And if you know me, you know I wasn’t watching the hardcore horror/SF either. I was a kid in the 80’s, so I watched kids movies. A LOT of kids movies. And except for E.T. (there are only two kinds of people in the world: those who liked E.T. and those who were terrified of him. Me? Second category.), I loved SF. And I didn’t even realize it! I didn’t go out of my way to watch science fiction movies, they just comprised the list of most of my favorites, and most of the ones I loved are probably considered the base-of-the-base by today’s standards. Which flicks?
1) Flight of the Navigator – Even before I spoke words in a way that didn’t sound like jibberish, I was drawing scribbly pictures with dots to represent my favorite movie. I don’t even remember doing this, but apparently Flight of the Navigator (In those years, and in my child-like broken English: “Flag of the Alligator”) was my all-time favorite movie when I was 3. And I know why: Max? Hilarious. Wasn’t until I was about 22 that I realized he was voiced by PeeWee Herman! There were certainly scary parts in this flick that I squinted through even at a slightly more conscious stage of childhood, but mostly, it was just so cool that a kid and a robot/alien could kick back to Beach Boys, tootle around the world in the coolest space ship ever, and time travel to boot. I think what also resonated with me was the idea of being left behind by some strange phenomenon, where you’re still a kid even though your little brother is in college. It was my first taste of spec fic, and I wanted more!
Also, R.A.L.P.H. was my FAVORITE character when I was little. “Pardon me, coming through.” :D I didn’t even know who Jessica Parker was yet! Bet she didn’t either.
2) The Cat from Outer Space – Hey, I warned you they’d probably be bottom barrel by today’s standards! :) The obvious draw for little 5 year old me was first and foremost the talking cat. Who wouldn’t love a talking cat? Jake was clever, thoughtful, and pretty adept and dealing with humans. You know. For a cat. And an alien. I used to watch this one back to back, and never got tired of it. Watching it now, I do wince pretty heavily at the portray of female scientists (but at least they say she’s actually a scientist! Even if she’s only there to get kidnapped at the end with Jake’s love interest.) Still fun–and let’s face it, anyone who’s owned cats would probably vouch for this: aren’t there moments when they look at you that makes you feel like maybe they’re recording everything you say for future analysis on the mothership? (Ok, technically this wasn’t 80’s, it was late 70’s, but gimme a break! Actually, I found it kind of surprising that it was from ’78–it always struck me as an old 60s or 50s movie!)
3) The Last Starfighter – This one is near and dear to my heart, because my parents decided on my name while watching this film. The graphics are painful–no argument there–but the story is awesome. Small town guy gets a chance to be a superstar battleship captain? That’s awesome. Him having to have a look-alike android fill in for him while he’s gone? Hilarious! And Grig will always be one of my favorite aliens. :) The scene with the evil Xur melting the spy’s brains, though, took me almost a decade to be able to watch without covering my eyes. (I still squint.) The setting, the likableness of the characters–I just can’t help but love this one. Plus, it probably helped listening to it prenatally. :)
4) Short Circuit – I totally didn’t even know this was filmed in Oregon until I watched it a few weeks ago! NO WAY! *local knowledge +10 pnts* I love this movie. It’s cheesy as all get out–downright blush worthy in places–but it makes me laugh every time, and I can’t help but love Number 5. I remember watching this one for the first time out in Oklahoma while visiting relatives. Just can’t get it out of my soul. :) This is definitely one of the reasons I write robots so often.
5) Batteries Not Included – Again, an oldy but a goody. I loved this story. Even today, when I go back and rewatch it, I LOVE it. I love the cast of characters, I love that while the corporate villains are irredeemable, the dude they get to do all their work does find a kind of salvation by the end. I love the setting of the crumbling diner. But of course, most of all, I love the robots. I love how they “build” children. I love how they interact with their human counterparts–mostly friendly, but a bit wild and defensive. I love how they fix things. Time and again, I just love this one. Another part of the reason I write so many robot stories. :)
There are others movies that also made an impact on me, though they span more time than just what was created in the 80s, like The Oddball from Outer Space, Cocoon, Planet of the Apes (original), Ghostbusters, Star Wars 4-6, 2001, Back to the Future, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Soylent Green, Star Trek (NG) flicks, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Forbidden Planet, and even Tron (though I saw Tron much later in my youth, so it didn’t stick quite so much in my subconscious–after all, Tron was cool, but the chick was basically just there to make out with the guys. Who did she even like, anyway? Tron or Flynn? Still not sure…). There are a lot of others, too that I won’t list out for you. :) I was a movie geek in my youth, and still am now. But the five above are nearest and dearest to my heart.
What can I say? I was a sucker for sci-fi before I was even born. :)