I think that sometimes it’s important to look at context when judging a film from the past. What were its contemporaries, what were the critical hits of the year, what trends were popular, what movies tapped into the public zeitgeist, what movies bombed.
In 1983, the best picture winner was Terms of Endearment. Linda Hunt won an Oscar for playing a man in The Year Of Living Dangerously. Return Of The Jedi would earn its place as the worst Star Wars movie, a title it would keep for nearly 20 years.
Those are the facts that people remember today. Those are the movies that have held up. But if you look at 1983 in terms of box office, an entirely different trend emerges; a trend of incredibly stupid films. And when I mean stupid, I mean some of the dumbest, most mind-numbingly idiotic movies of all time: Octopussy, Staying Alive, Mr. Mom, Superman III, Blue Thunder, Jaws 3-D, Porky’s II, Easy Money, Spring Break, these all just didn’t come out in 1983, there were massive hits, some of the biggest movies of the year. Mr. Mom out-grossed both Silkwood and The Outsiders!
It is in this climate that D.C. Cab was unleashed upon moviegoers, and they deemed it good enough to somehow make a profit, with the box office declaring it worse than Krull and My Tutor, but still better than Stroker Ace and Smokey & The Bandit Part III.
And you know what? Yeah, that sounds about right.
I saw the Village People live at a free concert once. While I went to the show to poke fun at them and their ridiculousness, I actually ended up having a lot of fun. The Village People, to this day, are great performers. They know how to work a crowd, and their music, while silly and simple, is still a lot of fun to dance to, especially in a crowd of a few thousand.
But while I enjoyed the concert, at no point afterward did I think to myself, “I’m going to go out and buy some Village People records!” I can’t imagine why anyone ever wanted to. Their music is made to be enjoyed live, or at the very least in a disco.
So the idea that someone could see the Village People live and not only think, “these guys are a musical tour de force, I need to buy all their albums” but also “and someone needs to make a movie about them too!” blows my fucking mind.
Because that totally happened.
You’re at a concert for a band you love. You’ve waited months, maybe years to see them live. You’re stoked.
The lights dim. The band takes the stage. Immediately they cut into one of their fastest, most intense numbers. The crowd is pumped, they’re jumping up and down. They’re singing along. They’re screaming. It’s everything a concert should be and more.
About three or four songs in the band decides to slow it down a bit, crank out that ballad or quiet acoustic number. It may not be a Top 40 single, it may not be a fan favorite, but you love it.
And that’s when you hear it.
Not the song, but the assholes behind you babbling up a storm.
“Oh my god, check out this text” says one them, staring intently at their phone while ignoring the artist they paid good money to see.
“Wow, I can’t believe that! Oh my god that reminds me you won’t believe what happened yesterday,” says the other twit.
Now they’re both staring at each other, talking loudly. They’re right behind you. You can hear them as well as you can the music. You glare at them but they’re so involved in their own little world that they don’t even notice. Eventually it gets to be too much, and you move.
“Dude! What the fuck! Fuck this boring song!” says the loud bro behind you. His friend nods in agreement.
You move again.
“No! No! I’m right here! I’M RIGHT HERE! I’ll raise my hand!”
“Dude Dude dude let me past you come on, I gotta get up front, dude, dude, be cool dude.”
“PLAY [BIG HIT] I LOVE YOU!”
This is a problem.
The Devil vs. Bill Gates.
That’s the best way to sum up The Dungeonmaster, an ultra low-budget 1983 schlockfest from Charles Band’s Empire Pictures. A mainstay of video stores throughout the 80s, the out-of-print film is now on Netflix (on a transfer that looks like it was dubbed from a VHS tape) allowing new generations to discover and finally learn the answer to the question, “Can you defeat the devil with DOS?”
It’s easy to forget, but when Blade Runner was first released in cinemas in 1982, the film was both a commercial and critical dud. It wasn’t until the Director’s Cut was released to theaters ten years later that many began to turn around on the film and see it for the sci-fi classic that it is now considered to be.
However, one point that was never in contention even during the harshest critiques of the film was its score. Composed by Vangelis, who also brought us the iconic Chariots of Fire theme, it was instantly lauded as sensational, and even earned itself several award nominations. Oddly enough though, an official soundtrack was never released during the film’s original run. Instead all fans got was an album of “orchestral interpretations,” something that was not at all representative of Vangelis’ haunting, mostly synthesized, score. It would take over 10 years for the actual soundtrack to see the light of day. But by the time it was released in 1994, LPs were at an absolute nadir in terms of sales, so it was only given a CD release.
Now, over 30 years since the film’s original release, the original soundtrack has been released properly on vinyl, thanks to re-issue label Audio Fidelity. And while I wouldn’t say it’s been worth the wait, fans who were holding out all these years for a vinyl copy of the film’s iconic score probably will not be disappointed.
While most people turn to Netflix to watch the latest new releases or TV shows, I prefer to use the service to dig deep and seek out lesser known artifacts from the 70s to today. Are they always good? No. But when they’re at least entertaining, I’ll share them here. Up first is Number One With A Bullet, the best 1987 crime thriller starring a supporting member from Star Wars and a guy from Revenge of the Nerds.
The cast of Number One With a Bullet reads like a mad-libs gone wrong; Billy Dee Williams and Robert Carradine as hard-nosed narcotic cops. Valerie Bertinelli as Carradine’s long suffering (ex?)wife. Doris Roberts as his neurotic mom. Peter Graves as their easily agitated captain. Mykelti Williams (Bubba from Forrest Gump) as the lovable snitch. It’s a who’s who of what the fuck. A hot mess of a cast.
Appropriate for a hot mess of a film.
While I don’t plan on doing much in the way of “news” stories at this site, I will be doing these weekly updates showcasing new releases, new editions and re-releases of older films and albums. I may also expand this to games at some point.
I got kinks to work out with the layout still, but I wanted to get this up, so here you go: what new in the world of old movies and music for the week of April 21st, 2013.
It’s a pretty light one.
Jurassic Park 3D (Blu-ray/DVD combo)
Experience the needless 3D-conversion of a classic in the comfort of your own home (provided you have both a 3D Blu-ray player and a 3D HDTV). Aside from the pointless 3D disc, this is identical to the Blu-ray that came out as part of the Jurassic Park Trilogy box set in 2011. That box set is only 10 bucks more than this new edition, so if you don’t like 3D and care at all about the two sequels, then you should probably just grab that version instead.