Pharyngula

Five odd movies

Jerry Coyne has put together a list of his 20 most favorite movies, and invited us all to join in. I can’t. I just don’t believe in it. There is no such thing as a best movie, just movies that some of us like a lot. I also can’t list 20, so you’ll have to settle for an idiosyncratic 5 movies that aren’t the best, but made me happy anyway.

  • Zardoz : One of those movies where I just sat there with “Wait, what?” on an infinite loop in my head. Giant flying heads spewing guns, immortals and barbarians, Sean Connery in a diaper, Charlotte Rampling in nothing at all, Beethoven’s Seventh, just weird, weird, weird. At first I was thinking that it was one of those movies I should be stoned to appreciate, and then it sunk in that I was getting stoned just watching it. Plus, Charlotte Rampling.

  • The Incredible Shrinking Man : I saw this one as a young kid, and I quite enjoyed the main character getting smaller and smaller and facing greater and greater problems, like avoiding the cat and fighting off a spider with a needle. But it was the end that surprised me: he’s facing certain doom, he knows there’s nothing he can do to stop the shrinking process, and he has no idea what will happen as he gets to the size of a bacterium or an atom…but he’s looking to his fate with curiosity, not fear. And then it ends. But wow, for a movie with no salvation, what an optimistic ending.

  • The Goonies : The best way to watch this kind of movie is with a child. Way back when we lived on Clark Street in Eugene, with our first boy, I’d put him in a little red wagon and we’d take the footbridge across the Willamette (we’d always stop there for a bit so he could throw rocks in the river) to the theater in the mall, and we saw this movie there. My little guy was so enthusiastic — he wanted to go looking for pirate treasure right away, make friends with a monster, and we absolutely had to get a plastic sword for the wagon ride home. I don’t care if the movie was crap, it was the experience.

  • Children of the Damned : I saw this in a drive-in theater, the El Rancho between Kent and Renton, way back when I was about six years old. Ah, the drive-in — the whole family bundled up into the station wagon, Mom making bags of popcorn to bring with us, playing on the swings in the dusk before the movie started, those clunky old speakers we’d have hanging from our car window, and of course, Dad would fold down the back seat so we kids could lie down in blankets and sleeping bags and watch the show. That’s the way to do it. I don’t remember much about this movie — creepy alien kids with psychic powers, glowing eyes, and British accents being born in and taking over a small village — and I didn’t see the ending at all, because in the middle of the movie my mother went into labor and we had to leave. We kids went home, the parents went away, and next thing you know, I’ve got a baby brother named Mike. Whose eyes, fortunately, did not glow.

  • Attack of the Monsters : Awful, cheesy, terrible, cheap. Not a good movie at all. But back when I was in high school, I’d watch the late night creature features on the television on Fridays (what? You thought I’d be out on dates?), and my father, who’d usually be exhausted after work, was starting to show the signs of the heart disease that would eventually kill him, and one of the things he suffered was insomnia. And this one time he joined me on the sofa to watch whatever was on, and there was this movie about a rubber-suit giant turtle that would shoot fire out of his butt and fly through space. We laughed.

    Hey, isn’t that enough? Laugh with your dad while you’ve got him.

What did you expect? The Godfather movies? Everyone picks those.