These are ten of my favorite movies that I can watch anytime and never get tired of. They all play beautifully on a repeat viewing and all make for a great watch on a rainy day when you stay home and put on a movie for the sole purpose of pure enjoyment.
10. Total Recall (1990) – The first half of this film is perhaps the quickest paced film this genre has ever seen. Arnold Schwarzenegger has never been more likeable on screen playing Doug Quaid, a man of the future who may or may not have had a memory implantation. Paul Verhoven directs the film with an intensity that rarely lets up and his violent style is evident throughout. Michael Ironside (the poor man’s Jack Nicholson) is fun hamming it up as one of the villains who continually chases Arnold throughout the movie. Arnold’s “Consider that a divorce” line is classic! In an interesting footnote, both Patrick Swayze and Richard Dreyfuss were considered for the film’s lead. Amazingly, an unnecessary remake has been announced.
9. The Blob (1958) – This was always one of my favorite films when I was a young kid – I would watch it every time it came on TV. Steve McQueen, billed as Steven, was a solid center in his first movie, playing a teen who meets up with a Jell-O like substance from outer space which is eating his fellow townfolk. 50 years after its release this movie holds up beautifully, capturing a time and place that really makes this material work! I’ll always remember the scene at the end where the Blob engulfs the diner. A true CULT classic!
8. The Omega Man (1971) – The second film version of Richard Matheson’s popular novel “I am Legend” is my favorite of the three. Charlton Heston plays Robert Neville, one of a handful of human survivors after a biological war. Anthony Zerbe is terrific as the film’s protagonist, a mutant like survivor named Mathias, the leader of a deranged group known as “the family”. B-Movie fun at its best!
7. The Dead Zone (1983) – After the tragic death of Natalie Wood, Christopher Walken threw himself into the role of Johnny Smith, a man who wakes up from a five year coma with the ability to see the future of anyone he comes in contact with. Director David Cronenberg does a skillfull job, keeping the story simple yet absorbing, in this terrific character study of a man gifted and cursed at the same time. Martin Sheen also stands out in the supporting role of the insane politician Greg Stillson. If you’re a Chris Walken fan this is a MUST see!
6. Scarface (1983) – The poster child for the term cult classic’. Scarface was NOT a big box-office hit on initial release (I saw it twice in a theater) but it has emerged as a must see fan favorite that will probably have staying power until the end of time. It’s one of those films that opened to mixed reviews but has deservingly gained respect and a huge following over time. It’s real solid storytelling by Brian DePalma. “Say Hello to my little friend” –Al Pacino’s Tony Montana.
5. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) – Phillip Kaufman’s brilliantly realized remake of the 1956 classic about a group of people who discover that the population is being replaced by clones of emotionless aliens is easily one of the very best films of the 1970’s. Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy, are all top notch. Kaufman paces the film (set in San Francisco) perfectly until its bleak and stunning ending. A truly great movie.
4. The Rock (1996) – Anyone who says Michael Bay hasn’t made a great film (Im not defending Transformers 2 in any way) hasn’t seen The Rock, an adrenaline fueled movie loaded with great action and characters. Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery make for a great screen team. Their chemistry is terrific in this story about terrorists who take over Alcatraz prison and threaten to launch a nuclear warhead. Ed Harris makes for a really interesting villain with his complicated ex-military character. I wish Cage would return to reprise his role of Stanley Goodspeed in a sequel! Connery is just amazing as always.
3. Die Hard (1988) – A textbook example of a perfect action adventure film as the movie works on every level. In an era where action heros were mostly invincible, Bruce Willis’ John McClain showed a vulnerability that movie going audiences could relate to, giving us a real rooting interest. Based on a novel titled “Nothing Lasts Forever”, the story has a great concept: a NYC cop comes to LA to visit his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia) on Christmas Eve and gets trapped in a high rise office building (filmed at the Fox Plaza in LA) that has been taken over by terrorists. Willis, who was mostly known as the star of the ABC hit TV show, Moonlighting, proved to be a standout hero and Alan Rickman was equally good as the film’s villain, Hans Gruber. Geat story, great direction, great characters and pulse pounding action (the film’s highlight has Willis’ McClain jumping off the roof of the building with a fire hose tied around his waist) make Die Hard my all time favorite action film. An incredible crowd pleaser! I saw this ten times in a theater! In those days I had a lot of time on my hands. LOL
2. Dawn of the Dead (1978) – To this day I still stand in awe of what George Romero accomplished with this second film in his Zombie franchise. It’s truly an amazing achievement of story and imagination, especially on a budget of less than $1,000,000. If there’s such a thing as movie magic, Dawn of the Dead has it. The cast, which included mostly unknowns like Ken Foree, David Emge, Scott Reiniger and Gaylen Ross, all worked well together to create well-rounded, memorable, characters, despite a grueling schedule of overnight shooting. The film’s concept of four people who hide out in a shopping mall during a massive zombie outbreak is one of pure fantasy that audiences really get involved in. Dawn became a mainstay of the midnight movie going experience and the film would ultimately gross more than $55,000,000.. By the time Dawn of the Dead is over, you feel like you have undergone a complete experience, totally connecting with the four characters. Of the three versions avaliable on DVD, I like the extended cut the best.
1. The Poseidon Adventure (1972) – I can’t totally explain why I love this movie so much but I think it has to do with the fact that its probably the greatest film about moving forward ever devised. I had the pleasure of seeing The Poseidon Adventure on the big screen once again in January 2009 at a revival theater in NYC and it was a really fun experience. Gene Hackman’s rebellious Rev Scott character remains a totally compelling movie character. I still argue that his sacrifice at the films conclusion is as powerful a moment as anything I’ve ever seen in cinema. “In the water I’m a very skinny Lady”- Shelly Winters’ Belle Rosen.