by Jane Roser (with help from her brother, Brian and sister, Anne)
It was 1989 at North Stafford High School in the boonies of Stafford, Virginia. Our prom theme was “A Night To Remember”, which would have been cool, except it also happened to be the name of a book and film about the sinking of the Titanic. I wore a fugly pink dress with lace galore, but it was the prettiest dress I had ever seen at that point. High school in the 80’s was all about big hair, jelly bracelets, stirrup pants and Wham! It was in a word, awesome. Because my siblings have the same wacky sense of humor as I do and we grew up with these films, I enlisted their help to write this article. I know I never get tired of watching Wesley say “Drop. Your. Sword.” And one of my favorite movie lines of all times is “Nobody leaves this place without singing the blues.” So sit back, pop a Tab, put on some Falco and enjoy!
Pretty In Pink
Sat, 06/15/2013 – 8:00pm – Sun, 06/16/2013 – 2:00am
80’s themed prom to follow along with crowning of a prom king and queen to give you the chance to relive your high school days when you were a total loser. Yep. I have seen this movie in different transitions of my life; pre-teen, young adult, and adult. I don’t have too many memories of seeing the film as a teenager other than the obligatory pre-teen desire to want to be Molly Ringwald. In my early twenties I recall my transformation of fawning to frustration with Miss Ringwald as Andie Walsh when she chose to be with bland Blaine, (“That’s a major appliance, that’s not a name!”) rather than the charismatic, fun-loving and ever loyal Duckie. I have realized now upon re-watching Pretty in Pink in my adulthood that this is the crux of the film. Love is found where you least expect it. The interweaving of various cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds doesn’t have to be a sexist Cinderella story where the Prince saves the Princess, but rather in Pretty in Pink, the Princess saves the Prince from his narcissistic, snotty peers and mundane expectations. This theme works for Duckie as well when he is noticed by the attractive pre-Buffy Kristie Swanson, who eyes him up and down with a silent but resounding and definite ‘Yes!’
Speaking of Blaine’s snotty friends, I must admit my secret Pretty in Pink crush has always been on James Spader as Blaine’s “richie” best friend Steff. His longing glances towards Andie are enough to wet any girls pants (can I say that?). My ardor for James Spader as Steff has spanned through the decades but my understanding of his character has changed. He seemed, in my youth, as the stereotypical yuppie villain of many teen dramedies of the 80’s with his fluffy blond hair and fondness for white pants, but his performance has more depth than other characters of this ilk. John Hughes’ writing lends the possibility for a more profound bad boy and Spader takes the possibility and runs away with the film, adding to the message that (before matches were scientifically crafted on internet sites) affections can lead to unlikely pairings that may lead to taunts but ultimately may benefit our lives. That is the beauty of the movie in its simple message of the pains of life and love.
Mon, 06/17/2013 – 8:00pm – 10:00pm
Philadelphia Premiere at The Trocadero
Director Josh Johnson and producer Carolee Mitchell in attendance
This new documentary, premiering at Premiered at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival, looks at how home video changed the world. When VCR and Beta-Max machines came out, it was the best thing since sliced bread. People tried to up their social currency by owning as many videos as possible and watched them slowly start to disintegrate over time. I remember when my dad bought our first VCR machine in the early 80’s. It cost about $1000 and the VHS tape of Xanadu was $100. Let me repeat that. We bought a Xanadu VHS tape for $100. Don’t judge us.
Revenge Of The Nerds
Thu, 06/20/2013 – 9:00pm – 10:30pm
I was thirteen when this movie came out and I didn’t get most of the dirty jokes (I do now! Wink wink!) Booger is my favorite character. I love it when Stan says to him over the fence “What are you looking at, nerd?” Booger waves, smiles and says to himself “I thought I was looking at my mother’s old douche-bag, but that’s in Ohio.”
This film about a group of college outcasts starting college and being bullied until they band together and kick those jerk’s asses! It’s an inspirational movie, for sure. When director Jeff Kanew met with the film’s producers for the first time, they asked him what kind of movie he could make this into. He replied “One I would be embarrassed to have my name on.” He was hired.
The Princess Bride
Fri, 06/21/2013 – 9:00pm – 11:00pm
If you haven’t read William Goldman’s book which this film is based on, do so immediately. It is humorous, fun, exciting and a wild romp. The film respects all of which this book is about, probably because William Goldman also wrote the screenplay. Buttercup’s (Robin Wright) love, Wesley (Cary Elwes) disappears after his ship is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts. Years later, Buttercup is set to marry the unfortunately named Prince Humperdink (Chris Sarandon). I had the biggest crush on Cary Elwes when this movie came out. I was sure he would be the next big action star. Oops! My bad. Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles this movie has it all. And you’ll always remember that one of the famous blunders of all time is “never get involved in a land war in Asia.”
Sat, 06/22/2013 – 9:00pm – 10:45pm
25th Anniversary Screening Director Tom Holland in attendance!
This film is messed up, but that’s what makes it cool. A single mother (Catherine Hicks) gives her son, Andy, a doll for his birthday, which turns out to be possessed by the spirit of a serial killer. Way to go, mom! The killer used a voodoo spell to transfer his soul to this creepy doll and now needs to escape by trying to take over Andy’s body. Oh, yeah, lots of body counts in this horror classic (which, by the way, also stars Chris Sarandon who is on a roll of films on this list).
Sat, 06/22/2013 – 11:00pm – Sun, 06/23/2013 – 12:30am
Director Tom Holland in attendance
This is one of my favorite vampire films ever (sorry Twihards!) Released in 1985 it had some of the coolest special effects at the time. In fact, Fright Night was the first vampire film to spend one million dollars on special effects. Tom Holland (who also directed Child’s Play) made his directorial debut with this film. It follows teen Charley Brewster who is convinced the new neighbor (Chris Sarandon- hello!) is a vampire after certain creepy things happen in the house, which Charley notices Rear Window style. Roddy McDowell is fabulous as vampire hunter Peter Vincent and I thought Stephen Geoffreys played a much better Evil than that kid from Super Bad (he also went on to star in a bunch of hard core porn films, but that’s beside the point). My favorite line is when vampire-next-door Jerry Dandrige stands on the stairs and says “Welcome to Fright Night. For real.” A fun personal fact I have to throw in here is that my sister (Anne Roser) was the stand in for the lead actress of the 2011 remake of Fright Night, which was shot in New Mexico and stars Colin Farrell as Jerry.
Mon, 06/24/2013 – 8:00pm – 10:00pm
Director Alex Winter in attendance
Philadelphia Premiere at The Trocadero
Actor Alex Winter (The Lost Boys, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) directs this new documentary which explores the rise of online music downloading service Napster and the impact it made in cultural media, as well as how it affected the music industry in general. Look for appearances by Henry Rollins, The Beastie Boys and Oasis. AOL purchased the film at SXSW and intends to make it available for streaming on it’s on.aol.com later this year.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Mon, 06/24/2013 – 10:00pm – 11:45pm
Actor Alex Winter in attendance
Who hasn’t seen this most excellent film about two bumbling high school teens Bill (Keanu Reeves) and Ted (Alex Winter) trying to pass history class? When this film came out, I remember it was all the rage. Sort of like the first Hangover movie, but better. It was genius on the writer’s part to come up with the idea of a phone booth (remember those?) as a time machine, although in the original script, it was a 1969 Chevy van, but the filmmakers thought that had too many shades of Back To The Future. I guess the filmmakers hadn’t seen any Doctor Who episodes yet. As much as I adore this film, it did sadly give rise to the annoyingly overuse of the word “dude”.
Tue, 06/25/2013 – 7:30pm – 9:00pm
In Partnership With The Philadelphia Film Society at The Ritz 5
This new film stars Paul Rudd, Emilie Hirsch and Lance LeGault (Oh my God! He played Alamo Joe in 1988’s cheesy, but awesome TV series “Werewolf”! This film’s fabulousness just went up a few notches on the totem pole). It follows two road workers during the summer of 1988. Isolated and away from their families, this bromance follows their time spent bonding and bickering and probably completely bored out of their minds.
Tue, 06/25/2013 – 9:30pm – 11:00pm
Philadelphia Premiere at The Ritz 5
In Partnership With The Philadelphia Film Society
Set in the 1980’s and following a weekend man vs. chess tournament, this new film explores a subculture of a budding technology. I’ve read mixed reviews of this film, but since I prefer checkers over chess, it may be awhile before I actually succumb to seeing this one.
Escape From New York
Wed, 06/26/2013 – 7:30pm – 9:30pm
Philadelphia Premiere of the brand new DCP restoration at The Ritz East
It’s the future and Kurt Russell plays Snake Plissken, a former soldier now convict of a super prison on the penal colony of what used to be New York City. Snake has a bad ass name and only one eye, so you know he’s going to win no matter what the bad guys throw at him. This includes being implanted with a bomb that will explode in 22 hours unless he rescues the President of the United States (Donald Pleasence) whose plane was brought down by terrorists inside the prison. Written and directed by John Carpenter in 1981, I saw this film only recently because I felt I ‘had to’. Snake has the best recurring line “Call me Snake.” and for those of you 80s nerds who remember, Lee Van Cleef (Bob Hauk, who runs the prison) was also the star of the 80s TV flop “The Master” about an aging American ninja looking for his daughter with a drifter while keeping one step ahead of other ninjas sent from Japan to kill him. Honestly, they just don’t make them like this anymore.
Adventures In Babysitting
Thu, 06/27/2013 – 9:00pm – 10:30pm
In many movies the story is revealed in the opening credits. It’s true. Test it out. One of my favorite scenes in Adventures in Babysitting is the opening credit scene with Elisabeth Shue as Chris Parker dancing with delight to the 50’s classic “Then He Kissed Me” by the Crystals while gussying up for her much anticipated date. This scene introduces the charm and talents of the central character and her strong intention to be deeply in love with a handsome young man and spend a romantic evening in his presence. This sets up a potential conflict and reveals the resolution through the song all in one scene. The story of Chris Parker, in essence, may be told but we have yet to go on the journey with her and upon being in her intimate presence, we know it is a journey we want to take.
Fri, 06/28/2013 – 9:00pm – 10:45pm
I saw this film several years ago, but it was a bit of a muddle of a film and my memory of it is muddled, too. I do recall thinking that Peter Weller looked seriously crazy, however. Released in 1987, Robocop is set in the crime ridden city of Detroit in the future (some things never change) and stars Peter Weller as a cop who is killed in the line of duty and then reanimated into a cyborg super machine cop (ewwww!) Robocop captures criminals and then starts to remember traces of his old life and finds that some things are not as they seem to be. Writer Edward Neumeier came up with the idea for this film after working on “Blade Runner”, which makes a lot of sense, actually. Director Paul Verhoeven is a master of sci-fi, futuristic style films (“Total Recal”, “Starship Troopers”), but thank goodness he didn’t stick with stripper films (he also directed the stinker “Showgirls”)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Sat, 06/29/2013 – 7:30pm – 11:30pm
25th Anniversary Celebration Charles Fleischer (The Voice Of Roger Rabbit) in attendance. Special standup comedy set.
When Who Framed Roger Rabbit came out in 1988, it was the “Avatar” of the 80s, a huge feat in cinematic history and a ridiculous, yet charming film. When toon Roger Rabbit is framed for murder, a washed-up cop who hates toons (Bob Hoskins) is his only hope for clearing Roger’s name. Jessica Rabbit (voiced by the sultry, and uncredited, Kathleen Turner) is the real star of this film and gets the best lines “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way” and “I’ve loved you more than any woman’s ever loved a rabbit.” Terry Gilliam was the producer’s first choice for the film’s director, but he declined saying it was “conceptually inauthentic to use the Looney Tunes genre as a springboard for a variation on the Howard The Duck story.” Well said, Terry. And by the way, Howard The Duck is also being screened for Awesomefest on August 2.