Wednesday, August 20, 2014

1985: Honorable Mentions

And we come to the last year in this series: 1985.  It's not as jam-packed as 1987, not as over the top as 1984 or 1990, but it is just simply a solid year of fantastic cinema, lots of fun.  Probably the most "80's" year of the decade as we will see.  Let's get started with the honorable mentions.

Fun adventure from Steven Spielberg and Richard Donner that takes a cast of future stars and puts them in a search for lost pirate treasure.  Lots of great lines and moments with a fun cast and a nice pace.  Not a classic, but still a fun ride.

Harrison Ford is terrific in this thriller about a cop who goes undercover in Amish country in order to find a killer and protect the young Amish boy who can finger him.  Ford is good, as is the rest of the cast and it's fun to see Danny Glover in a rare villainous role.

Martin Scorsese's pitch black comedy is a grueling experience starring Griffin Dunne as a man who meets a nice girl and goes deep into New York to pick her up for a date.  A series of misadventures keep him from his evening and the film becomes almost Kafka-esque in the way it torments its hero.  Good performances make this one a winner.

Clint Eastwood returned to the western in this fun reworking of Shane that also touches on some of the themes High Plains Drifter hit.  Clint plays a nameless stranger dressed as a preacher who helps out a bunch of poor miners against nasty piece of work Richard Dysart and his gunmen.  While the story is rather predictable, the fun comes from Clint's character who may or may not be a supernatural force.  He has some decidedly fatal bullet wounds on his back and rides a pale horse but the film is smart to never explain.  It is content to let you decide for yourself and the end result is a solid mid-range Eastwood flick.

The debut for the Coen Brothers, Blood Simple is a nicely dark film noir thriller with John Getz and Frances McDormand as lovers who want to get rid of abusive husband Dan Hedaya.  The film is impeccably and inventively shot, well written and acted and in general is just a fantastic film.

An all-star cast headlines this entertaining, sort of old fashioned western directed by screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan.  A big, sprawling epic with gunfights, punch-ups and general entertainment, Silverado is a really terrific western for the 80's.

George Romero's third zombie movie has terrific f/x from Tom Savini and really, that helps the film more than anything else as the script is sort of overdone and heavy handed.  Still, performances are pretty good and like I said, the f/x are fantastic which makes this good enough for the list.

While not as awesomely cheesy as the second one, the first American Ninja movie is a fun, action packed ride as Michael Dudikoff and Steve James take down a weapons smuggling ring in the Philippines.  1985 was Cannon's best year with great films throughout, as we will see in this series.  American Ninja is an 80's cheese classic.

Who the hell would have guessed one of the best comedies of the year would be based on a frigging board game?  A great cast more or less acts out the game in a very funny murder mystery, highlighted by nice comic turns from Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn and Martin Mull.

I've come to sort of love this underrated sequel.  It's not the greatest, but it's still an entertaining enough entry in the series with a typically good Robert Englund performance, some nice (though sometimes hard to see) f/x and to be honest, the undercurrent of sexuality makes the film a hell of a lot more interesting to watch.

Just the idea of soldiers in World War II being helped by aliens is a delightful enough concept on its own but the way Zone Troopers executes it makes it even better.  Essentially an old fashioned war picture with a group of American soldiers trapped behind enemy lines being aided by aliens, it has two B-movie greats in Tim Thomerson and Art La Fleur as hard ass soldiers and some nice John Carl Buechler alien effects.  Empire Pictures released this and I gotta say it's truly refreshing to see something with Charles Band's name on it that's actually good.  Zone Troopers is a fun, entertaining romp that makes good use of its low budget and endlessly entertaining.

Coming soon: The Leftovers of 1985

1 comment:

  1. Goonies: Saw this film for the first time just a few months ago. While I did kinda enjoy it (I felt a bit attached, as a kid's film, it should probably be seen for the first time as a kid), it paled in comparison to the Cyndi Lauper music video accompaniment. THAT was glorious.

    After Hours: I think it was Brad Jones that eventually broke me down and convinced me to see this film. Totally worth it. Again, came into this as a total stranger, not being nor ever knowing New York, but I immediately got its strange, scuzzy-without-being-dirty vibe. First half still left me kinda confused, but the further it got, the more I felt like I was getting it. How they tied the last ten minutes in with everything else was brilliant. STILL shocked that Scorsese was involved, but I'll happily take a good, bizarre film regardless of who's delivering it.

    Blood Simple: A pretty good film, considering. But by the time I had seen this, I'd seen over half of the Coens' other films. I think that had something to do with how underwhelming this film was. Maybe you had to have been there to full get it, but it just couldn't possibly compare with the stuff the brothers later created. I probably wasn't giving the film a fair shot, but without emptying my mind, I don't know how I could have. Again, impressive film. But far more impressive (to me) was how quickly they improved upon it. Raising Arizona is a timeless classic to me, and Miller's Crossing and Barton Fink are likewise utterly brilliant. This one just can't compare.

    Silverado: Sort of "old-fashioned"? If any Western could be described as "sensitive", it's this one. A very interesting take on the genre (especially when John Cleese shows up), but, in a way, it felt closer to "City Slickers" than to "Magnificent Seven" or "High Noon". A "modern spin" on a classic genre.

    American Ninja: Only seen "Revenge of the Ninja" thus far. Have heard the name of Dudikoff. Does this film in any way compare with that of Sho Kosugi? 1980s + Ninja feels like something I've been missing out on all my life.

    Clue: Shortlisted for greatest film of the 1980s. I grew up with this one. I love it. I love all of it. I love every inch of it. I especially love Tim Curry. This should be a template for ANY adaptation of ANY genre from ANY medium. I feel blessed to have ever known its kind.

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