Supergirl (1984)

supergirl_1Starring Helen Slater, Faye Dunaway, Hart Bochner, Peter Cook, Brenda Vaccaro, Maureen Teefy, Marc McClure, Peter O’Toole, Mia Farrow, Simon Ward, David Healy

Directed by Jeannot Szwarc

Expectations: I’m so excited.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
twohalfstar


The opening scene of Supergirl tries its best to liken itself to the opening scene of Superman, showing us a strange, alien world inhabited by humanoids much like ourselves. But where that original scene was interesting, the one in Supergirl falls a bit short. It does ostensibly perform the same task, though: setting up the canvas on which the rest of the film will be painted. For Superman, that canvas was grand and heroic, but for Supergirl, it’s campy, over-the-top and very much in the realm of B-Movies. One of my favorite phrases to repeat to myself while watching movies like Superman, Thor or The Avengers is, “This is cosmic done right!” Supergirl is most definitely “cosmic done wrong.” That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its share of fun, but even by ’80s or B-Movie standards this is pretty lackluster.

Kara Zor-El (AKA Supergirl, AKA Linda Lee) is Superman’s cousin. She lives in a white sparkling place called Argo City, which is basically a chunk of the planet Krypton that survived the destruction of the planet. They don’t really explain it, I don’t really understand it, but that’s what it is. Oh, and apparently it’s under our ocean? That REALLY didn’t make sense to me, because they show Supergirl going through space to get to Earth and then she pops out of a lake on the studio backlot. So I guess that was supposed to be the deep, dark ocean she was going through. It did have a watery look at times. The lake part still doesn’t compute, though, especially given the film’s ending. Maybe they were trying to clumsily remind us of the adage that all streams lead to the ocean? I honestly don’t know. Anyway… Peter O’Toole steals the city’s power source (the Omegahedron!) because he’s a wascaly, wascaly wabbit, but through a bad chain of events Supergirl ends up losing the Omegahedron when it rockets out the city’s paper walls. Uh oh. So Supergirl jumps in the city’s diving pod in order to retrieve the power source, and thus our adventure begins. But, of course, the Omegahedron immediately falls into the hands of our villain, the evil witch Selena (Faye Dunaway), who uses it to quickly gain power and fulfill her dreams of world domination.

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Purple Haze

purplerain_japanI will start by saying: it’s been years since I watched Purple Rain. With my combination of ADHD and my pre-dementia (just joking?), it was like watching it for the first time. I will start by asking: WHAT THE FUCK? I did not remember the acting being so horrible. The father, Clarence Williams III, was the only believable actor. The plot is about the Kid, played by Prince, an aspiring songwriter/musician. The Kid is struggling not to repeat the abusive and destructive behavior he witnesses from his father. While battling his father’s abusive relationship with his mother, the Kid, meets another aspiring musician, Apollonia, played by Apollonia Kotero. They have an immediate and intense attraction to each other. Their attraction is chronicled through Purple Rain’s kick ass soundtrack. Unfortunately, Prince is a man-child, who is paranoid and disturbed like his father. Prince is constantly mistreating Apollonia and the female members in his band, The Revolution. He is antagonistic, rude, and downright mean to the ladies in The Revolution, Lisa and Wendy. All they want is for him to listen to the songs that they wrote for their band. Prince is battling several personal and professional demons. Morris, played by Morris Day, is the Kid’s musical nemesis. Morris is trying to get Apollonia to join his girl band (later deemed Apollonia 6). Morris wants Apollonia 6 to take over the Kid’s nightly gig. The story is told through Prince’s real-life soundtrack, Purple Rain.

There are too many perspectives to write this review from: psychological, feminist, and/or artistic/nostalgic. I will give a brief description of the first two perspectives, but to keep it positive, I will write the full review from an artistic/nostalgic perspective.

If from a psychological perspective: there are some serious dysfunctional/abnormal behaviors, and mental disorders showcased. Because of my psychology background, I hereby order the family into some intensive family, marriage, and individual counseling. Psychoanalyst Erik Erikson would say that the Kid did not properly go through the stages of development. The Kid is a man-child that throws tantrums through song and pelvic thrusts.

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Purple Rain (1984)

PurpleRainStarring Prince, Apollonia Kotero, Morris Day, Clarence Williams III, Jerome Benton, Jill Jones, Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, Bobby ‘Z’ Rivkin, Matt Fink, Brown Mark

Directed by Albert Magnoli

Expectations: Moderate.

threestar


As much as I love Prince — and let me tell you: I LOVE PRINCE! — I really wasn’t looking forward to re-watching Purple Rain. I saw it “not too long ago,” which to me is about two years ago. I usually wait longer than that, as I’m the type of person to just forge ahead and watch movies I’ve never seen before. Despite this bias, re-watching Purple Rain offered a lot more entertainment than I had expected it would. I knew the live footage was dope, and nothing has changed that. But what I didn’t count on was achieving a new respect for the story that Purple Rain tells.

On the surface, Purple Rain is a vanity project, an extended music video, a way to broaden Prince’s fan base. But what those distinctions don’t explain are the multiple instances of domestic violence and the other complex themes present. These themes show that a simple extended music video was not Prince’s intention at all. The story connecting his songs is challenging and fraught with emotional distress. It’s an incredibly bold move, and a lesser artist couldn’t have pulled it off. Can you imagine if the Justin Bieber movie had the balls to do something like that? Purple Rain is so much more than an extended music video, it’s also an experimental musical drama that achieves everything it sets out to. In today’s day where the studios are more worried about offending someone than creating something truly unique, Prince’s Purple Rain stands out as a true piece of art.

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The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)

Starring Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Richard Hunt, Jerry Nelson, Juliana Donald, Lonny Price, Louis Zorich

Directed by Frank Oz

Expectations: Moderate. This was the one I thought was slow and not that good when I was a kid.


Of all the Muppet movies, I was looking forward to re-watching this one the least. It was always my least favorite of the trilogy, and I’ve seen a lot of negativity around it on the Internet (I know… surprising that you’d find negativity on the Internet). My fears were allayed almost immediately after the film began, though, as I was quickly wrapped up in the storyline and the way it unfolded before me. Because I was just a little indifferent to this one as a kid, I’ve seen it the least (which is still probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 20+ watches), so I also remembered the least about it before it started. As it rolled along, I found that I remembered everything in it, and the greatest thing about that was that as each scene came up, I remembered it fondly.

The film opens with Kermit and company performing their musical, Manhattan Melodies, in their college’s auditorium. They’ve put on the show as their senior project and are now recent graduates looking to put their stamp on that big, wide world around them. With stars in their eyes, and the supportive college audience cheering them on, they set out for Broadway. But when they get there, they discover that they aren’t the hot fire they thought they were, and their efforts are met with frustration, despair and heartache.

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Stephen reviews: The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? (1984)

The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? [超時空要塞マクロス 愛・おぼえていますか, Chōjikū Yōsai Makurosu: Ai Oboete Imasu ka] (1984)

AKA Macross: Do You Remember Love?, Super Dimension Fortress Macross the Movie, Macross: Clash of the Bionoids, Super Spacefortress Macross

Starring Mari Iijima, Arihiro Hase, Mika Doi, Akira Kamiya, Osamu Ichikawa, Eiji Kanie, Ryūnosuke Ōbayashi

Directed by Shōji Kawamori & Noboru Ishiguro


Here it is: Macross. The holy grail of sci-fi anime. It may not have as much mainstream recognition as some others, but within the industry, Macross is the preeminent giant robot anime. In America, it was turned into the first part of the Robotech series, one of the more popular cartoon shows of the 80s. It even impacted the Transformers. The character Jetfire was created from a Macross toy, and while Michael Bay and Shia LaBeouf have been using the Transformers franchise as their own personal commode lately, that Macross inspired character is still around today.

There is no Robotech version of this film, which is an adaptation of the original Macross TV series, but because of the various copyright conundrums, it never got a proper American release. It did get an English dub under the title Macross: Clash of the Bionoids, but one version going by that title was edited into oblivion. (If someone makes a list of the most confusingly published movies, this one better be on it.) I didn’t have much trouble getting a DVD of the original Do You Remember Love, but it is an all region disc, so I think it’s an international release that somehow sidestepped the copyright problems. Sadly, that “perfect edition” is far from perfect. While it does have some good quality video, the subtitles are abysmally timed. The worst part is the karaoke subtitles, which cannot be turned off under any circumstances. Maybe someday we’ll get a good remastered Blu-ray edition in America, but don’t hold your breath.

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Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Starring Lilyan Chauvin, Gilmer McCormick, Toni Nero, Robert Brian Wilson, Britt Leach, Nancy Borgenicht, H.E.D. Redford, Danny Wagner, Linnea Quigley, Leo Geter, Randy Stumpf, Will Hare

Directed by Charles E. Sellier Jr.

Expectations: High, I’ve heard good things.


Argh, this one is just shy of being absolutely phenomenal. The first half is full of incredibly well-done psychological horror, showing the fucked up childhood of Billy and how the damage is manifesting itself throughout his life. About halfway through the film devolves into the sadist slasher movie I expected the whole thing to be and it loses a lot of the steam it had built up. Oh well, even with this frustrating issue, Silent Night, Deadly Night is a fantastic slice of 80s horror and any fan of the genre should definitely check this one out.

The film opens with a family traveling to visit Grandpa in the nursing home. He’s silent and apparently trapped in his head, but when left alone with his grandson Billy, suddenly Grandpa comes to life. He tells Billy about how Santa doesn’t just bring presents to those children that are good, he also punishes kids that were naughty. And not just mostly good, you gotta be ALL good or else Santa will punish you! Billy trembles in fear, and later when they’re traveling home and they stop to help out a Santa with car trouble, Billy freaks out. When this Santa, who happens to be a criminal in disguise, attacks and kills Billy’s parents, the concept of a pleasant, jovial Santa is forever eradicated.

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Night of the Comet (1984)

Starring Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney, Robert Beltran, Sharon Farrell, Mary Woronov, Geoffrey Lewis, Peter Fox, John Achorn, Michael Bowen, Devon Ericson, Lissa Layng

Directed by Thom Eberhardt

Expectations: Very high. Been looking forward to this for a while.


As my significant other said after it was over, “What a weird movie.” Not weird in a derogatory way, though, just weird in a multi-genre way. For me, these tonal shifts hold the film back from being truly great, but it’s not hard to see why this film is so well-revered by a fervent cult of fans. It truly has a bit of everything thrown in for good measure, from zombies to ’80s “Trying on clothes” dance montages. There’s a little something for everyone here, and it’s a film that should please many. Just know going in that it’s fairly low-budget and in the B-movie zone, not that those should detract or be considered negatives, they are just useful for properly setting those expectations.

Our hero Regina is an usher at the local theater on the night of the comet. Virtually everyone else seems to have party plans to hang out and watch the comet’s pass, but Regina is stuck working the theater’s midnight special comet show and decides to stay with the projectionist for some indoor fireworks. Turns out this was the right place to be because when she wakes up and ventures outside, everyone else is nothing more than red dust and a pile of clothes. Except for the zombie that just grabbed her beau!

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