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

Sunday, February 5, 2023

80's Watch: Action Jackson (1988)




Watched:  02/04/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Director:  Craig R Baxley

Well, 13-year-old-me that wanted to see this, we did it.  We finally got around to watching Action Jackson (1988).  And what a strange, strange movie this is.  

There are moments where you think "this movie had a $5 budget" and then you think "well, there are lots of explosions and stuff."  But you also know the star here was Carl Weathers, who is charismatic and cool, but he hadn't carried a ton of stuff or big action movies.  The director is the stunt coordinator from Predator, and the film includes not just Weathers but Bill Duke as the cranky captain calling Jackson into his office and a brief appearance by Sonny Landham (Billy in Predator).  

But that's not all!  Craig T. Nelson plays the Mr. Big corporate villain, a fresh-faced Sharon Stone is his dumb-as-a-bag-of-rocks wife, Vanity is our deeply complicated love interest/ MacGuffin, Tom Wilson (Biff from BTTF) is a cop,  Robert Davi gets five minutes.  But most remarkable, it's just full of "that guy!" character actors in almost every scene.  

Friday, February 3, 2023

I Guess I Watched That Watch: Mannequin (1987)

Photoshop is hard, y'all



Watched:  02/02/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Michael Gottleib

Well.  I somehow watched Mannequin (1987) Thursday evening.  

As the day drew to a close and we were figuring out life after our ice storm here, I sat down to do some things and was like "ha ha!  Mannequin is on HBOmax!" and the next thing I knew, I was watching department store art director and bon vivant, Hollywood, knock over bumbling security guards with a firehose (that's the end of the movie, gang).

Observations:

1)  this movie recognizes the reality and divinity of the Egyptian pantheon, and I was wondering how that would play a role for the characters, but it's just not a factor except when their fulfilling wishes.  What does it mean to realize that Osiris is out there granting boons?

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

PodCast 230: "Jaws 3-D" (1983) - An Angry Animal Movie w/ Jamie, SimonUK and Ryan



Watched:  01/22/2023
Format:  AMazon
Viewing: First
Decade:  1980s
Director:  Joe Alves




Jamie, SimonUK and Ryan go back in the water - at Sea World! It's been 40 years since this 3D film hit theaters, so what better way to watch it than in 2D with 1/10th the excitement of the original, and 2x the co-contributors?!! It's a sequel that doesn't care what made the first one work, but it raises the stakes, finds a sunnier locale, adds sharks, half-heartedly continues the saga of the Brody family, and defies biology and physics to bring you excitement and terror!


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Jaws 3 Main Title Theme - Alan Parker 


Angry Animals Playlist

Thursday, January 19, 2023

80's Watch: Running Scared (1986)




Watched:  01/17/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Peter Hyams


Running Scared (1986) was a movie I remember watching a bunch during the window when we had whatever movie channel carried it in the late 1980's, which is the last time I watched the film.   I haven't really missed it, but it kept coming up thanks to the power of Michael McDonald's "Sweet Freedom".  And, Jamie had never seen it and got tired of me saying "yeah, we could watch that some time."  So, we did.

I have no idea how the movie was considered when I was a kid.  I'm not looking up reviews or box office now.  As a middle-schooler, of course I loved loose cannon, wise-cracking cops who get to shoot guns, get into shenanigans and are repeatedly shown to be right.  As an adult, this is a movie about wise-cracking cops repeatedly abusing their authority, engaging in police brutality, tampering with evidence, getting witnesses and stoolies killed, stealing from the evidence locker, refusing to follow basic procedure, and never having to explain major shoot outs and acts of violence.  It is wiiiiiild.  This was what we wanted to watch in the 1980's.

The film is also constantly asking "so, this isn't racist, right?"  But, man, we sure had no problem showing the only Latinos in a movie as crooks or aiding crooks.  

To say it hasn't aged well is an understatement.

The basic plot is that Chicago's loosest of loose cannon cops are made to take vacation after stepping on the toes of a different vice sting (and establishing our villain in Jimmy Smits).   They've always been "shoot first and ask questions later" guys about their own safety and that of the the greater Chicagoland area.   But while in Key West, apparently landing women way out of their league, they impulsively buy a bar and plan to retire in 30 days.  As short-timers, they suddenly realize they could get shot and die.  Thus the title.  But it doesn't really effect the plot more than, like, twice.      

The movie is pitched as an action-comedy, but is short on both.  It's a long movie, and it didn't really need to be because it's a movie that doesn't really have anything interesting to say, and is a basic "cops catch drug kingpin" film that was being churned out every week back in the 1980's.*  

It's not that it's not funny at all.  It's sorta funny, but it basically feels like bits of improv more than any focused effort to be a comedy.  The violence is sporadic and feels out of whack from the mugging Crystal and Hines are up to, so when they get super serious at the end of the film, you're kinda-like "you two dipshits have been yukking it up and putting the entire city of Chicago in danger every twenty minutes this whole movie, and now you're concerned?"

Crystal does his familiar stuff from the era, Hines is charming.  We're told both are more physically appealing than I would guess they are.  And it's a reminder that roles for women in 1986 were mostly to stand around and shake heads at the antics of our heroes.  It also has Joe Pantoliano, Dan Hedaya (of course), Jon Gries, Larry Hankin, and probably other 80's and 90's faces you might enjoy.

I didn't hate it, but it's more interesting as a dated artifact of a bygone era than as a good movie.  I dunno.  Maybe I'll watch it again in another 33 years.

But, hey, it's fun to see the Chicago of the 1980's that isn't in the Hughes-filmed mini-mansion North Side suburbs.



*I always found it peculiar that coked-up producers were making so many movies about stopping cocaine.  That would be like me making a movie about stopping a cheese-monger.  

Monday, January 16, 2023

Shatner Watch: Star Trek II and Shatner in Austin

 

O Captain!  My Captain!



Watched:  01/15/2023
Format:  uhhhh....  we watched the movie on a screen and then Shatner was there!  Right in front of us!
Viewing:  Movie - 1,000th, Shatner - First
Director:  Nicholas Meyer/ No one tells Bill what to do


I won't comment too much on the actual movie of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982).  It was watching the movie with a 1000 people in an symphony hall.  Correction - watching it with 1000 Trekkies and Trekkers.  Both you and I have seen this movie dozens of times.  I will say this - it's easy to forget what Kirstie Alley was like on the big screen, but she certainly was a presence (RIP and good golly).  And, of course, seeing the ship-to-ship combat on the big screen is always a pleasure and needs to be more of what Star Trek does when it's not Strange New Worlds-ing.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

PodCast 227: "The Sea Wolves" (1980) - A SimonUK Cinema Selection - w/ Ryan




Watched:  12/27/2022
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing: First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Andrew V. McClagen




Simon and Ryan return for one last mission.... AGAIN! It's a based-on-a-true-story adventure of old dudes leaping into action for King and Country and to protect the sea-ways of the Indian Ocean from duplicitous Germans in WWII! Join our band of adventurers and let's blow some @#$% up!


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
The Sea Wolves Opening Titles - Roy Budd
Precious Moments - Matt Monro 


SimonUK Cinema Series

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Christmas Watch: A Christmas Story (1983)




Watched:  12/24/2022
Format:  TNT, baby
Viewing:  ha ha ha ha
Director:  Bob Clark

No real need to write this up.  Annual watch of Christmas Story (1983) as we wound down from Christmas Eve festivities.  

Way, way back at episode 34, Laura and I talked about this movie as our very first Christmas episode ever!



Thursday, December 15, 2022

PodCast 225: "Gremlins" (1984)- a Holiday 2022 PodCast w/ Stuart and Ryan

 


Watched:  12/10/2022  
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing: Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Joe Dante




What's more festive than a pack of insane asexually reproducing hyper-intelligent chaos monsters on Christmas Eve? Nothing. We get stuck in the chimney of good cheer as we talk this 1980's favorite which has become an unlikely holiday staple. So, dunk yourself in water, grab a bite after 12, and turn off the lights. It's time to talk The Best Movie Audience Ever.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Gremlins Rag - Jerry Goldsmith


Holiday Selections 2022

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Halloween Watch: Elvira - Mistress of the Dark (1988)




Watched:  10/27/2022
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  1,000,000th
Director:  James Signorelli

I watch this every Halloween season.  One day we'll podcast it and I'll talk about it more fully, but for now, it's up to you to go watch it and read old posts on the movie.  Also, go read Cassandra Peterson's memoir, Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark.  

Sunday, October 23, 2022

PodCast 218: "Near Dark" (1987) - a Halloween PodCast w/ SimonUK and Ryan


Watched:  09/26/2022
Format:  DVD
Viewing: Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Kathryn Bigelow




SimonUK and Ryan head west to dig up a cult classic! It's a 1980's take on vampires that doesn't suck! This film helped pivot vampires into something other than romantic, well-dressed folk and gave us hard-travelling vagabonds who might just treat you like a Capri Sun pouch.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Rain in the Third House - Tangerine Dream, Near Dark OST 
Mae's Transformation - Tangerine Dream, Near Dark OST 


Halloween 2022



Halloween and Horror - All

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Halloween Watch Party Watch: The Fog (1980)



Watched:  10/21/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  third?
Director:  John Carpenter

We PodCasted this one a while back.  

Still, very much enjoyed this one with other folks.

Here you go. 


Saturday, October 15, 2022

PodCast 216: "Cat People" (1942) and (1982) - a Halloween PodCast w/ SimonUK and Ryan




Watched:  09/06/2022
Format:  Amazon 
Viewing:  Third/ First
Decade:  1940's/ 1980's
Director:  Jacques Tourneur / Paul Scharader




SimonUK and Ryan cover both the 1942 and 1982 versions of a story sure to instill cat scratch fever. Our curiosity doesn't kill us as we check out two films, each a classic in its own way, as relevant meow as they were then! Join us as we compare and contrast, and ponder workplace safety around werebeasts!


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Main Title From Cat PeopleConstantin Bakaleinikoff conducted Roy Webb's score
Cat People (Putting Out Fire) - David Bowie & Georgio Moroder


Halloween 2022 Playlist


All Halloween and Horror

Monday, October 10, 2022

Watch Party Watch: An American Werewolf in London (1981)

just a reminder that nothing in horror goes harder than Rick Baker's AAWWIL wolf

Watched:  10/07/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  ha ha ha ha
Director:  John Landis

On Friday we watched An American Werewolf in London (1981) as an Amazon Watch Party.  Fun was had!  

Here at the Signal Watch, though, we've covered this endlessly.   No reason to write it up.  

Here's me and Si talking about it in 2019.


Here's 2015
Here's 2012
Here's 2016

Here's Jenny Agutter:






Sunday, October 9, 2022

PodCast 215: "Lair of the White Worm" (1988) - a Halloween PodCast w/ SimonUK and Ryan




Watched:  08/23/2022
Format:  Amazon
Viewing: Second
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Ken Russell




It seems somehow inevitable that SimonUK and Ryan would cover this 80's horror cult favorite. And what's not to like? We slither our way into more Halloween spookiness with a discussion of caves, England, worms, wyrms, a young Hugh Grant and the relative value of a Dynasty star on your cast


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
D'Ampton Worm Song - The Tossers


Halloween 2022

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Vampire Watch: The Lost Boys (1987)




Watched: 10/05/2022
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Joel Schumacher

My first takeaway from this is that The Lost Boys (1987) is Rated-R but also clearly a kids movie.  It's also not clear *why* it's rated R.  There's no nudity, the language is now fine on cable, and it's not even that gross or violent.  I saw it in the theater which would have been right around when I also saw RoboCop several states away in the theater, so it wasn't just a local thing.  Twelve year-olds, maybe exceptionally tall ones like myself, were just wandering into whatever we wanted to see and the theaters wanted our ticket and Spree money.  

But, yeah, I hadn't watched it since high school or early college, and it sure seems aimed at kids when you see it now.  The leads (Corey Haim, Jason Patric) are supposed to be in high school, I guess (a whole other question, because this is from the era when high schoolers were shown to be sexually active and drink and smoke pot as a matter-of-course), and Haim seems cast years older than the part is written.  What 16 year old needs to be told "it's bathtime!" or goes to sleep in their parent's room?  - a quick Wikipedia check confirms that the younger characters were supposed to be 8 years old, originally.

Which makes sense.  1986 was a pivotal year for comics - see the Dark Knight Returns stuff scattered in the Frog Bros.' comic shop.  But mainstream America hadn't yet picked up on the shifting content in comics and wouldn't for years.  Trust me, I was there.  So the characters were intended to be *kids* interested in *kid stuff*.  

Look, that's an interesting movie and one I would have maybe watched, but 1987 also saw The Monster Squad tank.  And this is the one people remember more than 1987's Near Dark, which I personally prefer as a horror movie.  The Lost Boys is an adventure comedy with horror elements - and that's great!  

Due to a recent reference to the film in Hulu's Reservation Dogs season finale, I think Jamie became curious and mentioned she'd never seen the film, so I did want to fix that as soon as possible.  And, I'll be honest, it's a lot better than I remembered.  I didn't remember *not* liking it, but it's genuinely funnier and better considered than I think I was giving it credit for as "a thing I liked when I was 12".  It's got great conflicting vibes that play off each other incredibly well, and it doesn't have delusions of grandeur - it's just really good at doing what it's doing.  

The cast is made up of stars and talent.  I mean, it's a weirdly well populated movie and managed to catch a whole lot of people on their way up between Coreys, Patric Sutherland, Gertz - and workhorses like Weist and Hermann who got to do something fun.  And even Alex Winters - who has maybe three lines would be hugely famous within a year or so.  

(late edit:  I forgot to mention - this movie debuts sparkly vampires!  After Alex Winter The Vampire is killed, he sprays blood all over the Frog Bros.  In the sunlight, his blood is clearly full of glitter!  SPARKLY!!!!)

I don't want to oversell the film, but it was fun!  There's some commentary baked in there about the double-edged sword of the joys and folly of eternal youth that gets overshadowed by "whoops, I'm a vampire" and the complete rejection of the possibilities.   They don't really do much to support the idea that Star and Michael even really know each other, and Star is never more than "girl" in the movie.  The timeline feels like it's 96 hours, tops.  Corey Haim's wardrobe feels like it was selected by a crazy person. 

But I enjoyed catching it again for nostalgia reasons, but also to reconsider the movie 35 years later.  

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Monster Watch: Q - The WInged Serpent (1982)


Watched:  10/01/2022
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing:  First
Director:  Michael Cohen

I'd tried to watch Q: The Winged Serpent (1982) a number of times, going back as far as high school, but the lack of monster to minute ratio was daunting.  But with October upon us, and Criterion offering up a bevy of 1980's and vampire-based horror films (it *may* be your best bet, value-wise, this Halloween, after Shudder) I took a look at the list decided now was the time.

What a weird @#$%ing movie.

The entire look and feel of the movie is firmly in 1970's film-making.  By 1982, we're two years past Empire Strikes Back, and two years away from 1984, which is pretty much where you can lock in Gen X's idea of modern movie-going, and this movie looks and feels like it should be 1974.  The effects are a reminder of how dodgy stop action could be if work wasn't coming out of ILM.  The characters are stock 1970's characters - a world weary cop in a grungy NYC police precinct and a ne'er-do-well living outside the confines of square life who also has an artistic side and troubles with his woman.  New York is filmed as an unglamorous city in decline.  Every conversation turns into a stylized argument straight out of 1970's acting school.

About half-way through the movie, I began to believe I'd misunderstood what the movie was, really.  For a hot minute, I thought the monster of the film was going to be inconsequential and we were really getting a character study of a cop delving into stuff beyond him on one side and, really, the way government and power work in a crisis through the lens of the Michael Moriarty story as a crook and hustler tries to exploit his knowledge during a crisis.  But, nope, it's a big, goofy monster movie with some deeply 1970's vibes and an ending that feels hopelessly tacked on for the kiddies who showed up for a monster and cop movie.  

My understanding is that Moriarty's role (which now feels like he reached into the future and channeled Bill Burr) is what people grab onto and why the film has such a high reviewer rating.  And they're not wrong.  He's great.  Candy Clark is in one of those thankless but terrific "gotta support my man" parts from the 1970's that seems far closer to gender dynamics of the 1950's than the 1990s.  David Carradine is a solid actor, but I'm sure if he knew what Moriarty was up to, he wouldn't have gone for "Crusty Hero Cop #8974".  

Most weird is that the film, about a Mayan diety, features no Latinos as near as I can tell.  In NYC.  Nor does it ever really explain how people were volunteering to be human sacrifices or why.  The chief murder-priest isn't played by anyone with a Central American heritage - he's from Bombay.  And I'm not sure if he's supposed to be from India or he's supposed to pass for Hispanic?  I know Hollywood has a fraught relationship with Latinos but this is just wild.  

There's a great movie buried in here, and so it's a good and entertaining movie, but one that feels like it has studio notes all over it to the detriment of the film.

I'm glad I finally saw it.  I might watch it again.  But - for me - the whole is not greater than the sum of the parts.

Monday, September 26, 2022

PodCast 212: "The Hunger" (1983) - a Halloween PodCast w/ SimonUK and Ryan





Watched:  08/08/2022
Format:  Bluray
Viewing: Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Tony Scott




Simon and Ryan bite into a legit 1980's cult classic that's big on mood, tone and lighting and shows rather than tells at every opportunity. If sexy vampires are your thing, we've got a cast that fits the bill, while also selling lifestyle porn and a great score. Join us for a movie that really makes it clear why you need a basement incinerator and an attic with plenty of storage space.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Trio in E Flat, Op. 100  - Franz Schubert
Flower Duet/ Lakme - Delibes


Halloween 2022 & all Halloween/ Horror Films

Sunday, September 18, 2022

80's Watch: American Gigolo (1980)




Watched:  09/17/2022
Format:  Streaming Paramount+
Viewing:  First
Director:  Paul Schrader

After watching Cat People for our Halloween podcasts, and making my way through Karina Longworth's You Must Remember This podcast series Erotic 80's, I figured I should get around to watching American Gigolo (1980) a movie I'd successfully not seen for 42 years but never actively avoided.  

I was doubly enticed by a Georgio Moroder soundtrack and finding out the movie had Bill Duke and Lauren Hutton, and was excited to see both for very different reasons.  

I should have watched the movie years ago after catching a cab in Las Vegas with some pals and - as I am wont to do - I began chatting with the cab driver who revealed to us his dream of becoming a gigolo.  And he used that word (with what seemed like a Russian accent, but I didn't ask).  We stayed in the car way after arriving at the hotel and listened to him discuss his strategy and goals.  He really, really wanted to sleep with older women for money.  I hope he's out there now with someone named "Gertrude" just raking it in.  

Anyway, I was completely ignorant of the plot of American Gigolo (1980), but what I assumed it to be was not what it is.   Honestly, I assumed it was a melodrama entirely about the life and loves of a gigolo in LA in 1980.  Seemed like there was plenty there as hunky Richard Gere impeccably banged his way across the Los Angeles landscape until finding real love or something.  And it is that, but with 45% of the runtime caught up in a murder plot that, frankly, is intensely telegraphed from the minute it kicks into gear (no pun intended).

I don't know exactly what I was expecting, but American Gigolo is also a movie that seems to live in a curious twilight zone of being frank about sex in many ways, but in comparison to, say, Body Heat which would show up a year later, it feels almost chaste.   Look, Lauren Hutton is...  a whole scene.  But I kinda wish the movie was just whatever was going on with Gere and Hutton.  

That said - this is a watershed film.  It isn't looking backward the way Body Heat would, it's leaning forward into adult-oriented fare but it also needs to serve an audience in 1980 who probably could have been interested in just the loves and issues of a gigolo, but would really get hooked by a crime story.  But I was kinda curious where the movie was going with Gere's alternately broken and abstracted sexuality which feels like it needs a lot more investigation than what it gets.

Everything you've heard about the hyper-stylization of the movie is true.  It's gorgeously shot and really does do its utmost to bring the various worlds of the Cali nouveau-rich and establishment rich as well as the occasional dive into other locales from gay clubs to political fundraisers.  It's a Playboy spread of the best in the lifestyle of the swinging gentleman, from cars to stereos to tasteful book collections and artfully placed desks.  

But now it almost looks quaint.  Miami Vice did this weekly on TV within a few years.  It's become a pastiche in other movies.  Still, it works.  And in no small part because the score on this thing (Moroder) - riffing occasionally on Blondie's Call Me is so f'ing great.*

All in all, the movie wasn't what I expected, and that took some adjustment.  What it did do, though, I think earns the reputation in some ways, less so in other ways (sexy ways).  But as a perfect artifact of "what set the tone for the 1980's?" you'd be hard pressed to find the thing better than this movie, which seems unaware the 1970's ever existed.  


*no one told six year old me blasting Call Me from the Chipmunk Punk album how the song became so mainstreamed  

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Watch Party Watch: They Live (1987)




Watched:  09/02/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  John Carpenter

I saw They Live (1987) twice in the theater.  I still think it's a pretty keen movie, and would now make for an interesting TV series or something.  

But, yeah, when I was twelve, there was some sci-fi coming out (see: RoboCop, Running Man, arguably even Spaceballs) that was kind of tricking studios into making movies that were some curious cultural commentary dressed up in action-adventure guise.  Which, you know, is what good sci-fi should be, anyway.

They Live mostly went under the radar, and I recall straight through college being The Only Guy In The Room Who Had Seen It, but as I kidded/ not kidded - it's not like I wasn't getting what these movies were on about.  But I do think in the past 30-something years, people have eventually seen They Live, and it's not everyone's cup of tea.  I can still bathe in the nostalgia I have for the movie and remember what it was like getting served up the movie's messaging as a novelty (there's always a 12-year-old out there getting these ideas for the first time).  But, I mean, as a 47-year-old, it is, as someone at the watch party said, a bit like something written by a college freshman.

It's got some strange pacing and budgetary constraints that keep the hard sci-fi stuff crammed into just the last few minutes.  The pacing is super odd, from the kind of draggy first twenty minutes of set-up to the five and a half minute fight in the middle of the film.  We clearly needed more Meg Foster, but that's always true.  And I think it's 100% intentional that the aliens look ridiculous.  Because they're grotesque and laughable at the same time, and that's just good stuff.  Make it weird, man!

Anyway, it was a kick to watch it with people who hadn't seen it.  

Meg Foster will come with her own special FX, thank you


Monday, August 29, 2022

Joan Watch: Mommie Dearest (1981)





Watched:  08/27/2022
Format:  Showtime trial on Amazon
Viewing:  First
Director:  Frank Perry

I've been avoiding Mommie Dearest (1981) for some time.  But Steven and Lauren were going to see the movie, and I figured - hey, this is a reminder or a sign it's time to catch up.

It's crucial to remember, Mommie Dearest was not intended to be a high camp classic - this was someone's idea of a warts-and-all, scathing unmasking of Joan Crawford and her hideous relationship with her children that blew the doors off the movie-star image, which... if you know how Joan's post 1950's career and life went, is almost punching down.  Not to mention her life prior to Hollywood and stardom.  And even after.

Look, Joan was very dead by the time the movie arrived and was unable to rebut the portrayal of herself in the movie, which was based on a single source, that of an extremely bitter daughter who had been cut out of her mother's will.

As I've grown older, I have become aware that smaller incidents for adults play out as grand dramas for children (just as grand dramas in the actual adult world frequently pass by unnoticed by children and people on twitter).  I know we're supposed to believe anyone who comes forward with a story, and I do - insofar as I believe Joan Crawford and her adopted children had a terrible relationship.