Gang, it is time for me to enter the confessional and spill out all of my deepest and darkest sins. I've called myself a movie fanatic, a movie nerd, and a film freak over and over, but it's time to face facts:
I suck as a movie goer.
As I watch conversations go on between you all, and people I know, and people I don't know but I eavesdrop on anyways, I'm starting to put a puzzle together slowly but surely-- there are movies that I have never watched that EVERYONE else seems to have by this point in time.
We aren't talking blind spots either. We're not mentioning the "I never really got into Italian romance films" phases or the "I really should be watching more martial arts films" situations. We are talking about big-time, either commercial or cult classics that for one reason or another I've just neglected to watch. I'll also limit it to films that I would've watched during the time they originally came out. Although there are many classics from the 30's, 40's and 50's I haven't seen, I won't punish myself for not having the time to go so far back to catch them. This list will be egregious errors I made in real time.
You'll recognize most of the films on the list, if not all. You'll realize that you've watched most of the films on the list, if not all. And you'll realize that there is really no productive, ethical, or legal reason that I've never watched a single minute of ANY of these films.
You'll also realize that I suck. Get your rotten vegetables and bricks ready. I'll stand silently as you pelt me.
I'll group these into categories, then I'll try to make a brief defense as to why I haven't watched them, and I'll give a score of 1 to 10 on the possibility that I ever WILL watch them (10 being "yep, real soon!" to 1 being "hell and freezing over and shit like that." Even though I can admit my mistakes, it doesn't mean I won't be stubborn and ignore my past indiscretions.)
1. LONG OSCAR WINNERS
(Yes, technically MALCOLM X didn't win any Oscars, but it's included in here for the same reasoning.)
Too long. Too damn long. This is college me, circa 1987-1992ish (okay a little long on the time frame but still the same mindset). Any movie over two hours will not be placed in this VCR, not even if it shall be watched over two or three nights. My attention span was for shit back then, and I just wasn't about to spend an entire evening with a long historical drama about ANYTHING. I think I broke that spell in 1994 with GETTYSBURG, but I've never been good at going back to catch long movies (I still have the 4 hour version of ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA on my shelf, ready to have the shrink wrap torn off -- and yes, I did see that one back in the mid-80's). I was working full-time, going to school full-time, and movies just needed to be a quick, fun release for me at that point in my life. I apologize for nothing.
Chance of being watched in the future:
I think EMPEROR and WOLVES have lost some of their luster in the decades after their Best Picture triumphs, the 1990 winner especially. MALCOLM X seems to hold up better in revisionist lists and has a more interesting topic for me, personally.
LAST EMPEROR: 3
DANCES WITH WOLVES: 4
MALCOLM X: 7
2. STEVEN SPIELBERG FILMS
Spielberg, obviously, is one of our national treasures. I've not only seen most of his films, but have loved and adored many. HOWEVER.... there is always room for me to suck. Not counting a few of the more recent family-oriented films, I do believe these are the only three of Spielberg's output that I have not watched.
Two of them (EMPIRE and SCHINDLER'S) honestly fall into my explanation for category number one. Just too long for me at that point in my movie going. Universally acclaimed, yes, but.... can't we get it done in 115 minutes, guys? Just to show where my priorities were back then, here are some films that I DID manage to watch in 1993 (the year that SCHINDLER'S LIST won Best Picture): HEXED, EXCESSIVE FORCE, WHO'S THE MAN?
No accounting for taste in a young man's formative years.
As for HOOK, didn't have an interest in seeing it then, and may have less of an interest in seeing it now. Those be the breaks, gang.
Chances of being watched in the future:
EMPIRE OF THE SUN: 6
SCHINDLER'S LIST: 10
3. 80's FUN FLICKS
As a movie fan who found his fandom right smack dab in the 1980's, I must've seen every PG and PG13 rated crowd pleaser, big and small.... right? Well, actually, I've seen more than my share. It is amazing between 1981 and 1984 just how many theatrical releases I've seen (it has to be between 90 and 95% of the entire list, seriously.... don't test me).
However, I definitely had my skips. I didn't see THE GOONIES until I was in my thirties, and it was only because a co-worker won a bet with me. Musicals weren't my forte, so I didn't check out films like XANADU till much later, and even though I own it now, I actually never saw THE LAST DRAGON until the mid-2000's.
Although I've covered most bases, there are still a few noticeable "misses" in the 80's catalog. BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS was strangely a tough film for me to find during the 80's (my local video stores never had it-- what?) so it has kind of fallen through the cracks. GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN was for.... well, girls... so I never ventured out to look for it. EXPLORERS, despite being directed by Joe Fuckin' Dante, was, along with THE GOONIES another 80's film I missed simply because I was a senior in high school and just too damn cool to be watching films about little kids.
As for THE KARATE KID 2, the story was a bit different. I was more of an R-rated "ninja film" guy than a PG-rated family martial arts guy when both part one and two came out, in 1984 and 1986, respectively. At a high school party thrown by one of my friends over graduation in '86, I made a drunken vow that I'd NEVER watch either of the KARATE KID films... EVER. That vow lasted until the spring of 1988, when I got the hugest crush on Elisabeth Shue in ADVENTURES OF BABYSITTING on video and decided I simply MUST watch the original KARATE KID as soon as possible (I probably returned BABYSITTING to the video store and rented KARATE KID in the same trip). But part two? Still never has been seen by these eyes. And I sang along with the damn "Glory of Love" song by Peter Cetera three and a half million times in the summer of '86. So there.
Chances of being watched in the future:
BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS: 10
GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN: 6
KARATE KID PART 2: -8
4. 80's DRAMAS
Again, my viewing habits for the early and mid-1980's are pretty damn solid. I've seen almost all of the films between 1981 and 1984, and a ton of '85, '86 and '87, too. It was just how I was back then. Need a recommendation about EXPOSED, HEART LIKE A WHEEL, OR BEYOND THE REEF? I'm your guy. But there were a few acclaimed films that did slip past my radar for one reason or another.
CUTTER'S WAY was just damned impossible to find for the longest time, and the name switching (is it CUTTER'S WAY? is it CUTTER AND BONE?) always made me think it may even be two different movies back in the day. Then it completely vanished for a while, and for some reason, when MGM issued the DVD in the early 2000's, and my video store carried it, I never made the effort. Strong positive mentions by the 80's All Over Podcast and the Pure Cinema Podcast have made me certain to right this wrong, as soon as I possibly can. This might even be a blu-ray blind buy.
SOMEWHERE IN TIME looked wayyyyy too girly for me in the 1980's, and in some ways, it still does. I just don't know if this is the kind of plot that does it for me, even coming from Richard Matheson. MY DINNER WITH ANDRE looked as appealing to teenaged me as I'm sure it did to every other teenaged filmgoer when it came out, meaning absolutely not at all. I'm nearing fifty, and I'm still not 100% I'm ready for this one, no matter how many people speak so wonderfully of it.
Chance of watching in the future:
CUTTER'S WAY: 14
SOMEWHERE IN TIME: 6
MY DINNER WITH ANDRE: 4
5. THE HARRY POTTER SERIES
Yep, start getting mad at me now. I haven't watched a single minute of any one of the eight films in the series. I haven't even been in the room while someone else was watching them. Say what you will. If you enjoy them, and I know that most of you do, that's more than fine. I salute you. To me, a wizard is Merlin in EXCALIBUR. Knowing that I'd have to go through eight films of children learning potions and spells was never going to be my cup of tea, no matter how beloved the films were/are.
Chance of watching in the future:
Any film in the series: 2 (if I end up having a small child down the road that wants to watch them)
6. UNDERRATED HORROR FILMS
Okay, this is the point where these entries start to sting. It took me a long while to actually come up with THREE for this subheading, which I think is a testament to my horror fandom. I was scrolling through Shudder today realizing that I've seen most of the American made scare titles they carry from the 70's, 80's and 90's. But there are a few that I have not visited and I am in strong need of catching all of them.
I just saw the 4K restoration of SUSPIRIA in a theatre two weeks back, and I loved it. Driving home, I realized that, although I've seen that Argento classic four times and had even seen MOTHER OF TEARS (a not good but still gory and over the top sequel) twice, I had never taken the time to watch the middle film in the series, INFERNO. Italian films to younger me were just the super gory Fulci and Umberto Lenzi horror titles. It was easy for me, at the time, to pass over a bunch of the Argento and Bava titles. After just watching SUSPIRIA again, the time is right to make INFERNO my destination.
JUST BEFORE DAWN may be the only early 80's slasher film that never played on the cable channels I had back when I was younger. I saw PRANKS (DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD). I saw DEADLY GAMES. I saw FATAL GAMES, for cryin' out loud. If JUST BEFORE DAWN had been on at any point of any day in any month in any year while I was in high school or college, I would have seen it. For the longest time, not my fault.
Nowadays, it IS my fault.
Up until recently, I don't think I had EVER seen a good clean copy of BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER (or NIGHT WARNING) available to watch. Crappy dark VHS copies, shitty pirated YouTube versions, etc... with everyone (including Stephen King) raving about how good this one was, I wasn't going to blow it on a subpar version.
Code Red Bill might be getting some of my money very soon on a blind buy.
Chances of watching in the future:
JUST BEFORE DAWN: 10
BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER: 12
7. LEGENDARY HORROR DIRECTORS, MISSED OPPORTUNITIES
Cronenberg, Hooper, DePalma, Carpenter... the rock stars of my youth. These four directors were must sees for me every time they released a film during my formative years. And yet.... AND YET... I've still missed at least one contribution from each.
We played DEAD RINGERS opening weekend in 1988 at my theatre. I was excited to see it, especially since it was Cronenberg's follow-up to THE FLY. I came in early on a Saturday morning, before we opened, and ran the film for myself.
I fell asleep twelve minutes in. Not sure if I got there too early, or if I truly wasn't made to enjoy the film, but once I woke up, I left the theatre and let the film finish playing to a non-existent audience. I've never went back to it. Shame on me. Might not like it still to this day, but why have I never tried it again?
EATEN ALIVE was an availability issue for me when I was younger, and it then became a "there's no good clean copy to watch" when I got older and snobbier. There ARE good copies out there nowadays, so do I really have an excuse?
I saw a couple of short clips of DARK STAR when I was younger and the look of it always turned me off. I wouldn't allow myself to understand that it was a college project of Carpenter's and that it was made on the super cheap. I did watch DePalma's HOME MOVIES, though.... twice. So I've got that going for me...which is nice.
There's a good possibility I'll catch more shit from you guys and gals about not seeing PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE than any other film I list here. I never recognized the true love for it until I started hanging around on Film Twitter, to be honest. Before that, it just reminded me of ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW... which I used to enjoy... when I was drunk as hell and with a group. Once I saw ROCKY sober, I hated it, and I figured I'd feel the same about PHANTOM. Guess I may be wrong about that.
Chances of watching in the future:
DEAD RINGERS: 6
EATEN ALIVE: 8
DARK STAR: 5
PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE: 10
8. SHOT BY A CANNON
Number 7 probably got you the most riled up; this trio is the one that makes me maddest at me. I go on and on and on all the time about my love for Cannon films and everything that Golan and Globus stand for. I must've seen everything then, right?
CRACK HOUSE? Check
KEATON'S COP? Check
A MAN CALLED SARGE???? Yep!
And yet these three damned films escaped me for one reason or another. I have a valid excuse for one; I have nothing but utter shame for the other two.
I was a 3-D fanatic when Hollywood (and non-Hollywood, I'm looking at you, Gene Anthony!) studios started putting films out again with the dual lenses and the blue and red or tinted or whatever colored cardboard glasses. I saw every single 3-D film that came out in theatres near me during this time period (and I own almost every one that has been put out on blu-ray, too!). Every one, that is, besides TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS.
This film played for one single solitary week in my area theatres... and I was sick all week. I missed days of school, and I honestly sat at home thinking of only one thing-- I was going to miss TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS in 3-D! And I did.
I refuse to ever watch this in any 2-D version. It's not made for it (same with if you ever tried to watch COMIN' AT YA without the extra dimension-- worthless). I missed a screening this summer at Exhumed Films in Philadelphia because I was out of town, so until this hits a retro-screening again, or comes out on 3-D blu-ray (Scream Factory???), this film stays unwatched.
ROCKULA didn't get theatrical release in my area (didn't get much of one at all), and being a musical, didn't hold much sway for me during college and my twenties and thirties, to be honest. Now, however, as a Cannon true believer, I WILL make this Dean Cameron/Toni Basil film strike my eye sockets and ear holes.
HOW. THE. FUCK. HAVE. I. NEVER. WATCHED. MASTERS. OF. THE. UNIVERSE??????
I will put up no excuse or reason. This is borderline felonious. I give myself 30 days to watch it or I'm turning myself in. Shame on me for all eternity if I let this evade my grasp for one month longer. Hold me to the promise, people.
Chances of watching in the future:
TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS: 10 in 3-D; -30 in 2-D
MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: 47
Well, there are my dark, dirty secrets? I'm feeling appropriately ashamed for that list, and I'm not even sure if I feel better for coming clean.
What are your biggest, most noticeable misses? Post them in the comments below, or share them with me on Twitter here. Can't wait to hear what you all have messed up on!