Guest Author - Gail Kavanagh
The 1980s was a great time for scifi and fantasy movie fans. It seemed like a cult movie was released every weekend, and some of them have never been bettered. Here's a quick round up of some that should be in every sci fi and fantasy collection.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension: This was supposed to be a series, but sadly only the first movie was made. Starring Peter Weller and a cast of gorgeous 80s actors, this was sheer fun from start to finish. The multi talented Weller played Buckaroo Banzai, a multi talented renaissance man scientist, racing driver and rock star. His crew consisted of Rawhide (Clancy Brown), New Jersey (Jeff Goldblum), Perfect Tommy (Lewis Smith), Reno (Pepe Serna) and Pinky Carruthers (real life rock star Billy Vera). Going along for the ride were Penny (an incandescent Ellen Barkin) and Dr Lizardo (John Lithgow). It holds premier cult status on the Internet.
Ladyhawk: Starring Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer and Matthew Broderick, this beloved fantasy never loses it's enchantment, which was mostly due to the chemistry of the three stars. Lovely Isabeau and her lover Etienne are the victims of a cruel spell that keeps them always together, always apart. Cheeky thief the Mouse helps them break the spell.
The Last Starfighter: The last movie of song and dance man Robert Preston, and one that endeared him to a whole new generation of fans. He plays Centauri, a lovable con man, who recruits a trailer park loser to become the greatest starfighter of them all, and bring an end to Xur and his evil empire. Great fun, a feel good sci fi movie with some pretty good acting, especially from Dan O'Herlily as the reptilian Grig, who boasts a gung ho attitude, a wife-oid and six thousand little griglets. Priceless.
Starman: Jeff Bridges should have won the Best Actor Oscar for this movie he was nominated but lost out to F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus. Like Michael Rennie before him (The Day the Earth Stood Still) Bridges brought dignity as well as other worldliness to the alien Starman. The difference is that Bridge's alien is a down-to-planet mapmaker, who just wants to map the earth, not bring it into line. There is one beautiful scene where he tells the guy who is giving him a lift that he 'makes maps'. Do you make money? the guy asks with a grin. After some thought, the Starman solemnly replies, I make maps. Every nuance of his performance is sheer pleasure, whether you are a sci fi nut or not.
Sons of Steel: Sons of what? You may ask. This Australian cult movie starred no one who was ever heard of outside Australia, but believe me, there are still people running through the Sydney metro underground quoting lines from it and pretending to ride Harleys. Yeah, you gotta be there. The action centres around rock star Black Alice (Rob Hartley), cross dressing scientist Secta (Jeff Duff) and the beautiful Hope (Roz Wason) as they rush to save the earth (or is it just Sydney?) from extinction. Gloriously funny, completely insane, and compulsively watchable. It really does exist check IMDB if you don't believe me. Very hard to get now as well, so I cherish my copy.
Tron: Jeff Bridges again, in a cult sci fi that never died. Early computer geeks gloried in the terminology and the inside workings of a game, rendered in CGI that was pretty amazing for 1982. Am I looking forward to the sequel? Do bad programs try to kill you?
Highlander: With gorgeous Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery in leading roles, and directed by Russell Mulcahy, who brought his video clip pizzazz to a movie that moved back and forth in time, Highlander was sure to be a hit and a cult favourite. Add Clancy Brown, in his defining role as the Kurgan, and what more can you ask? Only that the sequels weren't so lame in comparison.
This is only a tiny sample of the great sci fi and fantasy movies of the 80s. There are so many others just as great Batteries Not Included, Labyrinth, Bladerunner, Dune, Short Circuit...apologies if I haven't mentioned your favourite, but I will do another list in the future.