1984 was an unbelievably great year for summer movies with Gremlins, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and The Karate Kid. Being a huge fan of The Karate Kid (I saw it 10 times in a movie theater) I must say I was a bit perplexed when I read the press release last year of a soon-to-be-filming remake that was to star Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan.
While initially I hated the idea. I have grown somewhat warm to it after watching this very solid trailer. This is clearly a re-imagining of the story (this one takes place in China) that looks like it works in its own way. Sony reportedly had a through the roof test screening and are releasing it June 11, 2010, which means they must have serious confidence in it. Take a LOOK
With my anticipation on the high side for the remake of “The Crazies” hitting theaters this weekend I thought I would revisit a look at my all time favorite B-Movies. I simply love these types of films.
I thought I would take a little time to talk about some of my favorite movies many might like to call guilty pleasures. While none of these ever had a chance to win any Oscars or get high critical marks, they are all cool films that I REALLY enjoy but fall into that B-movie category!
10. MALONE 1987- After being the biggest box-office star for five years running, BURT REYNOLD’s career started to fade with one box-office bomb after another but, for some reason, I always found Malone to be a lot of fun. Reynolds stars as a CIA operative who gets stuck in a small town after his car breaks down and winds up helping a father and his daughter (Cynthia Gibb) from a no good town bigwig (Cliff Robertson) who wants to steal their land. Reynold’s toupee was one of his worst, but the film is fun if you’re into revenge dramas. The movies tag line was “He didn’t start the fight but he’ll sure as hell finish it.”
9. FOOD OF THE GODS 1976 – Went to see this on a Saturday afternoon thirty-two years ago at the now long closed Mayfair Theater in Brooklyn NY and loved it. Marjoe Gortner ( Earthquake) stars in the film about a group of people under siege by giant rats and insects after an experimental food makes them grow hundreds of times their normal size. No doubt it’s cheesy but it’s also effective and a lot of fun. Gortner makes for a pretty good hero! Not available on DVD only VHS.
8. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 1985 – If you like zombie movies (and who doesn’t) this is a MUST see! Director Dan O’ Bannon pays homage to George Romero with this totally inspired horror comedy that is well known for the lines “MORE BRAINS” and “SEND MORE COPS.” Actors James Karen and Thom Mathews are both terrific, supplying the film with its comic relief. A must watch for Halloween week!
7. DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS 1962 – Post apocalyptic Sci- fi film about a meteor shower that not only renders the world’s population blind but causes plant life to uproot and kill most of the population of London where the story takes place. Howard Keel stars in the film as one of the few people left who can see. I first saw this movie when I was a kid on a local station’s Saturday afternoon broadcast and always liked it immensely. There’s a scene at a train station where mass chaos ensues because no one can see except the film’s hero and a little girl that is really well staged and creepy. It’s one of the film’s best sequences. There’s been talk of a remake for years but so far it’s never materialized.
6. MIRACLE MILE 1988 – This one has a really great concept about a guy (Anthony Edwards) who picks up a ringing pay phone in the early morning hours and finds out that nuclear missiles could be on the way to Los Angeles in the next 70 minutes. This causes him to search frantically for a girl (Mare Winningham) he just met the morning before. This one is suspenseful with really good atmosphere. It also featured a really COOL soundtrack by Tangerine Dream. While not successful on its release, the film has built a following over the years.
5. NIGHT OF THE COMET 1984 – I remember seeing this film as part of a double feature at the Kingsway theater in Brooklyn NY having no idea what the film was about. This is yet another end-of-the-world low budget film that centers its storyline on two Southern California valley girls played by CATHERINE MARY STEWART AND MARY MARONEY who must deal with life after a comet wipes out most of the earth’s population. The scene in the shopping mall when the song “Girls just want to have fun” is playing is an absolute BLAST! To this day I always thought Catherine Mary Stewart was one of the very best looking and appealing women I’ve ever seen on screen! I never understood why she didn’t have a big career!
4. THE BLOB 1958 – This was one of my favorite films when I was a boy – 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 townsfolk. 50 years after its release this movie holds up beautifully, as it captured a time and place that really makes this material work! A true CULT classic!
3. DEATH WISH 3 1985 – The third entry in the CHARLES BRONSON vigilante series is so wildly over the top that it plays out more like a cartoon than anything based in reality but, as B-films go, it’s terrific entertainment if you leave your brain at the door. I loved Bronson’s Paul Kersey character and director Michael Winner has a blast with this installment. The story’s setting takes the action back to New York in a run down ultra violent neighborhood where Bronson’s Kersey mows down so many baddies that it has to be seen to be believed. Actor Gavin O’Herlihy is terrific as the story’s villain. Bronson stated he would never do another Death Wish film after this because he felt director Winner went overboard with the violence but he ended up doing two more! Believe it or not, Bronson was 63 years old when he did this movie – amazing!
2. ROADHOUSE 1989 – Critics weren’t kind when it was originally released, but this film has had a long life as a fan favorite. I saw it three times in a theater the same week it came out. PATRICK SWAYZE was in top form as Dalton, a professional bouncer, hired to clean up the Double Deuce bar in Jasper Missouri which has been over taken by a group of thugs on orders from the town’s criminal kingpin, Brad Wesley; a role played with relish by Ben Gazzara. Sam Elliott practically steals the film as Swayze’s aging mentor. Notice that this Joel Silver produced movie uses the same musical score as Die Hard during its fight scenes.
1. THE OMEGA MAN 1971 – I always loved Charlton Heston and I love this movie which was the second film version of I am Legend. While not totally faithful to the novel, the film is compelling with Heston playing Robert Neville, the last man on earth after germ warfare has wiped out mankind. His death sequence at the hands of a sphere thrown by the movies villain, Matthias (Anthony Zerbe), near the film’s conclusion is an absolute classic. The musical score by composer Ron Grainer is totally unique and enjoyable. It’s one of my all time favorites.
With Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin as co-hosts I have a strong feeling this telecast looks to be HUGE FUN. With the megahit mainstream favorite Avatar up for 9 awards, including best picture, this should be the highest Oscar rated telecast in years.
No real surprises here as it appears that many of the major awards will go to either Avatar or The Hurt Locker (both films were nominated for 9 Oscars each). With Ten films being included in the Best Picture category for the first time, District 9 got a nod and I’m glad it did.
Personally, I just can’t wrap my mind around how one can compare films like Avatar and The Hurt Locker, when one cost close to $300 mil to produce and the other just $15mil. Both are very good but come from completely different universes. I just don’t feel like they can be judged the same way. Go Avatar.