Archive for the ‘Anthony Michael Hall’ Category

In thinking about 80’s movies I have a hard time thinking about the best. Unlike my cohort, Benn, who was able to quickly put a list together, which you can find here, I have a difficult time because so many of my favorite 80’s movies are period pieces or science fiction movies.  If we are to talk about favorite 80’s movies that are in and around 80’s culture or lifestyle or technology, then my favorite Star Trek movie or 2nd favorite Star Wars movie do not qualify and neither does Raiders of the Lost Ark.  So I have to think about favorite movies that embrace the 80’s life.  The good thing is that some of the best action movies are from the 80’s because they embrace violence, language, and nudity.  In fact for me 80’s movies must have some sex, drugs, and rock and roll in it to be a good 80’s film.  A good teenage 80’s movie will have some adolescence hijinks as well.  So here is my attempt at this Top 5 list, we will see if Benn flags any of these.  Oh and here is Benn’s list for comparison.



No. 5 – The Last American Virgin (1982)

LAst American VirginThis is a movie that not many people have heard but made a lasting impression on me when I was a pre-teen.  I remember seeing this movie on HBO when I didn’t have a bedtime on weekends when it was just my dad and I.  He would go to bed early and I would stay up watching whatever movie would come on HBO hoping for some skin flick or finding the blurred Playboy Channel and clicking on and off of it really fast for the half second of clear picture you would get before it would go blurry.  Back in the early days of cable they had all the channels on but just screwed up the signal so you couldn’t watch it.  Anyway this movie was awesome for the 12 year old me because it was all about three friends in high school trying to find ways to loser their virginity and the hilarious situations that would ensue.  It also had some drama in that two of the friends, Gary, played by Lawrence Monoson (Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter,) and Rick, played by Steve Antin (The Accused,) fall for the same girl, Karen, played by Diane Franklin (Better Off Dead.)  This splits the two friends because while Gary genuinely cares for Karen, Rick is just playing the game so he can hook up with her because she is a virgin.  Karen picks Rick despite Gary’s best attempts of showing how honorable a guy he can be.  Rick does end up sleeping with Karen and of course knocks her up.  Rick then breaks up with Karen when she tells him and when Gary confronts Rick about it, Rick says that it probably isn’t even his and an almost fight ensues, severing the friendship forever.  Gary takes in a distraught Karen, sells most of his possessions and borrows money from his boss and pays for Karen’s abortion.  As Karen recuperates at Gary’s grandmother’s home, Gary continues to wait on her hand and foot and then confesses his love to her.  They embrace in a passionate kiss and she invites him to her 18th birthday party next week.  Well fast forward to the party and…well look for yourself:


Ah… the lyrics of that song, “I did my best, but I guess my best wasn’t good enough.” The lesson here is that no matter what you do for a woman, if she doesn’t have feelings for you, there is nothing you can do, no matter how nice of a guy you are, that will change her mind.  The ending with that kid crying with the music going made me afraid to fall in love.  If I had only remembered this movie it would have saved me lots of heartache later in life.




No. 4 Better Off Dead (1985) –

Better off deadNo 80’s movie list can’t be complete without a John Cusack movie in the offering and while most people would pick the classic Say Anything… I choose the lesser known but equally as awesome Better Off Dead. In this movie Lane Myer, played by John Cusack (The Raven,) is dumped by his girlfriend Beth who has fallen for the far more popular ski team captain Stalin.  Every time Lane tries to do something to impress his ex-girlfriend he would end up failing miserably in front of her and her new boyfriend which would cause Lane to think there is nothing to live for and try to commit suicide but would fail at that in hilarious ways.  While he is trying and failing to get his old ex back he fails to realize until the final moments of the film that the French foreign exchange student, Monique, played by Diane Franklin (The Last American Virgin,) who has been helping him gain confidence in himself is actually the perfect girl for him.

I like this movie because the music is all 80’s and awesome and ridiculously over the top.  This movie is known mostly for the angry paper boy chasing Lane screaming, “I want my $2.”  Lane also has a few dream sequences that are legendary, at least in my mind, one of them being the one with the hamburger meat with the Van Halen song Everybody Wants Some.

Other notable funny situations are the Chinese guy who speaks like Howard Cosell from Wide World of Sports.  The mother and son combination of Ricky Smith, played by Dan Schneider (Good Burger,) and Mrs. Smith, played by Laura Waterbury (Honey I Shrunk the Kids.)  Those two provided the comic relief in many scenes portraying a widowed mother who is overbearing and forces her overweight son to wear his father’s clothes that are right out of the 1950’s as is Mrs. Smith.  Lane’s father Al, played by David Ogden Stiers (TV’s MASH,) is also quite humorous as the straight man to his crazy wife, Lane’s mom Jenny, played by Kim Darby (True Grit.)  Why is she crazy do you ask?  Christmas presents for Lane and the rest of the family that year, Swanson’s frozen TV dinners.

The moral of this 80’s story is that don’t be so caught up in trying to win the love of a woman who doesn’t love you that you completely miss the better woman that does love you for who you are as a person.  A running theme for 80’s teen romance movies but still good none the less.



No.3 Commando (1985)

commando88.  That is a fine number. It’s the number of many of a Dallas Cowboy wide receiver that I cheer for. It is also the number of guys killed in this totally awesome action movie brought to you by the 1980’s and its glorious body counts and rated R movies. This is also brought to by the Austrian Oak, The Governator, Arnie, the man, the myth, the legend, and the greatest living action movie actor in the history of Hollywood, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

arnie180’s action movies were awesome because they had incredible strong men doing incredible things with guns, knives, and their bare hands.  Also the bad guys could shoot about as accurately as most Storm Troopers in the Star Wars films.  They also had a damsel of some kind in distress but not always a love interest.  The plots were basic for the most part and that’s what makes action movies great.  We had a bad guy doing bad things to innocent people and good guys show up and kill all the bad guys and save the person or people.  We didn’t need to know the motivation of why the bad guy was bad.  I don’t care that he came from a bad home where he was beat up by his day, or that they lived in a country that had dictators commit horrible human rights violations.  I don’t care.  I am happy to know that the bad guy is a bad guy because he wants to make money selling drugs, human trafficking or whatever.  I want a horrible bad guy because I want to embrace the glorious revenge that the good guy will give.  I also don’t want a good guy who is in touch with his feelings.  Sorry no tears shall be shed by my good guy.  If he loses a loved one, he instantly turns his sadness to rage and the vengeance begins.  The good guys most also have glorious one liner’s.  Something that makes you laugh as you see the good guy throw the bad guy off a cliff, balcony, pool of molten lead.  Sarcasm, thy name is 80’s action movie hero.  The 80’s, glorious, bloody, senseless violence and boy did I love it.

arnie2Commando is not Arnold’s best film in the 80’s that would be Terminator, maybe Predator.  But it is very 80’s.  Arnie is an ex commando with the US Army who is being framed by a pseudo Central American general who wants to rule is own country and wants Arnie to kill the current President. To force Arnie to do this, the general uses one of Arnie’s former subordinates kidnap is sweet, innocent lovely daughter, played by the equally lovely, sweet, and at that time innocent, Alyssa Milano.  This move has all the violence you could want in a 90 minute film.  In the first hour Arnie kills guys by gun, kicking a man through a wall to land on a broken piece of wood, dropping another bad guy off a cliff, and more guns.  Then there is the final 30+ minutes of the film where he takes on the general’s entire security force, at least 50 to 60 men, and kills them all.  He kills the general of course.  And then in a glorious one on one action, Arnie takes out his former subordinate by throwing a large metal pipe through the subordinate, and into a pressurized water heater, and, of course, steam starts coming out the pipe.  Arnie looks at his dying subordinate and says, “Let off some steam, Bennett.”  Oh and the name of Arnie’s character, John Matrix.  The name sound bad ass, as it should.  So Arnie, kills the bad guy, saves his daughter, and get the girl he had to kidnap and convince to help him. arnie3






This isn’t the best action movie in the 80’s, but it is one of the best 80’s action movies not only in the 80’s but ever.




No. 2 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

ferris“Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it” Is one of the many quotable quotes from this fine 80’s movie.   Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was one of the best lessons in life that I could only appreciate about 10 years after graduating from high school.

I would guess that most people have seen this movie and almost all over the age of 35 have seen this film.  The story is that a high school senior named Ferris Bueller, played by Mathew Broderick (Glory,) fakes a sickness so he can have his own senior skip day.  He then goes on a day long adventure into the big city of Chicago with his girlfriend Sloan, played by the very 80’s hot Mia Sara (Legend,) and his best friend Cameron, played by Alan Ruck (Twisters,) and hijinks ensue.

One of my favorite things about this film is how the writer/director and 80’s movie legend John Hughes is that he has the character of Ferris break the 4th wall in the film as if the audience is part of the trip.    This allowed me to get sucked into the film right away as well as the fact that even though I was only a sophomore in high school when this movie came out I could relate to what Ferris was saying completely.  There are so many quotes from this movie that lasted with me for so long and have come part of the Generation X culture.   One of my favorite lines is the end of the faking out the parents monologue.

And its not the line I quoted at the top here, but like high school, it’s a little childish and stupid. Enjoy some more!


The reason why I appreciate this and is in my 80’s list is the fact that, for me, this movie is a lesson in that you should enjoy your youth because the minute you leave high school, life gets serious and you have to take on responsibility.   You go to college and/or work and the level of stress constantly goes up.  Even if you are doing something you like the stress level you will have the minute you go out into the real world will change who you are and what you do in life.  At least that is my feeling for this movie.  In Ferris’s joy of his day off he is realizing that it is probably the last pure day of freedom he will have.



No. 1 – The Breakfast Club (1985)

breakfastWe have reached the Zen of all 80’s films from the master of 80’s films, John Hughes.  This is the quintessential 80’s Gen X film on life as a teenager in high school and growing up in the 80’s in general.  The movie revolves around 5 students who had to show up to detention on Saturday (yes that used to happen.)

I liked this movie because I feel that teenagers in the 80’s had some if not all of bits and pieces of each character in the story.  For me I felt that I could relate to on a few levels with Andrew the wrestler, played by Emilio Estevez (Bobby,) and the nerd Brian, played by Anthony Michael Hall (The Dark Knight.)  My parents were very strict with me when it came to school.  Sunday thru Thursday nights I was not allowed to go out unless it was for work or if it was for football practice.  I remember when I was in elementary school I was expected to study hard and do all of my work and I was told that I was going to go to college when I got out of high school.  No real question if I wanted to do it, I was going to do it whether I wanted to or not.  In high school my grades were never good enough and no matter what I did I always had to do better.  When it came to sports I the pressure wasn’t as great on me by my parents as it was for school but I always had the feeling that if I could get a scholarship it would make my going to school better for them financially.  Now I don’t want to make it seem like my parents were monsters, they weren’t but I could relate to the characters in this film. Of course this is the theme of the movie and the final scene has the principle reading the essay that states they were all a mixture of each other.  It’s obvious but it’s true.

As for some of the other things that make this an 80’s movie there is the music, the drug use, sex although its all talk in this film, and the rebellious attitudes towards authoritative figures as well as a little fear.  The music though is what I remember most and the main song from the film was a top billboard hit for years and will almost always show up on the radio during an 80’s weekend or 80’s station of satellite radio.

Chances are if you have never seen the movie you have heard the song.

This is probably the least I have to say about all of my top five 80’s movies but for me it’s the best that represents what 80’s movies are for me.  For the most part they were stories about dealing with life changing at a rate faster than it had in previous years, being brought up by parents who grew up in the 60’s and dealt with life during the Vietnam War, and all the excess that money created during that time.


Best of the rest (in no particular order) –

Top Gun (1986) – For me its almost sacrilegious to not have a movie in the top five that dealt with the USA going against its nemesis for 50+ years , the Soviet Union. Communism is bad, mkay!  And we got lots of movies to prove it.  This movie is basically an advertisement for joining the US Navy and becoming a fighter pilot, which I wish I could have done.  Many of my theater friends, aka pinko communist sympathizers, will say that this is just one big homo erotic movie on the scale of Batman and Robin, but I say…maybe.  But who cares because Communism is bad and we need to destroy it.


Teen Wolf (1985) – This movie is really only on the list because of the music and the ridiculous principle that a werewolf is basically a hairy human with minor anger issues. The entire concept of a teenager turning into a werewolf and not only not causing an uproar but being able to continue his day to day life as a high school student and basketball player is ludicrous and wonderfully 80’s.   There are messages about being yourself and looking for love in the right people that are all better shown in other movies.  But the main reason is because…it’s a teenage werewolf…playing basketball.  Awesome


Red Dawn (1984) – Communists are really bad and we need to wipe them out. That is what this movie tells us.  That’s all.  The concept of a bunch of high school students becoming guerrillas in the Colorado mountains is borderline ridiculous but not implausible.  I was living in Colorado at the time this movie was released so it was a favorite of mine.  Kill Commies!  This concept is very different in today’s America in that many people are voting for a Socialist to become President.  Socialism is one step below Communism.  In 30 years we have gone from Kill Communists to Socialism is good.  Generation X are horrible parents for creating these damn spoiled Millennials.


Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) – This movie almost made the list in my top 5 because this movie addressed sex a lot more than any of the other movies save American Virgin.  But because Virgin had more real life cause and effect of what love and sex does to the individual I put that in the top 5 and not this one.  But this is a classic 80’s movies with one of only two times I think I can tolerate Sean Penn as an actor.  Also I think Ray Walston should have got an Academy Award for his portrayal of Mr. Hand.  He was awesome and I had a few teachers like him in school.


Die Hard (1988) – I could make the argument that this is the best 80’s action movie of all of the 80’s action movies. Actually it is just a damn good movie. But since I decided to go a certain direction with my top 5 list I chose to leave this out.  But this is a great movie and I will do a review eventually and put a link to it here because no brief statement can describe how awesome this movie is and will always be.

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