After highlighting some spooky/goofy Halloween flicks for Supa-Fans last month, Supanova contributing writer Kieren JL Henfling returns with more retro reviews! Here are five classics from years gone by that you should add to your list (or revisit in the near future).
Forbidden Planet (1956)
When it comes to sci-fi, it would be impossible to not talk about this 1956 treasure. Forbidden Planet is responsible for introducing movie buffs to several concepts that are well-known sci-fi tropes today. It was the first film to feature people in a faster than light (FTL) ship created by humankind and the first to be set on a planet that wasn’t Earth. The film’s iconic Robby the Robot was one of the first cinema robots to have artificial intelligence with its own distinct personality, rather than just being a metal prop.
This Academy Award-nominated film, directed by Fred M. Wilcox and starring Walter Pidgeon and Anne Francis, follows a young Leslie Nielsen as Commander John J. Adams, whose ship and crew are sent to the planet Altair IV to investigate the sudden silence of the inhabitants. When the crew arrives, they find the inhabitants dead, except for two. The survivors, Dr. Morbius and his daughter Altaira, have escaped the threat of a monstrous form ravaging the planet. The doctor, however, has made a shocking discovery which he decides to keep secret.
The film is still highly regarded and has a cult following, with many suggesting it could be a loose parody of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, as the characters and isolation are similar, as well as several plot similarities. Forbidden Planet is an absolute triumph, with stunning visuals, gripping plot and fantastically portrayed characters keeping the viewer on the edge of their seats for the entire ride.
Weird Science (1985)
The ’80s were full of awesome blockbusters like Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters and Top Gun. While these films dominated the box office, there was another genre that was also extremely popular, teen films. Some of the popular ones were Pretty In Pink, Teen Wolf and The Lost Boys, but among these, some of the greatest were the ones directed by the legendary John Hughes. Fans loved joining Ferris on his day off and learned a lot about themselves with The Breakfast Club. Weird Science was another one of Hughes’ films and is possibly the least known by today’s audiences.
Released in 1985, Weird Science stars Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith as two nerdy teen outcasts who set out to create a girlfriend on a computer, when a power surge causes her to come to life in the real world. Hilarity ensues as the woman, Lisa, played by Kelly LeBrock, encourages them to step outside their comfort zone, resulting in them visiting a bar, and later throwing a party for their school. During the party, chaos ensues with even a ballistic missile being created by the boys’ computer. Weird Science is a fantastic adventure full of laughs, but with an incredible amount of heart thrown in. It truly is one of the greatest teen films of the ’80s.
Howard The Duck (1986)
Every so often there comes along a movie so cheesy and campy you can’t help but like it. There have been a good number of these films, like Flash Gordon, Ladyhawke and Highlander, and Howard The Duck is definitely one of these. Based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, the film was produced by Star Wars creator George Lucas. Premiering in 1986, Howard the Duck is actually the first Marvel movie to be released in theatres (unless you count the Captain America serials), The movie was a critical and commercial failure on release, but now has a cult following, resulting in Howard cameoing in both Guardians of the Galaxy movies and even Avengers: Endgame.
The film opens on Duckworld, a planet similar to earth, but inhabited by anthropomorphised ducks. Howard is a down on his luck duck, who somehow gets transported to our Earth. Upon his arrival, he encounters thugs, whom he defeats with Quack Fu. It is after this he meets Beverly, played by Back to the Future’s Lea Thompson. The movie’s about Howard trying to get back to his world, with Beverly helping him the best she can. At one point they seek help from a scientist, acted with hilarity by Tim Robbins. The rest of the movie is a mess of crass humour, odd violence and a convoluted plot.
The Rocketeer (1991)
Directed by Joe Johnston (Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Jumanji and Captain America: The First Avenger), The Rocketeer is set in 1938 and follows stunt pilot Cliff Secord, played with boyish charm by Bill Campbell, as he finds an experimental jetpack which was stolen by gangsters. Cliff and his mechanic Peevy (Alan Arkin) are able to figure out how to use the jetpack and do so, catching the attention of film star Neville Sinclair (Timothy Dalton) who was behind the initial theft. The movie is full of pulp action, corny one-liners and cheesy romance, but it all works so well.
I can’t say enough good things about this movie as it’s one of my favourite superhero movies of all time. The Rocketeer was created in 1983 by comic writer/artist Dave Stevens, who dreamt up the character as a homage to the serial characters of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. The film entered development in 1983 when Stevens sold the film rights, however, due to numerous creative differences and disagreements, filming didn’t start until September 1990 and finished in January 1991. The visual effects were handled by Star Wars veterans Industrial Light & Magic, which explains why the movie still holds up.
Honestly, this movie is a wonderful trip for fans of superheroes, period pieces, the golden age of Hollywood and pulp adventure.
Tom Cruise as the hero, Tim Curry as the hellish villain and Mia Sara as the princess – this film is much more classic fairy tale than fantasy story, with many considering it a return to the dark legends of ancient and medieval times. Directed by none other than Ridley Scott, it won Best Cinematography at the BAFTAs and was nominated for numerous other awards including an Oscar for Best Makeup, despite not being a commercial success at the box office. But recently, the movie has become a cult classic.
Legend sets out to tell the classic story of good vs evil, starting with the iconic Lord of Darkness sending his minions to kill unicorns and bring him their horns. The rest of the film follows Cruise and Sara’s characters as they go on an epic quest to defeat the Dark Lord. I don’t want to go into detail about the film’s plot, as it is truly best to be seen for one’s self, but rest assured it is a fantastic adventure.
Legend is a wonderful fairy tale, and if you haven’t seen it then make it the next movie you watch.