Tag Archives: movie memories

Movie Memories: Weird Science

I had a crush on Kelly LeBrock for about 10  years.  She was I think, my first movie celebrity crush and it was all thanks to this single movie.  That crush even resulted in me watching a Steven Seagal movie (Hard to Kill) I would have otherwise passed on because she was in it.  Weird Science was released in 1985 and as always I’m never really sure where I saw it first, although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t in the cinema.  I do remember that since I was a nerd, and this was a ‘nerds do nerdy thing but then come good in the end’ movie that I associated with it pretty closely.

It’s a true pre-90’s John Hughes movie (the stuff he did post 1990 mostly sucked or maybe I just grew up) and it’s an iconic example of a whole bunch of stuff I loved from around then.  Of course, at the time I didn’t realise that I was watching a load of similar movies, or that these kind of films would spawn franchises like American Pie or one off homages like Road Trip, but they did.  If you’re younger than me and you loved American Pie, you should look out for Weird Science and anything John Landis or John Hughes did before 1990.

I just remember that I really fancied Kelly, that the movie was funny and involved computers and had nerds who won against bullies.  I didn’t even know they were nerds, or that I was a nerd, just that two kids I could sympathise with won out against the bad guys.

I really need to buy this movie on DVD as soon as possible.

My lasting memory of this film?  Any of the scenes with Lisa in them of course.  Burned into my memory.   She was a miracle of science.

Movie Memories: Highlander

kurganI love Highlander, to this day I think it’s an excellent piece of movie making.  Sure, it’s flawed in places, sure it’s a child of the 80’s and it has issues, but beside that it’s exciting, interesting and engaging.  I remember being as confused as hell the first time I watched it.  The jumps between different times in history really catch you out, especially when they’re all mixed together like they are at the start.

But I think sometimes films should be a little challenging in that respect, it makes you sit up and take notice, and once you’ve gotten to grips with that, the story is quite engaging and at the time it was pretty unique.

The imagery, cinematography and sound track are just superb.  The special effects were impressive for their day, although it’s a little hard not to cringe these days.  The interplay between Connor, Ramirez and The Kurgan is excellent.  I can still hear in my head The Kurgan’s cry of Ramirez with that deep gravelly voice.  In fact, I probably know by heart too many of The Kurgan’s lines, and a fair number of Connor’s.

vgamesTo someone who was tabletop roleplaying when it came out, this movie really helped enhance your imagination when visualising fights your characters were taking part in, remember, in 1986 computer games looked like the image to the right (which has nothing to do with highlander, btw).  In those days, TV and Film were the major source of images you could use to enhance your own imagination.  As a gamer and someone who read a lot, I absorbed those images I saw and re-used them in my games or my reading experience.  I knew how my character looked swinging a sword because I had seen Connor do it.  I knew how my huge barbarian looked when he bore down upon the enemy because I had seen The Kurgan do it a week before.

When I went to university I took or bought Highlander on VHS, I’ve already spoken about RoboCop and how we watched it over and over again.  If we weren’t watching RoboCop, we were watching Highlander.  In fact, we watched Highlander so much that the tape began to wear out, and we got a single solid line of black/white across the top of the picture as time went on, as well as general degradation of the sound.

When I got my first DVD player, I got Highlander and I was really disappointed with the transfer, I’ve got another copy now and I’m still not happy with it.

The two Highlander sequels are travesties of moving making history.  The second movie specifically is so atrocious that I still have nightmares about it now.  The third one essentially ignores the second and remakes the first one over again in an attempt to regain the fan base, but fails.  If asked, I would vote Highlander II as the worst movie sequel ever made in the history of ever.

So among my lasting memories of Highlander are the worn out VHS tape I used to watch at university and the pile of movie making shit that was Highlander II, besmirching the good name of the original.  However, I think the winning memory is the chance to enhance my roleplaying games by using the fighting imagery from Highlander to really engage in what my characters in those games were doing.

Nuns. No sense of humor.

There can be only one.

Movie Memories: Ghostbusters

ghostbustersposterI was 13 when Ghostbusters was released in the UK and that is a very impressionable age.  Frankly, I loved it and everything about it.  I think I probably sang the theme tune for about 18 months after I’d seen it and I think I may have even had the 7 inch single.  I was probably just the right age to really find the film exciting, there was humour I wasn’t supposed to get (because it was a bit rude) but did, there was Sigourney Weaver looking hot (I was 13), there was some alien chick in cellophane who was maybe naked and maybe not, and there were truly amazing ground breaking special effects the likes of which had never been seen before.

I came away from that movie with a lifetime of quotes that have kept me going ever since (although they warp over time, naturally so please don’t correct them, I know they’re morphed),

  • where do these stairs go? they go up!
  • mother puss-bucket
  • what a lovely singing voice you must have
  • save some for me
  • woah, woah, woah nice shooting Tex
  • she sleeps above her covers, four feet above her covers, she barks, she drools
  • it sounds like you’ve got at least two or three people in there already
  • nimble little minx isn’t she
  • this is the last of the petty cash
  • i don’t have to take this abuse from you, i’ve got hundreds of people dying to abuse me.

And so on, and so forth.  Some of the lines from Ghostbusters have entered common usage in my age demographic (I dare you to find someone in my age group who doesn’t laugh when you say ‘Don’t cross the streams!’).  I even made a Ghostbusters backpack for a fancy dress thing we did that may have been that year or perhaps a couple of years later.

But all that asside, I have two lasting memories of this film.  Firstly, I remember being scared witless by the ghost in the library when she transforms into the evil version.  I think I remember talking to my sister about that on the way home from having seen the film.

And secondly, I remember being appalled when Ghostbusters was on TV for the first time, I think it may have been ITV, and it was edited, redubbed and cut to hell.  They changed mother puss-bucket to something totally stupid, and a bunch of other lines (like ‘thanks to dickless over here.  Is this true?  Yes, this man has no dick’ being changed to ‘yes this man is some kind of rodent’).  It was my first exposure to being ‘protected’ from evil movie content by having it badly redubbed to save me from myself.

Forget the fact that this was a PG in the UK and so by the time it came on TV any kid who wanted to had seen it in the cinema, but we had to be saved from the terrible language (like shit!) and the accusation of having no dick.  Folks, don’t be too surprised to learn that at 13, I’d heard words worse than that at school.  A lot.  I know, hard to believe, and I thank everyone for saving me from hearing it on the Television.  Ghostbusters was my first lesson in how the dialog can totally change a scene, how some words are just funnier than others, and that TV censors were hypocrits.

So, Ghostbusters, awesome movie which I love to this day that sticks in my mind because it was butchered by the censors.

Movie Memories: Clash of the Titans

clashI’ve always been a fan of fantasy and to a lesser extent sci-fi.  There’s something about mythology, heroes, dragons, monsters, wizard and magic that I love.   In 1981 I saw Clash of the Titans at the pictures.  To the best of my knowledge and memory (which, if this series of posts is anything to go by, has been proven to be weak) this was the first film, or certainly one of the very first films, I went to see without immediate family.  So I guess I went with some friends.

I certainly remember feeling grown up, but my lasting movie memory was the opening few minutes.  There was a beach, and along it walked a naked woman.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I was in a cinema, and there was a naked woman on the screen!

Titans in the UK had an A rating, which when I started writing this post I thought meant it was suitable for 15’s and over only, but according to Wikipedia’s history of BBFC ratings meant it was ok for anyone over 5 to go in alone, with parental advice that it might contain scenes not suitable for anyone under 14.  So I would have been 10 in 1981 when it was relased.

Of course I loved the mythology and I was scared by the Medusa and relieved when her head was removed and disgusted to find it was in a bag, and then amazed by the mechanical owl.  But mostly, I remember the woman on the beach.

Movie Memories: Dead Poets Society

When Dead Poets Society was released in 1989, I went to see it at a cinema in Newcastle Upon Tyne.  I’m pretty sure it was the Odeon, but there’s a small chance it was somewhere else, maybe the Tyneside Cinema across the road from the Odeon.  I really, really enjoyed the film.  I found it moving, inspirational and it really moved me.

But what I remember most about seeing it is that I cried.  The cinema was packed, so busy that it wasn’t possible to sit with the people I’d gone with.  We all ended up sitting on our own, amid the crowded rows of people.  You’ll note I’m being vague about how many of us there were, because once again, I’m not 100% sure who I was with.  I think it might have been David Sant, or a few of us.  I really wish my memory for people was as good as my memory of the movies themselves, but alas it’s not to be.

Anyway, we were forced to sit on our own as it were, surrounded by strangers.  Once the film got going it wasn’t a huge issue, after all it’s not like we’re going to be chatting to each other, although it made the adverts slightly less interesting.  However, by the time we got near the end which if you’ve seen it you’ll know is highly emotional, tears were streaming from my eyes, I’m man enough to admit it.  I was balling my eyes out.  I was flooding the row of seats.  Which is all the more embarrassing when you’re sitting next to people you don’t know sniffling, and yet also incredibly handy since you’re never going to see them again in your life (most likely).  I remember standing, when it had finished, and trying to get my eyes and face dry before making it back out into the light, so that no one would know I’d been crying only moments before.

That is my enduring memory of Dead Poets Society.

No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world — John Keating

Movie Memories: True Lies

In August 1994 I went to see True Lies at the cinema.  I think I was living in Rotherham at the time, which means I would have seen it with Jack, Phil and Chris.  However, it’s also possible I had just moved to Teesside in which case it may have been Charles and Ness.  I changed jobs in August of that year but I can’t remember when.  I have a very strong feeling it was Rotherham, in the multi-screen complex in the Meadowhall Shopping Centre.  Note: frankly, I can’t remember who I went to see it with, for which I am eternally ashamed, in my defence I claim complete and utter memory crappyness.  I really did like you, and I enjoyed your company, whoever you were.  I swear.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know it almost appears to be a serious spy movie at the start, and then as it progresses it becomes clear it’s not as it seems, and the comedy begins to ramp up.  It remains an action flick, but definitely changes in in tone.  Well, we were happily watching True Lies, and had just gotten to the part where Harry starts chasing a bad guy with Harry being on horseback, and chasing him into a hotel of some kind.

At that point, the fire alarms went off (we weren’t sure what it was at first) and we had to evacuate.  We were a bit incredulous, but we did as we were asked.  The cinema gave us replacement tickets, and we went back at a later date and watched the movie again.  The weird thing was, having seen the first bit, the tone of the movie changes almost at the flick of a switch moments after the scene we saw before we left.  Up until then it had been at least semi-serious, but the scene we didn’t see was Harry attempting to jump across from the roof of one building to another on his horse, and the horse baulking with a silly face.

Totally comic moment.

It just sticks in my mind because the interruption of a few days meant we all went back expecting the serious tone to continue and were jarred when it didn’t.  My lasting memory of that movie is expecting fire alarms to go off whenever Harry’s horse goes into the cinema.  The more I think about this film the more I have an image of going up some narrow escalators surrounded by a food court of some kind, so I’m growing increasingly convinced it was Meadowhall shopping centre.

I really enjoy the movie, have seen it a bunch of times now on video and DVD, and although some parts make me cringe in general I think it’s a pretty solid action comedy worth your time.  Just don’t smoke.

Movie Memories: Tarka the Otter

When I was young (I’m not sure of my exact age, my memory for that kind of thing is terrible but this was before 1984 so under 13 years old) the Royal British Legion club, which was situated in our local ‘shopping centre’ (which we called The Top Shops) played films.  I think it was at weekends.  I recall them playing onto a screen with some kind of projector.  My memory isn’t good enough to tell you why we were there (I was with at least my cousin Chris, that much I do remember), if it was just to see the films or for another reason, but I vividly remember seeing one film in particular.

Tarka the Otter.

I strongly remember not really being interested in the story of an otter, no matter how cute it might first appear to be.  I was probably sulking, I was a really sulky kid.  I know you find that hard to believe now when I’m unnaturally happy at all times, but it’s true! I sulked!

I remember seeing other films there, at the Royal British Legion, but I can’t for the life of me remember any of them except Tarka the Otter. I remember the smoke in the air and the stale smell of beer, the red vinyl covered seats with rips and foam showing through.  This was the age of supermarkets that were the same size as todays news agents who charged for carrier bags and still labelled food products with 1/2p stickers, hardware stores that smelled of metal and wood and sold 3amp fuse wire next to spare broom handles, local grocers and butchers who sold far better quality products than those supermarkets but couldn’t compete on price, and real Stotties (from Greggs!) filled with bacon and peas pudding.

I don’t recall if the RBL was showing the movies at the same time as their cinema release somehow, or if they were playing videos on some kind of projector (which seems more likely) and if they had or needed a license of any kind.  It’s just an odd memory of an odd time when places other than cinemas seemed to show films.

Movie Memories: RoboCop

Films for me are more than just an immediate enjoyment, they’re experiences which link me to certain periods in my life or certain times or particular events.  I thought I’d have a shot at writing a series of posts relating memories I have surrounding particular films (let’s say, weekly).  These may be memories of when I first watched them, or some other aspect of their existence.  First up, RoboCop.

I’m not sure when I first saw RoboCop, but I remember when I saw it most.  During the second year of my university course in Sheffield, in a house I shared with Charles, Neil, Steve and Steve (~1990).  We had a cheap television, a cheap video recorder and a bunch of videos of which one was RoboCop.  And we got our money’s worth by watching them over, and over, and over again.  We loved RoboCop, we loved it to bits and we knew it inside out.  Watching it was more than just seeing it on-screen, it was a shared experience, a house event.  We sat in the lounge, with it’s broken green furniture1 and it’s terrible carpet and we lived that movie every time we watched it.

Having seen it so many times, it was inevitable that certain phrases made it into our speech at the time, and if you knew me at university you probably heard me saying ‘I’d buy that for a dollar’ far more than you wanted to.  Eighteen years later I’m still asking Bobby if he can fly, and he’s still telling Clarence he can’t.  Oddly, the more I watched it, the more I came to dislike the scene where Murphy gets shot to hell, prior to his transformation into RoboCop.  Knowing what was coming just made it worse for me and I have strong memories of leaving the room or avoiding watching that scene entirely.  I used to know the name of the huge gun and the name of the fancy car Clarence owned, but that memory has gone now.

So when I see RoboCop these days, I don’t just remember the bits of the movie I enjoy, I remember the year I lived in that shared house in Sheffield, and the good times that involved.

Here’s to RoboCop, put down your weapons, or there will be, trouble.

  1. the sofa springs were so knackered you were essentially sitting on the floor []