I have always loved watching movies, and growing up three blocks from the local video store, it was often the event of choice at our household. We had one of those old popcorn machines and we’d make big bowls for everybody. And then we’d all settle down in the living room for a film. I often learned in college that the movies I watched growing up differed from the films all my friends were watching. In my opinion, they missed out, cause these guilty pleasure kid flicks are the best!
The Dark Crystal: Still a favorite, I often quote this one today much to Joe’s dismay. “Smells like gelflging…*sniff, sniff*…could be IS gelfling!” The Dark Crystal tells the story of Jen, a gelfling boy, whose destiny lies in finding a missing chard of crystal and restoring the order of their world. A Jim Henson/Frank Oz co-production, the creatures are unique and the fantasy world is eerie. I had the opportunity to visit the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle, Washington two years ago, and the special exhibit was on Jim Henson! They included many of the muppets we know and love, but I was way more excited about the full room of early sketches and costumes for The Dark Crystal! This film is like a shorter, kid-friendly Star Wars.
Willow: Probably the film I watched the most of any growing up, all my siblings loved this movie. Warwick Davis, who was pretty popular back in the day, starred as Willow, a halfling man who finds a princess baby and vows to protect her from the evil Queen Bavmorda. Along the way, he is aided by some unlikely and flawed heroes. There are brownies, teeny tiny warriors that are always messing around with fairy love potion, Willow’s best friend, Meegosh, a sorceress named Fin Raziel, and a surly warrior named Madmartigan. I’m totally trying to convince Joe to dress up as Madmartigan and Sorsha for Halloween, but it has yet to come to fruition. I can see a twinkle in his eye when I remind him he’ll get to walk around telling people, “I am the greatest swordsman that ever lived!”
The NeverEnding Story: I think I fell in love with Barret Oliver, who played Bastian in this film, and it only grew when he went on to act in Cocoon and play Dicken in The Secret Garden. The NeverEnding Story is an early fantasy film version of The Pagemaster. A young boy, Bastian, is being bullied, and one day he hides out in an empty attic and finds a storybook that involves him in the ending. Along the way he roots for Atreyu, the boy sent to save the princess from dying.
Labyrinth: Who doesn’t remember David Bowie as the Goblin King in Labyrinth? After a rough night of babysitting, Sarah wishes her baby brother away to the Goblin King, and if she wants to get him back, she has 13 hours to make it through his labyrinth or she’ll lose her brother forever. Another Jim Henson classic, the creatures are all shapes and sizes and personalities too! And David Bowie, clad in a lot spandex, channeling a little Ziggy Stardust, has some amazing songs in this movie. I believe this soundtrack was played at Joe’s and my Halloween party last year.
Surprise Attack!!: Bet you weren’t expecting to see Little Monsters. This rare gem of a sci-fi flick stars little Fred Savage and a rather unrecognizable Howie Mandel. This film freaked me out! I was convinced it was all real, that a whole world of monsters really did live underground and the doorways into our world were underneath the beds of children. I recall watching this movie several times, and it creeped me out everytime. It’s a little bit Goosebumps, little bit Gremlins, little bit Monsters, Inc. It’d probably be really funny to watch now, or annoying, Howie Mandel has gone downhill for me since I grew up. Nonetheless, this was a rare cult classic that probably made its way into some of your homes (and underneath your kid’s beds too).
Do you remember these movies? Do you own any of them? I totally still do. What films did you watch on repeat growing up?