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12 August 2008

cheesy 80's movie appreciation thread [More:]

talk about your guilty pleasures, I recently discovered this classic cheeseball 80's fantasy flick on DVD.

Highlights: Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Leo Kern (yay, drunk monks rule!) Matthew Broderick in what was honestly the best acting he ever did (no, really) and a big, black, hairy Fresian stallion named Othello who steals more than one scene.

The screenplay is surprisingly well-written, and the pre-CGI era effects (amazingly) stand the test of time, unlike the scary animatronics in The Neverending Story et. al. The acting and dialogue in this one is also quite above par for the genre.

Sadly, the score was done by *shudder* the Alan Parsons Project, and it's Vogon-poetry-bad. Were it to be re-scored by someone like Howard Shore it could effectively transform this from a guilty pleasure into a genuine classic.

What's your fave cheesy 80's flick?
I have been trying to convince my friends to watch Ladyhawke. I ALMOST succeeded by suggesting an "80's fantasy movies that start with L" movie night (to also include Labrynth and Legend), but they asked which movies first...

My favorite cheesy 80's movie is Peter MacNichol's first film, Dragonslayer. It was nominated for two Oscars - special effects and score - and really is a fantastic movie. I think this was Caitlin Clarke's only role, which is sad as I totally looked up to her character and wanted to be a cross-dressing blacksmith's daughter for awhile...
posted by muddgirl 12 August | 12:52
Wait, Caitlin Clarke has had lots of roles, just tiny ones.
posted by muddgirl 12 August | 12:55
I really like The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, though I've met many who hate it, which makes me think why bother expending so much energy hating a movie?, but then I think about Highlander, and I understand that there are some things that are just worth hating.

I'm also perversely a fan of Flash Gordon, though I'll admit that it's probably the Queen soundtrack that I like, and of course Max von Sydow as Ming. Here's a little tangent -- in third grade, at my elementary school talent show, I got up onstage and played "Another One Bites the Dust" on the kazoo.

Speaking of Rutger Hauer, ever see Blind Fury? Great flick.
posted by Hugh Janus 12 August | 13:06
I love Dragonslayer! That was one of my most favorite movies as a kid. I think I watched it a dozen times on HBO one summer.

Ladyhawke is great.

One of my favorite very cheesy movies from the eighties is Grease 2, with Michelle Pfeiffer. I still sing the song... I wanna coooool rider, a cool cool cool cool rider.
posted by LoriFLA 12 August | 13:10
Against my better judgment, I still like Mannequin.
posted by BoringPostcards 12 August | 13:24
Definitely cheesey faves: Cannonball Run, Valley Girl
Possibly cheesey fave: Clash of the Titans
pPobably not-cheesey but still a fave: Time Bandits
posted by danostuporstar 12 August | 13:35
I loved An Officer and a Gentleman, although the poster and the trailer, showing Richard Gere in his officer's uniform carrying Debra Winger out of the factory, totally gave the plot away.

I also loved Flashdance and Fame. The scene where Leroy auditions is so HOT!
posted by essexjan 12 August | 13:38
Giorgio Moroder's restoration/80s-soundtracked version of Metropolis was another one. It was a travesty on some levels, but also very cool to my teenaged self. (And in a way, it kind of presaged remix culture and all that.)
posted by BoringPostcards 12 August | 13:44
... but then I think about Highlander, and I understand that there are some things that are just worth hating.

I think this is the source of all our differences, HJ. In fact, I'm going to draft a Unified Personality Theory of Cheesy 80's Sci-Fi/Fantasy Movies, and Highlander will figure centrally.
posted by muddgirl 12 August | 13:50
Return to Oz with Fairuza Balk as Dorothy. If the names Mombi, Billina, Gump and Jack Pumpkinhead make your eyes pop, then try to find this movie. As for production values, this was a full-budget Disney live-action film. It combines elements of "The Land of Oz" and "Ozma of Oz" and stays quite faithful to Baum's vision. As such, it was quite dark (Mombi scared the shit out of kids) but it also corrected liberties taken by MGM for the Judy Garland movie, except for the ruby slippers. The combination killed it at the box office.

Overall favorite cheese flick: The Breakfast Club
posted by Ardiril 12 August | 14:01
Fright Night! Love that movie. Also, what about the Conan movies and (drumroll) Red Sonja? I watched all of them again a year or so ago and they were just as fantastic as I remembered. Well. By fantastic I mean, hey, Grace Jones!

Oh, and I'll see your Ladyhawke and raise you THE BEASTMASTER!
posted by mygothlaundry 12 August | 14:07
In order of most to least cheese-factor (in my cheeseball rating scale):


Lost Boys
Dirty Dancing

Rivers Edge (Also featuring Faruzia Balk! And not cheesy, imo, but one could argue)
posted by rainbaby 12 August | 14:16
Dragonslayer is one of my favorite '80s fantasy movies. It's genuinely well written, has an oddball musical score, and the stop-motion dragon itself looks very cool.

Also, I just watched Red Sonja not three weeks ago.

One of my favorite obscure '80s effects films is Krull, which is a weird mishmash of Star-Wars-derived SF and Conan-derived hack-and-slash fantasy--it starts out with a spaceship that flips over upon approaching a planet's atmosphere and turns into a castle, and the movie just gets weirder from there. Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane both show up in bit parts.
posted by Prospero 12 August | 14:20
Oh--and some googling found this sad news: Caitlin Clarke died in 2004 of ovarian cancer. She was 52.
posted by Prospero 12 August | 14:24
Oh! Right! Can I change my answer? Because it's definitely Conan the Barbarian. I was jealous that my dad took my twelve year-old brother to see it without me, because at ten I was a little too young to see it, so I watched it at my friend Mike's place a couple years later, either on SuperTV or maybe VHS. But yeah, my fave cheesy movie is Conan. By far.

On preview, my dad took my best friend and me to see the updated Metropolis in Baltimore, maybe at the Charles but probably at the Senator. Loved it for the movie; some of the film and soundtrack combos were great, and some were collisions. I watched a newly refurbished version with an older soundtrack (maybe on TCM) and liked it better, but I think they had restored some missing scenes so the whole thing held together better.

And on second preview, I'm resigned to my dislike of Highlander setting me apart from many of my friends. Many of those same people dislike Buckaroo Banzai. I question their taste, too. Though I've learned to keep it to myself.

Or, maybe I haven't!
posted by Hugh Janus 12 August | 14:26
I recently caught "Married to the Mob" on cable--still a pretty fun movie. One questions girls, did you *really* wear giant shoulder pads in the 80's? Michelle Pfeiffer looked like a quarterback!
posted by sexymofo 12 August | 14:39
Hee. Our family's first English mastiff was named Conan, after the movie. My family's current Great Dane is named Navarre, after the character in Ladyhawke.

My mother was all about the cheesy 80s movies. (Actually, she liked Highlander so much that I'm amazed our cats were not named after its characters.)

One questions girls, did you *really* wear giant shoulder pads in the 80's? Michelle Pfeiffer looked like a quarterback!

Of course! They were supposed to make your waist look small. Or something.
posted by occhiblu 12 August | 14:45
Oh, and actually, doggy Navarre apparently met a female Great Dane at the dog park, and they hit it off; turns out her name was Isabeau.

It's fate!
posted by occhiblu 12 August | 14:47
I must confess a guilty fondness for the dreadful teen/sex/vampire romp that is Once Bitten, in large part because A) I had a crush on one of Jim Carrey's sidekicks when it came out, and B) I wound up dating said sidekick 20 years later.
posted by scody 12 August | 14:48
The Apple. This movie is holy crap terrible. And totally gay. And awesome. Just about every scene prompts a "what were they thinking?" or "this actually happened" or "somebody paid for this". I think it's got to be close to one of the worst movies ever made. I think they must've thought if they put enough money into the sets and wardrobe, they needn't bother with a decent script or good songs. What more could you ask for in a musical set in the near future? Here's the trailer.
posted by Hellbient 12 August | 14:54
So many great movies in this thread. Was Adventures in Babysitting a late 80s movie or early 90s? Because I was obessed as a kid.
posted by muddgirl 12 August | 14:54
The Ice Pirates, really cheesy space opera with Ron Perlman, Anjelica Huston and Robert Urich.
posted by octothorpe 12 August | 15:15
I still love Repo Man.
posted by King of Prontopia 12 August | 15:25
Oh yeah, I forgot Action Jackson I love that movie, and Sharon Stone looks great with big hair and those crazy raccoon eyes from too much salon tanning.

Did you know that Oliver Stone co-wrote the screenplay to Conan along with John Milius, who wrote Apocalypse Now?
posted by Hugh Janus 12 August | 15:30
One questions girls, did you *really* wear giant shoulder pads in the 80's?

errr... sorta. Mostly my friends and I removed them, though. I think it was kind of viewed as tacky to wear the really obnoxious ones, tho (um, look up the term "chav" or "guido" for a mid-'00s analogue). I mean, sure, there was that whole "power suit" thing that lasted for about five minutes in 1984. I had (at one time) an entire junk drawer devoted to the shoulderpads that I cut out of all my jackets and blouses.

most of them ended up duct taped to the inside of cycling skinsuits for cyclocross racing. Every September I still kind of wish I had some lying around.

Honestly, I think the whole point of Michelle Pfeifer's character in Married To The Mob was as a caricature / stereotypical "Jersey Girl" moll. Check out a period-similar "corporate" flick like Working Girl for tipoffs. The secretarial pool girls in that are the ones who tend towards the ginormous linebacker jackets, but the Sigourney Weaver executive types, not so much.

Hugh, I'm right with you on Highlander. I loathed it with a particularly vehement seethe, which could have to do with the fact that I dated a real Highlander freak, and he ended up being a complete d'bag, so, well... I dunno.

on preview, not sure Repo Man qualifies as "cheesy". It's a straight-up good movie, no apologia necessary.
posted by lonefrontranger 12 August | 15:35
oh god, ladyhawke. rutger hauer is responsible for me starting puberty.

god i loved him. i wish his website didn't suck (*it's a little bit better over 2008) but i think it gets cool points because he does it himself as a hobby.

posted by eatdonuts 12 August | 15:54
Liquid Sky would definitely seem cheesy to me now, I think, in a retro "edgy" way, just like the old visions of the future seem silly now.

"I kill with my c**t" That is the quote I remember. . .
posted by danf 12 August | 15:56
All of them and don't forget Big Trouble In Little China, The Lair Of The White Worm, Time Bandits--
posted by ethylene 12 August | 16:07
Oh, Liquid Sky! Good one.
Me and my rhythm box...

Also, Suburbia (1984)
"Got any vibrators?"
posted by Hellbient 12 August | 16:12
rutger hauer is responsible for me starting puberty.

god i loved him. i wish his website didn't suck

He was gorgeous in the 80s. And yes, that's a terrible website. I am scared to click the link marked 'Starfish'. I do not want to see Rutger Hauer's starfish, thank you very much.
posted by essexjan 12 August | 16:21
Oh yah! Liquid Sky and Esp. Lair of the White Worm. . .sigh.
posted by rainbaby 12 August | 16:29
Night of the Comet. The quintessential spoiled valley girl vs. zombies movie.

Also, fans of arthouse cinema will be glad to know that there is now a 2-disc 20th anniversary DVD release of The Monster Squad.
posted by middleclasstool 12 August | 16:37
Road House
Any movie where the last line is "polar bear fell on me" is okay by me.
posted by Hellbient 12 August | 16:47
I was lucky to catch Lair of the White Worm in the theater. I was unlucky to dislike it, probably the only Russell movie I do dislike but I would watch it again.
posted by Ardiril 12 August | 16:49
Over the Top
Sleepaway Camp

Ardiril - I watched Lair of the White Worm again in the past year, and was surprised just how unwatchable it is.
posted by Hellbient 12 August | 17:08
Yea, we watched White Worm on cable a few months ago and it's sort of shockingly painfully bad. Even with a naked Amanda Donahoe.
posted by octothorpe 12 August | 18:07
The Wild Life. Mainly because of the subplot involving Ilan Mitchell-Smith, who's character greatly resembled th 16-year old jonmc
posted by jonmc 12 August | 19:11
The Last Starfighter and Neverending Story!!

We still have these on our (working) Betamax player.
posted by jonathanstrange 12 August | 23:09
The Last Starfighter features the same female lead as Night of the Comet, one reason that I like both movies very much. Also, the guy who played Centauri, Robert Preston, had roles in Beau Geste, The Bells of St. Mary's, The Music Man, Victor Victoria, and Finnegan Begin Again. One of the most charming actors I remember as a kid. His IMDB resume is not nearly as impressive as it should be, given the man's talent, and it's impressive.
posted by middleclasstool 12 August | 23:17
Bad Movies to love or just bad movies?

I remember seeing some crappy Say Anything rip-off with C Thomas Howell in which Harry Dean Stanton played the overprotective dad--complete with enraged throbbing forehead vein.
posted by brujita 12 August | 23:37
Y'all can't fool me.

This is all just very subtle viral marketing for the 2:20 and 7:00 pm showings of Ladyhawke TOMORROW NIGHT, 8/13, at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco! In cinemascope, no less.

and yeah, I totally dug that movie when I was 11 or so.
posted by Triode 13 August | 01:32
I agree with above and "Buckaroo Banzai". I watched it awhile ago and thought it was great. John Lithgow was freaking amazing.

Another cult flick that others that I've recommended watch, and they totally hated was "Repo Man".

One that's on the cusp, and came out in 1990 is "Edward Scissorhands"
posted by eekacat 13 August | 18:12
Oh, Flash Gordon for sure. Most people these days don't even seem to know it was ever a movie :-(
posted by dg 14 August | 02:21
And what a movie it was!
posted by Hugh Janus 14 August | 07:54
The saviour oof the uniVERSE!

Suburbia, Repo Man and Dogs in Space were life-changing for me at age 12.

Rude Awakening and Student Bodies are 2wo of my fave cheesy 80s movies.
posted by goo 14 August | 11:53
Sorry, I don't normally speak in txt. It's this damn tiny eeeepc keyboard.
posted by goo 14 August | 11:54
Longshot question about a song || What does your cell phone ring sound like?