As mentioned in my post on 80s music, a younger friend of mine recently dissed the 80s. He’s now trying to deny it, in the face of such evidence to the contrary, but I know what I saw.
I’m off to an 80s movie night tonight. I strongly suspect our host may put forward Dirty Dancing and The Goonies, because she loves them, and that’s what I’m about to get to — children of the 80s (and generations after) have a soft spot for the films of their childhood in a way previous generations didn’t, and I think it’s because they/we were really the first generation who could watch a favourite movie over and over and over, at will, rewinding your favourite bits and pausing for lunch, etc.
How cruel to have had movies for so long, without letting people HAVE them, you know? The way that you could re-read a favourite book as many times as you wanted — why didn’t industry work harder on that, all those years? You’d think they were all rebuilding after a world war, or something…
Anyway, these are some of my favourite 80s movies, and I think you’ll see that they contribute to my argument that the 80s were awesome. And any list like this has to start with the The Princess Bride:
I mentioned it in passing recently to a colleague of mine in her late 30s, and she said she’d never even heard of it. At least three people in the vicinity came running over and started protesting that she had to watch it at her earliest convenience. Which was quite right.
Fantasy was big in the 80s, now I think about it. Which brings me to:
Anything by Jim Henson, actually. Labyrinth in particular was a massive favourite — I mean, really, who doesn’t want to watch David Bowie run around in very tight tights and a cod piece? Or go to this party and have David Bowie sing you an ominous love song:
They showed us this one rainy afternoon in primary school and I think every girl in my class desperately wanted both that dress, and for David Bowie to manfully lead them across the floor without saying a word. As I got older, I recognised the vague sense of menace at the party probably meant it ended in an orgy; I still wanted to go.
Unlike the time, in my early 20s, when I realised the party I was at was going to turn into an orgy.
That one I left.
Anyway, any movie which lends itself to jokes like this has to be good:
I always forget the George Lucas was involved in Labyrinth, but he was, and that leads me to The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. I mean, seriously. I could just stop with those two — and get yelled at for missing Willow and the Indiana Jones movies — but I won’t stop there, because I haven’t gotten to John Hughes yet.
I’ll happily admit that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Breakfast Club were only really the two that stuck with me; Some Kind of Wonderful and Sixteen Candles didn’t really interest me that much — and don’t talk to me about his work in the 90s — but it’s just amazing how far “teen” films have fallen since then. 80s movies showed teenagers being real people; having “adult” problems and dealing with them; having their own agendas and dreams and plans and agency; and being dumped with all the patronising bullshit that adults dump on them. Now, teen movies are an industry, with product placement and merchandise, and they are so disposable, and phoney, it’s just a real shame.
I’m going to finish with just one more, which I want to include for a variety of reasons.
Forget fucking sparkly boo-hoo whingers who are too scared to give you a good biting; this was what vampires looked like when I was growing up. They smirked and rode motorbikes and killed people. Star wore crazy sparkly clothes and shagged the hero in a cave. And they had FANGS GOD DAMN IT.
The hero gets turned into a monster and has to redeem himself
Sure, it isn’t the best movie ever made. But at least it’s a bloody vampire movie.