I’m happy to say that this here blog is now read by dozens…literally dozens of actual, literal human beings. One of my responsibilities, nay…one of my dearest pleasures is turning people on to stuff they might not have fancied, like pomades and fashion or chicks from eighties movies. And I figured now was as good a time as any to let you in on a few of the greatest movies of all time. Of all time. (Get used to italics, because I’m in a slanty-typin’ mood, bitches.)
I also need to clarify something right away. When I say “greatest movies of all time” I do NOT mean “best movies of all time.” Not even close, in some cases. But they are movies that when I find myself flipping channels and stumble across them, I’m hooked. Done, for the duration. Don’t care if there’s only twenty minutes (including commercials) left in the damned showing. I’m not going anywhere. And to be even more accurate in my description, some of these flicks are what many reviewers would term “absolute crap.” But they’re so very dear to me. So here’s your assignment, class: watch each and every one of these before the end of the month. Already seen ’em all? Watch ’em AGAIN, damn you! In no particular order, then…
Big Trouble in Little China
This is the first of two John Carpenter-Kurt Russell collaborations on my list. And easily the most-quotable. Carpenter and leading man Kurt Russell did some amazing things in the 80’s, like “Escape From New York.” In fairness, they also did “Escape From LA” so nobody’s perfect. But this movie is so goddam epic, it inspired at least one major video game character. True. Ever play Mortal Kombat? You know Raiden (or later “Rayden”)? The guy in the coolie hat that wields lightning? The designers of that game admitted that they designed the character after one of the Three Storms in Big Trouble in Little China. Did you know that WWE superstar CM Punk wore Jack Burton’s famous Chinese-motif tank top into the ring for the Halloween 2011 RAW SuperShow? The point is, the influences for this gem, which only grossed $11 million at the box office (it cost $25 million to make) reverberate to this day. There is no cooler idiot than Russell’s Jack Burton, and no better blend of over-the-top Asian martial arts and truck-driving, mulleted hilarity. Own it if you can.
Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man
People complain about product placement in modern films, but Jesus, this whole damned MOVIE was essentially a commercial for motorcycles and cigarettes. I mean, it’s in the stinkin’ TITLE!! Except that Don Johnson’s character doesn’t even smoke, even though he has a cigarette dangling from his mouth through most of the movie. This one was more of a box-office disappointment than “…Little China” making only $7 million in 1991. That’s not a typo. Not seventeen million. Seven million. Ouch. But, like the previous movie on this list, it found a cult following thanks to DVD and Spike TV. Set in the then-future of 1996, the world is a mess. The ozone layer is depleted, gas is $4 a gallon, and there’s a new drug on the streets being peddled by Tom Sizemore. Damn, if they’d only pushed it back another ten years, the movie would be scarily accurate. Anyway, it’s got great one-liners, Mickey Rourke, and Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.” ‘Nuff said.
If there’s a movie on this list that you’ve likely seen, it’s this one. So go watch it again already. I’ll just leave you with this: UTAH! GET ME TWO!!
Technically, the full title is “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eight Dimension.” See, they figured this would be a smash and they’d have a whole franchise of Peter Weller not being Robocop and instead running all over Earth, time, and the heavens like a super-powered Doctor Who only with a jet car instead of some lame police call box. They were wrong. Pity, that. Why is Weller’s Buckaroo one of my personal heroes? Um, he’s a brilliant physicist, neurosurgeon, and rock band frontman. SUCK IT, BRUCE WAYNE!! Clancy Brown, Jeff Goldblum, John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd, a cameo by Yakov Smirnoff and another by Billy Fucking Vera and the amazing legs of Ellen Barkin (her red dress is proof that God loves us)…there’s nothing not to like about this movie. It’s a lot to assimilate all at once, and yes, it’s hard sometimes to tell if it’s a straight-up parody or an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink tour de force. Doesn’t matter. When you’ve got lines like “Evil, pure and simple, from the Right Dimension!” you just roll with it.
One of the best science-fiction scary movies ever. EVER. Between 1979’s “Alien” and 1982’s “The Thing” science fiction did what it does best. Not commenting on the cold, vast emptiness of space and what wonders might be found there, but on real-life issues, like the then very real Cold War paranoia that affected everyone in the United States. This John Carpenter masterpiece works on every level, from Ennio Morricone’s (NOT, for once, Carpenter himself’s) theme music…a steady thrumming that builds tension from start to finish…to the old-school special effects by Rob Bottin which not only hold up well today, they’re actually more frightening than the CGI crap you see nowadays. If you can, watch this film in the middle of a blizzard at night. Fuck, that’s good.