So I’m here to tell tell you a few things today, as you guessed “Super 8” is the movie to see this summer, I loved it. Secondly it’s very obvious that JJ Abrams was a fan of The Goonies and E.T. and was trying his best (he succeeded) in replicating the nostalgic vibe of those movies for the big screen this year. He gave us that feeling we all have missed for so many years in our summer movies. But most of all it was a formula that had been used many times throughout the 80’s not only in E.T. and The Goonies but many more that have been all but forgotten.
It was a formula that seemed to put kids on dangerous adventures, most often supernatural ones, usually in small towns or the suburbs and most often trying to prove to their parents some crazy story to be true with often times unlucky results. These stories were filled with wonder and most of all they were so undeniably fun to watch that to see a movie like “Super 8” or even Joe Dante’s latest movie “The Hole” in this day and age is a breath of fresh air. So here today in response to Super 8 I’d like to honor 8 more movies Abrams was likely heavily influenced by when he made his latest
1. The Gate (1986) To say JJ wasn’t influenced by this movie when making Super 8 would be a crime!! It’s got it all, kids involved in a fight for their lives, monsters, broken families and satanic records being played backwards!! If you have never seen this flick you’re not a true dork! There are some great similarities here between this and Super 8 especially some of the final confrontations with the gigantic monsters the main characters face off against.
2.Critters (1986) Yeah Abrams was most likely a fan of Critters as well, though he probably won’t admit it. This follows the story of a young boy in a small town who’s fighting to save his family from an evil alien life form-The Critter. With some help from some alien bounty hunters they enter into a battle to the death with the ultimate predator-a mix between a Tribble from Star Trek and a Gremlin.
3. The Monster Squad (1987) Here it is the movie that’s a blend of The Goonies and vintage horror. A true classic yet a bit under rated still somehow. You got a gang of kids who team up with Frankenstein’s monster to battle with Hollywood’s classic monsters. The Mummy, Dracula, The Wolfman and The Creature From The Black Lagoon. That’s a hell of a lot of monsters huh? No wonder this one was such a good time it was directed by Fred Dekker who also brought us “Night of the Creeps”!
4. Making Contact (1985) It’s been a helluva long time since I have seen this damn movie – but I can tell you one thing for certain about it – JJ Abrams probably watched this flick the night before making Super 8 to get some of his creative juices flowing. Hell I can’t even remember what this one was really about-I just remember it was awesome and was obiously inspired heavily by the Amblin flicks. Unfortunately Netflix doesn’t carry it and on Ebay the only dvd copy of it is $70.00! Looks like I’ll have to go old school vhs to see this one again-oh well…
5. Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) What can I really say here? This movie is simply fantastic! One of my all time faves as a child and still to this day. What we have here is an epic adventure following the exploits of Sherlock Holmes and Watson when they were kids. The fact is this adventure is better than any of the shit they did as adults. Part Indiana Jones, part Goonies and a hell of a lot better than that recent B.S. that had Sherlock’s name all over it with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. Barry Levinson and Spielberg deliver the goods and then some here with this one!
6. The Lady in White (1988) Here’s a wonderful little ghost story adventure starring a young Lucas Haaas (remember him in that rad Harrison Ford movie where Indiana Jones pretended to be an Amish dude?) , It’s a warm, chilling tale of mystery set in a small town and delivers on so many different levels. This one is a classic that throws a young boy into a dangerous supernatural fight for his life. Check it!
7. The Explorers (1985) All you really need to know about this movie is that is was directed by Joe Dante (The Burbs, Gremlins, The Howling) and that JJ has probably taken notes from this flick when perfecting his script for Super 8. It features young River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke as they team up to make contact with an alien race and construct a spaceship out of junk to fly out into the galaxy to make physical contact with the aliens themselves. Though the payoff ain’t as great as Super 8 it’s a must see for anyone longing for the those wonderful adventure movies of the 80’s…
8. Silver Bullet (1985) Well I was going to include The Lost Boys on the list but decided that movie has clearly been hyped enough-but it is a perfect example of the youthful adventure movie of the 80’s and deserved mention on this list. Instead though I decided to include another great Corey Haim (r.i.p.) supernatural adventure, Silver Bullet, one of the BEST werewolf movies ever. This has got a great simple plot, a drunken ass Gary Busey, a monster and a hot rod wheel chair! This is a true example of a perfect 80’s flick and has all the same ingredients that made Super 8 the best summer movie this year. Check out this clip..