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This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Rock 'N' Roll Comedy that goes up to eleven!
As is the case with half of the cult classics, they perform poorly at the box office, but thanks though to the advent of home video, they finally find an audience. This Is Spinal Tap is one of those movies. Poor box office takings can be attributed to such things as poor advertising, the movie itself being a dud or even being released at the wrong time to the wrong audience. In the case of This Is Spinal Tap, many failed to realize that it was a comedy, or specifically speaking, a mockumentary (fake documentary). This was a relatively new genre for that era, and not many audiences were attuned to that type of cynical comedy with its improvised comic realism.
Soon after being released on home video, audiences began to realize the humour they had missed on the big screen. The makers of the film obviously followed the history of rock, as virtually everyone is satirized from Van Halen to Aerosmith to The Who and even The Beatles. Some memorable gags include Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) playing the guitar with his feet, his piano ballad entitled "Lick My Love Pump", the drummer who spontaneously combusts on stage and of course, the amps which go to eleven. Such is the impact of the mockumentary that it has been referenced in everything from The Simpsons, Buffy, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and even Spiderman 3. Much like The Rutles, which served as one of Spinal Tap's biggest influences, the film has its share of memorable cameos including, but not limited to Anjelica Huston, Dana Carvey and Billy Crystal.
The humour worked well, in fact maybe too well. After drumming its way on the big screen, rock 'n' roll would never be the same again and Heavy Metal's seventh grade lyrics, amongst other things, could no longer be taken seriously. Now there's quality comedy!
The film that launched Rutlemania!
Any film that served as an inspiration for the now-classic Comic Documentary or Mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap deserves at least one viewing. Though mind you, All You Need Is Cash or The Rutles as it's more commonly known, deserves multiple viewings. Successfully combining the talents of Saturday Night Live, Monty Python and the lesser known Rutland Weekend Television cast members, the film parodies the exploits of The Beatles almost to the bone. Pretty impressive; even more impressive considering its 72 minutes running time.
The best thing about this film is that former Beatle, George Harrison (a fan of Monty Python, even going as far as funding Life Of Brian) has a cameo as an interviewer. There's much to admire, particularly in the way the life of the Beatles is comically shred to pieces. For instance "Chastity, a simple little German girl, whose father had invented World War Two" is the greatest satire on how Yoko has been blamed for the break up of the Beatles. From the opening scene in which the "pre-fab four", the Rutles climb into a limousine, enter another limousine and then another one after that, you know that in the words of Monty Python, you're in "for something completely different".
Whether you're a Beatles fan or not, the band is so well known that the average person is very likely to find well crafted humour either in the prolific Beatles references or in the overall deadpan structure of the film.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
If only everyone were on a mission from God!
It's a well known fact that around half of the classic movies faired poorly at the box office. The Blues Brothers belongs in that half, though thanks mainly to home video and re-releases in cinema, The Blues Brothers finished up being the sixth highest grossing musical of all time and a huge cult classic. The number of devotees and "average Joes" who spend their days quoting The Blues Brothers from front to back to back to front is, for a lack of a better word, scary- but that's another movie!
Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi are perfect as brothers Elwood and Jake who for the majority of the film are on the run from too many police officers to count. Despite the spectacularly over the top, but nevertheless entertaining car chases, rock and rolling music numbers and supporting roles from such prominent musicians as Ray Charles (who in a slide-splitting moment hangs a poster upside down) and James Brown and Chicago scenery, the real stars of the film are Aykroyd and Belushi of Saturday Night Live fame. It's a shame though that Belushi died soon after and the sequel turned out to be a mediocre effort. Nevertheless, the Blues Brothers continues to attract new audiences.
Many factors can be attributed to its success, including the now classic black suits and sunglasses look, as well as the music, though being a Musical/Comedy, it was and always will be humour that ensures its freshness for many years to come.
Proof that pre-1970's horror existed
Arguably the most famous horror movie in the history of cinema, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho still stands up well today, despite the numerous parodies of the movie, most notably the shower scene.
Though I was unfortunate enough to stumble upon the ending, where one discovers the identity of the killer- Norman Bates donned in women's clothing, Psycho was still very likable.
The film's greatest strength for me, was Norman Bates- one of the greatest villains in movie history. Unlike countless horror movies, the villain of Psycho isn't one-dimensional and though a villain he many be, one grows to sympathize with him, and almost like him. A unfortunate childhood and misguided personality, just barely described toward the end, is where the real suspense kicks in. Finishing with a dark glare from Bates, the viewer is left feeling confused and terrified for even after the killer is revealed, why he really murdered who he murdered is left merely half explained.
The viewer can grapple for answers all they like, but it is unlikely that they find the true answers to all the questions that float around in their head after the screen has faded to black, which gives Psycho an ingredient that places it above the likes of Halloween, Friday the 13th or even The Shining and is enough proof that Alfred Hitchcock will always be THE master of suspense.
The Pink Panther (1963)
Peter Sellers magnum opus
Peter Sellers is without question the greatest comedian pre-Revenge of the Nerds type comedy films and The Pink Panther stands as the greatest of his comical material.
Though many consider A Shot In The Dark the best of the Panther series, it suffers from side-splitting though inconsistent gags. It can be argued however, that the original doesn't really kick off until the focus shifts to Inspector Closeau as played by Peter Sellers. This is partly true, though David Niven keeps the audience entertained as the suave villain of the piece and when the focus finally shifts to Sellers, the film's gags are bundled together until the very end and keep the audience laughing consistently.
A Shot In the Dark is still a comic classic and greatly extends on the gags featured in the Pink Panther, but if only the gags were more consistent, then A Shot in the Dark would no doubt be ten times superior to the original.
Chained Heat (1983)
Proof that exploitation flicks rock!
Dubbed by a source as "The Citizen Kane of Prison films", Chained Heat starts off as corny, but soon escalates into a thrill ride full of prison guards as sadistic as the warden and signs off with one hell of a conclusion.
I could give describe the movie from head to toe though it's better that you only have the plot of the movie before seeing it, otherwise the thrill factor will fly out the window.
One thing though, is that certain movies don't capture you instantly and "Chained Heat" is no exception. But don't you just miss the days where movies built up or got nowhere then turned out to be the best thing since sliced bread? I do...
Prom Night (1980)
Before the slasher genre became yesterday's news
After the enormous success of "Halloween", the slasher genre emerged spawning several spin-offs including the very good "Friday The 13th" and this gem, "Prom Night" spawning its share of multiple sequels. Despite the unfavorable reviews on this site, I found it to be quite a treat and, despite it being a classic, better than "Halloween" in today's world. Not only that, but "Prom Night" is realistic in the sense that the killer never catches his victims with anything over the top, (In fact, it takes him about ten minutes to finally catch one chick and give her the old chop chop)! The surprise ending revealing the killer to be Jamie Lee Curtis' brother turns to be a little bit of a tearjerker when he says "They killed her..." before kicking the bucket. Although only one's self can be the judge and you should see this flick and decide whether you think this is a classic or a dud.
My favourite movie and I've seen plenty of stunning movies!
I first saw this flick about 5 years ago and was absolutely blown away by it. The monster movie was nothing new, though and could have been easily dismissed as a Jaws imitation, but thankfully it has become a cult classic in its own right. John Sayles' sharp script, Craig Hundley's chilling soundtrack and a side-splitting performance from Henry Silva as sweet talker Col. Brock are just some of the wonders of this film. "Alligator" also benefits form being as hilarious as it is suspenseful with one particular involving a kid's party, the alligator in the pool and a prank gone horribly wrong. As far as I know, this was the first monster movie to the have the now cliqued ending of the baby monster being born before the credits roll. As a matter of fact, "Aliigator" remains one of the few Jaws inspired flicks to have a favorable response. Even the normally unfavorable Leonard Maltin awarded this movie a 3/4 and noted it for its good script and mix of Horror and Comedy. I am surprised though that the IMDb rating is only approx. 5.3/10. If you enjoy fun, scary or funny movies, watch this feature. If you enjoyed this movie, vote and increase the IMDb rating.
Next of Kin (1982)
Effective horror film back in the golden days of Oz cinema
"Next Of Kin" has become something of a minor cult classic and deservedly so. This has to be one of the few horror films that I have actually found freaky.
Others being "An American Werewolf In London", "Friday The 13th" and "The Thing".
I feel I shouldn't give too much away, but I can tell you this; Tarantino is a huge fan of John Jarratt, and in particular, a huge fan of this movie.
In short, this has gone under the radar a bit and must be seen. Horror as it should be.
Losin' It (1983)
Not that funny, but has some good Drama
I wasn't expecting a whole lot from this movie, but was still disappointed, but not upset, for this flick did have its moments, even if not laugh-wise.
A reasonable cast that would go on to bigger and better things is something positive and whilst "Losin' It" didn't have a whole lot laugh wise, there was some good drama - Tom Cruise saying goodbye to Shelley Long, Spider being thrown in jail and Cruise backing out of "losin' it" at the last minute with the sincere hooker being the highlights. Despite lacking laugh out loud humor, "Losin' It" for me worked as a coming of age light Drama, and for that alone it deserves 5/10.