God, I loved these movies back in the day. It’s silly, but they were one of the things that made me want to become a news reporter when I was a kid. I actually saw the second movie first, in the theater — and then found the first movie on VHS at my local mom-and-pop video store.
I’ve heard good things about the reboot with Jon Hamm, though I haven’t seen it yet. I’ve also never read the original novels by Gregory McDonald, and I feel like I ought to remedy that.
From time to time I’ll find an artifact from the old days of broadcast television on Youtube, and I’ll share it in a Throwback Thursday blog post — people really seem to enjoy the clips. (And the credit for that belongs to the Youtube users who originally uploaded them, not me.) One of this blog’s readers asked me about the intro for WOR-TV’s (Channel 9) “Fright Night” movie series.
Here it is below, courtesy of FrightNight7387 on Youtube. (Unless I’m mistaken, this would have been seen only by viewers in the New York metropolitan area between 1973 and 1987.)
I’m … actually not sure I remember this program. The music feels more familiar than the (pretty neat) visuals, and I think I’d recall a montage like that. I’m running it here for those who do remember “Fright Night” and might enjoy the clip.
It should not be confused with that other “Fright Night” of 80’s lore, the 1985 film starring Jonathan Stark, Chris Sarandon and Roddy McDowell. That movie also depicted an in-universe movie series named “Fright Night,” which … apparently bears no relationship to the very real eponymous series that ran in New York. (Kinda weird.) The 1985 movie was a lot of fun back in the day, though if it feels mostly forgotten today — even after it spawned a a damned cool 2011 remake.
I remember seeing “Real Genius” in the theater in 1985. Man, did I love it.
I don’t think anyone thinks of this movie when Val Kilmer’s name comes up — he’s more likely remembered as Jim Morrison, Batman or Doc Holiday. But he was actually really funny here. (And does anyone really want to remember him as Batman?)
It’s a joke. As I’ve explained here before, I messed up giving myself a haircut. Then I realized that shaving most of it off was really my only recourse if I wanted to look vaguely normal. But I left it in a mohawk as a joke. The temporary hair dye and the earring are gags too.
I’d like to think that I didn’t do too bad of a job with the mohawk? It’s leagues ahead of the conventional haircut that I attempted first, at least. (I was doing so well for a while, too. Then I got impatient and started hacking a way at it.)
But I’m still trying to make lemons out of lemonade here. (I’ll never get that idiom right the first time, and I don’t care.) And just to add insult to injury, one of my news reporter friends made the meme you see at the bottom. The b*****d.
So I’m not as much punk as I am a punk. Which is a shame, because I really wanted to cosplay as one of those kids from “Return of the Living Dead” (1985), or maybe good ‘ol Chris Wright from my long ago acting classes. (He had an immense dyed mohawk, and he might have been the only punk at Mary Washington College circa 1991.)
Oh, well. I’ve still got The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” in my playlist. And I shared a Dead Kennedys video on Facebook the other day. (You know which one.) That counts for something.
Maybe it’s a lifetime of zombie movies that’s done it to me (along with the books, short stories and comic books), but somehow I always knew that there would be hordes of imbeciles getting themselves and other people killed during a horrifying viral pandemic. (There’s always the crazy guy who leaves the gate open.)
It’s like these @$$+)*%$s exist to hasten the plot along to its high-casualty conclusion.
Does anyone else remember “The Odd Couple” (1970-1974) growing up? I was too young to remember its original run, but it played endlessly in reruns in the early 1980’s. For a lot of us, it was a show our parents watched. It was based on an eponymous 1965 Neil Simon play, and Tony Randall was absolutely a household name.
Hearing that theme song — and seeing those priceless shots of early-70’s New York in its opener — absolutely takes me back to my gradeschool years. I can practically smell dinner cooking in the kitchen.
Turns out it didn’t have a lot of cultural staying power — with my generation, at least. When was the last time you heard someone make a pop-culture reference to “The Odd Couple?” Yet people still fondly remember things like “The Partridge Family” (1970-1974), “The Six Million Dollar Man” (1973-1978) and “Voltron” (1983-1985).
This commercial came up in a conversation today with a friend of mine. I’m honestly not sure why I remember it after 35 years. Part of it is the last guy interviewed in the 30-second ad, and his unusual sentence construction — it’s a linguistic idiosyncrasy I’ve occasionally heard in movies or on TV, but never in real life. It’s just gotta come from a regional dialect somewhere. (The man’s name was Linwood Workman, which unconsciously suggested to others throughout his life that he was a reliable man to hire, I’m sure.)
But I might remember this ad well just because it seemed so weird and campy to me at age 13, when it aired constantly. Ads aimed at my age group made products seem cool and exciting, or maybe just farcically zany. (Consider the Spuds MacKenzie ad campaign, for example.) Ads aimed at adults were strangely cornball stuff. What was the angle here? Were adults meant to trust these people because they were relatable or special? My town had only one professional fisherman (who, coincidentally, was also my science teacher, my part-time employer and a really cool guy. SHOUT OUT TO MR. TSCHIEMBER!) But were small-town New England fisherman especially trustworthy about which cold medicines should we buy? Why?
You could argue that this was a very effective ad, because I remember it after 35 years. You know what, though? I’ve never purchased Alka Seltzer Plus in my life. Maybe I’m just a cynic where fishermen are concerned.
So I’m introducing a dear friend tonight to “28 Days Later” (2002). It is possibly my favorite horror film of all time, maybe even narrowly beating out “Aliens” (1986), “Alien 3” (1992), John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982), the Sutherland-tacular 1978 version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” and George A. Romero’s first three “Dead” films (1968, 1978, 1985). (Whenever “Star Wars” fans refer to their “Holy Trilogy,” I muse inwardly that those last three are its equivalent for zombie horror fans.)
My friend thinks it’s funny that I refer to “28 Days Later” as “my sacred cow.” I’ll be crestfallen if she does not like it, and I told her as much. And that’s weird for me … I usually don’t feel let down when someone doesn’t enjoy the same books, movies or music that I do. Not everything is for everyone. Art would lose its mystique if it weren’t subjective. If all art appealed to all people, it would lose all its appeal altogether.
Part of me feels, unconsciously perhaps, that “28 Days Later” is the kind of film that “redeems” the horror genre (even though no genre needs such redemption — if art is well made or if it affects people, then it’s just fine).
Most comic book fans of my generation can tell you how people can occasionally roll their eyes at their favorite medium. (Comics have far greater mainstream acceptance today than when I started reading them in the 1990’s.) For horror fans, it’s sometimes worse. Horror is a genre that is easily pathologized — and sometimes with good reason, because a portion of what it produces is indeed cheap or exploitative. I wish I could accurately describe for you the looks I’ve gotten when acquaintances find out that I’m a horror fan. They aren’t charitable.
“28 Days Later” and movies like it are so good that they elevate horror to a level that demands respect from the uninitiated. It is an intrinsically excellent film — it just happens to have a sci-f-/horror plot setup and setting. It’s beautifully directed by Danny Boyle, it’s perfectly scored and it’s masterfully performed by its cast — most notably by Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson.
If you’re acquainted with this blog at all, then you’re already aware of the sheer reverence I have for Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” (1982). So I won’t belabor that subject yet again in order to note Rutger Hauer’s passing this past Friday.
Hauer was a prolific actor, and his fans can remember him fondly from any number of roles. Below are the trailers for my three favorites.
The first is 1986’s “The Hitcher,” which might have been the first modern, adult horror film that I truly loved. (This is leaving aside Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 “The Birds” and various monster movies aimed at kids.) I’m a little concerned that the trailer below misrepresents the movie, though. “The Hitcher” aspired to be a serious film, and was truly a great horror-thriller, in my opinion. It was moody, atmospheric, thoughtful and methodically paced (although it didn’t lack blood and violence either). It was far better than the 80’s action-horror boilerplate movie that the trailer seems to depict.
Hauer was terrifying. (If you are wondering, that is indeed C. Thomas Howell and Jennifer Jason Leigh costarring. And if you watch the trailer very closely, you can see Jeffrey DeMunn — who contemporary audiences will recognize as Dale from “The Walking Dead.”)
The second is movie is 1985’s “Ladyhawke,” which saw Hauer co-star with none other than Matthew Broderick and Michelle Pfeiffer. It had far more mainstream appeal, and it reliably kicks up nostalgia every time it’s mentioned on social media. (Seriously, go try it.)
The third is one that far fewer people will remember –1989’s “Blind Fury,” which rode the tail end of the decade’s martial arts craze. It was zany stuff, and it didn’t hold back on the 80’s-era cheese, but it had a lot of heart and was surprisingly earnest. Some of the action sequences were damned impressive too. (And if you were a nut for 80’s ninja movies, you’ll of course recognize Sho Kosugi as the acrobatic villain here.)
I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
— Rutger Hauer’s closing soliloquy in “Blade Runner” (1982), Ridley Scott’s seminal adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s 1968 science fiction novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.” The actor co-wrote the speech that appears in the movie.
Hauer died Friday at age 75. The news of his passing was reported today.
His role in “Blade Runner” will always define him in my mind. But I also grew up seeing him in “Ladyhawke” (1985), “The Hitcher” (1986) and “Blind Fury” (1989); and later was pleased to discover him in “Batman Begins” and “Sin City” (2005). Believe it or not, it was “The Hitcher” and not “Blade Runner” that first made me love Hauer’s performances. I was still in early high school when I saw both films. The former was among the first horror movies I truly loved, and I wasn’t yet mature enough to fully appreciate the latter.
Hauer was Knight in the Dutch Order of the Netherlands Lion.
What an amazing artist, whose creativity in his craft brought so much enjoyment to others.