Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How to Make a Great '80s Action Movie

The key to any great '80s action movie is to understand that the 1980s were a cultural wasteland, which is to be expected for any period that connects disco to grunge. Films of that era were no exception--this was the time after Godfather but before Goodfellas, and Michael Bay was just beginning to learn how to do explosions. Any great action movie from that period needed some key elements:

1) Synthesizers. Remember in the '70s when no one could chase someone else, in foot or in a car, without the sound of rapid bongo music? Well, someone finally decided that bongo music didn't make sense so they replaced it with cheesy synthesizer music. Because nothing brings out the tension as well as feeling like a 7th grader just got a Casio for his birthday.

2) Very "meh" love interest. Women in the '80s were hot in a way that you'd say "ok, if she was dressed better and changed the hair, she'd probably be hot". In the lower budget films, you'd be saying "she's not hot, but I can see how a guy in a mullet would like her". So you sort of wonder why anyone is risking his life fighting the big bad guy for her.

3) Top notch dialogue. Even while in a desperate car chase, the hero can't say "we got company!" without his sidekick responding with "better get out the good silverware!" because some screenwriter's girlfriend thought that was hilarious.

4) Horrible, horrible jeans. Extremely high waisted, tight, and stonewashed, with white sneakers. And these are the men I'm talking about!

5) The cars even looked awful back then when they were relatively new. Remember evil bad guy Brad Wesley's LeBaron in "Road House"? Wasn't he supposed to be super-rich or something? What rich guy ever goes to the dealer and says "get me a LeBaron, and I'm super rich so make sure it's bright red!"?

6) Plots completely lacking in nuance. No coincidence that this is around the time Mel Gibson's star began to rise. Mel Gibson is to complex plots what "Beast With a Gun" is to subtlety.

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