Tag Archives: 1980s


The Thing
d. John Carpenter / 1982 / USA / 109 mins

Still from John Carpenter's remake of The Thing

A few weeks back, writing about excellent Korean monster movie The Host, I included the mysterious creature from The Thing in my Official Top Ten List of the Greatest Best Ever Indeterminate Movie Monsters/Mutants/Beasties of All Time, Ever list. And John Carpenter’s remake of the Cold War short story adaptation is about as excellent as its monster is indeterminate (ie. very!). But I wanted to focus, this time, on The Thing‘s other ‘monster’, Kurt Russell’s gruff anti-hero character and his many manifestations in collaboration with John Carpenter.

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d. John Waters / 1988 / USA / 91 mins

Still from John Waters' Hairspray

Despite the hype and hoopla surrounding the recent musical remake, this is the first time I have watched Hairspray (or any John Waters film, for that matter) in a number of years. And what really stands out (and holds up) for me, is Waters’ brilliant grasp on the absurdities of suburban life, and the typically strange brand of humour which hovers around his films through a canny mix of off-the-wall absurdity and excruciating mundanity.

This is just a great film – with a good, simple story and such a great cast – that it is really no wonder that it became such a highly successful stage musical and Hollywood feature. But if it’s a raw shot of entertainment that you seek, forget the candy-coated musical remake and head straight for the original (and still the best).

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The Disciples of the 36th Chamber
d. Lau Kar-Leung / 1985 / Hong Kong / 89 mins

Still from Disciples of the 36th Chamber

The third in the Wu-Tang Clan’s favourite film trilogy – and certainly not, I’m reliably informed, the best – this is typically entertaining and energetic stuff from the Shaw Brothers lot, but any judgement is heavily swayed by the fact that I watched a horrible dubbed version, marred by the usual unfathomably bad accents. Hell, one of the main characters even sounded distinctly Irish (perhaps he was voiced by Russell Crowe?)

But whilst it sounded like tripe, The Disciples of the 36th Chamber did remind me why – aside from the sheer brilliance of the action choreography – Shaw Brothers films are considered to be so visually stunning: Shawscope. That’s right, not content to unashamedly crib their logo design from Warner Brothers, they also adapted their own version of Cinemascope, a 2.35:1 ratio format with one of the most ridiculously brilliant colour palates you’re ever likely to encounter (particularly if you only really ever watch films that feature people knocking ten shades out of each other). And thanks to some recent preservation efforts, we are finally getting to see these HK cinema classics in all their Shawscope glory!

Oh, Shawscope, how I love thee. Come to think of it, I’m tempted to buy a t-shirt just to prove it.

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Back to the Future
d. Robert Zemeckis / 1985 / USA / 116 mins

Still from Back to the Future

Screw hover-boards, Back to the Future only ever makes me want to get my mitts on one of these bad boys:

JVC GR-C1 video camera…a JVC GR-C1 video camera.

Seriously. I want one. Now.

(Actually, I want a GR-C1E because I’m a PAL kind of guy, but that’s another story.)

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d. Jūzō Itami / Japan / 1985 / 115 mins
Viewed at: A3.03 @ UEA (Norwich, UK)

Still from Tampopo

I’m not a foodie. I love food, especially good food, and I love trying new food, and I love eating out, and I even like cooking, but I still see food as a form of sustenance rather than pleasure. And so it’ll probably come as no surprise that I’ve never really been a massive fan of food films or films about restaurants (with a few exceptions, as always).

Jūzō Itami’s Tampopo is very much about food, ramen to be precise, with a central narrative strand in which a pair of wandering strangers arrive at a ramshackle noodle hut owned by a single mother, and set about helping her to transform it into a top class culinary establishment. Just about every single frame of Tampopo concerns itself with food: how to cook it, how to eat it, how to use it for seduction.

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