On a whim the other day I went through some of my old draft posts and realised it was getting kind of cluttered. It was full of thoughts that never got finished and half formed ideas that I never got around to. Most of them were unpublishable, either due to the moment passing or me just not remembering where I was going with the ideas. I ended up deleting a large amount because I know I’ll never get back to them and their time is gone but I kept a few to work on over the next few weeks.
This is the first one that I’m performing thread necromancy on. I’ve polished it off as best I can and added a few bits here and there. Let’s see how it goes.
So a little over a year and a half ago (Holy crap, I swear it was just yesterday! – Editor), some of you may remember that I did a 7 day book challenge on Facebook. Seven covers of books posted without explanation. Of course I followed up here with the explanation as to why they affected me so.
When it ended, I said I would revisit the topic because there are so many more books than 7 that have affected my life. The more I thought about it though, I realised that every book I’ve read has shaped my life in some form or fashion. Even the ones I hated.
So, what else could I do. Well, this being the modern age and me being a typical Gen-X-er. Why movies of course. I grew up in the middle of the movie rental era (heck come to think of it, I witnessed the whole lifespan of the movie rental phenomenon right to the bitter end, but that’s a blog post for another day.) Back in the days when “please be kind, rewind” actually meant something, I’m pretty certain that I watched most of these movies before it was age appropriate for me to do so. It didn’t do me any harm beyond fuelling my already overactive imagination. Movies may not have had the same impact as books on my young life, they certainly stoked the fires already there.
So without further adieu, here are some of the movies that shaped my youth (In no particular order)
- The Princess Bride (1987) – I think this may have been the first story within a story that I remember watching (and actually realizing it). The bookending of the fantastical tale of the princess bride and the dread Pirate Roberts between conversations between a sick boy and his grandfather resonated with me and made it real. I never had that experience as my grandparents were half a world away during my formative years but I loved it all the same. I’m pretty sure this was also my first experience with romance and like Fred Savage’s character, I didn’t mind the kissing parts.
- The Goonies (1985) – Goonies Never Say Die! What’s not to like about a movie that tells the story of a bunch of misfit kids on the run from some criminals while searching for buried treasure. This is one of those movies that felt like it was made for me. I was one of those misfit nerdy kids who didn’t fit in. I was always daydreaming of far flung adventures..
- The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – I missed seeing Star Wars in the theatre when it first came out. One, I was 4 when it was released. Two, we moved to Canada shortly thereafter so I guess I get a pass on that one. Empire however, came out in 1980. I would’ve probably been 7 and it rocked my world. A movie where the bad guys won!!? Incredible!. I was completely hooked. The funny thing is, I don’t ever remember seeing a New Hope, but when I went to see Empire, I knew who all the characters were. Either cultural osmosis, or somewhere in my childhood, I saw Star wars without knowing it, possibly one of those classy Laserdisc things they had back in the day)
- Labyrinth (1986) – Jim Henson has always amazed me. The man was a creative genius. A genuine soul and a first rate storyteller. I was always drawn in to the stories. Whether it be Labyrinth, Dark Crystal. The Muppet Show, or the short lived TV series, The Storyteller. I didn’t mind if the story was dark, or weird. Just that it took me somewhere. Jim took me away to the Labyrinth and I go back regularly with my kids because Jareth the goblin king is cool.
- The Breakfast Club (1985) – I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before, I’m a John Hughes fan. He managed to tap into the pulse of my generation like no other visionary has done since. I never saw this one in theatres as I was twelve at the time but it quickly found a place in my heart as one of my all time favourites. I was always one of the blips at school. Barely registering on anyone’s radar, in this movie I found a voice that echoed my own. Movies like The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Weird Science each contain pieces of me. They will forever be a part of me.
- Bladerunner (1982) – Another gem that I only discovered via rental (hey, I was 9 when it first came out!) It was my first foray into film noir. Into what was the as yet uncoined cyberpunk genre. I remember this really being the first movie that clued me into the fact that movies could sometimes be based on books (yes, I ran to the library to research Philip K. Dick as soon as possible). This was amazing. It was dark and gritty and I loved every minute of it. Plus there is no better death soliloquy than Roy Batty’s Tears in the Rain monologue. Even writing this I had to look it up on YouTube just for the sake of nostalgia.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – After Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Indiana Jones series of adventures is probably my favourite. In fact I could probably argue that I love Indy more than Star Wars (I know, I know – Blasphemy!). Again, the itch that is my love of history gets scratched and you throw in some supernatural fun, adventure and good vs evil and you can’t go wrong. As a kid I saw Indy as the cool, smart action hero and as an adult I still do, though I probably identify with Indy’s quote on aging “It’s not the years, it’s the miles.” more and more.
- Better off Dead (1985) – John Cusack has always had a sense of style that I can identify with and this movie was always one of my favourites. It’s absurdist at times with it’s mix of black comedy and goofiness that absolutely appealed to my inner nerd. From the street race with the asians who learned english from Howard Cosell to the waste of a perfectly good white boy, this movie was fun.
- Say Anything (1989) – I love everything about this movie. Full Stop. Like many others, see myself as the Lloyd Dobler everyman struggling to find love while trying to grow up and figure out what the world wants you to be. It’s quiet, it’s intense. It’s flawed…. Just like life.
- Ghostbusters (1984) – I ain’t afraid of no ghosts! Fuck. this movie was amazing. It’s one of those perfect movies for me and it always will be. It checks all the boxes. While the sequel was laughable, it was still fun and it allowed us to peek a little further into that world. Now before anyone starts to piss on the Melissa McCarthy remake, stop. I actually liked it far better than the original sequel.
- Heathers (1988) – Heathers was an eye opener for me. Dark, cynical and completely different from the cliched teen comedies of the era. As a John Hughes fan this was the polar opposite and I loved it. The world was changing and this movie somehow encapsulated that change from the optomistic teen movies of the 80s to the somewhat more cynical and nihilistic movies of the 90s. It was grunge before there was grunge. JD was an asshole in the movie and I think this was the first time I enjoyed rooting for the bad guy.
- Pump Up The Volume (1990) – This movie, like most of this list, spoke to me, as a teen growing up. I was enthralled by the music, stuff that I had not had the joy of hearing before. I enjoy a good underdog story and I loved the main character’s alter ego being able to do what he could not.
- Excalibur (1981) – Merlin? Arthur? Sex and Swordfights? Really. I was born to watch this movie. This was beyond my wildest dreams a cool movie. Plus I have yet to find a more rousing piece of music than O Fortuna/Carmina Burana.
- The Name of The Rose (1986) – Down the historical rabbit hole we go again. Connery was Bond to me (until Daniel Craig came along but that’s a different story) so seeing him as a Franciscan Monk in 1327 and Christian Slater as his pupil was eye opening. As a youngster I didn’t understand half of the movie, but after discovering the book in my later teen years, I went back and saw many more nuances that I missed the first time around.
- Highlander (1986) – Hrrm. Let’s see. Swords – Check. Immortals – Check. Mytho-historical Fiction – Check. Connery – Check. What’s more to say? This movie was great from the minute I first laid eyes on it. Yes, it has so many horrible bits but it set my pre-teen mind awhirl. There can be only one!
- The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984) – This movie confused me when it first came out. Not because of the muddy plot or bad acting. It confused me simply because I couldn’t understand why this movie wasn’t real life. It was beyond everything 11 year old me could imagine!
- Big Trouble In Little China (1986) – This was one my favourites growing up. The main character is the sidekick (though he acts like the hero). It played against some of the tropes of the decade and let the white guy be the goofy sidekick to the competent asian. It was fun, didn’t take itself too seriously and had more than enough mysticism, sword fighting and martial arts to whet my appetite. And after all, You know what ol’ Jack Burton says…
- Ladyhawke (1985) – I swear I saw this in the theatre after Ferris Bueller’s Day Off but Google says it was released a year prior to Ferris, which makes little sense to me as I only knew of Matthew Broderick because of Ferris and he was part of the reason I watched this in the first place. Perhaps my memory is hazy and I didn’t see this in the theatre but I’m positive I had. Regardless, it was an amazing film. I loved Broderick’s portrayal of Phillipe Gaston and his conversations with Imperius and God. The scenery was breathtaking as was the mysticism of the story and hey look folks… more historical fiction!
- Monty Python’s The Holy Grail (1975) – What can I say. I grew up in a Northern Irish household and then moved to Canada. The tv was often playing shows from home, whether it be the the comedy of the Two Ronnies, or David Allen, or Fawlty Towers? Or more dramatic fare like I, Claudius or Rumpole of the Bailey. (and Let’s not forget Doctor Who!) I grew up with a great appreciation for British television. One of those shows that aired on PBS was Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The absurdity of it amused me. The irreverence of it appealed to me. The intelligence of it inspired me. the age of video allowed me to enjoy all of these things over and over again. memorizing jokes and patterns and rhythms of language and timing. I loved it. Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time!
Whew! I’m done. I swear there are more movies and books out there that have influenced me. Maybe I’ll get around to writing another post in a year and a half with more.