Like it’s 1978

There goes another year-based movie marathon done and dusted (following: 1967, 1968197719851986, 1987). I was pretty excited to jump into 1978, as a lot of the movies I watched were pretty nostalgic for me. I ended up watching nine films (listed below), which I think acted as a good round-up of the type of popular films we saw that year — on the cusp of the blockbuster era, following 1977’s Star Wars).

You can take a look at all my short write-ups for each film by clicking below, or simply find them through the “1978” category. Next up: 1988.

  1. Animal House
  2. Damien: Omen II
  3. Death on the Nile
  4. Game of Death
  5. Grease
  6. Halloween (1978)
  7. Jaws 2
  8. Superman: The Movie
  9. The Lord of the Rings

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.

Grease

Grease is Grease. It’s still fun, it still has a fantastic soundtrack, it’s still cheesy and corny, and it still has its charm and a great cast. Grease is the word. Grease lightning! 

Animal House

To be honest, this was much funnier than I was expecting — although it probably didn’t hurt that I was drinking wine while watching it. Sure, it’s considered a classic (mostly because of Belushi’s presence), but I wasn’t expecting it to have aged well, and in a lot of ways it hasn’t (rampant sexism, etc.) But if you look at it as a product of the time, there are a lot of laughs to be had, and it’s fun seeing so many recognizable actors in one of their earliest roles. And yes, Belushi is fantastic, as crass and disgusting and weird as you remember him being.

Jaws 2

In one of my previous marathons I watched Jaws: The Revenge, the fourth entry in the series, and that was quite awful. This second one is definitely better, and at least also see Roy Scheider still there, but that said, as expected, it takes a bit too long to get to the fun stuff (i.e. the shark attacking people). When it does though, it’s fun, and even the way they defeat Jaws is pretty funny. Can’t say I particularly liked it, but it was still interesting to watch as a snapshot of that era’s blockbuster film/sequel.

Terrifier

I liked watching this, even though I found it to be trash at the same time. It’s fully in the b-movie camp, with low-budget effects, but it manages to have fun with that, all the while being really gory — more than I was expecting — and with a premise that sounds pretty dumb and simple at first, but ends up being more creepy than it should be (I think in part because of the odd and frantic performance by the actor playing the clown/killer). Not for everyone, and not for every moods, but can be fun to watch if you’re in the right frame of mind.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

I watched this in the context of the regular “Movie Nights” I organize at work — I pick a theme (this time was of course “Halloween”) and then create a survey for the team to pick the movie they’d most like to watch (choices were between this, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Scream, Creepshow, and Trick ‘R Treat). I had an absolute blast watching it, but it was in a fantastic setting: a large room with a bunch of people, drinking beers and eating popcorn, and having a fun time commenting at things and joking while we were watching it. This is a ridiculously over-the-top film — with an oh-so-young Cory Feldman — and it’s quite simply one of the best examples of what 80s slasher films were all about.

Oculus

I really didn’t know much about this movie, but came across it on Netflix, and it seemed to be rated highly. It was a very pleasant surprise, as it ended up being quite good — certainly one of the better movies I watched in October. Great spooky premise — a haunted mirror — with an interesting buildup (trying to stop it from happening again through a series of contraptions) and then payoff. Really enjoyed this.

The Ritual

Throughout the month of October I ended up watching quite a few Netflix Original films, something I hadn’t really done much of in the past, and this was another one I really enjoyed. Hiking in the woods is already a great premise for a horror film, and here they manage to really build it up nicely, to then cap it off with a great creepy payoff that isn’t really what you’d expect. Well worth watching.

Bone Tomahawk

This is a hell of a movie. I’d been wanting to watch it for quite some time, and had heard that it gets really crazy at some point, and yup, that final sequence is just, well, terrifying. I really love westerns, so I was first of all happy to have one that touches on the horror genre. It also does a nice job of slowly building towards what we witness towards the end — which is truly terrifying, both in terms of something you see happen, as well as seeing the remains of something they’ve done (I’m purposely leaving this vague). Well worth watching.