Some of these movies have been forgotten for very good reasons. Nobody should be allowed to remember them, but I can’t seem to turn my brain off, and I’m putting these here, so unless you wanna suffer with me, you will quit reading this post and go have a soda or something. That said, there are a couple of really good ones here that are worth viewing, so go shake the bad ones off, and go check out the good ones immediately.
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)
For a really long time, Id forgotten about this movie, and then I saw Elvira, aka Cassandra Peterson, on some talk show and I was reminded again that I really love this smart ass ,and I need to check out this movie again. If you’re not familiar with her, she comes right of the tradition of movie show hosts.
When I was a kid, there were people, not exactly celebrities, who would feature different types of movies on the weekends (mostly in the daytime, but Elvira’s show was usually in the evenings). They usually had some schtick, or persona, to go along with the types of movies they hosted. Elvira enhanced the experience by making smart ass comments during the movie. It was awful, but it was good awful, and not at all meant to be taken even the least bit seriously. This was my type of humor back then, and quite frankly, its not too different from that now.
Mazes and Monsters (1981)
This movie happened during the Satanic Panic in the early 80s, when a lot of super idiotic people glommed onto the idea that Dungeons and Dragons was a role playing gateway to Hell. I know it sounds utterly ridiculous, but this is actually what happened! There were a bunch of these “panics” during the 80’s about everything from games, to books, to TV, Rap, and Metal music. . It was basically the old guard’s way of protesting modern culture by, literally, demonizing said culture!
This particular Satan attractor starred, of all people, Tom Hanks, as a young man who gets so caught up in his roleplay, that he starts to believe its real, and proceeds to kill several people, thinking them to be part of the game, while his D&D friends try to find and save him. On the other hand, t does star Christopher Makepeace, the star of Vamp, and My Bodyguard, who I had a terrible crush on, because of that 80’s thing, where white men had luxurious heads of hair. Yeah, I still don’t know what the f*ck that was at all about for them, or me!
This movie was as stupid as the philosophy that made it, and gets everything wrong about role playing games, in its sad efforts to make the point that such games were leading the children into Satanism. The same as what was said about TV, music, and basically any leisure activities that teenagers found enjoyable. You also have to put this into perspective that at the time there was a very literal “witchhunt” going on in American society at the time, where white people found Satanic Cults in every suburban backyard.
You can watch this, but be sure to have the liquor handy. You’re going to need to grease your eyeballs from rolling them so hard.
Death Becomes Her (1992)
This is actually one of my favorite movies. its got a got a lot of problems, though, like fatphobia, but it did question the idea of youth culture, and how older actresses get disposed of and forgotten by the industry once they start to age. It stars Meryl Streep (Madeline) and Goldie Hawn (Helen) as rivals for Bruce Willis’ (Ernest) affections.. While none of these are my favorite actors, they are all pretty funny in this movie.
After Madeline steals her Husband Helen encounters a woman offering a youth potion that works just a little too well. When Madeline’s career starts to fade, and Ernest tries to leave her, she meets the same woman played by Issabella Rossellini, after which the two of them spend the rest of the movie trying to kill each other, at some point realizing that the potion made them effectively immortal, and that ain’t no good for either of them.
The Keep (1983)
This movie was based on the book by F. Paul Wilson, about a demon trapped inside some type of Nazi stronghold, that gets set free ,and starts killing. I remember the book better than I remember the movie, but hey, I’m all for killing Nazis.
This movie starred a who’s who of old British men, although I guess, since the movie was made thirty years ago, maybe they weren’t quite that old yet. The acting is surprisingly not that bad, but I cannot, for the life of me, remember the details of the plot, and I know I watched it, because I remember the monster looked like a Dollar Value version, of Tim Curry’s Darkness, from Ridley Scott’s Legend. It couldn’t have been that bad though, becasue it was one of Michael Mann’s first films, and he eventually went on to make the Red Dragon film, Manhunter.
976 – Evil (1988)
Oh, this is one of my favorites, released just after Fright Night, about a nerdy teenager who makes a pact with the devil by calling a special phone number, after he gets badly humiliated by some high school ne’er do wells. This Devil’s bargain doesn’t go all that well for him, as is usually the case, after he starts turning into a demon, and killing everyone. This starred one of my favorite actors at the time, Stephen Geoffreys, who was just coming off the above named movie, as the character Evil Ed. It also starred a loopy Sandy Dennis, as his religious nutjob mother, who if its even possible, was even more batshit than Margaret White from Carrie.
Its not a great movie, but it is a lot of fun, and a kind of tongue in cheek, homage to Carrie, as it contains a lot of the same elements. he movie is silly and knows it. There were, in the the 80’s, a brief spate of these teenagers gone wrong, revenge films, featuring paranormal powers.
White Men Can’t Jump (1992)
Lets make this clear. At the time this movie was released, it was not one of my favorites. It still isn’t. I was not a Wesley Snipe fan, nor was I a fan of Woody Harrelson, and I generally hate sports movies too, but my family members wanted me to watch this movie with them, for which they shall someday pay a horrible price. On the other hand, it did star Rosie Perez. For y’all yunguns, yes, that is the same Rosie Perez from the Birds of Prey movie.
The title pretty much gives it all away. Woody’s and Snipe’s characters (yeah, I’m not looking up their names) hustle people on local basketball courts, by playing on the notion that white men don’t know how to play street basketball. I am fairly certain that this movie pushed a lot of white kids to challenge this notion, and get beat up for talking shit on many inner-city playgrounds.
The Hidden (1987)
This is one of my all-time favorite movies from the 80’s. This is the movie that made me a fan of Claudia Christian, from Babylon Five. Of course I was following Kyle’s career, at that time, before he found a home in Twin Peaks, which I refused to watch. This movie has all of the usual 80’s scifi tropes, in the form of an alien that takes over human bodies, cop car crashes, weird guns, buddy cops, who start out hating each other, but then later come to respect one another, and even some pathos, in the form of a fridged wife and child.
This movie is insane. It starts up high, and pretty much stays there, with a couple of unexpectedly goofy turns, later in the film, making it similar to, but not quite like any of the other films like it at the time, as if the genre had been building up to it. If you find a copy of this, take care to listen to the commentary, because some actual thought was put into certain elements of the plot, that you might otherwise overlook, like the relationship between the two lead characters, and the ending.
Maximum Overdrive (1986)
This is one of Stephen King’s hot 80’s messes, based on a much much better short story, called Trucks, which also happened to be based on Stephen Spielberg’s Duel. After some type of weird comet passes by the Earth, all mechanical objects come alive and kill people. In the short story, it was only trucks, but in the movie, its everything that’s technological, like electric kitchen knives, and lawnmowers.
The movie is deeply, and I mean deeply, ridiculous, and is one of those rare films that has a cameo from King, who gets called an asshole by an ATM. I forget who the directed this film, but whoever it is, should never be allowed to choose any actors for his films, on the other hand he is utterly merciless when it comes to killing his characters off, even going so far as to show, in horrifying detail, a little kid getting run over by a steam roller! Apparently the 80s was the era in which directors would just happily kill children all over the place, but not dogs. Go figure!
So yeah, this is kind of worth watching for the gore, but maybe you don’t want to watch it because its cheesy.
I was interested in this only because i was fond of the sketches from Saturday Night Live in the 70’s, and starring the same cast as in the film. The movie turned out to be surprisingly funny, even if it was sort of one note. Worse movies have hinged on much flimsier materials. The idea that aliens might be living here on Earth, attempting to disguise themselves as regular human beings, and failing, but people believe them anyway. It had a great cast of Jane Curtin ,and Dan Ackroyd, and the late, great, Chris Farley, who was pretty understated, in his role as the daughter’s high school boyfriend.
The show was a parody of the idea that, no matter how weird you are, or bizarre you behave,White suburbanites will accept you, as long as you look like you’re trying to assimilate (and look white, I guess.) But I just thought it was funny because the Conehead family were such failures at assimilation, and that much of the movie’s humor was about their directly indirect manner of speaking, which just appealed to my nerdy soul. There’s some drama about two immigration agents trying to capture them because they’re on Earth illegally, and a secondary plot about their daughter’s romantic entanglements.