The debut film from Sam Raimi is a bravura bit of cinematic inventiveness and one of the most entertaining American horror films of its time.
Ridley Scott’s visionary reworking of Philip K. Dick’s novel may have flopped when it was released but it has become a science fiction touchstone and has colonized the imaginations of writers, directors, and die-hard fans of science fiction.
John Landis teaches us two things in An American Werewolf in London (1981): turning into a werewolf is a very painful process, and the dead are boring! American tourist David Naughton survives a moonlight animal attack in Northern England only to turn into a hairy, bloodthirsty beast back in London when the moon is full. […]
Is it too sweeping to call Jack Terry, the movie soundman of Brian De Palma’s Blow Out (1981), John Travolta’s best performance ever? So be it. Who knew that De Palma—a director still more often than not dismissed as a technician with a Hitchcock obsession, a facility for bravura camerawork, and a penchant for split […]
The Muppet Show: Complete Series (1977-1981) is the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational variety show to ever hit prime time. More than forty years later, it’s still funny, fast-paced, utterly madcap, and tremendous fun. Jim Henson was already a household name for bringing his Muppets to Sesame Street but his ambitions took him in all […]
“Plissken? I heard you were dead.” “Call me Snake.” Maybe it’s not John Carpenter’s best film, but Escape from New York (1981) is one of his most fun and the premise is irresistible: in the future, Manhattan has been turned into a high security island prison and Liberty Island is the guard station. When Air […]
The myth and legend of King Arthur has long been a favorite fascination of popular culture, the source of countless novels and movies and the inspiration for an iconic Broadway musical that became the nickname for John F. Kennedy’s too-short inspirational time as American President: “Camelot.” Forget the real-life history, the very mention of King […]
Walter Hill’s savage survival drama Southern Comfort (1981) sends a platoon of weekend warrior National Guardsman into the Louisiana swamps for a training exercise: not just strangers in a strange land but urban good ‘ol boys with no understanding of the world they’ve blundered into. To the Cajun swamp folk, the trappers and hunters living […]
Errol Morris is one of the most celebrated—and most distinctive—documentary filmmakers of our time and his interest in unconventional portraits and offbeat subjects began with his first films. Gates of Heaven (1978, not rated) profiles two pet cemeteries—one that went out of business and another, more financially stable business where the graves were relocated—and the […]
The werewolf movie was revived and reworked with a vengeance in 1981 and Wolfen (1981) adapted from the Whitley Strieber novel and directed by Michael Wadleigh (his first feature since the epic concert film Woodstock), was a far more radical take on the genre than An American Werewolf in London or The Howling, though not […]