Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 1984!

David Lynch's Dune Actor Knew Film Was Misfire After First Scene | IndieWire

As you’ll clearly see below – there’s not a huge selection of films from 1984 which I consider either shite, or that I was hyped for and subsequently disappointed by. Obviously, like any other year there were a lot of bad movies, but I either haven’t seen them or they didn’t piss me off enough to immortalize them here. In this blog which nobody reads.


Mark Lester’s Firestarter is a bit of a mess. It’s not the most amazing novel Stephen King has ever written, but there’s enough visual and emotional content to translate into an interesting movie. Decent cast, though also miscast, it’s just a bit dull and all over the place. But its biggest crime is simply, that it should have been made by an At The Peak Of His Powers John Carpenter. What it could have been is almost certainly better than what it is.

Conan The Destroyer

Conan The Barbarian is one of my all time favourite films. Conan The Destroyer gets everything that made the first film so good, so wrong. When people hear me say that CTB is one of my favourites, they laugh and sneer and likely imagine something cheesy and violent and cheap and crap; they’re imagining Conan The Destroyer. The only things going for it are Arnie swinging a sword about, and the soundtrack, but even Poledouris returning to score things can’t rescue this mess.

The Last Starfighter

I don’t have anything against The Last Starfighter, directly. What I do have is a bit of a strange grudge. See, when I was younger, I saw a Sci Fi movie which I can only remember snippets of – no faces, no plot, just random images which could be from anything. But growing up, I always suspected that movie was The Last Starfighter and when I saw it, it was nothing like that lost movie. A few years would pass and I would forget what Last Starfighter was about, and watch it again, hoping that this time me memories of the lost movie would align with it, but again, it would not be what I was looking for. So, any time I think about The Last Starfighter, I am reminded of that lost movie which I will never discover. What snippets do I remember about the lost movie; A cast of heroic characters, set on different planets, a deadly mission, the characters are picked off, one of them is an Amazon type strong female warrior, and she is killed while escorting a child through some long grassy area.

Red Dawn

It’s not like John Milius jumped straight from Conan The Barbarian into something better. He made the infamous Red Dawn, a conflicting movie with a cast of soon to be big names. I don’t hate Red Dawn, it’s just one that I expected so much more from, considering the talent, and considering this was the era of bug dumb action movies. This was exactly the sort of story my friends and I would act out over days and weeks during the summer – our town had been invaded by X, and our group of 10 year olds were the only ones who could stop X, by running through the streets, gardens, and fields with our plastic guns, making bases in the forest, and sometimes finding a Playboy magazine. Red Dawn should have been our favourite game translated to the big screen, but it’s just not what I wanted.


You already know that David Lynch is one of my favourite directors. Dune is the only film of his that I really struggle with – it being so long, having so many characters, and it just feels like a chore to get through. It doesn’t look like a Lynch film, outside of featuring a lot of his familiar faces, and the screenplay is a mess. There was too much material, and there were too many cooks behind the scenes, and there was too much weight of anticipation for it to ever be any good. It’s an achievement that it was even made in the first place, but it just doesn’t work on any level.

Let us know what your least movies of 1984 are in the comments!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 1984

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

10: Ghostbusters (US)

Ghostbusters, unlike many 80s movies I enjoyed as a child, is one I’ve grown less fond of over the years. Conversely, it’s one which most people’s appreciation of grows with time. I think it’s because the focus on Bill Murray as the star isn’t as appealing to me. Nevertheless, it was a big part of my childhood and remains as invigorating and exciting as it ever was, to the extent that my two year old son has already watched and enjoyed it.

9: This Is Spinal Tap (US)

Being a fan of comedy and metal, and sometimes making music which is supposed to be funny, and being a film fan, it was only a matter of time being I got to This Is Spinal Tap. It’s one of many films I knew of and felt I had seen long before I ever had. Seeing it for the first time as an early teen meant I only focused on the surface jokes, but over the years its one whose humour both creeps and leaps off the screen to drum in some new piece of dialogue or visual gag I hadn’t picked up on before.

8: Starman (US)

As close to a ‘straight’ film as Carpenter will ever get, certainly as close to a simple romance, this tale of grief, bereavement, and recovery is enhanced by its sci-fi setting, its music, and its great lead pairing.

7: Beverly Hills Cop (US)

I used to have this argument with my brother – in which Beverly Hills Cop movie does Axl Foley come closest to dying. It’s these meaningless, years-spanning arguments which signify that a movie has become important to you. Here I am, thirty years later, still talking about it. It’s a fast, fun, funny, action packed movie with a great cast, score, and has that 80s nostalgia factor through the roof.

6: The Karate Kid (US)

What a wonder, what a joy it is that The Karate Kid series lives on today with the excellent Cobra Kai. That show is the prime example of how to continue an ancient franchise – it respects the originals and follows naturally. But this is where it all began, basically a remake of Rocky for a younger audience, it’s a film which speaks to any era even though its steeped in the decade in which it was born. A film which did more to make me want to pinch and kick bullies and get the girl more than any other.

5: Gremlins (US)

I’m surprised that I put this higher than The Karate Kid and would probably flip the two. Nevertheless, Gremlins is just as much a part of my childhood and is one of a handful of films which can be enjoyed both at Christmas, at Halloween, and at any time of the year. It works as a family movie, an action movie, a horror, a comedy, and is another example of that singular atmosphere and energy which 80s movies had which you don’t seem to find anymore.

4: Temple Of Doom (US)

My favourite Indiana Jones movie was one of my earliest cinematic exposure to the horror and blood’n’guts that I craved. The series dealt heavily in the mythology aspects of history which I was devouring in text form as a youngling, but Temple was the one which felt like it most fully embraced that side. It was a fantasy adjacent film which mixed horror and martial arts elements, while never sacrificing (pun intended?) the swashbuckling adventure, humour, romance, and charm which first catapulted the series into the skies.

3: Police Academy (US) (Top Ten Of All Time)

Covered in my Top Films Of The 80s post.

2: A Nightmare On Elm Street (US) (Top Ten Of All Time)

Covered in my Top Films Of The 80s post.

1: The Terminator (US) (Top Ten Of All Time)

Covered in my Top Films Of The 80s post.

Let us know your favourites in the comments!

Best Picture – 1983

Official Nominations: Terms Of Endearment. The Big Chill. The Dresser. The Right Stuff. Tender Mercies.

To be honest, even being outside of my own personal tastes this was a big of a junk year for the Academy in this category and beyond. There isn’t a single film here with the vital rewatch factor, and there’s only one which I would personally consider watching again. Everyone’s different though, and there’s no doubting that all five are interesting films and at least two border on iconic status.

Terms Of Endearment was the winner this year, a smash hit weepy with a stellar cast. I don’t have much against it beyond the fact that it was the winner here. As you’ll see below, it’s not something I would have nominated, but based on the star power, the money made, and the performances within, you can’t avoid it. For me, like many of the big Oscar winners, it’s just a better made Hallmark movie.

The Right Stuff should have been the winner here – not only was it also a hit with the critics and is just as well acted as Terms Of Endearment, it’s also one you can get plenty of value from on a rewatch. It inexplicably didn’t make much money, perhaps the only reason it didn’t get the official win. It gets my vote.

The Big Chill is one of those post/latter day coming of age movies following a group of old friends getting together when they’re older. Like many hangout movies it’s less about the plot and more about the characters, the issue being that the characters and their interactions are about as interesting as the meandering, aimless story. The best of these movies make us care about the people and has a poignant and funny script – this struggles on both accounts but isn’t without merit.

The Dresser is an adaptation of an earlier play. As such… I always struggle with these unless the play was meant to be exuberant. It’s theatre on screen, rather than cinema. It’s not the most original or exciting story – it follows the relationship between an unhinged and handless actor (not literally) who is brilliant on stage but essentially useless off it, and his ‘dresser’ who cleans up his messes, babysits him, and makes sure he can make it on to the stage. You could watch the original play or this and get the same from it – but we do have strong performances here.

Finally, Tender Mercies is the small-not-small movie, starring Robert Duvall as a Country Singer who enjoys the bottle just as much as the mic and whose life is a mess after a string of tragedies and unhealthy behaviours. He meets a nice lady and begins to turn his life around. You’ve seen plenty of films just like this. It’s incredibly on the nose but poignant enough thanks to Duvall’s notable skills.

My Winner: The Right Stuff

The Right Stuff (1983) - IMDb

My Nominations: Return Of The Jedi. La Dernier Combat. The Outsiders. Rumble Fish. Scarface. Videodrome. The King Of Comedy.

None of the official nominations make it to my list. I instead select a variety of smash hits, and cult favourites. Return Of The Jedi was the biggest film of the year, closing out the original Star Wars trilogy. Known among critics and most fans as the weakest of the original three movies, Jedi was always my favourite thanks to the frenetic pace, the resolution of the major storylines, and because Luke finally becomes a badass. It’s about as pleasing an end to a multi-film saga as you could hope for.

Staying loosely in the realm of Science Fiction, Videodrome sees David Cronenberg with a bigger palette to play with, inviting Debbie Harry and James Woods to enter his mad world. As with many Cronenberg movies, it’s visionary, has startling unforgettable imagery, and was ahead of its time only becoming more prescient with each passing year. The main difference between this and his earlier work is the quality of actor and the budget, allowing him to pinpoint the mainstream. It’s a film with a lot to say, even if much of it is buried in violence and confusion – such is Cronenberg’s way of presenting his ideas, but it’s a film everyone should experience.

Going even looser on the outskirts of Sci Fi is La Dernier Combat, Luc Besson’s debut is a near silent exploration of a post apocalyptic future in which one particular survivor encounters various other individuals and groups and… well… there’s not a lot in the way of plot. It’s like an even quieter Mad Max, with a lower budget and no stunts, but is just as visually pleasing and intriguing.

Keeping in the indie sphere and moving beyond Sci-Fi, if movies by Francis Ford Coppola can ever be classed as ‘Indie’ is Rumble Fish and The Outsiders. The Outsiders is a coming of age movie more catered to my tastes than The Big Chill, following a group of poor and disaffected teens who, while good-hearted, have been dealt several bad hands and have seemingly no bright lights on the horizon. It’s a solid adaptation of one of the few stories which nails angst and teen relationships, helped by a superb cast of future stars. Rumble Fish is a similar enough story and film – hardly surprising given both were novels by S.E Hinton and that both were filmed back to back by Coppola with the same crew. Rumble Fish differs mainly in a stylistic way, with Copolla opting for an experimental approach from the music to the unusual black and white look.

Never one to be outdone by Coppola, Martin Scorsese returns with The King Of Comedy, an amusing, surprising, and disturbing film led by a storming Robert De Niro performance in which he plays a shadow-mirror version of Travis Bickle known as Rupert Pupkin. It remains one of both De Niro and Scorsese’s most underrated films even after it received a modern boost when The Joker spent much of its run time ripping it off.

Finally, and not one to be outdone by De Niro, is Al Pacino in Brian De Palma’s peerless remake of Scarface. Normally this would be my winner and would be fully deserving of that title given the talent involved, the money made, the end result, and the iconic visuals and dialogue, but Return Of The Jedi edges it for me in terms of its importance both to me and to cinema as a whole.

My Winner: Return Of The Jedi.

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 1984

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

10: Ghostbusters (US)

9: This Is Spinal Tap (US)

8: Starman (US)

7: Beverly Hills Cop (US)

6: The Karate Kid (US)

5: Gremlins (US)

4: Temple Of Doom (US)

3: Police Academy (US) (Top Ten Of All Time)

2: A Nightmare On Elm Street (US) (Top Ten Of All Time)

1: The Terminator (US) (Top Ten Of All Time)

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: The six top grossing movies.

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: Zero

Chart Music Through The Years – 1984

Yes! Back thanks to an almost universal lack of demand, I stretch back the scalp of time and feast upon the mushy innards of the past – in this instance I return to the UK music charts. If you’re interested, you can read my original post here –


Behold, in 1984 we finally landed in the future. Big Brother was watching us, flying cars were flying us to our various space-age android sex factories, and other Orwellian words were flapping around like the head of a stoned giraffe. In 1984, I was a mere mewling babe, soiling my trousers and putting bowls of beans on my head while mum and dad took photos and emitted bizarre cackling gurgles – I don’t really know as I can’t remember. Outside of my pram, the first Apple Mac was released, Tommy Cooper laughed his last (laugh), AIDS was ‘discovered’, GCSEs replaced O-Levels, Reagan was re-elected, and the world learned of the terrible famine in Ethiopia. In the music world, Band Aid unleashed Do They Know It’s ChristmasRelax was banned from airwaves and went straight to Number 1, Alice Cooper took a break, Marvin Gaye was murdered, unborn meme fans rejoiced as Lionel Richie sang Hello, Iron Maiden headed behind the Iron Curtain, Tipper Gore got all in a flap and went on a moral rampage, and Bruce Springsteen reminded Americans what it was like to be American. A year of turmoil and unrest then, so you would expect the music to reflect the atmosphere of fear and paranoia – lets find out!

1. Stevie Wonder: I Just Called To Say I Love You

I know this song gets a lot of stick from people, especially hardcore Stevie Wonder fans. I still haven’t actually listened to a full Stevie Wonder album at the time of writing, and I only know his big hits. This is one of those big hits, and as cheesy as it may be, I love it. It has all the hallmarks of an 80s disaster – synth, flat papery beats, but it has Stevie’s voice, twinkling pianos, hilarious bass, ghostly whistle synth sounds, and an immortal chorus… all together now! I just called.. to say…. I love you! Take out the 80s crap and the melody remains true, focus it more towards a minor key and it becomes a different beast entirely.

2. Culture Club: War Song

I pity the fool who doesn’t get this reference. I forgot this song ever existed. The lyrics are hilariously bad, yet the the chorus is strangely catchy. Rhyming ‘stupid’ with ‘stupid’? We get a section of war chanting and Dark Side wailing followed by a strange bridge with marching drums which suddenly breaks away into that juicy, sunny Culture Club sound. An odd one, I’m surprised this got so far up the charts.

3. Wham: Freedom

Chinese stuff. Talking. More talking. Too much talking. Outrageous screech. Do do do doooo. Singing and clanging guitar and clanging something. Aaaand finally the chorus, which of course we all know. Verse melodies okay. Not much else, pretty funny stuff, I wonder what China made of it. There’s a happy lightness and joy to the song which feels real and infectious so I can’t criticize it for that. Unnecessarily long.

4. Ray Parker Jr : Ghostbusters

A movie soundtrack classic, though this one does go on a fair bit too. I don’t think you need me to talk about this one right? Who ya gonna call? I have always loved the weird, eerie build up to the famous intro though, so I’ll mention that at least.

5. The Cars: Drive

So many 80s sounds in one list. I was always a bit partial to this one, but I never went out of my way to find or listen to it. It sounds very sad and moody and atmospheric and even though it is drenched in 80s, it doesn’t sound dated or cheesy. Emotion people – add it to you music and watch it live forever.

6. Paul McCartney: No More Lonely Nights

I actually have most, or a lot of McCartney’s non-Beatles stuff, but haven’t listened to it yet. I think I was put off by listening to a lot of Lennon’s and not liking it – mostly I know Paul’s major solo and Wings hits, but looking at the title of this one I didn’t recognise it. Listening now I don’t recognise the verse. It’s pretty bland stuff. The chorus doesn’t do a lot either, but throws in some sudden guitar blasts. It goes on and on a bit too, a lot of songs here being longer than they need to be – and I love long songs!

7. Bronski Beat: Why

Terrible screech. And, even worse 80s noises. Know amount of emotion would stop this from being dated and cheesy. I’ve no idea what the song is about, but it sounds important from the snippets of lyrics I can make out on first listen. Trumpets and other assorted drippy droppy sounds. I think we can do without ever hearing this again.

8. U2: Pride

I’ve never been much of a U2 fan, a lot of that was probably to do with my upbringing and by the time I could have made my own choices I already thought Bono was a knob. Having said that, there are plenty of U2 songs that I do like. I’m not sure if I’ve heard this in its entirety before (probably have). As with a lot of U2 songs from this period this has the same jangling guitar by Edge and the stadium chorus. It’s actually a fairly plain and simple song, made stronger by Bono’s vocals.

9. Giorgio Morodor and Philip Oakey: Together In Electric Dreams

Another one which is on endless rotation on the radio stations my wife listens to. It’s another with dreadfully dated synth and that bland, deep male vocal from a million other 80s one hit wonders. Having said that, it does of course have a great chorus so I won’t take that away.

10. Prince: Purple Rain

So, since writing this post originally in Feb 2016, Prince has sadly passed away. Yet another legend traversing through space and light and time to pop out on the other side with all the other souls which have escaped their earthly bodies. Or some such. Truth be told, I’ve never been much of a Prince fan. The few songs of his that I’ve heard never really did a lot for me. But I must emphasis the few, as I’m aware Prince released nearly 40 albums, which is ludicrous. Hopefully a few of those appear in Colin Larkin’s Top 1000 Albums and I’ll finally be able to listen to them. Anyway, I’ve rewritten this song entry just to say that this song didn’t have much of an impact on me, but it does feel more poignant now. Still, the drums, the vocals, the production all irritate me and the melodies don’t do much for me. I must be some sort of monster. Good guitar though.

There you have it folks, 1984. But these songs only tell a little of the story. Elsewhere we had albums such as Defenders Of The Faith, self-titled efforts by The Smiths and Run DMC, Psalm 9, Born In The USA, All Over The Place, Ride The Lightning, Powerslave, Reckless, Like A Virgin, and many more. It was a seminal year for many genres. Have a gander and these 10 alternative songs from 1984 – your ears will thank me.

  1. Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – yes yes, from her 1983 album, but released as a single this year
  2. The Smiths – This Charming Man
  3. Weird Al Yankovich – Eat It
  4. Bruce Springsteen – Born In The USA
  5. Metallica – Creeping Death
  6. Iron Maiden – 2 Minutes To Midnight
  7. Van Halen – Jump (I know, I know)
  8. Madonna – Like A Virgin
  9. Bryan Adams – Summer Of ’69
  10. Joe Esposito – You’re The Best

Let us know what you were listening to in 1984, and which songs and/or albums from that hallowed year you still put on these days.