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

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Holiday Watch: Santa Claus - The Movie (1985)

Watched:  12/8/2023
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Director: Jeannot Szward  

Even as a kid, when I saw the trailer for this movie and it looked a little suspicious to me. I don't know what it says that a kid pretty game for whatever looked at this and was like "nah", but I think that gut instinct was dead on.   I would have been 10 when this hit, so I wasn't really the audience, anyway - just old enough to not want to see "a kiddie movie", but it looked like schlock to me at that age, and I just had no interest.  

Apparently neither did Planet Earth, because the movie made about $23 million against an estimated budget between $30 and 50 million.

Flash forward to 2023, and we put this one on and a whole bunch of things became clear immediately.

Santa Claus: The Movie (1985) was produced by the Salkinds, the same shady guys who put together the first three Superman films and Supergirl.  They have their name up there first and foremost, so you know this is an Alexander Salkind joint.  And if you know anything about the Salkinds you know that if you're ethically a little shaky, these are your guys.  

Thursday, November 2, 2023

PodCast 258: "Batman" (1989) - a Kryptonian Thought Beast PodCast w/ Jamie and Ryan

Watched:  09/30/2023
Format:  Max
Viewing: Unknown
Decade:  1980s
Director: Tim Burton

Jamie and Ryan go back to a simpler era of superhero movies where a hero didn't have to turn their neck to stop crime! It's the world's greatest detective in a rubber suit, and busily recreating film language for the next few decades. We talk the 1989 smash that changed how the world saw superheroes and made everyone take a guy in a pointy hat very seriously, indeed!



Batman Main Title - Danny Elfman 
Batdance - Prince

DC Movies and TV

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

HalloWatch: Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

Watched:  10/31/2023
Format:  Max
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Frank Oz

It seems unfathomable that I've never done a post on Little Shop of Horrors (1986) but a quick glance my history here, and I haven't.  We did watch it back in 2020 during Halloween season, but I seemed to think we were about to podcast the movie.  We did not.

So, the way I first saw the movie was a tad unlikely.  Some kids at my school figured out there was a pay phone outside, and they called in a bomb threat with about two hours left to go in the day.  So, we stood around in the drizzling rain until the buses came, and then we just went home without our books or homework.  

Over dinner, The Admiral realized I had nothing to do, found the next movie on, and he and I jumped in the car and drove over to Showplace 6 to see Little Shop of Horrors.  I was delighted.  Loved the movie.  Sci-fi/ horror/ comedy/ musical?  Slam dunk home run.

We were a family that attended a lot of musicals and theatrical productions, so the language of a movie musical was no real surprise to me, but I'd never seen anything that also squarely jived with a comedic sensibility of the time in that format, and which featured some of my favorite comedians.

Of course, Rick Moranis as Seymour, but cameos from Bill Murray, Steve Martin, John Candy and more.  And, of course, a giant, singing, talking plant bent on world domination.  The music was reminiscent of what I was listening to on Oldies stations (I missed the gag about our chorus' names until college), and it's kind of banger after banger.  We forget Howard Ashman and Alan Menken did this off Broadway before they were the Disney-famous Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. 

Saturday, October 28, 2023

HalloWatch: Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

Watched:  10/26/2023
Format:  Prime
Viewing:  ha ha ha ha ha
Director:  James Signorelli

Look, I've talked about Elvira, the character, plenty over the years, and I've watched this movie every Halloween for a while.  I even have a tag for Elvira related material.  

Suffice to say, I am a fan of the character, the film, and Ms. Peterson herself.  

I've nothing new to say on this particular viewing, but you should watch the movie before we hit the big, spooky day!

Thursday, October 19, 2023

PodCast 256: "The Blob" (1988) - Halloween 2023 w/ SimonUK and Ryan

Watched:  10/06/2023
Format:  Max
Viewing:  Third or Fourth
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Charles Russell

SimonUK and Ryan stop thinking in rigid terms and consume a movie, absorbing it before oozing their way to the next. It's a conversation on a remake of a classic - that may be a classic in its own right! Join us for an all-consuming chat on this 80's film that's out of this world.



The Blob (1988) - Michael Hoenig 
The Blob (1958) - The Five Blobs (Bacharach wrote this!)

Halloween 2023

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Hallo-Watch: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

Watched:  10/12/2023
Format:  Max
Viewing:  First
Director:  Tobe Hooper

I was in no rush to watch the sequel to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but JAL informed me that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 takes place during Texas/ OU Weekend, and, well, that's a thing around these parts.  

When I started college in the 1990's, my family did not pay any attention to UT football or tradition, and so I was unaware of what was then called The Red River Shootout, when the University of Texas and Oklahoma University football teams meet half-way in Dallas for their annual, early October game at the Cotton Bowl.  So I was very confused when, half-way through my first semester, campus emptied out as folks went to Dallas or otherwise disappeared during the day on a game day.*

Anyway - none of that is relevant except that the film starts on the Thursday or Friday night prior to the game as two dumb-ass frat guys, headed from Austin to Dallas for a weekend of debauchery, run afoul of Leatherface and family on the road (the scene is filmed in scenic Bastrop, using what is now a pedestrian bridge).   

I feel for Tobe Hooper.  He was never really wired to work within the studio-system, but that he did in order to get this movie made.  A glance at Wikipedia tells me that the studio did the thing of hiring the guy who made Texas Chainsaw Massacre, saw the glossless, raw movie that it was, and said "yes, but what if we didn't do that".  Hooper's response seems to have been "well, but what if we did, though?" and he took the dark comedy elements of the first film and made them wackier.  I mean, at the end of the day, this is a horror comedy, which was something I didn't really grok a month ago.

Moving from a farm house in the sticks to an abandoned roadside attraction made from dilapidated Quonset huts that's somehow subterranean? and a radio station, this one replays some of the greatest hits and amps things up for comedic effect.   We learn that maybe Leatherface is just a lonely heart, and Dennis Hopper is in this movie, but they had to have only had him for about a week.  Man, Hopper would sign up for *anything*.  

The star of the movie is Caroline Williams, playing Vanita "Stretch" Brock, a radio DJ who takes the call from the two frat-dudes as they get chain-sawed.  She gets involved in the investigation, agreeing to play bait as she replays the tape, which draws the family out of hiding.  

As I've commented elsewhere, I have come to appreciate that horror fans will embrace an actor and give them a whole career if that person wins them over in a role, and you will not be surprised to learn that Caroline Williams has been working steadily since this film in and out of horror.

Anyway, the shock was not that of the first film, but it's not a throw-away sequel.  It's a solid follow-up, even if the tone is wildly different.  Who knew you could do that with a movie about a family that has really figured out a solid chili recipe?

*it is a reasonable assumption that Univ. of Texas' main rival is Texas A&M University, but it's arguable that UT thinks of OU as our main rival and Texas A&M as the annoying relation who lives down the road.  Texas Tech *thinks* they're UT's rival, but we don't think about them much at all.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Concert Film Watch: Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense (1984)

Watched:  10/08/2023
Format:  Alamo
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Jonathan Demme

I very much remember seeing the video for Burning Down the House on MTV at a neighbor's house in elementary school.  We watched a lot of MTV while hanging out in their living room, and so I became familiar with bands as much through visuals as the music.  And even in those early years of MTV, Talking Heads knew how to take advantage of film medium from jump.  

Over the years, I became more of a Talking Heads fan, picking up Naked on the say-so of a clerk at a music and video store near my house.  I'd asked "okay, so, what's new that's in that you'd recommend" and this guy looked at this dumb-looking 8th grader and decided to take the Pepsi Challenge, I guess, offering me that tape.  Well, I bought it and I loved it.

I slowly picked up all the Talking Heads output, and by college, had a subway poster of the band hanging in my room when that was still a thing young people did. 

In 1984, Talking Heads had teamed with director Jonathan Demme to produce a concert film.  I was aware of the movie mostly because my 4th grade art teacher had played it during class.*  No, I have no idea how he had a copy.  I guess they were selling them at record stores.  But he used it to try to explain art could be music and film, which was not a lesson my classmates were particularly ready for.

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Hallo-Watch: Beetlejuice (1998)

Watched:  10/06/20230
Format:  Max
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Burton

Jamie had her covid shot Thursday, which knocked her on her ass through about 7:00 on Friday.  In our house the rule is the sick person selects what we watch until they're so sick they don't care.  

Look, there's nothing new to be said about this movie in 2023.  I like it!  It's now it's own iconic thing.  I like the whole cast, especially Catherine O'Hara.  It's a hoot.  And it does show that Tim Burton's stunt casting is actually quite brilliant, as is Michael Keaton, full stop.

Anyway, you know it, and I assume love it.  I'm glad to get a viewing in before the sequel shows up next year (I am skeptical but willing to be surprised.).  

The only thing to really discuss today is that I actually like the deconstructed exterior version of the house as much or more than the original, but would keep the interiors the way they were before the Deetzes moved in.  

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

PodCast 254: "Day Of The Dead" (1985) - Halloween 2023 w/ SimonUK and Ryan

Watched:  08/16/2023
Format:  Max
Viewing: First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  George Romero

SimonUK and Ryan are back from the grave and have holed up to bring you their take on the third of the Romero zombie trilogy. We ponder cave-dwelling, budget alterations, and who you want to throw in with when things go south.



Day of the Dead Main Titles - John Harrison

Signal Watch Halloween and Horror Playlist

Saturday, September 30, 2023

MST3K/ Cattrall Watch: City Limits (1984)

Watched:  09/29/2023
Format:  MST3K on YouTube (keep circulating the tapes?)
Viewing:  First
Director:  Someone, I'm sure

In my quest to catch the entirety of the Kim Cattrall filmography without it becoming a thing, I finally got around to the episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (S5:E3) in which Joel and the Bots watch the 1984 sci-fi opus City Limits.  

You will guess from the fact it is not just an episode of MST3K, but from observing that a 1984 movie made its way to MST3K in 8 years that maybe this was not a movie that was in high demand, perhaps due to the fact it's a low-budget mess of a movie.

Weirdly, the movie features a number of known humans, begging the question:  what was happening in 1984 for each of these people?

The movie features:
  • James Earl Jones
  • Rae Dawn Chong (on the poster above)
  • John Stockwell (the guy from Christine and Top Gun)
  • Dean Devlin for some reason
  • John Diehl (many things, including Miami Vice)
  • and, of course, Kim Cattrall
  • And Robby Benson who was in stuff I've never actually seen
It feels like the movie happened to be a way station for actors on their way up or down.  I won't guess further as to whom was heading up or down, but you can do the math.  It's mostly weird to watch yet another 1980's no-budget post-apocalyptic movie but you actually recognize half the cast.

Anyway - I won't even really get into what it is or is about.  Because Jamie and I had to piece together what was happening in a pause-the-movie moment about 2/3rds of the way through.

This movie is now famous mostly for spawning the Kim Cattrall bit on MST3K as someone on staff (I assume Trace Beauliue) was clearly a fellow appreciator of the actor.  

It does help if you've seen Mannequin.  I mean, not just to appreciate the sketch, but in life in general.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

80's Re-Watch: The Naked Gun (1988)

Watched:  09/22/2023
Format:  Max
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  David Zucker

Great movie or GREATEST MOVIE?

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

PodCast 250: "Crocodile Dundee" (1986) - a 1980's Watch w/ SimonUK, Jamie & Ryan

Watched:  08/05/2023
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Peter Faiman

G'day! We watch this very long Australia tourism promo, ponder the 1980's, New York City, thongs, bidets, sophisticates crushing on hicks, and what it took to be huge 40 years ago. It's a revisit of a massively popular movie and cultural moment! Jump in the boat, make an ox lie down, and ruin someone's party favors. It's a whole scene!



Main Titles - Peter Best
Overture from Crocodile Dundee - Peter Best 

SimonUK Cinema Series

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

PodCast 249: "Repo Man" (1984) - a punk rock podcast w/ Matty & Ryan

Watched:  07/15/2023
Format:  BluRay - Criterion
Viewing: Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Alex Cox

Old pal but new co-contributor Matty brings us one of the staples of 1980's punk rock culture and cinema. It's one of the most quotable, most memorable films of an era! We get some drinks and go do some crimes.



Repo Man - Iggy Pop 
Institutionalized - Suicidal Tendencies 

Matt's copy of the soundtrack on original vinyl


Friday, June 9, 2023

Ghibli Watch: My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Watched:  06/09/2023
Format:  Max
Viewing:  First
Director:  Miyazaki

So, aside from a movie or two, I had never really delved into the Studio Ghibli output.  Sue me.  I love animation, but I love a lot of things, and I always thought someone would foist it upon me, and that hasn't happened.  Thus, in 2023, I finally decided to start making my way through the Ghibli output.  

It does seem silly, however, to try to add to the conversation on these much-watched, well-loved films with millions and millions of fans, and plenty of ink spilled over them.  All I'll really say is:  what an absolute delight of a movie.  I felt like I got the full Miyazaki experience on this one.

Monday, June 5, 2023

80's Watch: Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

Watched:  06/02/2023
Format:  Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  George Miller

In memory of the great Tina Turner, this week we put on Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985) for our group watch party.  This is also the last one for the summer (or longer).  Life is resuming, and while I enjoy the experience, my own life and those of the folks who participated, has changed once again.  

Anyway, this was a movie I saw at age 10 and in the theater.  Subsequently, it played interminably on HBO, I believe, during one of the periods where my parents would pay for premium cable, and I'd seen it a lot during a crucial window in my life.  I'm well aware that it's not a patch on The Road Warrior, and in its way, not as fresh as the first Mad Max.  And, it's just not as good as Fury Road, which feels like the real distillation of the concepts and final word on the idea of Mad Max - until George Miller does it again.

But it's still a watchable movie and has more ideas per minute than a season of most sci-fi TV.  And like all sci-fi that works, it feels plausible and comments back to us about who we are.  

This Mad Max film sees Max wander into a town where capitalism has met with the apocalypse and you can't enter unless you have something to trade.  Having recently been relieved of his camels(!) and car, Max is recruited to kill the muscle of a brains/ muscle combo by the person who founded Bartertown but has lost control of it to an engineer who is turning pig shit into methane.  

Like I say: lots of ideas.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Watch Party Watch: Reform School Girls (1986)

I'm sure this movie had a poster, but mostly existed as a worn out VHS

Watched:  04/28/2023
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Tom DeSimone

So, first:  Apologies.  It's probably best that I actually remember the movies we're going to watch more than a few key scenes.  This movie turned out to be a bit much more than I recalled it being, and I find it insane I was watching this on cable when I was like, 13.  

Ah, the 1980's.

I was a bit surprised that no one had seen this, and many never heard of it.  It's a cult-classic of the 1980's, and a lot of what made it so has faded in the ensuing 37 years.

This is a movie that, as Jenifer put it, covers all the tropes of the "women in prison movie" and then cranks up the exploitation (this is New World Pictures, one of the Roger Corman brands).  So, it's assuming an audience that has grown up on slew of "women in prison" pictures that started showing up post WWII as earnest socially conscious filmmaking paired with, you know, ladies kicking each other, which was a novelty.  Plus a host of other sketchy activities, some explicit, many implied.  

1983's Chained Heat - which stars Sybil Danning but as a prisoner -  is a pretty good indicator of what was going on at this point. It has legit actors (Henry Silva, John Vernon) but is clearly an exploitation picture.  Mostly I remember 1980's-me wandering the aisles of the video store and being acutely aware there was more than one movie about women in jail, and some vague promise of sexiness.  But since my Mom was paying, I was not asking to see these films.

Reform School Girls is loosely based on the 1957 film Reform School Girl, which I have not seen.  But also familiar if you've seen other pictures. It's mostly been forgotten, but 1980's hip young adults were very into reflecting back the absurdities of the 1950's American monoculture.  If you go back and watch other 1980's movies, usually lower budget stuff, but you can see the Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, etc...  But also much as folks like myself born in the 70's grew up with 4 or 5 channels, most of which was reruns of stuff from decades prior.  So, yeah, I imagine replays of those old movies were part of all that.*

The movie itself follows a teen girl who gets in trouble with the law, which lands her in court and on to "reform school" (but good luck pointing out when anyone is in class in this movie).  The movie hits all the notes of prison and women in prison films, starting with the "you don't know what you're in for" messaging to the lead and therefore us.  And then cue the humiliations of entering prison, paired with the exploitation of a 1980's Corman flick.  And that's when I realized "oh yeah.  This is probably full of nudity", which is an awkward moment with a chat full of people.  

The movie's stars are Sybil Danning (who many dudes of a certain age has a passing knowledge), Pat Ast (whom you should Google), and Wendy O. Williams of The Plasmatics, who is 37 and playing... 45?  and 17?  I dunno, but I've thought she was great since I was 13 or 14.  And then actually stars a supposedly 16 year old Linda Carol (I am suspicious of her listed birth year) as our POV character hero.

I *do* think the movie is funnier than was taken by the group.  Everything is at 11.  It's all absurd, including the atrocities of the film, and that's kind of the point.  But maybe that's just not where we're at these days.  We kind of are more aware of actual exploitation in a way the 1980's was not.  But the movie could have leaned into the absurdity more and had fun with it instead of saying "no, the joke is how woefully dark this is going to get, and we're going to refuse to take it seriously".  

All in all, I wish I'd revisited it solo, but here we are.  

*it's funny.  Growing up in Austin, we really didn't have much in the way of TV on local channels after 10:30 PM except SNL.  I read  lot of references to latenight movies playing on local TV, but by the late 1980's, I was watching Reform School Girls on cable, not the movies that inspired it.  I don't remember what would have been playing on our UHF channel, if, in fact, they hadn't signed off.  I suspect the larger cities of the 1970s had more of this, but we just didn't.  

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Watch Party Watch: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)

Watched:  04/21/2023
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Sidney J Furie

I won't get into why we did this, but we did do it as a watch party, and I think folks enjoyed the experience if not the film. 

But here at The Signal Watch we also recently podcasted the film, so if you didn't listen to the episode then (and it's pretty good, if I say so myself), now is a great opportunity to hear three dudes who know a lot about Superman stuff talk about the movie.  



Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Tarzan Watch: Greystoke - the Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984)

this is the most pretentious possible Tarzan poster

Watched:  04/10/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Director:  Hugh Hudson

I can only imagine what the pitch meeting was for this movie, and I can totally see how it happened.  

In 1981, Hugh Hudson had directed Chariots of Fire, a movie that was a smash hit about pasty British guys running foot races and worrying about religion.  Like, you couldn't escape the movie, which I watched on TV once when I was sick as a kid and immediately erased from my memory.  But it was a big @#$%ing deal when adults went to the cinema.  

I'm sure it's great.  But it was an unlikely hit, and won Best Picture.  Career made for somebody.

So when the director of the footrace movie comes to you and says "we're gonna do Tarzan.  But now it's a prestige costume drama about how Tarzan is, in fact, a very sad ape man.  He is not a super-human living among men, continually pursued by hot women and fighting weird alien threats and large animals.  Instead, he's a kind of skinny French guy who does stuff you've seen apes do at the zoo.  But, you know, it's quite sad" I guess you trust and give that guy a sack of cash to give it a go.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Watch Party Watch: Big Trouble In Little China (1986)

Watched:  04/07/2023
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  John Carpenter

I framed this watch party as a "birthday surprise" as my birthday is next week.  So, until folks clicked on the watch party link, they had no idea what we were watching, so rather than me receiving a birthday surprise, I delivered one in the form of ol' Jack Burton.

To be fair, Big Trouble in Little China (1986) is a tough sell.  It's an action comedy that looks more or less like a straight action movie of the mid-80's and only occasionally winks to say "we're kidding here".  Also, by this point, 80's action movies were almost beyond parody, so having a lead hero who is all unsupportable braggadocio and a female lead who is an exposition-dumping, hard-headed crusader - you kind of have to listen to what and how people are delivering their lines to get "this is a joke".  

Explaining why something is funny, of course, makes it immediately not-funny.  And so Big Trouble in Little China is not a movie I've often shared with people.  But, you turn 48 once.  And why not enjoy a movie again you liked when you were 11?

It's just not to everyone's taste, or in alignment with everyone's expectations, and that's okay.  I would say that if you haven't seen it since you were a kid, it may be a very different movie than what you thought it was at age 12 or whatever.  

Also, we're still crushing on Gracie Law.

Prior discussion here.  

One of our first podcasts included discussion of Big Trouble in Little China.  

Saturday, April 1, 2023

JLC Watch: Prom Night (1980)

Watched:  03/30/2023
Format:  Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director:  Paul Lynch

We decided to watch another Jamie Lee Curtis movie for a Friday party watch.  This one is a post-Halloween JLC, when I guess folks pegged her as a scream queen.  But this is JLC, so she never really screams, she just kind of kicks ass when she's drawn into the action.

I'd not previously seen Prom Night.  When Prom Night II was meme-ing a while back, I tried to watch it first, even though the two are utterly unrelated. At that time, the movie wasn't available for some reason, but now it is, and while a career retrospective of an actor like JLC who is constantly working is difficult, why not try to check off the boxes?  

The actual plot of the movie, if you break down what it is, is really good.  I liked it.  But, man, the execution was all over the place.  Some parts were really solid, and some just dragged on when the outcome of, say, a girl chased by a killer, is never in doubt.  At this point in the slasher cycle, I assume the audiences would know that?  I dunno.  I was 5.  

The set up is that a bunch of kids are playing in an empty building in 1972 and one of the little kids, while playing a tag-like game, falls from a window to her death.  Because kids are all sociopaths, they make a pact to never tell anyone they were there and the death is supposed to be tied to a child molester who escapes.

So, there's a lot going on in the first ten minutes.  

Flash forward to 8 years later as the kids are getting ready for prom, the death of the girl remembered on the anniversary - and maybe that molester guy has returned?  

Anyway - all of that is gold, and possibly culled from the story the movie is based on.  But, man, the movie itself is kind of weird and draggy from the set up to the last 30 minutes or so, which is really pretty good.  Consequently, there's 45 minutes of the world's boringest 20-somethings posing as teens, romantic rivalries that only kinda work, a Carrie-ish riff from a meangirl, and maybe too many characters who only ever raise up to the mark of mildly interesting.  

What you can see is that JLC kind of shines in the middle of all this without doing a lot.  She's just got star power, and is projecting waves of energy, which culminates in a dance sequence at the prom (JLC can dance, apparently!) and then when she takes on the killer.  

Leslie Nielsen is in this playing a straight role as JLC's dad and the principal of the school.  I have literally no idea why he is in this.  He only seems to have been there for a few days of shooting and gets top billing.  

If the movie could have been as consistently good as the beginning and end, I'd recommend it.  I can see why they went daffy with the sequel.  This movie is, in many ways, a tragedy dressed up as a horror film, and it makes everything kind of a bummer as the thing wraps.  But it's also not a police procedural, so I can see why it works as it does with high school kids at the center and cops at the periphery.