May 26, 2005

The first 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 1

  1. Alligator (1980)
  2. Altered States (1980)
  3. American Gigolo (1980)
  4. Bad Timing (1980)
  5. Brubaker (1980)
  6. Carny (1980)
  7. Dressed to Kill (1980)
  8. The Falls (1980)
  9. The Final Countdown (1980)
  10. The First Deadly Sin (1980)
  11. The Fog (1980)
  12. Friday the 13th (1980)
  13. Gloria (1980)
  14. The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)
  15. Heaven’s Gate (1980)
  16. Hopscotch (1980)
  17. The Hunter (1980)
  18. Inside Moves (1980)
  19. Little Darlings (1980)
  20. The Long Good Friday (1980)


A lot of fun kitsch on this list (Alligator, which is surprisingly good, and Little Darlings, which is unrelentingly bad, in an enjoyable way)—along with a couple of real classics, including the British crime drama The Long Good Friday, featuring a blistering Bob Hoskins performance; and Carny, a wonderful character piece featuring Jodie Foster, Robbie Robertson, and Gary Busey, and one of my all-time favorite small films, criminally unavailable on DVD.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 8:03pm

Comments (29)

  1. Heaven’s Gate?

    Dude, take yer meds. You’re feverish.

    Spambuster: food

    Feed a cold, starve a fever.

    Or is it the other way around?

  2. Only good Jodie Foster movie of the 80’s is “Five Corners”.

  3. Mojo—Don’t believe the bad buzz from 1980, which had more to do with Cimino going over budget (and his clashes with the studio) than it did with the film itself.  Revisit this flick.  Sure, it’s a bit ponderous and historically hyperbolic, but it is also quite beautiful and, ultimately, engrossing.  Also worth looking into is the 2004 documentary “The Final Cut.”

    me—Impossible.  Because Carny is fantastic.  And though it was release in 1980, It is, like Heaven’s Gate, one of the last of the great 70s-style movies.

  4. Isn’t that Bob Hoskins? Picky typo, OK.

  5. Yes, careless typo from a onetime Hopkins lad.

  6. I’m seeing a pattern arising in this rolling scribal Rorschach test.. First we have feet that smell like steamed Broccoli… Steamed broccoli kinda smells like boiled cabbage.. See where I’m going with this ? That’s right… Now we have “Carny” on the movie list.. Scary carnies.. why ? You know why.. because they have little hands and smell like cabbage… So keep reading.. If I can find some reference to Jeff having little hands then I will have proven he’s really a Carny…He’s totally waving it in our face and laughing at us because we cant see it… but I’m on to your game Mr Carny… I’m on to your game.

    Turing word: indeed


  7. The slasher films of the 80’s are solely responsible for my sexual coming of age.  Without drive-ins and slasher films scaring the pants off my dates my teenage years were marked by a profound absence of unbiblical female contact.  Dressed to Kill and The Fog are both heart-warming examples for me. 

    Can’t wait to revisit the rest of the decade’s cinematic carnage.

  8. Yeah.  For me, it was Friday the 13th, which I saw before Halloween and Black Christmas, which are the prototypes (though neither is particularly explicit—lots of suggested carnage).

    Dressed to Kill was a creepily brilliant film—the museum sequence with Dickinson is stunning, even today—and is kind of an upscale artsy slasher, like DePalma’s earlier Sisters, which I forgot to mention in my 70s lists.

  9. Altered States is some seriously cool shit, with the added bonus of an in-the-prime Blair Brown in the definitive “smart is sexy” role.

  10. Speaking of Robbie Robertson, did you include “The Last Waltz” in one of your lists? ‘Cause even if it’s a documentary I think it’s worth some serious sneering privileges.

  11. American Gigolo—is that the one where Jeff Gannon goes to Tibet?

  12. I think I forget to include The Last Waltz.  Great flick, especially if you like The Band.

  13. Oh my goodness.  More like 1980(period, endquote), group 1.  Are you going to to 20 films from each year?  Because I think it’ll probably hurt my percentage.

  14. Incidentally Bob Hoskins ended up being cast in Unleashed specifically because the director saw The Long Good Friday.  I read it in a recent interview piece, can’t remember where.  He learned to cuss in the merchant marine, got his first acting job when he was drinking at some theater bar and was dragged onstage.  Lived with a Dutch stripper.  (“I learned a lot,” he said.) Interesting guy.

  15. I’m with mojo.

    Heaven’s Gate?

    Dude… hmmm

  16. I dunno about historically hyperbolic, but ponderous I can buy. Also muddy, confused and indistinct. Horrible sound. Mumble, mumble…

    And expecting Kris K. to portray a college kid version of himself? Please.

    Spambuster: around

    As in been.

  17. Bad Timing? You are such a weirdo, jeff. Worse, I saw it at the SF Film Festival. Since seeing it, I’ve always yearned for purple sheets.

  18. I used to love The Fog as a kid.  However, I’m afraid if I watch it now, I won’t feel quite the same fear when the fog comes creeping in off the coast line.  Though I’ll probably still get a stiffy from Adrienne Barbeau.  That’s something that hasn’t changed since adolescence.

  19. Youre going to need an 80’s list for Brian De Palma alone, dude.. He was quite prolific during that period..

    My choices from DePalma;

    Scareface ‘83

    Body Double 84’

    but it was all good for him during that decade..

  20. Mmmmmmm…chili cheese fries.  Hafta pick up an order from Culver’s on my way outta town for the long weekend.

  21. Hey Jeff.. Just a thought.. There are so many hot movies that came out in the 80’s.. How bout some lists by genre…?

  22. Now that special effects are up to the task, I really want to see a remake of The Final Countdown where they get to stay behind and change history….

  23. Alligator moment of greatness:

    Dude: Tell her how big the alligator is.

    Kid: As big as a Pinto

    Dude: You men the car?

    Kid: No genius, I mean the refrigerator…

    Who can match dialogue like that?

  24. ’Inside Moves’ featured excellent acting by John Savage (as usual), but was painful to watch the characters just wreck their lives.  A startling opening scene.  Double amputee Harold Russell (from 1946’s ‘Best Years of Our Lives&#8217wink has a great, low-key role.

    How about Terry Gilliam’s dystopian ‘Brazil’ (1985)?  This is the only film that ever gave me nightmares…

  25. one of my favorite little movies of the 80’s is Lady in White (88) Lukas Haas, Alex Rocco, Kathern Helmond. Wonder Years meets Psycho with a couple of ghost added to the mix.

  26. this should do it

  27. I think

  28. one more then