Best Of The Best: Back To The Future (1985)

back to the future posterLast week when I wrote about Romancing The Stone, I included it in a list of movies that used to be fairly ubiquitous in my younger days thanks to cable channels like USA, TNT and TBS. Another franchise that easily made that list, though I forgot to mention for some reason, was Back To The Future. I’m a huge fan of this series, yes even the third one, so it was a little surprising even for me when I realized I’d never owned it in any form. Then, just before Father’s Day, the Blu-ray set went on sale on Amazon, I passed the link to my wife and now that oversight has been remedied!

Not long after, I popped the original film in and had a wonderful time watching it again. This Robert Zemeckis film — hey, he directed Romancing The Stone too — is a masterpiece from beginning to end. It’s a fantastic adventure film, it’s a wonderful comedy and it’s also one of the best time travel movies of all time.

But, if you’re not familiar, I’ll lay down the plot. This kid Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) hangs out with a scientist named Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) who built a time machine out of an old DeLorean. McFly needs to jump inside to escape some trouble and winds up back in 1955. His presence there winds up screwing the time stream up a bit because his parents — played by Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover — don’t get together when they should. At the same time, Marty gets into trouble with local bully — and future jerkwad — Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson). So, Marty not only needs to get his parents together, but also convince a younger Doc that he’s a time traveler so he can get back home.

I think I might actually remember the first time I watched Back To The Future, which is incredibly rare because, like I said, these movies all just seemed to exist on TV at random times and you’d occasionally catch bits and pieces on the weekends. Anyway, my aunt and uncle used to live in an apartment building. I don’t remember many details, but I have a vague memory of being over there with my parents and all of us enjoying the movie. That family togetherness centered around a movie still sticks with me, much like my memories of E.T.

I wish I could accurately put into words just how charming and lovable Fox is, specifically in this era. We’re talking Family Ties, Teen Wolf and The Secret Of My Success MJF when he was at his prime. Few people pull off the slightly exasperated, good natured hustler better than Fox. Plus, the rest of the cast is so on-point the whole time. Lloyd is the epitome of non-evil mad scientists while Thompson and Glover both pull triple duty, adding greatness to each version of their characters.

One of the best things about Back To The Future is how deep the world goes, especially in regards to the time travel elements. I watched this movie a lot of times during my childhood and only here and there after that, but one day I spent a lot of time reading through the movie’s IMDb trivia page which chronicles a lot of the film’s smaller moments, like the change from Twin Pines Mall to Lone Pines Mall. So brilliant. It’s the kind of movie that actually gets better the more you learn about it, which isn’t always the case.

Halloween Scene: Friday the 13th Part III (1982) & The Final Chapter (1984)

2008-11-04
7:56:28 pm

As I mentioned before F13 is a weird series. Not until Part 3 do we get the world famous hockey mask, picked off the body of a dead jokester, no less! Three also doesn’t take place on a camp (nor does 4, but they’re all around Crystal Lake still).

As many of you probably know, part 3 was originally shown in 3-D, which makes me totally jealous that I haven’t gotten to see a horror movie in 3-D (I can’t wait for My Bloody Valentine 3-D!). I also wish they would have released the DVD in 3-D because it’s very clearly shot with the 3-D audience in mind (the yo-yo dropping down towards the camera, TWO eye balls jumping out at you and countless ends of farming tools sticking out at the audience). The shots just look kind of strange without being in 3-D.

The basic idea is that a group of friends go to a cabin the day after the events of F13 Part 2. They run afoul of a trio of bikers and Jason and start getting killed off one by one. There’s a few interesting characters. One of which is the main girl who had a run in with Jason in the woods a few years ago when she and her parents still lived in the house. She ran away from home and fell asleep in the woods only to be dragged away by Jason and end up in her own bed (?). Not sure what that’s supposed to mean, but it was kinda cool to see Jason post Part 1 and pre 2. There’s also the fat kid with low self esteem who keeps playing tricks on people to get a scare and (hopefully) a laugh. He’s really freaking annoying. We’ve all known people like this in real life. And not only is his character annoying, but his antics and the fake-out scares that come along with them get real old real quick. And why the heck does he have a working harpoon gun? Or a hockey mask? Oh well, his one positive contribution is that hockey mask. So I guess that’s cool.

The kills are fun, and the creative team really had fun with the kills, especially everything that happened in the barn. There’s a scene towards the end where the main girl gets the upper hand and actually hangs Jason. She thinks everything is cool and opens the door to see Jason hanging just inches off the ground. He seems dead at first, but then he pulls himself up (and shows off his mutilated face) and continues to attack her. Great stuff.

It even looks like Jason might be done for as he’s lying there at the end and the beginning of Part 4. Of course that doesn’t last as he wakes up in the morgue as a dude’s trying to make out with a girl. Creepy. From there we move to another group of kids renting a house, but with this flick we also get a mother and her two kids (one of which is horror mask and computer obsessed Corey Feldman) AND a hunter/woodsman who turns out to be avenging his sister who died in Part 2. Oh and a pair of twins who just happen to show up in the woods.

One of the soon-to-be-murdered kids is a young Crispen Glover! I love playing spot the future star in horror movies. And you get TWO in this one, which kind of makes up for the lack of big names in 2 and 3. Instead of the low self esteem guy you get the over confident smooth guy who never gets the girl. In this flick he ends up watching a stag film for the last 20 minutes of the movie while his friends get killed throughout the house. Until, of course, he dies.

What I like about this one is that you’re not really sure who’s going to survive. There’s about three candidates towards the end and one of the potential survivors doesn’t make which kind of surprised me (even though this is the F13 flick I remember most clearly, probably because it was the last one that Rickey and I watched when we lived together). The actual ending’s pretty crazy as Corey Feldman’s sister keeps running back and forth between her house the other one while Corey’s up in his bathroom shaving his head (which he must have done at super speed) all in an attempt to distract Jason by dressing up like a young Jason. Make sense? I guess the inhuman killing machine is actually pretty dumb (he got tricked by a girl who put on his dead mother’s sweater and pushed her hair behind her ears in 2). Anyway, it works for just enough time so that sis can stab Jason in his maskless (and gross) face with a machete which he then falls forward on and we see it carve through his face. Whew, glad that’s over. BUT WAIT, his finger twitches and Corey goes bizonkers smashing him in the head with the machete. Awesome, thanks again to Tom Savini.

As you can probably tell from the title this was supposed to be the last flick in the Jason storyline, but they do end it with a weird freeze frame focusing on Corey as he looks creepily at the camera. I’m not sure what the plan was supposed to be for him, but I do remember the character comes back in a later flick. Oh, also, sidenote, no more kids in horror movies named Tommy please. I’m psyched to watch the rest of this box set. Yeah!