CATEGORIES Cinematical

Hot Tub Time Machine opens next week. I haven't seen it yet, but I do know that most of the movie takes place in 1986, in a time before Blu-Ray, DVD or laserdisc. It was a time when a magic invention called VHS was in full swing, and I saw many classics of the day in that format. Living in a small town, I was able to see the biggest movies on the big screen (or kind of a medium-sized screen), but there were many other specialty items to be seen at home. I thought it would be fun to take a quick VCR time machine trip back for a top ten list of my favorite movies back then.

Seen on the Big Screen

Aliens
I may not have liked Avatar much but I loved James Cameron's gangbusters sequel, which had the greatest and simplest idea of all: instead of one alien, why not a whole bunch of them? It was also the smartest thing thing he ever wrote, rich with feminist/mother imagery that was worth studying. The longer cut was even better.

The Fly
The year's best bragging rights: I watched this without throwing up. Who knew it was the first step toward David Cronenberg becoming a genuine artist? Stand by Me
Still one of the greatest coming-of-age movies ever made, capturing the way kids really talked (it was ironically rated "R" so that kids the same age could not get in to see the it).

Hannah and Her Sisters
My favorite movie of the year, which shows just what a nerd I was.

Labyrinth
Started my lifelong Jennifer Connelly crush. I remember feeling a little odd going to see a "kids" movie, but it was already such a bizarre cult classic that I was totally enthralled.

Seen on Home Video

Blue Velvet
"Blue" blew my mind. I had never seen anything like this before, and I guess no one had. Quotable, too. "Pabst Blue Ribbon!"

Sid and Nancy
This movie spoiled me because to this day I still expect biopics to reflect their subject matter. i.e. Sid Vicious was a screwed-up, badass and this movie is screwed-up and badass.

Big Trouble in Little China

A movie-crazy mashup for a movie-crazy teenager: kung-fu crossed with the supernatural crossed with Indiana Jones crossed with John Wayne.

Down by Law
Another cult item in the making. Jarmusch's previous Stranger Than Paradise hit me harder, but this one has the great line "it's a sad and beautiful world."

Manhunter
Moody, glossy, intensely psychological: the best of the Hannibal Lecter movies, and Michael Mann's best movie.

Those are my back-in-time picks. What do you remember from 1986?