For further background on the year in film, please refer to the Some Other Movies From 1985 entry.
The following things happened in 1985:
- "We Are the World" was recorded and played endlessly on MTV.
- Tears for Fears released Songs from the Big Chair.
- Mikhail Gorbachev became General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.
- Amadeus won the Oscar for Best Picture, and no, it had nothing to do with the Falco song.
- The Soviet-Afghan War began, famously portrayed in both Rambo III and Bond film The Living Daylights.
- The FBI brought charges against the heads of the five Mafia families in that area. This event has figured into several gangster movies.
- Scientists in Antarctica discovered a hole in the ozone layer.
- Back to the Future opened in theaters.
- The Iran-Contra Affair took place.
- The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was released.
- Steve Jobs resigned from Apple Computer.
- An earthquake in Mexico City killed thousands.
- Microsoft Corporation released Windows 1.0.
- DNA was used in a criminal case for the first time.
Linked entries can be viewed in their entirety on YouTube.
1. Pee-wee's Big Adventure
People are probably going to think I'm crazy for putting this movie in the "Excellent" category, but really, it's aged extremely well. And who better than Tim Burton to have directed this movie? I showed it to my kids, they thought it was hilarious, and I can't think of a single bad thing to say about it.
2. Desperately Seeking Susan
A case of stalking compounded by a case of amnesia and a case of mistaken identity. 1985 was a good year for Rosanna Arquette. She starred in this movie, and also had sizable parts in both After Hours and Silverado. Madonna strolls in and out of the film. It's very understated and hums along nicely.
Fun Fact: The Toto song "Rosanna" is at least partly about Rosanna Arquette. She was dating the keyboard player at the time. She later dated Peter Gabriel, and his song "In Your Eyes" is supposedly about her as well.
Some Good Ones
1. The Last Dragon
Vanity or Apollonia? I'd have to go with Vanity. Apollonia was a better actress, but Vanity just does it for me.
And while we're on the subject, how does one pronounce "Taimak" anyway? "Tai" like "Taiwan?" Or "tay" like in "Taylor?"
The Last Dragon is one of the most 80s movies ever. There's kung-fu, and breakdancing, and DeBarge, and wannabe Cyndi Laupers. There's evil arcade owners and parachute pants-wearing shoguns. It's got it all, it's corny as fuck, and it's still unexplainably great.
2. Tuntematon Sotilas (a.k.a. The Unknown Soldier)
Finnish movie following members of the Finnish army as they invade Soviet Russia. I'm not up on my Finnish history, so I'm guessing it takes place in the 1940s. It reminded me a lot of the Russian film Come and See, though it's not nearly as horrific. I liked it, but I suggest breaking it into two sittings.
3. After Hours
One of Scorsese's less-remembered movies. Griffin Dunne stars as a man having the worst night of his life. It gets delightfully weird toward the end, but I can't say I loved it as much as I thought I would. It's good, but it wasn't as good as reviews led me to believe.
Fun Fact: Scorsese directed this film while he was trying to get The Last Temptation of Christ off the ground. Not sure how this film relates to The Color of Money, which hit theaters a year later.
4. Return of the Living Dead
"Do you wanna party / It's party time!"
Romero's Law: Anything that can go wrong with zombies will go wrong with zombies.
The zombies in this movie are a little different from Romero's zombies though. They can talk, and they're a lot more aware of what's going on around them. This difference makes for some effective scenes, but it doesn't always work within the plot. Overall, however, I'd have to say this movie is still good. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and the special effects were well done.
Fun Fact: Linnea Quigley was fitted with a "cuplike vaginal prosthesis" for this film. In those nude scenes she's never entirely nude.
Hell yes Fletch. Chevy Chase stars as Irwin Fletcher, investigative reporter. It was a departure from what Chase had done up until that point, but it offers a good mix of comedy and action.
Fun Fact: The actress that plays Chase's love interest in this movie is the granddaughter of the guy who founded DC Comics.
6. Sans Toit Ni Loi (a.k.a. The Vagabond)
A young female drifter crosses paths with several people from various walks of life. I recognized actress Sandrine Bonnaire from A Nos Amours. I liked this movie much more than that one.
A year after child actor Barret Oliver appeared in The NeverEnding Story, he starred in this movie about an escaped synthetic lifeform. It's thoroughly entertaining, even if I'm not buying the scientist's change of heart in the second half.
Fun Fact: Spinal Tap's Michael McKean is in this. This was his first film after that one.
What a Weird Little Movie
1. Cat's Eye
It took me a while to realize this was an anthology. James Woods tries to quit smoking via mob intimidation, a man runs afoul of a mobster and... Drew "Firestarter" Barrymore learns the value of the family housecat. Don't ask me how the three parts fit together. There are a lot of references to other Stephen King adaptations early on in the movie - Cujo, The Dead Zone, Christine, and on the whole it's a fun, if forgettable exercise in 80s horror.
Good? Bad? Undecided.
BEFORE Chuck Norris was called back into service, BEFORE he visited scenic Thailand, and BEFORE he went back into 'Nam and kicked serious ass, this movie happened. Where the first Missing in Action was straight 80s-style cheesiness, this movie is a more dramatic affair. Sure, for a WAY better take on similar material you'd want to see either Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn or Little Dieter Learns to Fly - and even during the same decade you had movies like Platoon, Hamburger Hill or Full Metal Jacket - but this movie is... surprisingly not bad. No, it's not as gloriously excessive as Rambo: First Blood Part II, but it does feature a solid screenplay and a shockingly cohesive story. I'd recommend it.
Fun Fact 1: This movie was filmed at the same time as the first Missing in Action, and was originally intended as the first movie in the series.
Fun Fact 2: Professor Toru Tanaka, who plays one of the baddies in this film, appeared in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure the same year. He also played Subzero in The Running Man. He led quite a life.
Some Bad Ones
1. St. Elmo's Fire
I'd like to take every character in this movie, place them together on a bus, weld the doors of the bus shut, and then slowly cook the contents of the bus with horrifying levels of microwave radiation. OR I'd like to buy them all a nice dinner, and then, just after the meal, announce that I'd laced the food with a lethal neurotoxin. OR I'd like to transport them to the graveyard in Return of the Living Dead, and watch from a nearby tree as they're consumed by a horde of zombies.
I hated this movie. It's full of the most contrived conversations. It's full of the most contrived situations. It reminded me a little of The Hotel New Hampshire - another movie featuring Rob Lowe - and also another movie I hated. What infuriated me about this movie is that none of the "moments" in it are earned. The plot just skips along, heedless of chronology or explanation, and by the end you feel like you both watched a movie and didn't watch a movie at the same time. There was one movie - the one you just watched (and hated), and there was another movie, composed of all the scenes they left out of the movie you just watched.
The characters in this Western aren't interesting. There's Kevin Kline, who's some kind of "man with a past," there's Scott Glenn and Kevin Costner, who play a pair of brothers headed to California, and last of all there's Danny Glover, playing a rancher fighting against the attitudes of the day. It doesn't help matters that most of their backstories are introduced halfway through the movie, and that you can see the real villain foreshadowed from a mile away.
A high school student discovers a piece of alien technology that warps space and time. It's remarkable how unscientific this movie is, and the hero's sidekick offers up some of the weirdest quips in the history of movies.
Fun Fact 1: Dennis Hopper is in this. After emerging from the vortex near the end of the film he's wearing his Easy Rider outfit.
Fun Fact 2: In Sweden this movie was marketed as TimeBusters. It resembles Ghostbusters in parts.
Animated Star Wars ripoff with a splash of cgi. It's uh... not awesome.