Monday, February 6, 2017

48 Hours of Movies: 1987!

by Patrick Bromley
The best way to celebrate 1987 week is to stay up watching movies for two days straight!

I looked at a lot of different years when trying to settle on a theme for this year's F This Movie Fest, and while there was no contest as to what the five movies we watch would be from 1987, there are bunch of other movies released that year that I love or are very meaningful to me. Here's our chance to hypothetically watch a bunch of them! Enjoy this super-sized marathon of movies for this super special week.

10 a.m. - Radio Days (dir. Woody Allen)
While I sometimes like to start these marathons off with a bang, I thought we might be better off pacing ourselves and ramping up for the next 48 hours by kicking off with Radio Days, a sweet and gentle Woody Allen comedy (one of my favorites) consisting of a series of vignettes looking back at life in the late '30s and early '40s. Allen is not a filmmaker known for being nostalgic or sentimental, but here indulges both of those impulses for one of the few times in his long career with help from a characteristically strong ensemble including Dianne Wiest, Mia Farrow, Seth Green, Josh Mostel, Larry David, Julie Kavner, Jeff Daniels, Danny Aiello and Wallace Shawn. It's really hard to dislike this movie.

11:30 a.m. - Innerspace (dir. Joe Dante)
Now we can kick things up a little with this under appreciated sci-fi comedy from the great Joe Dante. It's Fantastic Voyage if Dean Martin had been injected into Jerry Lewis, made during the height of Dante's Hollywood clout (aka "the Amblin years"). The cool visual effects and a really funny Martin Short performance make this one fun, but the best part is all the usual Joe Dante weirdness that he managed to smuggle into a big-budget studio comedy. Robert Picardo's "Cowboy" character would never make it into anyone else's movie.

1:30 p.m. - Stakeout (dir. John Badham)
An R-rated buddy cop action comedy pitched at adults. Does anyone else miss the '80s? Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez are cops assigned to watch Madeline Stowe, but her and Dreyfuss end up meeting and falling in love while he's supposed to be protecting her from a psycho ex (Aidan Quinn). This is the kind of movie that's perfect for a Saturday afternoon whether sitting through a marathon or not; it's got a little bit of everything and is never too demanding while still respecting the intelligence and attention span of a sophisticated audience. It's the kind of mid-range movie that has completely disappeared from the Hollywood landscape.

3:30 p.m. - The Barbarians (dir. Ruggero Deodato) 1987 was one of the last gasps for the sword and sorcery genre that was hugely popular for a few years, and though The Barbarians isn't one of the best examples of the genre I would lying if I said I don't have a lot of fun with it. I cannot explain why, but I wanted to see this movie so badly as a young kid seeing the TV spots back in 1987. The first of only two attempts (the other being 1989's Think Big) to turn bodybuilding twins David and Peter Paul -- aka "The Barbarian Brothers" -- into movie stars, The Barbarians is part action movie, part fantasy and part goofy comedy. It's pretty dopey and the brothers, while looking the part, demonstrate a lack of charisma, but there's also a lot of good stuff here, too. Ruggero Deodato is a great filmmaker who knows how to put a movie together and Pino Donaggio's score is terrific, plus you get creepy Richard Lynch as a creepy villain. This is the kind of weirdness I might usually wait until later into the lineup to program, but since we'll be watching 48 consecutive hours of movies I thought it best to spread the wealth a little. Besides, The Barbarians has a deliberate Saturday matinee quality and should be watched as a Saturday matinee.

5 p.m. - Summer School (dir. Carl Reiner)
This was a movie that I watched so many times as a kid, probably because I worshipped at the altar of horror movie-obsessed Chainsaw and Dave. The scene in which they stage a gory slaughter to scare off a substitute teacher was the greatest thing I had ever seen to that point. The rest of the movie is incredibly affable -- an attempt to turn TV hunk Mark Harmon into a movie star with a low-stakes comedy about a gym teacher forced to teach summer school for a bunch of misfits. Sure, there were better movies released in 1987, but when you're watching this many movies in a row it's important to program stuff that's easy to digest and that makes you happy. Summer School still manages to make me happy.

7 p.m. - Fatal Attraction (dir. Adrian Lyne)
While this isn't my favorite movie in the lineup -- it's good for what it is -- I'm programming it mostly for its cultural importance. Not only did it codify a certain relationship dynamic for the rest of time, but managed to be the second highest-grossing movie of the year. Think about that for a second: an R-rated thriller about adult relationships made more money than almost every single other movie released in 1987. No special effects. No superheroes. Just a man, a woman and a boiled bunny. Glenn Close is not an actor I would always describe as "sexy," but she manages to be incredibly sexy in this movie...which means I am missing the point of Fatal Attraction and am probably part of the problem. This also has arguably the most famous reshoots of all time, and the fact that the original ending was unacceptable to audiences in 1987 (despite being the much better ending) is telling about just what a nerve this struck in the popular culture that year. At any rate, we can order some dinner during this one and watch Michael Douglas completely fuck up his life.

9 p.m. - The Running Man (dir. Paul Michael Glaser)
While still the lesser of two Schwarzenegger movies released in 1987, I will never not love The Running Man. Very loosely adapted from a Stephen King Richard Bachman short story, it predicts a future in which television culture and ratings are more important than anything else, real-life violence has become popular entertainment and a hateful, evil TV star has become the most powerful man in the country. In other words, The Running Man is now a documentary.

11 p.m. - Dolls (dir. Stuart Gordon)
Primed by the tackiness and cartoon violence of The Running Man, we're ready to segue into the first of two overnights in our 1987 marathon. We'll start with Stuart Gordon's Dolls, a fun and sometimes nasty little horror fantasy in which a house full of killer toys kill off some asshole human guests. This gothic fairy tale is funny and creepy in equal measure and a nice primer for the weirdness to come; if we're joined by friends who don't want to stay overnight, they can take off after this and still get a proper experience.

12:30 a.m. - Blood Rage (dir. John Grissmer)
The gloves are fucking off. Technically this one is a bit of a cheat, seeing as it was made in 1983 but wasn't actually released until 1987. This insane slasher movie -- maybe the greatest Thanksgiving horror movie ever made -- has really found in audience over the last year or after Arrow Video put it out on Blu-ray (which is how I was introduced to it, too). It's about a pair of twins, one of whom escapes a mental institution and one of whom is a murderer. The gore is completely crazy, the performances all over the place (seriously, what movie is Louise Lasser starring in?) and the tone totally fun. No one will have trouble staying awake through this one.

2 a.m. - Stage Fright (dir. Michele Soavi)
It's 2 a.m. Time to hand things over to the Italians. Michele Soavi, a former actor and a former assistant director to Dario Argento, made his feature debut in 1987 with Stage Fright, a really cool slasher movie in which a group of teenagers are locked in a theater and get slowly killed off by a guy in a giant owl mask (pictured above). Seriously, the mask is all you need to know about this one, but it helps that Soavi is a really good director and always keeps things visually interesting and narratively unpredictable. The movie is pretty accessible even for those who aren't totally into Italian horror. You know, like me five years ago.

3:30 a.m. - Prince of Darkness (dir. John Carpenter)
I once attended a 24-hour horror movie marathon at which they screened Prince of Darkness really early in the morning and I remember thinking that was either the worst time to show it or the best time. I've since decided that it's the best time. I have grown to truly love the movie no matter what time of day it is, but there's something about the idea of watching it in the middle of the night, when the pulsing score and the nightmarish visuals can just wash over you, that sounds really appealing. My top 5 Carpenter changes all the time, but I think this one earns a spot (or is at least next in). If nothing else, it's one of his films that I revisit more than most.

5:30 a.m. - The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (dir. Rod Amateau)
I'm sorry, did you think the nightmare would be over just because the sun is coming up? I will never know what the fuck this movie is supposed to be, and truth be told it's going to be a chore to get through at this time of morning because it's a chore to get through when you're well rested and have consumed 6 or 7 Red Bulls. But in programming this marathon, I want to experience the whole spectrum of 1987. Shitty movies are a part of that, especially when they're ill-conceived attempts to make a movie out of a legitimate pop culture phenomenon. If you get really bored, you can take out your phone and find out who your Garbage Pail Kid was. Who am I kidding? You already know. Mine was Pat Splat.

7:15 a.m. - Overboard (dir. Garry Marshall)
Every aspect of this movie's plot is reprehensible, so it's a testament to the incredible star power and chemistry of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell (#KurtRussellRule) that it ends up being completely charming. She's a spoiled, miserable, awful rich person who falls OVERBOARD and winds up with amnesia; Kurt Russell's blue collar carpenter finds her and convinces her she's his wife and mother to his kids. You know, because she was rude to him. This is basically the only romantic comedy Kurt Russell ever made, and it makes me really happy that it was opposite Goldie Hawn. This movie is also a reminder that Garry Marshall didn't always make movies that were terrible. Overboard is guaranteed to cheer us up during breakfast.

9:15 a.m. - Enemy Territory (dir. Peter Manoogian)
We'll chase a lighthearted romantic comedy with this lean and underrated action movie made at Empire Pictures during their heyday. Gary Frank plays an insurance salesman who gets trapped inside an apartment building taken over by a gang led by Tony Todd and only singer Ray Parker Jr. can help get him out. It's a low-budget effort and feels it, but it's the kind of movie that does its best with the resources it has and manages to say some things about class. It's also really hard to come by and needs a Blu-ray release. Hell, I'll even take a DVD.

10:45 a.m. - The Living Daylights (dir. John Glen)
Like I'm not going to program this one? When I was first discussing the #fthismoviefest lineup with the rest of the gang, Rob DiCristino joked ("joked") that it must have been very difficult for me not to include The Living Daylights, the debut of my boy Gentleman T. Dalts as 007 and the Bond movie that keeps edging higher and higher up my list of favorites. Give it another six months and I'll probably have it at number one. 1987 was a great year for action movies -- I've got several of the highlights programmed in this marathon and a few others set for #fthismoviefest -- and this is one of the best. Mike may not want to stick around for this one because he hates it, but I love it a lot.

1 p.m. - Hollywood Shuffle (dir. Robert Townsend)
After two action movies in a row, it's time for a change of pace. When I reviewed the Blu-ray release of Robert Townsend's first film as a writer/director a couple of years ago, I called it not just one of the most underrated comedies of the '80s but also one of the most important. So much of what the movie has to say about race in Hollywood is still completely true today, and the movie's "sketch" structure makes it fly by. There's really funny stuff in here, but Townsend's impassioned speech about the opportunities available for young black men is what really resonates.

2:30 p.m. - Body Slam (dir. Hal Needham)
I watched this on cable so many times as a kid because a) it was a movie about wrestling and this was when I was way into wrestling and 2) it co-stars his Rowdiness, Roddy Piper, in his first acting role (though he made Hell Comes to Frogtown the same year this was released; Body Slam was shot a few years prior). Dirk "Face" Benedict plays a rock promoter who begins managing a tag team. Hilarity ensues. Made to capitalize on the "rock n' wrestling" connection of the '80s, the movie isn't as good as director Hal Needham's collaborations with Burt Reynolds but is a totally fun and watchable product of its period.

4 p.m. - Broadcast News (dir. James L. Brooks)
This might be the best movie of 1987 (at least the best movie that doesn't have a RoboCop in it). Still my favorite of all James L. Brooks' films, this truly great romantic comedy features nothing but incredible performances, sharp writing and brilliant commentary about not just the media but about what we put in and take away from relationships. Honestly, if not for a coda at the end that totally sucks, I would be willing to call Broadcast News a perfect movie. Instead it has to settle for being a great one.

6:15 p.m. - The Untouchables (dir. Brian De Palma)
My rule is that I always try to program something popular and mainstream in the prime time slot, and great entertainment doesn't get whole lot more mainstream than Brian De Palma's movie adaptation of The Untouchables. Here's what I wrote in my "I Stream, You Stream" writeup last week: "It's a film that's accessible to mainstream audiences while still retaining so much of the style and movie-ness that makes De Palma great and one of those rare blockbusters where everyone is working at the top of his or her game, from the incredible cast to De Palma to Mamet to Steven Burum as DP to Ennio Morricone's score. It's a first-rate entertainment that never panders or insults your intelligence." I sure sound smart!

8:30 p.m. - Angel Heart (dir. Alan Parker)
I know I said that Broadcast News might be the best movie of 1987, but now that we've arrived at Alan Parker's Angel Heart I'm already rethinking that statement. The greatest horror noir of all time casts a never-better (or dreamier) Mickey Rourke as a PI investigating the disappearance of a missing musician in New Orleans; Robert De Niro dresses up as '70s Scorsese and eats hard boiled eggs as his client, one Louis Cipher. There aren't enough good things I can say about Angel Heart, and it's one of those movies that will make for the perfect transition between the legitimacy of the last two films and the dark, bloody craziness that lies ahead.

10:30 p.m. - Vicious Lips (dir. Albert Pyun)
I think I've written about/recommended this movie more than any other site on the internet and it's not even my favorite from my boy Albert Pyun. It is, however, a weird and wild sci-fi musical about a girl band who are hired to play a gig on another planet but get stranded and attacked by a mutant alien along the way. Eschewing traditional narrative in favor of music video visuals, Pyun has made a movie that's impossible to classify into any traditional category. I dig it, but not everyone will. It helps that we will have already been watching movies for 36 hours by this point, as the delirium that will no doubt have set in can only improve the experience of Vicious Lips.

Midnight - Hellraiser (dir. Clive Barker)
Yes. As we really move into our second overnight section, it makes sense to start with one of the best horror movies of the '80s -- a grisly, sweaty, kinky and bloody story of obsession and death. You know, a Clive Barker story. He makes a great debut behind the camera, launching a franchise that probably never should have been and creating one of horror's most iconic monsters in Doug Bradley's Pinhead. 1987 was a great year for horror and movies like Hellraiser are the reason why.

1:45 a.m. - Aenigma (dir. Lucio Fulci)
While it's only right that Lucio Fulci reclaim the 2 a.m. slot, this is the first of only two movies in this entire lineup that I've never seen. I hope it's ok. Bad Fulci can be a chore for me (just as good Fulci can be a chore for many others). I think most of his best work was already behind him at this point, but I'll remain hopeful for at least enough craziness to hold my attention this far into the marathon.

3:15 a.m. - Nekromantik (dir. Jörg Buttgereit)
Here's the other movie I haven't seen, though I've been aware of it for many years because it has that kind of notoriety. I'm pleased with the fact that the second overnight section of this two-day marathon is even crazier than the first. That's as it should be.

4:30 a.m. - Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (dir. Bruce Pittman)
Outside of some '80s slasher charm and Jamie Lee Curtis' dancing, I don't have a ton of use for the original Prom Night. The sequel, Hello Mary Lou, is an improvement in every single way. A high school student is possessed by the spirit of a dead prom queen looking for revenge, and the results are spectacular. The change to more supernatural horror improves the sequel, which has way more humor and energy than its predecessor and at least one kill (involving some lockers) that's an all-timer. If the previous two movies wind up being a drag, at least this will work as a big pick-me-up.

6:15 a.m. - My Demon Lover (dir. Charlie Loventhal)
Rather than try to get things back to normal as the sun comes up, let's just keep going with the weirdness. This little-seen horror comedy stars Family Ties' Scott Valentine as a cursed musician who turns into a demon creature every time he gets turned on. Yes, it's as dumb as it sounds, but as a kid I was way into all the different demon makeups Valentine wears (he turns into a different monster each time). Besides, there were teen vampires and teen witches and teen wolves and teen wolves too, so why shouldn't there also be teen demons? Again, I want to be sure to cover the wide spectrum of stuff that came out in '87; while My Demon Lover isn't one of the best that year had to offer, it's exactly the kind of thing that makes me so fond of this period in movie history.

7:45 a.m - Amazon Women on the Moon (dir. John Landis, Joe Dante, et. al.)
Like Hollywood Shuffle, this is a "sketch" movie (maybe the best one not made by Monty Python?) the combines the talents of directors John Landis, Joe Dante, Carl Gottlieb, Robert K. Weiss and actor Peter Horton. It's uneven, of course, but there are more hits than misses. Joe Dante directs all the best segments -- "Roast Your Loved One," "Bullshit or Not," "Critics' Corner" and "Reckless Youth," though Gottlieb's "Son of the Invisible Man" and Weiss' wraparound "Amazon Women on the Moon," a spot-on spoof of '50s sci-fi movies, are major standouts as well.

9:15 a.m. - Some Kind of Wonderful (dir. Howard Deutch)
Sure, this John Hughes-penned teen romance is just Pretty in Pink with the genders switched around, but Pretty in Pink didn't have both Lea Thompson and Mary Stuart Masterson. This was the movie in which Hughes, who had ruled Hollywood for a few years with a run of incredibly popular teen movies, realized he was repeating himself and backed off writing the kinds of movies that made him a household name in the first place. It was the end of an era (era). I was originally going to end these 48 hours with something really kickass like Walter Hill's incredible Extreme Prejudice, but the truth is that we'll be too exhausted by now to really give that movie the attention it deserves. Besides, I often reverse engineer my choice for the final film by picking something that ends the way I want the marathon to end, and the thought of wrapping up 48 hours as Eric Stoltz and Mary Stuart Masterson walk down that street together as Lick the Tins' adorable cover of "Can't Help Falling in Love With You" plays is too good to pass up. She does look good wearing his future.

12 comments:

  1. Excellent line-up! You and I share the same love for Summer School for the same reasons. My brother and I wore out that VHS tape back in the days!

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    1. Yep, I watched a lot of Summer School back then as well. Haven't gone back to it in quite a while, but I do watch E.G. Daily's music video for Mind over Matter every now and again (a lot of the cast are in the video also).

      I even watched Bad Dreams more times than it deserved just because it had Dean Cameron (Chainsaw) in it.

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  2. I just finished Amazon Women on the Moon, and I agree with pretty much everything you said. The segments you mentioned were indeed the highlights (Son of the Invisible Man was my favorite) and it's more hits than misses. There's only one thing I disagree with, the "best sketch movie not made by Monty Python" award has to go to The Kentucky Fried Movie.

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  3. RAY PARKER JR.?!?!?!????????????

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  4. This is an amazing article, and thanks for putting so much effort into it, man! This is essentially what, 30 movie reviews? I cannot believe how much amazing stuff came out every single year during the '80s. Can you imagine having to put together a year end top ten list at the end of '87? I'm gonna curb myself from mentioning any of the even more timeless masterpieces that came out this year because I'm sure they're all getting their due as the week blazes on. Stage Fright should be way more popular than it is. And I applaud your sense of adventure, but you might wanna rethink that Nekromantik slot, ha ha ha!

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    1. I was re-listening to the A Serbian Film soundtrack on my phone on the way home from work, and wondering to myself if Bromley had checked out the movie, imagining it really wasn't the type he'd decide to subject himself to, and Nekromantik is definitely from the same gene pool. I started watching it with an ex of mine once and hit a scene only about 15 minutes in that made her demand we turn it off. :)

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  5. We can only hope that Mike gets over his entirely irrational hatred of Timothy Dalton and The Living Daylights. Just like the President, Bond doesn't HAVE to be an egomaniacal asshole...

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  6. Only two movies to star the Barbarian Brothers? You've forgotten the greatness and glory that is Twin Sitters.

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  7. I just watched Fatal Attraction again last night. If you ever thought of cheating on your wife, you'll watch this, go kiss your wife and kids and never think of it again. They tried to make Glenn Close sexy but that is just not possible. I find her terrifying.

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