You Have to See This! Cool World (1992)

“Sweetheart, I’m the biggest ripped-off cartoonist in the history of the world, and that’s all I’m going to say.” – Ralph Bakshi

Ralph Bakshi’s “Cool World” is a movie without a specific audience in mind, and doesn’t seem to know who it’s appealing to. It’s too dark and adult to be considered another “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and much too juvenile to be taken as an adult film. I vividly remember collecting comic books as a kid and seeing full page ads for “Cool World” in every single issue I bought, and yet the movie clearly was not intended for a nine year old, and was too underground for teenagers. In a decade where everyone was trying to be Disney, I doubt many audiences were in the market for a dark erotic animated neo-noir satire involving an animated seductress trying to have sex with her creator so she can become a human.

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You Have to See This! Rapid Fire (1992)

It’s hard to believe but it’s been twenty five years since Brandon Lee was accidentally killed while filming “The Crow.” Lee was such a rising talent who wanted to prove himself as an actor more than become the next big action star, and he was well on his way. Lee, like his dad, had to earn a lot of his clout. First: by starring in films in Asia, and then coming to America to try his hand. But unlike his dad, Brandon had the humongous shadow of his father looming over him and he would have had to work extra hard to come out from under it and make Brandon Lee a very different name from Bruce Lee.

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You Have to See This! Kicks (2016)

It’s not so much the journey of getting the shoes but what they ultimately represent to a lot of people. Eventually the mission of young Brandon to get his Jordans back from a vicious neighborhood psycho becomes a lot more than re-claiming a piece of goods. It becomes about re-claiming a part of himself, and perhaps taking a chance on something that could either mean his doom or prove that he’s capable of going very far in his life, and perhaps farther than anyone figured.

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You Have to See This! Mayhem (2017)

Samara Weaving is a young actress quickly on the rise to super stardom. She’s not just sexy but can manage to tuck away that sexiness in favor of portraying characters of depth and complexity. In “The Babysitter” she was this very hot Satanic beast, in “Three Billboards in Ebbing, Missouri,” she was an adorable pixy, and in “Mayhem” she’s a go getter officer drone forced in to a blood soaked battle.

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You Have to See This! Freaked (1993)

I would call “Freaked” a spoof, but a spoof of what?

All I know is that it is something of a cult film and simultaneous antidotal piece of good old fashioned schlock in a decade that took movies very seriously. Even horror was somewhat stern for a long time until Wes Craven injected some humor in to it. “Freaked” feels like something out of 1987 that crept in to 1993 and it still rings as truly one of the more fascinating cult films I’ve ever seen. My memory with “Freaked” goes back to 1994 when my dad rented a copy for me. Little did he know what the hell we were in for, as “Freaked” teeters between completely surreal black comedy and an acid dream splashed on to film.

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You Have to See This! The Midnight Hour (1985)

Only in 1985 could a movie like “The Midnight Hour” have been created. This is the decade of Michael Jackson and music videos. This is the decade of MTV. This is the decade where one of the goofiest Halloween movies ever made has a musical number that breaks the fourth wall because… well, Michael Jackson, and Madonna! Duh. Seriously, it’s a shame that “The Midnight Hour” has been so hard to find and out of print for such a long time, because it’s such a ridiculous eighties gem that I figured people would be watching it during Halloween parties and laughing their asses off.

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You Have to See This! NY77: The Coolest Year in Hell (2007)

“New York wasn’t burning. It was burnt!”

Director Henry Corra’s exploration of what New York was in 1977 is quite fantastic and a surprisingly rare chronicle of the political and economic turmoil that ironically bred timeless art and music. As a born and bred Bronxite, 1977 is a mythical year, and a period of the decade that I’ve heard about very often from elder family members. In particular, the night of the infamous black out of New York, my mom and uncle were stuck in the edge of downtown Manhattan and had to brave their way home during the mass looting and rioting. “NY77” garners a very unique tone that balances out the inherent importance of the year, the depressing living conditions of the city, and the obvious fun that was had by most, who managed to endure poverty with laughs and creativity.

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You Have to See This! Summer School (1987)

As a kid I spent many a day watching movies on television edited for content. I spent most of my time watching WPIX Channel 11 in New York which was then considered “New York’s Number One Movie Station.” Every ad for movies they aired always garnered my attention, save for a select few here and there. A lot of those films became future favorites like “Animal House” and “A Christmas Story.” Like clockwork about every four months the channel would air the television trailer for 1987’s “Summer School”, and every time I avoided it like the plague. It just never seemed all too funny, especially in the light of films like “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”

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