Tuesday, 16 December 2014

80 From the 80s - Gremlins

Cute. Clever. Mischievous. Intelligent. Dangerous
Studio: Warner Brothers Release :::::::::: Date: 8th June 1984
Director: Joe Dante :::::::::: Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates
Budget: $11M :::::::::: 2015 Equivalent: $25.3M
U.S Box Office: $148.1M :::::::::: 2015 Equivalent: $347.3M
Billy’s new pet, a Mogwai, comes with three simple rules. Never expose it to bright light, never get it wet and most importantly of all, never, ever feed it after midnight. But when all three rules are inadvertently broken, it’s down to Billy, Kate and Gizmo to save the picturesque town of Kingston Falls from the chaos unleashed by Gremlins. 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

80 From the 80s - The Last Starfighter

The Last Starfighter
He’s got one extraordinary chance at the dream of a lifetime
Studio: Universal :::::::::: Release Date: 13th July 1984
Director: Nick Castle :::::::::: Starring: Lance Guest, Robert Preston
Budget: $15M :::::::::: 2015 Equivalent: $34.5M
U.S Box Office: $28.7M :::::::::: 2015 Equivalent: $66M

When trailer park resident Alex Rogan breaks the high score on a Starfighter arcade machine, he doesn't realise he has just proved his worthiness to be a real Starfighter pilot. Visited by the mysterious Centauri, Alex soon finds himself in the middle of an intergalactic war that'll require more than just his skills to win.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

80 From the 80s - Mannequin

When she comes to life, anything can happen!
Studio: Fox :::::::::: Release Date: 13th February 1987
Director: Mike Gottlieb :::::::::: Starring: Andrew McCarthy, Kim Cattrall
Budget: $7.9M :::::::::: 2015 Equivalent: $16.6M
U.S Box Office: $42.7M :::::::::: 2015 Equivalent: $90M

In one of his many jobs, failed artist Jonathan Switcher creates the perfect mannequin. Fired yet again, he later sees his creation in a shop window and sets about getting a job at the store. Much to Jonathan's amazement, he discovers that when he is alone with the mannequin, she comes to life. But the path of true love is never a smooth one, and soon the duo are dealing with an obsessed night watchman, a hostile takeover and Jonathan’s colleagues, who are getting concerned with him talking to a shop dummy....

Saturday, 15 November 2014

80 From the 80s - Romancing the Stone

Romancing the Stone

 She's a girl from the big city. He's a reckless soldier of fortune. For a fabulous treasure, they share an adventure no one could imagine... or survive.

Studio: 20th Century Fox Release Date: 30th March 1984
Director: Robert Zemeckis Starring: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner
Budget: $10M 2015 Equivalent: $23M
U.S Box Office: $76.5M  2015 Equivalent: $175.9M

Joan Wilder is a timid, lonely romance novelist, but a panicked phone call thrusts her into a deadly South American adventure. Teaming up with smuggler Jack Carlton, she has to contend with all manner of dangers while trying to recover a fabled jewel and save her sister. She'll have the story of a lifetime, if she lives long enough to tell the tale.

A director being fired from a movie is a rare occurrence. One being fired from a future project because their current one is so bad, that's something of a one-off. Yet that's exactly what happened to Robert Zemeckis while working on action-adventure Romancing the Stone. The film was a gamble for all involved, but for Zemeckis, it was make or break; failure would signify the end of his short Hollywood career. In the latter half of 1983, the situation wasn't looking good.

Friday, 7 November 2014

80 From the 80s - Wargames


Is it a game, or is it real?

Studio: United Artists/MGM Release Date: 6th June 1983
Director: John Badham Starring: Matthew Broderick, Ally Sheedy
Budget: $12M 2015 Equivalent: $28.6M
U.S Box Office: $79.5M 2015 Equivalent: $189.8M

David Lightman is curious to play a series of new computer games, and sets about hacking into the company's system. However, unbeknownst to him, he's actually found his way into a US military war simulator and he's about to discover that this is one game that could turn very deadly - for everyone. 

For the modern audience, it's perhaps a little baffling to see how prevalent the threat of nuclear war was back in the early 1980s. With Ronald Reagan in power, the Russians and Americans pursued a game of nuclear one-upmanship, whose effects quickly spread to all facets of life. People became survivalists, built fallout shelters and campaigned to 'Ban the Bomb'.  Never one to miss a trick, Hollywood was quick to use the nuclear threat as the central device in a number of projects. Initially the focus was on the dangers of nuclear power, with 1979's The China Syndrome being among the first. The Jack Lemmon/Jane Fonda picture opened just twelve days before the nuclear disaster at Three Mile Island proved the dangers were all too real.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

80 From the 80s - Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon

He’ll Save Every One of Us!

Studio: Universal Release Date: 5th December 1980
Director: Mike Hodges Starring: Sam Jones, Melody Anderson
Budget: $27M 2015 Equivalent: $82M
U.S Box Office: $27.1M 2015 Equivalent: $82.3M

When the plane carrying football star Flash Gordon and journalist Dale Arden crash lands into the house of Dr Hans Zharkov, the duo find themselves coerced into travelling to the plant Mungo, the apparent source of a series of bizarre weather phenomenon that Earth is experiencing. Once there, they discover Mungo is ruled with an iron fist by Ming the Merciless, and its up to Flash to put a stop to his plans before Earth is destroyed. 

The origins of Flash Gordon stretch back to the early 1930s. Created by Alex Raymond, the character first appeared in comic strip form on January 7th 1934 and was both inspired by, and in direct competition with, Buck Rogers.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

80 From the 80s - Krull


‘A world light-years beyond your imagination’

Studio: Columbia Pictures Release Date: 29th July 1983
Director: Peter Yates Starring: Kenneth Marshall, Lysette Anthony
Budget: $26M 2015 Equivalent: $62M
U.S Box Office: $16.5M 2015 Equivalent: $39.3M

On the eve of a wedding meant to unite two rivals kingdoms, The Beast's army attacks, slaughtering many and kidnapping the bride to be. Prince Conwyn must join forces with a wise man, a magician, a cyclops and a band of theives in order to locate the only weapon capable of destroying the Beast. With time and many the forces against him, can Conwyn save his bride and the kingdom? 

Despite being one of the most expensive movies of the time, Krull is seemingly forgotten amongst the releases of the early 1980s. Taking its primary influence from Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, it sought to score box office gold in the late summer of 1983. With Return of the Jedi starting to look a little long in the tooth, Krull staked its claim to be the next fantasy epic.  

80 From the 80s - A New Project Announced

Welcome to the first chapter in a new project – 80 From The 80s. The idea is to take 80 movies released in the 1980s and chart their production and release history, adding background details and facts, along with analysis of their box office performance.

The series will take in all manner of movies, covering a variety of genres, actors and directors. The ultimate goal is to create a brand new book that takes in all 80 essays. Not every film choice will make sense, and there will surely be classics that won’t make the cut – but I hope everyone will find something of interest. This isn’t a best of the 1980s, rather a collection of movies that entertained.

The idea came about when I was watching Beverly Hills Cop at the Astor Theatre recently. It occurred to me that unlike today, when every single detail is known about a film prior to its release, little was generally known about the stories behind movies back in the 1980s. Only the bigger releases generally got ‘makings of’ and they were rarely seen outside of Starlog, Cinefantastique and the like. 80 From The 80s hopes to go some way towards rectifying that situation.

The project is anticipated to take around two years to complete, and I aim to try to and finish a new essay every couple of weeks. I hope to put a number of them online as they’re done – depending on how the writing goes moving forward. At the end, they’ll be compiled into a book – hopefully both print and digital versions.

80 From The 80s won’t be a film review guide, but will offer an insight into the films you loved and a desire to see those you haven’t.