Let’s face it, the eighties were a grand time for the fantasy genre. Surely, comedy and horror had their days, but fantasy is what I mostly remember. As a kid my parents kept me from watching the more hardcore horror films until I was old enough to handle them, so most of the time I retreated to fantasy. They had distant lands, monsters, demons, and ghosts just the same. And often they were as violent as horror films were. My time spent watching movies were mainly spent with films from the 1980’s, and it’s no surprise that most of my fantasy favorites are from that fun decade. Here are five of my favorite fantasy films of the 80’s. And no, they haven’t aged a bit.
In the fifties, many horror and science fiction films spoke of two things. The nuclear age, and the potential dangers of space exploration. While the US tested radiation, and strived to bring their men to space to explore other planets, Hollywood explored such ideas and its negative effects through filmmaking in films like “Godzilla”, “The Day The Earth Stood Still”, “Them”, and another film that would come in 1968 changing the face of filmmaking and horror for decades to come, a much more grim grotesque exploration in to the potential consequences of bringing a foreign chemical home with us and eventually spell doom for the rest of the world through a familiar foe.
I was fortunate enough to grow up around classic movie lovers, and since I was a child I was given a very hefty education in classic movies of all kinds. From Drama, to Science Fiction, I was able to understand the wonders of the classic films while also enjoying the modern cinema to boot. I loved the special effects spectacles, but I could also appreciate films like “Jason and the Argonauts” or “The Valley of Gwangi.” During my childhood, Ray Harryhausen’s works of art and amazing special effects astonished me. While they were low tech considering it was a new time for film, Harryhausen’s creations had a light and a life to them that computers and CGI animators could not duplicate. They had a spark within them, and within every motion, and I appreciated them with every film that Harryhausen left his signature on. Years later, I’m still a fanatic for Ray Harryhausen’s incredible work.
What do we mean by our favorite big bads? Don’t be fooled, we’re not listing our all time favorite Kaijus, because we’re not big kaiju fans. What we are fans of are giant monsters, monsters that stomp, monsters that destroy, and monsters with a point and purpose. Since “Cloverfield” is going to be stomping into theaters January 18th with incredible anticipation and mystery, we thought ringing in the anticipated film with a list of our all time favorite giant monsters would be a kick.
So we sifted through our library of movies, we googled a lot of giant monsters and we went through some of our favorites. In the end, even though we liked Gamera, and Mothra, and Mechagodzilla, and even though we passed on some like Voltron, and the beast from The Relic, we couldn’t help but feel a giant affection for these monstrous furious baddies who took a small city and made it their bitch. Some of these are commentaries on nuclear war, some of these are commentary on space travel and disrupting our oceanic settings, and some of these are just plain old mean and angry beasts who take joy from eating helpless citizens and hapless police officers.
“Cloverfield” and a mysterious giant monster wreaks pure bloody havoc on New York City soon, and we thought that it was the right time to invite some contemporaries over in hopes that JJ Abrams’ monster ends up as horrifying as these fine individuals. Lock up your children, call the army, and ready your tanks, these baddies are on the prowl!