Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '87 - Gems from Thirty Years Ago ""

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Underrated '87 - Gems from Thirty Years Ago

As I was going through all that was released in the great year of 1987, I realized that this was pretty formative year for me in terms of cinema. BEVERLY HILLS COP, THE UNTOUCHABLES, LETHAL WEAPON, PREDATOR and ROBOCOP all came out that year and all were (and are) a huge deal to me and some of my earliest R-rated movie memories. My list below consists of a lot of films that I found later on VHS and many of them have not made the jump to Blu-ray (several aren't even on DVD).

THE YEAR MY VOICE BROKE (1987; John Duigan)
Very good autobiographical coming of age take from the unique voice of Australian director John Duigan. A great showcase for actor Noah Taylor, who would reprise his role here in Duigan's even better follow-up film FLIRTING in 1991 (part of an incomplete trilogy). Currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
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MATEWAN (1987; John Sayles)
One of John Sayles' best, right up there with LONE STAR and BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET for me. This film focuses on a small mining community which has been bullied (often violently) by it's parent mining company for some time. When a union organizer arrives in town, things begin to get more than a little tense. Great ensemble includes Chris Cooper, David Straithairn, Marry McDonnell, James Earl Jones, Will Oldham and KeviN Tighe amon other familiar faces. As with pretty much all of Sayles' filmography, this needs a Blu-ray now!
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EXTREME PREJUDICE (1987; Walter Hill)
Nick Nolte (in his prime) headlines this fantastic and underseen Walter Hill flick with his usual remarkable cast of character actor heavyweights like Powers Boothe, Michael Ironside, Maria Conchita Alonso, Rip Torn, Clancy Brown, William Forsythe and even Larry B. Scott. Very much a modern day western in the world of drug cartels and childhood friends become enemies. Very Peckinpah.
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DUDES (1987; Penelope Spheeris)
From the director of SUBURBIA, THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION and WAYNE'S WORLD comes this road movie featuring two disenfranchised punks (Daniel Roebuck from RIVER'S EDGE and Jon Cryer) who are on a mission to avenge the death of their friend at the hands of some rednecks. Fun soundtrack featuring Jane's Addiction, Megadeth, The Vandals and more. Needs a Blu-ray (or even official DVD)!
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ROLLING VENGEANCE (1987; Steven Hilliard Stern)
Revenge movie wherein a monster truck is used to even the score. Sleazy and crazy, but a whole lot of fun in my opionion. Stars Ned Beatty and Don Michael Paul (who was also in another of my 80s favorites - LOVELINES). Blu-ray please.
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LIGHT OF DAY (1987; Paul Schrader)
Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett play a brother and sister in a working-class band near Cleveland. Paul Schrader directed this one and despite it's not always upbeat nature (making it as a rock band is hard!), the cast is stellar (Gena Rowlands, Michael McKean, Jason Miller, Michael Rooker) and this one has become a bit lost due to a lack of availability (only released on VHS). Another that needs the Blu-ray treatment.
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ENEMY TERRITORY (1987; Peter Manoogian)
Well-crafted little low-budget, claustrophobic thriller. In theJUDGMENT NIGHT/TRESPASS vein, but precedes both. Also has a kinship with SELF DEFENSE(1983).
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SUMMER CAMP NIGHTMARE (1987; Bert L. Dragin)
"LORD OF THE FLIES meets MEATBALLS" would be one way to describe this movie where a bunch of kids take over their camp summer camp with extreme force. Not much comedy here though so much more on the LORD side than MEATBALLS. Also needs a Blu-ray, hoping one of the boutiques is already working on it. Penelope Spheeris was co-screenwriter on this one.
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PLAIN CLOTHES (1987; Martha Coolidge)
Very underseen and very enjoyable "undercover cop goes back to high school" movie starring Arliss Howard (FULL METAL JACKET), from the director of VALLEY GIRL and REAL GENIUS. Olive Films put this one out on Blu-ray a while back, which is pretty cool.
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NORTH SHORE (1987; William Phelps)
Surfing version of THE KARATE KID starring one of the kids from TEEN WOLF (Matt Adler) and the lovely Nia Peeples. For 80s fans who are still looking for gems.
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HOT PURSUIT (1987; Steven Lisberger)
Oddball 80s comedy turned kidnap thriller starring John Cusack, from the director of TRON. Watch for Robert Loggia and Keith David plus Jerry and Ben Stiller as bad guys. 
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FIVE CORNERS (1987; Tony Bill)
Director Tony Bill (MY BODYGUARD) made this film from a script by John Patrick Shanley (JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO). Very quirky drama with Jodie Foster and John Turturro.
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MY DEMON LOVER (1987; Charlie Loventhal)
Scott Valentine (from FAMILY TIES) has a problem. When he gets turned-on, he literally transforms into a kinda gross looking demon. This kind of condition can be most troublesome when one finds a girl that might be "the one". Horror intertwines in this romantic comedy elements in this now less-talked about 80s peculiarity.
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CROSS MY HEART (1987; Armyan Bernstein)
A rather frank and awkward portrait of sex and dating in the 1980s. It's mostly just Martin Short and the lovely Annette O'Toole themselves - out on their third date. Short's character trying desperately to impress her - going so far as to borrow a posh apartment and car from his pal Paul Reiser. Feels real in many ways that romantic comedies from this period don't. The whole sense of not trying to offend your date and still trying to be honest is portrayed in a way that I found most endearing.


beamish13 said...

Terrific list! I was fortunate to see MATEWAN at UCLA last year. An unbelievably beautiful and poignant film, with phenomenal photography by the great Haskell Wexler. Pity the DVD is absolute garbage.

Rupert Pupkin said...

Jealous! Would love to have gone to that screening - so cool! And yes, DVD is crap and boy do we need a Blu-ray!

Andrew Wickliffe said...

Woot! CROSS MY HEART appreciation! I thought I was the only one.

Alexander Miller said...

Matewan is an all time favorite - John Sayles is one of America's most underrated auteurs.