Back to the Past

This week marks 28 years of marriage to my wonderful husband, Riley. We’ve had a few tough times, but mostly our time together has been filled with joy and romance. We’re truly blessed.

Thinking back to the days when we were newly wed, I found myself considering the movies of those days. We spent many a date night at the local theatres, enjoying the new releases each week. When I pulled up a list of movies from 1985, I discovered a roster of dozens of blockbusters, cult classics, and iconic performances.

Like today, monsters and magic were big in ‘85. Zombies, werewolves, vampires, demons, pirates and fairies all had a place on the silver screen in films like The Bride, Transylvania 6-5000, Once Bitten, Silver Bullet, Day of the Dead, Return of the Living Dead, Goonies, Legend, Ladyhawke, and Weird Science.

Proper costumes set the stage for movies like Young Sherlock Holmes, Out of Africa, The Color Purple, and Room with a View.

Westerns made a statement in Pale Rider and the lighter Silverado.

Quirky cult movies included Brazil, Into the Night, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Better Off Dead, The Breakfast Club, Clue, The Man with One Red Shoe, and Real Genius.

The action flicks were sequels—Rocky IV, Rambo 2, and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Chevy Chase had a big year with Fletch, European Vacation, and Spies Like Us.

Maybe my favorite picture of 1985 (and the top grossing of the year) was Back to the Future, starring Michael J. Fox. The story is terrific, the acting is spot-on, and, with the sequels, this movie has won a place in every film-lover’s collection.

What is especially fun about reviewing these films is that over the years, my husband and I have shared several of these films with our sons, and they now have a love for them too. What a wonderful way to stay young at heart!

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.

With Whom?

Have you ever watched a movie, formed an opinion about it, watched it again—maybe several years later—and wondered, “What was I thinking?”

Maybe you hated it the second time. Maybe you loved it. Either way, you completely reversed your outlook on the picture. Why? Was it that you matured? Maybe your tastes have just changed.

Another possibility to consider: the person with whom you saw the movie. Did you see it with your sweetheart the first time? Did you watch with your best friend? Were you sitting with your parents (and totally embarrassed and weirded-out) that first time?

I believe that whom you share a movie experience with has a huge impact on your opinion of the film. Think about how you feel when you’re with someone you love. Think about spending a carefree night with a close friend. It seems that friends and loved ones make everything better. (Unless you’re stuck with your mom covering your eyes during a surprise love scene.) Having a friend with you sets the stage for your expectations.

Think about how it is to go through something exciting, thrilling, frightening, or beautiful with another person. It will either draw you closer or tear you apart. Though the story on the screen isn’t real, the feelings you experience can be. The way you feel about the person you share this event with can cast a shade over the whole thing.

AND, I will go on to suggest that how your relationship grows or changes over the years can affect the way you look back on the movie, as well.

The memories that I have from seeing Superman, Jaws 3D, Return of the Jedi, Midnight Madness, Mission Impossible, and The Right Stuff, are vastly different from the memories I have from seeing Christmas Story, Weird Science, or The Ghost and the Darkness. The latter bunch I saw with my husband, and the former I saw with family and friends. They each, in their own way, altered how I saw each film at the time, and how I feel about them now.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading!

 

October is Scary Fun!

For the month of October, my family reviews and re-orders our movie queue to include some good fun scares. We don’t do the slasher films—plenty of those on late night TV already.

We like to compose a Halloween medley of cinematic masterpieces that include both horror classics and contemporary frights. We invite our friends over, make a little popcorn, and then enjoy the fear fest. Last year we watched our Friday Night Frights on TCM, with a sampling of aliens, vampires, werewolves, and other creature features.

We enjoyed these 50’s and 60’s movies so much, that this year I’ve included Earth Vs. Flying Saucers (1956) and Rocketship X-M (1950). Also on board is the original 1951 film, The Thing From Another World. I loved the 1982 version of The Thing, which starred Kurt Russell and Wilford Brimley. With a new version coming out, I like to get a refresher for comparison.

What other movies made my short list?

Of course we have the monsters—The Mummy, both classic and recent. We included a variety of Frankenstein flicks, such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Young Frankenstein, and Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein. That should cover just about every way to look at the quilted beast. And we can’t have October without Van Helsing to meet our werewolf and vampire quota.

In case you wonder, last year’s The Wolfman impressed me. If you can, rent the edition that includes the original 1941 The Wolf Man, and watch them both. (You’re welcome!)

We want to keep the classic thrillers in the mix, so we added Hitchcock’s Life Boat, and Orson Welles’ 1944 version of Jane Eyre. We maintain a family tradition of enjoying the Halloween treat of Arsenic and Old Lace. I’ve seen it dozens of times, and I still giggle all the way through.

For some new classic tongue-in-cheek fun, rent The Lost Skeleton of Cadavara, The Lost Skeleton Returns Again, and Dark and Stormy Night, all by comic genius Larry Blamire and his crew.

My guys and I will enjoy a date night or two at the movie theatre as well. I want to see Dream House, which opens this first weekend, and The Thing, which has a mid-month release.

I could recommend many other suspense films. Hitch has dozens, with varying degrees of fright factor. M. Night Shyamalan created a few good ones, too. I loved The Sixth Sense and Signs, and while I enjoyed The Village, it is not scary.

There are plenty of monster movies to enjoy. If you need some crazy blasts from the past, you might like Once Bitten, Earth Girls Are Easy, Weird Science, or Teen Wolf, all from the 80’s. For the scarier side of the 80’s, catch American Werewolf in London, Poltergeist, and The Howling. The 70’s brought us creepy films like The Stepford Wives and Dracula.

What’s on your October list? Please share!

That’s a wrap for this toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading!