The B+ Movie Guide: The New List (Part XLI)

I gave Colin a giant list of 500 movies, and he finished it. Of course I’m gonna come up with another list.

This one is for everyone, though. Not specifically for Colin. This is raw material for everybody, should they choose, to go out and see more movies. Not all of them are essential. Most of them are just awesome. I told Colin that once he finished this list, I’d give him another one that was more fun than work. Geared toward cool stuff that he’d enjoy.

I went through and found 1,000 more movies that I think either need to be seen (leftover “essential” films) or are just really great and would be enjoyed by most who see them. Here they are:


Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)

William Hurt won an Oscar for this. The film takes place in a South American prison. Hurt is a cross-dressing prisoner who is in jail for having sex with an underage boy. Raul Julia is a political prisoner. They become friends (and perhaps more). It’s a really terrific film.

The Last Dragon (1985)

I love this movie. This is one of those movies that epitomizes the 80s. It’s also a cult film that has a very particular set of fans. The movie stars a black kung fu enthusiast called Bruce Leroy. The opening scene has him eating popcorn with chopsticks. He has to defend his neighborhood from the self-proclaimed Shogun of Harlem, Sho’nuff. Great movie, great 80s music, featuring DeBarge’s “Rhythm of the Night,” and of course “The Glow.” They were gonna remake this a few years back with Rihanna as the main girl and Samuel L. Jackson as Sho-nuff. I wish they had done it. I’m still holding out hope they remake it. What a great movie.

Out of Africa (1985)

Best Picture winner. It’s not a bad movie. I always felt it was overrated. But it’s big and romantic, and I feel like people should see it so they can decide what should have won Best Picture this year. (Based on what’s nominated, I believe The Color Purple should have won.) You also have Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. Directed by Sydney Pollack. It deserves to be seen.

Pale Rider (1985)

Clint Eastwood. Continuing from the High Plains Drifter tone, Eastwood plays another avenging angel character who comes into town to right a wrong. It’s kind of like High Plains Drifter meets Shane. This one also features Michael Moriarty, Carrie Snodgress, Chris Penn and Richard Kiel (Jaws!).

Prizzi’s Honor (1985)

John Huston’s penultimate film, and his last great film. Jack Nicholson is a mob hitman dating the don’s daughter, Anjelica Huston. Well… they have a volatile relationship. He’s assigned to kill Kathleen Turner, but falls in love with her instead. Comic violence ensues. It’s more of a thriller, but it’s funny. Nominated across the board for Oscars. Nicholson, Huston (John and Anjelica. She won Supporting Actress), William Hickey. Also has Robert Loggia, John Randolph, Lawrence Tierney, and a young Stanley Tucci in it. Great 80s movie. Nicholson and John Huston — don’t pass this up.

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

You guys know my indifference toward Woody Allen movies. So the fact that I’m openly saying that I love this one should tell you something. This is a top five film of his for me. It’s great. Mia Farrow is a housewife in the 30s who is bored with her life. And she goes to the movies and daydreams. One day, the hero of the film walks off the screen and into her life, causing chaos on both sides of the screen. Jeff Daniels plays the character (and the actor who plays him) and Danny Aiello plays her husband. Great movie. One of the best of the fantasy/romance movies of the 80s.

Runaway Train (1985)

You know that movie Unstoppable that came out a few years ago with Denzel? This is the original version of that. Jon Voight and Eric Roberts are two prisoners who escape and hop a train… only the train has no conductor and no brakes. It’s a thrilling movie. This is the Speed of the 80s.

Silverado (1985)

So Lawrence Kasdan bursts onto the scene with Body Heat, and cements his place with The Big Chill. How does he follow that up? With this movie — a throwback western. This ushered in the era of all of these kinds of westerns (like Tombstone). Where they’re not really part of the genre as much as they are nostalgic looks at the genre with a lot of stars and with a lot of fun and energy. This one stars Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Kevin Costner, Danny Glover, Jef Goldblum, Rosanna Arquette, Brian Denehy, James Gammon and John Cleese. So entertaining.

Witness (1985)

What a fantastic premise and film. A young Amish boy witnesses a murder and they send Harrison Ford back to his community to protect him from the guys who want to eliminate every (insert title here). Terrific film, nominated for a bunch of Oscars, and responsible for Harrison Ford’s only Oscar nomination. This is essential.

An American Tail (1986)

This is a monumental film for me and my childhood. I imagine that’s the same for a lot of people around my age. It’s such a beautiful movie, with one of the greatest songs ever written for films. It’s also a great story — a family of mice (Mousekewitz) come to America in the hopes for a better life, and along the way, their young son gets separated from them. It’s a beautiful film. Truly.

Back to School (1986)

My favorite of the Rodney Dangerfield films. (Caddyshack is the other, but I don’t consider that his film.) He plays a self-made millionaire whose son doesn’t know if he wants to go to college, so he enrolls try to help. The plot doesn’t matter. Rodney Dangerfield, at 65, goes (insert title here) as a freshman. So classic. The score, the scenes, Sam Kinison,  — the Triple Lindy! This is one of those movies where, if you haven’t seen it, we can’t be friends.

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

John Carpenter. Kurt Russell. A trucker has a bad time in Chinatown. Is really all you need to know. One of the cult action movies of the 80s. Just a real fun time.

Castle in the Sky (1986)

Miyazaki again. As I say every time, I find all of his movies essential. This one is also environmental in theme — a young girl has a necklace that contains a gem that different people are looking for. It unlocks the key to the last floating civilization. Great movie. Just see it. Miyazaki is dessert cinema. Just a real treat.

Children of a Lesser God (1986)

Teacher movie. William Hurt is a new teacher at a school for the deaf. He meets Marlee Matlin, a former student who now cleans the floors. They start a relationship. It’s great. I’m serious. I didn’t think I’d love this movie, but I did. Marlee Matlin won an Oscar for this, and Hurt probably would have won too if he hadn’t won the year before this. Amazing film.

Cobra (1986)

I’m not sure what this movie is, but the answer is yes. This is one of those movies that’s so unintentionally campy it’s amazing. It’s presented as completely serious, and yet — just watch the first ten minutes and you’ll see what I’m talking about. The opening hostage situation, the way Stallone shows up and handles it. The way they edit the entire thing. And then the scene where he goes home, and pulls a box of pizza out of the freezer, cuts it with a pair of scissors and eats it. You have no idea what the fuck is happening, but it’s amazing in such a ridiculous way.

The Color of Money (1986)

This won Paul Newman his Oscar. It’s a sequel to The Hustler, with Fast Eddie 25 years later. Martin Scorsese directed this. AND it has Tom Cruise. It’s a great movie. Newman teaches Cruise how to hustle. Also has an Oscar-nominated Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and a young John Turturro (AND Forrest Whitaker)!

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

Everybody knows about this movie, right? Horror musical. Plant who eats people — “Feed me.” It’s a lot of fun. I think this has become culturally essential.

Manhunter (1986)

The first Hannibal Lecter movie to make it to the screen. This one is Red Dragon. William Petersen plays Will Graham and Brian Cox is Lecter. Tom Noonan plays Dollarhyde. Dennis Farina is Jack Crawford. Joan Allen is also in it, Stephen Lang. Directed by Michael Mann. Memorable for the climax, set to “In A Gadda Da Vida.” Humorously enough, two actors in this movie went on to also appear in Silence of the Lambs: Frankie Faison (Barney) and Dan Butler (the creepy bug expert guy).

Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)

Kathleen Turner got nominated for Best Actress for this. Also directed by Francis Ford Coppola, one of his director-for-hire jobs. There were quite a few fantasy/time travel movies in the 80s around this time. She’s at her high school reunion and faints and wakes up in the past, right around the time she’s graduating high school. And she has a chance to reevaluate her life and possibly change her future. It’s a good movie. Lot of fun. Also stars Nicolas Cage as her husband, as well as Joan Allen, Jim Carrey, Maureen O’Sullivan (!), Leon Ames, Helen Hunt, and John Carradine!

Pretty in Pink (1986)

John Hughes wrote this but didn’t direct. Molly Ringwald again. Jon Cryer as Duckie. Very classic 80s movie. I’ll always remember it for the scene where Cryer busts into the record store singing along to “Try a Little Tenderness.” An all-timer.

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