In the 1980s, 3D films, especially at amusement parks, were not uncommon. I remember going to Disney World in 1988 at the age of 4 and while Epcot pretty much bored me, the whole area with Figment the purple dragon and his imagination land, as well as this 3D (4D?) film - Captain EO - starring Michael Jackson! As mentioned in previous Flashback Fridays, I used to play my Thriller cassette non-stop so much that my parents too it off me as they thought I was getting obsessed with it, lol... but anyways. Captain EO was one of the first 3D films I had ever seen and I LOVED it. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola with Executive Producer George Lucas, Captain EO tells the story of EO and his ragtag spaceship crew on a mission to deliver a gift to the Supreme Leader (Angelica Houston). After crash landing on her planet though, they are brought in front of her as prisoners. Using MJ's trademark song and dance, they are able to defeat the Leader's guards and transform her and her lair into something beautiful. While a bit on the corny side, this is one Space Musical everyone should get to view as the songs and dancing are great to watch (if you ever enjoyed Michael Jackson's performances that is).
You can view part 1 (of 2, which is linked to this one) here on YouTube, for those that either never got to see at Disney or just haven't seen it in a long time (since the death of MJ though, Disney did finally give in to fans and brought it back as a tribute at Disneyland's Tomorrowland area).
Another classic from the 80s is E.T. While it came out in 1982, I remember seeing it for the first time in the late 80s. I remember thinking Elliot was cute and I loved little Gertie (Drew Barrymore). I also started eating Reese Pieces too. While parts of the movie were confusing to my young self (I didn't understand why Elliot had no father, as this was a foreign concept to me), I was able to get the basic gist of this movie - boy finds lost alien, boy brings lost alien home but has to hide it from him mom, government finds out and takes alien away, boy and friends rescue alien and take him to his spaceship just in time for it to leave earth. I also had the E.T. Atari video game, and to be honest, that's probably one of the worst, most impossible games I think I have ever played (and not surprisingly, it's on a bunch of the worst video games ever made lists too, lol...). I also remember going to Universal Studios Orlando in 1992 and getting to ride the E.T. ride, where you basically sit in a car that resembles Elliot's bike with the basket and you ride through different scenes from the movie. Sounds kind of lame now, but as a little kid, I thought it was neat!
1988's The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking was one of those movies that my best friend and I would watch over and over and over again, yet neither of us actually owned it - we just rented it from the video store a lot. This was a new version of Pippi Longstocking though, as there were a handful of other Pippi movies made prior, but none were of the same quality or as much fun as this one! In this version, Pippi is a girl who sails the seas with her father who is a ship captain and his crew, as well as her animal friends Mr. Nielson (a monkey) and Alfonso, her horse. During a strong storm though, Pippi is thrown overboard and unable to be rescued. Her animal friends jump in to go with her, as her father yells to her to swim towards Villa Villa Koola, an old house that belongs to their family which has been abandoned for years, where he will come to get her when he can. Soon after taking residence at the house, Pippi is visited by neighboring children Tommy and Annika, who thought the house was haunted, after suddenly seeing things going on inside after being abandoned for so long. Pippi befriends the sibilings and the trio have a lot of fun adventures, however the local townspeople don't think it's right for a girl like Pippi to be living alone and not going to school and telling such wild "stories" about her adventures on the sea, so Miss Banister approaches Pippi and eventually talks her into going to a school for girls. Pippi is miserable at the school though, as she's used to independence and no one there seems to get her. There are also a set of thieves who are after Pippi's hidden stash of gold too and keeping plotting (and getting thwarted by her) throughout the whole movie. Eventually her father does show up though and all is well. For anyone who hasn't seen this movie, I highly recommend checking it out, as it's one of those awesome movies of the 80s - the acting is pretty good, the plot and story were fun and entertaining, and the music was pretty good. Also, the actress who played Annika (Cory Crow) is from my hometown and my sister does community theater with one of her relatives.
In 1988, Disney found huge success with their groundbreaking hit Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The movie takes place during the Golden Era of cartoons and in it, cartoons are just average hard-working actors in Hollywood. After the death of one of the owner of Toontown - Marvin Acme - Roger Rabbit is framed and suspected of being the killer (he had been shown photos of his sexy lounging singing wife Jessica playing "patty cake" with Acme just hours before he was killed). Determined to find out who the real killer is and save his own hide, Roger begs cartoon detective Eddie Valliant (Bob Hoskins) to help him out. Eddie has a chip on his shoulder though - his brother and partner was killed recently by a toon with a high pitched squeaky voice and evil laugh and therefore, refuses to help toons anymore. Can Eddie help Roger and solve the mystery before Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) gets to Roger first? And where is Acme's will that states that ownership of Toontown goes to the toons themselves when he dies? This film was groundbreaking for a number of reasons. First, it was one of the first full-length movies to make use of real actors interacting with cartoon characters seemingly side-by-side. It is also one of the few projects where both Disney, Warner Bros, and other film companies allowed their classic characters to appear on screen together thanks to the persuasion of producer Steven Spielberg, despite the movie being a Disney film - that's something that is rarely ever seen! Despite complains from the current Disney head Michael Eisner that parts of the film were too risque, director Rob Zemeckis had final say on the film and refused to make the changes - it didn't really matter though, as it provided something for the adults, while going over the heads of young kids like me who just liked seeing all our favorite animated characters together. This is a must see for anyone who likes animation.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was another live-action visual effects family movie Disney put out in 1989. Starring Rick Moranis as Wayne Szalinski, a bumbling scientist and inventor, he who is trying to create a machine in his attic that can shrink things. While goofing around one day with the neighbor kids Amy and Nick, Wayne's kids Ron and Russ hit a baseball through the attic's window, which hits the shrink-ray on the machine. When the kids go to retrieve the ball, they get shrunk by it's beam, making them small enough to ride ants! Accidentally getting swept up and taken out with the trash, the kids decide to journey across the yard and in hopes of getting Wayne's attention and that he can reverse the process! I remember seeing this one in the theater and thought it was a lot of fun, despite the scary scene where the kids get attacked by some mean bugs and an ant comes to their rescue but gets killed in the fight. While this one was pretty neat and was the basis for a playground like area at Disney's MGM Studios (everything was built huge so you felt like you were tiny and they even had an ant sculpture you could pretend to ride like they do in the movie), it spawned several less than sequels in the 90s, such as 1992's Honey, I Blew Up the Baby (where the Szalinski's toddler is turned into the size of a skyscraper and goes rampant in Vegas) and 1997's Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves. There was also the Disney 3D/4D attraction Honey, I Shrunk the Audience which replaced the Captain EO 3D/4D adventure in the late 90s (it wasn't as good as Captain EO, in my opinion!)
Now aside from family-friendly movies in the 80s, there were also a handful that while they were geared towards adults (and rated as such) most of the language and "bad" stuff went over our heads and we kids still saw them and thought they were awesome!
1986's Maximum Overdrive, starring Emilo Estevez, was one of those. In this adaption of a Stephen King short story (and his first and only directorial effort), strange things start happening just outside Willmington, NC - electronic appliances and vehicles begin running on their own without batteries and plugs and start killing people! A small group of survivors are holed up inside a truck stop called The Dixie Boy, however a "gang" of semi-trucks show up, led by a Happy Toyz Co. semi-truck with Spiderman's Green Goblin painted on it, and begin making demands that the people pump gas into them. Realizing that eventually they'll be enslaved to the machines, the survivors decide to try and escape to a nearby island. Will they make it? And why are the machines suddenly acting like this? While this one was quite violent (originally getting an X rating, the uncut version was so bloody and violent it almost made zombie filmmaker George A. Romero vomit when it was shown to him!), they did clean it up on TV, which is where most of us kids saw it. I'll admit, I was bit iffy around household appliances that night after seeing this movie, but having seen it again on TV in high school, this is probably one of the funniest horror movies ever, as the plot is just so stupid and there's soooo many cliches in the film. There's a reason this film is a cult classic!
In 1980, we were given The Blues Brothers, based off a set of characters from an SNL skit, starring a skinny Dan Aykroyd and a late John Belushi with a whole slew of celebrity cameos! Just of jail, Jake Blues and his brother Elwood visit their childhood home, a Catholic orphanage, and learn that the home will be closed unless $5000 in property taxes are paid by a certain date. Deciding they are on "a mission from God," the brothers decide to get their old blues band back together to raise the money for the orphanage. This involves several amusing interactions with former bandmates, who have since gotten actual jobs and need some persuasion to leave, as well as several hilarious gigs they play before The Big One. In addition to Jake's crazy ex-fiance (Carrie Fisher) who is trying to kill them as revenge for being stood up at their wedding, the brothers also have the cops on their tail, the entire time as they get the money and race through the streets of Chicago to get the tax paid on time and upset a group of "Illinois Nazi's" who want them to pay. One of the things I personally love about this movie, is that it was mostly shot on location in and around Chicago and yes, the Daley Center lobby - I remember walking around Chicago with my parents after the first time seeing this movie (which was in the late 80s, as I wasn't around at the time of its original release) and just being in awe at how we were walking on some of the same streets where that infamous car chase scene took place. As a kid, I remember renting this one and watching it with my dad, and I loved it and enjoyed the music and chases, however it wasn't until years later that I noticed just how bad some of the language was for a kid to be hearing! Like most kids though, it went over our heads at that age and our parents knew that, which is why they let us watch it, as language aside, it's actually a pretty good movie, especially considering it's based on an SNL skit!
What happens when 2 clueless men find a baby named Mary left on their doorstep, with a letter stating that their out of town third roommate is the father? Well, we found out in 1987's Three Men and a Baby (directed by Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy), starring Tom Selleck, Steven Guttenberg, Ted Danson and Nancy Travis, the men have plenty in common with Full House's Joey and Uncle Jesse when it comes to a baby! While getting used to surrogate fatherhood, our trio of bumbling dads also have a mix up with several drug dealers who kidnap Mary. Near the end though, Mary's mother returns, deciding she'll keep her baby after all and return to her home in England, but will she end up going or will she stick around and have the guys continue to help her raise her daughter? While this film was cute and funny, I personally enjoyed it's 1990 sequel, Three Men and a Little Lady, much better (which takes place several years after the first one, with the men now used to having Mary and her mother as part of their lives).
1988's Twins starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito was another of those movies where a lot of the sexual content and language went right over the heads of young kids like myself. In the movie, Julius and Vincent are fraternal twins separated at birth. Julius is sent to live with a professor off in the South Pacific who teaches him a lot and he becomes very intelligent, but not very street smart about the world. Vincent on the other hand is sent to an orphanage and grows up to become a lowlife jerk in LA. Learning he has a twin, Julius sets off to LA to find him. I remember it was funny how clueless Julius was about the world around him, while Julius despised his brother for getting all the good looks and smarts genetics. The interactions between the 2 were quite amusing for a young kid, and it helped that DeVito was so short compared to Arnold.
While there had been several Indy movies in the 80s before this one, 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was the first one I saw and I enjoyed this adventure and eventually went back and saw Raiders of the Lost Ark (although I had to close my eyes during the final scene, just like in this one, as my parents thought seeing people lose their skin and turn into skeletons and then dust was just too scary for me. I also never got to see Temple of Doom due to the cannibal scene in that one). In this one, Indy learns that his father Henry has gone missing while searching for the Holy Grail and after receiving his dad's diary which contains all his research on The Grail, Indy realizes Dad must really be in trouble and sets off to Venice to rescue him. Once getting Dad, Indy learns that his female companion is in fact a Nazi spy, who was ordered to recover Henry's notes on The Grail for the Nazi regime. Eventually escaping, Indy and his father (played brilliantly by Sean Connery), set out to avoid getting captured and killed by the Nazi's after them, while retrieving Dad's diary. Their journey also reunites them with characters from the previous Indy films - Marcus and Sallah - and to the place where the Holy Grail is kept. This is still, by far, my favorite Indiana Jones movie - the pairing of Ford and Connery was just too perfect for the roles of Indy and his father and their interactions were often hilarious! Despite a few "scary" moments this was a fun adventure film that most won't mind their kids seeing with them, as some of the sexual content will mostly likely go over the heads of little kids (it did with me!).
What films from the 80s do you remember watching as a kid?