Wednesday, June 25, 2014

1986: Guilty Pleasures

Lots of stuff that ended up being good in spite of itself this year.

I generally try not to just give a film a pass because the special effects are good but Stan Winston really outdid himself in this one.  Put pout by Cannon, Tobe Hooper's remake of the 50's original is actually pretty damn entertaining in its own right with the aforementioned great f/x and a creepy performance from Louise Fletcher as a mean teacher who gets even nastier once she's taken over by the aliens.  The film is sort of predictable even if you've never seen the original and to be honest, it does sort of overstay its welcome and degenerate into just noise but it's certainly watchable enough.

I think this is one you have to have seen as a kid in order to really appreciate.  A gloriously silly, stupid comedy from John Landis, this has the awesome pairing of Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short as silent film stares who end up having to do some heroics in a small Mexican town.  The jokes are corny and stupid, I can sort of see why Short wasn't thrilled with his part and like most Landis films, it's a little too long but this one just flat out makes me laugh. 

Stephen King set out to make a really stupid movie and by god, he sure as hell did.  Produced by Dino DeLaurentiis, this one is... Well, it's actually quite bad in a really entertaining way as Emilio Estevez and a bunch of over the top Southern caricatures try to stave off a bunch of berserk vehicles led by a huge truck with a Green Goblin head on the front grille.  It's actually quite bad in some parts but if you can stick with it, it's pretty damn funny.

Stallone and Cannon is a match made in 80's cheese heaven.  I love this amazingly silly Dirty Harry riff with Stallone as the ultimate renegade cop.  The politics are silly, the acting is over the top and the action is pure cheesy goodness, as are the jokes.  This might be the ultimate Stallone flick, save for anything with Rocky or Rambo.

This is one of those movies that by all rights should stink like a wet dog.  Thanks to Eddie Murphy being in the zone during this period, Mel Gibson was initially supposed to star and the film was going to be more serious, the film manages to be funny as hell.  Murphy plays a finder of lost children who ends up going on an Indiana Jones-lite adventure in Tibet.  The plot is silly as hell but thanks to sheer force of will, Eddie Murphy makes it hilarious.

This may very well be the finest film Jim Wynorski has ever made.  Now granted, that's not exactly a big challenge but still!  The film centers around a bunch of teenagers who work at a shopping mall and end up having to fend off the psychotic security robots on duty when they decide to have a party after hours.  The film is just as dumb as it sounds but I have a soft spot for cheesy slasher movies (wait till we get to 1981) and this one has an agreeably campy sensibility to it that makes it a blast to watch.  Good stuff.

As much as I enjoy Cobra, I think I may dig this one even more.  Arnold's follow-up to Commando is something that actually might have worked better with Sly in the lead.  Our muscular hero is brought in to take down a mob boss' organization from the inside and the end result of this is some good action and hilarious bits of Arnold trying to act.  The rest of the cast is good and all in all, Raw Deal is a cheesy good time.

I knocked the film a few months ago, but to be fair, it is one of the funnier ideas for an action movie for all the wrong reasons.  An action drama about an airplane hijacking?  Fairly straightforward.  Throw in a bunch of 70's disaster movie cliches; Chuck Norris on a rocket firing bike, Lee Marvin and Steve James and you have yourself a masterpiece of unintentional hilarity.  The Delta Force is not a great movie and like I said, it would have been better off as a 90 minute film about the three leads shooting everything in sight but what we get is pure Cannon cheese.

This one would have made it elsewhere in the series but there just wasn't space.  Terrorvision is fantastic, though.  An enjoyable Charles Band production, it centers around a suburban family being menaced by a hungry alien that gets pulled into their lives through their new satellite TV dish.  Gerritt Graham is pretty funny as the father, the John Carl Buechler f/x are good and as with most Band films from this period, the humor and pacing works quite nicely.

Make no mistake, this is a bad movie.  I mean a really, really bad movie.  Unintentionally creepy duck f/x, an insipidly repulsive Tim Robbins performance (seriously, it's a wonder he had a career after this), Lea Thompson once again in a really creepy romantic subplot, but despite all that I sort of dig this one.  I've always had a soft spot for the second and third tier superheroes and this film is just amazingly misguided that it ends up being quite watchable for all the wrong reasons.  Good things?  Well, the f/x are good towards the end and Lea Thompson is cute... Even with that hairstyle.

Black Moon Rising is a fine example of the "cool vehicle that doesn't feature as much as it should" sub-genre that I love.  Tommy Lee Jones plays a thief hired to steal an important cassette that has been hidden in an ultra-fast car prototype, stolen by a rival thief played by Linda Hamilton.  Jones is good, as is Robert Vaughn as the bad guy and when the car is actually being used, it's pretty damn cool.  When its not on screen, the film can be a little trying as you just want to see the damn thing again but thanks to Tommy Lee Jones, the film is quite enjoyable all the way through.

Coming soon: The Best of 1986


  1. Weird question time:

    What is, to you, the least (pause) "good Arnold flick"? And I mean that as in, of all the GOOD ones he's made, what's the one at the bottom, but not so bad that it's in the BAD movie pile? And what's the one right below it? Where do you draw that line?

    To me he's made several great/legendary movies, only a couple merely-good ones, a few pretty-much-bad ones, and all the rest (and there're a lot of 'em) are kinda smooshed together in the meh/OK/good enough range. What's the weakest Arnold flick you could conceivably recommend to someone?

    I've heard of Raw Heat, but I've never seen it, and haven't even heard anyone else talk about it. Given its placement here, I gotta assume it's probably yet another of his mid-range films.

  2. True Lies is probably the last truly great one with Eraser close behind. Weakest one I could recommend is probably The Last Stand. It's fun but not quite as good as Eraser. Raw Deal definitely falls in the middle for me.


About Me

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