Monday, September 28, 2009

A guide to watching movies from the 80s.

The market for nostalgia has grown exponentially for years now. It's not really a surprise; combine the cyclical nature of popular culture and trends with the great American dream and BAM! Instant marketplace. But lately it seems that a good chunk of this revenue comes from the irony savings account; that is, people wearing clothes and listening to music or watching movies because they think it's funny, and wanting other people to know they do these things because it's funny.

Needless to say, I am not one of these people. Are you? Here's a quick test:

1. Have you worn a classic thrash metal band's t-shirt without actually having ever listened to said band?

2. Do you shop for clothes at Goodwill and/or Salvation Army despite having a trust fund?

3. Do you have a subscription to Fader?

If your answer to any of these is "yes"...

OK, so that's out of the way. If you're still here you're cool with me. So let's move on to a nostalgic subject near and dear to me: the films of my youth, the glorious 1980s. I Love The 80s? Fuck that, I am the 80s.

There are a few things one should know right from the beginning:

Just as an object in motion tends to stay in motion, an 80s film with J.T. Walsh tends to be an 80s film with J.T. Walsh as The Bad Guy.

This actually extends pretty far into the Nineties, too. If you're watching a movie and J.T. Walsh is in it, chances are you know who the bad guy is going to be.

Also, I think it's safe to say most people are intimately familiar with the classic Schwarzenegger/Willis/Gibson flicks from back then. Honestly, if you're an American under 40 and can't quote something from Predator, Die Hard, or Lethal Weapon, I'm inclined to think you may be a clone. Or a robot. Or a robot clone! However, there are other heroes of this decade that might look familiar, but never quite achieved the fame and notoriety of their 80s peers.

Michael Dudikoff

That's right, he is THE American Ninja. Dudikoff was definitely a badass in his time, so much so that he made 3 additional American Ninja movies to show everyone how badass he was. He was also the star of one of the great lost films of the 80s, Avenging Force. The fact that this film doesn't have a major DVD release is a crime.

Jan-Michael Vincent

It was hard to top the awesomeness of Airwolf on TV back in the day. Renegade pilot with a super-advanced battle copter? Suck it, Knight Rider. JMV also found his way into awesomely horrible classics like Defiance, Enemy Territory and, um...Demonstone.

I could write a book about the countless number of horror movies the Eighties pumped out, how new genres were created, how careers were launched, etc. It's been done to the point of exhaustion, so why bother? This is what you need to know: if Barbara Crampton or Linnea Quigley is in the movie, you're almost guaranteed to see them topless.

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