Saturday, August 2, 2014

1984: Honorable Mentions

1984 was one of the best years of the decade for film.  Chock full of classics, this was one amazing year.  So good, we won't even be doing a "Leftovers" post.  Lots of good stuff here...

It's not the best film, or even a very good one but I did want to mention Firestarter.  Drew Barrymore plays a little girl with the power to start fires (sadly for the bad guys, she only uses them on people she doesn't like) and along with her father (David Keith), is on the run from a bunch of shadowy government agents led by Martin Sheen, looking more like Charlie than I have ever seen.  Seriously, you almost expect him to mutter "winning" at some points.  Sheen and George C. Scott make for a pair of nicely slimy bad guys and it's a true pleasure when they finally get what's coming to them.  Firestarter has some good supporting performances and some nice fire effects but the overall film comes off as a little too protracted and flat.  Still, it's worth seeing if you're a King completist.

One of the best Australian horror movies, this entertaining riff on Jaws (subbing a giant wild boar for a shark) is a wild, hallucinatory nightmare of a movie with a fun plot as an American comes to the Outback looking for the reason his wife died (spoiler: piggy chow in the first ten minutes of the film)and ends up not only having to deal with the huge porker, but also a couple of thugs as well.  Russell Mulcahy does a nice job directing and the overall perfect is quite good.

Steve Martin puts on a physical comedy tour de force as a lawyer magically inhabited by the soul of his client, played by Lily Tomlin.  It's a pretty straightforward, funny comedy with good work from Martin and Tomlin as one would expect.

Terrific movie that is one of the few 80's martial arts flicks that is an actual serious drama.  Good acting and direction, good script, memorable characters, this is pretty much the best Rocky movie never made.

I love this rather slick overview of horror movies, hosted by Donald Pleasence and Nancy Allen.  Pretty much just a highlight reel of a bunch of movies, this is one I always enjoyed renting and its presence on the first Halloween II Blu-ray is just awesome.

The second Indiana Jones film, though flawed, is still one I enjoy.  Great action and some good character bits here and there make up for a lot of screaming from Kate Capshaw and the rather oppressively dark tone.

Another great movie that didn't make the top ten simply because the films on that list are ones I absolutely adore.  Rob Reiner directs this hilarious mockumentary about an inept rock group, delivering some powerfully funny moments as well as some halfway decent songs.

You gotta love this off beat, surprisingly low key horror/conspiracy flick that has a couple of NYC employees finding out that there are a bunch of mutated homeless people living in the sewers.  A fun cast and some nice creature f/x make all the difference in this one.  Try and grab the DVD too, the commentary track is a real winner.

Another fun one as Dennis Quaid undergoes a dream research project and ends up having to save the President.  I wrote about this fairly extensively a few months ago, so let's just say it's damn great and move on.

Another funny film from, the Airplane! team, this has Val Kilmer as a pop star going to Germany ostensibly to do a show, but actually he's there to stop a villainous plot.  Tons of great gags and a funny Peter Cushing cameo make this one a hell of a lot of fun.

I've always dug this character actor studded, wonderfully bizarre science fiction/action comedy.  Peter Weller is the title character, an absurdly talented man who has to fight off a bunch of evil aliens led by John Lithgow in one of his more unhinged performances.  There are tons of fun bits, some utterly bizarre gags and the film in general is just a ton of fun.  Pretty much a pattern for this post, really.

Loved this when I was a kid and even now, it's still a blast.  Lance Guest is a teen obsessed with a video game in his small town that turns out to be a training simulator for an intergalactic battle force trying to stop a bunch of bad guys.  Fun f/x and a solid supporting role for Dan O'Herlihy as an alien co-pilot make this one of the best post-Star Wars sci-fi adventures.

Coming Soon: The Guilty Pleasures of 1984


  1. OK, Mr. Ed, I feel I'm finally ready to ask you this question. Which has been percolating on my brain since, like I first decided to bookmark your site (read: months ago).

    I'm really, REALLY intrigued by your "My Favorite Era" label. And it wasn't until your most recent update that I felt I could finally come forth and ask you the big questions. Mostly because of how you referred to "The Last Starfighter" as a childhood favorite. are young enough to have been a child when that movie came out. Now, FWIW, I have seen that movie, like a year and a half ago, personally recommended by someone else as a childhood favorite. It was fun enough, mostly for Robert "Music Man" Preston. But, whatever, I'm not here to argue narrow critical likeitude of certain films with you.

    So....I gather now, from reviewing your site, that "your favorite era" is 1975-1994, or awfully close. Now, if you were a child in 1984, you clearly would have been too young to appreciate "Jaws" or "The Man Who Would Be King". So, clearly, you went back and watched that from a more mature perspective. Just...what is it that makes this two-decade period your favorite, in comparison to anything outside of it? I apologize if you've made explicit comment regarding it, but I haven't seen it. But I'm nonetheless dying to know.

    I was born in '86. Too young to have appreciated the 80s at the time. But I've since come to enjoy the hell outta them in retrospect, and even the 1970s. And...well...I too greatly dislike the late 90s. And, to some extent, everything since. I can't get enough of cheesy 80s films, and I'm regularly expanding my familiarity with films of the 70s and 80s. And, yeah, a few of the reviews you've recommended here have inspired me to seeks out their films, such as Project A and....dammit...that Revenge of the Ninja thing from the late 80s. Something close to that title. I'm sure I commented somewhere on this site about this; either you know what I'm talking about, or it doesn't matter. Maybe both.

    Big question: What is it about 1975-1994 that makes it such a favorite era for you? Before, I had wondered if it was purely due to your age, like how someone might think the films of their ages 13-32 might be the peak of their moviegoing existence. But, it seems clear that if 1984 was still of your childhood, 1975 wouldn't have been.

    So....what's up? What made 1975 better than 1974? What made 1994 better than 1995? And just how far did these differences go, and...perhaps...why?

    Your sight has been bookmarked for a coupla months at least. FWIW, I'm really curious what you think of the movies of this period. 'Cuz I think I really like 'em too. But it's been clear for a long time now that I still have a lot of catching up to do to get to your familiarity. Lotsa the big ones (from Buckaroo Banzai to Shawshank), I've seen, but I still gotta work on the smaller ones. Give it time. It'll happen.

    But...well...all the same, I would appreciate it if you could state in some concrete terms why you have set this two-decade term as your favorite. It's clearly not just about your birth date,'s gotta be something artistic, right? I'd be very curious to hear your take.

    1. The period I chose refers to what I like to call the "Blockbuster Era" starting with Spielberg's Jaws and moving onward. Jaws really started that era to a degree (though film released before it were certainly massive hits) and on that basis it was pretty important. I picked 1994 as a stop point due to the release of Pulp Fiction which was equally important as a style of film making (not to mention being one of the more successful 'independent' films of the era). The blockbuster style was still used, but to lesser effect in my opinion.


About Me

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