Following my last post back in March, I’m in the midst of watching a selection of 1980s cult films that have, up to this point, passed me by. Well, I haven’t managed to tick off as many as I’d hoped yet but here’s an update so far…
In my ignorance I didn’t know that Predator was directed by John McTernan, of Die Hard fame; had I known, I may have gotten around to sitting down to watch it a little earlier. I absolutley love a good action film but I suppose I’ve never really been into Arnie films, that is to say Arnie has never been a star to draw me in, and yet I appreciate his appeal and of course I love your classic Terminators and your True Lies and all that jazz.
Having said that, I’ve come to realise that I don’t watch modern action films anymore. I have absolutely no interest in the current crop of action franchises; Fast and the Furious, Taken, The Expendables, they all look completely dire. I can think of nothing worse than subjecting myself to Gerrard Butler shouting his way through Olympus/London has Fallen or Liam Neeson grumbling and punching his way around Europe. Of course there are exceptions, I watched and enjoyed White House Down with the kind of excitement usually reserved for Bruce Willis blowing stuff up at Christmas.
I thought Predator was great fun; with all its guns and muscles and explosions and gore and sci-fi and swearing, but it just wouldn’t have the same appeal in the 21st Century. Censored up to its eyeballs to draw in the oft-touted younger audiences (Predator was originally rated a certificate 18) it would be neutered and tame, and the gung ho military nature of it all just wouldn’t seem right in today’s world. But as big old action films go, I’d have it all again please – extra kitsch, hold the cynicism.
Flash Gordon (1980)
What can one say about Flash Gordon? It is beyond comment or parody. I found its preposterous campness boldly refreshing after the recent science fiction releases taking themselves far too seriously. There aren’t that many films which jump head first into awfulness with such verve and gusto. It may have a dreadful, almost incomprehensible plot and a naff, cheap aesthetic, but by Brian Blessed’s beard it’s sensationally silly and the clothes are fabulous. It is slap bang in that hard to reach realm of ‘so bad it’s good’, with tongue stuffed firmly in cheek. Bloody terrible film, hugely enjoyable, but terrible.
Flash Gordon: “Prince Barin! I’m not your enemy, Ming is! And you know it yourself. Ming is the enemy of every creature of Mongo! Let’s all team up and fight him.”
Flight of the Navigator (1986)
I sort of understand why this Disney live action film was so popular with my peers, who watched and loved it as children; it’s got a kid, an alien, a spaceship, a dog and Sarah Jessica Parker… Hmmm.
I would be extremely surprised however, if they watched it often as adults, it’s got absolutely no pace, no humour and well, no magic. It’s fine, it’s mediocre, inoffensive and dull.
Say what you like about Highlander but it’s definitely unforgettable. What a ridiculously strange and engaging movie. Does it have any inkling of its own badness? Did they deliberately cast Sean ‘one accent’ Connery as a Spaniard and Christopher ‘bizarre accent’ Lambert as a Scotsman? Did they realise how hilarious that is? Did they?
When it comes down to it, this epic tale of swords and immortality would be a far lesser film without Queen on the soundtrack, that’s for sure. Like Flash Gordon before it, the pomp, grandeur and down right rocking greatness of Freddie and the gang, carry it along on its own glorious wave of absurdity.
In 2016, as it celebrates its 30th year, (as do I), I think it’s fair to say it deserves its place in the cult canon.