This is the latest of a whole series here at Grizzly Bomb. For each feature we will examine an individual genre and the quality of its films produced within a specific decade. These lists will be compiled from a point system determined by votes from each member of the staff. It’s very scientific, we used Excel. Continue reading The Best of the Genre (By Decade): Top 25 “80s Horror Flicks”
Tag Archives: Best of the Genre
Best of the Genre: Biggest Badasses – Westerns (Part 2)
On Monday we counted down numbers 10-6, and now we’re rounding out the final five. Now we’re getting into some more familiar faces, but a few may surprise you.
#5.) The Stranger (High Plains Drifter)
Only Clint Eastwood could make getting bathed by a midget look totally badass.
Clint has played a lot of men with no names, but two in particular really stand out (The other one we’ll get to later). The Stranger is the quintessential *mysterious* man with no name, because he literally appears out of nowhere from the heat wave off in the distance. Sure, it could just be an optical illusion, but he does look mighty familiar. The people in the town of Lago can’t seem to put their finger on why he’s so recognizable, but deep down, they know exactly why… The plot of the movie aside, lets talk badassery. One of the first things dude does is walk into town, get a shave and a bath, and avoids getting shot at point-blank, by simply sinking into his bath water. His presence is seemingly supernaturally shielded from the gunfire by being obscured alone. Once the local folks find out some bandits with a vendetta against the town are coming, they ask him to help them. So what does the Stranger do? Well first, he fires the Sheriff, and makes the town midget Sheriff in his place. If you ask me, anybody who gives midgets free license to be lawmaker of a town, is sure as hell a badass guy. Because as we all know, midgets are awesome, as well as hilarious! So he and the midget Sheriff team up, drink lots of booze and hallucinate about being whipped to death in front of the entire town. Well, something like that anyway. Don’t wanna spoil it for you too much. Stranger starts requesting weirder and weirder things, eventually asking the townspeople to acquire 200 gallons of red paint. He then paints the entire town red, (literally), and renames the town “Hell”. When the bandits arrive, he attacks them with help from the towns people, and the fallout from the whole thing begins to spell things out about who this mysterious stranger is. Throughout the whole movie, you’re wondering what his motive exactly is, and after he’s played the entire town against each other, burned it to the ground, gotten laid a few times and whipped a few dudes to death, he disappears back into the heat wave, same way as he came. Bad. Ass.
Continue reading Best of the Genre: Biggest Badasses – Westerns (Part 2)
Best of the Genre: Biggest Badasses – Westerns (Part 1)
I love westerns. Love them. But unfortunately, I honestly don’t see any new westerns coming out that’ll totally upend and reinvent the genre, thus establishing a new character that could trump any of the following ten. That’s not to say that the western genre is stagnant, or recycling material, but it’s a genre that has clearly peaked, and is in its twilight years, where most modern movies are looking back at its respective genre, rather than looking forward. New great westerns are still being made, they’re just not nearly as popular as they once were, and as such, innovation is mostly being left by the wayside. I suppose you could count Django Unchained as innovation, but I’m still very skeptical on my opinion of that film, a skepticism I’m sure isn’t shared by my colleagues here at Grizzly Bomb.
Continue reading Best of the Genre: Biggest Badasses – Westerns (Part 1)
The Best of the Genre (All Time): Top 25 “Comic Book Movies”
This is the latest of a whole series here at Grizzly Bomb. For each feature we will examine an individual genre and the quality of its films. These lists will be compiled from a point system determined by votes from each member of the staff. It’s very scientific, we used Excel.
For this topic, in addition to my list, I asked all the other members of my staff to give me a list of their “Top 15 Comic Book Movies”.
Anyhow, as for the results: From the other 16 people asked to make a Top Ten list, plus my own Top 10, it resulted in 60 different movies being named. I’ve tallied up the points, and I now give you the Top 25 of them…
25. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)
24. Red (2010)
23. Dick Tracy (1990)
22. The Crow (1994)
21. Thor (2011)
20. Captain America: First Avenger (2011)
19. X-Men: First Class (2011)
18. Blade (1998)
17. X-Men (2000)
16. V for Vendetta (2006)
15. Kick Ass (2010)
14. A History of Violence (2005)
13. 300 (2006)
12. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
11. Superman (1978)
And the TOP 10….
*Something new this time around is the AFI Box Office, which is ‘Adjusted for Inflation’…
[The Wozz] When one of the Watchmen is brutally murdered, Nite Owl attempts to bring the old team of retired crime fighters back together for one last job. But the public outrage against vigilantism forces the aging superheroes to question their morals and in some cases, even their sanity.
A lot of controversy and polarization came along with Zack Snyder’s adaptation of what is arguably the best comic book story ever told, but no one can deny that Watchmen is one of the most faithfully adapted stories to ever see the silver screen. Punctuated by Snyder’s trademark stylized action, Watchmen feels more like a hypnotizing motion comic than a traditional action movie, yet it still hits all the narrative beats of Alan Moore’s somber graphic novel, which is why it makes our top ten.
US Release: March 6, 2009
Director: Zack Snyder
Notable Cast: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Jackie Earle Haley, Matthew Goode, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson, Matt Frewer, and Carla Gugino.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/0
US Box Office: $107,509,799 (AFI: $113,817,041)
Best Quote: “Rorschach’s Journal. October 12th, 1985: Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout “Save us!”… and I’ll whisper “no.” “
Trivia: The trailer features the song “The Beginning is the End is the Beginning” by Smashing Pumpkins, which was originally a B-Side for the single “The End is the Beginning is the End”, the theme from Joel Schumacher‘s Batman & Robin.
9. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
[The Wozz] Scott Pilgrim is a jerk. He plays bass for an awful garage band and he’s dating a high school girl. But when he meets Ramona Flowers, a mysterious American girl with purple hair, he instantly falls in love. Scott will do anything to win over the literal girl of his dreams – and unfortunately for him, that means defeating Ramona’s Seven Evil Exes.
No other movie of this generation has simultaneously parodied and embraced popular culture like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. The nerd culture, the indie music scene, hipster-pretentious teens and our superhero obsession all get a jab and an embrace in this gorgeous and hilarious take on the typical guy-meets-girl flick. Scott surrounds himself with about a dozen characters who all manage to come across as endearing, whether they’re charming, obnoxious, or just plain douchey, making this the flashiest, most over-the-top hangout movie of our time.
US Release: August 13, 2010
Director: Edgar Wright
Notable Cast: Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman, Clifton Collins Jr., Thomas Jane, Mae Whitman, and Bill Hader.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/0
US Box Office: $31,524,275 (AFI: $31,724,049)
Best Quote: “He punched the highlights out of her hair!”
Trivia: Edgar Wright obtained permission to use the famous theme song from the SNES game, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, by writing a letter to Nintendo, saying that it is considered to be “the nursery rhyme of this generation”. He was also allowed to use the Seinfeld theme song for a sitcom-style sequence.
8. X2: X-Men United
[Supascoot] A team of mutants hated and feared by the rest of the world are brought together by professor Charles Xavier, a powerful telepath dedicated to training the youthful mutants under his care to protect themselves and the world. This time they find themselves under attack from the government and William Stryker, who has past connections with Prof. X, Magneto and Wolverine.
Building on the success of the first movie, Brian Singer created a sequel that many consider to be far superior to the original. With one of the greatest opening scenes of any superhero movie out there, X2 changed how many of us looked at the comic movie medium. A realistic look at a fantastical world that was easy to relate to and touched on so many themes of both reality and the X-Men mythos. Featuring an ending that left us all excited for the next one, until we actually saw it and realized the flip side of what good movies are.
US Release: May 2, 2003
Director: Bryan Singer
Notable Cast: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn, Brian Cox, Alan Cumming, Bruce Davison, and Kelly Hu.
Oscar Wins/Nominations 0/0
US Box Office: $214,949,694 (AFI: $283,034,920)
Best Quote: “You know all those dangerous mutants you hear about in the news? I’m the worst one. “
Triva: On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Hugh Jackman related a story about something that happened during the filming of the Weapon X flashback scene: while he was filming the corridor run (in which he is nude and backlit), he turned the corner and saw the female cast members, including James Marsden’s mother, waiting for him, hooting and waving dollar bills.
[Supascoot] High School Nerd Peter Parker is bitten by a
radioactive genetically engineered super spider and infused with powers making him the Amazing Spider-Man. After refusing to stop a thief, he is horrified to learn that the thief went on to murder Peter’s Uncle Ben, and embraces his final lesson that “With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility.” Also Norman Osborn goes crazy, becoming the Green Goblin and setting up a villain that will torment Spidey for 3 movies.
Said to be the movie of the 70’s, and then the movie of the 80’s, and the movie of the 90’s, Spider-Man had a spot on the big screen reserved just for him. It wasn’t until Sam Raimi was given the job that the movie finally started moving forward. Fans were unsure of what to think of the film, with many changes and unsure casting, but the moment the movie hit it was well received and provided hope that we may see other heroes getting the same kind of treatment by a director who loved and respected the characters and stories.
US Release: May 3, 2002
Director: Sam Raimi
Notable Cast: Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, J.K. Simmons, Bruce Campbell, Elizabeth Banks, Stan Lee and Randy Savage.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/2 (Visual/Sound)
US Box Office: $403,706,375 (AFI: $551,708,884)
Best Quote: “Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words: “With great power comes great responsibility.” This is my gift, my curse. Who am I? I’m Spider-man. “
Triva: In addition to both Peter Parker and Norman Osborn wearing their enemy’s costume colors during the Thanksgiving dinner scene, Harry Osborn is seen wearing all of the colors. He’s wearing a green shirt, red tie and blue coat.
[Supascoot] Tim Burton’s Batman focused on the darker tone recently exhibited by DC Comics, in large part due to Frank Miller’s time with the character. The film followed the urban legend that is Batman creating and fighting his nemesis Joker, while dealing with the complicated life of billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, who is falling for reporter Vicki Vale.
The 1st of 3 Batman movies in the Top 10, it’s a clear indication that when comparing any and all comic book movies, you look to Batman first. What worked, what didn’t and how we can make it as awesome as the first true Batman film in Hollywood. Keaton delivered an amazing performance as a slightly older Batman, while Jack Nicholson wowed audiences with his portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime, a role left untouched until Heath Ledger… but we can talk about that later.
US Release: June 23, 1989
Director: Tim Burton
Notable Cast: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Billy Dee Williams, Jack Palance, Tracey Walter, Pat Hingle, and Michael Gough.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 1/1 (Art Direction)
US Box Office: $251,188,924 (AFI: $504,377,848)
Best Quote: “Tell me something, my friend. You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?”
Trivia: The Joker’s line “Take thy beak from out my heart” (said at Vale’s apartment) is from Edgar Allan Poe‘s “The Raven”. The full line is ‘Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!’ (the “beak” being of the raven)
5. Iron Man
[Supascoot] Tony Stark is a Billionaire Playboy Inventor Entrepreneur Wunderkind who parties hard and profits big for his company, Stark Enterprises. But when he is kidnapped by the Ten Rings, a terrorist cell in the Middle East, he is gravely wounded. Forced to build a powerful weapon for the Ten Rings, he instead chooses to create a suit of armor to not only save his life, but escape his captors. And iron Man is born.
When news hit that Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Tony Stark, everyone accepted that this movie was actually happening, and that it just may be good. When some of the first footage was seen, fans were apprehensive but excited, and when it hit theaters it was just that; a hit. Spectacular special effects, great acting from Downey and cast and the villain; played by
The Dude Jeff Bridges, who taught me to never try to enter the world of big business. Or make my own suit of armor to take on Iron Man. Jon Favreau delivered a realistic and acceptable world where we could see all our favorite Avengers characters existing, and proved to be the jumping off point for one of the biggest comic book movie epics to ever hit the big screen; The Avengers.
US Release: May 2, 2008
Director: Jon Favreau
Notable Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Leslie Bibb, Clark Gregg, Paul Bettany, Jon Favreau, and Stan Lee.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/2 (Visual/Sound)
US Box Office: $318,412,101 (AFI: $352,115,889)
Best Quote: “They say that the best weapon is the one you never have to fire. I respectfully disagree. I prefer the weapon you only have to fire once. That’s how Dad did it, that’s how America does it, and it’s worked out pretty well so far.”
Triva: Stan Lee, the creator of Iron Man, had originally based Tony Stark on Howard Hughes, whom he felt was “one of the most colourful men of our time: an inventor, an adventurer, a multimillionaire, a ladies man and finally a nutcase.”
4. Spider-Man 2
[The Wozz] Peter Parker’s new career as a web-slinging superhero is starting to get in the way of his education, his family and most important of all, his relationship with Mary-Jane Watson. As his priorities start to shift, Peter begins to question his responsibilities as a vigilante crime fighter and eventually he hangs up the costume for good. But when Dr. Otto Octavius has an experiment go awry, killing his wife and binding four mechanical arms to his spine, Pete is forced to accept his role as a superhero and take back his true role as Spider-Man.
Spider-Man may be heralded as the movie that ushered in Hollywood’s superhero craze but it’s the second one that became the shining light of the franchise. It just feels the most like Spider-Man, because it perfectly nails that balance between thrilling acrobatics, lighthearted fun and a charming, somewhat corny moral center. Doctor Octopus is unquestionably the best villain of the trilogy, providing some of the best action sequences in all three movies, and this is the movie where Spidey feels most recognizable – none of that whiny, dancing B.S. that would come a few years later.
US Release: June 30, 2004
Director: Sam Raimi
Notable Cast: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, J.K. Simmons, Dylan Baker, Aasif Mandvi, Elizabeth Banks, Bruce Campbell, Alfred Molina, Daniel Dae Kim, Hal Sparks, Joel McHale, Emily Deschanel, Willem Dafoe, Joy Bryant, Reed Diamond, Vanessa Ferlito, and Stan Lee.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 1/2 (Visual Effects)
US Box Office: $373,585,825 (AFI: $477,660,459)
Best Quote: “We need a hero, courageous sacrificing people, setting examples for all of us. Everybody loves a hero, people line up for ’em, cheer for them, scream their names, and years later tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who told them to HOLD ON a second longer.”
Triva: Stan Lee originally filmed the cameo of the man who shouts: “Hey, Spider-Man stole that guy’s pizza!” But because of problems with the shot it was re-filmed with another actor, and Lee was given a different (but heroic) cameo.
3. Sin City
[The Wozz] Three (Technically four) intercepting vignettes tell the tale of violence, corruption, death and vengeance in the streets of Basin City: Marv seeks revenge for the murder of a caring woman, killed as she slept by his side. Dwight gets into hot water when he punishes the wrong abusive boyfriend. Hartigan comes back from the dead to save a girl from a monster.
Sin City features more style and visual flair in some scenes than most movies have in their entirety. The gritty, unforgiving noir is punctuated with bursts of vibrant color amid the gorgeous blacks, greys and whites of the simulated graphic novel, and it features one of the biggest casts you’re likely to ever find. Other films have tried to jump onto Sin City‘s dark, exaggerated aesthetic but their failure serves as evidence that there’s more to this movie than simple eye-porn. Sin City is in a world all to itself and delivers something entirely unique, which is why it’s number three on our list.
US Release: April 1, 2005
Directors: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, & Tarantino
Notable Cast: Jessica Alba, Alexis Bledel, Powers Boothe, Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rick Gomez, Tommy Flanagan, Carla Gugino, Josh Hartnett, Rutger Hauer, Nicky Katt, Jaime King, Michael Madsen, Brittany Murphy, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Marley Shelton, Nick Stahl, Bruce Willis, Elijah Wood and Nick Offerman.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/0
US Box Office: $74,103,820 (AFI: $91,791,627)
Best Quote: “Most people think Marv is crazy. He just had the rotten luck of being born in the wrong century. He’d be right at home on some ancient battlefield swinging an axe into somebody’s face. Or in a Roman arena, taking his sword to other gladiators like him. They woulda tossed him girls like Nancy back then.”
” It’s time to prove to your friends that you’re worth a damn. Sometimes that means dying, sometimes it means killing a whole lot of people. “
Triva: Despite appearing in all three of the major stories, Brittany Murphy filmed all of her scenes in one day.
2. Batman Begins
[The Wozz] Believe it or not, there was a time when most of us weren’t looking forward to a new Batman movie. Joel Schumacher took the franchise out at the knees with Batman & Robin, and it was hard to believe any revival could undo the damage. Then we found out the Memento guy was directing it, and shortly after that Christian Bale would play Bruce Wayne. Clearly things were going in a new direction, but no one had any idea what was coming.
Batman Begins is about about Bruce Wayne. If you break down the movie, you can see it all the way through. Even in the third act, when Bruce is almost always under the cape and cowl he is still the man, not the symbol. It’s not until The Dark Knight that Batman truly becomes a second identity and that is what makes Begins such an engaging story. No other Batman movie has given so much attention and importance to the person who became the Bat. Begins is about other things, too – fear, corruption, justice – but this is the most human the character has ever been, and it delivers an origin story befitting to the greatest superhero of all time.
US Release: June 15, 2005
Directors: Christopher Nolan
Notable Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Rade Serbedzija, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Ken Watanabe, and Mark Boone Junior.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/1 (Cinematography)
US Box Office: $205,343,774 (AFI: $254,357,186)
Best Quote: “What chance does Gotham have when the good people do nothing? “
Triva: Christian Bale lost his voice three times during filming after altering his voice while playing Batman.
1. The Dark Knight
[The Wozz] After the success of Batman Begins, The Dark Knight might have become one of the most anticipated movies ever, but that didn’t keep it completely free from scrutiny. The decision to bring in The Joker after Jack Nicholson’s beloved performance, combined with the casting of Heath Ledger in the role was baffling to most of us. And the IMDb page showed clear as day that between Ledger, Cillian Murphy and Aaron Eckhart, there would be three different villains in the movie (Just months before, Spider-Man 3 had crumbled under that weight). On opening weekend, The Dark Knight absolutely shattered any doubts.
As opposed to Batman Begins, in The Dark Knight Batman no longer exists as a man in a a suit; Bruce Wayne has completely transformed the caped crusader into a symbol, elevating him far past the limitations of a simple vigilante. The Joker’s brand of chaos isn’t a threat to Bruce, or his loved ones, or even to Gotham, at least not directly. Joker represents something far more destructive than that. He threatens to dismantle the legend of Batman, kill the icon instead instead of the person. In actuality, The Dark Knight has nothing to do with two men on either side of the law. It’s about the manifestations of good and evil, the struggle between order against chaos. That’s what elevates The Dark Knight beyond the ranks of a simple superhero movie and makes it the best comic book movie of all time.
US Release: July 18, 2008
Director: Christopher Nolan
Notable Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Nestor Carbonell, Eric Roberts, Michael Jai White, William Fichtner, Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister, and Anthony Michael Hall.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 2/8 (Sound Editing, Supporting Actor)
US Box Office: $533,345,358 (AFI: $589,799,741)
Best Quote: “Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”
Triva: Nestor Carbonell who plays the mayor coincidentally also played “Bat Manuel”, a parody of Batman, in the comic-based live action The Tick TV series. And Michael Jai White who played the Batman-inspired character Spawn in Spawn plays a gangster.
Also check out our other
Best of the Genre (By Decade)
The Best of the Genre (By Decade): Top 25 “80s Action Flicks”
This is the latest of a whole series here at Grizzly Bomb. For each feature we will examine an individual genre and the quality of its films produced within a specific decade. These lists will be compiled from a point system determined by votes from each member of the staff. It’s very scientific, we used Excel.
For this topic, in addition to my list, I asked 13 members of my staff to give me a list of their “Top 10 Action Movies of the 1980s”. The action movies of the 80s, more than any other decade or genre, have an identity. Big muscles, big explosions, and witty one-liners. There are even movies that came out in other decades that you could consider 80s Action. Stuff like Point Break (1991), Cop Out (2010), and The Expendables (2010). Though we’re only counting stuff actually from the 1980s, you get the idea. Now, Schwarzenegger and Stallone of course owned the decade, but it wasn’t just them kicking ass back in the day, but several other action stars will pop up on this list as well.
Anyhow, as for the results: From the 13 people asked to make a Top Ten list, plus my own Top 10, it resulted in 43 different movies being named. I’ve tallied up the points, and I now give you the Top 25 of them…
25. Highlander (1986)
24. The Protector (1985)
23. Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade (1989)
22. Escape from New York (1981)
21. Above the Law (1988)
20. Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
19. No Holds Barred (1989)
18. The Untouchables (1987)
17. The Running Man (1987)
16. Bloodsport (1988)
15. Rocky IV (1985)
14. Mad Max 2: Road Warrior (1981)
13. Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
12. Cobra (1986)
11. Roadhouse (1989)
And the TOP 10….
*Something new this time around is the AFI Box Office, which is ‘Adjusted for Inflation’…
10. Tango and Cash
Ray Tango and Gabriel Cash are narcotics detectives who, while both being extremely successful, can’t stand each other. Crime Lord Yves Perret, furious at the loss of income that Tango and Cash have caused him, frames the two for murder. Caught with the murder weapon on the scene of the crime, the two have alibi. Thrown into prison with most of the criminals they helped convict, it appears that they are going to have to trust each other if they are to clear their names and catch the evil Perret.
This movie so full of one-liners and unnecessary violence it amazing Schwarzenegger isn’t in it.
US Release: December 22, 1989
Director: Andrey Konchalovskiy/Albert Magnoli
Notable Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, Teri Hatcher, Jack Palance, Billy Blanks, Clint Howard, Glenn Morshower, Michael J. Pollard, James Hong, and Brion James.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/0
US Box Office: $63,408,614 (AFI: $127,136,667)
Best Quote: “Rambo? Rambo’s a pussy.”
Trivia: Patrick Swayze was originally cast as Cash, but he dropped out and went to star in Road House.
This one is where some debate came in, mostly from Rev Kaiser who argued this movie was more Sci-Fi than Action, but to me there are just too many great Action elements present to leave this off the list. That, combined with Kaiser’s main motivation for his argument being he wanted Roadhouse in the Top Ten, he was outvoted. Aliens is so much more than just Sci-Fi, as Alien delivered us one of the greatest horror/thrillers ever, here we were given some of the most heart-pounding action scenes ever filmed.
This is 57 years after the first movie and Ripley must once again face off against the alien menace, but this time she’s backed by an entire team of Marines.
US Release: July 18, 1986
Director: James Cameron
Notable Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, and Jenette Goldstein.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 2/7 (Sound Effects Editing, Visual Effects)
US Box Office: $85,160,248 (AFI: $182,715,788)
Best Quote: “We’d better get back, ’cause it’ll be dark soon, and they mostly come at night… mostly.”
Trivia: The Alien nest set was kept intact after filming. It was later used as the Axis Chemicals set for Batman. When the crew of Batman first entered the set, they found most of the Alien nest still intact.
‘New Detroit’, a hell hole spawned by the predicted progression seen in the 1980s real Detroit. It was only logical in the late 80s to assume Detroit would get worse, and so it made sense that one day they would look for an answer to crime though technology. Hence Robocop. The fact that Officer Murphy is killed and then resurrected in a Jesus like fashion to right the wrongs of the city, is only made sweeter by the fact that his killer was Red Foreman. This is a story about corruption at the highest levels and an underdog desire to do whats right and fix a once great city. And the fight was so bloody and violent, this marks the first time ever that a movie was rated X for violence. Oh how I miss the 80s, I‘d but that for a dollar!
US Release: July 17, 1987
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Notable Cast: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer, Leeza Gibbons, and Ray Wise.
Oscar Wins/Nominations 1/3 (Sound Effects Editing)
US Box Office: $53,424,681 (AFI: $108,762,266)
Best Quote: “Bitches, leave.”
Triva: The repeated line ‘I’d buy that for a dollar!’ comes from Cyril M. Kornbluth‘s short story ‘The Marching Morons’, which presents a similarly cynical view of an over-commercialized future that’s desensitized to violence and war. A radio game show in that short story uses the line ‘I’d buy that for a quarter.’ as its signature phrase.
7. First Blood
In a departure from the source material, which saw John Rambo ultimately killed in the end of the book, this ended up being the franchise that saved Stallone’s career. And the funny part is, after shooting he hated the movie so much he tried to stop its release. This movie turned into a direct message about the treatment of soldiers returning from Viet Nam and say what you want about Stallone’s acting ability, but the end scene in which we see Rambo break down and cry in front of Col. Troutman is both powerful and moving. That, combined with one man, manhandling an entire police department made for the birth of a pop-culture icon. “Rambo” is now synonymous with ‘Badass”.
US Release: October 22, 1982
Director: Ted Kotcheff
Notable Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Brian Dennehy, and David Caruso.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/0
US Box Office: $47,212,904 (AFI: $127,828,135)
Best Quote: “If you want some friendly advice, get a haircut and take a bath. You wouldn’t get hassled so much.”
Triva: At one point, the studio wanted Kris Kristofferson for Rambo, Gene Hackman as Sheriff Teasle and Lee Marvin as Col. Trautman.
TONI X: “I’ll be the first to admit that Die Hard is a better movie, hell, it’s the greatest action movie of all time – But Commando is the 80’s. It has a fantastic soundtrack that is all about the decade, slick cars, slick scumbags in slick clothes, a pre – Who’s the Boss? Alyssa Milano and most importantly – It has Schwarzenegger in it. No movie can be the definitive ’80’s Action Movie’ without Schwarzenegger. Not only this, but Schwarzenegger starts this movie by carrying a tree – for reals. They had to show this dude being such a beast in his first goddamn shot just so you know he means absolute business.
Commando also created the Schwarzenegger archetype, granted, there were other movies where Arnie showed superhuman feats of strength, but in those flicks he was playing either a macho fantasy warrior, a killer cyborg or Hercules himself. Commando implies he was just a human being who could rip a pipe out of a wall and impale Wez with it. This is the starting point for the now classic Arnold one liners and insane logic bending shootouts.
Not only that, but every great 80’s action movie trope is here-the pointless nudity just for the sake of it, the hardass military brass trying to recruit Arnold, the country of Val Verde, a palatial mansion where all hell breaks loose and Bill Paxton – Straight Up 80’s.
But the most significant reason that Commando trumps Die Hard as an 80’s action movie is this. Die Hard is actually an adaptation of a novel called “Nothing Lasts Forever” by Roderick Thorp, Hollywood initially adapted the novel into a screenplay as a sequel to Commando. If it wasn’t for Schwarzenegger turning down the role and retooling the script for Bruce Willis – Die Hard would have been Commando 2. Commando is not only the greatest 80’s action movie of all time, but it is responsible for the greatest Action Movie of any decade. That’s why it’s number one in my book.”
US Release: October 4, 1985
Director: Mark L. Lester
Notable Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rae Dawn Chong, Dan Hedaya, Vernon Wells, Bill Duke, David Patrick Kelly, Bill Paxton, and Alyssa Milano.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/0
US Box Office: $35,100,000 (AFI: $78,703,098)
Best Quote: “Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last? I lied.”
Trivia: Arius (Dan Hedaya) is said to be a deposed dictator from the country of Val Verde. Val Verde was a fictionalized South/Central American country used by Hollywood from the 1980s to early 1990s to depict a Spanish-speaking country similar to Cuba or Nicaragua without encountering diplomatic problems. It is also referenced in the films Predator, Die Hard 2, and the made for TV movie Deadly Enemies (Pilot).
5. The Terminator
Arnold was already known in some circles. Multiple winner of the ‘Mr. Universe‘ competition 4 times, and he had just stared twice as ‘Conan the Barbarian’, but it wasn’t until he played a near unstoppable killing machine in 1984 that he became a household name. The movie itself changed the genre forever, and kick started the career of James Cameron. The mythology sprouted from this movie led to 3 sequels, a TV show, and countless comic books and parodies. The Terminator is sent back in time to assassinate the mother of the still unborn leader of the future’s human resistance. That’s badass. This was a bad day to have middle name starting with the letter ‘A’…
US Release: October 26, 1984
Director: James Cameron
Notable Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen, Dick Miller, Bill Paxton, and Brian Thompson.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/0
US Box Office: $38,371,200 (AFI: $90,903,200)
Best Quote: “Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”
Triva: O.J. Simpson was considered for the role of the Terminator, but the producers feared he was “too nice” to be taken seriously as a cold-blooded killer. In 1990, (years, ironically, before Simpson’s first trial) Dark Horse Comics printed issues using his likeness.
4. Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones is one of the greatest action characters of all time, and Raiders of the Lost Ark was fresh and exciting, and it achieved that by looking to the past for inspiration. George Lucas wrote this movie based of the old serials he would watch as a kid. Constant action throughout, from fleeing booby traps to fighting Nazis to poisonous snakes and ancient desert prisons, Dr. Jones time and again beats the odds and achieves the impossible. And unlike most of the movies on this list, this was actually marketed to the whole family, so I think people in their late 20s and into their 30s have a special nostalgia attached to these movies having grown up on them. It’s as good as an action movie can be without gratuitous boobs and swearing.
US Release: June 12, 1981
Director: Steven Spielberg
Notable Cast: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, John Rhys-Davies, and Alfred Molina.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 5/9 (Art Direction, Visual Effects, Editing, Sound, Sound Editing)
US Box Office: $242,374,454 (AFI: $693,993,041)
Best Quote: “The Bible speaks of the Ark leveling mountains and laying waste in entire regions. An Army that carries the Ark before it… is invincible.”
Triva: Renowned British wrestler Pat Roach gets killed twice in this film – once as a giant Sherpa left in the burning Nepalese bar and once as the German mechanic chewed up by the plane’s propeller.
3. Lethal Weapon
The pinnacle of Buddy Cop movies, this is the king of mismatched partners at the start – the suicidal young hot-shot cop, paired with old crotchety about-to-retire veteran. This is the movie that created the clichés we now recognize in almost every cop movie released in the last 20 years. Riggs and Murtaugh investigate the apparent suicide of a friend’s daughter, and end up getting sucked in for more than they expected. The whole case culminates in a Christmas season street brawl between Riggs and Mr. Joshua (Busey) in a hydrant downpour out in front of Murtaugh’s house. The movie would spawn 3 more sequels and prove to make Mel Gibson one of Hollywood’s biggest stars over the next 15 or so years.
US Release: March 6, 1987
Director: Richard Donner
Notable Cast: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Mitch Ryan, Grand L. Bush, and Al Leong
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/1 (Nom. – Best Sound)
US Box Office: $65,207,127 (AFI: $132,749,036)
Best Quote: “Well, I’ll tell you what. You make it through tomorrow without killing anybody, especially me, or yourself, then I’ll start trusting you.”
Triva: Film’s soundtrack includes Elvis Presley song I’ll Be Home for Christmas. Darlene Love, who plays Murtaugh’s wife, was background dancer in Elvis’ production Elvis.
After The Terminator made him a star, and Commando created his archetype, then it was Predator that made him an icon. The story of an elite group of commandos that are sent into the jungle on a rescue mission, only to soon discover they were sent there under false pretenses and find themselves under attack by an unseen assailant. It is here, even more so than in Commando, that we see Arnold Schwarzenegger in the fight of his life. This movie is all about survival and it was a shocking experience in ’87 to see something hunting Arnold, and not the other way around. From the gratuitous bicep closeups to the frequent use of mini-guns, this is about as “Guy Movie” as it gets.
US Release: June 12, 1987
Directors: John McTiernan
Notable Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham, and Shane Black.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/1 (Visual Effects)
US Box Office: $59,735,548 (AFI: $121,609,965)
Best Quote: “Get to the Chopper!”
Triva: Shane Black, who plays ‘Hawkins’, is far more famous for his screenwriting than his acting. His writing credits include stuff like The Last Boy Scout, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and our #3 on this list – Lethal Weapon.
1. Die Hard
This is, sure-fire, without debate, the single greatest action movie of all time. Due on to the fact that this came out in 1988 and not 1990 that Predator misses out on topping our list. The ultimate story of the wrong time – wrong place, this time it was the right guy. A seemingly average cop from New York, without the muscles and armory of Schwarzenegger and Stallone (both of whom are referenced in the movie) John McClane must save his wife and her co-workers from a group of terrorists, and he has to do it barefoot.
John McClane has become the standard for actions stars since, and this is the movie that ushered in the beginning of “90s Action”. After this, even in Stallone and Schwarzenegger movies, it was no longer about shirtless bodybuilders cutting down trees with bullets. This was a cop, with kids and marital problems and he was forced to handle a situation. He wasn’t called in because he was the best (IE: Predator, Rambo II, ect…), he just happened to be there.
Now with the announcement of a 5th Die Hard movie coming, the franchise is still relevant over 20 years later. This movie made Bruce Willis. But who doesn’t get enough credit is Alan Rickman. A hero is often times measured by the strength and quality of his villain, this is maybe what hurts Commando’s legacy. This was Rickman’s film debut, and he delivered one of cinema’s all time great villains. It was Hans Gruber than made John McClane great, and that is what spawned the sequels.
US Release: July 15, 1988
Director: John McTiernan
Notable Cast: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Paul Gleason, Bonnie Bedelia, Hart Bochner, William Atherton, Reginald VelJohnson, Al Leong, Robert Davi, Grand L. Bush, Anthony Peck, and Rick Ducommun.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/4 (Nom. – Film Editing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, Sound)
US Box Office: $83,008,852 (AFI: $160,766,536)
Best Quote: “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf–ker. “
Triva: Bruce Willis was also shooting Moonlighting concurrently which accounts for why nearly all of McClane’s scenes take place at night. Willis would shoot his TV series during the day and then come to the Fox lot in the evening to work on this film.
Also check out our other
Best of the Genre (By Decade)
The Best of the Genre (By Decade): Top 30 “70s Horror Movies”
This is to be the 4th piece of the series here at Grizzly Bomb. For each feature we will examine an individual genre and the quality of its films produced within a specific decade, like, for example – the 25 Best Action Movies of the 90s, the 25 Best Comedies of the 80s, or The 30 Best Sci-Fi Movies from 2000-2009. These lists will be compiled from a point system determined by votes from each member of the staff. It’s very scientific. We use Excel. So here it is…