Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '86 - Eric Hillis (Movie Waffler) ""

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Underrated '86 - Eric Hillis (Movie Waffler)

Eric Hillis is a freelance film critic and editor of
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Here's his Underrated '96 list:

1986 might be my favourite post-70s movie year. It was the first year of my life in which I really began to immerse myself in movies, as my family had recently purchased our first VHS recorder, and for the subsequent year my Dad would bring home two rentals every weeknight and take out about another six at the weekend. With so much demand from the new generation of VHS consumers, 1986 saw an insane amount of movies released, and my initial list of under-rated movies ran close to 30, but I've managed to narrow it down to these 10.
Deadly Friend (Wes Craven)
Along with classics like Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes and A Nightmare on Elm Street, the late, great Wes Craven made a few stinkers. Few stink quite as bad as Deadly Friend, but damn if it isn't one of his most entertaining flicks at the same time. In the sort of plotline that could only exist in the mid-80s, Kirsty Swanson's dead teenager is brought back to life by the robotics genius kid next door. Come on, where else do you get to see Anne Ramsey's head explode like a watermelon after being struck by a basketball?
Eight Million Ways to Die (Hal Ashby)
Directed by Hal Ashby, written by Oliver Stone and Robert Towne, and starring Jeff Bridges, Rosanna Arquette and Andy Garcia, this is one movie that's badly in need of a critical reassessment. Bridges is at his rugged best as Matt Scudder, Lawrence Block's alcoholic private eye, and Arquette makes for a smoldering femme fatale in a movie that was either a couple decades late or too ahead of its time. Undoubtedly the best movie to boast a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Hitcher (Robert Harmon)
One of the decade's best thrillers, The Hitcher would find its way into my VHS player at least once a week at one point after its first TV airing, yet only Jennifer Jason Leigh emerged to form a deserving
career. This should have catapulted director Robert Harmon, writer Eric Red and stars C Thomas Howell and Rutger Hauer into mainstream success, but the quartet would work largely in straight to video fare for the rest of their careers.
Link (Richard Franklin)
The late australian director Richard franklin is one of cinema's most under-rated filmmakers, responsible for a fantastic run of genre movies across the '70s and '80s. Link, the story of a lab orangutan menacing scientist Terence Stamp and housekeeper Elizabeth Shue, isn't one of his best, but it's one of his most enjoyable, right up there with Romero's Monkey Shines in the killer ape sub-genre.
Mona Lisa (Neil Jordan)
Director Jordan's best movie and Bob Hoskins' greatest performance, Mona Lisa plays like Britain's Taxi Driver, as Hoskins' chauffeur falls for Cathy Tyson's hooker. The late actor combines vulnerability and intimidation in a way few can.
Night of the Creeps (Fred Dekker)
Superior to Dekker's more celebrated The Monster Squad, Night of the Creeps ranks alongside An American Werewolf in London and Return of the Living Dead in the pantheon of '80s horror comedy. It's a rare horror movie that features genuinely likeable teens, but it's Tom Atkins who steals the show, as a suicidal cop haunted by his past, and contributes to one of the horror genre's most memorable dialogue exchanges.
Psycho III (Anthony Perkins)
The Psycho sequels are overlooked at best, considered blasphemous at worst, but Richard Franklin's Psycho II is a fantastic movie in its own right and the third movie isn't half bad either. Perkins takes to directing with remarkable flair, delivering a movie heavy on mood and style, and you can see this film's influence in Park Chan-wook's Stoker. It also features a great score from Carter Burwell.
Rawhead Rex (George Pavlou)
Adapted from his own short story by Clive Barker, this Irish set monster movie is a gloriously trashy throwback to the golden age of the genre as the titular beast menaces a small rural village.
Round Midnight (Bertrand Tavernier)
Loosely based on the friendship between French author Francis Paudras and American jazz pianist Bud Powell, Tavernier's film might be the best screen evocation of the power of music, summed up explicitly by the image of Francois Cluzet crouching in the Parisian rain outside a jazz club to catch the sounds of Dexter Gordon's sax within.
Sid & Nancy (Alex Cox)
Another great music biopic arrived in '86 with this look at the troubled relationship between Sex Pistols' guitarist Sid Vicious and his American girlfriend Nancy Spungen. Gary Oldman cemented his reputation in the title role, but sadly director Alex Cox would struggle to finance projects after this point, becoming best known to a generation of cinephiles in the British isles as the host of BBC's excellent Moviedrome series.

1 comment:

C Chaka said...

Great list! I had practically every line from The Hitcher and Night of the Creeps memorized back in the day. And Link made me forever distrustful of monkey butlers (even when they are apes).