Monday, March 4, 2019

48 Hours of Movies: 1986!

by Patrick Bromley
Get ready to watch some movies by watching more movies!

We're celebrating the movies of 1986 all week long in anticipation of F This Movie Fest on March 9, so as has been my tradition in recent years, I've programmed two days and nights of movies from that great year. There are a lot of great "prestige" movies I'm skipping -- you won't find Platoon anywhere in this lineup -- because those aren't the kinds of movies you want to watch all in a row. I also made sure not to program any of the films included as part of F This Movie Fest, because we're going to all be watching those together in just a few days. Even with the limitations I've placed on what could and could not be included, though, I'm pretty happy with this lineup. Hopefully you guys will be, too.

10 am - Black Moon Rising (dir. Harley Cokliss)
I would normally make a case for starting off with a bang and programming something flashy or spectacular, but we have such a long way to go in this marathon that I don't want to give ourselves a cramp right away. We have to pace ourselves. This movie, about Tommy Lee Jones and Linda Hamilton trying to steal a super futuristic car, is just the right kind of stupid to kick things off and get us going. The fact that the script is co-written by John Carpenter makes it a worthwhile curiosity.

Noon - The Boy Who Could Fly (dir. Nick Castle)
I like to program some kid-friendly movies early on in these marathons, knowing full well that it would be nice to have our kids joining us so we don't have to be cut off from them for 48 hours. I know this movie is corny and probably makes things like trauma and mental illness way to simplistic for 2019, but it's also clear that in 1986 everyone involved meant well. It's very sweet and sincere and I appreciate some of the leaps it make. Plus, you've got Lucy Deakins and Fred Savage spraying bullies with pee.

2 pm - Three Amigos! (dir. John Landis)
Not my favorite John Landis comedy, but one that I appreciate much more as an adult than I did as a kid in 1986. At that time, Martin Short was the one star with whom I was mostly unfamiliar. Now, I think he gives the funniest performance of the film. I wish there were more weird digressions like the singing bush (voiced by Randy Newman, who also shares a screenplay credit), but I'll take whatever silliness this movie has to offer. It has a lot.

4 pm - Dangerously Close (dir. Albert Pyun)
How good is this 1986 marathon? So good we have not just one but two Albert Pyun movies programmed into the lineup. This is still one of his best efforts: a high school-set neo-noir about class and conformity, all shot and scored like it's right out of MTV (including an excellent use of The Smithereens' "Blood and Roses"). Pyun is traditionally such a genre-specific director that it's cool to see him working outside that usual box, and doing it so well no less.

5:45 pm - My Chauffeur (dir. David Beaird)
When watching two full days and night of movies consecutively, it's important not to let things get too heavy or serious (you'll notice there's no Platoon in this lineup). Many breaks of lightness and stupidity are essential. That's where My Chauffeur comes in, because it's a film that's not going to place a single demand on us. Erika and I just watched it again and I was shocked at just how poorly made it is, but it's so silly and Deborah Foreman is so charming and daffy that it's impossible not to be won over.

7:30 pm - Manhunter (dir. Michael Mann)
Ok, so we're getting a little heavy. But Manhunter is more an exercise in coolness and style than it is some big dramatic bag, so I feel ok about giving it our first primetime spot. Brian Cox is never going to be my favorite Hannibal Lecter and this is unlikely to ever be my favorite Michael Mann movie, but it's still awesome and probably one of my favorite movies of this very, very good year.

9:45 pm - Trick or Treat (dir. Charles Martin Smith)
We're going to start watching horror movies pretty early in this marathon because there are just so many good ones from '86 to get to and because that's the way my tastes lean. This heavy metal horror is way more "fun" than it is "good," but fun is the only way we're getting through these two days. I know this is one of those titles that gets thrown at Scream Factory all the time, so there must be some rights issue holding up a Blu-ray release. Seriously, though, how do we not yet have a Blu-ray of this movie? Or even a good DVD? Sammi Curr deserves better.

11:30 pm - Vamp (dir. Richard Wenk)
Programming this in honor of my #HorrorBFF Heather Wixson, as it's one of her favorites. Grace Jones plays herself: a weirdo performance artist who is also a centuries-old vampire. The rest of the cast, including Chris Makepeace, Robert Rusler, and Dedee Pfeiffer (OMG) are all incredibly charming, too. It leans way more towards comedy than horror, but it's a flashy, neon-soaked hoot.

1:15 am - Demons 2 (dir. Lamberto Bava)
Italian horror slot! I don't like Lamberto's sequel to his classic Demons as much as I do the original, but there's a lot of good stuff here. Asia Argento has a very, very early role, and Bobby Rhodes shows up playing a completely different character than he did in the first movie even though he's basically playing his character from the first movie. Though it lacks the novelty and atmosphere of its predecessor, Demons 2 will do quite nicely in our traditional 2am block.

3 am - Neon Maniacs (dir. Joseph Mangine)
I know it's only our first of two nights, but we're still going to get as stupid as possible with this '80s effort about mutant monsters who live inside the Golden Gate Bridge but have an allergy to water. This is a movie that really should have spawned a franchise despite not being all that great; the villains are memorable, the set pieces stand out, and it features one of my favorite monster kids of the 1980s (one of the few who's female). Movies like Neon Maniacs were made for watching at 3 am when we're feeling just as brainless as they are.

4:30 am - Eliminators (dir. Peter Manoogian)
The best way to revive ourselves after a long night of horror movies is with a mercenary, a ninja, and a mandroid. Thankfully, Eliminators has all of those things, plus Denise Crosby. I like it in this early slot because on paper it might as well be a Saturday morning cartoon, but instead is a live action movie we're meant to more or less take seriously. God bless Empire Pictures.

6 am - Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (dir. Leonard Nimoy)
I know a lot of people consider this to be their favorite of the original Star Trek movies, and I get it: with all of its comedy and eco-friendly messaging, The Voyage Home is probably the most accessible Star Trek movie to anyone who isn't a Star Trek fan. Nothing is ever going to top Wrath of Khan for me, but this entry is plenty entertaining and represents a lot of what's great about Star Trek. It's a good breakfast movie.

8 am - Murphy's Law (dir. J. Lee Thompson)
Time for some early morning sleaze! I mean, if we're not going to shower, let's commit to the bit. Charles Bronson teams up with Kathleen Wilhoit and her constant stream of the worst insults ever to stop a vigilante killer (Carrie Snodgrass). Because this is Bronson teaming with J. Lee Thompson and Cannon Films for the sixth of eight pairings, it's nasty and gratuitous AF. And because it's Bronson teaming with J. Lee Thompson and Cannon Films, of course I'm going to program it.

10 am - The Color of Money (dir. Martin Scorsese)
Because we can't subsist entirely on a diet of junk food, let's plug in Martin Scorsese's big commercial comeback of the '80s -- a crowdpleaser that still has the pedigree of being a Scorsese movie. I still have never seen The Hustler, but that has no real bearing on my ability to enjoy this follow-up effort that picks up with Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman in the performance that finally won him an Oscar). Tom Cruise is perfectly cast in a role that demonstrates that even early on, he understood how to play into his movie star persona.

Noon - Vicious Lips (dir. Albert Pyun)
The second of two Albert Pyun movies during our marathon! An all-girl rock band gets stranded en route to play a gig in outer space, then gets stalked by a mutant alien. Also, it's a musical and maybe a comedy? I love this movie for all the ways Pyun totally chucks logic and narrative and just stages a bunch of stuff he likes to film. Let's make sure we eat some cold pizza for lunch during this one.

1:30 pm - Hoosiers (dir. David Anspaugh)
One of my #MovieShames is that I have never seen Hoosiers, so I'm using this marathon as an excuse to rectify the oversight. (This also means I'm going to have to program a separate marathon so that I can finally see Rudy and get everyone off my back.) There's nothing about the movie that's ever had me dying to see it, but I love Gene Hackman and trust him to get me through.

3:30 pm - Band of the Hand (dir. Paul Michael Glaser)
Enough of this highbrow Hoosiers shit. Time to watch Starsky direct a bunch of young actors playing delinquents who learn to be swamp soldiers courtesy of Stephen Lang. We've got drug gangs, Lauren Holly, a Bob Dylan theme song, Michael Mann producing. Brainless action has a name, and it is Band of the Hand.

5:30 pm - SpaceCamp (dir. Harry Winer)
I don't think I have seen this movie since it was first released on VHS, but with a cast that includes Kelly Preston, Lea Thompson, young Joaquin Leif Phoenix, and Kate Capshaw, I'm on board whether I remember anything about it or not. It's also our last chance to be family-friendly before getting dark and weird for pretty much the rest of the marathon, so grab your kids and hold them tight. And be sure to eat some dinner, because you're not going to be very hungry during the next movie.

7:30 pm - The Fly (dir. David Cronenberg)
One of the best movies of 1986 is one of the best and most adult horror movies ever made, as well as being David Cronenberg's crowning achievement. Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis give the performances of their careers in a tragic love story filled with some of the decade's best and gnarliest makeup effects. The audience that hung out for Spacecamp may very well bail for this one, but that's understandable. This is an intense movie, but also a sad and beautiful one.

9:30 pm - Blue Velvet (dir. David Lynch)
If we're gonna get weird, let's get weird. David Lynch's first of several masterpieces is like a perfect bridge between the daytime and nighttime legs of our marathon, as it's a movie that's totally about crossing over from a picturesque suburban existence into a sleazy underworld of sadomasochism and Dennis Hoppers. I'd say that this is going to divide the room, but anyone who stuck around during The Fly is probably going to be on board for Blue Velvet. Actually, anyone who's watching 48 hours of movies with us is probably going to be on board for Blue Velvet.

11:45 pm - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (dir. Tobe Hooper)
Did you really think this wasn't going to appear in the lineup? The second of Tobe Hooper's two 1986 movies is one of my favorite horror films of all time and the one that reminds me most of all that's great about my favorite director. The only reason I waited 36 hours to program it is so that I would have something to work towards and reward myself.

1:30 am - You'll Die at Midnight (dir. Lamberto Bava)
Lamberto Bava gets both Italian horror slots! I've never seen this one and it's hard to come by, but the poster art is incredible (and also adorns the cover of So Deadly, So Perverse Vol. 2, the comprehensive guide to Italian gialli cinema) and alone makes me want to watch it. Plus, it appears to make good use of a hand mixer.

3:30 am - Hands of Steel (dir. Sergio Martino)
It's not horror, but this Italian post-apocalyptic sci-fi action film about an arm wrestling cyborg is kind of like if Jean-Claude Van Damme's Nowhere to Run was a post-apocalyptic sci fi action film about an arm wrestling cyborg. Daniel Greene is like sentient roast beef in the lead (playing a cyborg named Paco), but the supporting cast -- including John Saxon and Big Ape himself George Eastman -- is colorful and fun and Sergio Martino's direction keeps everything lively. This will be a hard movie to sleep through.

5:15 am - Critters (dir. Stephen Herek)
The sun is coming up for the second time this marathon and we're in the home stretch, but I'm not ready to start watching normal movies just yet. Or maybe ever. Critters is a nice in-between: a studio-released, PG-13 sci-fi horror that offers some violence and some weirdness but still allows us to feel human again. I've been looking for a chance to watch my new Scream Factory Blu-ray (a Christmas gift from Erika), and this is a better reason than most.

7 am - Never Too Young to Die (dir. Gil Bettman)
Normally, a movie this insane would appear somewhere in the overnight stretch of a marathon. But after watching movies for over 40 hours straight, it doesn't really matter where it gets programmed -- we're going to feel like we're dreaming it no matter what. Any movie that stars a villainous Gene Simmons in drag and John Stamos playing a teenager-turned-secret agent named Lance Stargrove who chomps an apple while Vanity does a strip dance is going to feel like a dream. But maybe that's just what my dreams are like. I don't know your life.

8:45 am - Modern Girls (dir. Jerry Kramer)
Is this the best title with which to end our 48 hours of 1986 movies? Probably not. But the final few minutes so perfectly capture what it feels like to have been out all night -- bleary eyed, sun rising, Depeche Mode's great "But Not Tonight" playing -- that I just want to build towards that moment. The rest of the movie is fun, but I'm really slotting this last because I want to end our marathon with the final scene of Modern Girls.


  1. You mean Fast Eddie Felson. I was going to let it slide, but then you said you've never seen Hoosiers and I thought THIS CAN NOT STAND.

  2. This list of movies is kinda perfect. I'm already planning how I can do 48hrs of movies without forsaking everything I hold dear (not much, to be honest).

    Side note/question: any ideas how to get a hold of the more obscure films if one has no access to northern hemisphere streaming sites? The options in South Africa are woeful.

  3. Can we start this on Sunday? #Please #SoManyFunMovies #WhyDoJobsExist

  4. Hoosiers is great, you'll love it. Rudy is not, you can skip it.

  5. Awesome list, I can always depend on F This Movie! to introduce me to a new movie (or 8).

    Love the Albert Pyun shout-outs (especially when it's Pyun with George Mooradian as his DoP)

  6. Incredible line-up and I absolutely love the inclusion of Band of the Hand and utterly oddball Never Too Young To Die.

  7. I am just glad Eliminators made the cut.

  8. Just came across this site by looking at your review for Skeletons in the Closet! I was born in 86' and i never knew how many good movies that were released then. I think i'm going to have to find a way to watch all these movies in a 48 hour span. Considering I'm a Night Owl, I think it might be easy...but we'll see.

    Thank You!