Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood

I’ve watched a lot of Friday the 13th movies since I’ve started doing my 80s movie marathons (4, 5, 6, and 7), and I think this is my favorite one. If you think back on the series, this is close to being the most archetypical (at least of the ones I’ve re-watched). Sure, the mind powers of the girl are a bit silly, but you have a well executed zombie-like Jason, teens at Crystal Lake (doing silly teens things), and all sorts of gruesome kills — although what I’ve discovered re-watching these is that they’re not all that gory, you tend to not really see when the blade or weapon connects. When it comes to the series, I think this is a pretty great entry.

Monkey Shines

I won’t say it’s a bad movie, but I feel like the movie just takes way too long to turn into the “horror” film it’s billed as. The first hour is a bit of a slog to get through — as the main character deals with his accident and the aftermath. Things get a bit more interesting when the monkey starts doing its thing, but it felt more like a “science gone wrong” film than horror — and the way he defeats the monkey (and the way it’s shot) is hilariously silly. I also tend to stay away from movies based around animals because I can’t stand seeing animals put in difficult (horrific or sad) situations, so that probably also explains why I didn’t like it much.

Coming to America

The biggest surprise for me was how much I enjoyed watching this, and still found it to be so incredibly funny. Sure, I have fond memories of it, but I wasn’t expecting it to have aged well. But yeah, this is still so oh-so funny, and it was a delight to see Murphy and Hall disguised while playing all those wacky characters (I had completely forgotten about this). Still well worth watching, and possibly Murphy’s best comedy film? (I still have a certain fondness for Trading Places though, and the Trading Places Easter egg in Coming to America was fantastic, and again, came as a surprise to me.)

Johnny Be Good

I was mostly interested in watching this because of the cast, and not really because I remember it being a good movie or anything. Seeing Anthony Michael Hall play a jock still feels weird, and oh my, Uma Thurman was so amazingly cute (in her debut film, as the “Introducing” in front of her name during the opening credits announces). As is often the case with films of this era, it’s incredibly sexist, and silly as hell, but I tried to just place myself in “time machine” mode, and sorta enjoyed it for what it is: a dumb 80s teen comedy. I also like the Judas Priest rendition of the title song during the end credits — which weirdly plays over a long sequence of Hall playing the drums in his bedroom.

Heathers

Definitely one of the biggest cult movies from those years, I was curious to see how it had aged. I’ll say that I still enjoyed watching it — in the way that I enjoy watching all of these 80s movies, as a nostalgic trip back to the era — but it does feel a lot cheesier than I remembered, with ridiculous dialogue (even for teenagers), and brooding Christian Slater coming off as a joke more than cool or threatening. But this is pretty much “ultimate” Winona Ryder (who I loved so much), and there’s a lot to like here, as a funny parody of high-school life, taken to extremes.

The Naked Gun

OK, yes, this is still a ridiculously dumb movie, but oh-so-fun. I must have watched it countless times back in the day, because so many lines and situations felt so familiar, even though I haven’t re-watched it since back in the day. I loved all the Zucker-Zucker-Abrahams comedies from the 80s (Airplane, Top Secret), and this was just what I was expecting and hoping to watch. Mindless fun.

Frantic

I tend to have a very bad memory when it comes to the plots of old movies, which means that I can go in and revisit these movies and still discover the story again, and enjoy the suspense. Such is the case for this — I remembered liking it, but couldn’t really remember much outside of the basic “this is Harrison Ford in trouble in Paris.” It’s still an enjoyable thriller with a Hitchcock feel, with good performances all around. Well worth a revisit.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting much from this — thinking it hadn’t aged well — but I was still quite curious to watch it again since I hadn’t revisited since back in the day. To my pleasant surprise, this was quite enjoyable, and still stands out as a novel idea, and the execution is still quite admirable. I had also completely forgotten that they had managed to get all these characters together (from Disney, Looney Tunes, etc.) and that made it even more fun. Sure, it’s not high cinema, but I think it’s still a rather good film, and extremely fun. I’m a bit surprised that they haven’t tried to do anything with Roger Rabbit since then (outside of doing a few shorts following the film’s release) — this would be an interesting world to revisit.

They Live

I kicked off my 1988 movie marathon with this, and I’m glad I did. I really enjoy re-watching all these John Carpenter movies — I was a pretty big fan of his movies after all — and this one is another enjoyable visit. Yes, that 10-minute fight scene (between the two buddies) is still as ridiculous as ever, but overall this is still such a great story idea, and I love how it builds up to the climax. Great effects work too on the look of the aliens.

The Lord of the Rings

The biggest memory I have around this film is when I was younger and we were planning on watching it, a friend was tasked with renting it, but accidentally got a wrestling tape called The Lords of the Ring instead (maybe he had just called to reserve it, without seeing the box). I’ve always had mixed feelings for this film. I do find it to be quite interesting and fascinating, and it is a well done retelling (albeit unfortunately cut short) of the Lord of the Rings saga — and I was quite surprised to see how Jackson’s film does in fact follow so many of the same beats as this earlier film. Where I have mixed feelings is with the aesthetics. The character designs are great, but I’m not a huge fan of rotoscoping when it comes to animation — it gives everything too much of a jerky motion, since it maps too closely to realistic movement — and so would have much preferred a more traditional animation style. But what I dislike the most is that they in fact eschew animation a lot of times (maybe for budget reasons) and so you occasionally get real actors with a slight color overlay — often suddenly and with no transition — and that’s something I don’t like. Where it does slightly work is with the orcs, since it makes them look so creepy (but I would still have preferred to have them properly animated). Still an interesting film to revisit though.