Monday, January 2, 2012

25 Years Ago This Month: January 1987

The January doldrums. Studios traditionally hold back their best films for December to qualify for year end awards season and then dump their garbage in the first month of the year. It seems 25 years ago was hardly any different. The most surprising thing is that Woody Allen's Radio Days saw a January release and then managed to earn two Oscar nominations a full year later. Apart from the Allen highbrow fare there was a cheap comedy, a cheap teen comedy, two cheap horror/thrillers, and a cheap adventure film desperately trying to capitalize on the success of Indiana Jones.

It's ironic that the Allan Quatermain series starring Richard Chamberlain and a very young pre-Total Recall and Basic Instinct Sharon Stone attempted to piggyback on the Indiana Jones series because Jones is so obviously inspired by H. Rider Haggard's series of Allan Quatermain novels. At any rate, January '87 saw the release of Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold. I wonder if, bad as it is, it could actually be better than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Try to follow this: Patrick Dempsey plays a geeky teenager desperate to lose his virginity. Sally Kellerman is a porn star who dies and has to commit a good deed on earth to get into heaven. She decides to offer advice to Dempsey so he can score with The Love Goddess (Shannon Tweed - who else?), who is his boss's wife. This is the absurd plot summary to Meatballs III: Summer Job. Sadly, I've seen this.

Acclaimed director Michael Apted, he of Coal Miner's Daughter and the Seven Up documentary series begun on British TV in the 60s that focused on a group of 14 children as seven-year olds and then revisited them every seven years (the next installment is due this year) brought Critical Condition upon us 25 years ago. Probably most notable for being Bob Saget's first significant film role.

Terry O'Quinn from "Lost" starred as the titular homicidal maniac in The Stepfather, the first in a series of poorly-made and not particularly scary horror movies. He plays a psychotic who searches for widows with children who represent the perfect family, marries into the family and then kills them when they don't measure up to his incredibly high standards. I watched this years ago because it inexplicably made an Entertainment Weekly list of 25 scariest horror movies. I was unimpressed.

Horror High was such a smashing success in 1974 that it produced such actors you've never heard of as Pat Cardi and Rosie Holotik. It was so successful, you've probably never heard of the movie. But a sequel was necessary in 1987. Return to Horror High starred a whole bunch more people you've never heard of except...George Clooney in his film debut!

Non Movie News

3rd - Aretha Franklin becomes the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

6th - The 100th United States Congress convenes with Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate. John Stennis was Senate Majority Leader while future Republican Presidential Nominee Bob Dole served as its Minority Leader. Jim Wright was Speaker of the House. Notable Freshman Senators included John McCain (R - AZ), Tom Daschle (D - SD) and Harry Reid (D - NV), all of whom had previously served in the House.

22nd - Pennsylvania Treasurer Budd Dwyer, after being convicted of bribery, fraud, conspiracy and racketeering, put a revolver in his mouth and pulled the trigger during a live TV press conference. We've seen violent gun deaths in films, some of them suicides by gun to the mouth. Nothing you've ever seen in a fiction film can compare to the horror of what it actually looks like when it happens in real life.


24th - Argentine soccer player Luís Suarez.


14th - Director of such melodramas as Imitation of Life and Written on the Wind Douglas Sirk, aged 89, in Lugano, Switzerland.

15th - Ray Bolger, the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz. The last surviving principal cast member from the film, he did of bladder cancer at age 83.

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