We’re used to the “is it a Christmas movie?” debate surrounding Die Hard and it seems that every year someone takes the opportunity to write another article about it. But it’s not as if Die Hard is the only film that may or may not be a Christmas movie. There’s every Shane Black film, Trading Places, Batman Returns, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I’ve argued plenty of times with a friend of mine about Meet Me in St. Louis. She claims it’s a Christmas movie and I am adamant that it’s not. There are plenty of films that are set at Christmas that don’t focus on the holiday itself. Films that barely even recognise that the festive season is upon us. Many of these films are just old favourites that people enjoy watching. Like Gremlins. People like the film so why not watch it at Christmas? After all, it’s a time when we’re meant to embrace the people we love so why not the films too?
On Tuesday, I reviewed Vampires vs the Bronx. One of the main reasons that I did this was because it gave me the chance to rewatch The Lost Boys for today. My friends and I were obsessed with the 1987 classic black comedy when we were teenagers. It was a ridiculous thing and we loved it. It also helped that, even as a bleach blonde vampire, Kiefer Sutherland is an absolute dreamboat. The Lost Boys was a commercial success and is still beloved by fans. To the extent that, 21 years after it was released, a sequel was released. Apparently, there’s a third one as well. Something I might never have realised had I not been writing this post. Will I watch it? It’s unlikely but at least I now have the option.
During my TBT review of Sixteen Candles, I suggested that having the film as your favourite John Hughes movie probably said a lot about you as a person. The film is great, as I say in my review, and was a solid debut for him as a director. It was also a great breakout role of Molly Ringwald. The problem is, it’s quite rapey and kind of racist. I know it’s an 80s thing but watching it now makes me uncomfortable. To be fair though, most of them do. But I decided that it would be fun to decide which my favourite movies were by him as either a writer, director or both. So, here are mine. What is your favourite John Hughes film?
It’s my birthday today so I decided that my throwback Thursday film this week should be birthday themed. I was so close to watching the awful Jennifer Garner film 13 Going on 30 but I couldn’t face it. Instead, I went with this John Hughes classic. Although now I’m in my 30s, I think I should stop watching these films. They’re so dodgy. You know that thing where the older you get the more you side with the parents in children’s films? That doesn’t happen with John Hughes. You just realise that everyone is kind of awful. I mean the most positive character in Sixteen Candles is Joan Cusack’s character and she doesn’t say anything. But I’m always up for spending the night with Molly Ringwald. She’s such an icon. Her hair, her dress sense, the fact that she never closes her damn lips. Perfection.
Do you ever get a craving to watch a film? I’m not sure why but this week I’ve been desperate to watch Splash. I think it’s because I’ve been listening to old episodes of the Ricky Gervais XFM podcast. I think it was mentioned in one of the earlier episodes when Karl was talking about Mermaids. It’s been years since I watched this film and, because I reviewed Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood on Tuesday, I decided it was the perfect time to watch it. I’m a fan of Tom Hanks but I don’t like many of his films. We all know what I think about Big. So many people think Forrest Gump is a masterpiece but I hate it. His romantic-comedies with Meg Ryan? Forgettable. The Polar Express? It still gives me nightmares. The Terminal? Not even worth mentioning. I think it’s fair to say that, between all of his great roles, he’s made some dodgy choices. Was Splash going to be as wonderful as I remember it being or was I just a stupid kid who still liked mermaids?
This may seem like history repeating itself because I’ve already reviewed Die Hard on this blog. But, considering it was the inspiration for the title of my blog, there was no real alternative to end my Throwback Thirty series. Not only is it one of the best films of 1988 but it is one of the most loved films of all time. Seriously, you mention Die Hard to pretty much everyone and they’ll respond positively. Plus, it’s kind of timely considering this year the whole “is Die Hard a Christmas film?” debate started raging again. “And is it?” I hear you cry? I don’t really care. Officially, I did put it on my list of ‘Essential Christmas films’ but I’d watch this film at any time of year and be happy. That’s not something I could say about the majority of other films on that list. In my heart, it doesn’t really feel like Christmas until I’ve watched Bruce Willis run around in a dirty tank top but it’s only real link to Christmas is the setting. But, I say again, who gives a shit?
As I was reminded today, there are only 19 more sleeps until Christmas. This means that Christmas shopping is in full swing. I like to think I’m doing well with the amount of gifts I’ve already bought but, when I really think about it, I still have loads to buy. And I’m starting to get desperate for ideas. When I read something on Twitter about the 30th anniversary box set of My Neighbour Totoro I decided it was the perfect present for a friend… until I saw the price and almost died. I mean, I love her but no. Sorry. On the plus side, it reminded me that I’ve been putting off doing a TBT post about this film. I don’t know why it took me so long as I really love this film. In terms of Studio Ghibli films, it is one of the all time classics and Totoro has become a massive part of Japanese pop culture. By this point, he’s essentially the Japanese Winnie the Pooh, right? If I was going to be sharing my 30th birthday year with anyone then I’m really glad it’s Totoro.
This is last TBT post of November. A fact that can only mean one thing: we’re only 4 posts away from the end of this whole series. In just four weeks time I never have to watch a film from 1988 ever again if I don’t want to. Somehow I’ve managed to avoid watching any of the “decent” films that I had intended to watch. I kind of feel like I need to at least watch Cinema Paradiso as it was the Oscar winner from that year. But, then again, when there are still so many shitty films out there it’s impossible to imagine sitting down to watch something good. I know that I’m watching both Scrooged and Die Hard in December so it just begs the question, what are the other two going to be? But, let’s not think about that now. Not when we have a film all about female empowerment. It’s all feeling very progressive but is it as predictable as I think it’s going to be?
If I were to ask you what your favourite 80s horror film starring small furry monsters then you’d probably, and quite rightly say, Gremlins. Unfortunately that film was released in 1984 so I had to find the next best thing. Thankfully, in 1988 the film Hobgoblins came out and that’s essentially just a carbon copy. Hobgoblins didn’t exactly make a name for itself when it was released but has since become something of a cult classic. Mostly down to the fact that it was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 where it was described by Paul Chaplin as heading “right to the top of the list of the worst movies we’ve ever done.” A fantastic legacy that was only helped by the fact that Rick Sloane (writer, director, producer) submitted the show himself and loved the episode. Whatever else you can say about the film, it certainly had earned its place in the annals of Hollywood history.
So, I couldn’t find an appropriate film with the word “Return” in the title to review this week but, as I’m still on this October high, I have picked another great horror film. Last week I watched a parody of a classic B movie from the 50s. This week we’re celebrating a remake of one of them. The Blob was first released in 1958 starring Steve McQueen. 30 years later it was remade with Kevin Dillon. The original was a low-budget, independent film that went on to become a surprise hit. It helped that McQueen, appearing in one of his earliest roles, stood out as the star he would go on to be. The original film is everything that the science-fiction films of the 50s were known for. It became a classic horror film and it’s obvious to see why it would be on the cards to be remade. As we have seen, the 80s was a big era for horror films. The zombie uprising was still in full swing and cinema audiences were keen to be scared. It makes sense that one of the granddaddies of the genre would be near the top of the list for a remake utilising the improved special effects of the time… and that guy from Entourage.