4.19.2017

Favorite Films of My Lifetime, pt. 2 of 4


Ah, the VHS Era! What a great time to be a kid. Here are the films of the 80s that resonate the most with me in 2017. I warn you up front - my choices are fairly conventional. And you'll see a lot more "As a Kid" entries this time around.

~1980~ 

Great year for movies (The Fog, The Empire Strikes Back, Altered States, The Long Good Friday, The Changeling) but my heart belongs to:

The Shining
Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Written by Stanley Kubrick and Diane Johnson.

Too much internet vitriol on the topic has hardened my stance on whether or not it's an effective adaptation of the novel (answer: it is), but there are even some baffling dingbats out there who insist it isn't even a good movie. Kubrick movies can sometimes take a few watches to reveal their many levels of genius, it's true, but even a cursory glance at this one should be enough to clue the viewer in that this is no ordinary ghost story. I don't refer to any of the fanciful interpretations re: its underlying themes, just its extraordinary look, feel, and sound. 

I've read such crazy things about it over the years that perhaps I champion it more than most. It's not about sticking up for a personal fave, though, or for Kubrick (who certainly doesn't need little old me to rise to his defense) - it's about... correcting such an outrageous misconception whenever and wherever it arises.

Honorable Mention: Flash Gordon. With each year that passes, this one gets better and better. You can almost see the alternate timeline where America kept making movies like this until the singularity was at hand. This is a film I loved purely as a kid, then outgrew or thought I outgrew, then loved ironically, and now am back to loving purely.


Also The Apple. Because wtf.

Foreign: The Last Metro. My favorite Truffaut is Day for Night, but this might be my second.

As a kid: 9 to 5, Xanadu, The Last Flight of Noah's Ark, My Bodyguard, and The Private Eyes. I've seen 9 to 5 since then but the others not since the 80s. I have had occasion to watch Bon Voyage Charlie Brown, though, a few dozen times over the past couple of years with my girls:

Still holds up.

~1981~

Another banner year for movies: An American Werewolf in London, Nighthawks, Escape from New York, Excalibur, Time Bandits - all classics that have stood the test of time. Excalibur is a little wonky, but wonky King Arthur works surprisingly well. Also? The greatest movie ever made:

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Directed by Steven Spielberg. Written by Lawrence Kasdan (with George Lucas.)

As with Jaws, I mean, what more can be said? This is the only film to have out- Casablanca'd Casablanca. (Not counting Bloodsport.) 



Sorry so brief, but what is there to say really? If you don't love this film, I'm not saying you're wrong, just that you're awful.

Foreign: Possession. I won't spoil anything, but wow. (RIP, Zulawski.)

As a kid: Many of the films I watched over and over again on VHS did not transition well to the 90s and beyond (On Golden Pond, The Cannonball Run, The Fox and the Hound, Dragonslayer, Condorman, The Devil and Max Devlin, (kind of has a creepy context to it nowadays) The Great Muppet Caper, Carbon Copy, Stripes.) I still like them (most of them - probably not Carbon Copy, but it's been a good 30 years since I saw it) just never felt the need to own them as an adult. Others (The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie, Time Bandits) did/do. 

~1982~

My honorable mentions for this year are some of the best films in their respective genres (Poltergeist, Bladerunner, Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, Creepshow First Blood) or are awesome in their own unique ways (Quest for Fire, Rocky 3.) But as a few immortals once said, there can be only one, and it is:


Also the subject of a spot-on musical appreciation. ("You can check on your ancient computer / It's astonishing how quickly I spread. / You can pick up an axe and go crazy / But I can grow legs from my head!")


As Nerdist put it in their review of the blu-ray: "The Thing is a movie that infects your mind and imagination, the way the alien bits infect the men of the camp. It’s got the requisite big scares and awe-inspiring creature effects for an '80s horror flick without an ounce of cheesiness. Everything is treated completely seriously, and the result is a movie that was too bleak for the time, but can't be ignored evermore. It’s a classic. Buy this shit." Amen.

Honorable Mention: Tron. It wasn't particularly beloved back in the day and on more than a few occasions in elementary school I pretended not to like it when everyone in the lunch room or on the bus was ganging up on it. (I apologize, Steve and Don; I let you down.) Thankfully - as with The Thing - it found a second and enduring life on home video.

Documentary: Koyaanisqatsi, Burden of Dreams. The former is where I got the (inverted) screencap for the header for this blog. The latter is the first but not the last appearance of Werner Herzog in these posts.

As a Kid: E.T. (of course but I never connected with this quite the way everyone else did; I dig it and all, I can just take it or leave it), Megaforce, The Secret of NIMH, The Last Unicorn, Zapped! (First laser disc I ever watched), Night Shift, (largely forgotten today but great performance from Michael Keaton and the soundtrack is killer) The Beastmaster, and The Slumber Party Massacre.

~1983~

My fave: 

Wargames
Directed by John Badham. Written by Lawrence Lasker and Walter F. Parkes.

"A strange game. The only winning move is not to play." Amen, Joshua. One of these days some generation of human population somewhere is going to put into practice all the great advice we give ourselves in the movies.

Honorable Mentions: Zelig, The Right Stuff, Star 80, and two by David Cronenberg, The Dead Zone and Videodrome, their messages still as timely as ever.


I rewatched: Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone in prep for this blog. It didn't hold up under questioning. That brief 3-D craze of the early 80s (I say "craze" but they were all flops pretty much) produced little of value.

Yeah, It's Still Awesome: Return of the Jedi. Somewhere along the way it became popular to trash Jedi. Myself I thought it was undeserving of the contempt heaped on it even before the prequels came along and made the original trilogy shine all the brighter. Yub nub!

As a kid: The Twilight Zone: The Movie, Superman 3, Staying Alive, Mr. Mom, Max Dugan Returns (love this movie still - kinda goes for all of these), Blue Thunder (even this one, not that I've seen it in 30+ years), Something Wicked This Way Comes, Sleepaway Camp, and Krull. (Okay, these last 3 I don't love so much anymore.)

~1984~

I was so gaga over Raiders in the 80s that there was no chance that anything but

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Directed by Steven Spielberg. Written by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz.

would be my contemporaneous favorite. Same is true in 2017 pretty much. A lot of Indy fans have convinced themselves that there's something wrong with this film, or that "it's not as good as you remember." Or that Willie and Short Round (or evil Thugees) ruin it or somedamnsuch. I honestly don't know how to respond. It's not perfect, and it's no Raiders, but it's awesome and stop kidding yourselves. 


Honorable Mentions: Amadeus, Romancing the Stone, (When I was a kid I thought you could grow up and basically choose Michael Douglas' lifestyle as a legit career path and I've never gotten over the disappointment, I don't think. My wife is always busting on my enduring affection for this movie. But I stand by it as a damn entertaining piece of cinema, a story well-told, with characters you care about. Horrible sequel, alas), The Terminator, This is Spinal Tap, and The Killing Fields.

As a Kid: I basically still like all of these films (Gremlins, Ghostbusters, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Sixteen Candles, Night of the Comet, Red Dawn, The Karate Kid, The Last Starfighter, Conan the Destroyer, Splash, Footloose) just not the way I did when I was 10. So it goes. 

Ask My Parents... and I did because they were just in town and after telling me there's no way they could possibly remember what I was watching a lot in 1984, they then rattled off Firestarter, The Neverending Story, The Ice Pirates, Breakin', Beat Street, ("those breakerdance movies") and Cloak and Dagger. I've seen the first two within the past few years but I need to line up the last four sometime.

~1985~

My favorite then and my favorite now is:

Young Sherlock Holmes
Directed by Barry Levinson. Written by Chris Columbus.

I can see some broad strokes at play in 2017 of which I wasn't aware in 1985, but who cares? It's too bad this didn't lead to any more movies (or some kind of reunion deal) for the two leads. I've been singing this song for years and won't stop anytime soon.

They Also Served: Back to the Future, Brewster's Millions, The Falcon and the Snowman, Fletch, Fright Night, Real Genius, Death Wish 3, Pee Wee's Big Adventure, and Better Off Dead.

Foreign: Come and See. Have you seen this? Good freaking lord. If there was a worse place to be on Planet Earth from 1939 - 1945 than Eastern Europe, I don't want to know.

Still my vote for most effective and mind warping war movie ending ever made, no hyperbole. (Outside of In Country.)

Klum, bless his departed heart, gave me a framed picture of the above "for my future office." I have it in the closet. That'll be a fun one for my family to explainif I kick off unexpectedly.

As a Kid: Cat's Eye, My Science Project, The Goonies, Gotcha', European Vacation (Ca Plane Pour Moi!), Rocky IV, Cocoon, Rambo: First Blood pt. 2, Ladyhawke, Explorers, Just One of the Guys, Teen Wolf, Enemy Mine, The Heavenly Kid, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.

~1986~

I tend to gravitate towards those films that have a little something for everyone, or that can be conceptually reconfigured to say everything about everything. Ergo:

Big Trouble in Little China
Directed by John Carpenter. Written by Gary Goldman, David Weinstein, and W.D. Richter.
It is the film all other films - from Herbie the Love Bug to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - wish to be.

Honorable Mentions: Jesus, what a year. Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Aliens, The Fly, Blue Velvet, The Color of Money, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

A Genre of One: Top Gun.

As a Kid: Stand By Me (I really wish I could still reconnect with this one, FWIW,) Crocodile Dundee, Karate Kid 2, Maximum Overdrive, Cobra, The Golden Child, Witchboard, Transformers: the Movie, Platoon, Highlander, One Crazy Summer. All classics of one form or another, just the ones above this paragraph edge them out in a liferaft scenario.

~1987~

"Then let's head down into that cellar and carve ourselves a witch."

Evil Dead II
Directed by Sam Raimi. Written by Sam Raimi and Scott Spiegel.

Honorable Mentions: Full Metal Jacket, Nightmare on Elm Street 3, Predator, Robocop, Wall Street, Prince of Darkness, Real Men. That last one's more or less forgotten, which is a shame. I haven't seen it in forever, but it was a very unexpected pleasure to find on cable at my buddy Jeff's house back in the day.

As a Kid: Good Morning Vietnam, Less Than Zero, The Lost Boys. Like a lot of people, I had a huge junior high crush on Jami Gertz.  

Her career faded somewhat, but she did okay for herself.

Also: Three Men and a Baby, Planes Trains and Automobiles, Mannequin, Three o'Clock High, Innerspace, The Running Man, Hellraiser, Summer School. You probably think I'm just naming any movie I once enjoyed, but I'm only listing those films I watched at least 9 or 10 times. Innerspace I must have watched at least 50; it's difficult to see now what it was about that one that so appealed to me. Still a fun little movie, but 50 times

~1988~

Did I say that Raiders was the best movie ever made? I was wrong. Here's the correct answer:

Midnight Run
Directed by Martin Brest. Written by George Gallo.

I can't adequately convey how perfect this movie is. Here's a good review that does it for me. Great performances (particularly the leads but also Dennis Farina and Yaphet Kotto), great characters, great script, great heart, great 80s production value (bluesy soundtrack, car chases, helicopter stunts, etc.)

Honorable Mentions: Heathers, They Live, Die Hard, Beetlejuice. In any year that didn't also have Midnight Run, these would all be tied for the top spot.

As a Kid: The Great Outdoors, Big, I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, Alien Nation, Bloodsport, Eight Men Out, Elvira Mistress of the Dark, Funny Farm, Scrooged, Moon Over Parador

~1989~

Couldn't decide between these two quotes so here's both of them: "There are strange things afoot at the Circle K." And "All we are is dust in the wind, dude." Genius. 

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
Directed by Stephen Herek. Written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon.

If you'd told me in 1989 that I'd be listing this as my favorite, I'd have disbelieved you. I almost disbelieve myself now. In no rational universe should this be anyone's vote for favorite movie of 1989. But we do not, of course, inhabit a rational universe. Excellent.

Honorable Mentions: Roadhouse (I was too cool for this one at the time, bizarrely, so I missed out on 20 years of watching this and cackling along with everyone else), Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Foreign: Cinema Paradiso, The Killer. (More on John Woo next time.)

As a Kid: Batman, The Abyss, Sex Lies and Videotape, Tango and Cash, Always, (for some reason I really loved this movie in 1989 and even believed, weirdly, that it was his best film. I have no explanation for this) Casualties of War, Lean On Me, Lock Up. None of these had the longest shelf life with me, but in 1989 (or afterward on VHS/ Pay Per View) I was a frequent consumer.  

~
NEXT:

42 comments:

  1. CRIKEY I FORGOT: Octopussy, Amazon Women on the Moon, Blues Brothers, Commando, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. (Thanks to my buddies Jeff and Chad for pointing out these oversights.)

    What else did I miss?

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    1. For Your Eyes Only and The Living Daylights, too. I had all Bond off my original list as well as all Star Treks and Star Wars but then changed my mind and then forgot to put some of them back in.

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    2. It's weird, but among Bond movies, only "For Your Eyes Only" floated near the top of any particular year for me. All the others from the eighties got close, though; "A View to a Kill" got VERY close, as did "The Living Daylights."

      Not "Never Say Never Again," though; not counting that one.

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  2. So much to say! For now, just watched My Bodyguard with Jesse proving that all bullies suck and they are always the same.
    Also just had the annual argument with Tyler over my utter disappointment withTemple of Doom- he got Jesse on his side with that one proving our age difference.
    Gotta go out but may come back later to comment further.

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    1. I hope so! Look forward to it. That's so cool you and Jesse watched My Bodyguard. (And I agree with Tyler, ha - but that was probably obvious from the post.)

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  3. For me, the best part about the 80s were those quirky out-of-the-way fare. I’m talking about those obscure gems that either got a very limited release in select theaters, or else were sent straight to the early version of cable, where they would play at all odd hours of the day.

    They weren’t midnight movies, and yet they were so offbeat that they almost couldn’t seem to fit into the standard wide release format. These kinds of films blossomed for a brief period. Basically, they were the result of Reagan era economic boom, which meant lots of pares change to throw around, combined with a measure of creative freedom due to no conglomerate consolidation from the major studios, plus a surprising amount of leftover surrealism stemming from that old Hippie 60s high-spirits.

    Back then, the way to catch these kinds of films was to be lucky enough to be walking past the living room, and hope your folks had left the TV on by chance. Then sometimes you’d spot these off-beat films playing to whoever came along. The results were often mind-bending as much as they were creative, and you just don’t see anybody doing much of that stuff anymore.

    The most typical example of the films I’m talking about is “Heavy Metal”. Yet there were a lot of other examples, such as Moebius’s “Time Masters:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKBdeb6dmXI

    How about Ralph Bakshi’s “American Pop”?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBwz9Pijr1E

    I’m personally convinced the Bakshi vehicle must have been part of the inspiration for the very first film that grabbed my attention and made me a geek for life:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvZfEQ_pMdg

    Then, there is "Twice Upon a Time":

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqCRgiHHvB4

    Those were the days. Good on all who "get" "Temple of Doom", or "Crystal Skull" for that matter (and yes, I meant that!).

    ChrisC.

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    1. I like "Crystal Skull," too. WAY too many good things in it for me to hold the problems against it; and I don't even agree that all the "problems" are problematic. That fridge sailing over the car as it flees the nuclear shockwave still makes me laugh.

      I've seen none of those animated films you mention. I really have no excuse for not having seen at least "Heavy Metal," either.

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    2. I've waffled on "Crystal Skull" over the years. I liked it when I saw it, then walked it back, then hated it, then thought I was too harsh, then hated it even more, then shrugged it off and enjoyed it for whatever it was. That accounts for each of my viewings of it, I think.

      What'd you think of "Dark Crystal," Chris?

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  4. 1980:

    (1) "but there are even some baffling dingbats out there who insist it isn't even a good movie." -- Reference previous comments regarding stances that cause a person's opinion to immediately be invalid in my eyes. You and I, of course, are in complete agreement on "The Shining."

    (2) I have to confess to being underwhelmed by "The Changeling" when I saw it for the first time a half-decade or so back. But I saw it under less-than-optimal conditions, so it's likely worth a revisit.

    (3) I never have gotten around to seeing "The Empire Strikes Back"! Maybe someday.

    (4) Complete lie, previous comment was! Wanted to see what it felt like to type it, I did, HMMM?!? Heh-heh-heh! (It felt weird.)

    (5) Never have seen "Altered States" for real. No idea why; given my love of genre, it's a strange omission.

    (6) He saved every of us.

    (7) Man, I LOVED "My Bodyguard" as a kid. Watched it again as an adult, and it totally held up. Same for "Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown."

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  5. 1981:

    (1) "If you don't love this film, I'm not saying you're wrong, just that you're awful." -- There it is. THE best moment in Dog Star Omnibus history. We found it! And truer words have never been said. Looking at you, person I know who saw this for the first time last year and just shrugged at it. Glad we are mere acquaintances!

    (2) I loved "Excalibur" as a teenager, but have not seen it since. I kind of fear it wouldn't hold up in some respects. But I've also never seen the R-rated cut; only seen edited-for-tv versions, which, so I've been told, are rather a different thing.

    (3) I believe "The Fox and the Hound" was the first Disney animation I ever saw, and it was for sure the first one I saw in a theatre. (It was also the last until "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," if you can believe that.) Not a bad one to start with. It's got that raging undercurrent of sadness that many of the best Disney films possess.

    (4) Never saw either "Condorman" or "The Devil and Max Devlin," but as with many other films, I remember the marketing. Weird that you can feel mild nostalgia even for a film you never actually saw! But you totally can. Or at least I can.

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    1. (1) Glad you agree!

      (3) I should have made it clearer that I love "Fox and the Hound," only that it's one I never felt the need to buy. That might be changing nowadays, though, as my kids-movie library expands considerably...

      (4) Both are worth checking out. That's funny/ totally understandable about vicarious nostalgia.

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  6. 1982:

    (1) God, what a brutal year for favorite-picking. I've got one, but still, brutal.

    (2) I cannot, would not, and do not fault "The Thing." What an absolute masterwork. I saw it in a theatre for the first time last year, and if you've ever got that option, TAKE IT.

    (3) I never saw "Tron" until I was an adult. Therefore, I have no actual nostalgia for it, and can report that it's not a great movie, but it's a GOOD one. Visionary, if nothing else; and kind of unique, even in the face of the underrated sequel. It must feel weird to have joined in a bullying gang against the movie as a kid, but shit, who hasn't done stuff like that?

    (4) I've actually seen "Koyaanisqatsi," which is intoxicatingly good. Couldn't get into the sequel, and never gave the third one a try.

    (5) I MUST SEE "Megaforce"!

    (6) I'd also like to see "Night Shift," which does indeed have a great soundtrack. Most -- all? -- of it is courtesy of Burt Bacharach, to whom I've been listening a lot lately.

    (7) Would you believe I have never seen "The Beastmaster"? I did see Marc Singer at a con once, and he seemed like a tool.

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    1. (4) I agree - the sequels are just meh. The first one, though is great.

      (5) You must indeed. And for (6) and (7), too!

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  7. 1983:

    (1) I didn't warm to "Wargames" as a kid, which seems a bit odd in retrospect. I haven't seen it since, and feel like that's a mistake.

    (2) You put out "Videodrome" (which I've never seen) and "The Dead Zone" in a single year, you've had a hell of a year.

    (3) I'm a Woody Allen fan in general, but "Zelig" is not a personal favorite. But, again, I suspect a rewatch is in order.

    (4) "The Right Stuff" is a hell of a movie. I'd love to see that in a theatre one of these days.

    (5) Yub nub, indeed. I love the Ewoks. Celebrate the love!

    (6) My parents took me to see "Twilight Zone: The Movie," and that opening scene terrified and scarred me. But I think the movie overall is quite good. The on-set tragedy has permanently tainted it, and that's as it should be; but if you can fight past that, there's a fine movie beneath it.

    (7) I've never seen "Something Wicked," but would like to. Same goes for "Blue Thunder."

    (8) I'll always have a soft spot for both "Mr. Mom" and "Krull," the latter of which really does seem primed for that remake that President Obama got briefings on.

    (9) I've also got some nostalgia for "Sleepaway Camp," which I didn't see until the late nineties, but saw with friends in a delightfully drunken environment. Which is the only way to do it, I bet.

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    1. (8) I forgot about that joke! Nice. Was that The Onion?

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    2. Yeah, it sure was. An all-time classic.

      http://www.theonion.com/article/obama-receives-classified-briefing-likelihood-krul-52581

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  8. 1984:

    (1) Isn't the history of reactions to "Temple of Doom" weird? I recall that everyone liked it when it came out. But then, a few years later, it was shit in the overall public opinion. This sort of thing happens regularly in the Internet era, but it was less common back then. Same thing happened with "Return of the Jedi," but I'd say "Temple of Doom" is a better movie by far than that. And anyways, Willie is SUPPOSED to be annoying! Man, I love that movie.

    (2) Does it seem like basically nobody remembers "Romancing the Stone" these days? But that movie was a huge deal -- if only to me -- when it came out. Loved it then; haven't seen it in forever. The novelization had some steamy sex scenes, as I recall, which might well have been my initial foray into the Adult World.

    (3) I remember "The Jewel of the Nile" fondly, but even as a kid, I knew it was a big step down.

    (4) To this day, I have not seen either "Sixteen Candles" or "Footloose." My clan is without honor.

    (5) "those breakerdance movies" -- lol

    (6) So many of the movies you mention from this year are big deals in my memory that I won't bother mentioning them. We'd be here all day. And I've got to go fight both Xur AND the Kodan Armada.

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    1. (5) I thought that was adorable myself. Glad to see someone caught it.

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  9. 1985:

    (1) Holy smokes, Indy my friend, I have not seen "Young Sherlock Holmes" in forever, and had forgotten entirely about that piece of music. I just got a little dizzy hearing it again. I can remember seeing it in theatres, and then trying to tell my friends at school about the CGI guy coming out of the window. I failed. But how could I have succeeded?

    (2) Oh, "Better Off Dead"! That's one of the movies I discovered purely via HBO during the eighties. I wonder if kids nowadays are stumbling across weirdo movies with which they fall in love via Netflix? As soon as I pose the question, I know the answer is yes. I like that.

    (3) To my shame, I'm not sure I've ever even heard of "Come and See."

    (4) "Look, kids! Big Ben! Parliament!" "My family and I are looking for sex!" "He's not going to pork her, Russ." (Here's another sequel that everyone shits on that I love. Granted, I've not seen it in probably thirty years. But still.)

    (5) To this day, I am butthurt that they didn't make seven or eight more "Remo Williams" movies. I am unlikely ever to get over it, either; mainly due to being unwilling.

    (6) I will never, ever, ever forget that when I saw "Rocky IV" in the theatre, the crowd chanted "USA! USA! USA!" That is burned into my memory as though with a brand.

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    1. Amen to each and everyone of these. I'd loved to have been in that theater for "Rocky IV."

      "ALL OF YOUSE CAN CHANGE!!"

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  10. 1986:

    (1) I never saw "Big Trouble in Little China" as a kid. A friend who was all about martial arts -- and with whom I watched a lot of movie (his family had HBO, whereas mine mostly didn't) -- was a fan of it, and I kind of wonder at the fact that we never watched it together. I didn't see it until years later when I became an all-purpose John Carpenter fan, at which point, obviously, I dug it through and through.

    (2) Still haven't seen "The Fly," but I have a vivid memory of a friend in school telling me about the arm-wrestling scene. It skeeved me out so much that I remember it 31 years later. Seeing the movie would almost be pointless!

    (3) A teacher showed us "Top Gun" in class over the course of a few days in the seventh grade. WTF. He was a football coach whose wife was a stripper, allegedly. His name was "Skeeter." This all makes more sense now.

    (4) Wait, what's this about "Stand By Me"? You've lost that loving feeling?

    (5) Haven't seen "Cobra," or "The Golden Child," or "Transformers: The Movie," and would be willing to budge on the former two. Less so the latter one.

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    1. (3) That is hilarious.

      (4) I just couldn't connect with it the last few times. Too much fake crying and Wil Wheaton and Corey Feldman and fake fighting, etc. Don't get me wrong - I'll always respect it, both for its own sake and the role it played in my life as a youngster. But as an adult I have trouble watching it without getting irritated at everyone. Plus, take off that goddamn Yankees cap, young man - Uncle Steve shrugged it off, but not this cowpoke.

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    2. There is a certain degree of artifice in it, for sure. It's never lost its hold on me, but everything you say here makes enough sense that I can absolutely see it from that perspective.

      Our feelings on movies(/books/music/etc) wax and wane sometimes, and sometimes they stay rock solid. I find that to be fascinating. I think it's a sort of proof that we are not necessarily the same person from one day to the next. Similar, but different.

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    3. We wander the levels of our own respective Towers, to be sure. A grand metaphor because like turtles all the way down, it seems to describe the surrealist impossibility of our existence. Same but varied, similar but different.

      Okay so maybe I shouldn't have poured this last glass of wine... but screw it, to the Queen's health. Prost.

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    4. Interestingly, this topic sort of played into a post of my own I was working on earlier. (A review of "The Fireman," to be specific.) It's evergreen ground!

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  11. 1987:

    (1) Look, I hate to admit this, but I have not seen "Evil Dead II." Or "Army of Darkness." Or the new tv show. I've seen the original and the remake/reboot, both of which were good. Need to get crackin' on the others, I know.

    (2) I've also never seen "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," which seems impossible, but is true.

    (3) I'd like to see "Less Than Zero" again as an adult. To say I was not ready for it is a bit of an understatement.

    (4) "Innerspace"! Loved that flick. The eighties were a golden age for family-friendly sci-fi movies. They aren't all great, but there a LOT of good ones. I probably watched "Innerspace" as often as you did. Not as often as, say, "Strange Brew," but often.

    (5) Good lord, "Three O'Clock High"!!! Another one I loved via HBO. Richard Tyson scared me in that movie, so much so that when Mike Tyson came along I thought he and Richard were somehow related. I wasn't the brightest guy.

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    1. (1) Oh man! I envy you. I wish I could see those for the first time again. Definitely do whatever you have to do to get into a junior high mindset.

      (4) I'm glad to hear it. I freaking loved that movie at the time.

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  12. 1988:

    (1) I'd have expected your pick to be "Heathers," but that tells me all I need to know about "Midnight Run. " (Which I have seen, but not in a long time. I dug it, or that's my memory, at least.)

    (2) "Big" had a massive impact on me. Not in any specific way, it was just a movie that when I saw it, it immediately felt like it was some part of me that had been externalized somehow and put on a screen. It's not the only Hanks movie to ever have that impact on me, either.

    (3) In its way, "Beetlejuice" also had that sort of impact. I went to see it with some friends, and then later we wanted to go see it again, but my mom didn't want me to. I think maybe she'd somehow turned on these friends. I spent, like, an hour trying to talk her into it. I can't actually remember if I succeeded!

    (4) Man, did I love "The Great Outdoors." Also, "Funny Farm." I wonder if I'd get anything out of either nowadays? I kinda want to not find out.

    (5) I'm not sure if I ever saw the Elvira movie. I don't remember it if I did. But I'm guessing I would get something different out of it now. Or, based on the year, probably something exactly the same.

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    1. (2) Big, Beetlejuice, Three Men and a Baby, and Innerspace were all films I actually set my alarm for 4 o'clock a few times so I could watch them before school. That was a level of obsession with those movies I sometimes marvel at now.

      (5) It has its... charms.

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  13. 1989:

    (1) Bill & Ted fever never struck me. I didn't see the movie until years later, and enjoyed it then mildly. As I've said many times in these comments, I suspect a rewatch is in order.

    (2) Because I suck, I've never seen "Cinema Paradiso" OR "Roadhouse," which might be the only thing those movies have in common.

    (3) I loved every second of "The Abyss," and the impact it had on me when I saw the Director's Cut years later cannot be ignored. It had never occurred to me that such a thing could happen with a movie.

    (4) I loved "Lean On Me," and remember it being a big deal in school when it came out, so much so that in at least one assembly, a group performed it a capella.

    (5) I'm hugely overdue not only for a rewatch of "Always," but for a blogging-about-Spielberg project. But that will be a colossal project, and if it wasn't, I'd turn it into one, on purpose and without regret. I've always like "Always" more than most people seem to. You are not "most people," of course. That's the movie that introduced me to "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," which might be the most beautiful song ever recorded. The movie in general is beautiful, though. I like modern Spielberg just fine, but this one REALLY needs to come back.

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    1. (3) Crikey, I forgot the Abyss. I like it but don't love it, but it was probably my all-time favorite movie that summer. I think I watched it too much and burnt out.

      (5) I'm glad to have an ally in this, or at least someone who had it hit him the same way. I can't connect to it like that anymore but for some reason I was all about "Always" in the summer of 1989.

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  14. Alright, so her are my personal picks.

    1980 -- I think it has to be "The Empire Strikes Back," which may as well be written into my DNA. But boy is "The Shining" close, and in a way, "Battle Beyond the Stars" is just as DNA-coded for me. Not a great movie, and maybe not even a good one; but hugely meaningful to me.

    1981 -- I mean, of course it's "Raiders of the Lost Ark," and by a mile. Runners-up for me are "For Your Eyes Only" and "Arthur," the latter of which means so much to me that, I shit you not, I tear up a bit just thinking about it. What a weirdo!

    1982 -- In a year filled (and I do mean filled) with great (and I do mean great) movies, I recently made the determination that not a one of them means more to me than does "Conan the Barbarian." It's a beautifully-made film with one of the great scores in cinema history. Runners-up? Jesus God Almighty, how do I choose? I will go with "E.T." and "The Thing," but it makes me sad to have to leave out the ones I'm leaving out.

    1983 -- "A Christmas Story" is a cliche, I guess, but I never fail to laugh at it, and as I've gotten older, I've come to value its subtleties. Runners-up? I've got hugely nostalgic feelings for a bunch of them, but I think my King fandom has vaulted "Christine" and "The Dead Zone" past all of them.

    1984 -- I am surprised to find that "Starman" is my favorite from this year. I kind of thought it would be "Temple of Doom," which gets the silver, with "Ghostbusters" pulling the bronze.

    1985 -- Brutal. God damn. Let's go with "Back to the Future," followed by "The Color Purple" and "The Goonies." Spielberg was on a tear!

    1986 -- Gotta be "Aliens," although "Stand By Me" comes close, and "Big Trouble In Little China" follows. (I was hugely tempted to say "Maximum Overdrive," though, which will not surprise you.)

    1987 -- "Empire of the Sun" by a hair over "Raising Arizona" and "Prince of Darkness." And I simply can't NOT mention "Full Metal Jacket"!

    1988 -- "Big" with the gold, "The Naked Gun" with the silver, and (after heated competition) "Die Hard" with the bronze.

    1989 -- It's lowbrow as fuck, but I swear to God that my favorite movie from '89 is "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." I watch it every year, and never fail to laugh. NEVER. That counts for something. My runners-up choices are "The Little Mermaid" and "The Abyss," probably in that order.

    Man! This is tough. Fun, but tough.

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    1. Excellent choices. I watched "Battle Beyond the Stars" just the other night. Even grabbed a screencap for an eventual cover photo. I always get that film mixed up with "Galaxina" in my head and kept waiting for Dorothy Stratten to show up.

      I forgot "Conan the Barbarian." Terrible.

      never seen "Christmas Vacation" all the way through! Ditto for "A Christmas Story." Every Christmas I say "this is the year" but it hasn't happened yet. One of these days. I recently watched the 5 or 6 episodes of "Police Squad" that are on YouTube - all those Naked Gun jokes still crack me up.

      I need to line up "Empire of the Sun" again. I remember nothing about it. I liked it a lot at the time, though.

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    2. I've never actually seen any of "Police Squad." Or "Galaxina," for that matter.

      So many movies, so little time, said the broken record in the shape of a man.

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    3. I understand!!

      Just to be perfectly clear - it's terrible that I forgot an awesome flick like "Conan the Barbarian," is what I meant up there.

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    4. Oh, yeah, I knew. We've discussed the glory of Conan before. Man, I love that movie.

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  15. Caddyshack, Rocky VI, Raging Bull, Silkwood, Kramer vs. Kramer, Weird Science, Light of Day, Sid & Nancy, Revenge of the Nerds, Decline of Western Civilization 1 & 2, Uncle Buck, Do the Right Thing, Down By Law, Tootsie...

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    1. Oh yeah I totally should have put Decline of WC 2 in there. That movie is something else.

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  16. Also: Rad, the Dolph Lundgren Heman movie, The Natural, Overboard, Wildcats, Stand and Deliver .... more later

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    1. I need to watch "Rad" again! "Wildcats," too.

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    2. I tried to re-watch Rad but it was hard. I got about twenty minutes in. But when I was 11, that movie may as have been Citizen Kane.

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