Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 1983

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: Project A (HK)

A period Jackie Chan movie about clashing cops and bad guys, but most importantly it features some of Chan, and Cinema’s most death-defying stunts.

9: The Hunger (UK/US)

Tony Scott’s sultry, stylish vampire story starring David Bowie, Catherine Deneuve, and Susan Sarandon is a feast for the eyes and the loins.

8: The Dead Zone (US)

The first of two David Cronenberg movies on my list, it’s perhaps amusing that the story of a man who can see the awful shit which is going to happen in the future just by touching a person, is not the strangest of his two entries. One of the finest, understated Stephen King adaptations, it’s a very straight film considering the director and the cast, and is sadly one of the most prescient films of today considering when it was released.

7: Le Dernier Combat (France)

Luc Besson’s thrilling, low-budget debut is chocked full of the ambition and style he would show in later movies once funds caught up with him. It’s an end of the world story about holding on to the final scraps which make life worth living and a damning statement on humanity darkest aspects.

6: Blue Thunder (US)

Helicopter action was all the rage in the 80s, what with Airwolf, Rambo III, and this. Starring Roy Scheider and featuring a young Daniel Stern, Malcolm McDowell, Warren Oates, and Candy Clark, it’s a thriller with plenty of familiar faces and even if the plot is your typical Cop versus Shady Crim Org, the helicopter action more than makes up for any nonsense.

5: Rumble Fish (US)

My four and five are interchangeable and similar in many ways. Both directed by Coppola and sharing a lot of ideas and both featuring a young cast of up and comers, Rumble Fish is the more visually striking of the two. This one follows the relationship between two brothers – one who is trying to move away from the violence of his thug life, and one who is trying to get into it.

4: The Outsiders (US)

The Outsiders is another film focused on youth, brothers, and friendship, this time featuring a more extensive cast, overlapping plots, and a more straightforward directing approach. It’s one of the great teen movies.

3: Videodrome (Canada)

A film which could have only come out in the 80s and only from the mind of David Cronenberg. A small-time TV Exec discovers what appears to be an underground TV show which presents mainly snuff footage and other assorted treats and becomes obsessed with finding out about the show, believing it to be the future of entertainment. The more he learns, the more unhinged he becomes, and both he and the viewer become unsure of what is real or fantasy or if such distinctions even matter any more. A twisted satire on entertainment, culture, and political causes, it’s a showcase for Cronenberg’s Body-Horror ethos and Rick Baker’s wizardry.

2: Scarface (US)

One of the all time great remakes, Brian De Palma’s Scarface is quintessentially 80s. While most of us were rightfully lapping up Spielberg and Amblin, and dreaming of BMX adventures, something more sinister was spreading across the US. Crime, drugs, and all manner of related excess was rampant and the acquiring of the American Dream no longer meant rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in to your particular craft, instead it meant meeting (or killing) the right person, and cheating, gambling, and shooting your way to the top until there was nobody left to stand in your way. Al Pacino’s sneering performance is one for the ages, the Miami setting is seedy in the extreme, and the supporting cast featuring Michelle Pfeifer, Robert Loggia, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Steven Bauer, and F Murray Abraham is stellar.

1: Return Of The Jedi (US)

Covered in my favourite movies of the Decade post.

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: One (the top grosser)

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

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!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Movies Of 1985

10: A View To A Kill (UK)

A generally maligned Bond entry, with many citing Roger Moore’s age and Tanya Roberts’ involvement as significant negatives. Stacey Sutton does screech a lot in the movie and doesn’t come across as the most progressive or three dimensional character, and Moore is clearly getting on a bit, but when you counter that with the character of May Day, the performance of Christopher Walken, the greatness of the theme song, and some of the best action in the Moore era, it more than evens out. It’s always been a personal favourite, but then it’s the Moore era I grew up with.

9: Return To Oz (US/UK)

There’s just something eternally enticing about Return To Oz – I loved it growing up, and now my kids love it too. It’s just creepy and dark enough to be fun and scary without being traumatic (debatable), and I love the idea of showing an Oz in ruins, corrupted, the various psychological angles in the story, the special effects, and the lead performances from the always underrated Fairuza Balk and Jean Marsh.

8: Brewster’s Millions (US)

I go back and forth on what my favourite Wilder/Pryor movie is, and that’s before you factor in their solo efforts. This is my favourite Pryor led movie, a remake directed with trademark bounce by Walter Hill, even if it is a deliberate cash in (pun intended) on both Trading Places and the Wall Street/Reagan/money is awesome vibe of the time. If there has ever been an actor who cold sell complete bewilderment, it’s Richard Pryor, and here he’s the small time loser who finds out he’s the sole hair of a 300 million dollar fortune. There’s a catch; in order to get that lump sum he needs to overcome a challenge – to spend 30 million in 30 days. That seems easy, but there are various rules involved, such as he can’t just give it away. If he succeeds, he gets all the money, but if he loses the money gets absorbed back into the nefarious hands of your typical big business boardroom boys. Alternatively, he can accept 1 million and let the bad boys have the rest.

It’s a fast paced, light-hearted movie with surprisingly plenty to say on the subject of Capitalism, morality, and politics. Plus it stars John Candy as Brewster’s well meaning loser best pal.

7: Rocky IV (US)

The movie which taught real men to cry, even as Rocky III threatened. This time around, Rocky must avenge long time best bud Apollo’s death when he is killed in the middle of an exhibition match between Russia’s latest 0% fat killing machine. Balboa demands a fight against Ivan Drago, but has to but his World Title up for grabs and agree to hold the fight in Russia. Cue montages and power ballads. It’s basically the same movie as the other three, but with the 80sness pumped up to fifteen, and as such may be the best of the bunch.

6: Police Academy 2 (US)

After graduating inexplicably from the Police Academy, Mahoney and his crew are sent to work to help Lassard’s brother’s struggling, crime ridden precinct. Regularly terrorized by roving gangs, and with the threat of the scheming Lieutenant Mowser never far, Brother Lassard now must contend with Hightower, Jones, Fackler, Tackleberry, Hooks, and Mahoney. This is the first time we meet series favourites Zed and Proctor too, and as always we get the usual mixture of vignette silliness and slapstick humour which no-one in their right mind besides me could ever enjoy. It’s great.

5: First Blood Part 2 (US)

It’s in my Top Movies Of The Decade post.

4: Day Of The Dead (US)

It’s in my Top Movies Of The Decade post.

3: The Goonies (US)

It’s in my Top Movies Of The Decade post.

2: Back To The Future (US)

It’s in my Top Movies Of The Decade post.

1:  Commando (US)

It’s in my Top Movies Of The Decade post.

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Movies Of 1986!

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: Highlander (UK/US)

There can only be one! Except they followed it up with a bunch more and a TV series, and probably an 80s animated series that no-one remembers. It’s the Camp special on the list – it even features Queen all through the soundtrack. It also stars Sean Connery at his hammiest, and a French bloke as a kilt-wearing, sheep-bothering Scotsman. Yet somehow it’s cool. It’s the 80s high concept-ness of it all – a race of immortals battle their way through time until there is only one left, the only way they can be killed is via sword beheading for some reason. Queue lots of dubious sword fighting choreography and neon lit shenanigans, with some sort of love story at the heart of it all. There’s interesting lore, from Quickenings to Gatherings, but as a kid it was the idea of immortals sword-fighting which sold it for me – I’ve always loved the idea of someone living through these major historical times, existing from century to century accruing all of this knowledge and wisdom, while whipping out a sword every so often.

9: Stand By Me (US)

A contender for the best Stephen King adaptation and the one best cast, Stand By Me is a gripping drama, a coming of age story like no other, and an all to human story regardless of the time and place in which it is set. River Phoenix, Jerry O’Connell, Keifer Sutherland, Will Wheaton, Corey Feldman, John Cusack, and Richard Dreyfuss all star, in another story which looks to the past as four friends embark one long summer day on a mission to see a dead body.

8: A Better Tomorrow (HK)

Hong Kong was knocking it out of the park in the late 80s, making steps away from the straight kung fu movies of the previous decades. It was all guns and gangsters now. A Better Tomorrow is an archetype for this, setting out various tropes which would be copied for years after with John Woo directing Leslie Cheung, Chow Yun Fat, and Ti Lung as three men connected by blood or through their work with the Triad.

Lung is a low level manager type in the business, Fat is his charismatic best friend, while Leung is his younger brother training to be a cop. After a botched job, Lung takes the fall letting a younger Triad member called Shing get away. We flash forward to Lung getting out of prison, only to find his brother cannot forgive his him for his life of crime, and that Shing has become a ruthless leader casting Fat out of the group. It’s typical masculine, violent John Woo stuff, and it’s fantastic. While Woo would further hone his style, this was a huge smash and turned the cast into stars overnight. It still holds up as an action movie today, with plenty of visceral stunts and slow mo, and a plot which you know will lead to one final nail-biting, gun-pointing conclusion.

7: Blue Velvet (US)

David Lynch’s fourth film saw him returning to what he did best – small town stories told through his unique noir-tinged lens. Eraserhead was his nightmarish vision of this model, The Elephant Man was his Oscar bait big league shot, and Dune was his big budget Mr Hollywood show. Blue Velvet is unfiltered Lynch, writing and directing a story the way he wanted to. Starting out innocently enough – a severed human ear being found by an All American Boy returning to his All American Town – it ramps up into an alien crime drama where seedy truths and shocking violence ooze from the ground. Kyle MachLaclan,  Laura Dern, Isabella Rossellini, Dean Stockwell, and an unhinged Dennis Hopper lead the cast in Lynch’s alluring, horrible fable.

6: Platoon (US)

Arguably Stone’s finest film, and undoubtedly one of the best War movies ever made, Platoon reflects Stone’s own experiences in Vietnam in an uncompromising way, never showering the US troops in the glory they had been used to in prior Cinematic depictions. These soldiers are flawed men in a worthless war, fighting for nothing, and frequently there for nothing more than their own ego or trying simply to survive when death could come at any moment from any side. The war and its fighters are ugly, and as we observe it through Charlie Sheen’s eyes, we are left bruised and battered by the end, having learned or re-learned that old adage of there being no good guys in war, only victims.

5: Police Academy 3 (US)

It’s only on this blog that you can follow a critically revered classic like Platoon with something as worthless as Police Academy 3 – a film I rank higher. You come for the content, and stay for the disbelief. In this entry, the team is tasked with training a batch of new recruits to the Police Academy, knowing that if they fail they’ll be shut down. This leads to the likes of Zed, Fackler’s wife, Sweetchuck, Nogata, and another love interest for Mahoney all signing up and getting into all manner of silly japes. It’s more of the same, and as my comedy brain never matured being the age of 5, it’s perfect.

4: The Fly (US)

David Cronenberg’s crowning achievement, bringing his body horror obsessions to peak grotesque levels in the midst of a steady character based narrative which never feels like it’s slipping out of reach. It would be easy, and unfair, to speak of the visual effects as the star of the show given that Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis both give star-making performances.

3: The Hitcher (US)

The Hitcher, in spite of its remake, remains an underrated film and the very definition of a Cult movie. We get right to the point in the opening minutes, and from there the tension and action doesn’t let up. It’s opaque in its character moments, its story can be taken directly or broken down into complex themes, it has several iconic scenes and set pieces, it has terrific action and a superb performance from Rutger Hauer, and its visual style is as close to what I want a film to look like as it’s possible to be.

2: Big Trouble In Little China (US)

John Carpenter’s ‘All In’ movie. Horror? Sure. Martial arts? Why not? Slapstick comedy? It’d be rude not to. Kurt Russell and a mullet? Obviously. It’s the most successful mish-mash of multiple genres ever committed to screen and one of the most fun movies of the 80s.

1: Aliens (US)

James Cameron knows how to make heart-pumping action, knowing that the key to making us care about the action is to make us care about the characters. We already had an in with Ripley, and we already understood the lore of the universe, so Cameron takes everything else up a notch by pitting Ripley alongside a group of tough-nosed marines who are no match for a colony of Aliens. Cameron has a track record of making perfect sequels – will he keep it up with the new Avatar movie – and Aliens remains a prime example of how to respect an original and take the story to the next level.

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Two

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: One – the winner

The Big Red One – Get Rekt!

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Greetings, Glancers! We continue our journey of re-evaluating my favourite films from every year through the decreased bias inherent to The Nightman Scoring System (c). Today’s pick is my Number 10 from 1980 – Sam Fuller’s War epic The Big Red One. Not a War movie you hear many film fans mention, not one which tends to appear often on Best Of lists. Lets see how it scores.

Sales: 3: It made more than it cost, but was hardly considered a success beyond that. You can’t say it was a flop either, so a 3 seems like the best response.

Chart3: I’m forced to go with a more or less average score for this category given that Chart data isn’t as well documented for film as it is for music. Possibly this is one of those categories which needs to be modified into a new category. I’ll think about it.

Critical Consensus: 3It’s a tricky one – one the one hand it has been name in Best War Movies lists, but fairly low down the list – and critics have generally been positive, though not effusive or overwhelmingly so. The issue is that is it underseen and therefore not universally acclaimed. I’m happy with a 4 here, but 3 feels more accurate.

Director: 5: I’m happy giving a 5 here as it’s probably Fuller’s finest moment. It’s a hard-nosed, hard-boiled war movie which pulls no punches and is based on Fuller’s own experiences of the war. As such, you can’t go in looking for all out action, deep character study, or easy answers, but muddy morals, memorable shots, and gritty realism. I’m good with a 4 or even a 3 here based on your own preferences, but I’m being positive.

Performances3: The three lead actors are the three names you’ll know – Lee Marvin is Lee Marvin, Bobby Carradine has enough room to be charismatic, and Mark Hamill is almost unrecognizable, but everyone else does their job. Nothing is showy, no-one is given the chance to standout, but every one is human.

Music: 2. Pretty generic for the most part, the main theme is standard marching drums but with forgettable melodies. It’s fittingly more sombre than most War movie themes, but that means it doesn’t carry the same emotional musical weight.

Cinematography4: Adam Greenberg had mostly made cheap cash-ins of the Golan brand, but with The Big Red One he branched out leading to bigger films. It’s easy to see why – the Restoration cut of the movie is gorgeous and the photography from Africa to the Omaha landing and into the liberation of the Concentration camps is consistent in towing the line between beauty and chaos.

Writing3: Fuller’s movies are known for ‘showing more than talking’, while remaining thoughtful. The script is serviceable, but if you’re looking for reams of quotable dialogue you won’t find it here.

Wardrobe3: Fairly standard, WWII uniforms, WWI uniforms, and associated era clothing.

Editing3: An average 3 from me – does the job and neither adds much or takes much from the film, lacking some of the editing punch of Fuller’s other films.

Make up and Hair3: Perfectly fine, nothing bad, nothing you’d notice – it’s not that type of film.

Effects3: Your standard War movie fare with snapshot scenes of famous battles with the required effects.

Art and Set: 3: If you compare it with the earlier Apocalypse Now, or perhaps more accurately the later Saving Private Ryan, you can tell those films have a much broader and iconic visual style. Fuller was more into realism and a near docu-style.

Sound: 3: All good.

Cultural Significance: 3: I think 3 is the peak here, given hardly anyone has seen the movie or talks about it today. You can tell it had an influence but War movies, especially WWII movies, mostly disappeared from Cinema for the next 15 years.

Accomplishment4: Fuller gets a lot out of what is a small budget for a film of this scope. It looks and feels like a bigger movie, and revisiting his own past exploits, experiences, and nightmares must have been difficult.

Stunts3: Your standard War movie fare with snapshot scenes of famous battles with the required stunts.

Originality2: I’m being harsh with a 2 here, perhaps. But WWII stories had been around for forty years by this point and there wasn’t much ground which hadn’t been covered. We know War is terrible and Fuller shows that there isn’t much between whichever tribe you find yourself a part of once the bullets start flying.

Miscellaneous: 3: I don’t have much to add in this category – again something which will plague the older films, so I go with the average score.

Personal: 4: 1980 is a weird year for me – even with this being one of my Top Ten movies of the year, I don’t think this is a 5 for me. I love it, but if you compare it with my Number 1 of 1980 – that’s a pure 5.

Total Score: 63/100

A fairly low score perhaps, but it is nevertheless a film everyone should see. Let us know in the comments what you think of The Big Red One!

Village Of The Damned – Get Rekt!

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Welcome back to another tantalizing edition of Get Rekt – the show all your friends are talking about! Today, I’m going to score my 10th favourite movie of 1960, the chilling horror classic Village Of The Damned! Adapted only a few years after John Wyndham’s novel, the excellently named Wolf Rilla introduced us to creepy kids and mind-walls. It’s my favourite screen version of the story, but I’ve always felt it could be updated with more potency.

Sales3: The film made a profit – not a tidy profit, but a profit nonetheless. I’m sure it has made more money over the years with video and DVD sales, but it wouldn’t be classed as any more than a cult hit from a financial perspective.

Chart: 3: Similar to the category above, the film performed well enough for a low budget film wherever it was released.

Critical Consensus5: By and large the film has been positively received since release. There have been sequels and remakes but this remains the definitive version. Nowadays it may not be as effective for modern audiences because so much time has passed – but show this to a younger audience today and it still works. New critics coming to the movie with fresh eyes tend to lavish plenty of praise upon it.

Director4: I’m tempted to just give high marks for Wolf Rilla’s name. Rilla’s background in Television perhaps adds to the low-fi documentary style approach, which in turns aids the murky, stroll through a graveyard at night aura, and his decision to make the film more grounded in English culture certainly helps add a touch of realism. Often mistaken for a Hammer production, it does have certain connotations with that School, but takes a less grandiose approach to its scares. It’s short, effective, punchy, and with enough paranoia and subtext for critics to break it down and analysis.

Performances4: An admirable British cast of lesser known familiar faces serve their purpose – from paranoid husbands to increasingly terrified mothers, and of course a range of creepy kids. Some of the performances seem a little hokey now but I enjoy the majority of the cast.

Music3: Ron Goodwin’s most famous works are of course for his War films, but the score for Village Of The Damned is suitably incessant and mysterious. It’s reminiscent to me of the music used in the original Twilight Zone series – sudden swells of strings, wavering bell and key sounds, and throbbing brass.

Cinematography4: While there isn’t anything obviously impressive going on, again its the holistic approach to the filming – the pastoral countryside and idyllic spaces becoming blocked up in the minds of the inhabitants, the suggestion of a perfect world hiding monsters in plain sight. The opening and closing sequences are the highlights – the sudden collapse of a village without explanation, and an explosion putting to bed the niceties of the 50s as the world topples into a new uncertain future.

Writing3: The dialogue serves the narrative but there’s precious little memorable dialogue here, and there are some concessions made for US audiences which takes the British viewer out of the story momentarily – language which wouldn’t be used in an English town. It’s the overall idea and execution where the screenplay’s strength lies, but the majority of the credit must go to the original text.

Wardrobe4: It’s all authentic, and the vision of the kids in their quaint, mature suits, when coupled with their hair and juxtaposed with the rural attire of their families which heightens their otherness.

Editing4: Gripping and effective, especially in the scenes of violence, action, and in the final encounter as David tried to break down his ‘father’s’ mental wall.

Make up and Hair4: Great work in these departments to make sure that the kids are some of the creepiest and most iconic ever seen on screen.

Effects4: From flashing eyes to crashing cars and explosions, there’s a fair amount of effects work for a small budget film which few expected to perform as well as it did. I could take a 3 on this, but I think the work is more than competent.

Art and Set3: Filmed in Studio but also on location, both give an accurate portrayal of quaint English life shaken by the big bad outside world.

Sound3: Nothing noteworthy.

Cultural Significance4: The film is maybe more well remembered now than the book. The film led to a sequel, a remake, a TV series, and any number of references in everything from The Simpsons to Silent Hill.

Accomplishment4: The film was made for chills and unnerving scares, and it succeeds. Again, it’s not as impactful now as it would have been then, but we can hardly discredit those involved for that.

Stunts3: The few main stunt sequences are handled well.

Originality4. The book was written in Sci-Fi’s modern Golden Age – the time of Nuclear and Alien fears, and both are discussed. The film is another straight enough adaptation and while it’s not the first movie with creepy kids or paranoia caused by creatures from outer space or Science gone rogue, it’s one of the most effective.

Miscellaneous: 3: Nothing much to add here – the trailer is standard for the time, and the posters are fun.

Personal5: I’ve always loved unnerving, atmospheric films where the main characters have zero clue what is happening. With this being one I saw many moons ago and having an impact, there’s a nostalgic bias on my behalf. Watching with well versed eyes it’s clear to see how potent and taut it remains given the constraints on budget and technology.

Total: 74/100

Kidz! Kidz!! This movie has scary kidz, fighting against authority! Why wouldn’t you want to watch it?!? Having seen the ‘low’ score which Les Enfants Terribles received, 74 seems accurate. It’s going to be difficult for any movie to get into the mid 80s I would say. Let us know in the commentz what your take on the movie is, and share your score breakdown! Get Rekt!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 1987!

20: A Chinese Ghost Story (HK)

Regular Glancers will know I grew up with Bruce Lee movies, and as such I would hunt out anything which sounded like it would have people knocking seven Tibetan shades of shite out of each other. If it had a Horror element – even better! I didn’t know what to make of A Chinese Ghost Story when I first watched it – was it going to be a straight horror movie, was it going to feature zany kung fu masters tackling creatures from Chinese folklore I had zero experience of? It’s all of those things, none of those things, and more. It’s weird. It’s funny. It has a love story. It has trees. It features the gorgeous Joey Wong and the legendary Leslie Cheung in some of their most famous work. It’s one of Tsui Hark’s best movies. It stars Cheung as a nobody, a debt collector who happens to stumble into a rural temple to find somewhere to sleep, falls in love with a tortured ghost, and tried to rescue her soul from Hell. It’s not the first movie to start with in your Hong Kong Cinema journey, but it should be one of the first ten.

19: Withnail And I (UK)

You’ll have seen from my Least Favourite Movies posts, that I’m not a fan of British Comedies. TV shows – absolutely – we’re the best in the world in that regard, but when it comes to movies the reliance on self-titled quirky characters and romance leaves me cold. As with anything there are exceptions – Withnail And I being a prime example. There’s no attempt to hold a sign over a character’s head to scream ‘I’m the quirky one’, there’s no romance in the traditional sense. It’s just two blokes heading away for a weekend in the country so they can get drunk and moan about being actors. Japes occur. It’s all about the performances and the dialogue. It looks (purposefully) shit, the soundtrack is great, and it barely has an ending or a plot, but it’s brilliant.

18: City On Fire (HK)

There was a decided turn in the 1980s away from period action movies, costume and history oriented martial arts fare, towards contemporary, gun based action. Tarantino famously borrowed several scenes and pieces of dialogue from City On Fire, a Ringo Lam movie starring Chow Yun Fat as an undercover cop who infiltrates a gang of robbers and ends up in a Mexican Standoff in a warehouse, with police surrounding them outside. Sound familiar? It doesn’t have the quirks and cools and non-linear framing of Reservoir Dogs, but it has Chow Yun Fat and a tonne of action and energy. It was one of a series of the heroic bloodshed type movies which came out of HK in this era, and is one of the best.

17: Planes, Trains, And Automobiles (US)

Likely to be the only Steve Martin vehicle to grace any of my Favourites lists, this one succeeds because of John Hughes, John Candy, and in spite of Martin. Who, to his credit, is fine but plays the same plain white bread guy he always does. Thanksgiving doesn’t mean shit to anyone outside of the US, so I always viewed this as a Christmas movie. Chicago in November looks like Christmas anyway. As its John Candy you can expect lots of zany laughs, and as it’s Hughes you know you’re in for an offbeat heart-warming tale.

16: Good Morning, Vietnam (US)

Robin Williams, letting rip, completely off the leash.

15: The Princess Bride (US)

I always start any conversation about The Princess Bride by saying I’m not its biggest fan – mainly because there are those who worship the thing. I like it, it’s great, but there are better movies, and I have more favourites – many more this year alone. I love the story in a story nature of it, and it’s another in a line of excellent fantasy oriented kids movies which don’t feel like they are patronising its intended audience. While much of the humour also suits adults, it’s still not a movie for that age range. It’s strong enough, funny enough, well acted and written enough to be enjoyed by all ages, but at its heart it’s an escapist adventure movie for lonely kids.

14: The Living Daylights (UK)

A lesser loved Bond movie, Dalton led the series into its grittiest, darkest period, many years before Zack Snyder misinterpreted overlong running times and blue tints for emotion. Dalton’s Bond may have still quipped, may have still got the ladies, but he was doing a job for Queen and Country, his humour of the gallows, a defence mechanism of being exposed to death and mayhem in all its ugly forms. In The Living Daylights, Bond is embroiled in a Soviet Tug of War, and ends up faffing about in a Cargo plane in Afghanistan. It’s not the most exciting story in the series and it’s unlikely to be anyone’s favourite, but it sets the darker tone, re-establishes the formula, and gives Dalton a chance to shine.

13: Lethal Weapon (US)

A number of genres, in their own way, signify the 1980s. The Buddy Cop movie is one of those, and Lethal Weapon is probably the most famous of the genre, establishing and cementing cliches, the laughs, the action, and the ‘buddiness’. Gibson is the unhinged wildcard set alongside Glover’s close to retirement, by the book veteran. Together, they investigate the apparent suicide of one of Glover’s friend’s daughters. Initially wary of each other, their respect and relationship grows, and jokes and action, and a fair amount of introspection and darkness pours out. It’s one of those movies which epitomises the decade – over the top, big budget thrills, violent, fun, stylized, but it’s the script and the cast which make it memorable above the pretenders.

12: Full Metal Jacket (US/UK)

Stanley Kubrick takes on War again, and again crafts a seminal piece of Cinema. Similar to Westerns, I wasn’t into War movies in my youth, feeling too stilted and macho but lacking any flair or action. Full Metal Jacket was one of those movies, along with The Great Escape and Platoon, to wise me up. It would become the archetype of many movies to come – not merely in the War genre – dividing into two distinct parts with a bootcamp/training section, and a battle/War section. There’s more to it, but that’s one of the most famous aspects of the film which people continue to bring up. The Dirty Dozen had done something similar two decades earlier, but Kubrick uses both to show the horror of the institution over and above the horrors of war. Supremely acted, written, and directed, it’s one of the most must see movies of the decade.

11: Evil Dead 2 (US)

A sequel, remake, and one of those in-betweeny things, Raimi, Campbell, and fans return to up the ante and double down on the slapstick humour of the first movie. What it loses in scares, it makes up for gore effects, and Raimi continues with his inventive camera techniques and visceral insanity. One of the great ‘modern’ horror movies.

10: The Untouchables (US)

Somehow such an underrated film, especially when weighed up alongside the big boys like Goodfellas and The Godfather, which I have always felt deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as those. De Niro is hamming it up and having the time of his life, Kevin Costner is melting hearts as a moral, upstanding husband, daddy, and good guy, Sssshean Connery is the grandad, and Andy Garcia is fucking awesome as always. Charles Martin Smith is at his best, Billy Drago is one of Cinema’s finest henchmen, the soundtrack is excellent, the suits are on point, but it’s DePalma’s movie; he cranks up the tension, controls the mood and tempo, and ensures that it’s a film about family as much as, but in a vastly different way from, The Godfather and Goodfellas are.

9: Hellraiser (UK)

Arguably the film which has come closest to showing us what a nightmare looks and feels like. Hellraiser, like much of Barker’s work, is about ideas; Barker’s worlds and words are brimming with ideas, invention, puzzles, and dubious morality – a constant ebb and flow between opposing, looping factions. Hellraiser concerns a family moving into a new home and resurrecting the bloody corpse of a murderous relative who wishes to continue from where he left off, exploring the darkest desires of humanity for his own enjoyment. Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for us, there are others beyond our world who enjoy pleasure and pain more than he, and take great delight at dragging it out of his flesh. It’s such a grime and dirt ridden, low-budget film that it’s extraordinary just how extraordinary it looks. The cast look like they’ve survived a Tim Burton dream he was too scared to finish, the Cenobites are a fantastic inclusion to the Horror world, and it’s bloody, bleak, and beautiful in its own horrific way.

8: The Running Man (US)

One of Arnie’s more maligned movies – it’s neither the big action smash of Predator nor the family friendly fun of Twins, but it’s somewhere in between, a loose adaptation of Stephen King’s nihilistic tale of a broken society, interspersed by James Bond one-liners. An early Battle Royale. It’s a future where gameshows and TV are still the primary form of entertainment, but rather than winning a million quid by answering questions (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire), or gaining adoration for being a racist sex hungry asshole (Big Brother), society has regressed to a more bloodthirsty, gladiatorial time. Criminals (guilty or otherwise) are thrown into an expansive game arena and pitted against a variety of games and fan-favourite warriors in a literal game to the death.

It’s such a lot of fun – the one-liners, the costumes, the cast, the idea of all these muscle-bound boyos duking it out for freedom or the adoration of the baying crowd. There’s an epic head explosion in the early moments, there’s Richard Dawson hamming it up, and there’s such an ugly 80s coke-fuelled haze over it – wonderful stuff. You just know when they remake it, they’re going to take all of the fun out.

7: Dream Warriors (US)

Speaking of fun, Dream Warriors is the most entertaining film in the Elm Street franchise. We largely ignore the events of the second movie, and instead re-unite cast members from the original with a new breed of tormented kids. Freddy is back, and he’s stalking the kids of some kind of medical/psychiatric institution. Nancy learns of this and comes back to finish off Krueger once and for all. While the first movie introduced the idea of a killer attacking you in your sleep, Dream Warriors doubles down on the dream logic of fighting back – in your dreams you can be a super-powered version of yourself and therefore the kids each use their own strengths and character traits to go on the offensive. Patricia Arquette and Lawrence Fishbourne appear, Langenkamp and Saxon return, and of course Englund is on top form. It’s inventive in its look and effects, is peppered with one-liners and interesting ideas, and it moves it a rip-roaring pace. It’s not exactly haunting or scary in the same way as the first movie was, but what it lacks in scares it makes up for in action.

6: Citizens On Patrol (US)

I’m an unashamed Police Academy fan. As a Cinema fan, they’re not exactly high art, and outside of the first film they’re barely coherent entertainment. But I love them. COP is my favourite sequel, giving us more of the original bunch, the return of Harris, more Zed, and fun new characters. It’s ridiculously silly, but there are more laugh out loud moments here for me, than probably every comedy released in the last ten years. It’s a capsule to my childhood, it’s nostalgic outside of my own experiences, and it’s good old fashioned summery, carefree Hollywood escapism.

5: Prince Of Darkness (US)

It’s in my TTT John Carpenter’s post

4: Near Dark (US)

TT Of The Decade.

3: The Lost Boys (US)

TT Of The Decade.

2: Predator (Top Ten Of All Time) (US)

TT Of The Decade.

1: Robocop (Top Ten Of All Time) (US)

TT Of The Decade.

Let us know your favourites in the comments!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 1988!

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: They Live (US)

It’s the one John Carpenter movie which I feel gets more hype than it deserves. It’s still my tenth favourite film of the year, but it would be lower down my list of favourite Carpenter films, which says a lot for the quality of his work and my love for it. While still prescient today, and while stoutly anti-Reagan and anti-Republican, it’s one of those films whose message can be, and has been, twisted by individuals and organizations of any persuasion. Or you can simply view it as Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David knocking several shades of shite out of each other while keeping a shaded eye on Alien shenanigans.

9: Hellraiser 2 (US/UK)

It’s not as immediately arresting as the first movie, but it builds upon the mysterious world we only glimpsed in part 1, and remains one of the most visually inventive horror movies of the decade which pushed the boundary for what devilish delights could be realised on screen. It follows more or less directly from the first movie, with Kirsty committed to a psychiatric hospital and begging that the doctor’s destroy all evidence of what happened to prevent the Cenobites (and anyone else) from returning. Unfortunately, she happens to have been committed to the one hospital in the world, and be in the care of the one doctor in the world, who has awareness of The Lament Configuration and wants to experience its delights and torments for himself.

It’s best to not think about the plot too much and just follow it like you’re in the grip of a particularly vivid and violent nightmare. It’s great to see the old gang back together from Part 1, and it’s interesting just how much the film has in common with Dream Warriors. It’s another bizarre and bloody descent into Barker’ peculiar brand of Hell, but sadly the last film in the neverending Hellraiser series that’s worth watching.

8: Bloodsport (US)

One of JCVD’s breakout hits, and one of those movies I slipped into the basket when we were picking up VHSs to rent back in the day. Contentiously based on the real life events of Frank Dux it follows Van Damme (as Dux), a soldier with a Martial Arts background who goes AWOL so that he can join an underground, illegal Martial Arts tournament. He makes friends with a Yank, becomes entangled with a reporter, is followed by Forest Whitaker, and invites the rage of Bolo Yeung. The highlights are of course the fights – your typical 80s Western Martial Arts one to one fodder, but spiced up by the talent on display.

7: Akira (Japan)

Arguably still the greatest Japanese animated movie ever, and undoubtedly one of the most influential animated films of all time, Akira remains a jaw-dropping and mind-boggling experience. While bloody, violent, stylized, confusing, and sometimes overly kinetic, Akira is a film everyone should experience at least once. The plot isn’t easy to condense into a couple of lines, but it involves feuding biker gangs in the aftermath of World War 3, set in Neo-Tokyo after the original Tokyo was wiped out. When one of the gang members is arrested by shady Government types, his friends attempt to rescue him but uncover a world of extra-sensory science experiments which could not only claim their friend’s life, but also end all life on the planet as we know it. A hallucinatory trip, with pounding music and visuals speeding by like a bullet, Akira still feels like one of a kind four decades later.

6: Twins (US)

Putting the world’s biggest action star alongside one of America’s funniest men may have sounded strange at the time, but the charm of both stars feeding an endearing relationship, wrapped up inside a silly yet heart-warming story, mean that Twins is an easy, enjoyable watch for any generation. Arnie shows fine comedic chops while Devito brings the pizazz, the two starring as twins separated at birth – Arnie ‘getting all the good genes’ – the strength, the looks, the height, and intelligence, along with an exotic wealthy upbringing, while Devito got everything else. Arnie sets out to find his long lost street crook brother, and so kicks off a cross-country journey for their mutual past while outrunning a bunch of hapless criminals. It’s a lot of fun.

5: Young Guns (US)

The Western has never really been the young man’s genre. Sure, kids back in the early days of Cinema would have loved the sweeping vistas and tales of macho manliness, but once you hit adolescence you become jaded and horny and look for other forms of entertainment. Stagnant for at least a decade, the Western had fallen out of favour with general audience too, outside of the odd Clint Eastwood update – enter the Brat Pack with their Revisionist take on the Billy The Kid legend. Suddenly, Cowboys were cool again – young, human, but with a modern outlook of happy go lucky cynicism as exemplified by a spirited Emilio Estevez and his pals – Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips etc. It was the movie which got me into Westerns after avoiding them as boring old man fare, and it’s still one of a limited number of Westerns I return to over and over.

4: Heathers (US)

Another wonderful vehicle for Christian Slater and Winona Ryder, Heathers is one of the greatest anti-hero teen movies. While Ryder would go grom strength to strength, Slater’s stardom would burn out somewhat, although he has made various credible returns in recent years. Heathers remains some of their finest work, starring as a jaded, murderous young couple sick of the popular kids, sick of the grind, sick of life. At once a satire of popularity, cliques, and anti-heroes, Heathers is a delightful slice of non-PC cynicism, featuring performances from familiar faces such as Glenn Shadix, Penelope Milford, and Shannon Doherty.

3: Willow (US)

It’s always been a mystery why Willow has not remained as popular as it once was. Now we’re getting a Disney Plus reboot, so perhaps that will breathe some life back into a wonderful, almost Star Wars adjacent universe. Written by George Lucas and with some game-changing visuals for the time, Willow follows Warwick Davis as an aspiring Sorcerer who takes guardianship of a baby. Not just any baby, but a baby who’s life is in danger by the ruthless Warlord Queen Bavmorda due to a prophecy which states that the child will bring her rein to and end.

2: Die Hard (US)

Covered in my Favourite Films Of The 80s post

1: Beetlejuice. (US)

Covered in my Favourite Films Of The 80s post

Let us know in the comments what your favourite films of 1988 are!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 1989!

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!

In reading through my list again, I realised there are a few movies I somehow missed including or mentioning before. Black Rain is in my Top Tony/Ridley Scott list, Blue Steel is an underrated thriller, Three Fugitives is an underrated comedy, Renegades is one of my favourite buddy cop movies.

10: The Killer (HK)

Maybe the first John Woo film I ever saw, like many it opened my eyes to a new world of Action cinema. Growing up I was mainly exposed to Hollywood’s muscle bound Action heroes and Asia’s Martial Arts masters, but John Woo came along and created a bridge between the two, offering sardonic, stylish, conflicted protagonists who were just as deadly with their fists as they were with a handgun. Action isn’t treated like a series of explosions, but like a choreographed dance for maximum emotional impact. Like many of Woo’s early movies, it pits one man against another in a sort of cat and mouse formula, and masculinity is dissected. Chow Yun Fat is an assassin trying to get out of the business, but he accidentally injures a singer in his last job and falls in love with her. Danny Lee is the detective on his trail and becomes obsessed with The Killer, while Shing Fui-on is the Triad boss pulling all of the strings and acting as the central big bad. It’s a more condensed and small scale experience than earlier works like A Better Tomorrow, and his balletic approach would be perfected in upcoming films such as Hard Boiled and Face/Off, but it’s still a smooth, stylish, bullet crazed watch.

9: Uncle Buck (US)

One of the seminal movies of the great John Candy, and probably the one I was most familiar with growing up. Candy stars as the titular Uncle who is tasked with looking after his nieces and nephew and has somewhat unorthodox measures. It has its madcap moments, but it’s still a John Hughes movie, meaning a lot of heart, modern family values, and plenty of guttural belly laughs.

8: Born On The Fourth Of July (US)

The movie which should have seen Tom Cruise win his Oscar, Born On The Fourth Of July is Oliver Stone dealing with the aftermath of Vietnam from a veteran’s perspective. It’s a gripping performance and watching it now we’re reminded that Cruise is capable of powerful dramatic performances when he’s not leaping out of airplanes as he trying to complete impossible missions. Based on the life of Ron Kovic, the film follows his life from childhood, to his horrific experiences in Vietnam, and to the months and years after as he became an activist. Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, and John C McGinley join Stone again after Platoon, albeit in much smaller parts, and the surrounding cast including Kyra Sedgwick, Frank Whaley, and Lili Taylor put in memorable performances.

7: Kiki’s Delivery Service (Japan)

I think this is my favourite Ghibli movie. Naturally, Miyazaki directs and writes, and Joe Hisashi brings another lovely score. It’s not the most riveting or outlandish or visually adventurous Ghibli movie, but it’s sweet, evokes a lot of feelings, and creates a charming world you would love to spend more time in. It’s also a film about growing up, about finding your place in the world, through the lens of a young girl who happens to be a Witch, heading off on her own for the first time and setting up a delivery service thanks to her flying ability. It does that Ghibli thing of perfectly capturing a specific mood and is as close to capturing the atmosphere of a Legend Of Zelda game as any movie I’ve seen, even though narratively the two have little in common. It’s simply a beautiful experience.

6: See No Evil, Hear No Evil (US)

One of the lesser known entries for both Pryor and Wilder, it’s nevertheless my favourite film by either performer… Brewster’s Millions and Willy Wonka maybe on another day. It’s utterly ludicrous, vaguely offensive, and our two stars are on fine form. I’ve said this many times over the decades – I’ve never been much of a Kevin Spacey fan (seems I was right all along) but this is his best performance. I’m willing to die on that hill. It’s the ridiculous story of a blind man (Pryor) and a deaf man (Wilder) who become friends and are embroiled in a murder case. Japes follow. Many, many japes. I know it’s not clever (except when it is) or sophisticated, but there’s just something about these two actors playing equally bemused characters getting into stupid situations and causing chaos for everyone they meet that I find endlessly hilarious and endearing.

5: Licence To Kill (US/UK)

It’s a shame Dalton didn’t get to squeeze in one more Bond film before Brosnan took over – he’s probably the best actor to ever wield the PPK, and he took the series in an interesting direction. This is a better film overall than The Living Daylights, and you feel Dalton was just hitting his stride. It was the most grisly and dark Bond film upon release, bolstered by two slimy performances by Benicio Del Toro and Robert Davi and has one of the series most exhilarating finales.

4: Pet Sematary (US)

Speaking of grisly, Mary Lambert brought Stephen King’s darkest and most upsetting novel to the big screen, not shying away from the horrors of death, grief, and resurrection. Interestingly, it’s the supporting cast who steal the limelight from the two leads – Fred Gwynne iconic as Jud, and Miko Hughes on Oscar worthy form as the ill fated Gage. In case you’re unaware of the story, it follows a family moving to rural Maine, their farmhouse on the side of a particularly busy road, and how they cope with first the loss of the family pet and then something far more devastating. It turns out that an ancient burial ground behind the house as the power of resurrection… but sometimes dead is better. It doesn’t match the sheer bleak emotional power of the novel, but it gets closer to the bone than most horror movies, and there isn’t a shred of light to be found anywhere.

3: Back To The Future Part II  (US)

It’s not as good as the first, but it’s damn close. It does that second act thing which annoys me in most films, of having the main character fall out with his friends/go down a darker path – this all takes place in the alternate boss Biff future, but aside from that minor personal thing it’s a wonderful adventure. The cast is back to together, the story and sets all blend seamlessly with Part 1, and every single performer is at the top of their game. I love all the hoverboard and 3D shark action, plenty of jokes and humour, and it’s all done in such a way that viewers of any age can enjoy it. They don’t make them like this anymore.

2: Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure (US)

There’s something more pure and original and fun about this first Bill & Ted movie which the second one lacks somewhat. I love them both, but this is the superior outing. Hell, it even has a sequence in a waterpark, what’s not to love. It’s quotable, the supporting cast and characters are fun Reeves and Winter and Carlin are most excellent, and the story is shamelessly silly – two aspiring musicians and otherwise no hopers are thrust back in time in order to learn about history so that they can pass history class. If they don’t, the very future of mankind is under threat. To Metal and Grunge fan younger me, this was my Gospel.

1: Batman (US)

It’s in my Top Movies Of The 80s post.

Let us know your favourite movies of 1989 in the comments!

Nightman’s Updated Top Twenty Movies Of 1990!

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!

20: Boiling Point (Japan) Takeshi Kitano

Takeshi Kitano comes into his own with another unusual mixture of losers, comedy, and violence, a film where he begins to experiment with what it means to be a director and storyteller. It’s not the easiest gateway into Japanese cinema, but in Kitano you have an established star and unique voice.

19: La Femme Nikita (France) Luc Besson

Luc Besson had made waves in the 1980s with a number of experimental movies but with La Femme Nikita he became a name to be reckoned with. It’s the story of a teenage criminal who kills a cop after her friends are killed during a robbery gone wrong. Facing a life in prison, she is recruited by a shadowy organization and trained as an assassin. The film’s beats feel cliche now, but while they were not exactly new then, they are done with a speed and style and have been mimicked by Hollywood for decades – we watch Nikita train, become skilled, disciplined, distant, then meet a stranger and fall in love, then balance botched missions and dreaming of a normal life. It almost single-handedly rejuvenated interest in France as a Country capable of making genre films. Anne Parillaud, Jean Reno, Tcheky Karyo, and Jeanne Moreau are familiar faces helping the film succeed.

18: The Witches (UK/US) Nicholas Roeg

I loved Roald Dahl when I was growing up, and I loved anything horror related. Roald Dahl making a more or less straight (family friendly) horror story and film was the perfect storm for me. I had no idea who Nicholas Roeg was until much later, but he strikes me now as an interesting choice for the studio to make, and the film an interesting project for him to tackle. I remember the first time I watched this – in school – but it was turned off during the unmasking scene because a number of girls started crying. Good times. Hell, another childhood hero in Mr Bean shows up! I haven’t seen the remake at time of writing, but I imagine it will be tough to beat the fun and frights of this one.

17: Dances With Wolves (US) Kevin Costner

Costner knows how to make an epic. What a great debut film. It’s gorgeous, has a great score, may be somewhat overlong but remains engaging as all epics with the balls to have a three hour running time should be.

16: Awakenings (US) Penny Marshall

A still sadly underseen and undervalued film by everyone – Penny Marshall fans, Robin Williams fans, Robert De Niro fans, film fans in general, and those who don’t know any better. The film was extremely well reviewed at the time and got nominations for Best Picture and Best Actor, but has since fallen by the wayside. It’s a gripping, moving, true (ish) story of a doctor’s experiment treatment on patients in a comatose state, with Robins as the Doctor and De Niro as one of his patients who ‘wakes’ from an unresponsive state and tries to resume a normal life. It’s one of the best examples of Williams taking on a non-comedic role, and something different for De Niro too.

15: The Godfather Part 3 (US) Francis Ford Coppolla

We know it’s not as good as Part 1 or 2. Possibly if Part 3 had come shortly after Part 2, but then it would have been a very different story. The Godfather Part 3 is still a more enjoyable and more impressive experience than 90% of what you’ll watch this year. Andy Garcia is a strong addition, Sofia less so even if the amount of criticism directed at her is mostly unfounded, and Pacino is as wonderful as ever.

14: Ghost (US) Jerry Zucker

Ghost is a romance. But when I saw it as a kid, I viewed it as a horror movie. Sure it had kissing and jokes and uncomfortable pottery, but it’s the story of a dude who is brutally murdered and has to somehow prevent his wife from being killed or being touched by the slimy meatball who was responsible for his own death. It also features one of the most creepy death scenes in film history (or two given the same creatures claim two victims). You see, in this movie, when you die you might be trapped on Earth and forced to watch the world go by in a limbo state as you struggle to not fall through the floor… or, if you were a naughty boy, you get dragged to Hell by horrific, howling, shadowy nightmares. It’s a weird departure for a dude known for incredibly zany comedies. Everyone here is great, with Goldberg stealing the show. But it’s those shadows, their howls, those will stay with you until… well, until the moment they come for you.

13: Another 48 Hours (US) Walter Hill

A sequel that’s just as much fun as the original, mainly because Walter Hill, Nick Nolte, and Eddie Murphy all return. If you didn’t enjoy the original you won’t like this, if you like the original then this is more of the same. In fact, most of the (mostly) justified criticism of the film is because the film was chopped to pieces before release, with at least 30 minutes of material cut which would have reinstated characters from the first film, expanded on the motivation of others, and filled in many of the plot holes. None of that mattered to a younger me – all I wanted was more buddy cop violence and banter, and that’s what we’re left with.

12: Misery (US) Rob Reiner

Before Mike Flanagan there was Frank Darabont; before Darabont there was Garris; before Garris there was Reiner. Rob Reiner made two bona fide classic Stephen King classics before descending into romantic comedy debauchery. There’s no romance here, except in Annie’s head, and there are precious few laughs. Instead we have a King proxy tied to a bed, being subject to repeated mental and physical torture from a deranged fan. Cann and Bates are a fearsome partnership and Lauren Bacall and Richard Farnsworth appear. It holds a couple of important, yet depressing distinctions – it’s one of the few times a Horror film and Horror performance has been recognised by The Academy, and it’s the only film based on a Stephen King work to have ever won an Oscar.

11: Arachnophobia (US) Frank Marshall

I hate spiders, but I love spiders? I love how they terrify people, I love the job they perform, and I love how impossible they are, but I also hate that they exist and often exist in my house. I also love movies with spiders in them, either as a random appearance or as some kind of antagonist. These movies are almost always terrible… but spiders! Arachnophobia is like Jaws but with spiders, which is sort of similar to saying Jaws is like Die Hard, but with drunk fishermen. A new species of spider, highly venomous and aggressive, is found in Venezuela and hitches a ride back to the good old US of Hicktown. Jeff Daniels has just moved in with his family – he’s terrified of spiders, but luckily there’s only house spiders in this part of the world. That is, until the Queen gets her end away with one of the local homeboys and spurts out hundreds of murderous little fucks who begin picking off the town’s caricatures. Julian Sands has a ponytail. John Goodman has bug spray. It’s great. You’ll laugh your ass off, then shriek cos a bit of dust moved in the corner of your room.

10: Kindergarten Cop (US) Ivan Reitman

Covered in my TTT Arnie movies.

9: Young Guns II (US) Geoff Murphy

A sequel every bit as fun as the original, another terrific cast, soundtrack, and with the added bonus emotional beats. The main gang are still electric and while the whole ‘I’m Billy The Kid’ thing never sat well with me, for the longest time this and its predecessor were the only Westerns I could watch; they’re still up there with my favourites.

8: Mermaids (US) Richard Benjamin

You’ll know from my Least Favourite Movies lists that I’m not a Romantic Comedy guy. That’s not necessarily because I’m against the format, more that the results of said format are generally bad. They offer me nothing on a personal level. Mermaids, if it can truly be classed as a Romantic comedy, is an exception. I’d class it as a Coming Of Age movie, but at the heart of the story is the romance between Cher and Bob Hoskins, and the conflict it causes Cher’s family. Regardless of what it is, it’s delightful. Cher’s best film performance, Winona Ryder and Christina Ricci together in the same movie (both at their best), kick-ass soundtrack, and spoke to me as an alienated youngster.

7: Tremors (US) Ron Underwood

One of the most purely entertaining, fun monster movies ever made. It knows what it is and doubles down on the charm of the genre. It wouldn’t be so much fun if it weren’t for the writing and the chemistry between the cast members. If you’ve seen any of the Tremors sequels – they’re still fun, still silly, but the writing and chemistry are lacking. You know what it is, right? Man eating worms attack a middle of nowhere town, and it’s down to a couple of resourceful manual workers, a plucky seismologist, and a couple of gun totin’ firearms fans to save the day. It’s a throwback, a gateway horror movie, and somehow timeless even if some of the squishy effects aren’t as impressive as they were in 1990.

6: Wild At Heart (US) David Lynch

I talk about it more in my TTT David Lynch post, but this is an underrated, manic entry in the Lynch canon.

5: Total Recall (US) Paul Verhoeven

Discussed in TTT Arnie movies.

4: Home Alone (US) Chris Columbus

A massive hit, brought Culkin to the big time, and is a must watch every Christmas. The perfect movie for a boy like me when it was released, and that boy never really grew up even if he is old enough to watch it with his own kids now. Few more entertaining Christmas movies than this.

3: Goodfellas (US) Martin Scorsese

I don’t think I’ve done a TTT Scorsese post yet, but this would be at or near the top. In terms of Crime/Mafia movies I’d still rate The Godfather 1 and higher, but this is in with a shout as the best of that genre. Gripping stories, chilling violence, quotable script, excellent performances, and Scorsese at the top of his game.

2: Problem Child (US) Dennis Dugan

In my Top Movies Of Decade post.

1: Edward Scissorhands (US) Tim Burton

In my top movies of the decade post.

Let us know your favourite movies of 1991 in the comments!