Making Movie History – A Look Back at 1985
With a new year we have a new chance to look at films turning the big 3-0 this year. From a time travel classic to the best of teen dramas, 1985 was a year that helped define the decade possibly more than any other year.
If you're unfamiliar with our "Making Movie History" series, we give you 15 of the best films of the year, a synopsis in case it flew under your radar, and a look at the legacy of the film since its release.
Synopsis: Five students from different social stereotypes, self-defined as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal, must spend Saturday detention together. Over the course of the day the unlikely friends begin to bond as they come to terms with the acts that earned them detention, spark romantic relationships, and learn that they are all more alike, and more than their labels, than they realize.
Legacy: Though it never hit #1 at the box office with competition from the 1984 hit 'Beverly Hills Cop', it went on to be a huge financial success with a believed budget of only $1 million and earning over $50 million. 'The Breakfast Club' is widely considered to be one of the best movies of the decade and is regularly featured on "Top" lists of the decade and of high school based movies, even being named the #1 high school movie by Entertainment Weekly. Also considered the height of John Hughes' impressive catalog of films, the stars (minus Emilio Estevez) reunited at the 82nd Academy Awards to honor Hughes after his passing, joined on stage by other Hughes alumni Jon Cryer, Matthew Broderick, and Macaulay Culkin.
Synopsis: Terry Griffith has aspirations of being a newspaper reporter, but feels that the teachers at her school don't take her articles seriously because of her looks. After failing to get a job as a newspaper intern, Terry decides to take her gender out of the equation and enrolls at a rival high school as a boy. While trying to fit in as a man now, Terry has to deal with keeping her disguise up and believable, her feelings for one of her new male friends, and the fact that her gender and looks were never part of the problem.
Legacy: While not a huge financial success, the film has become notorious for being a PG-13 film with nudity. As it was in the early days of the PG-13 rating, it was much easier to pass off more risque scenes for a lower rating, such as star Joyce Hyser exposing her breasts to her love interest to prove she's a woman. Hyser also noted that the topless scene had a huge impact on her career, saying that after that scene people stopped looking at her face and focused on her chest. 21 years later, Amanda Bynes starred in what many consider a remake of this movie, 'She's the Man', but in fact both films were inspired by the Shakespeare play 'Twelfth Night'. In Bynes' film, she poses as a man, specifically her brother, to attend school in his place to play soccer after her school drops the program.
Synopsis: After locating the body of a fellow agent, James Bond is put on the trail of Max Zorin, a rogue KGB agent. After being experimented on by his government, Zorin has decided to go into business for himself and goes into microchip manufacturing. Conspiring with other investors, Zorin plans on detonating explosives under the San Andreas fault, flooding Silicon Valley, giving himself a monopoly on microchips.
Legacy: Though a financial success, 'A View to a Kill' has become one of the most criticized Bond films, primarily due to the age of Roger Moore at the time of filming. Many, including Sean Connery and Moore himself, felt that he was too old at 57-years-old to believably portray Bond. Moore expressed his disgust over appearing in love scenes with woman whose parents were younger than he was. 'A View to a Kill' would end up being Moore's last film as Bond, and his least personal favorite. Bond girl Tanya Roberts was also slammed for her performance, being nominated for a Razzie award for Worst Actress.
Synopsis: With the impending loss of their homes to an expanding country club, a group of friends known as "The Goonies" get together for one last weekend together. After finding a treasure map and an article about the treasure of famous pirate "One-Eyed" Willy, the Goonies decide to hunt down the treasure themselves. While searching, the group crosses paths with the Fratellis, a criminal family who wants the treasure for themselves.
Legacy: 'The Goonies' has gone down as one of the most beloved films of the 80s. Highly successful, the film earned back its budget three times over. 30 years later, talk of a follow-up has hit a serious note with the original cast signing on for a sequel.
Synopsis: Thousands of years ago, peaceful aliens developed an outpost on Earth, known in folklore as Atlantis. When Atlantis sank, several of the aliens were left behind, protected in cocoons at the bottom of the ocean. The aliens return to Earth to retrieve their friends, placing the cocoons in the pool of a rented house, giving the pool water powers to make the cocooned aliens strong enough for travel. Three elderly men from the neighboring rest home, believing the home to be unoccupied, trespass to swim in the pool, being cured of ailments such as cancer and poor eyesight from the power of the water, leaving the other rest home occupants suspicious.
Legacy: The film was a financial and critical success, becoming the 6th highest grossing film of the year and won two Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects and Best Supporting Actor for Don Ameche. A sequel, 'Cocoon: The Return', was produced three years later and was a critical failure. Though it earned back its budget, the sequel only brought in a fourth of the total box office of the original.
Synopsis: While assisting his friend, Doctor Emmett Brown, with time travel experiments, Marty McFly is forced to use Doc Brown's time machine, a modified DeLorean, to escape terrorists who have just gunned down Doc. Escaping to 1955, Marty runs into his parents and inadvertently prevents his own birth. Marty must work with a younger Doc Brown to fix the damage to the timeline and get Marty back to 1985.
Legacy: One of the films that defined the decade, 'Back to the Future' has cemented a place in pop culture. It was a financial and critical success, and two sequels were made back-to-back just a few years later. It has been preserved in the Library of Congress, regularly shows up on AFI 'Best of' lists, and caused a direct increase in the popularity of skateboarding.
Synopsis: 15 years after defeating Lord Humungus, Max is mugged in the desert and robbed of all of his possessions. Arriving in Bartertown, Max is given an offer by its ruler, Auntie Entity. If Max kills Blaster, the muscle for methane creator Master, in Thunderdome, Max will be given back what he lost. After breaking his deal with Entity, Max is banished to the wastelands and picked up by a group of children who believe him to be the prophetic captain who has returned to take them to "Tomorrow-morrow Land".
Legacy: The third and most expensive film in the Mad Max series, 'Beyond Thunderdome' performed more modestly at the box office than its predecessor but was still a critical success. The film was left open for a potential fourth installment, but nothing came until a reboot was announced starring Tom Hardy in the title role and due out later this year.
Synopsis: Charlie Brewster, an avid horror fan, believes his neighbor to be a vampire. Not able to get anyone to believe him, Charlie investigates his neighbor Jerry by himself. Discovering that he was right about Jerry, Charlie turns to late-night horror movie host Peter Vincent, who used to play a vampire hunter in movies. Charlie and Peter team up to stop Jerry, who has started hunting down Charlie and turned his friend Ed into a vampire.
Legacy: The movie was a surprise critical and financial hit, becoming the second-highest grossing horror film of the year behind 'A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge'. A sequel was made three years later and centered on Charlie, after mental therapy, no longer believing that vampires exist. It couldn't match the critical of financial success of the first film and fell into obscurity with a lack of regular home video releases. A remake starring Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, and David Tennant as Jerry, Charlie, and Peter respectively. The remake followed in the original's footsteps with financial and critical success.
Synopsis: Gary and Wyatt, two high school geeks, are inspired by the classic film 'Frankenstein' to use Wyatt's computer to make a woman who can help them meet girls and learn to be the kind of guys the girls want. Creating the gorgeous Lisa, Gary and Wyatt are in for more than they bargained for when Lisa turns their world upside-down and takes them on journey to make them into the guys they always wanted to be.
Legacy: A financial success but a mixed critical reaction, 'Weird Science' was so unlike John Hughes' other films that it shocked audiences and critics. It has since become a beloved edition to Hughes' legacy, made Kelly LeBrock the object of every teenage boy's fantasy, and proved that Anthony Michael Hall could be successful in carrying a movie without the rest of the Brat Pack. A television series was created in the mid-90s and ran for four seasons.
Synopsis: College professor Jerry Hathaway is contracted by the CIA to develop a laser for their weapons program. Instead of designing the laser himself, he assigns it to his physics students as a part of their course work and uses the CIA funding to remodel his home. New student Mitch Taylor is assigned to room with Chris Knight, a physics genius and Hathaway's best chance to create the laser. The irreverent Chris works with Mitch on laser and shows Mitch how to survive the stress of the high-demand college. When they realize their work has been for military purposes, they devise a way to wreck to program and get even with Hathaway.
Legacy: The film was a financial and critical success, and was praised for being a college film with a more serious tone than food fights and panty raids from other college comedies like 'Animal House' and 'Revenge of the Nerds'. Val Kilmer was also praised for his charm and personality as the wack but brilliant Chris Knight, assuring his status as a Hollywood leading man.
Synopsis: Pee-Wee Herman is a man-child whose treasures and bike are coveted by his neighbor Francis. When his beloved bike is stolen, Pee Wee believes Francis to be the perpetrator. Though Francis did steal it, he sends it away out of fear of Pee Wee finding out. Pee Wee then goes on a cross-country trip, following up any possible lead to find his bike.
Legacy: The feature film directorial debut of Tim Burton, 'Pee Wee's Big Adventure' was a resounding success and went on to be a cult classic. The character of Pee Wee Herman went on to a beloved children's show 'Pee Wee's Playhouse' and another, less well-received, film 'Big Top Pee Wee'. Recently, plans have been announced for Paul Reubens to return for a third film as Pee Wee.
Synopsis: Scott Howard is tired of being an average high-school student on a below average basketball team. Lusting after the prom queen, he overlooks his longtime friend Boof who is obviously in love with him. After an awkward house party, Scott is shocked to discover that he is a werewolf, something that is passed down through his father's side of the family. Losing his calm during a basketball game, Scott changes into the wolf in front of everyone, but wins the game and the admiration of the school. Now Scott has to battle with his new popularity going to his head and alienating his loyal friends.
Legacy: 'Teen Wolf' received mixed reviews but was a popular film with audiences. Foreign releases of the film altered the title to bank on Fox's success with 'Back to the Future', misleading a lot of patrons to believe it was a continuation of the series. A spin-off cartoon series was created and a sequel followed starring Jason Bateman as Scott's cousin who has to deal with discovering his werewolf condition in college. MTV produced a reboot television series, sharing only the name with the original film.
Synopsis: Retired Delta Force commando John Matrix finds out that he is the last surviving member of his team, the rest having been discovered in their new identities and murdered by mercenaries. The mercenaries arrive at John's home, lead by a former member of John's team Bennett, and kidnap John's daughter. They hold John's daughter hostage and threaten to kill her if John doesn't kill the president of Val Verde. Accompanied on his flight to Val Verde by one of the mercs, John kills the mercenary and escapes the flight as it takes off. John must now rescue his daughter before the flight lands in Val Verde and he's discovered to not be on it.
Legacy: 'Commando' was a critical and financial success, and widely considered to be one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's best performances. The humor, especially Schwarzenegger's one-liners, helped make the film a cult classic. A sequel was pitched, but when Arnold declined to participate it was reworked and repackaged as 'Die Hard'.
Synopsis: Apollo Creed is goaded out of retirement after hearing the arrogant statements of the Russian Amateur boxing champion, Ivan Drago, who believes himself superior to all American boxers. Arranging a famboyant exhibition fight with Drago, Creed is overpowered by the steroid-enhanced Drago and killed during the bout when Rocky fails to throw in the towel in time. Vowing revenge for the death of his friend, Rocky challenges Drago to a match, but in Drago's home country of Russia.
Legacy: 'Rocky IV' continued the trend of Rocky films being less well-received than the film that came before. Receiving mixed reviews, 'Rocky IV' is recognized in pop culture for being a montage occasionally interrupted by a movie, poking fun at Stallone's reliance on musical montages to further the story. It was followed by 'Rocky V', which was so terrible it killed the series, and finally a sixth installment, 'Rocky Balboa' which was a critical success.
Synopsis: A group of people from Washington D.C., all with ties to the government, are invited to a mysterious dinner to discuss their financial arrangements with the man who has been blackmailing them. After the butler Wadsworth reveals the final guest, Mr. Boddy, to be the one blackmailing everyone, Mr. Boddy presents each one with a deadly weapon and shuts off the lights so one of them can kill Wadsworth and prevent their secrets from being exposed. Instead of Wadsworth, Mr. Boddy is killed and the guests have to find out who the killer is before the police arrive and arrest everyone.
Legacy: Though a financial failure, 'Clue' was praised for its use of multiple endings depending on the theater it was being shown in, and became incredibly popular on home video. A remake was planned a few years ago, but plans have been scrapped and the film is considered to be in "development hell". An episode of the television show 'Psych' reunited several members of the film's cast in a mansion murder mystery setting, making several references to the original film and being dedicated to the memory of Madeline Khan who played Mrs. White.