It’s freaking snowing outside. The temperature is cold as hell and winter has set in our city and made the video store the only warm place I can think of physically. But mentally if I had a time machine I would go back to a magical year when 13 year old me truly knew that movies, good and bad, would become part of my full time life. That year is 1989.
Now why is there a picture of an out of date West Edmonton Wall? Because it’s 1989 my friends and during that year my parents, for my summer break from school, bought me a SUPER SUMMER PASS. Now this pass basically made everything free from June till August in the mall when it cam to attractions. From The Water Park to Fantasy Land (now know as Galaxy Land) to the Submarine Ride To Mini Golf. All those moments would be free for 2 straight months. All we as kids needed was money for lunch and movies. Honestly, that was maybe 15 bucks a day back then. Yup, life felt easier and more importantly with THREE multiplexes of cinemas seeing a movie or two every few days was a piece of cake. And as a 13 year old the best babysitter ever!
Gonna cut right to the chase. When it came to movies 1989 was insane. It doesn’t matter what genre you love there was something for everyone. And even before the summer blockbuster season kicked in some sweet jams had already hit us hard in the face!
Febuary 17th, 1989. Young Kevin sat in a theater and watched the adventures of Bill and Ted for the first time and decided to go back SIX more times to the theater with his friends over the next two months because movie magic was made in front of my eyes. And the fact that Part 3 is finally is coming at us next year I could not have been the only one that thought such a thing.
Here’s a crazy fact. The exact same day Bill and Ted was released Joe “The Howling, Gremlins” gave us THE BURBS. Another beauty I’m so happy to say I saw in the cinema that same weekend. Honestly the movie did not do well on it’s initial release but to this day as people come in the video store and see a Burbs poster on my wall they always ask if I got it. This is the true tale of a cult classic! Ended up seeing it THREE times that year.
As the year of 1989 carried on we also got the cult classic HEATHERS which introduced the world to the best young Jack Nicholson highway robbery impression ever used in a feature film by the great Christian Slater. This not an insult to him by any means, it’s what he was going for. When the younger generation asks what the movie is about I always ask if they saw MEAN GIRLS. If they say yes I just say it’s basically that but people get killed. Needless to say they tend to wanna check it out. Also during the year came the wave of underwater creature features. The two that still have an audience 30 years later are DEEPSTAR SIX which came from the director of Friday The 13th and is a lot of fun but also matching it was LEVIATHON which is basically ALIEN meets THE THING underwater so nothing original but with a solid cast. Again, all worth watching or revisiting.
Again the year continued and even as I look back I’m still blown away by the quality that spit out of the 35mm film reels. In April we got two gems. First off DEAD CALM with Nicole Kidman making her American movie debut, the amazing SAM NEIL (POSSESSION, IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, OMEN III) and freaking BILLY “DEMON KNIGHT” ZANE! Are you kidding me?! This movie is one hell of a thriller! And then we get to first and still best adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Now I was cheering for the remake this year but ultimately it was forgettable and bland. Ironically the original is no masterpiece but there is something about it that still works 3 decades later. Maybe it was Fred Gwynne, maybe it was the practical FX, or maybe it was 12 year old me in the theater with my friends watching creepy Zelda scare the living shit out of us at that young age. Gonna go with all three…
Nah…fuck that. It was Zelda. That was some leave the lights on scary shit back in ’89.
May of 1989 gave us many gems as well but I’m just gonna focus on a few because on a selfish “Videostore Kev” level these are movies I carry in the shop because they deserve the love and need to be seen from one generation to the next.
SANTA SANGRE was the much welcomed return of cult director Alejandro Jodrrowsky. The man who gave us Holy Mountain and El Topo at that time two decades earlier. If you don’t know who he is shame on you and get on it. But seriousily check his stuff out and maybe light a joint before hand.
Look, I’m not saying Return Of Swamp Thing is good. Far from it. It’s terrible but terrible and entertaining at the same time. A straight up campy sequel to Wes Craven’s 1982 film but still worth checking out.
Oh sweet baby jesus. Now we come to SOCIETY. one of the most popular sellers in the shop to this day thanks to ARROW VIDEO’s glorious release. It’s a body horror movie to behold. Literally the perfect cinematic experience of the “rich eating the poor”. I love telling people you’re gonna love the “orgy scene” but quickly stating “it’s not that kind of orgy”. When they return the film they get it.
And when it comes to movies that will always be loved for so many different reasons ROADHOUSE blew our young minds away back in 1989. Working over 20 years in the bar industry to keep the video store alive I have always joked that if COCKTAIL is every bartender’s favourite movie and guide to the trade then ROADHOUSE is the bible to doormen who work from every dive bar to thousand person dance club. Wade and Dalton will always be icons in the cinematic bar world and if you have never seen a man rip another man’s throat out hit play on this son of bitch now! Rest in Peace Mr. Swayze.
And finally from May in my books The Last Crusade came out. Now I’m not gonna lie. As much as I love Raiders and Temple Of Doom to me this third entry will always be my personal favourite. Not saying it’s the best, just my favourite. After this movie came out we knew no more would be made. it was the perfect ending to the trilogy. And no more were made. NO MORE WERE MADE. Yup. Denial…it’s fun.
And thus began Summer of 1989 and we were in full effect of nerdy goodness when it came to flicks. These were my standouts back then. It was my birthday month so I was freaking spoiled rotten when it came to film!
How Julian Sands never became a larger star on the silver screen is beyond me. Especially in the horror genre. We all know him and appreciate him but he should be truly loved for his acting as Satan’s one and only son in the cult classic WARLOCK! Just saying.
Look, I’m not saying No Hold Barred is a great movie, it’s not even good but as a wrestling nerd back in the day see the Hulkster on the big screen was great. And one thing you can not deny…UFC stole the OCTAGON ring from this movie during Rip’s final battle with Zeus. Fact!
Who eveer would have thought the man who gave us RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND, and CASTLE FREAK would end up writing one of the biggest family hits of the year starring the great RICK MORANIS but STUART GORDON did with HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS. Loved seeing this flick on the big screen at that age. Good times!
Now the sequel was no where as good as the original and we’ll see what Part 3 does for us fans next year but Ghostbusters 2 had great stuff. Even if Bill Murray wasn’t big on it I still loved seeing the guys back on the big screen that summer with Bobby Brown’s infectious song getting stuck in my head well after I left the theater.
And there is was. June 23rd, 1989. My actual birthday. Young Kevin was turning 13 years old and what was I going to see on opening day? Fucking Tim Burton’s BATMAN! Hard to believe now but back then parents and critics were losing their minds thinking this flick was way too dark for a comic book movie. To this day no other movie has made more money for Jack Nicholson. And honestly he deserved every penny. From Prince’s soundtrack to all involved this movie was a summer blockbuster experience. I’ll never forget that day.
Never saw them the year they came out because it was 1989 in Edmonton and we were not exactly rolling out the crazy asian cinema in our local theaters but in July of 1989 both THE KILLER and TETSUO: IRON MAN came out. This just adds to what an amazing year it truly was. Fact.
After all these years my experience seeing UHF on opening day will always be one of my favourites. My friends and I were so damn excited for this movie. All of us were huge Weird Al fans. He even took over MUCHMUSIC that month to promote the film. We all just assumed it would be a hit. So there we were, opening day matinee of UHF at West Edmonton Mall. We got our tickets early to make sure we got good seats. And as we entered the theater we soon realized…no one else was coming. No, we were the only 6 people in the building on opening day. Even at a young age I knew this did not look good for one of my favourite entertainers and his first movie. But once the film started we were all in love. The spoofs, the music, the silliness of it all, it was pure Al. And yes the movie bombed but here we are 30 years later and it is one of my best sellers and truly beloved by fans. It is the defination of a misunderstood film for it’s time and now stands as pure comedic genius.
For good or bad 1989 was the year of iconic villains and their sequels. One week apart at the end of the summer we got both Freddy and Jason’s latest adventures. Sadly both were disappointing in the overall picture of the franchises but to young me I did not care. I was able to sneak into the theater and see Krueger and Voorhees doing their thing again. As a horror movie kid I was feeling spoiled even if the films have not aged well.
Again this did not open in Edmonton but some young filmmaker named Peter Jackson gave the world his twisted look at a Rated R version of the Muppet Show and years later when I saw it I guess I’m glad it did not open in our city that year because I’m sure the outrage would have been strong enough to stop The Lord Of The Rings ever coming out.
In keeping with the theme of underwater insanity earlier in the year with Deepstar Six and Leviathon James Cameron gave us THE ABYSS. Very different from the previous two titles it was none the less a beautiful if not fractured movie to watch. The troubled making of story of this film was already out in the public at the time and although it did not do well money wise at the time I truly love this Ed Harris led film. No doubt the director’s cut is the better version though. Where the hell is my Blu Ray already!?
Now I love John Candy. I grew up with him. I wanted him to be my dad or atleast my cool Uncle. And as summer 1989 wrapped up UNCLE BUCK hit the big screen and finally combined the always lovable Candy with a great script by John Hughes. Everytime I forget about his brilliance I watch this film and get sad that he left us too soon. That night in the cinema was magical. Packed house and everyone in their seats laughed at all the right moments and knew they were seeing a comedic king knocking every line out of the park.
What can be said about Helen Mirren? Goddess. Amazing actress. Perfect in the world of film for decades. And when Peter Greenaway realeased THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE, AND HER LOVER audiences in North America were not sure what to make of it at first. But 30 years later those that have seen it know what to make of it now. Brilliant!
Fact. Ridlet Scott used to make great cinema. Best thought of the man who gave us Blade Runner and Alien many other flicks he made were pretty fucking good too and forgotten about. One of those is 1989’s BLACK RAIN. In a simple plot of two NYC cops arrest a Yakuza member and must escort him when he’s extradited to Japan Scott reminded moviegoers that fall why he was the man still. We don’t talk about his later work.
Back to the local videostore in the fall of ’89 and it was these gems that hit the shelves without any fanfare. The insane sequel to Re-Animator Bride had it’s script being written as they filmed so the makers just decided to throw as much crazy practical FX at us as possible to distract from the lack of actual story. You know what? It worked. And I don’t care what people say, Dolph Lundgren’s version of THE PUNISHER is fun as hell and the new director’s cut at the shop gives us an extra 15 minutes of violence too much for audiences back in ’89. Worth a revisit!
So yeah, Wes Craven tried way too hard to create a new horror character that could give us several sequels. Sadly it showed and SHOCKER did not do well and no follow ups ever happened. But to this day no one can deny how fun and silly it is. With it’s entertainingly dated metal soundtrack to the over the top performance by Mitch Pileggi as Horace Pinker it might not be a “good” film but god damn is it entertaining!
We waited 12 months to see what would happen after the events of Halloween 4 and after watching the film you could tell the writers had farless than that to write the script for Part 5 and it showed badly. But atleast we left the cinema that day asking for the next six years “Who Is The Man In Black That Busted Michael Out Of Jail?” Ultimately Halloween 6 answered the question and we were quite pissed. Ugh. It was not a good year for iconic sequels in the horror movie genre but atleast there were a lot of them.
Years before such downers as Requiem For A Dream or Happiness director Uli Edel gave us LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN. Basically if you are ever feeling too happy or good about life I want you to watch this film with a bottle of hard liquor and trust me…things will get dark real quick.
In the month of November two flicks that have nothing to do with each other at all saw my attention in the local theater.
Here’s the offical plot of BEST OF THE BEST…” A team from the United States is going to compete against Korea in a Tae Kwon Do tournament. The team consists of fighters from all over the country–can they overcome their rivalry and work together to win?” Ya, piss on that plot description. Mine is simple. Badass guilty pleasure lead by Eric Robert’s sweet Mullet, the late great Chris Penn kickass attitude acting and James Earl Jones’ guidance.
Look I know without Part 1 there would be no Part 2 but I’m just gonna say BACK TO THE FUTURE PART 2 is my favourite out of the trilogy. It gave us everything and it still makes me laugh that back in the fall of 1989 critics were complaining the plot was too hard to follow because of the time travel. I wonder what those same critics would be saying about the last couple of Terminator films?
The year of 1989 wrapped up with an immortal holiday classic and straight up guilty pleasures…
Look, it does not matter if Chevy Chase is apparently a pain in the ass to work with or Randy Quaid has gone off the deep end in years more recent. The fact is CHRISTMAS VACATION is must viewing every holiday season and the fact I was able to see it opening week with my family is a memory I will always cherish.
You like dark humour? You wanna see the amazing Mchael Douglas and Kathleen Turner going from loving couple to eventually trying to kill each other let alone pissing on the cooking fish during a dinner party? Watch the WAR OF THE ROSES. I can’t believe my parents took me to this one now that think about it. No wonder every relationship I have been in has failed. Great flick!
Dear Santa, since you were nice enough to give us this movie 30 years ago right around Christmas I’m gonna ask you for a favour. Please convince Stallone and Russell to give us just one more. I mean, we have gotten more Rambos and Rockys? Russell still looks great. I blows me away that this movie never had a sequel. One of my fav cop buddy flicks from that era!
I’m not gonna lie. This movie is only on here because I did see it in the theater. It was less of a movie than a commercial to get kids to beg their parents to get them a POWER GLOVE and SUPER MARIO 3 for the NES. For us kids this movie, THE WIZARD, was the first time we got to see footage of MARIO 3. Mindblowing in the cinema! Also, yes, my parents got me the powerglove that Christmas and yes, it was a piece of shit that did not work 10 percent as good as the one the cool kid in the movie had. BOO!
Well guys, that was my breakdown of 1989 and a ton of the sweet flicks I got to see. If you read up to here thank you. It means a lot as just writing stupid life shit like this at 5am is very nice to do for someone that does not know much but knowledge of the useless and the nerdy goodness from the past! Do I miss being 13 in 1989? Sometimes but as long as I remember those good times I’ll never feel old on the inside. Anyways, bed is calling to get that damn videostore open on time. Maybe I’ll see you this week. Either way never forget…the videostore loves you. Cheers!