). Together they must solve a crime involving a highly-potent, alien-manufactured drug and the murder of Sykes’s old partner.

Alien Nation starts like any other hard-edged, 1980s crime drama: cops get involved in a violent shootout with some thugs, leaving one cop dead and the other seeking revenge justice for his partner. However, the “thugs” happen to be aliens called The Newcomers, who arrived on earth years ago and have assimilated into the culture. And while not all Newcomers are prone criminal activity, Detective Sykes (James Caan) doesn’t differentiate. He wears his hatred for the “slags,” as he calls them, on his sleeve.

Much like 1985’s Enemy Mine, the high tension of race relations bubbles beneath the surface of Alien Nation. And like the Quaid/ Gossett, Jr. vehicle that preceded it, Alien Nation uses the tropes of sci-fi to examine this contentious issue.

Caan does a stellar job of protraying Sykes as an embittered, angry, frustrated man, who despite his loathing of the Newcomers isn’t played as a one-dimensional, racist stereotype. Mandy Patankin (seen in the previous year’s The Princess Bride as Inigo Montoya) plays Detective Francisco, gentle, kind-hearted, and tolerant Newcomer who, for the purposes of the plot and dramatic tension, is paired up with Sykes to track down the killers.

Alien Nation achieves what the best of the genre is capable of: tackling social, scientific, and ethical problems while telling a futuristic tale tinged with the trappings of the familiar.

Alien Nation Trailer

Drama/Thriller:

Talk RadioRated: R; Dir. Oliver Stone; Starring Eric Bogosian, Ellen Greene, Leslie Hope, John C. McGinley, and Alec Baldwin.

Barry (Bogosian) is an angry, opinionated and brilliant talk radio host who pushes the boundaries with his late-night call in show. But when his callers become more violent and disturbed rather than letting up, Barry pushes back… even harder.

Eric Bogosian provides a tour de force performance as Barry Champlain, a late-night talk show host who feeds off the energy of taunting his sometimes hostile audience. Based on a play written by Bogosian, Talk Radio was also director Stone’s follow-up to his successful one-two punch of Platoon (1986) and Wall Street (1987).

It also marks one of the last films where Stone’s progressively more stylized and visually excessive storytelling didn’t overwhelm the story itself.

And like most of his films (Seizure with Hervé Villechaize not withstanding), there’s a deeper social statement pulsating through the frame. And although it’s based on a  play, Talk Radio is tense, superbly directed and acted, and tells a riveting tale of the consequences of true free speech.

Talk Radio Trailer

Action:

They Live - Rated: R; Dir. John Carpenter; Starring Roddy Piper, Keith David, and Meg Foster.

A homeless drifter (Piper) discovers a box full of sunglasses and when he puts on a pair he realizes that we are not alone. In fact, alien forces have assimilated into our culture and have lulled us into complacency and obedience to further their agenda. And only Nada and a handful of rebels can stop them.

On the surface, They Live is a borderline-campy throwback to 50’s sci-fi paranoia, but with some serious 80’s attitude and swagger. But you won’t have to dig far to discover it’s a smart, social satire containing a dire warning: We’ve all been lulled to sleep, believing our world isn’t manipulating and controlling our thoughts, motives, and actions.

And much like Carpenter’s Escape from New York (1981) (and subsequently Escape From L.A. [1996]), it takes an outsider, a lone individual to bring down the system and shake us away from our falsely-safe slumber.

They Live Trailer

Family:

WillowRated: PG; Dir. Ron Howard; Starring Warrick Davis, Val Kilmer, and Joanne Whalley.

A fantasy, adventure about Willow Ufgood, a young hero on a big mission to protect a mysterious and magical child from the clutches of an evil queen.

Willow is not a perfect film, but it is a fun film. Director Ron Howard tells the traditional Hero’s Journey-style tale in a simple, straight forward manner. Produced by George Lucas, his influence resonates through out Willow. Parallels to the storyline and archetypal characters of Star Wars are unmistakeable (Mad Martigan = Han Solo), and Lucas’s fascination with mythology informs the story at every turn.

But it’s perhaps the standout performance of Warwick Davis as Willow that’s so remarkable and what makes the movie stand head and shoulders above similar fantasy fare. His diminutive stature isn’t played for laughs and it’s interesting to note that few films before or since have featured a hero who’s more like Warwick Davis than Val Kilmer.

Of course the brilliance of this choice as that children, the target audience for Willow, completely identify him. Not because of his size, but rather because of his inspiring ability to appear vulnerable yet overcome the biggest obstacles. Say what you will about Willow, but one thing’s for sure, it will leave you smiling when the final credits roll.

Willow Trailer

Those are my 6 must see movies from 1988. What are yours?

Until next time, remember, a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it!

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6 Must See Movies from 1987

by Joel G. Robertson

1987. What a great year for movies!

Because I’ve been getting so much great feedback and movie recommendations in the comments section of these “6 Movies You Must See” posts, I’m going to keep the opening short and sweet. It’s enough to say that 1987 was another banner year that brought us some great movies.

It was also the year where movie going audiences were treated to not one, but two movies based on already existing properties that had an enormous impact on the popular culture at the time.

Do you know what those two movies were? If you do, be sure to tell us in the comments along with your picks for 1987 movies we must see!

Horror:

HellraiserRated: R; Dir. Clive Barker; Starring Ashley Laurence, Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, and Doug Bradley .

After opening a mysterious box called the Lament Configuration, a man loses his body to demons called Cenobites. But when the man escapes from their hellish clutches, he hides out in the home of his brother and his sister-in-law, who is also his mistress. And when the man’s niece (Laurence) starts nosing around, it’s only a matter of time before the Cenobites (led by the amazing Doug Bradley as Pinhead) locate the box and

With its not-so-subtle S&M symbolism, unpredictable story, and deeply-flawed yet compelling characters, Hellraiser helped put Clive Barker on the cinematic map. Unfortunately, Barker has never had the same level of success with his other movies.

Despite containing interesting ideas and striking visuals, Nightbreed and Lord of Illusions just never came together for moviegoers. But Pinhead and the other cenobites will forever remain an iconic representation of one man’s unique vision of what a horror movie can truly be.

Hellraiser Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • Hellraiser was writer/director Clive Barker’s first feature film.
  • Barker and actor Doug Bradley (Pinhead) have been friends since childhood.
  • Doug Bradley appeared in two of Clive Barker’s early short films: Salome (1973) and The Forbidden (1978). Both were projects Barker made while in art school.

Comedy:

Three O’Clock HighRated: PG-13; Dir. Phil Joanou; Starring Casey Siemaszko, Annie Ryan, Richard Tyson, Stacey Glick, Jeffrey Tambor, Phillip Baker Hall, and Mitch Pileggi.

When Jerry Mitchell (Siemaszko) gets assigned to write an article about the new kid in school, Buddy Revell (Tyson), he knows he’s in trouble. You see, Buddy has a reputation as a violent criminal. But when Jerry accidentally touches Buddy (who hates to be touched), the hulking bully challenges him to a fight after school… at 3 o’clock.

(For a lengthier review of Three O’Clock High, click here) Three O’Clock High plays like the daytime version of the darkly comic film that inspired it, After Hours. It features frenetic camera work, smart writing, and a breakneck pace toward an inevitable, and violent, climax. At times absurd, at others frightening, you’ll find yourself really pulling for this poor kid, praying he gets away before the fates finish carving his name into granite.

Three O’Clock High Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • Director Phil Joanou said Three O’Clock High was heavily influenced by Martin Scorcese’s After Hours.
  • The score for Three O’Clock High was written by Tangerine Dream (Risky Business, Legend, Near Dark).
  • Three O’Clock High was written by Richard Christian Matheson, son of legendary writer Richard Matheson (I Am Legend, Duel).

Sci-Fi:

Cherry 2000 - Rated: PG-13; Dir. Steve De Jarnatt; Starring David Andrews, Melanie Griffith, Laurence Fishburne, Pamela Gidley, Brion James, and Ben Johnson.

In the future, romance is dead. Sam Treadwell (Andrews) hires a tracker named E. Johnson (Griffith) to lead him across a dangerous wasteland to locate a Cherry 2000, a “human” robot woman he’s in love with.

Despite the fact that , at its core, Cherry 2000 is about a guy wanting to get his sex robot back, this oddball, mid-80s  cult movie has some interesting things to say about relationships. Remember, this movie was made in the mid-80s, a time when AIDS-related worry and paranoia was reaching its apex.

And although it may seem tailor-made for sexist, horndogs, you’ll find a strong feminist slant to Cherry 2000. Melanie Griffith as E. Johnson, the tracker hired by protagonist Sam (Andrews) to retrieve his beloved Cherry, is a pillar of no-nonsense strength.

Plus, she kicks all kinds of ass.

Cherry 2000 Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • Director Steven De Jarnatt also directed the “What if?” thriller Miracle Mile (1988), starring Anthony Edwards.
  • Although filmed in 1985, Cherry 2000 was shelved and received a short, limited theatrical release before finally going to video in 1988.
  • Composer Basil Poledouris created the amazing film scores for Conan the Barbarian, Red Dawn, and Robocop (one of the best!).

Thriller:

The StepfatherRated: R; Dir. Joseph Ruben; Starring Terry O’Quinn, Jill Schoelen, and Shelley Hack.

Jerry Blake (O’Quinn) just wants the perfect family. The only problem is: there’s no such thing. Of course, this won’t stop Jerry. And after he marries Susan (Hack), Jerry thinks he may have finally achieved his dream. But when Susan’s teenage daughter (Schoelen) becomes suspicious of her new stepfather, Jerry soon learns that it’s time to move on to a new family. After, of course, he punishes those who’ve disappointed him…

With implied simplicity, director Joseph Rueben opens The Stepfather with a horrifying scene that achieves an amazing feat– rather than distancing you from the film’s protagonist (a serial killer, who is searching for the perfect family) it draws you closer to him. He’s a fascinating character and you want to know, albeit reluctantly, what he’s going to do next.

As Jerry Blake (well, this time he is, but this killer takes on a new identity whenever he sets his sights on a new family), the mesmerizing Terry O’Quinn doesn’t portray this disturbed man as a maniacal, super-killing machine. This take on killers was quite common in the days of Jason and Freddy, but instead O’Quinn plays him as an affable, likable, All-American family man. This, of course, makes his actions all the more terrifying.

And actress Jill Schoelen is a worthy adversary as stepdaughter Stephanie, who suspects new dad Jerry isn’t at all what he seems.

The Stepfather Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • The Stepfather was written by legendary mystery/thriller writer Donald E. Westlake.
  • The Stepfather was inspired by the true story of John List, who murdered his family in 1971 and disappeared. He was finally arrested in 1989 after being profiled on the television show America’s Most Wanted.
  • Actor Terry O’Quinn most recently played John Locke in the television show LOST.

Action:

The PrincipalRated: R; Dir. Christopher Cain; Starring John Belushi, Louis Gossett, Jr., Rae Dawn Chong, and Esai Morales.

A trouble making teacher named Rick Latimer (Belushi) gets “promoted” to principal after a violent encounter. The promotion is actually more of a punishment since the school he’s the prinicipal of is one of the most violent, gang-riddled campuses in the city. But with the help of a custodian (Gossett, Jr.), Rick makes it his mission to clean up the school.

Yes, The Principal is an unusual choice for “Action,” especially when we’re talking about the heyday of Arnold and Sly. But The Principal is indeed a bare-knuckled punch to the bicuspids. Jim Belushi (pretty much playing the same role he always does–himself) plays a schoolteacher with a violent streak.

When he’s assigned as the principal of a high school rife with gang violence, that short fuse of his comes in handy. Louis Gossett, Jr. does what he does best, exuding a quiet cool that masks the reality he’s about to kick some ass. Definitely a “turn your brain off” at the door popcorn flick, but you’re sure to have a great time!

The Principal Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • Actor Michael Wright also starred on the television movie, mini-series, and full-length series of V as Elias Taylor.
  • Director Christopher Cain also made That Was Then… This Is Now (1985) and Young Guns (1988).
  • Despite the fact that he’s supposed to be a high school student, actor Michael Wright is only two years younger than Jim Belushi.

Family:

The Monster SquadRated: PG-13; Dir. Fred Dekker; Starring Andre Gower,  Robby Kiger, Stephen Macht, Duncan Regehr, Tom Noonan, John Gries, Brent Chalem, Ryan Lambert, and Ashley Banks.

A group of friends who are obsessed with monsters make a surprising, and terrifying, discovery: Dracula (Regehr), Wolfman (Gries), The Mummy, and Frankenstein’s Monster have invaded their small town. Dracula is searching the town for a mystical medallion that will grant him absolute power and only The Monster Squad can stop him!

Few movies capture the truth of pre-teen boys as well as The Monster Squad. The boys curse, they love horror movies and monsters, they curse some more, and when presented with the opportunity to take on a deadly adventure, they’re all over it.

With a stellar supporting cast, including Regher, Gries, and Noonan as Dracula, Wolfman, and Frankenstein’s Monster respectively, director Fred Dekker’s vision of innocence confronting evil lacks any pretense or political correctness.

If you’re offended by kids spouting profanity or brandishing firearms, well, then The Monster Squad isn’t for you. Of course, whether you like it or not, there’s a lot of truth in how these boys act and talk, especially when you consider the time when this movie was made. And if you’re willing to let go, you’ll really enjoy this exciting ode to the Universal Monsters.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I think The Monster Squad is WAAAAAAY better than The Goonies, despite the fact that The Monster Squad “borrowed” from that much beloved 80’s adventure film.

Let the hate mail commence. :)

The Monster Squad Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • In 1986’s Night of the Creeps, also directed by Fred Dekker, there’s a brief shot of a bathroom wall where someone has written “The Monster Squad rules!”
  • Actor Ryan Lambert also starred in the 80’s kid show Kids, Incorporated.
  • Actor Tom Noonan, who played Frankie, stayed in character whenever he was around the child actors in the film.

Well, those are my 6 picks from 1987. I showed you mine, now it’s your turn to show me yours!

And until next time, remember, a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it!

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6 Must See Movies from 1986

by Joel G. Robertson

1986. This year was not nearly as difficult as the previous two when it came to making my selections. Not to say I didn’t have a wide variety to choose from, including barely remembered oddities and “once upon a time hits” that people struggle to remember.

Truth is, I wasn’t really sure what direction I wanted to go for horror, sci-fi, and action. For me, these have proven to be the most challenging categories. This is especially true for horror as it’s the one I grew up most slavishly devoted to. However, this list, while representing my personal taste (or lack thereof) is meant for you, the faithful film fan.

And as you’ll see from my choices below, all three picks from the aforementioned categories are almost interchangeable when it comes to genre definitions (okay, my action pick wouldn’t really fit in either sci-fi or horror, but it definitely falls under the larger horror/sci-fi umbrella of fantasy).

However, comedy proved the most difficult to decide on for this year. “Why?” you ask. It’s simple really. I asked myself, “Self, would the faithful film fans want to go high brow with picks like Paul Mazursky’s Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Jim Jarmusch’s Down by Law, or Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters?”

Better yet (and certainly more my style), would you prefer low brow titles like John Landis’s Three Amigos, Allan Metter’s Back to School, or Harold Ramis’s Club Paradise?

Or should would you really want to go for the gold and champion some true (and unintentional) comedy classics like Shanghai Surprise starring then husband and wife Sean Penn and Madonna, King Kong Lives starring Linda Hamilton, or Under the Cherry Moon starring Prince?

The answer is: None of the above (although Back to School came in a close contender for the top spot mainly because it features William Zabka, an actor who perfectly embodied 1980s douchebaggery with virtually every character he played).

So instead, I decided you deserve the more unconventional and, hopefully, interesting pick for this category.

But these are only my picks and with all the great movies in ’86, I’m sure you have a few must sees to tell us about in the comments section!

Horror:

The FlyRated: R; Dir. David Cronenberg; Starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, and John Getz.

Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is a scientist obsessed with his newest creation: a teleportation machine; however, when he tests the machine using himself as a subject, he doesn’t notice his fly companion and the DNA of Brundle and the fly are blended together.

The Fly Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • Chris Walas, who worked on The Fly’s creature effects, also did the creature work for Gremlins and worked on Raiders of the Lost Ark, Enemy Mine, Arachnophobia, and Naked Lunch.
  • Stars Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis were married after making The Fly.
  • Director Cronenberg is rumored to be making a remake of The Fly. If he does, it would make him the first and only filmmaker to direct a remake of a remake that he originally directed (got that?).

Comedy:

Little Shop of HorrorsRated: PG-13; Dir. Frank Oz; Starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Vincent Gardenia, and Steve Martin.

A remake/musical based on the 1960 Roger Corman movie of the same title. Seymour Krelborn (Moranis) works for a florist (Gardenia) whose shop is located in poverty row. When Seymour realizes that a talking Venus Flytrap has a taste for human blood, he becomes a reluctant accomplice in finding food for the carnivorous plant.

Little Shop of Horrors Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • Director Frank Oz was a member of Jim Henson’s muppet troupe and was the voice of characters Miss Piggy, Grover, Bert, Fozzie Bear, Animal, and Yoda.
  • Actress Ellen Greene (Audrey) was the only member of the original off-Broadway cast to appear in the film.
  • Jim Henson’s son Brian was one of the puppeteers that controlled Audrey II.

Sci-Fi:

The Wraith - Rated: PG-13; Dir. Mike Marvin; Starring Charlie Sheen, Nick Cassavettes, Sherilyn Fenn, and Randy Quaid.

After a young man is murdered by a vicious gang, a stranger (Charlie Sheen) shows up in town. Soon after his arrival, a mysterious car guided by an even more enigmatic driver begins taking out the gang members one by one.

The Wraith Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • Actor Charlie Sheen appeared in the Academy Award winning Platoon the same year as The Wraith.
  • Actor Nick Cassavettes is the son of actor/director John Cassavettes and actress Gena Rowland. He went on to become a director of such films as Unhook the Stars (which starred his Rowlands) and Alpha Dog.
  • The car driven by the mysterious avenger is actually based on a prototype model, the Dodge M4S, that could go just a hair north of 194 mph and cost over $1 million smackers.

Drama:

Stand By MeRated: R; Dir. Rob Reiner; Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell.

A writer (Richard Dreyfuss) remembers a pivotal moment in his young life: the summer of 1959 when he and three friends went in search of a missing kid who’s been hit and killed by a train. Based on the Stephen King novella “The Body”.

Stand By Me Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • Stand By Me was Wil Wheaton’s first starring role in a theatrical feature film. Previously he had done television and had a small role in The Last Starfighter (1984).
  • Stand By Me was Jerry O’Connell’s feature acting debut.
  • Rob Reiner has directed one other Stephen King adaptation, 1991’s Misery.

Action:

Big Trouble in Little ChinaRated: PG-13; Dir. John Carpenter; Starring Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun, James Hong.

Jack Burton’s (Kurt Russell) a truck driver who agrees to help an old friend (Dennis Dun) track down a missing woman. Soon after he agrees to help, however, Jack, a reluctant and smart-alecky action hero, finds himself facing down ancient Chinese supernatural forces.

Big Trouble in Little China Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • John Carpenter’s band, The Coupe DeVille’s performed the title song for the Big Trouble in Little China soundtrack.
  • Other members of the The Coupe DeVille’s are director Tommy Wallace (who directed Halloween 2) and director Nick Castle (who played Michael Myers in the original Halloween).
  • Star Kurt Russell has starred in 5 John Carpenter films including Big Trouble in Little China. The other four are Elvis (a 1979 T.V. movie), Escape from New York (1981), The Thing (1982), and Escape from L.A. (1996).

Family:

LabyrinthRated: PG; Dir. Jim Henson; Starring Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie.

When her baby stepbrother is kidnapped by The Goblin King (David Bowie), Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) must travel through a mystical labyrinth to get him back.

Labyrinth Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • Labyrinth was director Jim Henson’s last theatrical feature film.
  • The baby who played Sarah’s stepbrother Toby was actually the son of Brian Froud, the conceptual designer behind Labyrinth and the Jim Henson-directed fantasy film The Dark Crystal (1982).
  • Actors Kenny Baker (R2-D2 in all six Star Wars movies) and Warwick Davis (Willow, Return of the Jedi, and Leprechaun) play members of the Goblin Corps.

Well, those are my 6 picks from ’86. I showed you mine, now it’s your turn to show me yours!

Until next time, remember, a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it!

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6 Must See Movies from 1985

by Joel G. Robertson

1985. Ah, the magical year that gave us cinematic memories like Back to the Future, Cocoon, The Breakfast Club, Day of the Dead, Rambo 2, Rocky IV, Witness, Spies Like Us, The Color Purple, The Goonies, St. Elmo’s Fire, Fletch, Re-animator, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Prizzi’s Honor, Brazil, Commando, Crimewave, Ghoulies, and The Heavenly Kid… just to name a few.

But since this list only allows 6 titles, I went for the ones I thought needed a little extra light sent their way. The horror and comedy picks were by far the hardest. My first response for horror was Re-animator, duh! But then, I thought about the amazing cult fan base that film enjoys.

Next, I remembered Dario Argento’s Phenomena (aka Creepers), starring Donald Pleasance and a very young Jennifer Connelly. At the time I saw it, the film was Creepers and it was the first “gore” film I ever saw. I was around 9 years old and I thought my cousin said he’d just rented Critters, the Gremlins knock-off I’d been dying to see (this was early ’86 and Creepers was new on video).

Needless to say, I was a wee bit traumatized and the twitching still kicks in from time to time…

And while Phenomena/Creepers is certainly a movie remembered by only a devoted few, it still wasn’t quite right. So, I went with another movie my cousin rented around that time and it’s one receiving the remake treatment later this year.

The choice for comedy was even harder. I could have easily gone with Real Genius starring Val Kilmer or Top Secret starring… yep, you guessed it, Val Kilmer. Another choice was Better Off Dead, a classic that still holds up really well.

But my personal favorite from that year is a film that helped jump start me into puberty. It’s also the movie that inspired me and a friend to hook one of his kid sister’s Barbie dolls up to a Commodore 64 using roach clips we found in his mom’s, er, uhm,  “junk” drawer…

Be sure to tell us in the comments section what your must see movies are from 1985!

Horror:

Fright Night – Dir. Tom Holland; Starring William Ragsdale, Chris Sarandon, Roddy McDowall, and Amanda Bearse. A horror lovin’ teen realizes his new neighbor is a bloodsucking vampire, but no one believes him so he enlists the help of legendary horror actor cum horror host Peter Vincent to best the night creature.

Fright Night Trailer

Movie Trivia: Amanda Bearse who plays Charlie’s girlfriend, Amy, went on to star in the hit sitcom Married With Children; Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) was named after horror movie legends Peter Cushing and Vincent Price; Chris Sarandon (Jerry Dandrige) and director Tom Holland worked together again in 1988’s Child’s Play.

Comedy:

Weird Science – Dir. John Hughes; Starring Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, and Kelly LeBrock. Two high school nerds create the woman of their dreams using a computer, but they get way more than they expected.

Weird Science Trailer

Movie Trivia: Weird Science was the last of three movies Anthony Michael Hall made with John Hughes, the other two were, of course, Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club; Actress Suzanne Snyder, who played Deb in Weird Science, also starred in 80s flicks like Return of the Living Dead 2, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, and Night of the Creeps. Actor Vernon Wells portrays a character very similar to one he played in The Road Warrior a few years earlier.

Sci-Fi:

Enemy Mine – Dir. Wolfgang Peterson; Starring Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr. Two mortal enemies, a human and a drac (walk into a bar…) crash land on an alien world and must join forces to survive.

Enemy Mine Trailer

Movie Trivia: Terry Gilliam was the original choice to direct Enemy Mine, but he went on to make Brazil instead; The Drac language was Russian spoken backward. Chris Walas worked on makeup effects for this film. Walas also created the gremlins for Gremlins the year before and worked on features like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Scanners, The Fly (1 and 2), Arachnophobia, Deepstar Six, and Naked Lunch.

Drama/Thriller:

To Live and Die in L.A – Dir. William Friedkin; Starring: William Petersen and Willem Dafoe. A Secret Service agent (Petersen) goes after the counterfeiter (Dafoe) responsible for the death of his partner.

To Live and Die in L.A Trailer

Movie Trivia: Friedkin also directed the The Exorcist and the classic crime drama The French Connection; To Live and Die in L.A. was Petersen’s first starring role in a feature film (he had a small role in Michael Mann’s Thief [1981]), he would later go on to star in the original CSI television series as Gil Grissom.

Action:

Silverado.- Dir. Lawrence Kasdan; Starring Kevin Kline, Kevin Costner, Danny Glover, Scott Glenn. Four men meet up and travel to the small town of Silverado where they run afoul of a rancher and a lawman.

Silverado Trailer

Movie Trivia: Writer/director Lawrence Kasdan was the screenwriter of The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark; Kasdan offered Costner his role to make up for cutting his part in The Big Chill. Costner played a corpse. Some debate it was his finest role.

Family:

Explorers – Dir. Joe Dante; Starring Ethan Hawke, River Pheonix, and Bobby Fite. After Ben Crandall (Hawke) experiences strange dreams about a circuit board, he and two friends realize the dream was a message sent by aliens giving them the plans to build a spaceship.

Explorers Trailer

Movie Trivia: Explorers was the feature debut of both Ethan Hawke and River Pheonix; Ben Crandall (Hawke) is obsessed with sci-fi, much like director Dante; A regular in Joe Dante films, Robert Picardo played the alien father, Wak.

Movie Trivia Challenge News

Since the blog and everything we’re doing is all so new, there’s a definite learning curve to it. That said, I’m going to try something a little different with next week’s trivia quiz. I want to make it as easy as possible for the participants to send in their guesses.

So, starting on Monday 01/10 I’ll post the new quiz word courtesy of your and my favorite movie quiz maestro, Dale Lloyd. Then, you’ll have until 6 PM (EST) Monday night to submit your answers.

You can send your answers via Twitter to @forgottenflix using the hashtag #movietrivia, or just leave your answers in the comments section. ANYONE who submits a correct answer is a winner and will get entered into the next prize drawing (at the end of March).

It’s as simple as that.

So, until next time remember, a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it!

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6 Must See Movies from 1984

by Joel G. Robertson

1984. Also known as the year that made this series of posts TOO DAMN HARD to put together. Why? Well, I suppose that this year marks the moment I became a true film fan. It’s the year I have the most collective memories about; especially when it comes to going to the movies. Be sure to let us all know in the comments section what your must see movies are from 1984!

Ghostbusters, Gremlins, The Last Starfighter, The Karate Kid, Cloak and Dagger, and so many other great flicks I remember seeing on the big screen. I wanted to add almost every stinkin’ movie released in ’84 to my list of “must see movies”. Alas, that isn’t option… So, with Big Brother watching, let’s take a trek back to 1984

Horror:

C.H.U.D. - Dir. Douglas Cheek; Starring John Heard, Daniel Stern, and Kim Griest. When people start to disappear in New York city, a cop, a reporter, and his girlfriend join forces with a homeless man to determine the cause… a race of mutated, cannibalistic vagrants living in the sewers.

C.H.U.D. Trailer

Is it cheesy? Yes, at times, but C.H.U.D. is a creature feature worth remembering. Now, ’84 is the same year that gave us A Nightmare on Elm Street (which I almost went with as it’s by far the BEST horror film from that year), Children of the Corn, Gremlins (yes, Virginia, that is a horror movie and my personal favorite), Supergirl, and Firestarter. However, I’d say C.H.U.D. is the least remembered flick out of that class and really deserves another look. With a stellar cast and tight, low-budget storytelling, C.H.U.D. is actually a  decent little horror flick with a great premise and some suspenseful moments.

Movie Trivia:  Early appearance of John Goodman, who plays a cop eating in a Diner; The 1988 sequel C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. starred Brian Robbins, who played cool kid Eric in Head of the Class and went onto direct movies Varsity Blues and Meet Dave (oh, the horror… the horror…).

Comedy:

This Is Spinal Tap – Dir. Rob Reiner; Starring Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Rob Reiner. A documentarian films the world’s “loudest” rock band while they are on tour and falling apart.

This Is Spinal Tap Trailer

This Is Spinal Tap is the granddaddy of the modern mockumentary (of course, Triumph of the Will being the original). This movie gets funnier every time I see it; although, when it comes to these types of films, I’m not sure whether I prefer this one or Best in Show more. Best in Show does have the Parker Posey factor going for it…

Movie Trivia: This film was the feature-directorial debut of Rob Reiner; Actor Harry Shearer performs several voices on The Simpsons, including Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner,  Kent Brockman, and many others (he holds the record, having done 21 character voices on the show); Actor Christopher Guest (who’s gone on to be a mockumentary master, directing films like Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show) is married to Jaimie Lee Curtis.

Sci-Fi:

Night of the Comet - Dir. Thom Eberhardt; Starring Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney, Robert Beltran, Mary Woronov, and Geoffrey Lewis. Two valley girl sisters must survive an apocalypse brought about by a comet, all while fighting zombies and all manner of assorted creepos.

Night of the Comet Trailer

Damn, this movie is cool.

Definitely one of my favorite films from this year (along with Gremlins and Ghostbusters) and one of my top movies of all time. It oozes the 1980s out of every pore. Both leads, Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney, are beautiful, tough-as-Aquanet-mall-bangs, and the supporting cast is top notch.

Director Thom Eberhardt (who also made another great forgotten flick, The Night Before, starring Keanu Reeves and Lori Loughlin) strikes a perfect balance, giving us characters we truly care about, and never losing us despite the absurdity of the premise.

Oh, and I defy you to tell me exactly what it “type” of movie Night of the Comet is…

Is it horror? Yes, it has zombies. Comedy? You betcha! With lines like “Daddy would have gotten us Uzis” and “I’m not crazy… I just don’t give a f#@&!” you just know it’s funny. And action? It’s got that in spades. What about sci-fi? Hello! It’s called Night of the Comet, for DMK’s sake!

Or is it a brilliant satire about the commercially-driven excesses of the 80s and the isolation many felt as a result?

Who cares? All you need to know is that it’s  friggin’ awesome!

Movie Trivia: The original title was Teenage Mutant Horror Comet Zombies; actresses Kelli Maroney and Mary Woronov also appeared in Chopping Mall (1986); Catherine Mary Stewart played Alex Rogan’s (Lance Guest) love interest, Maggie, in The Last Starfighter (see Family section below). [all trivia for this film gathered from the awesome fan site NightOfTheComet.Info, The Ultimate Night of the Comet Fan Site!]

Drama:

Blood Simple – Dir. Joel and Ethan Coen; Starring M. Emmett Walsh, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya, and John Getz. A bar owner suspects his wife is having an affair with one of his bartenders, so he hires a private detective to kill them.

Blood Simple Trailer

A tight, suspenseful southern-noir thriller filled with the visual flourishes (see the “light through bullet holes” scene) and great details that would become a staple of so many of the Coen brothers’ future films. It’s also interesting to note the visual influence of Sam Raimi on the Coens in this picture, specifically. Movie Trivia: Directorial debut of the Coen brothers and future director Barry Sonnenfeld’s (Addams Family, Men in Black) first major film as a cinematographer. It’s also the feature debut of Frances McDormand, who married director Joel Coen soon after making this film.

Action:

Cloak and Dagger – Dir. Richard Franklin; Starring Henry Thomas and Dabney Coleman. A boy (Thomas) with an over-active imagination finds himself battling spies and secret agents who are after a government secret hidden inside a video game.

Cloak and Dagger Trailer

Henry Thomas was only a couple years removed from E.T. when he made this Cold War-era thriller. I made it my action pick because out of all the movies released in 1984, I think it holds up the best. Even the video game scenes and mid-80s technology have a retro-cool vibe. (Okay. Okay. So, the video game based on the movie is uber-lame. But it was lame even in 1984.) But it’s the story itself that really works and Thomas’s character, Davey, really has a strong character arc where he goes from an immature boy with an overactive imagination to a young man forced to deal with issues of life and death. There’s also a fascinating psychological component involving David’s father and Jack Flack (David’s imaginary friend/hero), and the way David views them, and thus, himself.

Movie Trivia: Director Richard Franklin directed Psycho 2 and actors John McIntire and Jeanette Nolan appeared in the original Psycho (although Nolan never actually appeared on screen since she was the voice of Mother).

Family:

The Last Starfighter – Dir. Nick Castle; Starring Lance Guest, Catherine Mary Stuart, and Robert Preston. A trailer park living teen finds himself transported to another world where he must defend the galaxy from a rogue, alien uprising.

The Last Starfighter Trailer

The Last Starfighter still holds up as a fun, rollicking adventure. I think many an 80s kid secretly wished they could locate one of those Starfighter arcade games and get really, really good, nay, great at it! Why? Because then Centauri would show up in his Delorean wannbe (or was it Centauri’s car that the DeLorean wanted to be?) and whisk you off to the outer reaches of the galaxy so you could battle Xur and the Ro-Dan Armada. I’m looking forward to sharing it with my own kids in the not-too-distant future…

Movie Trivia:  Director Nick Castle, who went to film school with John Carpenter, played Michael Myers in the original Halloween (1978); Actor Lance Guest starred in Halloween 2; The Last Starfighter was one of the first films (along with TRON) to use extensive CGI.

Halfway there…

Well, we’re now in the middle of that late, great decade, the 1980s, and next up is the pivotal year… 1985. The year that gave us Back to the Future, Cocoon, Goonies, Rocky 4, The Color Purple, Witness, The Breakfast Club,  et al., none of which will be on the next list of movies you must see. Why? Because it’s obvious these are must sees. So, next week, we’ll focus on the 6 forgotten movies you must see. And if they aren’t completely forgotten by the main stream, they are, at the very least, in danger of it.

Movie Trivia Challenge Winner

@Peter_Nielsen was the first to send in ALL five answers correctly! Congratulations Peter! Of course, along with Peter, everyone who turned in a correct answer gets entered into the next prize drawing that takes place in March, 2011. Be sure to send in your guesses every week! So, until next time, remember, a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it!

Pick up one of these forgotten flicks through Amazon and help support Forgotten Flix! (Affiliate link)

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6 Must See Movies From 1983

by Joel G. Robertson

1983. The year of the Jedi…

As the always insightful @OldSchool80s pointed out in his comment on last Friday’s post, as we wade our way deeper into that decade of decadence it’s going to get harder and harder to narrow down this list of must sees to only 6 movies per year. So, I’m thinking of some ways to change this list up. One idea I had was to include movie trailers, which I have as you’ll see below.

And don’t forget to check the end of the post for the winners of this week’s Insanely Difficult, Damn-Near-Impossible Movie Trivia Challenge top winners!

I also thought about including honorable mentions, but then I came across this simple, yet cool montage video that displays the posters of many of the major releases from ’83. Check it out:

Horror:

Of Unknown Origin – Dir. George P. Cosmatos; Starring Peter Weller, Shannon Tweed, and . A man must defend his family’s home from an intelligent, mutant rat. Was this actually the best horror flick from a year that also gave us The Dead Zone and The Keep. Nope. But it’s a helluva lot of fun, and you can’t go wrong with Peter Weller as the lead. Oh, and did I mention that Shannon Tweed has a shower scene? Wait, she’s in the movie, so of course she does!

Of Unknown Origin Trailer

Comedy:

National Lampoon’s Vacation – Dir. Harold Ramis; Starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Anthony Michael Hall, Dana Barron, and Randy Quaid.

National Lampoon’s Vacation Trailer

Written by the late, great John Hughes (based on an article he’d written for National Lampoon Magazine called “Vacation ’58”). This movie has more quotable lines and memorable scenes than you can shake a map of Wally World at. And to think this was only Harold Ramis’ second film as a director following Caddyshack… so much for the sophomore slump! Of course, he went on to make Club Paradise with Robin Williams a few years later, so… to quote the great Meatloaf “Two outta three ain’t bad”!

Sci-Fi:

Videodrome – Dir. David Cronenberg; Starring James Woods and Deborah Harry. After watching a twisted underground television show called Videodrome, Max Renn (James Woods) finds himself caught in a web of increasingly surreal, hallucinatory experiences.

Videodrome Trailer

Honestly, I could have included this movie in the horror category. Weird, disturbing, and full of psycho-sexual imagery, this is Cronenberg at his most brilliant and strangest (pretty much synonyms when talking about Cronenberg). Oh, and before I forget… LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH!

Drama:

Risky Business – Dir: Paul Brickman; Starring Tom Cruise, Rebecca De Mornay, Joe Pantoliano, Bronson Pinchot, Curtis Armstrong, and Richard Masur. A Harvard-bound college student named Joel (Tom Cruise) must find a creative way to raise the funds to replace his father’s Porsche after trashing it.

Risky Business Trailer

It’s fashionable to hate Tom Cruise these days, and while I understand being put off by some of his public displays of weirdness, his star power and amazing charisma can’t be denied. And Risky Business isn’t just the movie that put him on the map, it (along with this same year’s The Outsiders and All the Right Moves) is what began his launch into the stratosphere.

With a fantastic supporting cast and an amazing, hypnotic score by Tangerine Dream, this movie has a mesmerizing quality that simmers with the sexual heat of an adolescent’s late-night fever dream. I suppose you could argue it’s as much a dark comedy as it is a straight up drama, but one thing you can’t call it is boring!

Of course, this really made my list because when watching it I get to hear Ms. De Mornay say my name over and over again… :)

Action:

WarGames – Dir. John Badham; Starring: Matthew Broderick, Ally Sheedy, and Dabney Coleman. A teenage computer whiz (Matthew Broderick) hacks into a government computer system and “accidentally” causes the computer, named Joshua, to engage in a very real game of Thermonuclear war.

WarGames Trailer

Personally, I think Broderick’s character David was the inspiration for Ferris Bueller. From his cocky, but likeable whiz-kid swagger, to hacking his way into government systems, there’s just something so wonderfully anti-authoritarian and “Bueller”-like about him.

War Games is tense and believable despite its outlandish premise. It’s no “bang-bang, shoot-em-up” actioner, but it will keep you on the edge of your seat. Call me old fashioned, but I think the prospect of global thermonuclear war almost as frightening as a Spice World sequel.

Slight digression: I find it interesting that the “Action” category has been one of the most difficult to pick a title for. Movies that pre-date the Schwarzenegger-Stallone-Norris-Willis-Van Damme-Seagal action-movie era don’t follow an easy-to-identify formula like so many action vehicles from the mid-80s through today do.

Family:

A Christmas Story – Dir. Bob Clark; Starring Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, and Darren McGavin. A coming of age story set during Christmas time in 1940’s Ohio.

A Christmas Story Trailer

Okay, okay, I know, this is far from a “forgotten” flick. Hell, TBS won’t let us forget with their 24-hour A Christmas Story marathons every year. But I never said that the films on this list had to be obscure or not remembered. And since this list is entirely subjective, I’m including the story of Ralphie, his deep-rooted, Fruedian-level desire for a Red Rider BB Gun, his wacky family, and the allure of “electric sex” in the window of his childhood home.

A Christmas Story is a classic no matter what time of year it is, so if you have never seen it, or haven’t seen it since last year’s TBS marathon, I say check it out!

Well, those are my 6 picks for the must-see movies from 1983. What are your must see movies from 1983?

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

And the winners of this week’s Movie Trivia Challenge are:

W = @Peter_Nielsen

O = Jamie

P = Dr Walpurgis

R = @Peter_Nielsen

Congatulations!

Until next time remember, a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it!

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6 Must See Movies From 1982

by Joel G. Robertson

1982.

Perhaps the single greatest year, collectively, for sci-fi, fantasy, and horror films. A bold assertion? Yep, but it’s also true. Here’s a quick rundown of genre movies released that year.

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6 Must See Movies From 1981

by Joel G. Robertson

1981. The year that gave us the greatest action-adventure film ever committed to celluloid and one of my top five favorites of all time: Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I almost put Raiders on this list, but everyone’s seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, right? No, my film-lovin’ friends, I’m afraid not. So many of us take for granted that Raiders of the Lost Ark is almost 30 years old, and while it may have once  entered our collective thoughts daily, well, to untold millions of people not yet thirty, they either haven’t seen it or, Indy help us, haven’t heard of it.

Allow me to illustrate my point with some evidence, albeit anecdotal: While teaching middle school (12- to 14-year-olds) several years ago, I took an impromptu survey. “Who’s Raiders of the Lost Ark?” I asked, half-expecting to get a 15 to 20 percent response in the negative. Well, you can imagine my horror when out of some 160-plus kids, fewer than 5 had seen it!

I ask you, faithful film fan, if so many children can enter their formative teen years without having seen such a seminal, influential work like Raiders of the Lost Ark, what hope have we for the future?

The Evil Dead PosterWell, wipe those eyes, stiffen that spine, and dislodge that wedgie, ’cause that’s why we’re here. You and me. Together we’re going to make damn sure that everyone remembers these movies– from the elderly to those who have yet to twinkle in their old man’s eye.

Join me won’t you, as we stroll through that big, box store of memories and take a turn down the aisle of 1981.

Horror:

The Evil Dead

A group of college friends spend one hellish night fighting an ancient, forest-dwelling, supernatural force. This is the one that started it all. It gave us Sam Raimi and it gave us Bruce Campbell. And by “klaatu barada nikto” it gave us Ash and the Evil Dead series. Personally, I’m a bigger fan of Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992), but I respect The Evil Dead as an original, horror classic. It is a must see for any horror fan… or for anyone that wants to witness the birth of cinematic greatness.

Stripes PosterComedy:

Stripes

Two loveable losers (Bill Murray and Harold Ramis) decide to join the U.S. Army as a way to get in shape and have a bit of fun. Soon after Meatballs (1980) and a mere three years before making one of the greatest comedies of the 1980s, nay of all time, Ghostbusters (1984) director Ivan Reitman and Bill Murray teamed up again for a raucous good time. Joined by actor/director Harold Ramis (fresh off his directorial debut, Caddyshack), John Candy, John Larroquette, Sean Young, and P.J. Soles (of Halloween fame), this is a raunch-riddled laughfest with Murray at his charming/smarmy best.

Scanners PosterSci-Fi:

Scanners

People called “scanners” possess the ability to control minds, or make them explode. Despite the cranial splatter, this is one of director David Cronenberg’s least visceral pictures. With Stephen Lack and Patrick McGoohan, there’s a quiet cool that permeates every frame, and with gravely-voiced Michael Ironside as the villain you just can’t go wrong. If you’re new to Cronenbergland, a double-feature of this and Videodrome (1983) will give you a proper introduction courtesy of the flesh-mutated nightmares of Cronenberg. Warning: this double feature may cause copper-tainted tastebuds and vessel-shattered eye sockets…

Brief digression: Is it just me, or was Deborah Harry in her prime everything that Madonna was not–and she could act to boot!

Speaking of boots…

Das Boot PosterDrama:

Das Boot

Tells the story of German soldiers aboard a U-boat during World War 2. A tense, gripping drama, starring Jürgen Prochnow (In the Mouth of Madness). This film  established the template used by other great submarine movies like Crimson Tide (1995) and U-571 (2000). It was also one of the first films directed by Wolfgang Peterson, who would go on to direct The Neverending Story (1984) and Enemy Mine (1985) a few years later. If you like a good, Escape From New York Posterclaustrophobic war film that’s heavy on human drama and the effects of war on the mind’s of men, this is definitely one you should check out.

Action:

Escape from New York

Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) must rescue the President of the United States, who is being help hostage in New York City, which has been transformed into a prison. It would take too long to list everything I love about this film. From Carpenter’s throbbing synth score (damn, he does Casio proud!), to Plissken’s iconic eye-patch, to Adrienne Barbeau’s, uhm, talents… this one has it all. For Snake’s sake, it even has Ernest Borgnine and Isaac Hayes in featured roles.

And a world where Donald Pleasence is the president? Oh boy, is that a world I want to live in!

Clash of the Titans PosterFamily:

Clash of the Titans

Perseus, half-mortal son of Zeus, battles Medusa, the Kraken, and other assorted mythological beasties on his quest to save the beautiful Princess Andromeda from her former suitor turned half-Satyr, Calibos. More than Pegasus, the Kraken, Medusa, or even Bubo the mechanical owl, it’s the collective whole of Ray Harryhausen’s brilliant artistry on display that makes this a must see. This was also the last feature film to feature Harryhausen’s stop-motion brilliance.

Harryhausen’s stop-motion maquettes and puppets are tangible. They are really “there,” whereas most visual effects today exist only as ones and zeroes. I believe that the audience knows, on a deeper level (and sometimes on a not-so-deep level) that the things they’re watching on screen don’t exist. Not just in the “it’s a made up story” kind of way, but rather in the “it only exists on a hard drive” kind of way…

So, there you have it, my six picks from 1981. Do you agree? Disagree? Maybe you think I’ve spent one too many nights down at the Stop ‘n Shop huffing BENGAY and freebasing Blueberry Slush Puppies (or maybe that was freebasing BENGAY and huffing Blueberry Slush Puppies… doesn’t matter, it wasn’t me anyway!)? Well then, why don’t you let us know what movies you think we should check out before we, well, check out.

Until next time, remember, a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it!

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6 Must See Movies From 1980

by Joel G. Robertson

UPDATE: And the winners of this week’s Insanely Difficult, Damn-Near-Impossible Movie Trivia Challenge are…

Trivia (Beast) Master: Peter (who managed to win this “coveted” role every week since this game started on Forgotten Flix!)

Trivia Warriors:  Maggie, Kylie, and Leon!

And the answers to this week’s game are:

F  = Inferno

L  = Something Wild

A  = After Hours

S  = Radio Days

H =  C. H. U. D.

This week’s winners will have their names submitted in the prize drawing. If anyone has won from previous weeks (Peter, Kylie and Leon!), then they’ll have their name submitted into the drawing for each win. I’ll announce the winner of the prize drawing on Tuesday, November 30, so stay tuned…

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Ah, here we are at last… 1980.

And as we creep our way through the 80s it’s gonna get a helluva lot harder for me to pick “one” flick for each category. Nay, it will be next to impossible with the horror films… but since I’ve forced myself to stick with this arbitrary (and ridiculously restrictive) rule, I’m going to do my best.

Just like last week, I’m going to keep these suckers (relatively) short and sweet. I want to hear from you. Tell me your six “must sees” in the comments section below!

Horror:

The Shining

A man slowly goes mad while he and his family spend the winter in an isolated and haunted hotel. Based on the novel by Stephen King, this Stanley Kubrick-directed picture is like so many other Kubrick pictures–cold and emotionally distant. However, Kubrick’s distaste for capturing spontaneous, “natural” moments (he was notorious for getting dozens of takes for even the most mundane shots) really works in The Shining’s favor. It’s creepy, atmospheric and, like all Kubrick films, beautifully shot and edited.

But if you’re a fan of King’s book, you should check out Mick Garris’s television adaptation too. While not as chilling, it gets the source material way better than the theatrical version.

Comedy:

Airplane!

Classic comedy spoof of disaster movies. This was the Zucker Bros. follow up to the Kentucky Fried Movie (which they co-wrote and starred in with Jim Abrahams– I mentioned it here). If you’ve never seen this movie, you owe it to your funny bone.

And if your only exposure to movie spoofs is the recent onslaught of the Date Movie, Epic Movie-variety, please, for the love of all that is good and funny, don’t use those as a measuring stick of what makes a good movie spoof. Airplane! has better jokes in its first five minutes than all the recent “spoof” movies have in their entire running times–combined!

Poster of "The Final Countdown" (1980)

Sci-Fi:

The Final Countdown

While out at sea, the U.S.S. Nimitz, a nuclear-armed aircraft carrier, passes through a time vortex and finds itself shifted back to 1941. Specifically, December 7, 1941, the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. With an opportunity to end World War II before it starts, the crew must decide whether they will alter history.

The Final Countdown isn’t just a kick-ass power rock song from Swedish rockers Europe. No, it’s also a kick-ass time travel movie starring Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen. It’s been years since I watched this one, but I recall it being quite tense. Personally, I love “what if” sci-fi stories with that “Twilight Zone“-feel to them and The Final Countdown certainly fits that description.

Somewhere In Time PosterDrama:

Somewhere in Time

A playwright wills his consciousness back to 1910 where he falls in love with a beautiful theater star. You could argue this one is sci-fi due to the time travel angle, but the conceit of moving through time is more metaphysical that science based.

Based on the novel Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson (I Am Legend, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Duel), who is one of my favorite authors, Somewhere in Time has a great high-concept story and “twist” ending, both trademarks of many great Matheson works. The film stars Christopher Reeve (he made this movie after starring in Superman), Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer with one of the first on-screen appearances from future great William H. Macy!

The Blues Brothers PosterAction:

The Blues Brothers

Jake and Elwood Blues are on a mission from God. They set out to put together their old band and raise the money needed to save their childhood home. So, why have I listed this as an action movie and not a comedy? While it’s funny and light hearted, this thing is action packed. From the great car chases, to Carrie Fisher toting heavy artillery.

It’s the follow-up for both director John Landis (and it’s the movie he made just before An American Werewolf in London) and John Belushi to the iconic Animal House. It also features an all-star cast: Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, the aforementioned Carrie Fisher, and music legends like Cab Calloway, James Brown, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin!

The Watcher In The Woods PosterFamily:

The Watcher In the Woods

A mysterious disappearance in the English countryside years earlier, leads a teenage girl to suspect that something supernatural is going on in the woods near the home her family’s rental home. Okay, let me just say up front that the acting in this movie is pretty bad, in some moments VERY bad. And the final reveal of “The Watcher” is a special effects let down, even by the standards of the day, but there’s an atmospheric charm about the film that makes it appealing. This is Disney, but it’s a bit darker than you’d expect, and like most classic Disney movies, there’s a legitimate sense of danger for the main characters.

So, those are my picks for the 6 movies from 1980. Do you agree with my choices? Hell, I”m not even sure I do (especially the family pick)! So, if you have a favorite from 1980 you think everyone should see at least once, please tell us about it in the comments section.

Until next time, remember, a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it!

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6 Must See Movies From 1979

by Joel G. Robertson

NOTE: I’ll be mentioning the winners of this week’s trivia challenge as well as the answers at the end of this post!

This week on Forgotten Flix we’re going way back to 1979.

For this and future installments of the “6 Movies You Must see” I’m going to try and keep my commentary a little shorter and more to the point (yeah, good luck with that one Sparky!). I’ll list a movie from each genre, a brief summary, and why I chose it. Then, I want you to share with the class what movies you think deserve to be on the list.

Hell, if you hate my choices, tell me why. Of course, if you think I’m freakin’ brilliant and have cinematic taste to spare, I’m always open to a little butt kissin’. :)

With that out of the way, here are my choices for the 6 movies that came out in 1979 you must see before your eye holes boil over with maggots and your coccyx floats in the melted, buttery mess formerly known as your glutes.

Phantasm

Horror

Phantasm. The story of a boy, a tall man, and Jawa rejects on a killin’ spree. Of course, we can never forget those totally phantastic (oh yeah, I went there) flying knife-balls and amazing score music. In my opinion, I think the score by Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave ranks up there with other classics like Carpenter’s Halloween theme, “Tubular Bells” from The Exorcist, and John William’s subconscious exploiting Jaws theme.

Meatballs

Comedy

Meatballs. A “horny teens at camp” movie from the early 80s. This one’s special for one reason: It stars Bill Murray pre-Stripes, Pre-Ghostbusters, and pre-The Razor’s Edge (Oh yeah, I went there!). It also marks the first time he worked with director Ivan Reitman (Stripes, Ghostbusters).

Time After Time

Sci-Fi

Time After Time. H.G. Welles pursues Jack the Ripper through time. This is a surprisingly good, low-key sci-fi affair with acting heavy hitters David Warner (as Jack) and Malcolm McDowell (as H.G. Welles). It’s one I haven’t seen in quite a while, but I’ve added it to the ‘ole queue for a rewatch.

Return of the Secaucus 7

Drama

Return of the Secaucus Seven. It’s a (very) low-budget The Big Chill as a group of baby-boomer college friends reunite for a weekend. Most notable as John Sayles directorial debut. While Sayles tends to direct smaller, artier, offbeat fare, he’s also one helluva screenwriter who got his start with Roger Corman. And he’ll always be loved by genre fans for writing the mutant killer creature flicks Alligator (1980) and Piranha (1978).

The Warriors

Action

The Warriors. Trapped in New York City and hunted by several different rival gangs, the Warriors fight their way back to home turf. This movie is a great cultural snapshot of New York in the late-70s and while some of the “bad ass” gang getups will have you snickering, director Walter Hill proved with this early effort he could crank up the tension and the testosterone.

The Muppet Movie

Family

The Muppet Movie. The first theatrical film starring The Muppets is a road trip movie, and unlike the first cinematic outing of the Star Trek Enterprise, which came out that same year, there are no bald chicks and you won’t fall asleep. It’s The Muppets for For Fozzie’s Sake!

‘Nuff said.

There you have it, the six movies from 1979 you must see STAT! Next week, we enter the decade I hold nearest and dearest to my beat-boxing, ghetto-blastin’, “pass the dutchie on the left-hand side” heart–the 1980s. And honestly, it’s getting harder and harder (that’s what she said!) for me to choose ONE movie from each genre. But due to some stupid, arbitrary rule set up by the D-bag who runs this site, I’ll do it, no matter how much it pains me.

But that’s why I want to hear from you. What movies do you think should be included from each genre?

Trivia Challenge Results

Here are the answers to this week’s quiz:

M = Manhattan

A = Avanti!

R = The Warriors

I = Suspiria

O = Roller Boogie

N= Rolling Thunder

And here are the winners of the Insanely Difficult, Damn-Near-Impossible Movie Trivia Challenge for the week of 11/16: (Since I’m using their Twitter handles to identify them, be sure to follow both of them!)

Trivia (Beast)Master: @Peter_Nielsen (for the second week in a row!)

Trivia Warrior: @kylodarf

Congratulations you two! And for everyone else, be sure to play again on Tuesday 11/23. If you submit all the correct answers to me before the deadline, you too will have your name entered into the drawing for a sweet movie prize pack!

So, until next time, remember, a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it!

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6 Must See Movies From 1978

by Joel G. Robertson

At the end of this post, I’ll announce the winners of the first ever Insanely Difficult, Damn-Near-Impossible Movie Trivia Challenge. But first, we’ll be talking about 6 more movies you must see before you find yourself doing the poor man’s Limbo (How low can you go? Six feet low…). This week I’m recommending movies from the year 1978. I was a wee lad in the late-70s, but so many movies from that decade influenced me and my movie watching habits. One movie and the filmmaker who made it had a MAJOR impact on my life. That movie was Halloween written and directed by master filmmaker John Carpenter.

But Halloween is NOT on the list.

Nope. I’m going to assume you’ve already seen it (I refuse to admit that there’s an entire generation who’s only seen that celluloid abortion of a remake), and thus, it’s not included. However, if you haven’t seen it, stop reading immediately, bookmark this post, and get your butt down to your local Video Hut, Armchair Theater, or for those living in 2010, Netflix or Blockbuster Online and watch it! RIGHT! NOW!

After all, you never know when an errant Vespa, wedged snugly between the overflowing fat sacks of its owner, will jump a curb, leaving little more of you than a red stain smeared across the side of your neighborhood Wally-mart.

So, here are my picks for the 6 movies from 1978 you must see before you die:

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes Poster

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes Poster

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes: The classic comedy about oversized tomatoes running amok. Really not too much else to say regarding the plot. Its classic theme-song will stick in your head long after you’ve turned the movie off. No, seriously; you may go a little nuts when you find yourself humming that God-forsaken tune days later… Interesting trivia note: George Clooney starred in the equally bad, but far less charming sequel Return of the Killer Tomatoes in 1988.

Magic Poster

Magic Poster

Magic: I’m actually including this in the “drama” category. But isn’t it about a killer ventriloquist dummy and his owner? Not exactly. Directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Anthony Hopkins, Burgess Meredith, and Ann-Margaret, Magic was written by William Goldman, one of the greatest writers in the biz. He gave us Marathon Man, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Princess Bride, and Misery.

In Magic, Goldman tells the story of Corky (Anthony Hopkins) a struggling magician and ventriloquist who may or may not be suffering from mental illness (and with a name like Corky, who could blame him). He’s been hearing the voice of his dummy, Fats (Fats? What the hell kinda name is Fats? Okay Goldman was obviously going through a rough patch when naming his characters in this one) Fats tells Corky to do things. Bad things. This is less a horror film than a psycho-thriller character study. Hopkins is pathetically creepy, but it’s that damn dummy that unnerves you. Man, those things are just wrong…

Convoy Poster

Convoy Poster

Convoy: For our ’78 action entry we have this classic trucker flick from director Sam Peckinpah. I love Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs and The Wild Bunch, but I have to confess I’ve never seen this one. I know it was inspired by a C.W. McCall country song of the same name and that it spawned the use of CB radios by kids in the suburbs.

Convoy stars Kris Kristofferson, Ali McGraw, Ernest Borgnine, and Burt Young. Kristofferson plays a trucker who runs afoul of Borgnine’s corrupt sheriff and then the movie becomes one long car chase. But it’s Peckinpah, so I gotta believe there’s more to it than that. It’s interesting to note that this movie came out the year after Smokey and the Bandit, and it’s a definite must see if for no other reason than its cultural influence on late-70s America.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers Poster

Invasion of the Body Snatchers Poster

Invasion of the Body Snatchers: A remake, but a damn good one. I always found this version colder, creepier, and more believable than its classic 1956 paranoid predecessor. Directed by Phillip Kaufman, it stars Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright and Leonard Nimoy.

The story is simple enough. An alien species replicates humans, creating emotionless clones in their place. The idea of our loved ones changing overnight, making us feel alien in familiar surroundings is an old one and no doubt rooted in some deep-seated childhood fear of parental abandonment. A cool bit of trivia is that both Kevin McCarthy and Don Siegel (star and director of the original respectively) have cameos in the film.

Superman: The Movie Poster

Superman: The Movie Poster

Superman: The Movie: I chose Superman as the family film you must see because compared to most superhero movies of today it’s pretty tame. Also, I think most kids will like it even though the effects aren’t “picture perfect”. Personally, I think that’s part of its charm. Everything’s too perfect in movies today. There’s little chance for missteps from a technological perspective. Before the onslaught of CGI, when craftsman had to find creative ways to sell an effect they often failed, but when they pulled it off it was magic.

This film tells Superman’s origin story and has some great moments like the waterfall scene. It also introduced film audiences to Christopher Reeve, who had great chemistry with co-star Margot Kidder. There are two other reasons this movie is a must see: John Williams iconic score and Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor. Hackman makes any movie he ever appeared in a must see. However, despite this film’s “classic” status, I actually prefer Superman 2 with all its Terence Stamp as General Zod goodness (plus, don’t you just love that part at the end when Supes goes back to the dive bar and teaches that redneck a lesson in Super-respect?)

Dawn of the Dead Poster

Dawn of the Dead Poster

Dawn of the Dead: It pains me to include Dawn of the Dead on this list. Not because I don’t like it or that it’s not a must see. Quite the contrary. It’s one of my all-time favorite horror films. People like to talk about the social commentary in Romero’s films and while it’s there in all of them Dawn is the perfect balance of satire and horror.

So, why am I including it? Well, I’m surprised by how many film fans haven’t seen it. Sure, they know what it’s about. They’ve seen clips, read articles, or caught it on TV. But many, especially newcomers to the horror genre, haven’t taken in the Monroeville Mall in all its gory glory. And what with the remake, which wasn’t awful except for one teeny, tiny detail—ZOMBIES DON’T RUN DAMN IT!—I think it’s important to keep championing the original so it doesn’t become a “forgotten” flick.

So, if you haven’t seen any of these films I urge you to do so, ‘cause you never know when Orca the Vespa driving road-tard is coming your way… Also, be sure to tell us in the comments section what movies from 1978 you think everyone should see.

And now for something completely different:

The first ever winners of the new Insanely Difficult, Damn-Near-Impossible Movie Trivia Challenge (courtesy of the movie-word quiz master himself, Dale Lloyd) are:

Trivia (Beast)Master: @Peter_Nielsen (he was the first to submit all the correct answers)

Trivia Warrior: @LeonMichael

This week they have total bragging rights and can rub the noses of lesser movie mortals in the poo of their amazing cinematic knowledge. Also, they’ll have their names entered into a prize drawing that will take place on 11/30. The movie-related prize will be announced on the day of the drawing.

So, until next time, remember, a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it!

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6 Must See Movies From 1977

For the next several weeks, I’m going to emerge from the dimly lit lobby of the Mall Twin Movie Theater and lay down six movies, each from a different genre, that everyone should check out before they kick the proverbial film canister. Of course, I include myself in that class since I’ll be listing some I’ve only seen bits and pieces of. I believe my cinematic education is ongoing and I hope you’ll join me in this not-so-little endeavor. I’m going to start in the year of our Lord Vader, 1977. My reasoning? Who ever said I was reasonable? It just seems like the perfect year to start this series and unlike Uncle George I won’t change things around as the series progresses, crapping all over the beloved mythology that influenced untold millions, nor will I… okay, enough of the rant (my meds are wearing off). So, before I get any more off track, here they are, six flicks from 1977 that everyone MUST see or die before they die:

Rolling Thunder Japanese Poster

Rolling Thunder Japanese Poster

Rolling Thunder: For drama I chose this classic revenge tale staring the always riveting William Devane. It also stars the great Tommy Lee Jones and was written by Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Cat People) This is one of Tarantino’s favorite flicks. In fact, it was when Tarantino named his short-lived, cult-film distribution company after this movie that I first heard of it. However, I didn’t actually see it until recently when it played on the ThisTV channel. By the way, if you have this channel, check it out. While the movies are edited for TV and have commercials, I’m always shocked by how many obscure, forgotten flicks they show… like this one. Rolling Thunder is the only movie on this list not currently available on DVD. But the Cinema Gods are smiling upon us all ’cause you can watch it on Hulu for free!

Capricorn One: Our sci-fi entry isn’t strictly science fiction. No, it’s equally a paranoid, conspiracy thriller. From director Peter Hyams (Outland, Timecop), it tells the story of the first manned mission to Mars that’s stopped at the last moment due to technical malfunctions. The astronauts become involved in a conspiracy to fake the mission, but a nosy reporter (is there any other kind?) begins investigating and the danger mounts. Also notable for featuring O.J. Simpson in a role where he wasn’t getting brutalized by Lt. Frank Drebin or brutalizing others… oh, wait… that wasn’t a movie… UPDATE: Additional research reveals a release date conflict with Capricorn One. Despite both IMDB and Wikipedia’s 1977 in Film page listing it as 1977, the Wikipedia page for Capricorn One itself claims the release date to be 1978. I always want to be open and honest with you about my mistakes. I guess this is what I get for looking at the first two sources, but not checking the third. If anyone knows for sure what year Capricorn One was released, please leave a comment below. Thanks for your help!

Sorcerer: This is for you adrenaline-lovin’, action junkies. Sorcerer was directed by one of my personal favorites, William Friedkin. Prior to this film, Friedkin directed a couple of smaller studio pictures you may have heard of: The Exorcist and The French Connection. Unlike those two classics, this movie tanked at the box office. Apparently, Friedkin wanted Steve McQueen for the lead role, but according to Peter Biskind’s excellent exposé on 70s Hollywood Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, McQueen dropped out when Friedkin wouldn’t allow actress Ali McGraw (McQueen’s wife at the time) to be a producer on the film. While I love me some Roy Scheider, one has to wonder how this casting choice might have made the difference in the success of an otherwise well-done movie.

The Hills Have Eyes Theatrical Poster

The Hills Have Eyes Theatrical Poster

The Hills Have Eyes: Before Ghostface. Before Horace Pinker. Before Freddy. There was Pluto. From the dark, dank middle row of the horror section at your local Armchair Theater Video Store comes Craven’s follow-up to the deeply disturbing Last House on the Left.  Hills is equally brutal in many ways, although it never feels as exploitative, or downright dirty, as Last House. The story about a family of civilized folk up against cannibalistic inbreeds living in the desert mountains, is loaded with social commentary, leaving the viewer with as many ideas as it does goosebumps.

Kentucky Fried Movie: I remember watching this in my teens. It was hilarious then, and it’s hilarious now. From the Zucker bros. (Airplane), Jim Abrahams (Hot Shots), and director John Landis (this was the film he made before Animal House). Other than the “Fistful of Yen” sketch that plays waaaaaaaaaaay too long, the movie is filled with great bits, gags, and sketch comedy. Definitely worth checking out.

Wizards: Okay, I know. Weird choice for a “family” film. But this animated fantasy featuring wizards and elves and Nazis (oh my!) is definitely a must see for the following three reasons:

Wizards Theatrical Poster

Wizards Theatrical Poster

1. It’s directed by Ralph Bakshi, who made this film right before his classic Lord of the Rings.

2. It’s unique blend of animation and live action footage (Bakshi rotoscoped footage of Nazis from Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will).

3. It’s the first film featuring Mark Hamill made as a voice over artist. That does it for this Friday’s Forgotten Flix Recommends. I’ll be back on Monday with another Mall Twin Musings post that will answer the question “Why do I owe Frank Darabont an apology?”

On Wednesday, I’m going to post a brief update about the progress of the Forgotten Flix Podcast along with an opportunity for all you film fans out there. Then, next Friday will feature 6 more forgotten flicks you must see before you die from 1978.

I’m going to keep this up until we reach 1993, the year that Spielberg made his last “classically” Spielbergian movie, Jurassic Park. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS feed so you can get updates whenever there’s a new post. And please leave a comment or email me at joel@forgottenflix.com with any feedback. So, until next time, remember, a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it!

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