I loved staring in awe as baby Superman hoisted up a car. I loved the idea that the finale of Close Encounters of the Third Kind might be real. The loved the excitement of not really knowing what was going to happen after Darth Vader yelled "I am your father".
That's why I'm convinced that nothing. Absolutely nothing compares to going to the movies when you're a kid.
A perfect example of this feeling was in June of 1981.
I was 9-years old. It was the first couple weeks of summer vacation. Schools out. Schools out. Teachers let the bulls out. No more teachers. No more bells. You know the rest.
Life was pretty good....and easy.
The air was warm. The valley was alive with the sound of locusts and toads. Plus, I could ditch my dark blue school jeans and wear shorts every single day.
Even more exciting was, every Friday afternoon during the summer, my mom, my brother and I would hop into the car and cruise out to The Ohio Valley Mall to see a movie.
On this particular Friday, I skipped up to the theater entrance, slammed my nose against the glass window and surveyed, salivated, and quietly contemplated, the four "NOW SHOWING" movie posters dangling in front of my eyeballs.
Out of the four choices, one particular movie poster caught my eye:
"Let's see that one," I declared as I smeared my hand on the window no doubt leaving a dirty slobbery streak behind.
It was a landslide vote. We all wanted to see Clash of the Titans. My mom paid the admission, we took our seats in the modestly empty theater and proceeded to munch on popcorn like rabid raccoons until the movie ended.
After filling my head with images of Medusa, the little metallic owl, the three-headed dog, the blind witches and the evil half-horse, half-ogre thing, I came out of theater pumped up and ready to kick some Greek ass. I couldn't wait to get home, make an imaginary stick sword and, in the guise of Harry Hamlin's Perseus, head to a nearby stream in hopes of vanquishing an evil Kraken. Or a crawdad. Whichever came first.
As my brother and I exited the theater, we were discussing the finer points of the flick including whether or not you could actually turn to stone if you looked at a severed head of Medusa or would it most certainly have to be attached to her head for it to really work.
Suddenly, we noticed that someone was missing from our three-person posse.
"Where's Mom?" my brother asked as we looked around for our only connection to the adult world.
Standing about 20 yards behind us near the theater entrance was mom digging in her purse. She pulled out some more money and pointed towards another movie poster hanging on the wall:
"You guys want to see this, too?"
Our mouths dropped.
"No way," we exclaimed as we high-tailed it back into the theater and became some of the very first people in the Ohio Valley to view the adventures of Indiana Jones.
The action, adventure and awesomeness that was Raiders of the Lost Ark completely trumped anything that Clash of the Titans could offer even Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion creatures and Ursula Andress' portrayel of Aphrodite. Nothing could hold a candle to the images of melting faces, gigantic rolling balls and a pit of snakes. A PIT OF FUCKING SNAKES!
The introductory sequence where Jones braves the Peruvian jungle (not to mention several booby traps) to retrieve the golden idol only to find his rival archaeologist Belloq waiting in the wings is, undeniably, one of the most memorable cinematic scenes of my childhood youth.
Even today, I consider Raiders of the Lost Ark to the be the most complete movie of its time. In my opinion, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it at all. And I think my opinion is based on the fact that I knew absolutely nothing at all about the film before I headed into the theater. I didn't care that Speilberg directed it. I could give two shits if the man behind Star Wars produced it. Although I knew Han Solo was starring in it, I really didn't care about the actors either. But they all came together to make a fantastic flick.
Looking back, there were a number of GREAT, BADASS, FUN films released in 1981 including: Time Bandits, Stripes, Taps, The Evil Dead, Mad Max 2, Escape from New York, Excaliber, For Your Eyes Only, An American Werewolf in London, History of the World Part 1, Outland, The Howling, Dragonslayer, Southern Comfort, Night Hawks, On Golden Pond, Ghost Story, Death Hunt and let's not forget Disney's Condorman.
Whew! That's a lot of great flicks!
But, as you grow older, the illusion of film fades and you slowly begin to realize that a crane lifted the car that Superman lifted, special effects had to do with the glittery Close Encounters spectacle and Lucas would go on to make three crappy prequels to what was, quite possibly, the best five seconds in the history of cinema.
Don't get me wrong, I like to see a good movie as much as anyone else. But, I'm convinced, that the sense of wonder, excitement, innocence and awe that you experienced at the theaters when you were a kid can never be reproduced when you're older. To be honeest, I probably know too much about a movie before I head into the theater to see it. When I was a kid, the only thing that separated me from wanting to see a movie or staying away in disgust was a kick-ass movie poster. That and great word-of-mouth around the school cafeteria.
That said, hoping to rekindle that lightning in a bottle that was 1981, I was looking over the upcoming summer movies and thought I'd share my top-ten anticipated summer flicks of 2008 (in not particular order):
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (No explanation necessary)
- Hancock (I like director Peter Berg, Will Smith and the whole idea.)
- The Happening (Let's see if M. Knight can break his crap streak)
- Wall-E (Pixar. Robots.Written and Directed by the guy who did Finding Nemo)
- The Dark Knight (Nolan. Bale. Ledger. Eckhart. Caine. Need I say more?)
- American Teen (Documentary about being a high-school teenager in America in the 00's)
- X-Files 2 (Being a conspiracy nut, I can't miss this one)
- Midnight Meat Train (One of my favorite Clive Barker stories)
- The Pineapple Express (Judd Apatow produced. Seth Rogen wrote. David Gordon Green directed)
- Tropic Thunder (This Ben Stiller-directed comedy looks like a lot of fun)
I'm sure you can find a million web sites talking about each film on this list. So I want bore you with the details. However, after the summer's over (more than likely late autumn), I'll update you on my thoughts about each pic.
How about you guys? What movies are you looking forward to this summer? If any?