June 4, 2005

The fourth set of 20 films that if you haven’t seen you should see immediately or risk having protein wisdom sneer at you like certain embarrassingly snobby blue state gourmands sneer at salt water taffy and chili-cheese fries

1980s, group 4

  1. The Funhouse (1981)
  2. Gregory’s Girl (1981)
  3. La Guerre du feu [Quest for Fire] (1981)
  4. Happy Birthday to Me (1981)
  5. Heavy Metal (1981)
  6. Hell Night (1981)
  7. History of the World:  Part I (1981)
  8. The Howling (1981)
  9. Hôtel des Amériques (1981)
  10. Looker (1981)
  11. Mad Max 2:  The Road Warrior (1981)
  12. Mephisto (1981)
  13. Ms. 45 (1981)
  14. My Dinner with Andre (1981)
  15. Neighbors (1981)
  16. On Golden Pond (1981)
  17. Outland (1981)
  18. Pixote: A Lei do Mais Fraco (1981)
  19. Polyester (1981)
  20. Possession (1981)


A variety of oddities and underappreciated gems here:  following in the tradition of Alien, Peter Hyams’ Outland depicts space mining as cold and bleak; and speaking of bleak, if you can find a copy, try Pixote.  Unforgettable. For fascinating bad movies, try Belushi and Akroyd’s widely-panned Neighbors, a movie that was years before its time, in my opinion.  The Road Warrior remains a classic.  Ditto The Howling.  And Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45 is a true cult classic.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 4:04pm

Comments (25)

  1. It been a long time since I had seen Gregory’s Girl. Didn’t have as a side story the two guys trying to hitchhike from Scotland to Caracus ? Wish I could get it on DVD.

  2. Pixote ? Gregory’s Girl ? You have revealed yourself.. Now I KNOW youve been sending that sneaky little armadillo of yours through the air ducts in my ceiling to take pictures of my special private collection of great films no one but me has seen. The tip off ? Youve tended to stay away from small foreign flicks.. from ‘art’ films in general in favor of Hollywood movies. A mainstreamer would never see Pixote (which is excellent) and I’ve never heard anyone but a Brit recommend a Bill Forsythe flick like G.G. (one of the most charming movies ever made). So anyway.. keep that little armored wanker out of my DVDs or when I catch him, I’ll strap him down and prop his eyelids open and make him watch 70’s mainstream Hollywood movies til he screams for mercy (assuming armadillos can scream).. After I “Ludavico Technique” him you wont be able to run one of your beloved 70s ’underappreciated‘ films without him going ape on you… muhahahahahah!

    Oh, PS.. I hope we see some Koyaanisqatsi action on at least one of these lists.. and how could you ignore Lena’s Swept Away in the 70s ?

  3. I had forgotten about Looker.  Cool little film.  It must have come out on DVD, right?

  4. Sadly, Looker isn’t available on DVD; but Gregory’s Girl is.

    Baboon—in the 70s, Hollywood gave itself over for a brief period to the art film directors. The Conversation, Smile…these films wouldn’t get made today in Hollywood—at least, not the way they were back then.

  5. Not only is GG available on DVD, you *must* buy that one, as opposed to the VHS, as the American version on tape is dubbed, apparently in an effort to remove any charm the movie may have.

    The dubbing is awful, with English actors doing ‘light’ Scots accents, changes in dialogue (the classic “T*ts, bum, fanny, the lot..” scene is ruined, for instance). It really is terrible. The dubbed version is also available on the DVD, along with the real version. Buy that instead.

    Great, great film.

  6. Ever seen “Waiting for Guffman,” one of whose central characters collects “My Dinner with Andre” action figures?

  7. At this point, the only thing reasonable Comment Trollers can do is bet on which remaining films will make Jeff’s ‘Top 20’ 80’s List.

    1.  The Soldier 50:1

    2.  Rustler’s Rhapsody 20:1

    3:  Remo Williams:  The Adventure Begins 3:1

    4:  My Life as a Dog 2:1

    5:  Shoah :  15:1 {possibly too damn long a film}

    6:  Housekeeping 3:1

    7:  Aria 13:3

    8:  Tampopo 2:1

    9:  Ran 1:35

    10: Top Secret!  7:1

    11: Nightmare on Elm Street:  1:3

    12: The Sure Thing 8:3

    13: Santa Sangre 3:2

    14: Top Gun 4:1

    15: White Knights 9:1

    16: Who Framed Roger Rabbit 3:2

    17:  9.5 Weeks 5:1

    18:  The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and her Lover 6:1

    19:  Unbearable Lightness of Being 8:1

    20:  Gotcha!  13:1

  8. I saw Neighbors at least a dozen times on HBO and, maybe it’s because I was 13 at the time, thought it was excellent.

    Heavy Metal and The Road Warrior are also classics.

    I didn’t do as well with this list as with your last one: 9/20 that I’ve seen.

  9. Salt Lick-

    W.F.G. was mid-90s, I believe, though a good Chris Guest effort.

  10. Silverado? Hello? Silverado?

    John Cleese as a western lawman?




    Kevin Kline

    The list goes on……..

    Princess Bride? January Man?

    Saving Grace? American Dreamer? Anything with Tom Conti.

    Armadillos and Philistines. I’m in the company of Armadillos and Philistines.

    Help me out here.

  11. None of those are ‘80 or ‘81, B&B, so I haven’t gotten to them.  Princess Bride might make my 80s top 20.  And Bumper Sticker is dead on with several of his guesses…

  12. Frank Booth: “You want to figure the odds of Blue Velvet getting on Jeff’s 80’s List ?”

    Bumperstickerist: “No thanks..”

    Frank Booth: “No Thanks ? What does that mean ?”

    Bumperstickerist: “I dont want to do the odds.”

    Frank Booth: “Do the odds on what ?”

    Bumperstickerist: “The odds on Blue Velvet.”

    Frank Booth: “The odds on Blue Velvet getting on Jeff’s 80’s List… Thats a fucken great idea, you fuck ! (Ssshhh Sssssh) Get to fuckin calculating before I send you a love letter straight from my heart, fucker !! You know what a love letter is ? Its a bullet from a fucking gun, fucker . You receive a love letter from me, and youre fucked forever ! You understand, fuck ? I’ll send you straight to hell, fucktard!”

    Bumperstickerist: “So, are you done raving? Do you want me to calculate those odds now?”

    Frank Booth: “No, I want you to fuck them !! Fuck yes, calculate the fucken odds !!”

    While we’re waiting, everyone open a Pabst Blue Ribbon …


    (Ssshhhh Ssssshhh on the nitrous)

  13. …the only thing reasonable Comment Trollers can do is bet on which remaining films will make Jeff’s ‘Top 20’ 80’s List.

    In that case, I’d like to shamelessly shill for Tin Men when you get to 1987.  One of my favorites…

  14. Great flick.  Diner, as well.

  15. I saw Heavy Metal at just about the correct age to watch such things, and thought it was dopeyer’n heck.  And the closest they could get to a heavy metal band to do the soundtrack was The Eagles?!? 

    Now The Howling, that was a fine film.  I was in the theater watching another film, went out to go to the restroom, poked my head in the door where The Howling was playing, and stood there watching for a good four or five minutes.

    Turing = white, as in Adolescent boys who use Heavy Metal magazine for a whacking aid tend to be white.

  16. Well, “The Hunger” should make an appearance, but “84 Charing Cross Road” is a longshot.

  17. I don’t care what you or anyone else says. Heavy Metal sucked big time. But The Howling, now that was cinema.

  18. It may have sucked, but it was considered ground breaking at the time.  Much like Fritz the Cat before it.

  19. The Howling is the reason why I only made it part way through American Werewolf…I saw them both back-to-back at an SF convention, The Howling first, and when David Naughton started turning into a wolf, I had had it with gruesome transmogrifications and left.  Not even the presence of the Britilicious Jane Seymour could entice me to stick around for the rest of the film…by the way, did her character survive the mayhem?

    Also, in The Howling, the bad guys won.  Call me old-fashioned, but I find that unappealing…

  20. Heavy Metal wasnt about heavy metal music.. it was an animated sampler from Heavy Metal Magazine.. It rocked then.. It still rocks now.. Didnt care for part 2 though.

  21. Outland is a great flick.  It’s really a western – High Noon in Space.

  22. Surprised that Gallipoli hasn’t made the cut.  One of the best films of ‘81, IMHO.

  23. Mr. Swisher – that was Jenny Agutter flashing the tit in American Werewolf.  Said film gets high marks for Best Use Of a CCR Song.

    Also, Outland?  Gotta love a space film that reflects the lack of sound in a vacuum.  Curious that my Hoover vacuum makes an abundance of sound. In space, no one can hear you clean.

  24. And the closest they could get to a heavy metal band to do the soundtrack was The Eagles?!?

    One of the all-time conundrums surrounding that album is the inclusion of Donald Fagen.  Right there with Cheap Trick and Black Sabbath.

    Back on point: an absolute classic.

  25. Jenny Agutter – geez, it has been a long time since I’ve seen the film…trust me to get my two favorite English-accented cuties of the era mixed up…