Making Movie History – A Look Back at 1986
Three decades ago there could be only one, Ripley returned to LV-426, Jack Burton showed us it was all in the reflexes, and Ferris Bueller took a day off.
As usual with our "Making Movie History" series, we'll give you a synopsis of the film in case you're not familiar with it, then look at the lasting legacy the film has had in the last thirty years.
Synopsis: Andie and Blane, two high school seniors, have a heavy attraction for each other, but their differing social statuses makes maintaining a relationship difficult. Andie is a working-class girl but Blane is from a rich social circle, and his friends disapprove of her and their relationship. While Andie and Blane deal with their issues, Andie's best friend Duckie is in love with her and hopes Andie will see that Blane is the wrong guy for her and choose him instead.
Legacy: Another of John Hughes' "Brat Pack" films, 'Pretty in Pink' was a financial and critical success, maintaining a cult status, much like Hughes' other films. The film is repeatedly referenced in pop culture, in shows like 'Psych' and 'Glee', parodied in 'Not Another Teen Movie', and even Jon Cryer dressing up as Duckie again for a Halloween episode of 'Two and a Half Men'.
Synopsis: Connor MacLeod is a 400-year-old immortal known as "The Highlander". Connor and other immortals battle each other to the death, decapitating their victims and absorbing their powers through the Quickening until only one remains. With the last of the Immortals being drawn to New York for the Gathering, Connor is faced with the likelyhood of battling The Kurgan, the most powerful immortal and the one who killed his mentor, Ramirez.
Legacy: Though not initially successful, 'Highlander' steadily gained a fan-base in Europe and ultimately became a world-wide cult hit. Three theatrical sequels followed, with the last focusing on the alternate reality of the spin-off television series, where Connor wasn't the final immortal and the focus is on his younger clansman and fellow immortal, Duncan MacLeod. A fifth film was made, but not given a theatrical release. 'Highlander: The Source' was panned by critics and fans and ultimately killed the franchise. A remake has been in the planning stages since 2008. In 2012, Ryan Reynolds was attached to play Connor, but left the project in 2013. Last year, Dave Bautista from 'Guardians of the Galaxy' was announced as the new Kurgan, with Tom Hardy the front-runner for Connor.
Synopsis: On an intergalactic prison, a group of Crites (Critters) are being transported to a new prison when they kill a guard and steal a ship. The warden hires two shape-shifting bounty hunters to track down the Crites, who have ultimately crash-landed in a small town in Kansas. Able to shoot tranquilizing quills from their back and eat flesh faster that a school of piranha, the Crites quickly wreak havoc on the town while the bounty hunters team up with a local teen to save the town.
Legacy: 'Critters' was a modest success, but ultimately a cult classic. A sequel was released in theaters two years later, returning to the town where eggs left by the Critters are hatching. Though nowhere near as successful as the original, the fandom of the films was strong enough to warrant two more films, filmed back-to-back, and straight-to-video releases. 'Critters 3' marked the theatrical debut of Leonardo DiCaprio, and 'Critters 4' was an early role for Angela Bassett.
Synopsis: After a military demonstration of robotic soldiers, the fifth robot of the group is struck by lightning, damaging its programming and giving it self awareness and free will. Number 5 leaves the testing ground and ends up at the house of a woman named Stephanie, who believes Number 5 to be an alien. Once she realizes Number 5 is not only a robot but actually alive, Stephanie seeks out Number 5's inventors to help keep him out of the hands of the military.
Legacy: Debuting at #1 at the Box Office, 'Short Circuit' ended up performing better than other '86 films like 'The Fly' and 'Three Amigos'. The film received critical acclaim, but also criticism over Caucasian actor Fisher Stevens donning makeup and using a stereotypical accent to portray an Indian character. A sequel came out two years later, following Number 5 traveling to New York City to help Fisher Steven's character in his new venture as a toy maker.
Synopsis: After the top pilot in his squad burns out, reckless pilot Maverick and his RIO Goose are promoted to the Top Gun school, were the best pilots in the Navy learn to be better. During their time in Top Gun, Maverick has to deal with the consequences of his carefree attitude and flying style while competing for the top spot in the class and falling for one of his instructors.
Legacy: Financially successful but receiving mixed reviews, the impact Top Gun had on cinema is still felt today. "I feel the need, the need for speed!" has been voted one of the greatest movie lines of all time by the AFI and Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" has been permanently linked to love scenes after its use in this movie. Strangely, there have been criticisms about the film, accusing it of having homoerotic undertones, citing the shirtless volleyball scene and a shower scene with the Top Gun class walking around in just towels and tighty whiteys. When producer Jerry Bruckheimer recently resigned with Paramount Pictures, part of the deal included greenlighting 'Beverly Hills Cop 4' and 'Top Gun 2'. While its still in the planning stages, its been said the sequel will focus on Top Gun pilots adapting to drone warfare, with Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer reprising their roles.
Synopsis: Deciding the day is too beautiful to waste at school, Ferris Bueller fakes being sick in order to spend the day with his best friend and girlfriend. While Ferris, Cameron, and Sloan spend the day going to the museum, a baseball game, and crashing a parade, Ferris' little sister and his principal doubt Ferris' sincerity. While the entire city rallies around the popular Ferris on his sickbed, Principal Rooney plans to catch Ferris in the act of being truant.
Legacy: One of the highest grossing films of the year, 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' was a hit with audiences and critics. It remains the work that Matthew Broderick is most recognized for, even appearing as an older Ferris in a Honda commercial in 2012. A short-lived television series was created, featuring a young Jennifer Aniston as Ferris' sister. Broderick's lip-syncing of "Twist and Shout", along with Rodney Dangerfield's cover of the song in 'Back to School' (which came out two days later), resulted in the song charting for the first time since The Beatles broke up 16 years prior. Ferris' regular fourth wall breaking set the tone for future films doing the same, with 2016's 'Deadpool' paying homage to Ferris' post-credit scene in their own post-credit scene.
Synopsis: Thornton Melon is an uneducated rags-to-riches success through his "Tall and Fat" stores. When his marriage falls apart, he decides to visit his only child in college, only to learn that his son has lied about how well its been going and is considering dropping out. To prove that an education is important, Thornton offers to enroll as a freshman and go to school with his son. Not taking it as seriously as he should by partying too much and hiring others to do his homework, Thornton's status at the college and his budding romance with a professor fall into jeopardy.
Legacy: One of the Top 10 movies of the year and the second highest grossing comedy of the year, 'Back to School' went from a reported budget of $11 million to bringing in over $100 million after its theatrical run and home video sales. After giving Sam Kinison his break into the mainstream of stand-up comedy, Rodney Dangerfield gave Sam Kinison his theatrical break as Thornton's Contemporary American History professor.
Synopsis: Frustrated by the constant crying of her baby brother, 15-year-old Sarah Williams wishes for the Goblin King, a character in the play she's rehearsing, to come and take her brother away. She's shocked when the Goblin King Jareth actually arrives and takes Toby away. Sarah follows Jareth to his kingdom and is given 13 hours to solve Jareth's labyrinth before Toby is turned into a goblin.
Legacy: Promoted as the coming together of Jim Henson, George Lucas, and David Bowie, the film received a mixed reception from fans and critics, and under-performed at the box office, opening in the #8 spot and falling out of the top 10 the next weekend. The initial failure of the film upset Jim Henson, with his son Brian Henson noting it as a dark time for his father. The film found its success on home video, and has since been re-evaluated by critics who praise the film from a technical and visual standpoint. Prior to his death, David Bowie, who was regularly praised for his performance, said he was regularly approached by children every year recognizing him as the Goblin King.
Synopsis: Jack Burton and his friend Wang Chi arrive at the airport to pick up Wang's girlfriend from China when she's kidnapped by a local gang. While tailing the gang to their hideout, Jack and Wang wind up in the crossfire of a Little China gang war, which includes three supernatural warriors and their mystical leader Lo Pan. Tracking down Wang's girlfriend leads them face-to-face with Lo Pan, a cursed sorcerer who needs Wang's girlfriend, a girl with green eyes, to break his centuries old curse.
Legacy: Released just two weeks before 'Aliens', 'Big Trouble in Little China' was a failure at the box office, unable to recoup its $25 million budget. The failure at the box office and the mixed reception to the film led to director John Carpenter to become disheartened with the Hollywood machine and decided to become an independent filmmaker. Since its release on home video, its become a cult classic, considered one of John Carpenter's best films, and ranked as one of the 500 greatest films of all time by Empire magazine. Currently, a remake is in the planning stages with Dwayne Johnson rumored for the role of Jack Burton.
Synopsis: After the events on the Nostromo, Ellen Ripley is found adrift in space, in stasis for nearly 60 years. After being questioned about the destruction of the Nostromo, Ripley is notified that the colony on LV-426 isn't responding and they are sending a group of Marines to investigate. With the possibility of Xenomorphs taking over the colony, Ripley is brought along as an adviser. Not only is the colony overrun by Xenomorphs, but Ripley discovers that they may not be there to wipe them out as she was originally told.
Legacy: After the success of 'Alien', the hype for its sequel assured this to be a financial success. The film was praised for the blending of horror and action, considered by many to be a rare Hollywood case of a sequel surpassing the original, regularly showing up on Top lists from Empire, IGN, and other film sites. Unfortunately, it would also mark the last widely successful film in the Aliens' franchise, with 'Alien 3', 'Alien Resurrection', and the Alien vs Predator films receiving steadily worse fan and critical responses. A new film has been discussed recently, planning to overwrite the films after 'Aliens' and reuniting Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn.
Synopsis: Howard lives on Duckworld, a world similar to Earth but inhabited by anthropomorphic ducks. While at home, Howard is mysteriously sucked into space and transported to Earth. Meeting a musician named Beverly, Howard must contend with trying to return home while developing feelings for Beverly, at the same time worried if he was the only alien transported to Earth.
Legacy: Three word review: Piece of crap. 'Howard the Duck' was a box office failure, eventually surpassing its budget by only $1 million. It was nominated for seven Golden Razzie awards, winning four of them. The film has gained a following, but mainly by those who appreciate it for being so bad its worth watching just to make fun of. The cast cited difficulty finding work after the movie was released, and the character of Howard would fall back into Marvel obscurity for nearly 30 years until reemerging in the post-credit sequence of 'Guardians of the Galaxy'.
Synopsis: Author Gordie Lachance is writing about the time he and three of his friends decided to go on a countryside hike in order to find the dead body of a missing boy, believed to have been hit by a train. Over the course of the weekend trek, the boys go through various misadventures, each having to deal with their insecurities about their home and social lives. When the boys finally discover the body, a local gang arrives and threatens the boys, intending to take credit for finding the body themselves.
Legacy: Not only a financial and critical success, author Stephen King called 'Stand By Me' the first truly successful adaptation of his work. The film received Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations, and is regularly recognized by the AFI. Following the film's success, director Rob Reiner founded Castle Rock Entertainment the following year, named after the fictional city in the film.
Synopsis: After hearing the tale of "Crocodile" Dundee, who reportedly had his leg maimed by a crocodile and crawled hundreds of miles to safety, magazine writer Sue Carlton travels to Walkabout Creek, Australia to interview Dundee. After spending several days with the legendary Dundee and retracing his impressive journey, Sue develops feelings for Dundee and decides to bring him back to New York to get the bushman's take on the Big Apple.
Legacy: A large financial success, the highest grossing comedy of the year and second highest grossing film of the year, 'Crocodile Dundee' met with critical acclaim including Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Academy Award nominations, with star Paul Hogan winning the Golden Globe for Best Actor. The film was initially met with controversy by Australians who resented the depiction of Australians as the equivalent of American rednecks. A sequel was produced two years later, and a third film thirteen years after that, neither of which matched the success of the original.
Synopsis: After saving the resurrected Spock from the Genesis planet, Captain Kirk and his crew vote to return to Earth to face disciplinary actions for defying a direct order, stealing and ultimately destroying the Enterprise. While returning to Earth, they receive a message from Starfleet saying that a probe has arrived at Earth and its signal is causing catastrophic effects to the planet. Analyzing the signal, Spock deduces that its not a message for humans, but for the extinct species of humpback whales. The crew devises a plan to travel back to 20th century Earth in order to bring two whales back to communicate with the probe.
Legacy: After the success of 'Star Trek III: The Search for Spock', Leonard Nimoy returned for directing duties. Nimoy called the fan and critical reception of the film the best yet for the Star Trek franchise. The film was lauded for appealing to series fans as well as general audiences, by giving them a unique perspective of modern life while giving a compelling and dramatic story without violence or even a true villain.
Synopsis: Silent film stars Lucky Day, Dusty Bottoms, and Ned Nederlander play the heroic Amigos, whose films are mistaken as real adventures by the citizens of the oppressed Mexican village of Santo Poco. Believing the men to be real heroes, the citizens of Santo Poco send a message to three men, asking for their help in defeating El Guapo. When the three actors demand a raise, they are fired from the studio and kicked out of their studio-owned homes. Mistaking the village's message as an offer to make a film, the three travel to Santo Poco to unknowingly confront the dangerous bandit.
Legacy: In the planning stages for several years, star and writer Steve Martin originally intended for the film to feature himself, Dan Aykroyd, and John Belushi was the titular characters. A modest success at the box office, the studio stepped in an edited the film while director John Landis was on trial for 'The Twilight Zone' death. Initially met with mixed reviews, the film went on to be a cult classic and has been recognized as one of the top 100 comedies of all time.