Having legs, thirty one years on

Looking through some reviews of past Edinburgh Fringe shows, I was sad to see that not being at it in 2012 meant I'd missed Re-Animator: The Musical. I can see that not everyone liked it but I doubt they were its target audience.

A few clicks later, I'm watching a clip of two of the film's leads talking at a convention in 2010, and Jeffrey Combs wonders how many 1985 films still have 'legs', i.e. are still being talked about and worth seeing.

Well, the 'Best Picture' Academy Award for that year's films went to Out of Africa, a two hour forty snoozefest that's one of only five films to have won and have a 'rotten' rating on Rotten Tomatoes (all but one of the others are from the 1930s). So that's out.

Looking at the WP list of 1985 films and excluding for a minute those that did win something in the Oscars, I will happily see again and talk about:

Brazil – looking more like a documentary every year, it missed winning 'best original screenplay' and 'best art direction'. Had it had a different ending, it would have made much more money but wouldn't have been as great

Crimewave – with a script co-written by the Coen brothers and director Sam Raimi, this is a violent and sick comedy: if that's your thing, this is fab

Day of the Dead – the final film in George Romero's first zombie trilogy, this isn't as good as Dawn.. but it's still better than almost everyone else's zombie films and, as ever with Romero, says more about humanity than Out of Africa et al ever did. Here, the central theme is that one of the zombies is more human than the soldiers who are supposed to be protecting those researching the zombies. Pity it doesn't all live up to the opening 'hello.. hello..' sequence

Jagged Edge – tense courtroom drama about a murder that Jeff Bridges may or may not have committed

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome – another third in a trilogy, this is the last Mel Gibson Mad Max film. Not as great as Fury Road, but better than the first and the best car stunt film for at least one decade if not two

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters – Paul Schrader's visually stunning biopic of Japanese author Yokio Mishima, helped by Philip Glass's superb soundtrack and an intelligent script. It's a disgrace that this hasn't had a UK DVD release

Mr. Vampire – Hong Kong supernatural comedy action at its finest

Pee-wee's Big Adventure – probably because star Paul Reubens was later discovered masturbating in a porn cinema, younger readers may never have heard of Pee-wee Herman. Nominally for kids, this is queerer than most 'gay' cinema

Police Story – Jackie Chan showing why he's the greatest action star ever, putting his life on the line to thrill his audience. The outtakes at the end show it wasn't easy

Re-Animator – fabulously over the top splatter comedy horror, it contains one of the best ever exchanges: 'I had to kill him!' 'What? He's dead?' 'nnn-Not any more..'

Seduction: The Cruel Woman – the second queerest film of the year, this was Elfi Mikesch and Monika Treut's reaction to an earlier film about a brothel that had sex workers only as powerless victims. Here, a German dominatrix is neither, including topping the wonderful Udo Kier

Shoah – I've mentioned this before: a nine hour documentary on the Holocaust with no archive footage

Tampopo – Japanese sex and food comedy, with one of the most unforgettable – for a nice reason! – sex scenes ever

To Live and Die in L.A. – William Friedkin cop film that's overshadowed by his The French Connection, but is differently great

A Zed & Two Noughts – probably my favourite Peter Greenaway film, with one of Michael Nyman's best soundtracks, this is an art film about death and decay and obsession

.. and I'm probably missing at least one French film, but I don't recognise any of the names.

Looking at those that got one Academy award, both Prizzi's Honor (Anjelica Huston won best supporting actress) and Kiss of the Spider Woman (William Hurt won best actor) are miles better than the winner.

Ran would have walked 'best foreign film', but wasn't even nominated (apparently Akira Kurosawa didn't show up to his première and this annoyed the Japanese film industry too much!) It did win best art direction and best cinematography.

You might remember

  • Back to the Future
  • A Chorus Line
  • Cocoon
  • The Color Purple
  • Mask
  • Rambo: First Blood Part II
  • Witness

.. all of which got at least a nomination and typically won, but I wouldn't want to see any of them again. Back to the Future opened the Edinburgh Film Festival I saw Mishima at, and there's simply no contest in terms of which one is the best.

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