Saturday, July 18, 2015

Childhood Films Blogathon


I like writing about the Movies I Grew Up With. In fact, if you click that link you'll see I've built a recurring feature around them. Caz over at Let's Go to the Movies only fueled that already raging fire when he came up with the Childhood Films Blogathon. On top of that, he's holding the grand event on this, my birthday weekend.

Happy Birthday, Me!!!

Ahem...let's move on.

As there always are in things like this, Caz has some rules for us. They are rather simple, but I'll let her explain it anyway.

Ok so instead of saying a film can only be wrote about once, I have decided to leave that open. You can indeed write about just one film if you want. But let’s make it more interesting and pick a few films. At least 3 and at the most 25, you can do it in list format and rank them. Or just simply write your blog post around them, try to explain why they were your favourites and if you still enjoy them to this day – as I am sure some of this would have changed!

No sweat. My only issue is that I've already written about a number of childhood faves. This will require some thinking. That's okay. Thinking is what I do. Give me a sec to put on my thinking cap...

Got it.

Let's go.

Five Deadly Venoms
(1978)
Yang Tieh: "Poison Clan rocks the world!"
My childhood wasn't filled with clean, wholesome Disney movies. For the most part, I watched whatever Mom was watching. One thing that was undoubtedly mine, however, were the Saturday afternoon kung fu flicks. They aired at three o'clock on channel five. My buddies and I would watch them, then go outside to practice what we...uh...learned, for lack of a better word. It's amazing we didn't suffer broken bones. Anyhoo, Five Deadly Venoms was one of my all-time faves and was frequently the feature presentation. A dying master regrets what has become of his star students, collectively known as the Poison Clan. fearing they've become murderous thieves. There were five of them, not all taught together. He taught each one a separate style: Centipede, Snake, Scorpion, Lizard, and Toad. Even though they all had regular names, we referred to them by their style. The master is about to die and can't go after them himself so he sends his sixth student after them to stop them if they are, in fact, up to no good. This sixth student has been taught a little bit of each style, but isn't a master of any. He's warned that by himself he can't defeat them, but might be able to if he manages to team up with one of them. Here's the problem: While the first five were under the master's thumb, they all wore masks so he can't even tell number 6 how they look. We find out soon enough, for four of them. The big mystery that runs most of the movie is who is Scorpion. Re-watching it now, it suffers from clunky pacing and drags in spots. The big mystery is also too easy to figure out. It's still a very good movie, though. Back when I was a youngster. it was the coolest movie ever. Martial Arts flicks were a huge chunk of my life and this one simply had more style than all the rest. Still does. By the way, when I met my boys outside after the movie, I was always Snake. Ssssss, ssssss, ssssss, sssstt!


Breakin'
(1984)
Ozone: "Who are you anyway, Fred Astaire?"
Turbo: "Who?"
If you've searched around this place, you may know that I'm a hip-hop lifer. The culture and I are roughly the same age and I've been down since the very beginning. Not surprisingly, I made sure Mom took us to the theater to see Breakin' and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo when they hit the big screen. I particularly enjoyed the first. It came out at the height of the popularity of breakdancing and Turbo and Ozone became heroes of the art. The movies were fun, colorful, and featured some amazing dancing. I loved every minute of them. Watching them again with my kids. yeesh. The kids liked them, but they were bad. I mean, really bad. The acting was horrid, the camera work was atrocious, and the story was beyond predictable. The dancing is still fantastic, though. The highlight being Turbo's almost solo dance. He uses a broomstick as a partner. Like we did with kung fu flicks, my friends and I also did a lot of breakdancing after watching this. Of course, I was Turbo. Oh, almost forgot, this is the movie that gave us a very goofy, and then unknown, Jean-Claude Van Damme in a leotard.

The Ultimate Soldier: FEELIN' IT!

Let's Do It Again
(1975)
Billy Foster: Now I hear you're 6 foot tall and good looking. How would you like to be 4 foot tall and ugly, down in the river with a box of cement?
All movies important to the growth of hip-hop aren't actually about hip-hop. This is one of those that wasn't. Since the art had only just began to spread from its South Bronx roots and hadn't even left New York City in any meaningful capacity, just yet, it's likely no one involved in the making of this film even knew what it was. Hell, no one even called it hip hop, yet. However, this movie had a huge impact on what the culture would become thanks to its attitude, style, and sheer coolness. It was about a couple of regular guys. Billy and Clyde, respectively played by Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier, who need to raise money very quickly to save the lodge they belong to. One of them gets the bright idea to rig a biggest boxing match, the upcoming middleweight championship bout. Everyone knows that the champ, 40th Street Black, and that is his name is going to mop the floor with Bootney Lee Farnsworth, his unworthy challenger. I mean, Black is a mean, tough looking dude who looks like he's been a scrape or two in the streets before he became a pro boxer while Farnsworth is played by Jimmie Walker, aka JJ from Good Times. If they could set it up so that Farnsworth wins, they'd be sitting on a mountain of money. What follows is still a hilarious misadventure involving Cosby and Poitier at the height of their game as a comedic duo as they run afoul of the law, and more importantly a pair of big time gangsters trying to muscle in on the action. One of those gangsters would later give someone all hip hop fans they know his name: Biggie Smalls.


Friday the 13th
(1980)
Mrs. Voorhees: The counselors weren't paying any attention. They were making love while that young boy drowned. His name was Jason.
With those words, Mrs. Voorhees  (Betsy Palmer) explained the mythology that would spawn an entire sub-genre and gave birth to one of the most enduring cinematic franchises of all time. I would later learn/figure out that Friday the 13th essentially ripped off John Carpenter's Halloween, but screw it, I saw this one first. And I still love it. The first time and the numerous times I watched this and it's sequels as a youngster I sat riveted by the madness on display. I honestly don't think I can count the number of times I've seen this movie. Often, I would rewind and rewatch Kevin Bacon's death scene. Morbid, yes, but that particular moment is so well done it's a little shocking that Mr. Bacon is still with us. Doing the math for you, by the way, I was nine when the movie came out, ten when I saw it and already desensitized to most screen violence. And I did say I kinda watched whatever I wanted, didn't I? Can't quite put it all on Mom, though. I first saw it at a friend's house. A number of my subsequent viewings were at my cousin's house. This cousin was about ten years older, but I used to go hang out with him, watch him draw pictures (he was an outstanding sketcher), and watch movies. He loved horror flicks, and shared many of them with me. This is one we watched on more than a few occasions. I've become an unabashed fan of the franchise, as bad as some of them have become, and will always give a new installment a chance. This was my long winded way of saying that I even liked the 2009 reboot and I'm still holding out hope that it gets a sequel.


Check out other Movies I Grew Up With:

16 comments:

  1. Great post! Thanks for taking part in the blogathon :-)

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  2. Happy Birthday, Wendell! Friday the 13th is a pretty good slasher film, I must've been 17 or 18 when I first watched that one.

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  3. Happy birthday, Dell. Badass picks, man. I think I'm a little younger than you, but still a very similar list. Well, fine. Monster Squad and Rad aren't Breakin' and Five Deadly Venoms....but still. I think my older brothers had these on loop. Well...any nude scenes they may have had (I feel like that's all they did...pause boobs or blood).

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    1. Thanks. No shame in Monster Squad. That could've made my list, too. Never saw Rad. And yeah, I did a lot of pausing for boobs and occasionally for blood.

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  4. Happy belated Birthday man. I actually haven't seen any of these movies so I can't comment on them much. Hope you had a good day.

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  5. Happy Birthday, Dell!

    I haven't seen your first two, I don't think I'm the target audience, but Let's Do It Again was a fun film. Of course I've seen Friday the 13th, and somehow was talked into going to see Friday the 13th 3-D!, but I'm not a slasher film fan.

    Fun idea! Let's just say my childhood was before yours and leave it at that. I did grow up on plenty of Disney but only one would I say was a childhood favorite. I was much more about the Saturday Morning Movie which leaned heavily towards action/adventures. Here’s a brief list off the top of my head that I remember fondly.

    Those Calloways-Disney film about a family struggling to protect some wildlife in their New England woods in the mid 1800’s. Come to think of it I loved In Search of the Castaways as well. Haven't watched either in years, I think I'm afraid to, for fear of being disappointed.

    Blackbeard, the Pirate-I LOVED this movie when I was really young. Robert Newton could not possibly have been hammier as Blackbeard, but it was all sailing on the bounding main in vivid color on cool ships. This is where I fell for Linda Darnell as BB's beautiful captive also Granny Clampett all dolled up as her maidservant whose fondness for drink causes all kinds of trouble.

    The Adventures of Robin Hood
    Dodge City-Both starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland-The story of the first is obvious & living in the forest seemed SO exciting at the time. The second is a great action packed western, Errol’s always battling someone or jumping on or off a horse. I still love them both.

    River of No Return-Marilyn Monroe, Robert Mitchum and his young son spend almost the entire running time traveling down the river on a raft through the Canadian Rockies!!! It was so exciting when I was younger, now I notice that Marilyn's make-up is never less than perfect and many of the raft scenes are rear projection but it's still a decent film.

    Also one of the UHF channels (if you even know what those were) had a movie of the week where they showed one movie all week at least two or three times a day. Three that the programmer apparently loved- they showed up often, he must have been a sucker for historical dramas, I loved too…still do.

    With a Song in My Heart-A musical bio of singer Jane Froman played by Susan Hayward, who was severely injured-her leg was almost severed-in a plane crash while she was on a USO tour. The film dealt with her battle to recover and resume her career.

    The President's Lady-Susan Hayward again this time as Rachel Jackson and Charlton Heston as Andrew Jackson. The film tells the story of their courtship, she had been married before and thought her husband-a real louse-had divorced her so they married only to discover he had not. They dealt with the scandal the rest of their lives, even 35 years later it was used as a smear to try and keep him from winning the presidency. The strain more or less killed her.

    Titanic-NOT the Cameron one obviously but a star studded version with Barbara Stanwyck and Clifton Webb perfect as an estranged society pair on the ill-fated ship with Thelma Ritter as the Unsinkable Molly Brown in all but name. I think my heavy exposure to it, along with Airport, lead to my love of disaster movies to this day.

    The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno-saw both on their original runs, can't even begin to guess how many times I've seen both.

    Auntie Mame-Rosalind Russell is a whirling dervish of madcap energy, I wanted to live in that apartment that she was constantly redecorating. She was mad as a hatter but so loving.

    The Trouble with Angels-Roz Russell again as the Mother Superior running a school where Hayley Mills and June Harding drive her to distraction raising hell with one scathingly brilliant idea or another.

    Oh and I loved the old Tarzan TV show, though I never cared much for the movies.

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    1. Thanks! This is a great comment, but yeah, my childhood was definitely during the 70s and early 80s. I'll let you decide if that was before or after yours. That said, I most certainly know what UHF channels were. On occasion I would watch boxing and reruns of that week's WWF show (yes, way before they changed the F to an E) on the Spanish language channel. Every now and again I'd find an interesting movie to watch on one of those channels, too. You've brought back even more memories just by mentioning UHF, lol.

      As for your movies, you were obviously a deeper kid than I was. I was all about that visceral thrill and pretty stayed within the realm of action flicks, bawdy comedies, and horror flicks...especially slasher flicks. I've seen The Adventures of Robin Hood and Dodge City. Like the latter more than the former. I've also seen Blackbeard, but I was really young and don't remember much about it. I used to watch The Poseidon Adventure every time it came on TV. It was always on ABC, and only once a year, to be exact. Can't believe I still haven't seen The Towering Inferno. Haven't seen the rest of these, either.

      Every Sunday morning, I believe, they used to show a Tarzan movie. I watched every week and loved most of them.

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  6. Oh ya gotta see Towering Inferno. It has what most disaster films today are missing, relatable characters that you care about. To me that is a huge failing of those modern films, the people in them are so much disposable fodder. If the film makers don't care about their characters and just want to get to the next big CGI generated set piece why should I. I'm not saying that Inferno is some deep think piece intercepted with explosions but the characters interact as real people do and are recognizable so their jeopardy pulls you in. It also helps that some of the biggest movie stars of the time are featured.

    Of the others, obviously I'd recommend them all but Auntie Mame is so much fun! Rosalind Russell powers the movie with enough centrifugal force to power five films. AVOID the musical remake Mame with Lucille Ball though it is beyond terrible.

    Funny thing, I flipped on the TV while I was reading your comment and Dodge City was on!! I agree that it is probably more accessible that Robin Hood but Flynn was one of the best at those sort of adventures no matter the costume.

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    1. Towering Inferno is definitely moving way up my list.

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