Fantasy films of the 80s
Hello, I'm back again. I just couldn't stop writing. I like to write because I consider it to be one of my life's passions, and it also helps make the days go by a bit faster. I'm very happy about the responses and the ratings from my previous articles, so I think I'll do another one. I'm gonna shift gears and talk about something that has been a very good boost of entertainment for me growing up, fantasy films of the 80s. As a child, I did have a very vivid imagination and some of the fantasy films that aired were very helpful in keeping the child in me still alive. I always remember on some days, I and some of my friends would sit in the living room and my mother would let us watch a fantasy film just before we had to take a nap. I remember that some of these films scared me, when I watched the film for a second time; I had to leave the room and hide in the hallway or hide behind the sofa after it was over.
Some of these films set the stage for greats like the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter movies. Over time, I started to lose touch with the fantasy flicks, the films today, which have CGI effects have helped make them feel a bit more magical, but I really don't find them very amusing. I never had that many favorites, but here are some that did have a good impact on me. I've ranked these in order that I like, so here are my five most favorites.
5. NEVERENDING STORY
I gotta say that I always consider this as a story within a story. The music is the other thing that makes this movie a true wonder. The main theme song is what I especially like about all this. It's a song that I can't seem to get out of my head.
The story is about a boy named Bastian, who, like myself, has a very strong imagination; following the death of his mother, his widowed father tells him to get serious about his life, to get his head out of the clouds and keep his feet on the ground. On his way to school, he is getting hassled by a group of bullies, after they dump him in a dumpster, and when he climbs out, they chase him down the street, he hides in a bookstore. The storeowner, Mr. (Koreand...?), tries to shoo Bastian out, but after he raves on about his passion for reading and hiding from the bullies, he understands him very well. He sees a book Mr. Koreander is reading called the Neverending Story; Bastian seems to be very interested in the book and asks if he could borrow it but Koreander refuses saying that it's not for him, when he goes to answer the phone, Bastian takes the book anyway, leaving a note saying he'll return it. When he arrives at school, he is late for a math test, knowing that he'll fail; he goes to the school attic and hides out. When he starts to read the book, it's about a mythical land called Fantasia, which is being slowly destroyed by a supernatural force called the nothing. Many of the Fantasian residents head to the ivory tower to try and seek help from the childlike empress, but she is terribly ill, so she cannot do anything about it. The only hope they have now is a great warrior called Atreyu, when Atreyu arrives they are all shocked to see that it's a twelve year old boy, despite this, the people still give accept him as he is willing to fight the nothing, before he departs, he is given the auryn, a medallion that will protect him on his journey. As Bastian reads about Atreyu's journey, he is somewhat mesmerized by what is fact or fiction, it is not until the epilogue he finally realizes that he is reading his own story and only he can save Fantasia by giving the empress a new name to cure her. Once he does, he comes face to face with the empress herself. She tells him that he can bring Fantasia back to life by just wishing it back. After he does, he rides on top of the flying Dog like Falkor, who was with Atreyu through most of the film and sees that Fantasia is like what it was before. Bastian then wishes to get revenge on the bullies by scaring them with Falkor. A narrator tells us that he continued to make more wishes before returning to his old world. but that's another story.
The only thing I like about this film was that it was a very powerful film and a film I watched on occasion I was hardly never crazy for it. The thing I don't like about this film is there was a werewolf like creature that scared the living daylights outta me' I was the victim of a lot of scary things in movies like this and I still haven't gotten over them. There were two other sequels that followed, but I didn't care much about them, the original is always the very best.
In all the years I have watched this movie, I never knew that it was directed by Jim Henson. Labyrinth became one of our family favorite films growing up. It was also produced by George Lucas.
Sarah, (played by Jennifer Connelly) is a young girl who fantasizes a lot about her favorite book, Labyrinth. When she snaps back to reality, she realizes that she must get back home to baby sit her infant half brother, Toby. As her stepmother and father go out for the night, she tries to entertain the crying Toby by telling her a story about goblins. She concludes that she wishes the goblins would take him away, right now. When she leaves his room, she notices that he's not crying and finds out the goblins did take him away after all. Suddenly, the goblin king, Jareth (played by David Bowie) emerges and tells her that if she wishes to find Toby, he'll be at Jareth's castle, which is in the center of a huge labyrinth; he also says that she has thirteen hours to solve the labyrinth before Toby becomes one of them forever. As Sarah begins, she meets a bunch of strange creatures and make good friends; like the troll like creature Hoggle, the friendly childish ogre Ludo, the dog like creature who is phony tough and crazy brave Sir Didymus. As time passes Sarah becomes more and more frustrated as she tries to get to the center of the Labyrinth. Jareth does everything in his power to make sure that Sarah does not reach him before the thirteenth hour approaches; he first tries to drug her with a somewhat drugged peach that puts her in a trance like state and makes her believe that she is at a masquerade ball and is dancing with Jareth, she manages to fight the effects and snap back to reality, another is where a junk lady of some sorts takes her to a replica of her bedroom and showers her with her own toys that she likes so much, realizing that she's not where she actually is, she fights off this effect and reaches the center of the labyrinth, after a short battle with the goblins in streets, she reaches the castle, with time almost running out, she now enters a multi-dimensional room. After a bunch of twists and turns, she comes face to face with Jareth, he offers her a chance to be with him and will give her anything her heart desires, as she tries to read the line that she always seem to forget, Jareth pleads with her again to accept his offer, but Sarah finally remember the line and Jareth is beaten. Sarah then comes back to reality as midnight approaches; she finds Toby now asleep in his crib and gives him her teddy bear that was taken from her in the first part of the film. Sarah is in her room and is putting her childish things away; her friends appear as images in the mirror saying goodbye and they remind her that they will always be there for her should she need them, Sarah says that she does need them after all. Then the film closes with a party being thrown in her room with all the Labyrinth creatures present.
A lot of great things made this film very unique. I always remember my father would mimic Ludo when they were in the Bog of eternal stench, "Smell bad" it kinda made me laugh in some ways whenever he would say that. When I watch the film today, I see that David Bowie was the perfect part for the villain in this film; the hair, the clothes, they were very good, the perfect example for an 80s movie villain.
3. THE PRINCESS BRIDE
I never saw much of this one when I was young, I really didn't care much about it back then but now I have a better understanding about it and have come to respect it, it even gave me the inspiration to do some writing myself.
The story is in a boy,s bedroom, the boy (Fred Savage) is sick and his Grandfather (Peter Falk) comes to cheer him up by reading him a story that was read by his father when he was sick, "The Princess Bride", The story then comes to life. Taking place in the fictional country of Florin, a young farmgirl named Buttercup (Robin Wright) runs her own land along with her farmboy, Wesley (Cary Elwes). Every time Buttercup gives Wesley an order he responds saying, "As you wish" which means to say he loves her and Buttercup actually loves him back. Wesley decides to set sail to earn money to get married to Buttercup, but his ship is taken by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who takes no prisoners. 5 years later, Buttercup is engaged to be married to Prince Humperdink (Chris Sarandon), although she does not love him. As Buttercup rides into the woods, she is captured by criminal genius Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), Spanish swordsman Inigo Montoya, (Mandy Patinkin), and Turkish giant Fezzik (Andre the Giant). While sailing the seas and after a near escape attempt and almost avoiding an encounter with an eel, they are being chased by Wesley, who is the Dread Pirate Roberts in disguise. After fighting off Montoya, and putting a sleeper hold on Fezzik, and outsmarting Vizzini in a battle of wits by poisoning wine, he rescues buttercup, after awhile reveals his true identity. Humperdink and his second in command, the six fingered man Count Rugen (Christopher Guest), are in pursuit of them. Wesley and Buttercup lose them in the fireswamp. In the fireswamp, after almost being burned by firesand, sinking into a sandpit, and an encounter with R.O.U.S's (Rodents of unusual size), they make their way out of the fireswamp, only to be captured by Humperdink. Wesley is taken to the pit of despair, where he is tortured by count Rugen's machine, after Buttercup states that she loves Wesley more than Humperdink and that he is a coward, Humperdink takes revenge on Wesley by upping the machine to the highest power yet, which only paralyzes him and puts him into a coma. Meanwhile, Inigo and Fezzik try to figure out a way to save Wesley. Inigo, who found out from Fezzik that Rugen killed his father when he was a boy and scarred him wants to extract revenge on him for what happened, he thinks that Wesley will be a help to assist them both. After finding the secret passage to the pit of despair, they find out that Wesley is dead. They take him to Miracle Max (Billy Crystal), who worked for the king, but was fired by Humperdink, to try and revive him. After giving him a miracle pill, Wesley is now conscious, but still outnumbered, as the wedding ceremony begins, they advise a plan by setting Fezzik on fire and scares them all. Once inside, Inigo finds Rugen and states to him "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die." As he chases him through the castle, he is almost killed, but after fighting through his pain, he keeps fighting back at Rugen and keeps saying the line over and over again. After scarring both his cheeks, he finally kills him. Meanwhile, Buttercup is about to kill herself but finds Wesley in her bed. After she tells him that she got married, he says it never happened because she didn't say, I do; Humperdink tries to kill him, but Wesley uses some reverse psychology by deforming him and that when people see him, will be disgusted and that their words will scar him more than his appearance, Wesley gains his strength and Humperdink reveals his cowardice, all four escape on white horses, Wesley passes on the Dread Pirate Roberts gimmick to Inigo, and after a special kiss between Wesley and Buttercup, they all live happily ever after. As the grandfather leaves, the grandson says if he'll come by the next day to read the story to him again, and he says "as you wish."
I just started to lighten up to this one and I had no idea about how popular it was back then as it is today. The late Andre the Giant's appearance made the film a great success. If I had watched this when I was younger, I don't think I would have been interested in it as I am now.
2. THE SECRET OF NIMH
This film I do believe counts as a fantasy. When I saw this film, I was mesmerized by the animation and the characters as well. This is one of Don Bluth's greatest animated masterpieces. It's combined with comedy and fear, something I don't thing any other animated movie had back then. I remember that I had a Secret of Nimh lunchbox.
The story is about a young widowed mouse, Mrs. Brisby, the mother of four, who is trying to find a way on how to move her family when the tractor of farmer Fitzgibbons starts up for the plowing season. Her youngest son, Timothy, has come down with pneumonia and fears that moving him will kill him. She goes to see Mr. Ages who makes a medicine for her. On her way home, she meets the clumsy crow Jeremy, who is tangled up in string. As she tries to get him free, they encounter the Fitzgibbons' cat, Dragon; after escaping him, and almost losing the medicine, Mrs. Brisby makes it home, she lives in a cinder block, another mouse, auntie Shrew, comes to check on them from time to time. The oldest son, Martin, harasses her a lot, while the two daughters Teresa and Cynthia don't mind her coming by. The next morning, the plowing season has started early. Mrs. Brisby and Auntie Shrew stop the tractor by pulling the fuel cord. The tractor, almost having run over her home with Timothy still in bed, is now there until Fitzgibbons fixes the tractor and proceeds with the plowing. Mrs. Brisby has to try to think of a way on how to move before the tractor starts back up, she decides to go see the great owl, with the help of Jeremy, she sees the great owl, after he learns about her name, he says for her to go to the rats of NIMH, who reside in the rose bush out in the front yard of the Fitzgibbons' house. As she enters the rose bush, the whole place is filled with electricity and scenic beauty, Mrs. Brisby continues till she is threatened by a knife wielding rat that chases her away. Mr. Ages shows up and takes her to see the council after she explains her meeting with the great owl that no one has ever seen him and live to tell about it. She is being watched the whole time by the rats' wise leader and Prophet Nicodemus. Nicodemus has been good friends with Mrs. Brisby's late husband, Jonathan, who saved the rats from a place called Nimh (National Institute of Mental Health). As Mr. Ages and Mrs. Brisby make their way to the council, they meet Justin, the captain of the guard. Justin explains to Mrs. Brisby that they are already making a plan to travel to a place called Thorn Valley; this is because they are taking from the Fitzgibbons; taking things like electricity and other supplies. The rats don't take pride in this and consider it wrong. In the council chamber, one of the council leaders, Jenner, who is corrupt, considers the Thorn Valley plan to be stupid and would consider staying in the rose bush. Once they see Mrs. Brisby and hear her story, they all consider in helping her move her home. She then goes on to meet Nicodemus and learns the truth about her husband and the rats of Nimh. Some time ago, a bunch of animals, mice and rats in particular were taken to Nimh; there, they were subject to a number of tortures and given different types of drugs, some of the side effects were that they were made intelligent and could read and that they could unlock their own cages. They escaped through the ventilation system but most don't make it out, only a few make it, this includes Jonathan Brisby who unlocked the door and led all the mice and rats to escape, another side effect was the drugs would slow down the aging process of most of them, whereas Mrs. Brisby would grow old and Jonathan would remain young. Now that she has learned the truth of her husband, she has a better understanding of why the rats are very dear to Jonathan. Nicodemus gives her an amulet that is said to have a special power; an inscription on the back says "You can unlock any door if you only have the key". The rats now proceed to help Mrs. Brisby and her family move their home. To avoid Dragon getting in the way, she volunteers to drug him by putting a sleeping powder in his food dish that puts him out for some time. With the help of Justin, she drugs the food dish but is caught by the Fitzgibbons' son who plans to keep her as a pet, Justin has no choice but to leave her and come back later to get her. Later that night, she overhears a phone conversation between Fitzgibbons and someone from Nimh, who are planning to tear down the rose bush to exterminate the rats. After he goes back to bed, Mrs. Brisby manages to break free from her cage to try and warn the others about Nimh's arrival. Meanwhile, a thunderstorm comes while the rats are in the middle of moving her home. Jenner and his companion, Sullivan, who doesn't believe in Jenner's corruption, are about to sabotage the whole thing. As Nicodemus observes everything, Jenner cuts the ropes holding the block, the block lands on Nicodemus, killing him in the process. Jenner expresses his sorrow for the experiment and says that they all should remain in the rose bush. Mrs. Brisby shows up and says that Nimh is coming, as Jenner tries to get everyone to return to the rose bush, Mrs. Brisby tries to convince everyone to move to thorn valley, Jenner attacks her and notices she's wearing the amulet and tries to get it from her. Justin comes to save her; Sullivan gives him his sword after Jenner slashes him in the chest. As Justin and Jenner fight, Jenner reveals that he killed Nicodemus, revealing his cruelty; as Justin gets the upper hand on him, he says that they will proceed to Thorn Valley, Jenner comes up from behind to strike the final blow on Justin, but Sullivan uses his last bit of strength that he has and kills Jenner, then dies. After that, the block begins to sink and the rats do everything they can to prevent it from sinking, but fail. The amulet begins to shine and now reveal its true power, as Mrs. Brisby tries to take it, it fills her with some energy. She then raises the block from the sinking mud and moves it to a safe haven. Afterwards she passes out. Some time later, Timothy is getting better and now Mrs. Brisby and her family are doing very well. It is said that Justin led the rats to Thorn Valley, and Mrs. Brisby gave him the amulet. Jeremy comes by to see how they're all doing; he meets another clumsy female crow, and is love stricken with her. In the final moments of the film, Auntie Shrew comes once again to check up on them and Jeremy and Ms. Right (who he dubs the woman he may find) fly off and the film comes to an end.
This one belongs up there with the scary theme and I believe was the first animated film to have some adult themed perspectives, like for example, when Mrs. Brisby is kidnapped, just as Justin abandons her, he says the word "damn" I couldn't believe they did that. All in all, this became an animated family favorite. In fact, my sister and I would act out the kidnapping scene so many times. There was a sequel that was not well received, and was done without Don Bluth's permission. I think the original will always be the very best than the sequel itself.
1. THE DARK CRYSTAL
Of all the fantasy films in the 80s that inspired my imagination, this is the one that tops them all and it became an ultimate favorite in my family. I always remembered that my father would impersonate the Chamberlin's whimper. Other than being an ultimate fantasy, it was said to be the first live action fantasy film without any humans in it. In the category of fantasy, this film comes in at number one. The movie was directed by Muppet performers, the late Jim Henson and Frank Oz. It was also produced by Gary Kurtz, who had produced the first two films of the original Star Wars trilogy.
The film is set in another world, another time, in the age of wonder. The world used to be a luscious green world until the almighty crystal cracked, which is the true source of the world's beauty. A shard chipped off the crystal and along with this, the creatures of the crystal, the Urskeks split into two races; the evil Skeksies, a group of lizard like creatures, and the gentle Mystics, four armed creatures of some sort. The Skeksies went on to rule the castle of the crystal, while the Mystics resided in a valley. The Skeksies feared that a gelfling, a race of elf like creatures, would end their reign and restore their world back to the way it was, so they had the garthim, giant crab soldiers, to extinguish all of them. The world is about to go through a great conjunction, whereas the three suns will line up shine down on the crystal, if the shard is back with the crystal, the world will be back to normal once the great conjunction has passed, if not, then the Skeksies will rule forever. A young gelfling boy named Jen, who survived the slaughter, has lived with the Mystics. He lives with the wisest of the Mystics who is on the point of death; just before he dies, he tells Jen that he must go on a quest to heal the Dark Crystal, first he must retrieve the crystal shard which is said to be in the possession of Auhgra, the keeper of secrets, and then he dies. At that same moment, the Skeksies emperor is also dying. It seems that the Skeksies and the Mystics have a link, if something happens to one it will happen to their counterpart as well. As Jen begins his quest, the Skeksies now must choose a new emperor. The Chamberlin, Skeksil decides to make himself emperor, but the garthim general Skekung, decides to challenge him to trial by stone. This is a game where two individuals must break a stone with their sword, the first person to break the stone wins. As each tries to break the stone, Skekung, being the stronger of the two, is victorious and thus, the new emperor. His first order of business is to exile Skeksil. Just then, the crystal calls to them, and they see Jen. Knowing they fear the prophecy, Skekung orders his garthim to find and kill Jen. Jen then finds the home of Auhgra, a mysterious old one eye hag who lives in an observatory and has an animatronics model of the great conjunction. She gives him three identical crystal shards that are resemblances to the actual one. Taking too long to realize which one is real, he plays his flute and one of them begins to glow, knowing that that's the one he needs; he has no idea what to do with it, but as Auhgra is about to tell him, the garthim attack and destroy the observatory, but Jen manages to escape, while Auhgra is taken prisoner. Jen wanders through a forest and he comes across another gelfling who had also survived the gelfling slaughter. This one is a female like albino blonde gelfling named Kira and her pet Fizzgig. she has lived was a race called the podlings and has the ability to speak their language as well as communicate with animals, another ability the gelflings have is dreamfasting where they share their past memories, it shows how both Jen and Kira survived the slaughter and how they became to be. Kira takes Jen back to her village where there is a celebration. The garthim show up and destroy most of the village and take podlings as prisoners. Jen and Kira manage to escape. The next morning, they come across ruins of their ancestors and see a mural that explains more about the great conjunction and the shard's purpose. With time running Jen and Kira now must figure out a way to get to the castle, they go by landstriders, long legged creature that travel very fast. Once they get to the castle they see the same garthim that destroyed Kira's village, after saving the podlings, they float down into a moat, thanks to Kira's wings, an ability in female gelflings. Once they're inside, they're confronted by Skeksil, who had tried to trick them into believing he would help them earlier on, he seizes them both but Jen uses the shard and wounds his hand, his counterpart also suffers a wound similar to Skeksil's, he drops a bunch of stones on him, thinking he's dead and takes Kira prisoner. He presents her to the Skeksies and they want to execute her but before they do so, The Skeksies' scientist, Skektek, wants to drain her living essence to make them feel young; they do this to the podlings that turn them into zombies and make them slaves, but the effect is only temporary. Because of capturing Kira, Skekung reinstates Skeksil to his rank of Chamberlin. Skektek takes Kira to his laboratory where Auhgra is kept prisoner. As Skektek drains starts to drain Kira's essence, she feels Jen is still alive and Jen persuades her to fight back and Auhgra encourages her to use her ability to communicate with the other animals in the laboratory as well, the animals start to attack Skektek and send him down an airshaft where the crystal hangs, when he dies, his counterpart dies also. In the final moments, Jen reaches the chamber where the crystal is. He makes a daring move by jumping on top of the crystal but drops the shard accidentally, Kira makes a daring move to retrieve the shard, the Skeksies surround her; Skeksil says to her that if she gives the shard to them, she can go free, Jen agrees to this but Kira throws the shard to Jen, and the high priest, Skekzok, kills her. The three suns form the great conjunction and Jen plants the shard into the crystal itself, restoring its brightness. As the castle walls begin to crumble and the garthim breaking up, along with the podlings being restored to their usual selves, Jen goes over to Kira's lifeless body and grieves. The Mystics enter the castle and join with their Skeksies counterparts, thus returning to Urskeks. As one of them begins to speak, he thanks Jen for returning the world back to its original form and resurrects Kira back to life. The Urskeks then morph into a beam of light and let them be in charge of the crystal.
Being my favorite fantasy film, there were a few things that scarred me to death, like the Skeksies themselves were creepy looking, Auhgra was creepy herself, but I think that the Urskeks were very creepy; I mean I couldn't tell if those were their actual faces or not. There is a sequel in the works right now that's scheduled to come out sometime next year, from what I heard. I think that it's a disgrace to the original. I had been wanting to see a sequel for years but I think this one is not gonna be well received, in fact, I heard that Jim Henson never wanted to do a sequel. Now I wish they had respected his wishes.
Well, that's it for now. Until then, So long.