July 8, 2012 by abbyo
This post is part of the Movie Waffler’s “The Year I Made Contact” blogathon, in which film bloggers write posts about movies released in the year they were born. If you want to find out more about the blogathon, go here.
The more I research it, the more proud I am to have been born in 1988. Guys, this was a great year for movies. Not just good movies, either. This is a year that gave us both “Rain Man” and “Child’s Play” within about a month of each other. 1988 was a year of extremes, from the awesome to the awesomely bad.
As regular readers of this blog know, I like to give equal time to art and junk here at No More Popcorn (what else would you expect from a blog named for a line in “Troll 2?”). So I’ve compiled not one but two top five lists: one of the top five highlights, and one that features the best of the worst. Enjoy!
Top Five Best Movies of 1988:
(Disclaimer: I claim a lot of emotional bias here—this was a difficult decision, so it was as much about movies from 1988 I just plain love as much as it was about actual cinematic accomplishments. If you want a list by the numbers, Rotten Tomatoes is but a click away. My birth year, my rules!)
Alice (Dir.: Jan Svankmajer)
I reserve a special, dark corner of my heart for Czech animator and director Jan Svankmajer. For one reason or another, I watched a lot of his movies in college, often with friends, and they were always a total trip. Of his movies, “Alice” is probably my least favorite, but that’s only from a storytelling standpoint—it doesn’t stand on its own as a film the way “Little Otik” does. Artistically, “Alice,” a retelling of “Alice in Wonderland,” serves as a feature-length example of Svankmajer’s unique style of stop-motion animation, one that’s gone on to influence everyone from the Quay Brothers to Henry Selick. It feels smart, dangerous, and a little bit sick.
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Dir.: Terry Gilliam)
To be fair, if Terry Gilliam had made anything in 1988, it would have ended up on my list. Fortunately, the movie he released during this year is one of my favorites anyway, although it’s not exactly his most popular. I watched this movie a lot growing up, mostly because of how it looked. We’re talking major eye candy here, folks. It’s also a definite influence on Tarsem Singh’s great “The Fall,” which follows the same plot structure, and features similar visuals.
The Last Temptation of Christ (Dir.: Martin Scorsese)
While we’re on the subject of amazing-looking movies, let’s talk about “The Last Temptation of Christ” for a moment. This one’s a bit of a landmark movie, huh? It’s a film that makes excellent use of its locations, and takes a lot from the artistic tradition surrounding the story of Christ. Scorsese’s always great, but he really did his homework here, and I think it’s one of the first examples we see of him stepping outside of the realm of films he’s usually associated with—it doesn’t take place in New York, or the present-day U.S., and it doesn’t focus on Italian-Americans. This is one that really feels different from the rest of his work.
Beetlejuice (Dir.: Tim Burton)
On the landmark front, we’ve also got “Beetlejuice,” The first full-length film Tim Burton both wrote and directed. It’s totally unique, and has an impressively distinct vision for someone making their first foray into writing and directing. This is the movie that put Burton on the map, and when he arrived, he really arrived. So much so, in fact, that he never went away, but just continued to offer moviegoers diminishing returns. It’s kind of a downer, actually, to contrast his most recent work, like “Alice in Wonderland” or “Dark Shadows” with “Beetlejuice,” which is seriously funny, wild and just damn smart. What happened to the guy that directed that movie? Because I sure did like him.
Die Hard (Dir.:John McTiernan)
Come on, you guys. It’s Die Hard. Because I am an American, I am required by law to love this movie. Not only that, but Die Hard was released THE WEEK I WAS BORN (seriously, how cool is that?). Do I really need to say anything else? I don’t think so.
Top Five Best of the Worst of 1988
Hobgoblins (Dir.: Rick Sloane)
“Hobgoblins” is a Gremlins knockoff that’s mostly responsible for providing viewers with one of the best Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes in the show’s history. Here’s a highlight reel to prove my point:
Taffin (Dir.: Francis Megahy)
I knew nothing about this Pierce Brosnan action thriller until about a year ago, when it became the favorite punching bag of BBC radio hosts Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish because of this fantastic line:
I’ve since seen the movie (one day it’ll get a “Plan 9 Cinema” post all its own, believe me), and it’s got plenty more grade-A cheese to offer. Do yourself a favor and watch it sometime—you’ll be glad you did.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space (Dir.: The Chiodo Brothers)
I first saw “Killer Klowns” at a sleepover in ninth grade. It’s been one of my absolute favorite bad movies ever since. It’s an alien horror thriller made by a trio of brothers whose previous claim to fame was creating Large Marge for “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” and now live in infamy as cult heroes. I think it’s fair to say that “Klowns” rivals “Troll 2” and “The Room” as one of the most beloved camp classics of all time. It even inspired a band name—though, granted, not a great band. But still, it’s the thought that counts.
(FYI, Lawrence, Kansas readers, Frank’s North Star is hosting a screening of “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” tomorrow night at 9 p.m.! Whether you’re a fan, or just getting introduced, it’s sure to be a good time.)
Space Mutiny (Dir.: David Winters and Neal Sundstrom)
Another MST3K classic—probably the definitive MST3K classic. This South African sci-fi film features line-for-line the worst writing and acting I’ve ever seen committed to film, not to mention the awful quality of the sets, music and…everything else, really. The jokes about this movie practically write themselves. Witness:
Bloodsport (Dir.: Newt Arnold)
I’ve made mention before on this blog about my singular love for Jean Claude Van Damme’s movies. This movie is the reason why I love them as much as I do. In fact, it’s one that kind of straddles the line between being a terrible movie, and being kind of good. “Bloodsport” claims to tell the true experiences of American fighter Frank Dux, who travels to Hong Kong to participate in a kind of extreme “Karate Kid”-style tournament known as the Kumite. You’re really only watching this movie for the action sequences, and they sure as hell deliver, thanks to a cast filled with actual professional martial artists, of which Van Damme is one.