Monday, June 09, 2008

Movie Mon - Super Rad, Bodacious, Tubular, Wicked, Far Out '80s Movie-Thon

Early last week a game of 80s Trivial Pursuit led PigPen, Li'l Random, and myself to decide to have a nostalgic movie flashback weekend where we partook of some of our favorite childhood films from the 80s. We each came up with a list of Top 10 80s Movies We Wanted To See Again.*

The lists were as follows:

Li'l Random's Picks:

Evil Dead
Fright Night
3 'O Clock High
Best of the Best
The Gate
No Way Out
Pink Floyd: The Wall

The Lovable PigPen's Picks
Flight of the Navigator
Little Monsters
The Monster Squad
Enemy Mine
Howard the Duck
Summer School
The Dark Crystal
The Goonies
Full Metal Jacket
Golden Child

Cap'n Neurotic's Picks
Ruthless People
Better Off Dead
Stand By Me
My Science Project
Revenge of the Nerds
Last Starfighter
John Carpenter's The Thing

After some discussion PigPen came up with the idea to narrow it down to 6 films, with the first three being ones that all of us pretty much agreed upon and then each of us picking one on our own with no input from the others. We got all but one watched -- Li'l Random got a phone call not too far into our last film and had to go take care of some stuff -- but we'll probably start off with it next time. And, oh, yes, there will be a next time -- although I think we all agree that 6 movies may have been a bit too much for one sitting. Anyway, here's my thoughts on our marathon -- which The Lovable PigPen dubbed in one of his emails the Super Rad, Bodacious, Tubular, Wicked, Far Out '80s Movie-Thon, --in the order in which we watched them.

Little Monsters: Also known as "The Film That Made The Lovable PigPen the Big Little Monster He Is Today," this was the only film that made the cut which I had never seen; I'm guessing that since it came out in 1989 teen-aged Cap'n Neurotic found the trailers featuring Howie Mandel as a wise-cracking monster under the bed befriending Fred Savage a bit too juvenile and goofy. Or, maybe I saw this ad and decided I'd rather stab out my eyes rather than see the film

Anyway, yes, the film was juvenile and goofy, and I often found myself wishing they had barred Howie Mandel from watching Beetlejuice before filming so that his antics didn't feel quite so derivative, but all in all, a fun little movie, with darker over-tones than I had expected.

Bonus "hey, he was in that?" actor: Frank Whaley, a.k.a. Brett from Pulp Fiction, as the leader of the monsters, Boy.

The Gate: Li'l Random's pick was a horror film that I had last scene 21 years ago, on my 12th birthday, one of many strange horror/sf films I forced my mother to endure on the day of my birth. This one centered around a couple of friends who accidentally open a gateway to a hell dimension in the back yard. I remembered very little of the film outside of the scene where they knock an attacking figure over and he splits into lots of tiny demons; that was the scene in the trailers that made me go "I've got to see this, it looks awesome!"

Still surprisingly entertaining, sometimes intentionally, and sometimes on accident, such as when one of the boys asks the other "Have, want to come over later and mess around?" Poor choice of words, kiddo, poor choice of words. But the film did give us the great line "Why don't you suck my nose until my head caves in?" and the sequence where the two vapid girls proclaim they know which Biblical passage to recite to get rid of the demons because, and I quote, "We went to Sunday School," and will be fondly cherished for those moments and many others.

Bonus "hey, he was in that?" actor: Stephen Dorff, a.k.a. head vampire Deacon Frost in Blade as the main kid, Glen.

Troll: My individual pick is another one of which I had only vague memories; I recalled the general plot (evil troll takes the shape of a little blond girl and starts transforming the tenants of an apartment building into magical creatures), recalled one of the tenants turning into a giant pod, and recalled that there was a witch living in the building who happened to have a talking mushroom which uttered the phrase "Party hearty Harry" in an all too cutesy voice. What I didn't recall was that the Harry in question's full name was, I kid you not, Harry Potter, that the first tenant to get turned into a pod was Sonny Bono, and somehow -- and believe me, I don't know how I ever could have forgotten about it -- I did not recall this sequence, which really gets going at about the 1:06 mark

Seriously, how I blocked that out, I have no clue. Plus, did you notice? Man-Bear-Pig!**

Bonus "hey, he was in that?" actor: In addition to Sony Bono and Michael "Law and Order" Moriarity as the kind of clueless dad, we have Noah Hathaway, a.k.a. Atreyu in The Neverending Story as the kid hero.

Monster Squad: The first of the group consensus films, I think there's one scene I can pretty much guarantee every child of the 80s who saw this remembers:

Yes, indeed, Fat Kid, Wolf Man's got nards. While I remember enjoying this when I first saw it back in the day, somehow this one never really got onto my super-cherished memory list, which is odd, because watching it again I remembered just how funny and cool it was. Excellent suggestion, PigPen, excellent suggestion.

Bonus "hey, he was in that?" actor: The non-wolfed-out Wolf Man (listed in the credits as Desperate Man) was played by Jon Gries, a.k.a. Lazlo, the freaky genius who lives in the closet in Real Genius, who also happens to have played Ben Linus's dad on Lost. Also, Andre Gower, who plays Sean, the head of the Squad, will live forever in my memory as the character Rimshot on Mathnet***

Stand By Me: If you'll notice, this is the only film so far on the list that isn't border-line horror, although it was written by Stephen King and has a dead body in it, so I guess it's not a total departure. One of my all time favorite movies, and one that I saw countless times as a kid, but haven't stumbled across in ages. PigPen and I were quoting right along with it countless times, which I'm sure only enhance Li'l Random's viewing experience, right Li'l Brother?

Bonus "hey, he was in that?" actor: Besides the eternal "man, I still can't believe Vern was Jerry O'Connell" surprise, about the only real "hey, he was in that?" was more of a "hey, who is that kid, I know I know him from somewhere" moment, as we all stared at the character of Charlie Hogan and tried to figure out where we knew him from; it was Li'l Random who pegged him**** as one of the two horror-movie aficionados from another classic 80s film, Summer School.

And, last but not least, the one movie we barely got to start -- which just so happened to be the one movie I was most looking forward to watching, wouldn't you know -- was this one:

Ah, House. What a great, tongue-in-cheek horror-comedy you are. I so look forward to seeing you again soon.


They Live: The night before the marathon, Li'l Random came over while PigPen and Cap'n Peanut were out apartment hunting, and he and I watched the tongue-in-check Sci-Fi paean to crass commercialism starring Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David. Now, this movie has always held a special place in my heart because of the infamous over-four-minute-long fist fight between Piper and David; I can remember watching this with my dad back when I was a kid and thinking "This fight is never going to end! Awesome!" Unfortunately, you fast-forward about twenty years and you find that the reality pales in comparison to the nostalgic memories. Still, an entertaining, if goofy, film.

Friday the 13th Parts 1-8: Yes, that's right; I watched the first eight Friday the 13th movies in two days, you gots a problem with that? Although I will confess that I fast-forwarded through parts of A New Beginning because (a) it doesn't really feature Jason and (b) I had seen it not too long ago. But the others I watched in their entirety, including parts 6, 7, and 8, which I had never seen before; in the case of parts 6 and 8 I almost wished I could still say that, although there were plenty of unintentional comedy moments in both to make them at least partly worth my while. The biggest thing that stood out to me in the progression of the films was how different the concept of Jason was back when it all began; he went from poor drowning victim in part 1 to murderous hillbilly in part 2 to implied kidnapper and rapist in part 3 until finally he started to become more of an unstoppable force of nature Michael Meyers clone in part 4 . . . at which point he gets offed by young Corey Feldman. It's not until part 6 that we truly have the version of Jason that everyone thinks of when they hear the name, which is kind of odd if you stop to think about it. Anyway, I've moved part 9 up in my Netflix queue, and after that I'll probably rewatch my favorite installment, Jason X, and then follow it up with Freddy vs. Jason . . .both of which I own.

*And not "Top 10 80s Movies of All Time" since there are several movies that we all love but which we have seen so many times that there really wasn't a need to see them yet again.
**That one's for you Zinger, courtesy of PigPen
***Sadly, YouTube has embedding disabled on all the Mathnet clips, but you can see a sample of his work here; the two things that have been burned into my memory forever can be found at the 2:58 and 5:35 marks.
****As a matter of fact, several of the "Hey, isn't that . . ." moments came courtesy of Li'l Brother, who correctly identified Atreyu, Lazlo, and others.


Goobygal said...

Over the weekend I caught The Werewolf Versus Vampire Women. It was made worse/better by the cheap version of Elvira that they had hosting the movie. Also Butch Patrick kept popping in to harrass the hostess.
As a bonus this title is a DVD double feature with The Screaming Skull. If I ever see it in a bargain bin I'm totally buying it!

You should check out the IMDB description.