80's Films

a decade of zanity

Saturday, October 17, 2009

He's dead. Superman is dead! He's not coming out.

Title: Superman II (1980)

Christopher Reeve Margot Kidder Superman II
Last year, amidst the Hulk, Iron Man, Batman, and Watchmen movies, Superman (1978) starring Christopher Reeve (RIP) quietly turned 30 years old. For some reason, this classic superhero film neither received much commemoration from the fans nor Warner Brothers Studio. At least not to the level that Star Wars received when it turned 30.

Next year, in 2010, the sequel, Superman II, released in 1980, will also turn 30 and I doubt it will gather much celebration either. That's too bad, because these two movies, Superman I and II, are landmark films 30 years after they've been released. Christopher Reeve is perfectly casted and no one has been able to topple him as the Man of Steel ever since. Not in cinema. And not on TV.

Superman II DVD

Superman II has already been released on DVD and Blu Ray and, curiously, there is a version called the Richard Donner cut. Interesting about this is that Richard Donner did not direct Superman II despite creating a masterpiece with the 1978 original. According to IMDB, he had a clash with the producers and the job went to Richard Lester instead. However, there were enough footages that were filmed by Richard Donner so that another version could be made, and it was.

That's great! More Superman for the fans.

Quotes from Superman II

"He's dead. Superman is dead! He's not coming out."

"They've killed Superman! What are we gonna do now?"

"LEX LUTHOR! Possibly you've heard the name? the Greatest Criminal Mind on Earth!"

"They come from there, a place called Houston."

See collectible Superman 13 inch figures.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Last night, Darth Vader came down from planet Vulcan and told me that if I didn't take Lorraine out that he'd melt my brain

Title: Back to the Future (1985)

Marty McFly and Doc Brown in Back to the FutureBack to the Future is reverred today as one of the most clever and funniest movies based on time travel. It has given us lasting pop culture icons and lexicons such as the flux capacitor, the De Lorean time machine, and 1.21 gigawatts. The flux capacitor and the De Lorean are associated by many with time travel. And rightly so, it's the most stylish time machine of them all. Also, I hear way too many people coining the term "1.21 gigawatts" on almost activity, even while bowling.

The whole package just fits together nicely. Robert Zemeckis has done a fantastic job directing and co-writing this classic movie. Christopher Lloyd's performance as the eccentric Doc Brown is memorable. Not to mention the lasting imprints that are made by the youthful rivalry between Thomas Wilson's and Crispin Glover's characters as Bif Tannen and George McFly. And Michael J. Fox gives another endearing teenage character in Marty McFly. By this time, he was already known to many as Alex Keaton from the hit TV series, Family Ties. Of course, Leah Thompson (Red Dawn), Marty's future mom and lust stricken teen, is beautiful.

What if there's a Back to the Future Reboot?

One question for fans of the movie. IF Back to the Future is going to be rebooted, what elements would have to be changed to fit a teenager from 2009 going back in time to 1979?

First of all, I think that 30 years is a sweet spot for a generational crossroad. In that period, if a teenager goes back in time, he'll be able to see his parents as teenagers themselves.

"What do kids do in the '50s?", asked Marty McFly as he tried to figure out how to hook up his mom and dad. Marty was in high school at the time and a kid himself, but from the '80s.

While I don't have a teenage kid, I think that because of the successful sitcom, That 70's Show, a teenager traveling back in time to 1979 would not be so clueless. But then again, Marty should not have been so clueless with Happy Days still being shown on air in the 80's.

Now with the elements that ought to be updated, there are 3 areas of the movie that immediately comes to mind -- music, Darth Vader from Planet Vulcan, and black mayor.

From Birth of Rock 'n' Roll to Birth of Hip-Hop

Just from the movie alone, audiences should note that rock n roll was still an up-and-coming genre. From history, "Rock Around the Clock" has not been released until 1955. That's the song credited by many pop culture historians as what brought rock & roll to mainstream America. And if we are to follow the events of Marty McFly's adventures in 1955, the legendary Chuck Berry is still searching for the sound that would place him in rock history.

But in Marty's time, in 1985, the music scene is very different. Rock n roll is already well
established along with pop, dance, and new wave (KROQ music). In fact, rock n roll has sprouted many sub-genres such as punk, soft rock, hard rock, heavy metal, etc. Kids in the 80s have so much more exposure to music than their 50s counterpart.

But what about a teenager from today who is suddenly brought back to 1979? Let's see. In '79, the disco era is just coming to an end. Did it really end or just changed name to dance beat or house music? Madonna, Prince, and Michael Jackson (RIP) would have been part of the disco
music scene had they been around in the 70s. Still, many disco songs are enjoyed today in club scenes.

Club scenes! Kids did those in '79 as they do today. Aside from disco, most genres of music enjoyed by teenagers, including rock n roll, are fully developed by 1979.

Now, in the movie, Marty McFly performed a guitar solo in front of a 50s teen crowd that left the audience completely dumbfounded. But a seminal phone call is made by Marvin Berry to his cousin Chuck (Berry) and we are to guess as to what happens next, e.g. Chuck Berry hears Marty's version of "Johnny B Goode" and uses it to create rock history.

Could there be a call made in 1979 that is similar to Marvin's call to Chuck that posits to create a musical legend?

One possibility is a cousin of Dj Run (Joseph Simmons), founding member of Run DMC. The hip hop genre that Run DMC brought to mainstream in the 80s is huge among teenagers today but was just bubbling in 1979.

Darth Vader from Planet Vulcan to ?

One funny scene, upon Marty's arrival in 1955 is the "Darth Vader from Planet Vulcan" schtick that he works a couple of times. I could see how faking an alien invader would be a successful ruse in the 1950s.

But could a sci-fi creation that is already well-known in 2009 be used to scare anyone in 1979?

I can't think of any. Perhaps nukes? Soviet commandos? Ronald Reagan as the Anti-Christ? Maybe the aliens from District 9? I'm not sure any of these would work.

As Marty McFly from 2009 transported to 1979, what would you do if you had to scare your dad into dating your mom?

Mayor Goldie Wilson to President Barrack Obama

This one cannot be ignored. Back to the Future makes a pretty strong statement on breaking political racial barrier in the town of Hill Valley, a presumably mostly white, upper middle-class neighborhood. When Marty encountered Goldie Wilson in the '50s, he suggested that Goldie, a black man, can become a future mayor of Hill Valley, which we already knew happened from scenes before Marty travelled back in time.

In 2009, America has a half-black / half-white president in office. This could actually play well for a movie reboot because Barrack Obama attended Occidental College in 1979. In the same way that Marty inspired Goldie, a teenager from today transporting to 1979 can do the same, but with a much higher goal than to be a mayor of a small mid-western town. Since Occidental College is in California, perhaps this teenager could meet a young Barrack Obama at a Licorice Pizza record store.

I think that a rebooted Back to the Future, though not needed, can still be interesting. It's a classic film but the references may seem very outdated to today's and future youth. Yet, there is a large enough group of movie fans who should welcome the question of what if the movie occured today and back to the 70's.

Back to the Future on Blu Ray is or will be available on Amazon.com.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Avenge me! Avenge me!

Title: Red Dawn (1984)

Original cast of Red Dawn Red Dawn is a movie filmed around the American mass consciousness in the 80's that the world is a dangerous place with the Soviet Union looking to conquer free society or, at the very least, the US of A. The movie genre centrally themed around US vs USSR conflict dissipated in the 90's and remained so today.

In Red Dawn, an alliance of Communist army parachuted into a mid-western town as part of a full-scale invasion. It was up to a band of high school teenagers who escaped the initial onslaught to stay alive and free their captured neighbors.

I seem to recall that the movie was ridiculed at the time as being too far fetched. So no one took it seriously. Seeing it at a theater here in California, I remember overhearing some dude saying something in the vein of "If the Russians were to land in East LA, they'd be gang banged." I don't know how kids who saw it in other parts of the US felt, but my friends and I thought this movie as a joke.

Over the years, I neither saw nor had any interest in seeing Red Dawn again. It wasn't all that interesting to me, but I caught plenty of references to it on some TV shows or radio programs such as Family Guy, The Adam Carolla Show, and Jericho. Of course, I'm baffled by why Red Dawn is being remade for a 2010 release. It doesn't seem likely to work, unless there's a large group of population in the US who are still afraid of a Soviet invasion.

I did manage to catch Red Dawn again a few weeks ago on This TV. I kept an open-mind. And I'm still unable to understand why there's a remake. I was, however, appreciative in seeing Charlie Sheen (Young Guns), C. Thomas Howell (Outsiders), Lea Thompson (Back to the Future), Jennifer Grey (Ferris Buehler's Day Off), Patrick Swayze (Road House), Harry Dean Stanton (Escape from New York), and Powers Boothe (Rapid Fire). All of them starred in some of my favorite movies. I still watch Charlie Sheen today in Two and a Half Men co-starring another 80s teen star, Jon Cryer (Duckie in Pretty in Pink).

Girls of Red Dawn

Girls of Red Dawn, Lea Thompson and Jennifer Grey
Lea Thompson and Jennifer Grey. Years after Red Dawn.

Memorable Quotes from Red Dawn

- "Wolverines!"
- "Boys! Avenge me! Avenge me!"
- "Two toughest kids on the block, I guess. Sooner or later, they're gonna fight."
- "Last I heard, there were a billion screaming Chinamen."
- "There will be no further reprisals against civilians. This was stupid. Impotence. Comrades... If a fox stole your chickens... Would you slaughter your pig because he saw the fox? No. You would hunt the fox... You would find where it lives and destroy it! And how do we do this? Become a fox."
- "C'mon! We're all going to die, die standing up!"
- "America is a whorehouse... where the revolutionary ideals of your forefathers... are corrupted and sold in alleys by vendors of capitalism..."
- "I never saw the Eckert Brothers again. In time, this war - like every other war - ended. But I never forgot. And I come to this place often, when no one else does."

Monday, July 27, 2009

I used to fuck guys like you in prison

Movie Title: Road House (1989)

Patrick Swayze Poster from Road House
Road House was one of those movies that grew on me. When I first saw it (from my sister's LASER disc collection of all places), I thought it was a joke. I kinda thought that perhaps, director Rowdy Herrington was trying for a "black belt theater"-type of a movie that was prevalently shown in Southern California back in the 80's and early 90's. Of course, the "black belt theater" movies were Hong Kong martial arts flicks that were really crappy in acting and dialogue, but spectacular in action. The problem, I thought, was that the charm of Hong Kong-made martial arts movies do not carry over to American action films.

Still, there was something about the Road House movie that made me watch it several times on cable over the years. If you try to break it down, well, then, you need a life. But if you did anyways, you'll find so many plot holes, cheesy lines, and cliches that you'd want to switch chanel or turn off the TV.

But you didn't. Why? Because Road House was a guilty pleasure. It's a guy movie. Patrick Swayze made a movie for girls in Dirty Dancing two years earlier. Maybe he was compelled to make a guy movie to win back his macho image. I'm just sayin...

patrick swayze kelly lynch road house movie
Patrick Swayze and Kelly Lynch stars in Road House
Of course, he drove a Euro car in this movie, not a muscle car. It was a nice 1986 Mercedes Benz 560 SEC.

The lines in Road House were so bad that they made you chuckle. The plot was so basic, that kudos ought to be handed out to Patrick Swayze for making the movie memorable through his character, Dalton. As a professional bouncer with a philosophy degree from NYU, Dalton used tai chi and martial arts to control physical pain. Or so it would seem. How else would he be able to tell Dr. Clay that "[p]ain don't hurt"?

While we're at it, why not hand out kudos to Rowdy Herrington and his film staff for polishing off an 80s movie in grand style. Released at the end of the 80's in May 1989, Road House was very much an 80's film bearing the time stamp of mullets, moussed-up and feathered hair, acid wash jeans, and monster trucks.

Also worth mentioning was the Road House movie band featuring Jeff Healey, a popular blues rock musician in the 80's who lost his sight as a baby. Jeff Healey also died of cancer in March 2, 2008. RIP.

Kelly Lynch in Road House and Now
Kelly Lynch as Dr. Clay in Road House and in a 2006 fundraiser.

Of course, we can't forget Kelly Lynch. Can't have a guy movie without a chick for the hero to win over. Kelly Lynch played Dr. Elizabeth Clay, the tall blonde local who became the object of Dalton's affection. Donning the popular big poofy hair of 80s fashion, Kelly Lynch was one of the few girls in the world who can make a table cloth look really sexy.

Road House Movie Quotes

Pain don't hurt.

I used to fuck guys like you in prison.

All you have to do is follow three simple rules. One, never underestimate your opponent. Expect the unexpected. Two, take it outside. Never start anything inside the bar unless it's absolutely necessary. And three, be nice.

Take the biggest guy in the world, shatter his knee and he'll drop like a stone.

If somebody gets in your face and calls you a cocksucker, I want you to be nice. Ask him to walk. Be nice. If he won't walk, walk him. But be nice. If you can't walk him, one of the others will help you, and you'll both be nice. I want you to remember that it's a job. It's nothing personal.

I want you to be nice until it's time to not be nice.

If you're gonna have a pet, keep it on a leash.

Oh man, it's a mean scene around here, man. There's blood on the floor of this joint every night.

Patrick Swayze (1952-2009) RIP

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Oh my God, the quarterback is toast!

Title: Die Hard (1988)

The action blockbuster that launched Bruce Willis onto stardom. He was already an established TV star in Moonlighting. And the competition was tight for big budget action stars at the time, namely, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Mel Gibson. Die Hard immediately placed Bruce Willis among them. And he seemed to outlast them all, with possibly the exception of Mel Gibson. And that would be a close call.

Han Gruber falling to death in Die HardHans Gruber played by Alan Rickman falling to his death in Die Hard

Another star to rise from Die Hard was Alan Rickman. His portrayal of Hans Gruber opposing Bruce Willis' John McClane was a scene stealer, if not mesmerizing. To this day, I can't say the word "detonator" without mimicking Rickman's fake German accent, at least in my head. Die Hard was his big screen debut, but he was already acting in British TV shows. Since 2001, Alan Rickman had been playing Professor Severus Snape in all the Harry Potter movies.

The supporting casts in Die Hard were fantastic as well and very likeable. What little role they had, they made the most of it and had become classics themselves:
  • Special agents Johnson and Johnson (Robert Davi and Grand L. Bush from Colors) were a great dry comic relief in a movie that already gave chuckles in between action.
  • Argyle (De'voreaux White) ... I just can't forget that name.
  • Harry Ellis (Hart Bochner). "Hans. Bubi. I'm your white knight!" This guy should have been a bigger star.
  • Theo (Clarence Gilyard Jr.). See title of the post. "Oh my God, the quarterback is TOAST!" has been listed in the Urban Dictionary.
  • Sergeant Al Powell. Reginal VelJohnson reprised this role in an episode of Chuck (Chuck versus Santa Claus).
  • Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson. Paul Gleason was pretty good at playing clueless authoritative figures.
  • Richard Thornburg. Excellently played by William Atherton as an egotistical reporter who looked to expose John McClaine's identity for want of bumping up his career. Of course, he didn't care that doing so endangered McClane and his family. He's good at playing egotistical characters (Walter Peck in Ghost Busters and Professor Hathaway in Real Genius).
Die Hard was simply the right mix of character chemistry, action, and humor. It's an action-packed thrill ride that cannot be outdated no matter how old the film gets. Twenty one years later, it's still a great movie to watch.