Sunday, August 3, 2014

1984: The Best

The year ends with a bang...

10. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Apart from the second film and some episodes from the original series, this is my favorite thing related to the original Star Trek cast.  A nearly perfect follow-up to the second film, this entry is precisely what the title implies with a fun heist scene as the crew takes the Enterprise and a nice turn from Christopher Lloyd as a Klingon.  Leonard Nimoy makes a nice directorial debut here and he jeeps things balanced pretty well right up until the rather obtuse ending.  William Shatner turns in a surprisingly effective performance as well.

9. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

Once again, the f/x work of Tom Savini manages the Herculean feat of getting a Friday the 13th movie into my top ten.  The fourth, and ostensibly last in the series (boy, that lasted all of a few months) sees Jason back... again, this time hacking up a bunch of partying teens while also menacing a young Corey Feldman and his older sister.  The gore is plentiful, as is the cheese (Crispin Glover has a dance scene that is quite the sight to behold) and genre vet Joseph Zito directs things with a nice, brisk pace.  The real star of the show is Savini, however who manages some pretty impressive kills, especially the big sendoff for Jason at the end.  It's not going to win any awards not given out by Fangoria Magazine, but if you're going to watch a Friday the 13th sequel and you don't want to go for the second one...

8. Repo Man

Repo Man is one of the great oddball movies of the decade, to say nothing of any other one.  Emilio Estevez plays a young punk who gets a job as a repo man with the always odd Harry Dean Stanton as his mentor.  They repossess a car carrying some sort of odd glowing force (turns out to be an alien corpse) that has a tendency to microwave anyone who takes a peek at it and it all plays out with a wonderfully bizarre sense of humor.  Estevez is fine, Stanton is... Well, he's himself and director Alex Cox contributes not only a nice sense of directorial timing but also a clever script.  It's definitely an odd movie, but also a very rewarding one.

7. Amadeus

Normally a hunk of Oscar bait like this would go in the honorable mentions section hut Amadeus is such a wonderfully put together production that it deserves its spot.  Tom Hulce is quite good as Mozart, giving the composer an almost rock star sensibility and F. Murray Abraham is equally good as rival composer Salieri.  Really, the film succeeds largely in part to those two performances and it manages to make a potential slog through music history into a pretty darn entertaining, sometimes moving motion picture.

6. Romancing the Stone

Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito make for a winning trio in this early effort from Robert Zemeckis.  On the surface this is yet another riff on the Indiana Jones films with a bit more romance thrown in but Romancing the Stone ended up inspiring a few future adventure movies in its own right.  Turner is a romance novelist who ventures to Colombia in search of her sister and a priceless stone.  She is helped by an adventurer played by Michael Douglas who hits all the macho notes perfectly.  In addition, DeVito is fun as a thief trying to get the stone for himself.  The film is paced quite nicely with some fun action and good chemistry between Douglas and Turner.  It's a real gem... No pun intended.

5. Beverly Hills Cop

Eddie Murphy hit his peak here with this hilarious action comedy.  I've written about this fairly extensively so I'll try to be brief.  Murphy is simply brilliant, improving the admittedly pedestrian script with a barrage of improvisation that carries the film.  The supporting cast is game as well with Judge Reinhold and Steven Berkoff coming off the best as a cop and the bad guy respectively.

4. Gremlins

Joe Dante is one of my favorites and this is probably his best work.  A simple, sweet Christmas movie about a small town being terrorized by a bunch of monsters.  Chris Walas did a great job with the f/x, the laughs and horror beats are managed quite well and any film that has the adorable Phoebe Cates telling maybe the most horrific holiday story of all time is okay in my book.

3. A Nightmare on Elm Street

Wes Craven's best film introduced the world to Robert Englund and Freddy Krueger.  The thing that makes this one so great is how uncommonly smart it is for a slasher movie.  Generally you don't see a slasher movie with such an interesting premise but the idea of a killer targeting you in your dreams was pretty fresh at the time and Englund was the perfect choice for Krueger.

2. The Terminator

As iconic as Freddy Krueger was for the horror genre, The Terminator is equally so for the action genre.  James Cameron pout together a very effective sci-fi/horror movie with a terrific trio of performances from Arnold Schwarzenegger as the title character, Michael Biehn as a hero from the future trying to stop him and Linda Hamilton as the target.  This is one of the best actions films ever made.

1. Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters is not only the best comedy of the year but also the best movie.  Chock full of classic moments and lines, great f/x, hell it probably would be pretty damn good even if Bill Murray had been having an off night.  As it stands, Bill Murray turns in his funniest performance here with Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis providing able support.  I've always loved this one ever since
I first saw it and it truly stands the test of time.  Just terrific.

1984 was, as I think I have shown, a pretty terrific year for movies.  Some out right classics, a bunch of cult classics, this is just one of the best years for film period.


  1. 1. Would you say, based on this lineup, that 1984 was the best year for franchise films (present and future franchises)?

    2. Have you ever picked out particular Favorite Years? This one looks kinda impossible to beat, at least to me.

  2. I'd say that 1984 would definitely be up there with the best. As for favorite years, 1984 is in the conversation as is 1994 and oddly enough, I really love 1990. It's just so over the top that it becomes sort of glorious.

  3. Apropos-to-nothing follow-up:

    King Solomon's Mines, with Richard Chamberlain.

    I checked out the top of the first page of your Agony Booth review, and the bottom of the last (no spoilers). I've read the book. I liked the book. Hell, I kinda REALLY liked the book. Hated both big-budget versions (one with Stewart Granger, one with Paul Robeson). Both with extraneous female characters. Both feeling like they completely missed all that made the book such a page-turning read-it-in-one-day thrill.

    Is the Chamberlain worth a watch? I'm gonna hate it for every way in which it's different from the novel. But your review of it says it's both fun and horrible. And that you'd recommend the film to people watching it late at night who want a nap or something. still seemed to think it was fun in an awful way. If only that couldn't mean so many things.

    So....a good cheesy watch? Or is there so, so much more cheesier fun out there?

    1. It's a good cheesy watch, I'd say. Easy to fall asleep to, though.


About Me

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