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They Live (1988)
Underrated science fiction movie
They Live is an underrated sci-fi movie, not to mention one of the most underrated sci-fi movies of the '80s. The late pro wrestler Roddy Piper stars as Nada, a drifter who comes across a pair of unusual sunglasses that, to his dismay, reveals that not everyone around him is what they appear to be. Many of them are actually extra terrestrials in disguise intent on taking over the world. He must warn others, including Frank Armitage (Keith David), about the danger they are in. After Frank is finally convinced, he teams up with Nada to help expose the threat to the unsuspecting public before all is lost.
They Live doesn't take itself too seriously, but it is not supposed to. Overall, it is a good film. If you like movies that have a combination of action and science fiction, then you should see They Live.
An '80s crime drama film with a realistic depiction of Los Angeles street gangs
When you think of crime drama movies from the 1980s, Colors may not immediately come to mind. The 1988 movie is often overlooked, yet it was well-directed by actor Dennis Hopper. Colors portrays Los Angeles street gangs in a grim but realistic light. The movie stars Robert Duvall as veteran police officer Bob Hodges and Sean Penn as his rookie partner Danny McGavin. As the former shows the latter the ropes, both officers must cope with the gang-ridden streets of Los Angeles. But keeping things under control is no easy task as gang members attack and kill one another.
In my humble opinion, Colors is a must-see.
Die Hard (1988)
One of the all-time best action movies
Bruce Willis did a fantastic job as John McClane, a New York City police officer who takes on a gang of terrorists when they take over a Los Angeles high-rise. Alan Rickman was great as the menacing leader of the gang, and the inevitable final showdown between him and McClane is clever. Not only is Die Hard one of the best action movies of all-time, but it is also one of the most influential ones. The movie was so successful that it spawned four sequels and numerous copycats, such as Passenger 57 and Under Siege; the former is basically Die Hard on a plane and the latter is Die Hard on a ship. You cannot be a fan of action movies without seeing Die Hard. Plain and simple.
Silver Spoons (1982)
Enjoyable '80s sitcom
It's not very often that you come across a TV show, let alone a situation comedy, in which the father is portrayed as more childish than his son. Nevertheless, such a program came into fruition in the form of Silver Spoons, when it debuted on NBC in September 1982. Joel Higgins was perfect as Edward Stratton III, a wealthy man who discovers that he is the father of a 12-year-old boy named Ricky Stratton, played by Ricky Schroder. But who could have guessed that someone like Ricky Schroder, known for dramatic movies such as The Champ and The Earthling, would star in a sitcom? Regardless, Schroder was great as Ricky Stratton.
Silver Spoons is an enjoyable sitcom. The series ran for five years, on NBC from 1982 to 1986 and in first-run syndication from 1986 to 1987. It produced a total of 116 episodes. That was a good run. It has been over thirty years since the series ended its run, but I still have fond memories of it.
Alex Murphy is a police officer who is murdered by a gang of thugs, only to be brought back to life as a cyborg named Robocop. But his resurrection comes at a price: Alex Murphy is declared dead, his wife is legally a widow, his son is without a father, and he can no longer remember his family. But that's what effectively adds legitimate drama to this 1987 science fiction/action movie.
A product of Omni Consumer Products (OCP, for short), Robocop patrols the streets and fights crime. He eventually comes across the thugs who changed him forever, leading to an inevitable showdown. But he goes through other situations before the showdown, such as taking on a robotic machine known as ED-209.
Robocop is a classic - and I would call it a Robo-classic.
Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
Wonderful John Hughes film
Does this movie live up to its name? If you ask me, the answer is yes. Written and produced by the late John Hughes, Some Kind of Wonderful is exactly what it is: Some kind of wonderful. Eric Stoltz plays Keith Nelson, a high school student and mechanic who asks a popular student named Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson) out on a date. But this is not without risks, as Amanda's narcissistic ex-boyfriend plans to create trouble for Keith. Unbeknownst to Keith, his tomboy friend Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson), the subject of lesbian rumors in high school, has feelings for him.
Many romantic movies of this ilk tend to provide the question of if the boy will get the girl. But the real question in this film is: Should the boy get the girl? That's what makes Some Kind of Wonderful so interesting to watch.
Ernest Goes to Camp (1987)
A hilarious movie. KnowhutImean?
Ernest Goes To Camp is hilarious. Here we have Ernest P. Worrell working as a janitor at a summer camp and then getting promoted to camp counselor. As he guides a group of juvenile delinquents, the camp is in danger of being lost to a mining company. Undeterred, Ernest sets out to save the camp from destruction. The late Jim Varney was great as the klutzy but well-meaning Ernest P. Worrell. The late John Vernon did well as Sherman Krader, the corrupt mining company owner. This enjoyable movie is filled with slapstick humor and physical comedy.
The Rocketeer (1991)
Enjoyable action film
The Rocketeer is a great action movie and fun to watch. Since it is set in the 1930s, the movie doesn't fail to effectively give it a nice '30s throwback look and feel to it. Bill Campbell did a good job as Cliff, aka the Rocketeer. Timothy Dalton's performance as the villainous Neville Sinclair, a Nazi in disguise, was a far cry from his role as James Bond, but effective nonetheless.
I read that there had been plans to make The Rocketeer a trilogy. It's too bad it never happened. It's hard not to wonder what might have been if the film had successfully spawned any sequels. But I would hope that we would have been given stories just as good as the original film, if not better.
In my humble opinion, no only is The Rocketeer is an enjoyable movie, but it's one of the best action films of 1991.
ALF is a wonderful TV show. Watching that sitcom was a Monday night ritual for me during the four years (1986-1990) it was on the air. It was fun to see what kind of mischief the furry alien got into. But the Tanners were cautious, because not only did they have to protect their cat Lucky from the cat-eating alien, but they had to keep his existence a secret from everyone, out of concern for his safety and well-being. Inevitably, though, some people discovered him, but kept it a secret, too.
One of my favorite episodes is "Prime Time." That is the episode in which the Tanner family get a ratings system for their television set. When ALF learns that his favorite polka music show is doing poorly in the ratings, he rigs the system in order to save it from cancellation. As a result, the polka show hits #1 in the ratings. But that success is short-lived, because the Tanners inevitably find out about it and soon get rid of their ratings equipment.
The worst thing about the show was that it ended with a cliffhanger. In the Season 4 finale "Consider Me Gone," four years after the destruction of his home planet Melmac, ALF finally makes contact with his fellow surviving Melmacians and agrees to go with them to live on a new planet. Unfortunately, his attempt to leave Earth fails and the episode ends with Alien Task Force closing in on him. It was not intended to be the end of the series, though. The door was open for a fifth season, but NBC had a verbal agreement with the producers to commission a special that would wrap up the storyline if they decided against renewing the show. Not only was the show ultimately canceled, but NBC underwent a change in management that resulted in the verbal agreement being rescinded. Rival network ABC aired the post-series TV-movie Project: ALF in 1996, six years after the show's cancellation, but the absence of the Tanner family made it unpopular with many ALF fans. ALF creator/puppeteer Paul Fusco said in a 2012 interview that the late NBC executive Brandon Tartikoff admitted to him that the 1990 cancellation was a big mistake.
Again, ALF is a wonderful show. It is suitable for the whole family.
Unusual Suspects (2010)
One of my favorite true crime shows
Aside from Unsolved Mysteries, Unusual Suspects is one of my favorite true crime TV shows. Production-wise, the show looked cheap in its debut season. But when the show returned for its second season in 2011, it looked much better. One may see Unusual Suspects as something of a throwback to the 1980s. That might sound unfair, but I can see why it can be viewed as such. In fact, there are moments in the show where reenactments remind me of reenactments from the early seasons of Unsolved Mysteries, due to the look and feel. Unusual Suspects has nice production values.
If Unusual Suspects can teach us anything, it is that even your quiet and seemingly harmless neighbor can be a cold-blooded murderer. Sometimes, a person's public persona can be a stark contrast to who they truly are behind closed doors.
CSI: Miami (2002)
David Caruso's successful comeback
Needless to say, David Caruso paid a steep price (career-wise) for leaving NYPD Blue early in its second season in the fall of 1994. He traded his role of Det. John Kelly for a movie career that quickly fizzled. In 1997, he returned to television as the star of the CBS series Michael Hayes, playing the title character, but that show was canceled after only one season. In 2002, CBS came calling again, this time casting Caruso as Lt. Horatio Caine on CSI: Miami. After eight years in a career slump, Caruso's career had finally rebounded.
With many great Horatio one-liners and many great episodes, CSI: Miami proved to be a great and successful comeback for David Caruso. In contrast to NYPD Blue, CSI: Miami was a show that Caruso stayed with for its entire run. It ran for ten years, from 2002 to 2012, a few years longer than it should have (at least from my point of view). This is not to say that weren't any good episodes during its final years on the air, since one of my favorite episodes ("A Few Dead Men") was broadcast during the show's final season. It is just that the earlier seasons look generally better by comparison.
Regardless, I am proud of the show and its success. The series may have inevitably ceased production, but with over 200 episodes produced, it is guaranteed to live on forever both on DVD and in syndicated reruns.
To date, The Big 4 has to be the most epic concert DVD I have ever seen. It brings four thrash metal bands together for an epic metal concert show: Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica, and Slayer. Each group stands on their own as they take their turns on the stage to perform in front of a huge audience in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Joey Belladonna shines through as he sings Anthrax classics such as "Caught In A Mosh," "I Am The Law," "Medusa," and the John Bush-era "Only." Like Anthrax, the other bands made impressive performances in this concert, too. Slayer, in particular, delivers the goods with songs like "Angel of Death," "South of Heaven," "Raining Blood," and "World Painted Blood." Of all the highlights on this DVD, none are more significant than the bands (albeit minus Slayer's Tom Araya, Jeff Hanneman, and Kerry King) joining together on stage to perform to the Diamond Head song "Am I Evil?"
Awesome concert DVD - and one that no metal-head should be without!
Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
A funny Christmas movie. KnowhutImean?
I have been an Ernest P. Worrell fan since my teens and Ernest Saves Christmas is a funny holiday movie. After serving as a camp counselor in Ernest Goes To Camp, Ernest crosses paths with Santa Claus while working as a taxi driver in Florida. Santa is eager to retire from his job and pass the torch to his would-be successor, Joe Carruthers, the star of a children's television show. Ernest, along with a teenage girl he encounters, must help Santa fulfill his mission. Time is running out, as Christmas will be gone if Santa fails in his quest.
The late Jim Varney was funny and great as Ernest. His talent made the character shine through, especially in Ernest Saves Christmas.
Slayer: War at the Warfield (2003)
Awesome metal concert DVD
War at the Warfield is nothing short of awesome. But if it has any drawbacks, it is the absence of original drummer Dave Lombardo. However, Paul Bostaph still did a fine performance on the drums. Tom Araya, Kerry King, and the late Jeff Hanneman were all in great form.
In addition to performing such Slayer classics as "Raining Blood", "War Ensemble", "Dead Skin Mask", "South of Heaven", and "Angel of Death", they played some tracks from their then-recent album God Hates Us All, including "Disciple" and "Bloodline". The December 2001 concert opened with "Disciple" and closed with "Angel of Death".
War at the Warfield delivers the goods from start to finish. Evidently, readers of the now-defunct magazine Metal Edge agreed; following its 2003 release, the DVD won a Metal Edge Readers' Choice Award for "DVD of the Year" - and rightly so!
Megadeth: Rust in Peace Live (2010)
A great way to celebrate a landmark Megadeth album
Rust In Peace is a landmark album for Megadeth. In 2010, the band decided to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its 1990 release by doing a series of concerts in which they performed the album in its entirety. "Holy Wars," "Hangar 18," and the title track are among the noteworthy tracks from the classic album. In addition to the entire RIP set list, the show includes some of Megadeth's other classics, such as "In My Darkest Hour," "Symphony of Destruction," and "Peace Sells."
Rust In Peace Live is another great concert DVD, celebrating the 20th anniversary of RIP with terrific results. The namesake live album is also great. It's too bad the Grammys don't offer an award for "Best Live Album." RIPL would have been a strong candidate for such an award.
The return of original bassist Dave Ellefson was a welcome bonus. Having been out of the band since its temporary demise in 2002, Ellefson was - and still is - an integral part of Megadeth. He and guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine, along with guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover, are a great team.
Wonderful concert DVD
After having recently reviewed their previous concert DVD, Rude Awakening, I feel compelled to discuss That One Night: Live In Buenos Aires.
Filmed in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2005, it was a concert that almost never happened. Why? Because Megadeth disbanded in 2002, after Dave Mustaine suffered nerve damage to his left arm. But two years later, with his physical therapy completed, Dave planned to do a solo album. However, contractual obligations required him to do another Megadeth album, so the band was resurrected (minus original bassist Dave Ellefson). The group then recorded a new studio album titled The System Has Failed, which was released in September 2004.
In addition to Mega-classics such as "Hangar 18," "Wake Up Dead," "A Tout Le Monde," "In My Darkest Hour," and "Peace Sells," the set list included "I'll Be There" (from their 1999 album, Risk) and "Coming Home to Argentina," both of which Megadeth dedicated to the audience. The main drawback of the show was the absence of bassist Dave Ellefson. Instead, James MacDonough was the bass player for the band's concert tour (the 2007 live album - also titled "That One Night: Live In Buenos Aires" - is the only Megadeth album to feature MacDonough on bass). But overall, it is a wonderful concert DVD.
Megadeth: Rude Awakening (2002)
Terrific performance in what was almost their swan song
Overall, Rude Awakening is a good concert DVD. The significance of both the DVD and the live CD of the same name is that they were released the same year Megadeth disbanded, when front-man Dave Mustaine underwent therapy for nerve damage to his left arm. At the time of its 2002 release, few realized just how prophetic the title would be. It was their swan song - that is, until contractual obligations resulted in their reformation in 2004. By then, Dave had completed his physical therapy.
The concert was recorded during Megadeth's 2001 tour, while they were promoting their album The World Needs A Hero. In this show, they opened with "Dread and the Fugitive Mind" and closed with "Holy Wars." Other songs performed included: "Angry Again," "Hangar 18," "Trust," "Symphony of Destruction," and "Peace Sells."
It pleases me to know that the concert CD won a Metal Edge Readers' Choice Award. In 2002, readers of the now-defunct magazine voted Rude Awakening for "Compilation/Live Album of the Year," undoubtedly believing it would be Megadeth's final album. Thankfully, they thought wrong, but it was still great to see Megadeth win such an award.
A great send-off for the original Star Trek
I was impressed by this sequel when I first saw it in a movie theater twenty years ago, and I am still impressed by it now. Although William Shatner, James Doohan, and Walter Koenig reprised their respective roles in 1994's Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was a great way to send the original ST cast off.
In this sixth installment, Captain Kirk is still harboring ill will toward the Klingons for having killed his son in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. But it comes back to haunt him when he and Dr. McCoy are both falsely accused of murder. Fortunately, Kirk and McCoy's imprisonment is short-lived, as they escape, rejoin the Enterprise crew, and set out to identify not only the real killers but also everyone involved in the plot to frame them.
ST VI: The Undiscovered Country may have marked end of an era, but the services of the original cast were - and still are - greatly appreciated.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
My favorite movie of 1991
I remember going to see T2 in the movie theater in the summer of 1991. I first saw it just a few days after its release and liked it so much that I went to see it again and again - and again! In other words, I saw it four times in a movie theater! As good as the original Terminator was (and still is), Terminator 2: Judgment Day is one of those movie sequels that outdoes the original. It has great special effects, and Arnold Schawarzenegger is excellent as the Terminator. Robert Patrick did a fine job as the T-1000, a terminator programmed to seek and do away with John Connor (brilliantly played by Edward Furlong). Of course, Linda Hamilton reprised the role of John's mother, Sarah Connor. The film won some Oscar awards, including one for the visual effects, and deservedly so.
T2 is my most favorite movie of 1991.
One of the best animated TV shows - of both the 1980s and all-time
When The Transformers debuted in 1984, I was twelve years old. Of the four seasons it lasted, I generally like the second season the best.
One of my favorite episodes is the two-part episode titled "The Key To Vector Sigma." This was a significant episode because it was about the origin of a new group of Decepticons known as the Stunticons, as well as the origin of the Aerialbots. Because of their ability to perform an assortment of stunts, the Stunticons may very well be among the most dangerous Decepticons.
Another favorite episode of mind was "The Return Of Optimus Prime," because of the fact that Optimus Prime was brought back to life after being killed off in the 1986 movie. It was no secret that fans and small children reacted to his death very badly, and the backlash brought about his return. The episode clearly showed that there are some characters you just can't kill off. Optimus Prime was and is a beloved icon, and seeing him back to life was a welcome relief. The two-part episode was a great way to end the show's third season.
To this day, The Transformers is a cartoon show that I still cherish.
An effective 20th anniversary sequel
Although it is the seventh installment in the Halloween series, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later is, by all accounts, designed as a direct sequel to the first two films. The film was intended to focus on Laurie Strode and where her life is at two decades after being attacked and nearly killed by her brother, serial killer Michael Myers. In more ways than one, the strategy worked.
We now find Laurie Strode living in California and employed at a prep school. She has also changed her name to Keri Tate. None of this, however, is enough to prevent Michael Myers from tracking her down. And when he does, he tries once again to kill her. But this time, Laurie Strode becomes prepared to face him and, hopefully, end her nightmare once and for all.
Although HH20 is a good sequel, it is not without its drawbacks, the most notable of which is the absence of Donald Pleasance. Sadly, Pleasance, who last played Sam Loomis in Halloween 6, died in 1995, three years before this sequel was released. Nevertheless, the HH20 producers ensured that he was not forgotten, as they acknowledged his name in the end credits.
One of the greatest TV detectives of all time!
Kojak isn't just one of the best cop shows of the '70s and all-time. The title character is also one of the best and coolest detectives ever to appear on prime-time. Telly Savalas was the perfect choice to play the detective who apparently never met a lollipop he didn't like.
Kojak was a no-nonsense cop who cared about solving crimes and getting criminals off the street. But he can also display care and sympathy for the relatives of crime victims, as demonstrated during a phone call he makes to a murder victim's mother in the episode "Girl In The River." In that episode, Kojak could identify with the victim's mother's discomfort about the thought that her daughter's killer has resurfaced, because he acknowledged his own inability to rest well with the killer still on the loose. But after the inevitable identification of the killer and the final showdown that results in the killer's death, the episode ends with Kojak calling the victim's mother again, this time to let her know that she can finally rest.
This is a classic TV show that must be watched and cherished.
America's Most Wanted (1988)
America's Most Wanted began as a mid-season replacement in early 1988, and now, twenty-one years later, it shows no sign of slowing down. To date, more than one thousand fugitives profiled on the show have been caught (or, in some cases, found deceased).
It is interesting to note that John Walsh wasn't the only person who was approached about hosting AMW. A number of actors were also considered, including: Treat Williams and Theresa Saldana. True crime author/former detective Joseph Wambaugh was another candidate for the job. However, the studio wanted John Walsh, apparently because he had the credibility they were looking for; the 1981 abduction and murder of his son Adam turned him into an activist, which resulted in the passage of laws that required law enforcement agencies to become more involved in the search for missing persons.
Walsh was reluctant at first, but the case of a fugitive named David James Roberts finalized his decision to host the show. A few days after the AMW pilot aired in February 1988, Roberts, who murdered four people (including two small children) became the show's first capture. Walsh was admittedly nervous during the taping of the pilot, and it was evident.
I still remember the day in 1996 when Fox announced its decision to cancel America's Most Wanted. This surprise announcement prompted viewers (including myself), law enforcement agencies, politicians, and government officials to protest the decision. The public outcry resulted in the show returning to the air in November 1996, after being off the air for six weeks. The day AMW was reinstated was a great day.
The show airs on Saturday nights. Although we have reached the era where Saturday is generally one of the least watched nights for prime-time television, America's Most Wanted continues to be a durable and consistently watched television program.
Bad Santa (2003)
Raunchy but funny
Bad Santa is too raunchy for younger viewers. Make no mistake about it. However, it is a funny Christmas movie.
I went to see this movie at a movie theater just two days after Christmas in 2003. After that, I somehow felt that it was one of those Christmas movies that are best watched during the first few days after the holiday. For some reason, it just works for me, especially since, by that time, I'm nearing the end of my yearly ritual of watching Christmas films.
I like it when Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) stays over at the house resided by the kid he had just met (Brett Kelly). The other resident of the house is the kid's grandmother (Cloris Leachman). The kid's grandmother is senile, so much so that she is oblivious when the kid screams after cutting himself.
Again, this movie is unsuitable for younger viewers. However, if you want a Christmas film that provides effective raunchy humor and raunchiness in general, Bad Santa will accommodate you.
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
It's a wonderful Christmas movie!
Every December, I watch a good number of Christmas movies, and this film is no exception. It's a Wonderful Life is a wonderful movie.
It tells the story of a man named George Bailey (played by the late great Jimmy Stewart). After all that he goes through, including a financial problem, he becomes despondent to the point where he wishes that he had never been born. Clarence, who reveals himself to be George's guardian angel, sends George to a hypothetical world to show him what the town of Bedford Falls would be like if he had never existed. Needless to say, this hypothetical world is far worse than the real world. Fortunately, George comes to his senses, and retracts his grim wish.
When he is brought back to the real world, he is a happy man again. He returns to his family, only to find a lot of townspeople contributing money to help get him out of a monetary crisis.
It's a Wonderful Life is one of the most wonderful films of all time. Watch this Christmas classic every December.