Monday, July 20, 2009

The guiltiest of pleasures...

We all have 'em--movies we grew up on that we can watch over and over again. As a child of HBO, I have a ton of films that were as beloved as my M.A.S.K. playsets and stuffed tugboat (yes...I had a stuffed tugboat, named...Tugboat). Here are 25 of those guilty pleasures--in no particular order. Some of these are actually pretty good, many are fairly awful. Be sure to let me know some of yours in the comments section!

Jack Flack to Lady Ace! Come in, Lady Ace! This one actually holds up rather well--Davey Osborne (Henry Thomas) ends up in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse when he comes in possession of an Atari game with crucial information on it. With the aid of his precocious best friend Kim and imaginary hero Jack Flack (who bears a striking resembles to his father Hal, played by Dabney Coleman), can Davey keep the cartridge out of the hands (screwy, finger-missin' hands) of the bad guys and stay alive?

Animated adaptation of the Peter S. Beagle children's classic by Rankin & Bass, it features a great collection of songs by America and the vocal talents of Alan Arkin, Robert Klein, Mia Farrow, Jeff Bridges and Christopher Lee. Hearing Farrow and Bridges "sing" is quite an adventure on the ears. Oh, and that Red Bull is still scarier than Billy Joel behind the wheel.

Stylistic chum to TV's Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Phil Janou's teen comedy follows school paper reporter Jerry Mitchell (Casey Siemaszko) who bumps into new school psychopath Buddy Revell (Richard Tyson, who you may also remember from Kindergarten Cop)--an unfortunate incident, as he now has to fight him immediately after school. Killer cinematography by Barry Sonnenfeld is a highlight of this unique 80s comedy. Don't miss Paul Feig as "Hall Monitor!"

4. TRANSYLVANNIA 6-500 (1985)
A perennial Halloween classic for me and probably no one else, this horror-spoof comedy stars two very tall actors (Jeff Goldblum and Ed Begley, Jr.), a chick who digs archery (Geena Davis), and a guy who used to be beloved til an infamous on-stage tirade (Michael Richards). Oh, and throw in the principal from Ferris Bueller (Jeffrey Jones), the guy from Rags to Riches (Joseph Bologna) and the lady who beats the crap out of Bill Murray in Scrooged (Carol Kane), and you've got yourself quite a movie!

Just your typical western--good guy wears white, bad guy wears black, there's shoot-outs, etc. Oh, but one little twist--the entire cast is LITTLE PEOPLE! Yep, a bizarre experiment from the '30s is out there if you do some internet searching, and worth a look.

The future! Lukas Haas! Rollerblading! Phantom ants! Water crisis! Glowing orb of energy named Bodhi! Jason Patric being in his usual intense mode! Adrian Pasdar! Best. Movie. Ever. Oh, and music by Maurice Jarre!

7. SIX PACK (1982)
I've never liked Nascar--but boy oh boy, do I like Kenny Rogers as driver Brewster Baker! It's hard enough handlin' the track--but now he's got his hands full with six rascally kids in his pit crew! Among them are Diane Lane and Anthony Michael Hall--and Terry Kiser (a.k.a. partyin' Bernie from the Weekend movies) is on hand as well. Everything I need to know I learned from the theme song--Love will turn you around...TURN YOU AROUND!

Just your average time-travel high-school sci-fi comedy. With your average Fisher Stevens and Raphael Sbarge. And your CRAZY Dennis Hopper. Man, does it have low production values...but I still adore it.

The world had demanded an 80s pop/rock makeover of Gilbert & Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance, and lo and behold world, you got it in 1982! Equally effeminate stars Kristy McNichol and Christopher Atkins headline this wonderful cheese fest, with such head-spinnin' numbers as "My First Love," "How Can I Live Without Her?," and the half-animated "Pumpin' and Blowin'" Yep, this movie exists, and how much richer my life is for it!

When midnight madness starts to get to you...doesn't matter what you say...doesn't matter what you gotta play! The Great All-Nighter scavenger hunt pits multi-colored college teams against each other for one night in 80s Los Angeles. Will the good-guy yellow team (with David Naughton and, in his feature-film debut, Michael J. Fox) win against the villainous blue team (led by the portly Stephen Furst), macho green team, all-girl red team or nerdy white team (with Eddie Deezen)? Or, more importantly, will we watch Barf unscramble "Faggabeefe" over and over again, because we love it? I can watch this movie over and over again and never complain.

Take your pick of The Coreys '80s classics (I mostly gravitate to The Lost Boys), but this one is appalling hypnotic. Add Heather Graham to the mix, and you've got a teen classic!

12. THE ICE PIRATES (1984)
Witness Anjelica Huston slummin' it in this low-budget sci-fi comedy that also stars Ron Perlman, Robert Urich, and Mary Crosby. Not to mention, they GOT BRUCE! THE Bruce Vilanch. Even their robots are insolent!

Wow. Never before has a movie sported Arye Gross, Bill Maher, a flatulent dead great-grandpa, a caterpillar-dog thing, a baby pterodactyl, a psychopathic gunslinger back from the dead, and Amy Yasbeck....and it will never happen again. It seriously makes little-to-no sense. But I used to watch it a ton when I was around 12 years old...

14. HOUSEGUEST (1995)
Sinbad is at his most tolerable in this genuinely funny film from the Mouse factory. Phil Hartman shows his usual genius here, and makes me sad every time I watch it.

15. HIDING OUT (1987)
My favorite of the high-school teen comedies, Hiding Out follows stockbroker Andrew Morenski, who hides from the mob by going back to high school and stealing his name from a coffee can (Maxwell...Hauser). With a nerdy nephew (Keith Coogan) and love interest (Annabeth Gish) in tow, he does his best to stay out of the limelight, only to find himself suddenly running for student council. Directed by Bob Giraldi (who actually directed a Sprint commercial I was in with 49ers Qback Steve Young), it also has a great soundtrack, featuring Roy Orbison, Boy George, and Pretty Poison's "Catch Me I'm Falling."

Good God I loved this movie growing up--I kinda wish Dance TV was real! SJP and Helen Hunt join forces with tiny Shannen Doherty and Jonathan Silverman in this loving tribute to the spirit of dance and individuality. Whoah--I just made this film WAY deeper than it is. Slow slow quick quick slow!

Also known as the butchering of the Beatles back catalog, this fantasy musical stars the Bee Gees, Steve Martin, Peter Frampton, Aerosmith and others doing so-so sing-a-longs around a paper-thin plot. Still, I can't stop watching it.

18. CONDORMAN (1981)
Michael Crawford (yes, THAT Michael Crawford, Broadway's Phantom o' the Opera) stars as comic book artist/winged super hero Condorman in this early '80s Disney stinker. The DVD is long out of print and trading for around $100, I can't bring myself to pony up the cash for this film that, although enjoyable to a 6 year old Cole Stratton, will definitely NOT hold up.

19. TEEN WOLF TOO (1987)
Do we need Michael J. Fox to do a sequel to our favorite basketball playin' Lupine teenager? Not when you've got JASON BATEMAN! You get automatic points for calling your sequel "Too." What's it stand for? Teen Wolf Too Awful To Screen For Critics Before Print Deadline? Regardless, the poster features a wolfed-out Bateman leaning on a stack of books with pun titles. Can't beat that.

20. BACK TO THE BEACH (1987)
Frankie and Annette are back and doin' what they do best--hangin' at the beach with friends from classic TV! Bob Denver, Tony Dow, Alan Hale, Jr., Jerry Mathers, and Barbara Billingsley join Lori Loughlin, Demian Slade and Surfin' Bird Pee-Wee Herman in this wacky comedy. Sky Sky Sky...Do The Sky.

21. FREEJACK (1992)
In the future...New York...2009! Yep, at this point in time, we're supposed to have bounty hunters who travel through time to grab people from the past just before they die. Such is the situation for Emilio Estevez's race car driver, who romances Renee Russo (and had to have a ditch dug for her to walk in so their heights seem similiar, as she is a giant and he is of the Shire) and avoids the clutches of Mick Jagger (DON'T DO IT! DON'T DO IT!). Anthony Hopkins collects a paycheck here as well.

22. ROCKETMAN (1997)
Harland Williams is warped, and very funny. He's oddly endearing in this occasionally hilarious Disney live-actioner that came out when...I was in college. Still, I find myself laughing with or at this every once in a while.

23. KIDCO (1984)
Scott Schwartz (pre-porn but post A Christmas Story) stars in this comedy about entreprenurial children selling manure (would that make them entrepre-menurial?). Manure! High-larious. Also features a young-ish Ron Rifkin as a lawyer. Still not on DVD, the VHS versions of this go for quite a bit.

The Fat Boys AND Ralph Bellamy? YES PLEASE!

Jon Lovitz is the Evil Emperor Tod, obsessed with Marge of Woodland Hills (Teri Garr), who kidnaps her and her hapless husband (Jeffrey Jones) and transports them to his own tiny planet, Spengo. Wallace Shawn and Kathy Ireland play long seperated lovers...Eric Idle shows up as a crazed prisoner...and there's a bit with a "light grenade" that is so stupid that the longer it goes on, the funnier it gets. The definition of a guilty pleasure!


**Oh, darnit, it's been 4 days. Here's your Scott Baio photo!


  1. You're in luck, Kidco still plays daily on HBO Family. Great list, although I'm more of a House 1 guy.

  2. Cool are a few of mine:
    *Hudson Hawk: Bad in many ways, but as an improviser I love that everyone is totally committed to the insanity (well, not Andie MacDowell, but has she ever been good in anything?)

    *Soapdish: Very underrated, very funny Kevin Kline/Sally Field movie. The third act "live" soap opera kills me every time.

    *Grease 2: Don't judge me...I like it better than the original & owned the soundtrack.

    *Rhinestone: The best "Sylvester Stallone becomes a country singer with Dolly Parton's help" movie ever made. Ditto on owning the soundtrack

    I loved back to the beach as well...and I wouldn't be a geeky internet fanboy if I didn't mention it was Jerry Mathers, not Jerry Matthews, who was in it.

  3. Sorry...forgot one. While many enjoy "Six Pack," the ne plus ultra of 80's NASCAR movies was the legendary "Stroker Ace" with Burt Reynolds, Loni Anderson and (presumably filling in for Dom DeLuise) the incomparable Jim Nabors.

    I saw this twice in the theater, once on a first date which, not coincidentally, was also the last date.

  4. I posted to fB already but have you ever seen "SuperFuzz" ??? It's one of those never to be seen twice HBO movies. I also had a House II comic book that I wore out as a kid cuz I was scared of scaredy movies! ;)

  5. Mathers corrected. Don't know how I blew that one in the first place. I'm sorry, Beaver!

    Also, I do vaguely recall Superfuzz--something about Ernest Borgnine scared me as a kid.

    Late addition:
    (Anything with a robot kid is good in my book!)

  6. OMG. The Pirate Movie!

    I saw it for the first time in a double feature at the drive-in movie theater! But the double feature was two Cheech and Chong movies.

    I looked out the back seat and watched the Pirate Movie instead.

    Missed "Popeye" on your list somehow. Can anything directed by Altman be a guilty pleasure?

    YES, if it's "Popeye"!

  7. I can't even tell you how excited I was when The Pirate Movie came out on DVD. I used to call Videos-To-Go (RIP, I've heard) and ask if they had it on VHS and they'd say, "Ummm, which movie about pirates?" I made my own soundtrack once by holding a tape recorder up to the TV when we caught it airing once and hated my little brother for crying during one song... he was of course, a baby at the time.

    Fantastic list there, Mister. Back to the Beach? Oh, yes.

  8. INSPIRED list. Truly.

    That Sgt. Pepper movie is insane. I own it on DVD!

    Only one I would add, and that's 'Freaks' from 1932. I think it's public domain, and is pretty readily available online, so check it out if you've never seen it!

  9. Monster Squad!!!!!!!!