YEAR OF FURIOUS FILMS: 1987
Year of Furious Films is our newest series on FC where we’ll be choosing our favorite films from each designated year. You may notice that we won’t be going in chronological order, it’ll be more random, but that’s really part of the fun. We’ll be covering a wide array of movies from various eras spanning from the 20th century to the modern age. We hope you enjoy these lists and that they’ll inspire you to give the movies a watch or even a rewatch if you’ve already seen them.
Bad Taste (Dir: Peter Jackson)
Before he became internationally famous for Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson was New Zealand’s answer to Sam Raimi. This was his directorial debut and boy did he start out with a bang…well more like a SPLAT. The small town of Kaihoro, New Zealand has been invaded by aliens and The Astro Investigation and Defense Service has been sent in to investigate. When its discovered that humans are being harvested for a fast alien food chain things get very very gory. The SFX for the film are a highlight and were largely inspired by the work of Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead). A landmark action-comedy-splatter film that holds up especially well for its entertaining, inventive execution.
Wall Street (Dir: Oliver Stone)
Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is a young hotshot stock broker, but his main goal is to become the next Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), one of the most ruthless fatcats in the world of stock speculation. Bud tries every trick in the book to become Gekko’s protege and he finally succeeds. What he doesn’t realize is that he’s going to have to actually break the law to stay in Gekko’s inner circle of “winners”. Co-starring Daryl Hannah, Martin Sheen, Hal Holbrook and John C. McGinley. Director Oliver Stone dedicated the film to his father Lou, a Wall Street broker.
Barfly (Dir: Barbet Schroeder)
Mickey Rourke is Henry Chinaski, an unemployed drunk who spends his time getting in fights in seedy Los Angeles bars and writing. When Henry befriends a fellow barfly, Wanda (Faye Dunaway) he finds a kindred spirit. Meanwhile, he’s being pursued by a wealthy book publisher Tully Sorenson (Alice Krige) who takes interest in what she considers his authentic, visionary work. It’s a charming, funny look at the lowdown side of life from one of America’s great wordsmiths Charles Bukowski.
A Better Tomorrow 2 (Dir: John Woo)
This cult HK gun opera is rather uneven with its over the top melodrama and convoluted story but we wanted to include it on our list. The real highlights for us are the insane shootouts and over the top action. Starring Ti Lung, Chow Yun Fat, Dean Shek, Leslie Cheung.
Broadcast News (Dir: James L. Brooks)
In this excellent romantic comedy-drama about the world of TV News Holly Hunter plays Jane Craig a brilliant but emotional TV news producer. The story focuses on her relationships with best friend Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks) a gifted writer and news anchor Tom Grunick (William Hurt) whose job skills are lacking forcing him to get by on his looks/charm. For fans of Network, this would be its 80s bookend. Co-starring Robert Prosky, Jack Nicholson, Joan Cusack and John Cusack.
Eastern Condors (Dir: Sammo Hung)
In 1976, 12 Chinese illegal immigrant criminals are hired by the US Government to go into Vietnam and find a secret missile stash and destroy it before the Vietcong army finds it. If the group succeeds they will be granted pardons for their crimes, $200,000 and a ticket to wherever they want to go. Sammo Hung stars in and directs this incredibly entertaining and action packed, not to mention hilariously funny hybrid of The Dirty Dozen, Rambo First Blood Part II and The Deer Hunter. For the cast we get a group of some of the best Hong Kong action film stars such as Yuen Biao, Yuen Woo Ping (action choreographer of Kill Bill), Yuen Wah, Joyce Godenzi and as a bonus Oscar winner Haing S. Ngor (The Killing Fields)
White Water Summer (Dir: Jeff Breckner)
Sean Astin plays Alan a teenager who goes on a motivational camping trip led by a mountain climbing enthusiast named Vic (Kevin Bacon). While the other kids (Matt Adler, Jonathan Ward, KC Martel) seem to get along adapting to the adventure, Alan has a tough time and lags behind. Vic soon shows himself to be sadistic and tries to teach the boys how to survive through rather cruel survival lessons. Shot in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, as well as in Canadian and New Zealand. Featuring a cool soundtrack with music by Bruce Hornsby and The Cult.
Robocop (Dir: Paul Verhoeven)
Honorable Detroit cop Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is brutally murdered by a ruthless crime boss named Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) and his gang of cutthroats. Meanwhile, OCP, a new high-tech corporation is making plans to create the first robotic police officer as part of it’s city reviltalization program. After a failed first attempt, they decide to utilize Murphy’s mind to turn him into a cyborg policeman. Murphy not only battles the citie’s criminals but fights the memories of his family that haunt him. Robocop battles Boddicker and his gang who are secretly working for OCP’s evil vice president Dick Jones (Ronny Cox). Director Paul Verhoeven’s knack for mixing humor, action and satire are what make the film so entertaining.
Empire of The Sun (Dir: Steven Spielberg)
Jim Graham (Christian Bale) is a young boy from a well to do British family that becomes a POW in Shanghai at a Japanese internment camp during World War II. An epic tale about the loss of innocence. Based on J. G. Ballard’s semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. Co-starring John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Ben Stiller and Nigel Havers.
Evil Dead 2 (Dir: Sam Raimi)
I first saw this on video back in the late 80s and never forgot the experience I had because it was something I hadnt seen before. Sam Raimi is a friend of The Coens so if you watch this film after something like Raising Arizona you can see a similar approach to the off the wall action. This is basically a remake of the original Evil Dead, but has better production value and goes even further into gory, over the top comedy “splatstick”. A low budget horror comedy classic.
Raising Arizona (Dir: The Coen Bros)
In this 1987 screwball comedy from The Coen Brothers, an ex-con named H.I. McDonough (Nicolas Cage) and his policewoman wife Ed (Holly Hunter) are desperate to have a child but when they find out she is unable to give birth due to her “insides being a rocky place where his seed can find no purchase” they decide to kidnap a well-to-do furniture salesman’s baby. The zany antics follow. The supporting cast includes John Goodman, Frances McDormand, Randall “Tex” Cobb and William Forsythe.
Extreme Prejudice (Dir: Walter Hill)
What do you get when furious writer/directors Walter Hill and John Milius team up to do a modern day homage to Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch? That would be this blazing action classic. Texas Ranger Jack Benteen (Nick Nolte) learns his old friend Cash Bailey (Powers Boothe) has become a major drug trafficker in Mexico. When Bailey asks his old friend to look the other way and let him operate unfettered, Benteen refuses his request and it sets off an explosive South of the Border battle between the two men. When an elite squad of soldiers also get involved it raises the stakes even higher. Co-starring Michael Ironside, Clancy Brown, Maria Conchita Alonso.
Throw Momma From The Train (Dir: Danny DeVito)
Writing teacher and novelist Larry Donner (Billy Crystal) is approached by his student Owen Lift (Danny DeVito) to help pull a criss-cross murder in this hilarious black comedy inspired by Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train. Co-starring Rob Reiner, Kate Mulgrew, Branford Marsalis and Anne Ramsey as the unforgettable Mrs. Lift.
Wanted: Dead Or Alive (Dir: Gary Sherman)
Rutger Hauer is Nick Randall, a Los Angeles based bounty hunter who has been hired to track down the enigmatic terrorist Malak Al Rahim (Gene Simmons). When Randall’s best friend is mistaken for Nick in a hit and killed, his task becomes all the more personal as he seeks brutal revenge against Rahim and his cohorts. An excellent crime-action film. TRIVIA: Nick Randall is the descendant of Josh Randall, Steve McQueen’s character on the TV show Wanted: Dead Or Alive.
Fatal Attraction (Dir: Adrian Lyne)
Successful lawyer Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) has a one night stand with a book publisher Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) only to find she has become obsessed with him. Soon their one time consensual trist turns nightmarish when Alex begins harassing him and terrorizing his family. A highly suspenseful psychological thriller in the tradition of Play Misty For Me. Co-starring Anne Archer, Fred Gwynne.
Full Metal Jacket (Dir: Stanley Kubrick)
A masterpiece split into two halves: The hellish Boot Camp experience and the insanity of the Vietnam War. A study of how soldiers survive their extreme circumstances through comraderie and sheer force of will. Once you see it you’ll never forget it. Starring Matthew Modine, Vincent D’Onfrio, R. Lee Ermey. Also see our list of Vietnam War movies
Withnail and I (Dir: Bruce Robinson)
In 1969, two unemployed actors Withnail (Richard E. Grant) and his best mate I (Paul McGann) are trying to get their careers going. In need of a break from their rundown, monotonous existance in Camden, they travel to Lake District where Withnail’s gay uncle owns a cottage. They soon find that their carefree getaway won’t go as planned. This film was based on director Robinson’s own life in the late 60s. It remains an immensely popular British cult comedy. Co-starring Richard Griffiths and Ralph Brown.
The Principal (Dir: Christopher Cain)
Rick Lattimer (Jim Belushi) is hired as principal to clean up a rough inner city high school. His main problem is a dangerous gang leader/drug dealer Victor Duncan (Michael Wright) who spreads violence and intimidates anyone who thinks of ratting him out. It becomes an updated version of High Noon with Lattimer playing the outsider lawman trying to keep order against the worst elements he’s ever had to deal with. Co-starring Louis Gossett Jr. and Rae Dawn Chong.
Hellraiser (Dir: Clive Barker)
A mysterious puzzlebox opens a gateway to the realm of the Cenobites, a group of explorers that specialize is extreme forms of sadomasochism. If that description doesn’t make you want to see this 80s horror classic, we don’t know what will! Starring Andy Robinson, Clare Higgins, Sean Chapman, Doug Bradley.
Innerspace (Dir: Joe Dante)
Navy Lt. Tuck Pendelton (Dennis Quaid) volunteers to be part of a top secret miniaturization experiment. Upon success, Tuck is to be injected into a rabbit’s blood system but when the secret lab is attacked by a rival organization he is accidentally injected into Jack Putter (Martin Short) a neurotic grocery clerk instead! This tiny yet epic adventure to bring Tuck back to full size is full of laughs and cool SFX that sci fi fans will love.
The Last Emperor (Dir: Bernardo Bertolucci)
John Lone (Year of the Dragon) stars in this Academy Award winning epic about the life of Puyi, the last Emperor of China. It is a magnificent work of cinema. Co-starring Joan Chen, Peter O’Toole, Victor Wong, Maggie Han, Ric Young. TRIVIA: The first feature film authorized by the Chinese government to film in the Forbidden City in Beijing.
The Untouchables (Dir: Brian DePalma)
Treasury Agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) puts together a special squad of police officers (Sean Connery, Andy Garcia, Charles Martin Smith) to help him take down the infamous crime boss Al Capone (Robert DeNiro) during Prohibition in Chicago. A crime film masterpiece. Co-starring Billy Drago, Patricia Clarkson, Del Close.
Summer School (Dir: Carl Reiner)
Freewheeling Phys Ed teacher Freddy Shoop (Mark Harmon) is ready to surf the beaches of Hawaii with his hot girlfriend…until he is chosen to teach summer school. Shoop gets stuck trying to teach a classroom full of terribly inept students with learning problems. What should be a total dud of a summer becomes a hilarious adventure as the group get to know each other and make the grade together while having fun. Co-starring Kirstie Alley, Kelly Jo Minter, Courtney Thorne-Smith.
Lethal Weapon (Dir: Richard Donner)
Middle aged police officer Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) is set to retire from the force. That is until a new case comes up which holds a personal connection to him. Murtaugh is really put to the test when he gets a new partner, Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) a suicidal Ex-Special Forces veteran with a taste for life on the edge. Soon the two polar opposites become best friends as try to solve the case. Co-starring Gary Busey and Darlene Love.
The Lost Boys (Dir: Joel Schumacher)
Sam (Corey Haim) and Mike (Jason Patric) have moved to Santa Carla, California from Arizona with their ditzy mother (Dianne Wiest). What they don’t know is that the town has a minor problem: vampires. David (Keifer Sutherland) and his gang are the bloodsuckers who induct Michael into their group after he falls in love with their female member Starr (Jamie Gertz). Afraid for his life, his younger brother Sam goes to The Frog Brothers: Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Alan (Jamison Newlander) the town’s resident vampire hunters for help. This is one of Joel Schumacher’s best films. The rockin’ soundtrack features Lou Gramm, INXS and Echo and The Bunnymen.
Miami Connection (Dir: YK Kim)
A New Wave rock band called DRAGON SOUND (who are also martial artists) take on the Miami underworld by using their Taikwondo fighting skills. This is a charming, low budget 80′s cult oddity that will have you singing along with the great upbeat pop music one minute and doing air-fu the next!
Near Dark (Dir: Kathryn Bigelow)
Teenager Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) meets a young attractive drifter named Mae (Jenny Wright) who is a vampire. After Mae sinks her fangs into Caleb, she and her vampire friends including the psychotic Severen (Bill Paxton) and their leader Jesse Hooker (Lance Henriksen) decide to let the newbie go along with them on the road. The only trouble is, Caleb is unwilling to kill, causing a rift within the group. Part road movie, part horror film, part Western, this one is an offbeat 80s cult gem.
No Way Out (Dir: Roger Donaldson)
Kevin Costner plays U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Tom Farrell. One night at an officers ball he meets Susan Atwell (Sean Young) and the two have a one night affair. When Susan’s other man, Secretary of Defense, David Brice (Gene Hackman) discovers this, he accidentally kills her in a fit of jealous passion. Before he can admit his guilt, Brice’s General Cousel Scott Pritchard (Will Patton) insists that he cover it up with an alibi. Things are further complicated when Farrell is chosen by Brice to investigate who her other lover is. A remake of the film noir The Big Clock.
Less Than Zero (Dir: Marek Kanievska)
Clay (Andrew McCarthy) is back in town during Christmas break from college to see his best friends Blair (Jami Gertz) and Julian (Robert Downey Jr). While Clay and Blair rekindle an old romance, Julian tries to cope with his growing drug addiction which has put him in massive debt to a lowlife dealer (James Spader). An engaging look at the turbulent life of upper crust LA kids in the decadent 80s. Based on the debut book by Bret Easton Ellis.
Orphans (Dir: Alan J. Pakula)
Orphaned brothers Treat (Matthew Modine) and Philip (Kevin Anderson) live by themselves in a rundown home in North Philly and live off of money gained by petty thefts. When they kidnap a rich man (Albert Finney) something strange occurs, they find that he is the father figure they always wanted. This is an overlooked gem.
Planes Trains and Automobiles (Dir: John Hughes)
A short tempered ad executive (Steve Martin) has to get home for Thanksgiving (traveling from New York to Chicago) but when he meets loudmouthed shower ring salesman Dell Griffith (John Candy) everything spins out of control. Soon the two fellow travelers find themselves in a disastrous adventure fighting to reach their destination ….and not kill each other! A road comedy/holiday classic.
Predator (Dir: John McTiernan)
When a special forces guerilla unit is deployed into the jungles of South America to perform a secret mission they discover the skinned remains of several of their fellow officers which leads them into an encounter with an alien being who hunts humans for sport during the hottest months of the year. The soldiers must fight for for their lives as they come under attack from the creature who uses special chameleon like weaponry to evade being seen. This film remains one of the best sci-fi-action thrillers to come out of the 1980s. Starring Arnold Shwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura and Bill Duke.
Radio Days (Dir: Woody Allen)
Joe (Woody Allen) narrates this fond remembrance of his childhood during the 1930s when radio was the rage. Seth Green (The Italian Job) plays Joe as a child and we get to know his Jewish-American family who live in Rockaway Beach section of NY. Another gem from Woody that’s filled with humor and an appreciation for a simpler time in America. Co-starring Mia Farrow and Dianne Wiest.
The Running Man (Dir: Paul Michael Glaser)
In the year 2017 wrongly convicted ex-cop turned fugitive Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger) finds himself the latest contestant on “The Running Man” TV show where escaped convicts are rounded up and used as contestants against skilled hunters. Adapted from a story by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman). Co-starring Yaphet Kotto, Maria Conchita Alonzo, Jim Brown and Richard Dawson.
The Stepfather (Dir: Joseph Ruben)
Jerry is the perfect loving father…unless things don’t go his way, then he turns into a raging psychopath and hacks up the entire family. Terry O’Quinn (Lost) gives one of his most memorable and entertaining performances. A lot of actors say that playing a villain can often be more exciting than being the hero. Well if thats true, it was an excellent role for Terry to go crazy with (pun intended). The movie was remade in 2009 but if you haven’t seen the original version, we highly recommend giving it a watch. It mixes black comedy and horror together exceptionally well.