1985’s THE BLACK CAULDRON represents Disney at its nadir as an animation studio, resulting in a box office failure and years of obscurity. It’s first PG-rated animated feature struggled to find an audience clamoring for its dark and violent tones. However, it has garnered a significant cult following over the years, with its tales of swords, sorcerers, and black magic-infused battles brought to life with stunning visuals that incorporate the studios first forays into computer-generated elements into its hand-drawn animated cels. Does it deserve obscurity, or is it about time to reappraise a hidden gem in Disney’s vast and storied filmography?
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Ray Harryhausen’s final film marked the popular early 1980s adventure based on ancient Greek myths, CLASH OF THE TITANS. Harry Hamlin stars as Perseus, the illegitimate mortal son of Zeus who ends up falling for the beautiful princess Andromeda, having to overcome puzzles and a variety of vicious beasts in order to gain her hand in marriage. If only she weren’t slated to be sacrificed to the giant (and reportedly invincible) Titan known as the Kraken…
Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, and Burgess Meredith are in supporting roles in this dated but charming fantasy flick.
I look back at a film that some people herald as a great Christmas film. I’ve always had issues, but wanted to give it another shot. Do I come around?
Bill Murray stars as Frank Cross in this modern take on the Charles Dickens’ class, “A Christmas Carol”. Richard Donner directs.
The third in National Lampoon’s Vacation series, Christmas Vacation has gone on from being a minor blip to a holiday favorite for many families over the years. Chevy Chase at his most slapstick-y sets the formula for many dysfunctional Christmas comedies to follow. John Hughes scripts.
Bob Clark directs and co-writes my favorite Christmas film of the 1980s, and perhaps my favorite of any era, A CHRISTMAS STORY, a nostalgic look at childhood that makes me nostalgic for my own. Peter Billingsley stars as Ralphie, who wants more than anything to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, even though the adults think he’ll just shoot his eye out.
Lily Tomlin stars in this wacky comedy from 1981, playing multiple roles, exploring the satirical themes of the diminishing role of the American housekeeper in the period, getting smaller, literally, by the day, as she eventually measures only two inches tall. Zany antics ensue in this first feature directed by Joel Schumacher.
In this episode, Vince takes a look at “Innerspace” from director Joe Dante, starring Dennis Quaid, Martin Short, and Meg Ryan. produced by Steven Spielberg, this sci-fi based comedy riffs on “Fantastic Voyage” where an unassuming supermarket clerk is injected with the microscopic vessel containing an ace test pilot who is wanted by hi-tech thieves looking to score.
Rick Moranis stars as lovable dad and ambitious college professor Wayne Szalinski, who has recently become something of a laughing stock to his peers when he dares to introduce a potential way to drastically reduce the size of everyday objects. His own experiments have proved futile, but a fluke accident causes the reduction machine to finally work — too bad the Szalinski children are the ones in the ray’s path, along with the rambunctious neighbor kids, the Thompsons. Wayne accidentally tosses the kids out with the trash, causing the miniscule kids to have to venture through the entire yard and hope they can grab the attention of their parents, and, hopefully, the professor can figure out a way to grow them back to normal size again. Making it there proves more difficult than it would seem, with treacherous bugs and other pollutants blocking the way at nearly every turn.
Jennifer Connelly is cast in one of her first starring roles as Sarah, a teenage girl who has grown tired of her stepmother and father leaving her home alone to babysit her infant brother, Toby. In a bout of exasperation, she wishes him away, and inadvertently summons the vain and moody Goblin King of myth, Jareth (played by David Bowie), who kidnaps the baby and steals him away into his fantasy realm. There, the baby boy remains hidden in a dangerous castle in the middle of an ornate labyrinth. If Sarah wants a chance at getting the brother she really didn’t want to go back, she must traverse the enigmatic trail before midnight, or the Goblin King gets to keep Toby forever.
A sick young boy gets a visit from his grandfather, who reads the young lad one of his favorite books, ‘The Princess Bride’. The book is of a princess named Buttercup, who has a romance with her stable boy, Westley but the evil Prince Humperdinck has plans to marry the beautiful young woman so he kidnaps her, leaving Buttercup to think Westley dead. Westley assumes the role of the Dread Pirate Roberts and makes his return to save the princess before the marriage, but the task appears a bit more difficult than he planned.
The inaugural review of the 1980s film retrospective, looking at George Lucas’ monumental blockbuster. yes, it’s from 1977, but necessary to dip back to review the later films.
A couple of robots shuttle to a desert planet after their rebel spaceship is taken over by an Imperial star cruiser, capturing everyone on board including the Rebel Alliance princess, Leia. Leia has sent the robots to Tattooine to convey a message to a man named Obi-Wan Kenobi, who she claims is the only hope left for the rebels to beat the evil Empire. A pair of Tattooine farmers buy the droids after they are captured by some scavengers to use on their farm, and after the farmer boy, Luke,discovers the princess’ message, he heads to Obi-Wan to deliver it. While he is away, his family is killed by the Empire seeking the droids, as they make their escape from the planet with the aid of a galactic smuggler named Han Solo, and make their way to help the princess, who is now aboard a space station powerful enough to destroy an entire planet in seconds, the Death Star, to which the rebels have obtained plans that reveal a weakness to destroy it — if only their home base doesn’t get destroyed first.