80's Movies: Remakes, Sequels and Forgotten Films
by Ken Evans
April 7, 2008
Lately I have been obsessed with two things: 80's movies and anime. I won't be talking about anime now, but hopefully when we hear more about the Ninja Assassin film being made, it will give me a chance to go into the exciting world of anime. For now I want to talk about the films from the 1980's and how extremely rad most of them are.
Until recently if someone had asked me my opinion of the 80's it wouldn't have been a positive response. I would even go as far as to say that until a few weeks ago, I hated everything about that decade. I guess I hadn't given it that much thought and was basing my opinion solely on the music and clothing styles. I will never forgive my mom for making me wear bright neon yellow shirts and shorts with knee socks rolled down to my Velcro shoes. It turns out that the 80's actually produced the best cartoons and toys ever! But what originally sparked my interest in reevaluating the 80's was a conversation I had in Austin during SXSW and the realization that most of my favorite films and series found their beginning in the 80's.
One night in Austin I found myself engrossed in a conversation about 80's horror films. Movies like The Stuff, Cat's Eye, The Evil Dead, Maximum Overdrive, Child's Play, and House came rushing back to my memory and made me smile. It made me think about some of the films that are either coming out soon or that were released over the last few years. Movies or series that got their start in the 80's and have been revived like Rambo, Indiana Jones, The Lost Boys, Short Circuit, Terminator, RoboCop, Wargames and Die Hard. All of these have either just had another film made to continue their legacy or they have one in the works. I couldn't be more excited.
So I got to thinking that if they can make a sequel to The Lost Boys, they could probably come up with a sequel to just about anything. Plus with the trend being 80's sequels and remakes I thought I might want to revisit a bunch of my old favorites from the decade that I thought I hated and share with everyone a select few from my list of 80's films I loved. Bare in mind that this isn't going to be a list full of the ones everyone has seen like The Breakfast Club, Back to the Future, or Ghostbusters. Those are great, sure, but I hope you will check out these few that you might not have seen yet. These are not in any order, nor are they my top five favorite 80's movies. Let's begin, shall we?
(Watch the Trailer)
"It's going to take a lot more than skill for Cru Jones to conquer the toughest BMX challenge in the world. It's going to take a miracle."
Cru is an expert BMX rider mama's boy desperately wanting to make a name for himself in the racing world. Turns out the biggest BMX race ever is coming to his town, which if he wins, will finally get him the recognition he wants and $100,000. Unfortunately the race is on the same day he is supposed to take his SAT's. Cru must decide to go against his mother's wishes or fulfill his dream.
This movie screams 80's louder then just about anything I have ever seen. It is the ultimate cheese and although was considered serious at the time it was made, it's now the perfect exaggeration of all those things we make fun of from the 80's. As funny as it is, I'll admit I watched it over and over with my friends in high school and desired deeply to learn how to BMX as masterfully as Cru.
There are so many reasons to see this movie, it's difficult to know where to start. First of all, the movie's title is Rad, which should grab your attention right away. It stars a guy named Cru, whose idea of fun is to make a motorcycle cop chase him through a lumber yard all the while doing tricks on his bike. It has the most amazing prom dance scene ever with Cru and his love interest Christian dancing in the middle of the gym with their bikes (watch that scene right here) - possibly one of the most romantic things I have ever seen on film. Radical BMX tricks, an amazing soundtrack, a BMX prom dance, and the final scene where Cru races through Helltrack, all make this an 80's movie not to be missed. [Buy it on DVD!]
(Watch the Trailer)
"They eat so fast, you don't have time to scream."
Furry little alien critters land in a small town and start eating everything in site. They are followed by two intergalactic bounty hunters who will not stop until they have killed them all. Unfortunately the aliens land close to the Brown's farm house and decide to make it their home.
Critters is not anything amazing, but it is a ton of fun. It can't get much better then teenage galactic bounty hunters and furry ball shaped killing aliens. The best way to describe Critters would be by taking the scary elements of Gremlins and mixing it with the comedy of Gremlins 2. They used to play this movie all the time on television during late nights and Saturday afternoons when I was younger. I must have watched it a dozen times thinking the critters were pretty cool in a sick kind of way. The critters run around killing and eating, the whole time making jokes and laughing with every person they tear apart. If they can remake Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, then Critters is definitely a series that they should reboot. When is the last time we had a movie with little killer monsters that crack jokes? It's about time we brought them back! [Buy it on DVD!]
(Watch the Trailer)
"You don't need a driver's license to reach the stars."
Ben Crandall (Ethan Hawke) is obsessed with science fiction and keeps having a dream about traveling over a circuit board. He then draws it and shows it to his brainy friend Wolfgang Muller (River Phoenix), who builds the board which is able to create a force field bubble. The two boys, along with help from their new tough friend Darren, decide to build a spaceship out of old amusement park ride parts that when used with their new found technology gives them the ability to travel into space.
During the 80's, Hollywood had a fascination with science fiction, aliens, and the supernatural. Explorers came out during the time of the greats like Return of the Jedi, E.T., Predator, Ghostbusters, Aliens, Blade Runner, and Gremlins. Out of all those wonderful movies, Explorers is the one that really grabbed me and made me love science fiction. These were kids who were at the time my age and doing everything on their own. They create the most awesome spaceship ever and name it "Thunderroad" (not even kidding), they invent a force field from a dream they had, and they have the guts to not only fly into space, but to also explore an alien spacecraft that they get sucked into.
This isn't E.T., but it also isn't a movie that should be brushed aside. Besides a cheesy meeting the kids have with the aliens to discuss the destructive nature of man, it turns out to be a very enjoyable film that most people would get a kick out of today. And it screams remake! [Buy it on DVD!]
The Last Starfighter (1984)
(Watch the Trailer)
"He didn't find his dreams... his dreams found him."
Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) was only good at one thing, playing the Starfighter arcade game in the trailer park that he lives in. Besides having just beaten the video game, nothing is going right for Alex. After being denied a loan for college, he meets Centauri (Robert Preston), who explains to Alex that he is the best Starfighter player ever and is needed for his skills. Little does he know that he is about to be whisked away to space to fight in a battle to save the galaxy from the invasion of Xur and the Kodan armada.
It just doesn't get much better then this. Imagine your favorite video game turning out to be real and you are chosen to actually use those skills to battle in real life. This is every kid's dream! The concept for this film was spot on and still is enjoyable to watch today. My favorite parts were any scenes that had Grig in them - a turtle like alien that is Alex's teacher/sidekick. Grig was awesome, as I'm sure anyone that has seen this will agree.
Playing off of the success of Star Wars, this film is basically a much simpler version of the great classic. Nothing about the plot is complex, it is just about a kid brought in to save the galaxy from being taken over by an evil force. Lots of action, humor and even a clone make this a great classic 80's film that gets overlooked in the shadow of Empire Strikes Back and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It's another possible remake that I would love to see. [Buy it on DVD or HD-DVD!]
(Watch the Trailer)
"The secret contest where the world's greatest warriors fight in a battle to the death."
Frank Dux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) has gone AWOL to travel to Japan and fight in the illegal underground martial arts contest "Kumite". Dux was trained in ninjutsu by marital arts master Tanaka after the death of his son. Dux, in an attempt to honor his master and avenge the death of Tanaka's son, makes his way to where the "Kumite" is located and secures a spot for himself. All the while, two military men are sent to Japan to stop him from fighting. If that isn't enough, a female reporter uses Dux to gain entrance to the "Kumite" and grab the story of her career.
We can't put together an 80's film list without mentioning a marital arts movie. With other films like The Last Dragon, Best of the Best, and The Karate Kid coming out of the 80's, Bloodsport is definitely my favorite. Not only do we get to watch Van Damme kick the crap out of people, but we get to see him do the splits, break bricks and fight blind. I'm a closet Van Damme fan, obviously not because of his acting skills. When it comes to over-the-top, unrealistic action give me Van Damme in Kickboxer, Timecop, or Hard Target and I'll be happy.
Even with how cheesy Van Damme can be, we actually get some pretty cool fight scenes in Bloodsport. He battles all kinds of different fighters, like a Sumo wrestler and a Muay Thai-styled kickboxer. It's great to see these fights without CGI or wires. These are the fight scenes I miss, scenes that were filmed without any tricks, just plain old martial arts. Throw all that together with an amazing soundtrack and you come out with the best martial arts film of the 80's. I don't know about a remake of this one though, it's just about perfect the way it is. [Buy it on DVD!]
Well, that will do it for some overlooked films from the 80's. I hope this trend of remakes and sequels continues, as I am personally finding it very enjoyable. I do have to give an honorable mention to my favorite comedy from the 80's, Plains, Trains and Automobiles. It's classic in every way, with tons of quotable parts and hilarious situations. They don't make comedies like that anymore.
What are your favorite 80's movies? Which ones do you think they should remake or reboot?