When I first thought about writing something up about these movies, I began listing films and what they meant to me growing up. It then became clear, that this list can’t be contained with just 10… No, I needed more like 20. So I set about trimming the list down as far as possible. With the top 10 firmly in place, I realized I couldn’t just leave off movies. A fierce battle raged inside my head and finally, Honorable Mentions were settled upon. Feeling relieved to have quelled the heated argument with myself I set about reviewing WHAT each movie meant to me and placed them in a neat and orderly list. Fortunately, that part was easier.
Honorable Mention: Krull
Krull was one of the many fantasy themed movies that played a part in adolescence. It is also the only movie in this list, that I feel deserves a remake and update. This movie, while low on my list, worked to solidify the already growing thirst for medieval fantasy, swords, magic and good vs. evil. I recently re-watched this gem and must say, parts of it really didn’t age well. Regardless though, the life lessons learned from never trusting alien life forms stuck with me.
Honorable Mention: Ghostbusters
Oh man, talk about a movie that still echoes through the minds and hearts of those that grew up with this movie. Even to this day, twenty two years later since the second movie, the possibility of a third and final sequel gets tossed around entertainment news sites like popcorn. I ate up everything Ghostbusters related back in the day and I have to say, this movie holds up.
10.) Top Gun
Egos, bad ass machines, speed and a moral to the story? Yes please! Who didn’t like Tom Cruise back in the day? It’s probably saying something that two of his movies are on my list, but I’m not sure what that is. At any rate, this movie was everything I wanted to be: Egotistical and flying around with death machines, and… Uh, wait a sec… I found out later what it took to have the right stuff and decided to settle on private pilot aircraft was more my level. Ego busted. Still, this movie has a special place in my heart, right next to the Phoenix missiles and the lucky bunny foot.
9.) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
I don’t think any of the movies thought me nearly as much about archeology as much as this one did. Who knew it could be so AWESOME! Then, only to find out as a young adult, it wasn’t nearly as cool. Bummer… Well, who wouldn’t want archeology to be as glamorized as much as Harrison Ford made it out to be? Of the three Indiana movies of the 80’s, this one stuck out to me as a kid. I think it has something to do with the fact that Short Round, the comedic sidekick of Indy, was living out every kid of that era’s fantasy. Going on an adventure! Or it could have been the fact that we saw some dude get his heart ripped from his chest, shown to him, then tossed in a fiery pit. Archeology is FUN!
8.) Back to the Future
There are few movies like Back to the Future. A classic, I feel, of the 80’s, that stood up to time itself. Sure there are plot holes, but WHO CARES? Growing up, I didn’t care about paradox’s and the consequences of changing the fabric of time so you could get a sweet ass truck. Hell, if it were me, I would do it! Being hit on by your mom? Ok, that’s pushing things. Still, Marty (Michael J. Fox) along with his cooky Doc (Christopher Lloyd), would take on time and space and show me it’s ok to F’up peoples timeline. Now if only I could get my hands on a Delorean…
7.) Flight of the Navigator
Not nearly as iconic as E.T., Flight of the Navigator had two things in its favor. One, a cute little fuzzy creature thingy and two, a FRIGGEN AWESOME spaceship. Yeh, yeh, so the voice of the Spaceship was Pee Wee Herman… But come on, that thing was sleek, sparkly, and FAST. Who didn’t want to zip around the world in that thing or dive underwater? I’d take that over a Reeses eating, lost, child scaring alien any day. This movie kind of disappeared into obscurity after the 80’s were over. There are aspects of it that didn’t age to well looking back on it, but is it enough to have disappeared?
This is an odd film. Not because it was bad, but because of the following it cultivated. The movies, at least the first one and any of the ones that DIDN’T screw up its established cannon, grew into a series later on with devoted fans all over the world. The oddity here, is why? Yes it’s a good movie, and it has a place on my shelf, but what made it such a cult success? Maybe it was the combined European might of Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery. Wait… What? Christopher Lambert was born in NY? Well sshhh… I don’t know then. Maybe it was because there could only be one and this was it? I do know that this movie single handedly sparked my fascination with swords and is the main reason for needing to possess as many of them as possible.
5.) The Dark Crystal
Ask any child of the eighties if they know who the Muppets are, and they’ll start singing, “Sunny day, sweeping the clouds away.” Now ask those same kids if they ever saw The Dark Crystal and I guarantee half of them will stare at you blankly. Of the obscure movies of the eighties, this one is probably the darkest, child movies of the time. I’m not saying there isn’t worse ones, I’m just saying it’s up on the list somewhere. Jim Hanson’s tale of fantasy, mysticism and love is drenched in dark overtones. Death and treachery is a prominent moral to the story and is nailed home by the end. The fact the actors were all puppets, ala Jim Hanson, didn’t really make the overall tone of the film any less bleak. Looking at it now as adult really makes me glad to have left the eighties without too many scars.
Whatever side of the fence you stand on with Michael Jackson, you have to admit he was an incredible singer and song writer. His music was defiantly in my collection growing up. I remember watching Thriller for the first time, and being scared outta my mind when he turned into a wolf. But the one thing that kind of stuck with me growing up was the movie Moonwalker. I really think why this movie is on my list is because it’s a nice collection of his best music videos AND probably the biggest reason for being so high on the list, is because every time we would head out to my Aunts house it was ritually watched by my sister and I. We must have seen it at least half a dozen times through a week’s time, if not more. And I’m not kidding, every time we’d visit it’d be in the VHS player within hours. How it didn’t die is beyond me.
3.) Teen Age Mutant Ninja Turtles
Now we’re getting into the bare bones of my youth. I had NO idea what Teen Age Mutant Ninja Turtles were, until I went and saw the movie at our local dollar theater a few months after its release. When I got home, I had swallowed the marketing pill that would later grow into an impressive collection of Turtle merchandise that took up entire shelves in my bedroom. And I knew, I wanted to become a ninja. I’d jump kick around the house, build weapons out of practically ANYTHING and say things like cowabunga on a daily bases. To this day the first movie remains one of my favorite titles in my collection, and even the revamped TMNT movie is near and dear to my heart. It wasn’t until I grew up out of the eighties did I realize the turtles actually had their origins in the mid eighties, nearly five years before the first movie came out. The comics themselves now collector items, were much darker and grittier then their big screen adoptions. They showed me it was ok to be mean, green, killing machines. Turtle Power, sucka!
This has got to be the quintessential good vs. evil movie. Out of business from selling prostitutes, Tom Cruise put on a tonic, leather breeches and chased a sexy Mia Sara around. Atleast until Tim Curry cock blocks Tom Cruise and steals her and a unicorn. Uhm, no, that’s not a innuendo. The movie would later define many aspects of my life growing up and implanted itself deep in my psyche. I did say, “too many scars.” Remember? Anyway, this movie has many things going for it. Adventure, love, action, and Tim Curry being scary. Mind you, this was Tim Curry scary, before I saw him in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. That’s a whole different list. Sure he did Rocky Horror first, but I didn’t see that till much later in life. Legend was dark, thrilling, and different. The one thing I have to say this has over its similar counterpart, Krull, is the fact that it was simpler, the graphics were better and it was less Sci-fi. Probably doesn’t hurt that Ridley Scott directed the film and Tangerine Dream did an amazing job on the soundtrack. My only question is why isn’t this on my Blue-ray list? Regardless this movie has a big chunk of my movie going heart.
Take a group of kids, give them a treasure map and film their adventure and I’m PRETTY sure you’ll get exactly what Goonies was. I tell you what, no other movie in the history of growing up played as much of a part as this one. Pirates? Treasure? Adventure? Booby-traps? Every kid had dreams about one day finding that mystical map in their back yard, telling their friends about it and heading out to seek fame and fortune. Of course unlike the kids in the movie, I’m pretty sure none of my friends would have had any clue what to do if bad guys started chasing us, or dead guys popped up, or a piano tried to kill us. I’m convinced we would have huddled in a ball and cried for mommy. As a kid though, who thought that far ahead? No one. So we probably would have still done it. It was that prospect that made this movie seem almost real growing up. I never gave up believing that one day I’d find my very own One Eyed Willie… Yeh, that sounds nearly as bad reading it that as it was to write. I got nothing…