Archive for 1980s

A Christmas Story

Posted in Reviews with tags , , on December 26, 2011 by bluehawaii19

Release Date: November 18th, 1983

Rating: PG

Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min.

Directed By: Bob Clark

Cast: Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Ian Petrella, Scott Schwartz, R.D. Robb, Tedde Moore, Zack Ward


All Ralphie Parker wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB Gun and tries to get his parents, his teacher, and even Santa onboard with the idea.

After his mother and teacher both tell him he’ll shoot his eye out with the gun, he figures Santa is his last hope. When Ralph and his younger brother, Randy, visit Santa at the mall, Ralph mistakenly asks for a football instead. When he blurts out what he really wants, he is disappointed when Santa tells him “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.” At this point, Ralph isn’t really having too much high hopes for his ultimate Christmas present until Christmas morning comes.


This is the one movie I make sure to sit down and watch every holiday season as it is one of my personal favourites. There are a lot of people that dislike it for the fact that it is constantly shown on television. Even TBS shows a 24 hr. marathon of it for Christmas. Being someone that enjoys the movie, I do completely agree it is way overplayed and there are definitely better holiday films out there.

The movie focuses on the Parker family. We never learn what Ralph’s parents names are which I have always wondered but it isn’t a huge detail in the movie. It focuses on Ralph and his quest for the Red Ryder BB gun. Along the way, we see his adventures with his friends and family, along with how he tries to the adults to see why he wants the gun. He also comes into contact with the local bullies and we see his interactions with them.

During a bet, one of Ralph’s friends sticks his tongue to a pole at school and the fire department and police have to come and help him out. As children, we all have heard the tale of how if you stick your tongue to something outside in the winter, it will stick but it didn’t seem possible (but of course it was). It just surprised me that the movie didn’t have them pour hot water on the pole to let his tongue free.

I love the scene where Ralph has had a terrible day and is slushied in the face by a snowball, thrown by Scut Farkus. Normally, Ralph is terrified of Scut and would take a beating but he is full of rage and lets Scut know it. Ralph’s mother comes to the rescue which causes Ralph to see his mother in a new light.

When Ralph and Randy visit Santa at the mall, they don’t quite get what they bargained for. Instead of the holly jolly Santa, they get a cranky one who is kind of a jerk to all the children. Even the elves are a little creepy. Another thing is that once the children are done with Santa, one of the elves chuck them done a slide which I have personally never seen before. While Ralph is waiting in line, he comes across a strange boy who constantly smiles at Ralph and tells him that he loves everything… such as Santa and The Wizard of Oz.

Ralph’s father is a bit of a potty mouth when he gets angry. We see this when he is trying to fix the furnace. The words are all jumbled together so you can’t understand what he is saying, but you can still tell. This comes into play later when Ralph helps his father with a spare tire and after the bolts go flying from Ralph’s hands, he says “Oh fuuuuuuuuuuuuuudggggggggggge” expect he didn’t say “fudge”. When asked where he heard that from, he lies and says one of his friends told it to him.

A part of the movie that most people know is the leg lamp. Ralph’s father wins in from a contest and he is instantly in love with it. The mother however hates it and wants it destroyed. After she accidently hits it and it falls and shatters, the Father is furious and tries to put it back together, without much hope. He ends up burying it in the backyard and the sound of “Taps” can be heard in the background.

While Ralph’s mother is preparing the turkey, the neighbours dogs break into the house (they are constantly seen with Ralph’s father, who hates them) and eat the turkey. The family have no other choice but to go to a Chinese restaurant for Christmas dinner which causes a lot of laughs for the family.

The movie is a memorable one for me. I grew up with it and still love it to this day. It isn’t the most amazing movie in the world, but I still really enjoy it. I always find myself laughing at scenes in the film even after having watched it so many times.




Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on December 25, 2011 by bluehawaii19

Release Date: June 1st, 1984

Rating: PG

Running Time: 2 hr.

Directed By: Joe Dante

Cast: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Francis Lee McCain, Polly Holliday, Corey Feldman


Rand Peltzer is an inventor on the search for the perfect Christmas present for his son Billy. He comes upon a shop which has all sorts of odds and ends and finds a Mogwai which he ends up buying (without the owner’s consent). Rand is told of the three rules you must follow when in possession of a Mogwai: 1. Don’t expose him to bright light; 2. Don’t ever get him wet; 3. Never ever feed him after midnight (the most important rule of all).

All seems well and Billy loves his new present (Gizmo) but unfortunately has a difficult time following the rules and there are consequences for not obeying them.

Gizmo is adorable and after Billy’s mom takes a photo of Billy with Gizmo, the flash goes off and the first rule is broken. After Billy is shows off Gizmo to Pete (a boy from the town), water is accidently spilled on Gizmo, resulting in tiny fur balls popping out of his body, which in turn means water makes Gizmo spawn Mogwai. Right off the bat, you can tell these new Mogwai are different from Gizmo. Gizmo is cute and sweet, friendly and caring while these new ones like to make a lot of noise, almost bite Pete’s finger off, and are messy. One of them, Stripe, even has a little stripe on his head and is the leader of the new Mogwai. After Billy takes one of the Mogwai to the local high school and shows the science teacher it, he applies a drop of water causing it to spawn a new Mogwai. This new one stays with the teacher and he performs some tests on it. Back at home, Billy feeds the Mogwai (he checks the clock and it is before midnight). The next day, the Mogwai have gone into some sort of cocoons and when his mother asks him if he broke any of the rules, he checks the clock and sees the wire was chewed through. When they hatch, the Mogwai are no longer cute and fuzzy but gross, green, and very alien-like and are now called Gremlins. They also love to cause mischief and mayhem.

It is now up to Billy, along with Kate (his love interest) to help save their town of Kingston Falls from the Gremlins.


Gremlins is a mixture of a horror, comedy, fantasy, and a good holiday film. The acting is decent in the film but the focus is on Gizmo and the Gremlins.

One of the characters I hate in this movie is Mrs. Deagle. She is the lady that everyone in town knows and despises. She owns the town and only cares about herself. Repeatedly she threatens Billy and his dog (enough to say she will kill his dog) and you have no sympathy for this character. A woman in the film with two small children begs Mrs. Deagle to give her more time to pay her and is told to shove off. In a lot of ways, Mrs. Deagle reminds me of Mr. Potter from It’s A Wonderful Life. There is even a shot in Gremlins where the movie is shown. Much like Mr. Potter, Mrs. Deagle doesn’t do anything to redeem her character and it is bittersweet when she comes in contact with the Gremlins and actually gets what she deserves.

While pretty much all of the Gremlins are kind of stupid, Stripe is very intelligent and avoids death a number of times throughout the movie while his comrades bite the dust.

The Gremlins love causing mayhem but all sit down together and watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the local theatre which is a pretty funny scene plus there is a hidden Mickey in the scene. Another funny scene is at Dorry’s Bar where Kate works. The Gremlins have all gone there and we get to see all of the different personalities, including a workout fanatic (think Flashdance) and a flasher. Kate discovers the Gremlins don’t like bright light and uses it to her advantage to escape.

One of the downer moments of the movie is when we learn why Kate hates Christmas. She tells Billy (and Gizmo) that when she was 9, her mother and her were waiting for her dad to return home from work but he never showed up. They contacted the police but he was never found. One night when Kate is lighting the chimney, she smells a terrible smell. When the chimney is checked, it is discovered that her father is inside, dressed as Santa with presents. Wanting to surprise his wife and daughter, he broke his neck and died instantly. Talk about a reason to hate Christmas… This moment just seems completely out of place in the movie. Being that Kingston Falls is a small town, you would think Billy would have known that about Kate, but oh well.

Another part of the movie that is kind of off is when Pete first meets Gizmo. Gizmo is watching television and a bright light is on behind him but he is fine. Gizmo hates bright light so I just found this kind of odd since he should be afraid of it, but oh well again.

The special effects for the movie are actually really good. You can believe that Gizmo and the Mogwai are really creatures and not animatronics. They move pretty fluidly throughout. If they remade this, I imagine the creatures would be CGI instead of animatronics even though clearly the animatronics work really well.

Overall, the movie is a good one to watch for Christmas but has the horror aspect thrown in so it is good any time of the year.


Die Hard

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on December 11, 2011 by bluehawaii19

Release Date: July 15th, 1988

Rating: R

Running Time: 1 hr. 54 min.

Directed By: John McTiernan

Cast: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, Paul Gleason, William Atherton, Hart Bochner


John McClane is a New York City cop who flies to L.A. to visit his estranged wife, Holly, for a Christmas party at her place of work, the Nakatomi building. Unfortunately for everyone at the party, including John, the building is taken hostage by a group of Europeans, headed by Hans Gruber. It is up to John to figure out a way to take back the building and rescue all the hostages, including Holly.


Unlike a lot of people out there, I only recently started watching Die Hard. When I was younger, I probably watched it on TV but have no recollection of doing so. I bought the 3 movie collection a few years back and really enjoy the first Die Hard.

Die Hard is a classic action flick that people either consider a Christmas movie or they don’t. While the movie isn’t directly a holiday film, it does feature some Christmas music, Christmas decorations, and has a Christmas party thrown in.

Bruce Willis makes for a fantastic John McClane. He works as an action star but also throws in a lot of funny one liners. A few others actors were either considered for the role or turned it down but I can only see Bruce Willis in the role. He just worked perfectly.

Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber was pretty good. He is suave and isn’t a downright villain. He tries to reason with people and does give them a chance to survive but doesn’t take any bull either.

I always enjoy Reginald VelJohnson as Al, the cop who responds to John’s plea for help and is the one who believes in John the entire time he is stuck in the Nakatomi building. He is the ray of light guiding McClane to safety. His acting in Die Hard was just really good. He always manages to play a cop in everything I have seen him in (my notably Family Matters).

Overall, Die Hard is the classic action film. It has everything you need for a good time and the movie just flows right along. You get caught up in the action and everything just works perfectly.


Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on December 9, 2011 by bluehawaii19

Release Date: November 25th, 1987

Rating: R

Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min.

Directed By: John Hughes

Cast: Steve Martin, John Candy, William Windom, Laila Robins, Michael McKean


Neal Page’s plane is delayed, then cancelled. He has to try and figure out a way to make it home in time for Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately for him, he decides to team up with Del Griffith, an overly friendly yet sometimes abnoxious shower curtain ring salesman. This decision may be the worst or the best of Neal’s life.


Even though this movie is a Thanksgiving film, I watch it for Christmas. In fact, I already watched it earlier this year, after finally buying the DVD.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is such a classic comedy. Both Steve Martin and John Candy did a fantastic job in both their roles. Even though Neal is the main character, he can be pretty stuck up and rude at times so you do have some sympathy for this character but not a ton. Del on the other hand is a really genuinely nice guy. He is the main reason why terrible things have happened to Neal (without his knowledge) and you really like his character.

The movie offers a lot of funny moments and a good amount of laughs. One in particular is the scene where Neal and Del have to share a room and a bed. When they wake up in the morning, they share a “tender” moment followed by a hilarious yet awkward one. The scene always cracks me up.

The movie really only focuses on these two characters. From time to time, we see glimpses of Neal’s family, but they really aren’t a big part of the movie. When Neal realizes why Del hasn’t been home in years near the end of the movie, it just brings everything together and offers a really nice moment between the two.



Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on December 3, 2011 by bluehawaii19

Release Date: November 23rd, 1988

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 1 hr. 41 min.

Directed By: Richard Donner

Cast: Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Glover, Carol Kane, Bobcat Goldthwait, Alfre Woodard, Buddy Hackett


The second holiday film I watched is Scrooged. I bought the DVD to add to my holiday film collection. I hadn’t seen this movie in years and it was still a good watch.

The premise for those that haven’t possibly seen the film:

Bill Murray stars as Frank Cross, a cynical TV executive who only cares about himself and making lots of money. Shortly after firing someone for giving their thoughts on Cross’ idea for a Christmas special, he is visited by spirits and is shown the past, present, and future.

The movie is one of many retellings and adaptions of the classic Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.


I don’t really have too many parts of the movie I didn’t like. It isn’t a film I would watch all the time, like Christmas Vacation though. Everyone in the film did a good job in their different roles. I actually didn’t know that Brian Doyle-Murray (who played Frank’s father) was Bill Murray’s real-life brother. John Murray (who played Frank’s brother) is also Bill Murray’s real-life brother. I have seen Brian Doyle-Murray in a lot of different films, including Christmas Vacation as Clark’s boss, but didn’t know he was related to Bill Murray.



National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on December 3, 2011 by bluehawaii19

Release Date: December 1st, 1989

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 1 hr. 37 min.

Directed By: Jeremiah Chechik

Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki


I started off my holiday film viewing this year with a classic, Christmas Vacation. The film is the third in the series of National Lampoon movies that follows the Griswold family. This time around, they stay at home for the holidays and nothing goes as planned. Relatives are invited to spend the holidays with them and one family shows up unexpected.

Chevy Chase always does a really good job in the Vacation films. Out of the four, I would say Christmas Vacation is by far my favourite. I make sure to watch it every holiday season. The jokes never get old and the movie doesn’t seem dated at all.

The premise for those that haven’t possibly seen the film:

Clark W. Griswold is an all-American family man that ranks his family at the very top of his list. He works for a company and is expecting a big Christmas bonus this year. With the money from the bonus, he will be putting in a swimming pool. His and his wife (Ellen) have invited both their parents to spend the holidays with them. Clark’s children, Rusty and Audrey, are your typical teenagers that are played by different actors and actresses in every movie (a running gag throughout the films). Clark’s cousin, Eddie, along with his wife and two children, show up uninvited to spend a month with the family. They bring along their RV and their dog, Snots (appropriate name when you watch the film). Throughout the movie, Clark is excited for Christmas (goes shopping and hits on a woman selling lingerie, puts up thousands of Christmas lights on his home but has difficulties, and so on) and just wants everyone to have a good time. However, things of course don’t go as planned and when Clark learns what his bonus really is this year, he blows a gasket, to say the least.


The movie has very little flaws. My only complaint, and it isn’t even that, is the whole subplot with the neighbours. We see them for maybe 5-10 minutes out of the whole movie and they aren’t really a necessary part of the film, at least to me.