Sunday, October 25, 2015

THE DEAD (1987), ROBOCOP (1987)

Robocop-One of the big movie events of 1987 for me was Paul Verhooven's Robocop, the story of a Detroit police officer who is killed (almost) and is revived as a super cyborg cop who cleans up the city. The Wikipedia article on this film points out some of the themes, "media influence, gentrification, corruption, authoritarianism, greed, privitation, capitalism, identity, dystopia and human nature." That's all true, but I would add to this list "really cool scenes where things blow up!" I still like Robocop for many of the reasons stated above after seeing it again, though I can't say the same for Robocop II. But I did like the newer Robocop from 2014. It had the basics elements of the first film, but made enough changes to make it distinctive in its own right. But I'll still go with the original if you're making me choose.

John Huston's The Dead
The Dead-A movie from 1987 where nothing blows up (except for emotions) is John Huston's The Dead, based on a James Joyce story (Robocop is not based on a James Joyce story). You've really got to use the non-Robocop side of your brain to watch The Dead. It has the ring of those Merchant-Ivory films and is a pretty good emotional drama, if you're in the mood for it. If you aren't, just watch Robocop again.

It's not quite like any other John Huston I can remember. But is there a typical John Huston film? From a career that went The Maltese Falcon to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre to The Asphalt Jungle to The Man Who Would Be King to Wise Blood, The Dead represents the last act from one of the most significant directors of the 20th century. 

Robocop and The Dead both made the list of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, but most movies from that year didn't make the cut. Here are twenty from 1987 that I've seen that didn't quite make have the stuff to make the list.

1. Ishtar
Let's update the old Hope and Crosby road picture film with Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty and even get Elaine May to direct! It's a sure hit right? Wrong. You can't remember 1987 movies without thinking of Ishtar, whose very title brings about memories of a Hollywood mega-bomb. But to tell you the truth, I didn't think Ishtar was all that bad. It's amusing, Hoffman is good and the Paul Williams songs are funny. Maybe time for a re-evalutation? Some people seem to like Heaven's Gate now, after all!
C'mon! Give Ishtar another chance!
2. Amazon Women on the Moon, Three Men and a Baby, 
Police Academy 4, The Bedroom Window
In 1987, we just couldn't get enough of Steve Guttenberg, could we?

3. Barfly
I had a friend who really liked to watch this movie in a state of inebriation. And I have to agree, this Charles Bukowski semi-autobiography is a great drunk movie!

4. Beverly Hills Cop II
How to do a sequel essentially making the same movie as the first one all over again, just not as well.

5.Black Widow
Theresa Russell in Black Widow is on the short list of sexiest female leads in film history. She's to die for, which may have even been the tagline of the film. If not, it should have been.

Theresa Russell is The Black Widow
6. Cry Freedom
Little surprised that this Richard Attenborough film about apartheid in South Africa isn't on the 1001 list.

7. Dirty Dancing
Not necessarily a personal favorite, but I might include this on the 1001 list just for it's enduring popularity.

8. Dragnet
Feature film version of the classic television series is notable mostly for Dan Akyroyd's spot on Jack Webb impression throughout the movie. And who among us hasn't referred to an innocent young woman as "the virgin, Connie Swayle" at one time or another?" Or maybe that's just me.
9. Ernest Goes to Camp
I'm having second thoughts on whether or not I actually saw Ernest Goes to Camp. I know I saw a couple of the Ernest movies...I'll have to give this some more thought whether or not this was one of them.

10. The Stepfather
Long before he played John Locke on Lost, Terry O'Quinn played in this low budget horror/thriller about a stepfather who resolves disputes within his family by knocking them off and starting a new one! Everyone has there own definition of family values, I guess.

Terry O' Quinn contemplating the pros and cons of
family counseling in The Stepfather
11.  House of Games
Lots of plot twists and turns in this David Mamet film. I admit this was one time I did see the final plot twist coming.

12. Planes, Trains  and Automobiles, Roxanne
A good year for Steve Martin.

13. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
I thought this was a pretty good entry in the series, but by the same token what is the point in having a bad guy that you can't kill no matter what you do him?

14. Overboard
I have never seen this Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell from beginning to end. However, TBS has shown this so much over the years, I think I've pretty much seen it all in parts. Overboard was on so much over the years, it got to be a running joke in my house.

15. Harry and the Hendersons
Who the heck knew Bigfoot was just so darned cute? Thanks for creating those sad eyes, Rick Baker.

That cuddly Bigfoot in
Harry and the Hendersons
16. The Principal
Jim Belushi is the ass kickin' baseball bat wielding motorcycle ridin' head of the school!

17. Predator
The original Predator is pretty good from what I remember as this invisible and unstoppable force that battles future governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura.
18. September
Thinking about some of the Woody Allen movies from this period...I kind of get this one mixed up with Another Woman...and what was Alice about again?

19. Assassination/Death Wish 4 The Crackdown
Speaking of September...the films of Charlie Bronson at this point were showing a little wear (And I'm being kind here) as he was reaching the September of his years. But we'll always have Once Upon a Time in the West.

20. The Witches of Eastwick
I remember going to see this movie at the Lefont Plaza theater in Atlanta when it came out. But the thing I remember most about it is the guy sitting in front of me. Every time Cher would appear in a scene, he would gasp as if he had seen the most amazing sight he had ever witnessed! And during the scene where Cher is dressed up for a night on the town, the guy gasped and applauded at the same time as I was sure pretty sure he almost fell out of his seat! At this point, I thought the poor guy might pass out in the sheer ecstasy and have a Chergasm! This was pre-Moonstruck, but I really should have slapped him and said, "Snap out of it!"

The woman who needs no introduction in
The Witches of Eastwick

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