Dominic O'Brien selects his Five Essential Guilty Pleasure Childhood Movies of the 80s…
Oh how I love 80s filmmaking. Honestly no other decade within film (at least to my knowledge) contains more cult film features that span from kids films, through to long forgotten action and horror films. One such sub-genre which seems to have grown in popularity (possibly due in part to the internet) is that of guilty pleasure films from our childhood.
Sure there are those classic 80s kid flicks which have stood the test of time; The Goonies, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and The Karate Kid to name a few. But what about those lesser seen almost unheard of features. The ones your parents (or maybe you) got out when the better films where already rented.
Obviously I am speaking for myself here, but when I was younger these films were considered cinematic marvels. So sit down, grab a bean bag, sip from your favorite childhood tipple and indulge in my top five Guilty Pleasure Childhood Movies of the 80s...
5 – The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)
Anyone brought up in the 80s knew of the collectable cards these were based on. Sick, revolting, un-pc and utterly brilliant, this really only could have been a product of the 80s. I would love to see something like this made today, but then I don’t think it would contain the same charm (or distinct disgustingness) that made it what it was all those years ago. Considered one of the worst films ever made, but what actually makes it so bad? Well it contains one of the most god awful song and dance routines ever committed to film (it will haunt your nightmares). It becomes painfully clear how the same sets are constantly reused and it is filled with woeful dialogue. This is so amazingly awful that it truly has to be seen to be believed. With characters such as Valerie Vomit, Windy Winston and Greaser Greg how could you not want to see this?
4 - Mac and Me (1988)
Essentially an E.T. rip-off (about 5 years too late), this has now gained an almost notorious, cult film following (myself unfortunately included). It is almost as though the film was funded by McDonald’s and its hard not to notice the rather strange, mass dance-off in said eatery. There are moments (which when watched now) that do provoke uncontrollable fits of laughter such as; the rather obvious use of a stunt dummy during a characters fall off a cliff, the over reliance on product placement and the stiff puppet movements of the title character. When all is said and done its still a rip-off, but a rip-off with a little bit of heart underneath its product placement visuals.
3 - Little Monsters (1989)
During my younger years this movie was responsible for being afraid about what could be under the bed. It is in fact an over looked dark children's fantasy, although it was probably responsible for traumatising more children then actually entertaining them. Howie Mandell (the voice of Gizmo from Gremlins) proves to an eccentric and (sometimes) frightening friend to a young Fred Savage. The monster city is almost Burton-esque in its design and the films climax still manages to produce chills and nightmares in equal measure. The image of the head monster (dressed as a public school boy) still fills me with dread.
2 - Ghost Chase (1988)
This cheaply made kids film was (a then young) Roland Emmerich’s first film as director. Far removed from his more recent mega expensive, mega explosive and mega awful films that he churns out now. This feature (much like the others on this list) holds a special place in my film heart. For starters I had always been mesmerized by the VHS cover art, it was both frightening and intriguing. It used Belouis Some’s ‘Imagination’ (a piece of pure 80s power pop) within the trailer and has a great showdown with a haunted suit of armor. Plus what other film are you likely to see that has a spirit of a dead butler possess a movie prop puppet? Low budget and underrated, this is a must for all cult film fans.
1 - Howard The Duck (1986)
I can already hear the boos on this choice, but (with the more astute among you already guessing) I really...rather....like....Howard the Duck. Now that I've lost all critical respect I want to tell you the reasons why. Yes it's an awful film and one which is unable to judge what target audience its actually aiming for (is it for teenagers or pre-teens?). What it does have is what I like to call the three C's of bad filmmaking; charm, cheese and cult appeal. Three things which help make this so much more then a bog standard comic book film. Howard is a fun character and has some truly corny one-liners; “No one laughs at a master of Quack Fu!” or “No duck is an island”. While its hard not to enjoy the stop-motion, Harryhausen inspired climax (which has stood the test of time). Only issue I have is the slightly dubious human / water foul love affair. Barring that the theme song is annoyingly catchy.
The Gate (1987)
Hawk the Slayer (1981)
Masters of the Universe (1987)
The Last Starfighter (1984)
Agree? Disagree? We'd love to hear your thoughts...
Dominic O'Brien is an aspiring writer and filmmaker; he is a cult film fanatic and continues to seek out the weirdest and strangest films committed to celluloid.