Decade Definers: JUMPCUT’s 80s Film Favourites Spotify Playlist

So far for our 80’s Decade Definers the team have covered The Indiana Jones Trilogy, The Birth of the Action Hero, and The Golden Age of Family-Friendly Films. We have a few more pieces up our sleeve before we move on to the next decade, but we thought it’d be a nice idea for the team to come together to share their favourite 80s film songs and scores and pop them all in one playlist to share with you all! We’ve also included some of our your suggestions from Facebook and Twitter.

Our playlist includes 52 songs from the likes of Back to the Future, Highlander, Weird Science, Dirty Dancing, Electric Dreams, Caddy Shack, Rock IVRisky Business and Purple Rain!

We’ll continue to add to this playlist so why not send over what you’d like to hear in there! You can drop them in the comments below, or send them over to us on Twitter!

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Decade Definers: 1980s – Goonies, Gremlins and Ghostbusters: The Golden Age of the Family-Friendly Film

Written by Fiona Underhill

Full disclosure: I was born in 1980 and therefore obviously the 1980s WAS my childhood. So, I am biased when I say that the 1980s was a golden age for the family-friendly live-action film. However, I stand by it (and I’m about to show you the receipts). The 1980s were NOT a golden age for animation (which was reignited by Disney with ‘The Little Mermaid’ in 1989), but sci-fi and fantasy live-action films aimed at and featuring children, which the whole family could enjoy, were numerous and of a great quality. From epic fairytale fantasies, to aliens, robots and spaceships, to creatures on earth, to the dawn of the fear of computers and technology – there was something to bring everyone to their local smoke-filled flea pit. We didn’t get a VHS player until around 1992, so the only options were to watch a film if it happened to come up on one of the 4 TV channels (and walk to the TV to switch between those channels), or to go to our town’s one single-screen cinema. It is so bizarre now to think back on the cinema having smoking ‘sections’ (as if the smoke wouldn’t permeate the whole room) and that was how we watched films then – through a haze. The amount of choice on offer nowadays is preferable of course, but has it really improved the quality of what is on offer to children? I would argue that family films have never bettered their 1980s hey day. So, strap yourselves in for a journey back to the golden age…

Decade Defining Directors: Dante, Henson/Oz, Howard, Gilliam, Reiner & Reitman

Decade Defining Actors: Tom Hanks, Rick Moranis, Martin Short

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Master of Puppets: Fairytale-style Fantasies

Flash Gordon (Hodges, 1980)
Time Bandits (Gilliam, 1981)
The Dark Crystal (Henson & Oz, 1982)
The NeverEnding Story (Peterson, 1984)
Return to Oz (Murch, 1985)
Labyrinth (Henson, 1986)
The Princess Bride (Reiner, 1987)
Willow (Howard, 1988)
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Gilliam, 1988)

This sub-genre was dominated by one man: Jim Henson. The man behind ‘The Muppets’ and ‘Sesame Street’ not only directed some stand-out films of the 80s, but had his hand (literally) in many more. The Jim Henson Company’s puppets and creatures were a defining feature of the decade and something that I have the hugest feelings of nostalgia and affection for. From NeverEnding Story’s Falkor the Luckdragon to Labyrinth’s Ludo and Hoggle; these characters were infused with such tender emotion by Henson and given fully realised character arcs and relationships with humans. It is extremely hard for me to choose, but if I had to pick just one ‘desert-island’ film of the 1980s, it would be ‘Labyrinth’. A tense and scary story, amazing creature design and David Bowie – what more could you ask for? But this sub-genre is ripe with absolute classics – ‘The Princess Bride’ is a hilarious twist on the classic fairytale with unforgettable characters such as Inigo Montoya, the giant Fezzik and Prince Humperdinck. ‘The NeverEnding Story’ shows a real-world boy, Bastian following the fantastical adventures of Atreyu and his trusty horse Artax as they battle to save the childlike Empress. ‘Return to Oz’ still haunts my nightmares with its ‘Hall of Heads’ and the terrifying wheelers. However, it has some delightfully affectionate creatures such as Tik-Tok, Billina, Jack Pumpkinhead and Gump. ‘Flash Gordon’ came from the same love of 1940s comics and serials that inspired both ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Indiana Jones’. It is an epic that traverses space, involves good vs evil and Brian Blessed. I do not know what else to tell you.

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A Tribe Called Quest: Adventures Run Amok

Romancing the Stone (Zemeckis, 1984)
The Jewel of the Nile (Teague, 1985)
The Goonies (Donner, 1985)
Three Amigos! (Landis, 1986)
Twins (Reitman, 1988)

The quest, the journey, the mystery, the adventure – these are tropes as old as time and ones fully exploited during the 1980s. ‘The Goonies’ is a beloved classic and involves a gang of kids finding a pirate treasure map and going on an exciting quest. ‘Three Amigos’ features SNL alum Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and Martin Short as three actors who become embroiled in a real-life battle of life and death in Mexico. ‘Romancing’ and ‘Jewel’ aren’t really aimed at children, but are PG-rated and make good companion pieces to ‘Indiana Jones’. They have a similar storyline to ‘Three Amigos’, where those writing adventure stories become involved in an adventure of their own. ‘Twins’ is the story of Arnold Schwarzenegger discovering he has a twin brother; obviously played by Danny DeVito and their quest to discover more about their parents.

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Creature Features: Aliens, Robots, Monsters and Magic

ET: the Extra-Terrestrial (Spielberg, 1982)
Gremlins (Dante, 1984)
Gremlins 2 (Dante, 1990)
Starman (Carpenter, 1984)
The Karate Kid Trilogy (Avildson, 1984-1989)
Ghostbusters (Reitman, 1984)
Ghostbusters 2 (Reitman, 1989)
Teen Wolf (Daniel, 1985)
Teen Wolf Too (Leitch, 1987)
Little Shop of Horrors (Oz, 1986)
The Worst Witch (Young, 1986)
Short Circuit (Badham, 1986)
Short Circuit 2 (Johnson, 1988)
Batteries Not Included (Robbins, 1987)
Harry & The Hendersons (Dear, 1987)
Mannequin (Gottlieb, 1987)
Vice Versa (Gilbert, 1988)
Tremors (Underwood, 1990)

A rich history of aliens and robots visiting earth was mined with aplomb during the 80s; from the love-story (featuring a young and hot Jeff Bridges) ‘Starman’, to alien-robots in ‘Batteries Not Included’, to the classic ‘ET’ – this sub-genre offered plenty. The key was that the human story that surrounded these creatures was taken seriously and delivered with emotion, from the older people battling large corporations and dealing with Alzheimer’s in ‘Batteries’ to the single mother struggling with three kids in ‘ET’ (a story I could strongly identify with, as the Gertie of my single-parent family). Pretty much every creature you can think of got its own feature in the 80s; the mermaid in ‘Splash’ (which I’ll talk about later), werewolves in ‘Teen Wolf’ and ‘American Werewolf’, Big Foot in ‘Harry & the Hendersons’, ghosts in ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Beetlejuice’ and vampires in the not-quite family-friendly ‘Lost Boys’. More unusual creatures came in the form of giant underground worms in ‘Tremors’, the mysterious mogwai from the Far East in ‘Gremlins’ and the man-eating plant in 1950s-set musical ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. A home-grown robot came in the form of ‘Short Circuit’s’ Jonny 5 who befriended the beautiful Stephanie and if I were pushed, this is perhaps my favourite from this section. ‘Magic’ was introduced in a rare British entry to the 80s family film; ‘The Worst Witch’, via an ancient Egyptian inhabiting a department store mannequin and a mysterious Tibetan skull causing a father and son to swap bodies in ‘Vice Versa’. Whilst not featuring any magic, ‘The Karate Kid’ trilogy continued the fascination with cultures considered ‘exotic’ at the time and along with the cartoon ‘Hong Kong Phooey’, certainly increased interest and participation in the martial arts. It should be noted how many sequels feature in this sub-genre (perhaps demonstrating they are not a new phenomenon destroying film, as some would have you believe) and I’m going to do a shout-out here for unfairly maligned ‘Ghostbusters 2’.

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Fear of the Computer Age: Spaceships and Tech Going Awry 

War Games (Badham, 1983)
Explorers (Dante, 1985)
Flight of the Navigator (Kleiser, 1986)
Space Camp (Winer, 1986)
Innerspace (Dante, 1987)
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Herek, 1989)
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (Johnston, 1989)

Considering the 1980s signalled the dawn of affordable personal computers and games consoles (I can remember our Amstrad and Atari with fondness), cinema actually started addressing the perceived dangers of computer technology very early on. ‘War Games’ is an unbelievably prescient and ahead-of-its-time film about a teenage Matthew Broderick thinking he is playing a computer game but actually accidentally hacking into a super-computer which controls the US military arsenal and almost starting WWIII. ‘War Games’ also managed to utilise fear of the Cold War, which very much dominated the decade, with the Russians as the perpetual villains. Of course, these films reflected a real fear and caution about what was such a new technology at the time. ‘Explorers’, ‘Flight of the Navigator’ and ‘Space Camp’ all feature children accidentally setting off in alien spaceships or earth-made rockets and their ensuing adventures. All three feature young actors who went on to adult success; including Ethan Hawke (Explorers), Sarah Jessica Parker (FOTN) and Joaquin Phoenix (who went by the name Leaf in ‘Space Camp’). ‘Innerspace’ has (a very young and hot) Dennis Quaid as a pilot, who is taking part in miniaturization experiment, being accidentally injected into the body of Martin Short. Miniaturization is also the theme of ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids’, which features that other most 80s of actors Rick Moranis. ‘Bill & Ted’s’ problem is less a spaceship and more time machine – which takes two very dumb surfer dude teens through history and ends up helping them ace the subject at school. In my humble opinion, 1991’s ‘Bogus Journey’ is even better.

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King of the 80s: Tom Hanks

Splash (Howard, 1984)
The Money Pit (Benjamin, 1986)
Dragnet (Mankiewicz, 1987)
Big (Marshall, 1988)
Turner & Hooch (Spottiswoode, 1989)
The Burbs (Dante, 1989)
Joe Versus the Volcano (Shanley, 1990)

Many of you will associate Hanks with his oscar-winning roles and Spielberg collaborations. I, however, will always think of the young, curly-haired actor who benevolently guided me through my childhood by starring in one stone-cold classic after another. Hanks began the 80s with the R-rated comedy Bachelor Party, but after that, he starred in the greatest run of family-friendly fare of any actor. Not to get too serious or maudlin on you, but my father died in a car accident in 1983 and I genuinely feel like Tom Hanks played a part in raising me. Starting with ‘Splash’, in which he falls in love with a mermaid and moving onto ‘Big’, in which the mysterious animatronic fortune-teller Zoltar causes Josh Baskin to become ‘big’ overnight – Hanks’ endearing everyman persona sold the emotion in these films. Hanks is also great at playing frustrated and thwarted by circumstance, in ‘Money Pit’, where a dilapidated house drives him crazy, in ‘Turner & Hooch’, where he plays an uptight cop teamed with a very messy and stinky mutt and in ‘The Burbs’, where he becomes obsessed with his neighbours who he believes are part of a satanic cult. Satanic cults were obviously dime-a-dozen during the 80s, because they also crop up in ‘Dragnet’, where he again plays a cop, this time partnered with Dan Akroyd instead of a large mastiff. Ritual sacrifices are ALSO a feature of ‘Joe Versus the Volcano’ (yes, I’m cheating by taking us to 1990, but there’s no way I was leaving this out). This is by far the best Hanks team-up with Meg Ryan and is, well, there is no other way of putting it, bat-shit crazy.

 

So; there you have it. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you grew up the 1980s as I did and are familiar with most of these films. You will have your personal favourites (please comment on social media with yours!) and will view the decade with similarly rose-tinted glasses to me. However, if you’re a ‘yoof’, I encourage you to dive into this decade and discover these gems for yourself. From epic fantasy fairytales, to science-fiction, creature features, adventurous quests and the ouevre of Tom Hanks – there really is something to appeal to everyone. That was the key to the 80s; films that were suitable for children, that could be enjoyed by the whole family.

My personal Top 12 (couldn’t squeeze it into 10) of 1980s family films:

12) Space Camp
11) Three Amigos!
10) The Princess Bride
9) The Worst Witch
8) batteries not included
7) The Goonies
6) Joe Versus the Volcano
5) Innerspace
4) NeverEnding Story
3) Short Circuit
2) Return to Oz
1) Labyrinth

We have more articles to share for our 80s Decade Definers, including why ‘Back to the Future’ was a game changer and a look at teenage-orientated films, so why not catch up on our previous posts before we share them with you:

The Indiana Jones Trilogy

The Birth of the Action Hero

 

Decade Definers: 1980s – Birth Of The Action Hero

Written by Chris Gelderd

Like most things in life, it’s hard to pin-point the exact formation of something. A season. A movement. A trend. These things just seem to happen when every factor around it comes into alignment and all the signs point to go. Somethings just naturally work with the environment around them. The film industry also does this and has done for over 100 years

The 1980s saw the formation of many things that changed the industry forever. The emergence of special effects allowed film-makers to really let their imagination blossom. Risks were being taken across horror, sci-fi and comedy with franchises taking off left right and centre, content being pushed for teen audiences (the introduction of the US PG-13 rating for such an occasion) and talent was setting the bar high in their chosen genres, such as Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Jane Fonda and Eddie Murphy to name but a few.

Yet the 80s was a decade that discovered a new wave of acting and creative talent that changed the way we look at action movies and their heroes forever, and we can see that winning template is used in films today to cater to new generations.

The world needed heroes, and the right men – and women – came along at the right time to deliver. Not satisfied with your suave Brit Sir Roger Moore and his family friendly James Bond adventures, mature audiences wanted more. More action! More violence! More stars! More outrageous, exciting, balls-to-the-wall popcorn entertainment!

The studios listened. The creative talent put pen to paper. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 1980s and the birth of the action hero!

Ask any film fan to name 5 action stars and they will probably give the same names.  From just a rather small selection of big name stars throughout the 1980s, we certainly got a truckload of memorable and long-standing action films from them. Some spawned franchises that still are going strong today, others simply one off treasures. Either way, they helped shape a genre that inspired much of what we see today on the big (and small) screen.

Let’s take a look at some of the big names that came to be during the 1980s and how they helped shape the action movie itself.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger

One man proved you didn’t need to be the next Charlton Heston of the acting world in order to make shockwaves across Hollywood and the world. Sometimes all you needed was a thick, inimitable European accent, muscles the size of watermelons and the passion to chase the American dream. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the ‘Austrian Oak’, did just that when he launched onto the scene during the 1980s with his imposing, unique frame as a bit player in cheaply produced movies before the studio execs took a risk and cast him in films where dialogue and plot were minimal, but action and iconography where high.

Arnie gave us 9 movies during the 1980s that became classics of the genre and his trademark style of witty one-liners, high violence, break-neck stunts and blending action into sci-fi, fantasy and comedy. From ‘Conan The Destroyer’ in 1982 that tested his boundaries for taking any role seriously and dishing out action in any form he was given, he soon was given movies such as ‘The Terminator’ in 1984, ‘Commando’ in 1985 and ‘Predator’ in 1987.

Each film was unique and different, letting Arnie win over fans and critics not with his acting, but with his ability to be an action hero across any genre who was tough talking, physically imposing and looked like a demi-God with his muscles and strong stance. He used any means at his disposal to eradicate bad guys – and sometimes good guys – and gave James Bond a run for his money with the one liners. Arnie became synonymous with action films and many of his 80s films stand strong today and shape franchise on the big and small screen in a career built on action that doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

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Sylvester Stallone

Stallone gave us two big ‘R’s throughout the 70s and 80s…and 90s and 00s, all things considered. Rocky Balboa was his character for sport and drama, but Rambo was his character for action and excitement. From 1982 to 1988 (and 2008, but we’re not here for that), Stallone carved a new niche for his action ability in the form of John Rambo, a traumatized Vietnam veteran.

After a debut in ‘First Blood’ that actually gave us a grounded action film that used drama, humanity and tension as its main driving points, it’s two sequels “First Blood Part II” and “Rambo III” threw humanity out the window (literally) and cranked up the chaos to 10.

Muscles bulging as he waged war against the Vietnamese and Russians to save POWs and innocent people, Rambo became the invincible one-man army whom America and the world could count on.  Armed with  rocket launchers and sub-machine guns, bow and arrows and hunting knifes, Rambo proved Stallone could deliver the sort of story fuelled action audiences wanted, and it continued over his career with the likes ‘Tango & Cash’, ‘Demolition Man’ and ‘The Expendables’.

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Bruce Willis

An interesting case study indeed when you look at it. Out of all the action heroes of the 80s, Willis looked least likely. He wasn’t imposing to look at, not intimidating to hear talk and his career launched in the 1984 US comedy drama TV show ‘Moonlighting’ and the 1987 comedy romance film ‘Blind Date’.

Fox produced a film based on a 1979 novel ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’, a sequel to the 1966 book ‘The Detective’, which was adapted into a 1968 film starring Frank Sinatra and allowed Sinatra to accept or decline to star in the new film. He declined. Arnold Schwarzenegger declined it as a sequel to ‘Commando’. Who was left to cast? Bruce Willis, obviously.

Now when you say the words ‘Die Hard’, it conjures up a film often agreed to be the greatest action film of the 1980s. A simple story about a New York cop saving hostages inside a skyscraper whilst taking down a small army of European terrorists was just what people wanted. Full of explosive action, snappy humour, a surprising world-weary and iconic portrayal by Willis of NYPD cop John McClane and a villain as dastardly and suave as them come in the guise of the late, great Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber.

‘Die Hard’ quickly became a template to base an action hero saving the day against the odds, and shaped the hero who could be an everyday cop in the wrong place at the wrong time, not just a muscle bound war hero or super soldier. It launched four sequels, video games and also Willis’s career into action orbit and also the greatest debate going in movies today – “Is Die Hard a Christmas film or not?”.

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Sigourney Weaver

The 80s action market was a place for men. Women had little chance to show they could do as much damage as the guys sadly, but one woman took a role, built it up over a franchise and proved that with the right support, it wasn’t just the men who could kick ass and save the world…or galaxy.

Sigourney Weaver has her niche in drama and comedy, but her action debut came in a little known sci-fi film in the late 1970s called ‘Alien’ that had her go up and survive against a deadly alien being in space, where nobody could hear her or her ill-fated male crew scream. The role of Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley was a big boost to female talent at that time, and while Weaver continued her box-office draw in comedy with other classics such as ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Working Girl’, the 80s saw her return to the role of Ripley in 1986s ‘Aliens’.

This time, Weaver led a group of male supporting actors as space marines to return to and wipe out the colony of aliens and their queen to save the galaxy from extinction. Weaver gave just as good as she got in terms of attitude, action and ability. A fine actress of her generation, she carried over a humane side to her tough-talking and ass-kicking Ripley going up against the deadly aliens and held her own, much like John McClane in ‘Die Hard’, being an everyday person up against the odds but who handles weaponry and heavy machinery as easy as breathing. Weaver cemented a successful and iconic role in an already iconic franchise and is one of the few female actors to carve out a successful action hero over the years.

Now, sadly, I have to rein this piece in because I could go on exploring defining actors and their roles for many more pages, but you all have lives and I must let you get on with them.

I hope this small glimpse into what the 1980s gave us in terms of action resonates with you. A handful of international actors helped produced dozens of action films with the support of creative talent such as James Cameron and Joel Silver that would resonate for years to come and also help launch female talent in front of and behind the camera around the world. The 80s gave us simple pleasures without the need for extensive plots, complicated stories and bloated character development. The era is almost a golden age of simplicity and it’s that simplicity that makes it so easy to return to watch any action film of the time for nothing but entertainment and enjoyment.

There are many more stars out there I could have mentioned. I’ll leave you with a handful more here to explore in your own time as ones who also helped define the action decade:

  • Jackie Chan (‘Police Story’, ‘Project A’)
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme (‘Bloodsport’, ‘Kickboxer’)
  • Harrison Ford (‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’, ‘Blade Runner’)
  • Mel Gibson (‘Mad Max 2’, ‘Lethal Weapon’)
  • Chuck Norris (‘The Delta Force’, ‘Missing In Action’)
  • Kurt Russell (‘The Thing’, ‘Big Trouble In Little China’)

Yippie-ki-yay, mother f….

Decade Definers: 1980s – The Indiana Jones Trilogy

Written by Chris Gelderd

Fast forward 50 years to the year 2068 and let’s see how Hollywood and blockbuster movies are made. No film is every truly original. Everything from characters to plot devices to music and locations are influenced marginally by existing material that dates back half a decade or so before the release. From 2018, what will be influencing the future generations of Hollywood to create ground-breaking and genre defining work? Who knows.

But, for now, it’s the 1980s that is our focus for these current Decade Definers.

Looking back to one such inspiration that helped shape the adventure genre during and going forward from the 80s, we have to go back to the late 1800s, early 1920s and the 1960s. Take the literary works of Sir H. Rider Haggard and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, fuse this with the fun of James Bond films pre-1979 and then add the name of a pet Alaskan Malamute dog. Cook all this up in the minds of directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas and you have the foundations for one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, cinematic adventure hero of all time.

Indiana Smith*, portrayed by Tom Selleck.**

*Soon changed to Indiana Jones after Smith was deemed to boring

**Soon re-cast with Harrison Ford after scheduling conflicts for ‘Magnum P.I’.

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The man with the hat” burst onto cinema screens in 1981, kicking off a decade full of inventive, creative, entertaining, fun and pretty much iconic movies spanning many genres that set a template for others to follow. ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’ (its original title before being re-branded with ‘Indiana Jones and the…’ prefixing it) was a loving homage to the Saturday morning serial adventures on television and B-movies that fuelled many a childhood before the dawn of computer games and multiplexes.

Director Steven Spielberg dared to take things back to basics film-making. His veteran cast and crew harnessed practical stunt-work over special effects, lovingly crafted models, authentic locations and props and an ol’ fashioned good v evil where the good guy is a dashing, rugged swashbuckling adventurer and the villains are the crux of ALL villainy in the guise of ruthless Nazis.

Harrison Ford, fresh from completing his second Star Wars film ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ in which he became a household name on the back of his smuggling scoundrel Han Solo was primed and ready to craft yet another hero for his playlist. But yet Ford avoided a carbon copy of Han Solo set in a galaxy not so far away. He portrayed Indiana Jones as a man rougher around the edges, more focused on his work than his ego and grounded in a reality where he felt pain, he bled and he was in greater danger than just flying pretend space-ships and avoiding pantomime bad guys with laser swords on fictional planets. Ford seemed to evolve into a real man’s man during the era – an American 007 for the early 1940s.

Following on from ‘Raiders…’ came ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom’ in 1984 and ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ in 1989. A real book-end of adventure films at the beginning, middle and end of the 80s.

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‘Temple Of Doom’ was, and still stands, as a brave sequel. It retains the formula of what worked previously whilst having the courage to introduce new themes, characters and stories. Not a carbon copy of ‘Raiders…’ in the slightest, it gave us more iconic practical, genre defining action that strayed from the modern era such as a perilous rope-bridge spanning a huge canyon, a nauseating mine cart chase and enough voodoo, slavery and black-magic to force even the easiest going film censor to work for his money.

While not initially as successful as its family-friendly predecessor, ‘Temple Of Doom’ is a fun affair on one hand but more mature and dark on the other – a’la ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ of sequels – pushing us out of our comfort zone with Indiana Jones to explore new dangers and face new villains. It certainly was a bold move but stands strong as the middle of the ‘then’ trilogy.

Rounding the decade out in ‘89, ‘The Last Crusade’ returned Indiana Jones and his audience back to familiar ground. The Nazis were back. The globe-trotting was back. The myths were back. The original cast were back. It was a comfort blanket, 8 years on from where it all began, except this time, Spielberg brought along one of the inspirations for the ride – James Bond himself, Sir Sean Connery, as Henry Jones Snr, Indy’s cantankerous father. After Spielberg lost out on the chance to direct Roger Moore as 007 in 1981’s ‘For Your Eyes Only’, it was only a matter of time before he had his chance in an “alternate universe” kind of way. Sean Connery’s 007 was a base for the creation of Indiana Jones, so what better way to have the man himself involved.

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This pairing of Ford and Connery is one of the most beloved relationships in cinema thanks to their natural chemistry and mature performances that test their patience and tolerance, all the while cemented with a heart-warming love and developing appreciation for estranged father and son. Couple this with the award-winning mix of sun-kissed European, American and African locations, a stellar support cast and daring action, stunt-work and intrigue, ‘The Last Crusade’ proved that Indiana Jones brought a fresh look to the adventure genre in the 1980s that would resonate for decades and generations to come.

Everything about the trilogy felt and looked real. It was a breath of fresh air to audiences who wanted to escape the influx of science fiction or brutal horrors or macho action. They were, in essence, family friendly adventures that traversed the globe in search of mythical, fantastical artefacts from the past with adrenalin-fuelled stunt-work and action; all set around likeable characters and dastardly villains. Importantly, they were all set during crucial points in world history would be very familiar to audiences, allowing them to connect in some way to the story.

From a trademark opening sequence that was a love letter to the B-movies to often tense and chilling, (sometimes face-melting) climaxes blending fact and fantasy, Spielberg and Ford never gave you chance to catch your breath or be complacent from the start – the thrill ride was non-stop for each outing and it was created with such passion that it was impossible to falter, regardless of how strong, different or controversial the story was.

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And it wasn’t just the visual side of things, but also the audible. Composer John Williams, who already had a back catalogue of scores to his name such as ‘Jaws’, ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Superman’, gave us yet another soundtrack that speaks volumes without any need for dialogue. The triumphant, rousing and exciting score that accompanied Indiana Jones on his travels blended sweeping romance, eerie occult, uplifting joy, paternal mischief and a general sense of adventure that is so simple in execution, but never fails to swell the listener’s heart with its sense of pride, passion and power.

So timeless (ironically set over approximately 6 years in real time) was this trilogy of films that 19 years later in 2008 a fourth film was released – ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull’ blending old and new techniques for a new generation of fans, whilst catering to what we loved from the original trilogy. While reception and expectation was not quite met, it still proved that for that sense of simple adventure and daring heroism, Indiana Jones is the man who still delivers.

Countless comic book adaptations, novels, computer games, toys and a host of other merchandise followed showing that the love for Indy never dwindled, and that love and will soon be heightened again with a 5th film planned, uniting Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford once more for an expected release date of 2020.

If the 80s proved adventure has a name, then that name is Indiana Jones.

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Decade Definers: 1980s

 

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The 1980s…  Angsty teenagers, adventures in space, a bleak outlook of the future, lots of guns, and even more hairspray!

We’re excited to announce the continuation of our ‘Decade Definers’ series – we’ve previously discussed the 60s offering up films such as ‘The Jungle Book’, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, and James Bond. We then discussed the 1970s towards the end of last year, which gave us the chance to cover films like ‘Star Wars’, ‘Jaws’, ‘Alien’, and the birth of mainstream horrors.

Now we finally get to tuck into the 80s and all it had to offer to the world of film. With it being such a huge decade, we’ve decided we’re going to split up contributors input into individual articles so they can discuss their subject(s) as much as they’d like! We’re going big for the 80s (just like the hairstyles of the time!).

Throughout this decade we will be looking at the birth of franchises, including ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Back to the Future’ and how these shaped the future of franchises as we know them. We’ll also be covering various genres, such as the rise of the villains in horrors, and how Sci-Fi films stretched audience’s imaginations, and how could we discuss the 80s and not talk about High School and teen focused films? (We’re looking at you, John Hughes). There’ll be lots more coming over the next few weeks which we’re really excited to share with you so keep your eyes peeled to our social media pages!

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We’d love to hear from you about your favourite films from the 80s – so please feel free to comment on the posts or come discuss it with us on Twitter! Who knows, you may even feature in a piece! Or, if you’d like to contribute to this run of decade definers, please drop us a DM on Twitter to discuss further. We’d love to have a wide range of input!

Kicking things off next week, Chris takes a  look at ‘Indiana Jones’ and how the franchise is not only a personal favourite of his, but how Spielberg’s work on it is still a source of inspiration to filmmakers even to this day.

Decade Definers: 1970s

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes, Abbie Eales, and Corey Hughes

Throughout history, cinema has reflected, echoed and even preempted societal shifts that occur through the ages, and that’s where our Decade Definers series comes in. We’ll take a look at the world, decade by decade, and discuss how the films of that era represented the attitudes, fears, desires and innovations of our society.

With the close of the Swinging Sixties, the 1970s came along like the much deserved  hangover after a period of such hedonism and optimism.  The 1970s was a decade of turmoil across the world. The Vietnam War, the Watergate Scandal and the death of Elvis shook the USA, while the UK dealt with Bloody Sunday, decimalisation, miners strikes and the election of Margaret Thatcher. The 1970s were desperately difficult times, both politically and economically but, as is often the way in times of hardship, this led to a period of rapid change. Some incredible art came from the period, from the rise of punk and disco to feminist and conceptual art, while cinema was not far behind in terms of pushing boundaries

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Star Wars (1977)

Thanks to Stanley Kubrick and his Space Odyssey, the idea of the universe around us became a thrilling and exciting setting for film going forward. No film encapsulates this sense of adventure and eagerness to explore galaxies far, far away, than ‘Star Wars’. A franchise which today is going from strength to strength, an unstoppable movie machine, the inception of this epic saga in 1977 changed the sci-fi landscape forever. Taking us across breathtaking worlds, introducing us to iconic characters from a multitude of species and handing us the most legendary weapon in film history, George Lucas’ space opera perfectly reflected mankind’s relentless desire to learn about and journey through our universe. (JLB)

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Alien (1979) – Sci-fi Horror on the Rise

Following on from the success of sci-fi family favourite Star Wars, Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece put science fiction back on a distinctly adult footing in what became one of the most influential films of all time. The “haunted house in space” film took a familiar theme but took it to revolutionary places. The casting of Sigourney Weaver as the lead character Ripley was hugely unusual, so much so that a conversation between Ripley and  Lambert (played by Veronica Cartwright, who was originally signed up to play the role of Ripley) served as the inspiration for the much quoted Bechdel test; the simple test for a female positive film, which simply looks at whether it features at least two women, who talk about something other than a man.

HR Giger’s design of the Xenomorph was revolutionary at the time and remains iconic, bringing together the natural and seemingly mechanical into one gloriously terrifying creature, a mash-up of man, machine and the unknown.

The design of the ship, the Nostromo proved hugely influential too, with it’s worn industrial feel influencing the design of future sci-fi productions away from simply white and shiny, recognising that these craft had to be lived in and used.

The rest of the crew on Ripley’s ship weren’t highly educated scientists or soldiers, but rather blue collar workers, picking up on one of the 70’s big themes, the disenfranchised working class. (AE)

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Jaws (1975)

Who would’ve thought that a mechanical shark would change cinema forever? But that’s exactly what Steven Spielberg and his aquatic beast, Bruce the shark, did in 1975. Before ‘Jaws’, a night at the cinema was a means to enjoy and appreciate an art form. Now, it was a blockbuster event, and your summers would never be the same again – for a start, a trip to the beach was off the cards unless you were feeling super brave. But most importantly, there was now better things to do. Now, you could bet your bottom dollar that every year there would be a huge, mass-appeal, blockbuster movie release that you just couldn’t miss out on. (JLB)

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The Exorcist (1973) and Halloween (1978) – The Birth of Mainstream Horror

The 1970’s saw the birth of truly mainstream horror, with the grim backdrop of the political landscape providing a plethora of psychological hang-ups to plunder.

William Friedkin’s horror masterpiece,The Exorcist was voted the scariest movie of all time by Total Film in 1999 and rightly so. Tapping in to one of the key horror themes of the 1960’s and 70s- fear of children- the film brought horror out of the realm of the schlocky B movie stable and made horror accessible to the masses.

Ironically this break into the mainstream was fuelled by it’s initial shock value.Originally banned by the BBFC on it’s release in June 1971 it was recut and finally released with an X rating in the UK in 1974.

Audiences were horrified by the tale of teenager Regan (Linda Blair), who has become wracked by convulsions, which after medical examinations prove fruitless are judged to be demonic possession, leading to meeting with Father Merrin (the Exorcist of the title).

Newspapers at the time of its release reported audience members fainting in horror or shock at the sight of this young girl screaming obscenities, vomiting profusely and masturbating with a crucifix.

Combined with themes around the guilt of women moving into the workplace, usurping masculine roles, Regan and her mother can be seen of emblematic of the fear of the rapid changes happening in the 1970s.

Despite the outcry around some of the scenes in The Exorcist it is important to recognise that the horror all takes place in a very domestic setting, the home. This mixture of the familiar and the unknown proved to be a hit with audiences, buoyed by its reputation as  banned film it raked in over $400million at the box office, proving to studios that horror could be a money spinner.

1978’s Halloween was made on a budget of just $325,000, going on to gross over $60million worldwide, a record for independent film at the time. John Carpenter’s deft use of music and ability to build tension elevated Halloween above it’s B-movie counterparts. Another home-based horror, Carpenter took the seemingly safe setting of suburban America and turned it into a source of terror. The initial idea of a psychotic killer stalking baby-sitters came from producer Irwin Yablans, an idea which was then woven together into a thrilling narrative by Carpenter and Debra Hill.

Largely seen from the point of view of teenager Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) we watch as the disturbed killer (and now horror icon) Michael Myers stalks and murders the teenage residents of Haddonfield. Notably Myers is known as ‘The Shape’ in the credits for Halloween, a big pointer to how Carpenter and cinematographer Dean Cundey made his presence seem so intimidating.

Since copied by an endless slew of imitators, Halloween was the original ‘Who’s next?’ of horror films, with the killer seemingly punishing victims for their perceived transgressions. Debra Hill’s huge contribution to the script was to write dialogue for the three main women on screen which seems both realistic and relatable, raising the characters above mere stereotypes. Halloween did prove to be the original in a line of knife-wielding killers flicks, from Friday the Thirteenth and  A Nightmare on Elm Street, later stumbling into the realms of the meta with films like Scream and Cabin in the Woods. Halloween’s tiny budget belied the huge impact it had on cinema. (AE)

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Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) – The Rise of Offbeat Comedy

While the Hollywood film industry was distracted by sci-fi and big budget blockbusters, the UK film industry became obsessed with home-grown comedy. Some, such as the ‘Confessions’ series and TV spin-offs such as ‘On the Buses’ and ‘Please, Sir!’ along with the enduring Carry On film franchise did not translate well in overseas markets. Others, such as the Monty Python films found a niche around the world.

The second of the Monty Python films (following 1971’s sketch-based ‘And now for something completely different’) Holy Grail was made on a budget of £230,000, money which was raised from investors such as Pink Floyd, Genesis and Led Zeppelin. The film went on to take £5 million at the world-wide box office. Still quoted regularly today, Monty Python and the Holy Grail became a comedy classic and changed the face of British, and indeed world, comedy with it’s off-beat and irreverant humour.

While according to the credits the movie was directed by a variety of different llamas we can safely assume the real work was done by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones. Jones and Gilliam took on directorial roles when it became apparent the budget wouldn’t stretch to hiring anyone else in, which of course then kick-started the directorial careers of both. (AE)

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Apocalypse Now (1979)

The war in Vietnam will always be a dark shadow on human history, as any war is. But a war spanning 20 years, and claiming 850,000 lives, is something which cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet. Many films have portrayed this conflict, in very different ways, but perhaps none more powerful and impacting than Francis Ford Coppola’s tour de force ‘Apocalypse Now’. Far from shying away from the issues, and with no concern for pandering to American interests, Coppola truly ventured into the heart of darkness, and goes all out with his brutal depictions of violence, death and evil. (JLB)

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Taxi Driver (1976) and Clockwork Orange (1971)

Following on from the fallout of the Vietnam war, Martin Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver’ centres around a young man fresh from military service who is on a mission to save the world. But Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is more than just a symbol of traumatised soldiers, he embodies a much larger problem – the disassociated young adults who found no place in society. This issue didn’t just resonate in America either, with Britain’s youth arguably even more affected by a feeling of being on the outside, unwelcome in their own communities. You’d be hard pressed to find a more resounding example of this, than Stanley Kubrick’s ultra violent depiction of restless, rebellious and dangerous young men, ‘A Clockwork Orange’. (JLB)

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Saturday Night Fever (1977) and Quadrophenia (1979)  – Working Class Struggles and the Modern Musical

1977’s Saturday Night Fever captured the grim mood of the era. In the US at the tail-end of the 70s disco was king and was providing the escapism that was needed from the drudgery of the daily grind. Based on an essay by Nik Cohn, (which was later revealed to have been a work of partial fiction, based on a British mod, not a New York disco King) we follow the fortunes of Tony Manero, a teenage Italian-American. By day Manero works a dead-end job in a hardware store, but by night he is king of the disco. Taking in hard hitting themes such as racism, abortion,  rape and Catholic guilt, Saturday Night Fever is a look at the dark side of 1970’s America.  Marrying together the glamour of a dance competition, the music of the Bee Gees and such dark themes is no mean feat, but John Badham’s classic manages to do just that. Despite the white suited dancehall swagger, Saturday Night Fever is not a million miles from Taxi Driver in tone, but it’s musical appeal managed to nudge it into the mainstream. Such was it’s appeal at the time that even the parody album by everyone’s favourite puppets ‘Sesame Street Fever’ went gold.

Working class alienation wasn’t reserved for the Americans however, as was shown in Franc Roddam’s tale of the tribal battle between mods and rockers in 1960’s Brighton. Loosley based on The Who’s rock opera of the same name, Quadrophenia follows the tale of Jimmy Cooper (Phil Daniels) who is desperate to escape his day to day life as a post room worker and find more meaning and excitement out in the big, wide world. Very much the British cousin to Saturday Night Fever, Quadrophenia is about escapism and finding glamour in a world that normally looks grim and dark. Also like it’s US cousin there is a distinctly dark underbelly to the scooters and rock music, with violence, drug-use and a gritty realism to the featured weekend of abandon. (AE)

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The Godfather (1972)

Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece The Godfather is a film that stands the test of time, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with some of cinema’s greatest feats. Yet The Godfather was not expected to reach the success that it would go on to achieve. Directed by the relatively inexperienced Coppola, starring a generally unrecognisable cast and Marlon Brando (who, at the time, was considered to be past his prime) and based on a novel that wasn’t a best-seller; The Godfather had no precedent to be the classic that it is today.

As a prolific member of the ‘movie brats’ (a group of New Hollywood filmmakers who opposed the traditional Hollywood era), Francis Ford Coppola was eager to smash the boundaries of American filmmaking, and he did so by bringing forth a film so enriched in complex themes and uncensored imagery that it would shock the cinematic world. The Godfather singlehandedly set the standard for the gangster-crime genre, a standard that would subsequently influence films such as Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas and Brian De Palma’s Scarface. Coppola made Hollywood an offer it could not refuse. And the world thanks him for it. (CH)

 

Decade Definers: 1960s

Written by Chris Winterbottom and Jakob Lewis Barnes

Throughout history, cinema has reflected, echoed and even preempted societal shifts that occur through the ages, and that’s where our Decade Definers series comes in. We’ll take a look at the world, decade by decade, and discuss how the films of that era represented the attitudes, fears, desires and innovations of our society.

In this, the first of the series, we take a look at the 1960s – a period which produced some of the most awe-inspiring, revolutionary and shocking moments in modern history. The swinging sixties; what a time to be alive! A time of political upheaval, technological revolution, sexual and ideological liberation and of course, rock and roll. Presidents were killed, people fought and died for freedom and equality, music transcended entertainment, and man even walked on the moon. In our lifetime, there have been many events that have shook the world – both positively, and overwhelmingly negatively – but perhaps not as frequently as the events seen throughout the 1960s. So, which really encapsulate what this fascinating decade was all about?

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