Monday, May 9, 2011

Five Movies That Didn't Grow Up From Childhood

Have you ever gone to revisit a movie that you loved during your childhood only to find yourself disappointed in your own sense of judgment and intelligence? Chances are this has happened more than once and for every film that holds up there is at least one that leaves you scratching your head as though the director pulled a Jedi mind trick on you. Take Child’s Play 3 (1991) for example. In third grade, that movie was the shit, now it’s just shit. It’s not even worth watching to make fun of with your friends. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) on the other hand, remains badass to this very day! It all comes down to a matter of quality. As a child your focus isn’t on dialogue, acting, or logic; it’s on experiencing things vicariously, through any available outlet, that you’re not allowed to do otherwise.

When it comes to reminiscing about movies from childhood, overcoming nostalgia is quite possibly the biggest hurdle. Nostalgia is a hell of a thing, especially when your mind doesn’t recognize the original appeal. Many people have a hard time letting go of the past, or coming to terms with reality. It can be tough and there is no accounting for taste. People fail to realize that while they may have watched and enjoyed the film endlessly as a child it failed to have a lasting impact on their overall growth and development. Just because you have fond memories of the movie doesn’t mean that it made you who you are today. That is what separates the keepers from the clingers. To look at a film from childhood through the eyes of an adult you’d have to ask yourself, “would I want my kid watching this crap?” Fear of raising an idiot should be enough of a deterrent for anyone on the fence about a title from their youth.

All of the films on this list were produced in the 1980s, which is rapidly becoming known as the “you had to have been there” decade. It was a time before the Sci-Fi Channel commercialized schlock. Nowadays the market is flooded with poorly executed films that may have one or two lasting elements, but overall don’t merit their cost or running times. In the 1980s horror and fantasy films were flooding the market based on the success of Star Wars (1977) and Halloween (1978) from the previous decade, but their lack of quality coupled with high budgets and low returns opened a new market of direct-to-video. As time progressed the Sci-Fi channel cornered the market and now, with the exception of a few shows in syndication, provides a Mecca for immature, amateur, cheesy movies – the likes of which would make Tom Servo and Crow short circuit.

The following is a list of five flicks that didn’t hold up for me personally. I had such fond memories of some of them and hardly remembered all or part of the rest. I know enough to know that I, or someone I knew, liked them and that I witnessed them. Among them there is only one that I would consider subjecting myself to again. Without any further ado, here are five movies that didn’t grow up from childhood.

Munchies (1987) Dir. Tina Hirsch

This movie was on ALL THE TIME when I was younger and I watched it every chance I got. Unfortunately, at the time I couldn’t see the striking similarity to the far superior film, Gremlins (1984). The premise of little monsters that are essentially walking piranhas that regenerate when dismembered was awesome. Throw into the mix a bunch of crazy, eccentric, violent characters and you’ve got the making for a great film…if you’re five. At twenty-five you’ve got a bunch of left over rubber hand puppets from Pizza Hut and too much free time. I’m sure Harvey Korman would have been on board either way.

House 2: The Second Story (1987) Dir. Ethan Wiley

This one really broke my heart. I remember loving this movie as a child, way more than it’s predecessor, House (1986). I watched it a couple of years ago after not having seen it for more than a decade. Suffice it to say, I found myself fast forwarding through most it. The plot was so random it was as though writer/director, Ethan Wiley, took every miscellaneous scene, character, and idea he had scribbled down since junior high and sewed them together as one inept script. Aside from some good art direction and production design the movie’s only saving grace is the sequence featuring John Ratzenberger as Bill, the sword wielding, know-it-all repairman. Other than that the film stars Arye Gross and features a young Bill Maher playing your typical ‘80s slimeball.

Swamp Thing (1982) Dir. Wes Craven

If you’ve read the comic series, particularly when Alan Moore was writing it during the mid-80s, then you know Swamp Thing is badass. You’d also know that he is an effects heavy character and the only way to do him justice is with some kind of budget. The alternative is precisely what this movie delivers – hammy over acting, a giant rubber suit, and a drawn out plot. Even the marketing tag line across the top of the poster leaves much to be desired by way of creativity. Still, out of all the movies on this list, Swamp Thing is the only one that retains a shard of interest from me. There is a special attachment to the character that exists within me based on his adventures portrayed in his comics. 

Nightbreed (1990) Dir. Clive Barker

How on earth Clive Barker went from the gruesome terror displayed in the Hellraiser series to this, I will never know. This movie is actually one that I don’t remember from childhood. I know it was there and I saw it during that time, but there was no viable recollection, even while subjecting myself to it again. The only thing I could think of while watching it was, “are they for real? Is this supposed to be serious?” Honestly, thinking about it now, the creatures in the film remind me of another movie that I saw as a child, Freaked (1993). The only difference is that Freaked was intentionally absurd and therefore successful, while Nightbreed was miserably a turd and therefore sucked.

The Ice Pirates (1984) Dir. Stewart Raffill

The most interesting thing to note about this movie, other than they recycled models from Logan’s Run (1976),  is that both Ron Perlman and Anjelica Huston appear in it. The film is just trash and quite painful to watch, especially if you didn’t grow up with it. However, if you do feel strongly about it to the point where it made an impact on your life then you’re probably and idiot anyway and won’t understand this criticism. Again, this film reminds me of another visual narrative abomination, Mom and Dad Save the World (1992). Granted, they’re going for a particular style, and I get that, but there is still such a thing as good and bad, and of course quality.


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