Alien

Alien. 20th Century Fox 1979.
Alien. 20th Century Fox 1979.

Before watching the movie:

This is definitely not part of the Movie Monster Month series. Because it’s a new month, of course.

I have the impression that this movie basically invented Sci-Fi-Action-Horror as a subgenre, or at least is why it’s so predominant. I don’t dislike that combination, but I do mind that it seems to have choked out the alternatives, at least through the 80s and 90s.

But anyway, this is very ingrained in culture, so the scariest part is that I haven’t seen it yet. Ripley is up there with Sarah Connor (in Terminator 2) for awesome female heroes, and John Hurt’s most famous role is as the guy who explodes. There’s a walking backhoe fight. (That’s Alien 2 I think) These are things it’s impossible not to know.

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King Kong

King Kong. Dino De Laurentiis Company 1976.
King Kong. Dino De Laurentiis Company 1976.

Before watching the movie:

Yes, this is a remake. The second remake, if an Indian version made in the 60s that stands little chance of appearing here counts. And no, I haven’t seen the original yet. I haven’t seen any version before now. This is mostly a matter of what was available, and while the newest version is old enough to be considered, I’m more attracted to this one. Just by its era, I expect it to be more accessible than the original, while still feeling more classic than current. Then on top of that, it has a particularly notable cast. Fay Wray was at the top of her career in 33’s King Kong, but she’s popularly remembered for little else now. Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin, Jessica Lange, and Rene Auberjonois are all still fairly well known today, and I’m looking forward to their performances.

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The Amazing Captain Nemo

The Return of Captain Nemo. Warner Bros. 1978.
The Return of Captain Nemo. Warner Bros. 1978.

Before watching the movie:

I try to stick to movies with a theatrical release, but I’m not sure this had one, as it was written as a three-part television pilot. I do know that it brings Captain Nemo to the modern era, and it stars Jose Ferrer as Nemo and Burgess Meredith as the bad guy, and the contrast between great cast and silly concept caught my curiosity and attention, and I could not leave it on the shelf.

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Aces High

Aces High.  Fisz Productions/Productions Roitfeld 1976.
Aces High. Fisz Productions/Productions Roitfeld 1976.

Before watching the movie:

World War I doesn’t get nearly as much attention as any other major war of the 20th century (that registers in American history education). It’s sometimes treated like a forgotten prequel to everyone’s favorite war with Nazis and atomic detonations. While it’s a mentality I’m not at all immune to, it’s worth remembering as the horrific tragedy of old-fashioned warfare at an industrialized pace. There are few symbols more powerful to me than the Douaumont Ossuary, a memorial built to house the remains of over 130,000 young men killed in a single (massive) battle, and that number is just the ones that couldn’t be identified. Small wonder it was thought at the time that this war would make any future wars unthinkable. As centennial anniversaries of milestones in the war are remembered currently, it might be gaining back some respect.

I went into all of that because this movie is positioned as a drama concerning the toll aerial warfare took on RAF pilots, and so hopefully the above paragraph is relevant, even if it was more concerned with terrestrial battles than planes. The big names by today’s standards are Malcolm McDowell and Christopher Plummer, though Peter Firth (whom I don’t think I’ve heard of) gets top billing on this poster. I know McDowell is a major character, but I’m not sure about Plummer.

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Invasion of the Body Snatchers. United Artists 1979.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers. United Artists 1978.

Before watching the movie:

I don’t normally like to see remakes before the original. When I do see the 1956 version, hopefully this won’t color it too much. However, the reason this is line-jumping is because I wanted to respect the death of Leonard Nimoy and this has turned out to be pretty much the only work he was involved in available to me that I haven’t seen and is a movie.

At any rate, this is billed as a “reimagining”, and appears to do a decent job at making the story relevant to the late 70s, which is always a problem when remaking science fiction decades later. I take it from the recommendation that brought this to my attention that Nimoy’s role is fairly significant, though I don’t know much about his star capital between Star Trek leaving television and entering theaters to judge whether he was a big enough name to get on the poster for minor roles.

I don’t want to make this post all about Nimoy, but it occurs to me that I may never have seen him play an onscreen role besides Spock.

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YesterMovies Rewind: Family Plot

rewind

Family Plot. Universal Pictures 1976.
Family Plot. Universal Pictures 1976.

Five years ago this month, Yesterday’s Movies officially began. To celebrate half a decade of movie reviews, I’m rewatching some of the highlights and giving them second-look reviews. This week, I’m giving the unfairly forgotten Family Plot another try.

In May of 2011, I was preparing to leave for an extended stay in another state, and I’d decided that my last review the night before leaving would be a family copy of Family Plot. However, shortly after I began watching the movie, I received word canceling the lodgings I thought I’d secured for my trip. I spent the next few hours frantically trying to make other arrangements, and while I managed to get a review posted, I probably hadn’t had enough attention to give it. Therefore, I always wanted to find an opportunity to give it another attempt, since it’s probably the film on this blog most deserving of a second look.

That story is pretty much all of what I remember about the movie. It’s some kind of comedy about murder, but I think that much is stated on the box.

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Rocky

Rocky. United Artists 1976.
Rocky. United Artists 1976.

Before watching the movie:

And now another installment of “how could you never have seen…?”

Yes, I’ve never seen any Rocky movie. Or maybe I’ve seen them all, thanks to spoofs, parodies, homages, reference clips, and a handful of “underdog solo athlete” genre movies that I have seen. But that just proves the cultural relevance of the film and why I should be seeing it. The story of Stallone’s million to one shot of getting this made was more interesting to me than a David and Goliath story about a boxer. There’s probably a documentary or biopic about that out there.

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