Tuesday, July 1, 2014

1981: Honorable Mentions Part 1

Like 1977, 1981 was really good, to the point where I'm not going to bother with a "leftovers" post.  Let's skip the formalities and dig in!

Fairly entertaining collaboration between Paramount and Disney with some awesome dragon f/x courtesy of ILM.  Peter MacNicol is decent as the young hero and the rest of the cast, including Sir Ralph Richardson in his final role are good but the real star is the dragon ILM delivers.  Huge, scary and mean, it is one of the best f/x pieces of the early part of the decade.

Mel Brooks' spoof of historical epics is pretty damn funny with a ton of lowbrow humor and an able comedy cast.  The Roman Empire section is the funniest and all in all, it's one his better 80's outings.

I really enjoy this underrated gem.  Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams are NYC cops who are assigned to an anti-terrorist task force hunting a ruthless madman played by Rutger Hauer.  Good performances for the most part and the action is fairly low key.  It sort of feels more like a 70's action movie and, in a sense, it is the last gasp for that style of action movie before the high gloss of the 80's took over.  Plus, you get Stallone in drag... Twice.

Chuck Norris' first movie that can be considered actually good.  An Eye for An Eye is a peppy little revenge flick with Norris as a cop trying to nail the guy who wasted his partner.  The story isn't close to being original and apart from nice turns from Mako as Norris' ally, Christopher Lee as the bad guy and Toru Tanaka as his henchman, performances aren't much to talk about but the action saves the day and makes this a pretty damn good movie. 

I always got a kick out of this one as a kid and it still makes me smile today.  Sean Connery is a futuristic Marshal on a mining colony on one of Jupiter's moons who finds out the foreman, played by Peter Boyle, has been selling drugs to his workers.  The film turns into a sci-fi version of High Noon as Boyle brings in a few mercenaries to do Connery in.  Connery is good, as is Frances Sternhagen as a cranky doctor who helps him.  Action is fine, Peter Hyams does a solid job directing everything and really, the only glaring bad point for me is Boyle as the bad guy.  He's a very good actor but he just plays the man as a little too reasonable and affable, a little more nastiness would have worked better.  Still, Outland is a fun flick.

I first saw this on late night cable a few years ago (the best way I've found to discover cool horror movies), and it's a genuinely entertaining low budget creature feature about some nasty little critters picking off miners.  The acting is what it needs to be, the creatures are neat the the pacing and cinematography are quite good.  It's not a classic, but it is quite creepy.

The second Supreman film, while it;s not as good as trhe first one, is still a solid superhero flick with good action and a couple of really nice performances from Terence Stajmp as main baddie Zod and of course, Christopher Reeve and Gene Hackman as Superman and Lex Luthor, respectively.  the film went throughy a difficult production as director Richard Doinner was replaced by Richard Lester and while this does make the film rather uneven, it's such a fun ride that it's hard to get too pissed about it.

Of all the slasher movies released in 1981 (and brother, there were tons), this is the only one I feel is a legit good film.  Even the second Friday the 13th ends up a guilty pleasure for me because... Well, because it's a frigging Friday the 13th film!  In the case of Halloween II, however,the film takes the rather clever road of having the film pick up mere seconds after the first film ends.  Jamie Lee Curtis has little to do until the end so really, you get Michael Myers stalking around a hospital while Donald Pleasence frantically tries to find him.  It's pretty damn good and suspenseful and while having gore around feels like a bit of a compromise, what we get is still good and the end result is one damn fine slasher sequel.

The 12th James Bond film, while far from perfect, it a solid spy thriller with some great action and a refreshingly serious (sort of) tone.  Roger Moore gives one of his best turns as 007, the rest of the casgt is capable and as I said, the action is top notch.  There are a few minor pacing issues towards the end that hurt things but the film manages to be an overall satisfying entry in the series.

Coming soon: Honorable Mentions Part 2

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About Me

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