Wednesday, June 25, 2014

1986: The Best

1986 finally wraps up with an eclectic top ten.

 10. From Beyond

The many, many f/x wonders and a solid Jeffrey Combs performance are what make this Stuart Gordon horror flick a great flick for me.  Well paced, well acted (Barbara Cranpton is really good) and fairly creepy (with some great f/x too), From Beyond might not be the best horror movies out there but it's still very, very good.

9. Little Shop of Horrors

An all-star comedy cast heads up this fantastic musical comedy based on the off-Broadway production which was based on the 60's Roger Corman flick about a nerdy florist who comes across a man-eating plant.  Rick Moranis is great in the lead, Steve Martin is quite funny as a sadistic dentist and Bill Murray is great in a cameo that was originally played by Jack Nicholson in the Corman version.  The f/x work on the plant is also incredible.

8. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

The fourth Star Trek movies is a light, fluffy change of pace from the two previous entries which were more dark and serious.  A fun time travel tale, this sees the crew of the Enterprise trying to find some humpback whales in order to save the world from a destructive probe.  Leonard Nimoy directs things with a deft comedic touch and the entire cast has some great funny moments.  I especially love Kirk just dryly observing things.  Not often you get "dryly humorous" Shatner but he's actually pretty damn funny in this one.  Along with the second and third movies, I think this is the best stretch in the entire franchise.  The second film was a stirring action adventure, the third one is more of a character driven piece and the fourth one finally lets the audience relax and have a laugh or twenty.  It's just plain fun.

7. Avenging Force

As with Revenge of the Ninja in 1983, this makes the top ten simply by being 100% completely insane.  Michael Dudikoff stars in this semi-sequel to Invasion U.S.A. (taking over for Chuck Norris) as Matt Hunter who is brought in to help protect his friend, prospective politician Larry (Steve James) from a bunch of racist scumbags led by John P. Ryan in one of his hammiest roles.  The action is great, the performances are... Well, you can guess and the fact that the film pulls no punches (James' entire family is wiped out right before he gets killed) gets it bonus points in my eyes.  This is one of the best things Cannon ever put out.  It's brimming with action and is damn near perfect.

6. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2

The second Texas Chainsaw Massacre film is a surprisingly good, quite funny dark comedy/slasher movie that sees the family of cannibals matched up against a determined DJ played by Caroline Williams and Dennis Hopper as an obsessive lawman out for blood.  Tom Savini's f/x are top notch, Bill Moseley is good for the most part and Hopper is terrific as usual.  I've really come to love this one as it is more or less the same basic premise as the first only played more for laughs than anything else.  It's quite good.

5. Ruthless People

From the guys behind Airplane! comes this wonderfully mean-spirited dark comedy starring Danny DeVito as a rich guy who dearly wants to kill his wife, played by Bette Midler.  One day, she is kidnapped a by a couple (Judge Reinhold and Helen Slater) DeVito screwed over and the rest of the film revolves around him gleefully trying to get her killed while also not alerting the cops to what he's doing.  The four main players are fantastic as is Bill Pullman as the lover of DeVito's mistress who is trying to blackmail him.  It's wonderfully complex plot with a pleasant streak of nastiness that really makes the laughs ht hard.  DeVito and Midler really stand out, however, with screamingly funny performances.  It's a real winner.

4. Heartbreak Ridge

This is one of my favorite Eastwood films as he goes for a rather subtle blend of drama with comedy.  Clint plays Tom Highway, a tough as nails Marine who is tasked with training a bunch of screw-ups.  While this is going on, he;s also trying to rekindle his relationship with ex-wife Marsha Mason while also butting heads with the higher-ups in the Marines who don;t especially like him.  It's a fairly standard plot hut it is executed quite well with funny performances from Clint and others, some nice dramatuic moments and a deft and subtle touch when the inevitable action climax comes up,  In the case if this film, Highway leads his team into Grenada and like the old pro he is, Clint directs the sequence so it doesn't feel too out of place.  It's one of his lesser known films but it's a damn good one.

3. Aliens

Aliens, as I said in my longer review last year, is just as good as the first film in that it works perfectly in an entirely different way.  While the first film was a masterfully crafted slow build of a horror flick, Aliens is a breathtaking thrill ride of an action/horror movie with great performances all around and some great f/x courtesy of Stan Winston.  James Cameron directed things perfectly and this is still probably his best movie.

2. The Fly

If Aliens is my favorite Cameron film, The Fly is my favorite David Cronenberg movie.  A fantastic remake of the 1958 movie, this has great acting from Jeff Goldblum in a rather tricky role and some awesome makeup f/x work from Chris Walas.  Great pacing, an intelligently put together and executed screenplay and a solid, focused trio of performances from Goldblum, Geena Davis and John Getz.  This is the best horror remake around, apart from John Carpenter's The Thing.

1. Big Trouble in Little China

Speaking of Carpenter, Big Trouble in Little China is my pick for the best of the year.  Wild, funny and exciting, this is an astonishing thrill ride with great work from Kurt Russell.  The film is endlessly quotable, the music is great and pretty much everything and everybody involved in it does their job magnificently.  This is one terrific movie.

And that's it for 1986.  A great year for movies.

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About Me

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