Tuesday, June 3, 2014

1983: Honorable Mentions

1983 was a pretty damn great year for movies with some outright classics, some sleepers and just a nice selection from each genre.  Here are the ones that nearly made the top ten.

Peter Weller is the best reason to see this one as he delivers a tour de force performance as an average businessman trying to catch and kill a rat in his upscale New York apartment.  Said rat is modestly gigantic (a foot long rat is practically Godzilla, relatively speaking) and the ensuing chaos in the apartment as well as Weller's gradual mental breakdown is quite fun to see.  George P. Cosmatos directs things pretty well, never letting you see too much of the rodent and he keeps things moving quite nicely.  If nothing else, it's the best giant rat movie you are likely to find.  I do find it funny that a movie about a giant rat is titles "Of Unknown Origin".  Oh it's known all right!

Fascinating look at the early days of the American space program told with a sense of humor and a terrific cast.  Philip Kaufman assembled quite the list of names: Fred Ward, Dennis Quaid, Lance Henriksen, Scott Glenn.  It's a veritable smorgasbord of character actors.  It's just fantastic.

Really, really good thriller about a young man (Matthew Broderick) who nearly causes WWIII when he inadvertently hacks into the government's top secret nuclear war simulator.  Good performances abound, John Badham directs things nicely and the overall story is quite well put together.

1983 was a banner year for Stephen King adaptations with three and this one is the best.  Directed by David Cronenberg, it stars Christopher Walken as a man who wakes up from a coma to find he has developed the ability to see horrible things in the future.  The film is a very strong adaptation of the book with a great Walken performance and fine work from Martin Sheen as the bad guy.

Not quite as good, but still pretty damn great is Cujo.  Dee Wallace plays an unfaithful wife who, on a mercilessly hot summer day in Maine, gets trapped in a car with her son by a rabid dog.  The dog f/x are good, Wallace is great and Lewis Teague keeps things nice and tense.  Helping matters is how he manages to make you feel the heat as much as the characters do.

Blue Thunder is one of the better entries in a sub-genre I like to call "Cool vehicle on the cover" movies.  This covers quite a few films, lots of post-apocalyptic films from Italy, Land of the Dead and this entertaining thriller starring Roy Scheider.  While Scheider is good, the real star is the utterly cool prototype helicopter being tested for use by the LAPD.  The chopper is armed to the teeth, equipped with tons of surveillance equipment and comes with a stealth mode.  Writers Dan O'Bannon and Don Jakoby intended for the story to be a bit darker and more political than it ended yup being but I dig the hell out of how it turned out.  The action is solid Scheider is good and Malcolm McDowell is a hoot as an old rival who targets Scheider after he steals the chopper.  Part action movie, part conspiracy thriller, Blue Thunder is just a ton of fun to watch.

Strange Invaders is a thoroughly enjoyable little sci-fi alien invasion film with a nice cast and a healthy sense of humor.  Aliens land in a small town and are still there twenty five years later.  Michael Laughlin directs the movie in much the same way he did 1981's Strange Behavior.  An affectionate eye for the 50's sci-fi films and an irreverent sense of humor.  I like the touch that the aliens are still acting and dressing as they did in 1958 and the aliens look pretty neat as well.  could have done with a little less footage of them unmasking towards the end but that's a relatively minor gripe.  Overall, the film is pretty damn good.

Videodrome is an interesting, though not entirely successful film from David Cronenberg that stars James Woods (as usual, the best reason to see the film) as a sleazy owner of a small TV station who discovers a hidden channel full of sadistic imagery that causes warped hallucinations.  Cronenberg directs with his usual skill and the Rick Baker f/x are amazing but the film is a bit of a chore to sit through, interesting as it is.

Coming Soon: The Worst of 1983

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.