Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '86 - Josh Obershaw ""

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Underrated '86 - Josh Obershaw

Josh Obershaw is a graduate of University of California, Santa Cruz, majoring in Theater Arts. A writer and life-long film fan, he's currently putting his passion for movies to use as the Lead Contributor to the official website of The ScreamCast podcast. He also appears on the show keeping listeners up to date with upcoming Blu-ray releases, as well as other horror-related news.

You can follow Josh on Twitter (@DoctorSplatter) and on Instagram (doctorsplatter).

This list is not only spotlighting films from 1986 that are either forgotten or are underappreciated, but, like my Underrated '85 list from last year, this is also a snapshot of what my viewing habits were back then. When I started thinking about the movies I wanted to look back on, these were pretty much the sort of pictures that first came to mind. Reading the list back, and with my ScreamCast duties in mind, it's clear my tastes have changed much in 30 years. More importantly, though, these films still seem really fresh in my consciousness even three decades later. So, they've must have done something right.--------
Biggles: Adventures in Time (dir: John Hough)
Highlander was not the only time-jumping fantasy of 1986. Alex Hyde-White (of 1994 Fantastic Four infamy) plays a modern-day New Yorker who suddenly finds himself going back and forth in time between his day and 1917 Europe. While in the past, he finds himself fighting The Germans alongside a dashing ace pilot named James "Biggles" Bigglesworth (played by Neil Dickson). Together the two "time twins" are fighting The Germans in each other's eras, trying to stop them from changing the course of history. Based on a series of books, Biggles: Adventures in Time is very light-hearted, but it's a whimsically fun time. It deserves a new audience, and thankfully Kino Lorber will be putting it out on Blu-ray in the near future. Major bonus points for including the legendary Peter Cushing (in his final film appearance) and a totally 80s theme song, "Do You Want to Be a Hero?" performed by Yes frontman Jon Anderson.
House (dir: Steve Miner)
Roger Cobb (William Katt) is a writer with a lot of problems. His son disappeared, he's separated from his wife, his aunt just committed suicide, and he's under pressure to write another book. So, the Vietnam vet decides to write his new book (based on his experience in the war) in the house that belonged to his now-deceased aunt. And that's when the crazy stuff starts happening!

Given the horror pedigree, it's strange how House isn't now thought of as an 80s classic. The film was directed by Steve Miner, who previously helmed the second and third Friday the 13thmovies, and would go on to direct Halloween H20 and Lake Placcid. In addition to William Katt, the cast also includes George Wendt (TV's Cheers) and Richard Moll (TV's Night Court). Fred Dekker, who made Night of the Creeps the same year is given story credit. House is one of those great examples of balancing horror and comedy just right. Plus, it has one of the best taglines ever: "Ding dong! You're dead!"
Invaders From Mars (dir: Tobe Hooper)
Tobe Hooper's Cannon trilogy is one of the nuttiest succession of movies by a single filmmaker. Even his remake of the 1953 sci-fi film Invaders From Mars, seemingly the more family-friendly of the three, is still really bonkers. Hunter Carson is a boy who sees a humongous spaceship land in a hill behind his house, but of course no one believes him. Then, the adults start to act like they are not themselves. With the help of the school nurse (Karen Black), the boy uncovers the truth: aliens are taking over the Earth! Co-written by Dan O'Bannon, and featuring creature effects by Stan Winston and visual effects by John Dykstra, Invaders From Mars transplants that colorful, garish, rubber monster movie vibe to the 80s really well. It's nightmarishly kitschy, resulting in a wildly memorable ride.

Legend (The U.S. version, dir: Ridley Scott)
Some people are going to cry foul, going, "Hey that one came out in 1985!" Yeah, in Europe! If it wasn't for a fellow movie-loving Facebook friend, I would have totally forgotten that I saw TV ads for Legend's American theatrical release in 1986. By the time Legend got here, it was a vastly different picture. Second guessing himself, director Ridley Scott drastically altered his lavish fantasy film into something different for U.S. audiences. Among other changes, the American version is half an hour shorter and replaces Jerry Goldsmith's original orchestral score with a contemporary soundtrack by the group Tangerine Dream. It is thatpicture I'm including on this list. It's also my preferred cut. With its brisker pace, and the dreamy, driving synth-and-guitar-based music, this Legendhas more of a "midnight movie" feel than the more traditional overseas edit.

Troll (dir: John Carl Buechler)
I'm sorry (No, I'm not), but I cannot stomach that Troll 2 has a following. I like bad movies as much as the next person, but I'm unable to see the humor in it. Despite giving way to the wonderful documentary Best Worst Movie, Troll 2 is an in-name-only sequel so unwatchable I cringe every time I see a shot of it. I admit it, I'm biased. The original Troll is a delightfully bizarre B-level fantasy flick. From Charles Band's Empire International Pictures, best known for cult classics like Re-Animator, Ghoulies, and Trancers, Troll concerns young Harry Potter, Jr. (!) (Noah Hathaway), who moves into a San Francisco apartment complex with his family. Little does he know the building is a gateway to a faraway land, and his little sister is now possessed by an evil troll bent on turning all the tenants into mythical creatures in order to bring the two worlds together. A witch living in the complex helps Harry in rescuing his sister and in saving the human world. Directed by effects artist John Carl Buechler, Troll is loaded with incredible monster effects and is in no short supply of wacky performances from the likes of Sonny Bono, June Lockhart, and Michael Moriarty (especially his epic rock out to Blue Cheer's "Summertime Blues"). Kids will marvel at the effects and adults will get a kick out of the weirdness. The fact that Troll continues to be buried in favor of its bogus sequel is a damn shame.
The Wraith (dir: Mike Marvin)
Charlie Sheen and Randy Quaid, back when they were both sane people, co-star in this MTV-era supernatural tale of a mysterious form who targets of gang of motorheads bullying a small desert town. The title character, a murdered young man back from the dead and out for revenge, challenges each member to race him and his black, futuristic-looking car, and takes them out one by one! The Wraith is like an 80s precursor to the 1994 movie, The Crow. Not only similar in story, but The Wraith also blends elements of action and horror. The movie also has a memorable group of baddies, like Nick Cassavetes's psycho leader, Packard, Clint Howard's cowardly Rughead, and hopped-up punkers Skank (David Sherrill) and Gutterboy (Jamie Bozian). In addition, the film rocks hard with a soundtrack that includes: hits such as Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" and Motley Crue's "Smokin' in the Boys Room", Ozzy Osbourne's The Ultimate Sin track "Secret Loser", and the film's theme, "Where's the Fire?", performed by Tim Feehan.

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