Showing posts with label 1980's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1980's. Show all posts

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Highlander (1986)




Watched:  07/23/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director: Russell Mulcahy


I hadn't watched The Highlander (1986) in years.  It was a movie I saw on VHS as a kid, loved it, and include it's mythology and catch-phrases as part of my Gen-X slang.  I mean, it did give us the phrase "there can be only one", which I think has leaked out into the popular consciousness, even if lots of folks don't know where the phrase came from.

But like The Beastmaster, The Highlander was part of the lingua franca of geek culture for Gen-X nerds.  It had a not-particularly charismatic lead, Connery chewing schenery, a woman throwing herself at the lead for absolutely no reason (and against all logic), swords, trenchcoats, a crazy-ass villain in the form of Clancy Brown as a mad Cossack, and a soundtrack by mid-80's Queen.

And sparks.  So many sparks.

Going in, I knew the movie wouldn't be what I remembered when I was 12, even if the movie was exactly what I remembered from when I was 12.  It's.... fine.  A little slim in the character department in favor of the plot and exposition departments.  And it's also a funny movie because it does feel like it should be the first installment in a series until you think about the plot and realize "nope, this is it."  Not that movie didn't generate three sequels and a TV show.  

I will never understand the idea behind casting Christopher Lambert as a Scotsman.  I will never understand casting Sean Connery as an Egyptian Spaniard.  And yet, I support both.  It's absurd.  And somehow just part of the fabric of the movie.  

I do like how the movie merges present with flashbacks to tell the story - this was not particularly common to sci-fi or fantasy at the time, and trying to imagine someone explaining all of this in realtime in the present would have been deadly.  Clancy Brown makes a hell of an impression as a badguy who has flipped his lid - maybe not new to cop thrillers by 1986, but new to fantasy.  And the bit with the girl MacCloud saved during WWII who is still with him is a brilliant little touch, even if she should have been introduced earlier and their relationship clarified.  I mean, there's a whole movie in that somewhere.

But it's also not something I think anyone should take particularly seriously.  Connery sets the right tone - this is crazy, and we should enjoy it.  The ending is telegraphed nonsense, but still fun.  

Now we'd be treated to someone's plans for a franchise, with massive world building and a wide array of characters.  Here, we get... four Immortals in the modern era?  And no women at that?  (So 1980's).  So I do appreciate that it's both semi-thoughtful, but smart enough to just tell the story and get out.  

Anyway. Highlander.  


Thursday, July 22, 2021

Art House Watch: My Dinner With Andre (1981)




Watched:  07/22/2021
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Louis Malle

I would guess more Gen-X'ers know My Dinner With Andre (1981) by reputation than have actually seen the film, by a country mile.  Held up as the epitome of intellectualism in film by the time I hit film school in the mid-90's, I remember an art teacher in fifth grade (circa 1985) telling us about the movie, the same guy who also showed us Talking Heads videos, including what I think was Stop Making Sense.*  

As much of a reputation as the movie earned, it also became a sort of cultural shibboleth and punchline.   In the era of "Woody Allen is an intellectual genius" and last days of New York as the cultural epicenter for America (arguably shifting to LA by the late 1980's), the idea that a film would take on such heady topics as the nature of performance and theater, and, in fact, consciousness with a bent that's new-agey post-hippie "awareness" dressed up in tweed and fine dining was like pushing every button for the culture, especially in outposts outside of New York that longed to see themselves embroiled in such conversations.  Of course it played well to both the audience it portrayed and the audience of art-majors and film critics across the country.  That's not a dig - I'm just not surprised.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

PODCAST: "Trancers" (1984) - A Sci-Fi Film Chat w/ SimonUK and Ryan




Watched:  06/25/2021
Format:  DVD (Full Moon)
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Charles Band


SimonUK and Ryan are back (in time) to discuss a cult classic of 1980's horror sci-fi. It's time-travel, zombiefication, cults, iffy future governing structures and the promise of everyone in Los Angeles getting an ocean view. So join us as we do some detective work on not just the film, but that it survives with a cult audience all these years later!
Music:
Trancers Opening - Trancers OST, Phil Davies & Mark Ryder
Confrontation on the Roof - Trancers OST, Phil Davies & Mark Ryder

Playlist:

Thursday, June 3, 2021

SimonUK Watch: Dead Heat (1988)

Watched:  06/02/2021



Format:  DVD
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:   Mark Goldblatt

In 1987 or 1988, when this movie *should* have been aimed directly at me, I saw the trailer for Dead Heat (1988) and took a hard pass.  I never cared much for Joe Piscopo, and I can say I had no idea who Treat Williams was in 1988.  So, alive or dead, I didn't really care to see a buddy-cop comedy starring these two.

Mostly, I'd totally forgotten this movie existed until about two years ago when Simon suggested I watch it.  But I did remember it.  Joe Piscopo.  Cops.  One of them was dead.  Probably Piscopo.  

So, last night was the first time in a year or so Simon has been to our house for a movie night (hooray, vaccines!).  Si brought an assortment of films, but I decided finally watching this movie was a thing we should do.  

Look, Simon really, really likes this movie and was generous enough to share it with me.  And I will say this - it does have a bonkers final 20 minutes.  I liked the last 20 minutes.  

It is directed by the same guy who directed the 1989 Punisher movie that me and like 20 other people have ever seen.  But apparently he's an amazing editor.  Terminator 2 and other credits.  But, man, it just *feels* like a Corman movie as much or more than anything else that came out of New World Pictures in the late 80's.  

Anyway, Simon really likes this movie, and there's no reason for us to take a knock at it.

Monday, May 31, 2021

PODCAST: "RoboCop" (1987) - A Signal Watch Canon PodCast w/ JAL & Ryan



Watched:  05/24/2021
Format:  BluRay (Arrow)
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Paul Verhoeven



Dead or alive, you're listening to this PodCast! JAL and Ryan stay out of trouble and talk a 1980's sci-fi action drama satire that's way the hell better than it should be. We look at the movie that may have had way more about to say about our present day back in 1987 than near any other sci-fi of the last 50 years. Join us as talk what we love about a movie about a guy we call "Robo".




Music: 
Drive Montage -  Basil Poledouris, RoboCop OST


Signal Watch Canon:

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Regret Watch: Star Trek V - The Final Frontier (1989)




Watched:  05/29/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1980's
Director:  William Shatner

I always like me some Trek, but the last time I watched this movie was in 1989, and it was the last time I saw it for a reason.  

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is a weird mess of a film, with no coherent plot or threat, or goal.  Coming off the Star Trek II - IV trilogy, which had run the gamut from revenge-driven space battle to whale wrangling comedy, coming up with what was next for our crew as they now had The Next Generation nipping at their heels was going to be a tall order. And, over and over again, the movie just fails to deliver as an adventure, a sci-fi premise, a philosophical exploration or a comedy.  

Horror Watch: Maniac Cop (1988)




Watched:  05/30/2021
Format:  Shudder
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  William Lustig

Guys.  Guys.  Two guesses what this movie is about.

Monday, May 17, 2021

80's Cult Watch: Eating Raoul (1982)




Watched:  05/17/2021
Format:  TCM on DVR from forever ago
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Paul Bartel

Well, I loved this movie.  

Ridiculous, mean-spirited and a lot of fun - what else can you want from a 1980's pop black comedy made on the edge of the Hollywood studio system?  It's also a fascinating time capsule of the long-gone sub-cultures of the 1980's - the Boomer's own fascination with pop-nostalgia and the fetishization of everything from the 50's and early 60's in everything from media to decor to glassware.  

But also the fascination with the oddities of conformity often at odds with the excesses of the 70's and into the 1980's.  

Writer/ Director Paul Bartel plays one half of a husband and wife team - the other half played by former Warhol-girl Mary Woronov.  If I had to explain what the two are playing to a Millennial or Gen-Z'er, it'd be a little difficult to get the full context across, but they're weirdly like two drones from a 1950's sitcom in a sexless marriage sleeping in separate beds - and totally happy-ish.  If only they could raise the money they need for their restaurant.  

Unfortunately, Paul and Mary live in an apartment building that is also filled with swingers parties, which they see as perverse and beyond the pale - but where else could they move with so little money?

One night fate deals them a hand in the form of a swinger's party guest who Paul kills (somewhat nonchalantly) with a cast iron pan when the guest tries to force himself on Mary.  Pocketing the man's money and easily disposing of the body, and inspired by a dominatrix who was at the swinger's party they realize - hey, this could be a business.  And place an ad as a honeytrap so they can knock off "degenerates" and take their money.  Soon, the titular Raoul is involved and assisting in removing the bodies.

Anyway - it's all pretty nuts, and sold completely through Paul and Mary's even-keeled deadpan delivery.  Of course everyone along the way is, in contrast, not matching their energy and LA over-the-top, and it makes for phenomenal intentional camp. 

It's some seriously dark comedy, and the tone is not going to sit well with everyone.  There's also constant and unremarked upon threat of sexual assault to Mary.  And, of course, sociopathic murder every few minutes.  So, just be aware of what you're getting into.

The movie has cameos by Buck Henry, Edie McClurg and Ed Begley Jr.  But, it also stars Robert Beltran as Raoul before he'd go on to play Chakotay on Star Trek Voyager.  

btw - I was actually familiar with the Paul and Mary characters from their brief appearance in opening scenes from the Corman-produced goofy "horror" favorite, The Chopping Mall.  

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

80's Watch: Fletch (1985)




Watched:  05/11/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Michael Ritchie


I mean, it's Fletch (1985).  

I think eventually we're supposed to do this on the podcast, so I'll hold thoughts til then.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Watch Party Watch: The Apple (1980) - @#$% this movie




Watched:  05/07/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First (and last)
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Menahem Golan

Well, I've now seen The Apple (1980), the sci-fi, near-future dystopian musical religious and political allegory.  And while watching, this is roughly how I felt:

Monday, May 10, 2021

PODCAST: Amadeus (1984) - a Signal Watch Canon Episode w/ Alfredo and Ryan




Watched:  05/03/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Milos Foman


Alfredo returns to discuss a movie that goes way back to make a household name a lot more understandable to us modern folk. It's a fabricated fantasia of a biopic about two guys with very different skill levels at their jobs, competition in the workplace, and what happens when you get notes on too many notes. Join Alfredo and Ryan as we take on a cinema classic, and get a little classical ourselves.



Music:  
Written by WA Mozart, scored by Neville Mariner, performed by St. Martin in the Fields
Symphony No. 25 in G Minor. K. 183 & Requiem Confutatis
Rock me Amadeus - Falco, Falco 3


Signal Watch Canon:

Monday, May 3, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Teen Witch (1989)




Watched:  04/30/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1980's
Director:  I don't care


We're wrapping up our Friday Night Watch Parties this coming week, and maybe that's all for the best.  For - I may never top Teen Witch (1989) as an offering.  It's all downhill from here.  

It's one thing when people make a movie and try and it doesn't live up to expectations.  It's another when you can tell someone was pushing out garbage to take advantage of a place in the market and literally seemed to not care how the movie turned out.  And that's being generous, because the alternative with Teen Witch is to accept that adults made this film and this was their moonshot, and then we have to wonder: do you know how movies work?

Monday, April 26, 2021

PODCAST: "Blade Runner" (1982) - a Signal Watch Canon episode w/ Ryan and SimonUK


Watched:  04/19/2021
Format:  BluRay - version - The Final Cut
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Ridley Scott


More PodCast than PodCast, that's our motto! Ryan and SimonUK sit down and check our emotional response to this 1980's favorite of design and theme! There's nothing artificial about how we chase down one of the best of the sci-fi genre that defined an aesthetic, crossed genres, and asked the big questions.


Music:  
Blade Runner Main Theme - Vangelis, Blade Runner OST
Tears in Rain - Vangelis, Blade Runner OST


Signal Watch Canon:

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Hamilton Watch: Black Moon Rising (1986)




Watched:  04/23/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  very, very 1980's
Director:  Harley Cokeliss

When you're a kid, you kinda like everything you see, and then - one day - you admit "that... maybe was sort of boring, or not what I wanted to watch".  The excitement of "movie" fades away, and you're admitting to yourself - even if the poster contained a cool car, a cool dude and a pretty lady, maybe that movie was not as good as the poster promised.  

I don't remember anything about Black Moon Rising (1986) from when I watched it on cable or VHS as a kid except that I didn't much care for it.  Well, I'd totally forgotten that the movie had any other known actors other than a pre-fame Tommy Lee Jones, but I was looking at it for a Friday night watch party and realized "oh, wow, this has Linda Hamilton!"  And I like me some Linda Hamilton.

Anyway - Linda Hamilton is probably one of two reasons to watch this movie.  She's doing her best in a movie that flatly doesn't deserve it.  She's wearing a crazy wig in the first scenes, so don't freak out when you see her in a doofy haircut.  The other reason is to see the kooky car they cast as The Black Moon.*

A deeply NOT street legal vehicle that looks designed to murder pedestrians and corner poorly, The Black Moon has turbo-boost, something we'd all seen on Knight Rider for years by the time this movie came out.  

Really, aside from Linda Hamilton's briefly glimpsed self, it feels a bit like a network TV movie.  

What's most alarming is that the titular car of the film is barely in the movie - you see more of Jackie Chan's supercar in Cannonball Run II.  And, as I mentioned, the movie doesn't do much with the car being "super".  In the same era as Blue Thunder, Air Wolf, Knight Rider, Street Hawk, etc...  putting a car out there as the central conceit better have *some* hook.  But, really, this movie is about the car getting boosted by Robert Vaughn's apparently wildly profitable car theft ring - a business so profitable I think they're suggesting he's building two skyscrapers in LA on the profits.  

Jones plays a thief in the employ of the US government who has stolen some data from Lee Ving of punk band Fear and, stumbling across the team bringing The Black Moon to LA to show it to investors, hides the data in the car...

You know what?  This movie isn't really worth a synopsis.  I can't recommend it.  It's slow as a heist movie, Jones isn't even great.  I read he was boozing a bit during this time, and that may be it.  Hamilton is fine, but she can't save this wreck.  

But, yeah:  Robert Vaughn, Linda Hamilton, Tommy Lee Jones, Bubba Smith, Lee Ving, Richard Jaeckel, William Sanderson, Keenan Wynn, a baby Nick Cassavetes...  it's kind of wild seeing all the folks go by.  The movie has a writing credit by John Carpenter, and advertised itself as "from the mind of", but it's telling that imdb trivia states he'd never seen it.

Oh well.  We can all still like Linda Hamilton.



*the wacky looking car is actually a fake version of the 1980 Wingho Concordia II, a real and unique car.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Maniac Watch: Maniac (1980)




Watched:  04/16/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  William Lustig


One of the interesting things about horror is that it can be used to give an actor a showcase who might not otherwise get one.  Joe Spinell is not a name with which a ton of people are familiar, although he had appeared in two Rocky films. I knew him from his star turn as the villain in Starcrash.  

Spinell was in a ton of stuff, but mostly not in leading roles, and mostly played a heavy.  Maybe not the greatest way to stretch one's acting resume.  But in 1980 he was part of the creative team that wrote and created Maniac, the movie of which he is the star (but let's agree it's weird to call him a protagonist, even if he is, kinda sorta).  He created an opportunity, and he really made the most of it.

JAL recommended the film, and I'd been putting it off, but it seemed like good counter-programming to The Beautician and the Beast.  Anyhoo... I get why JAL suggested it, and I did, in fact "like" it, which is a curious thing to say about a movie where a guy kills a whole bunch of people over 90 minutes.

I'm going to recommend the movie as a terrific/ whacko character study, a truly grisly horror movie (I did not watch with Jamie), and having a hell of an ending.  

Plus, it briefly co-stars Signal Watch fave, Caroline Munro!  Just sorta being Caroline Munro - but as a photographer!  

see!  There she is!  



Anyway - no spoilers.  But if you like the grittiness of, say, Basketcase, this movie is for you.

Monday, April 12, 2021

PODCAST: "Withnail and I" (1987) - a Signal Watch Canon episode w/ SimonUK and Ryan




Watched:  March 30, 2021
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Bruce Robinson




We're discussing our personal canon when it comes to film - and what can two guys who talk endlessly at one another do better than discuss two guys who talk endlessly at one another? It's a British cult favorite, but not the best known movie here in the colonies - but maybe it should be? Join us for a sojourn in the country as we escape our normal routine!


Music:
Withnail's Theme - David Dundas and Rick Wentworth
All Along the Watchtower - Performed by Jimi Hendrix, Written by Bob Dylan

Signal Watch Canon:

Monday, April 5, 2021

Neo-Noir Watch: Body Heat (1981)




Watched:  04/03/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Lawrence Kasdan

I'll go ahead and put this out there:  this may be the best of the neo-noirs I've seen, and most akin to the original noir movement.  

Also: finally watching Body Heat (1981) gives me a big clue as to how neo-noir took a left turn by the late 80's and saw a divergent strain that became the "erotic thriller", which, itself, had several branches on the movie cladogram.

Despite the popular vision of noir, it wasn't always sexy stuff with classy dames showing up in the offices of PI's desperate for help.  The movement encompassed a lot of takes on how things can go badly, and how lust could turn things sideways remarkably fast was just one (if a popular) angle.  Body Heat delivers a 1980's spin on the Joseph M. Cain flavor of crime melodrama that gave us Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice.  No detectives here - just guys in over their head when they see a chance at romance with a woman out of their league (but aren't they all).

Saturday, March 27, 2021

80's Watch Party Watch: The Secret of My Success (1987)




Watched:  03/26/2021
Format: Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade: so, so 1980's
Director:  Herbert Ross

I have no affinity for The Secret of My Success (1987).  I saw it upon its theatrical release in 1987, where I was carded as a 12 year old entering a PG-13 movie.  My friend's dad had to come into the box office and tell them it was fine.  So, thanks, Mr. P.

I also remember both the seduction of "Brantley" and the immediate revelation he'd been seduced by a distant sorta relative.  And the use of Yello's "Oh Yeah".*

And, of course, Helen Slater, who I didn't realize was Helen Slater until college or so.  And - the ruse which is the core of the film, which I thought I understood but missed something.  But I am here to tell you here in 2021 AD, I do not understand what Brantley was doing.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

80's Watch - Watch Party: Footloose (1964)




Watched:  03/20/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Herbert Ross

Gee, why don't the young people want to stay in small towns?  How did we get to this divide between rural America and urban America?

I mean, Footloose (1984) is a story that seems ridiculous, about a town where "dancing" was made illegal (something that seems so slippery and un-First Amendment-y that it's breathtaking) and one not-even-rebellious teen who's mere existence as an "outsider" is so problematic adults are out to literally destroy him, that all of this seems absurd.  Except that this stuff was very real and happened.  Baylor University in Waco, 90 minutes up the road from my house, didn't allow dancing until the late 90's. 

So, yeah, small towns where no one was going to do much but stop to fill up with gas actually would and did have goofy rules.  This was Satanic Panic time that would culminate in the PMRC and Dee Snider of all people taking down a bunch of crusty representatives looking into literally regulating the music industry.  It was also the time of MTV, and I can just see a movie studio exec looking for a story that will appeal to a wide audience - but bring in those kids who like the MTV, and be very music-video-friendly.  

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

: The Black Stallion (1979)




Watched:  03/17/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  Unknown - at least third
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Carroll Ballard

This is a strangely perfect movie.