I was raised by HBO

Entertainment, Movies

So I was thinking the other day that I know a lot of 80’s movies for someone who was born in 1981 and some of them are strange choices for someone who would have been under 10 years old until 1991.  When I was trying to figure out why it could be I started naming some of the weirder ones that I know I remember watching and it hit me. I’m pretty sure my parents had HBO when we lived in the house in Roswell, Georgia until 1991.  Most of the movies that I would consider ‘too old’ or just ‘not interesting to a 10 year old’ were released from 1986-1988 so they would have been on HBO during the time we had it.  When we moved to Virginia there was a video store that I could ride my bike to and my mom signed a release form that let me rent rated R movies without my parents having to be there.   So I watched a LOT of movies in my middle school and High School years, so this list might be a little influenced by that.  And by ‘a lot’ I mean almost every movie that came out on video and then I went into the back catalog, they were only about $1 for older movies, so I’d rent 6 at a time.  So what I’m going to try and do here is try to make a list of movies that I’m pretty sure I watched before I was 10 years old.  I’ll list the title, the year it came out, without looking at IMDB… what I think the plot was and what my most memorable moment was from that movie.

Examples after the break…

Electric Dreams (1984)

How I remember it: Guy cant figure out how to hook up his Apple II and somehow spills champagne on it and it comes to life. At first it’s great because it helps him meet his cute downstairs cellist neighbor, but then it goes all Dangerous Liaisons and freaks out.

Most memorable moment: Either the Champagne spilling on the circuit boards or the computer copying the cellist practicing and playing along in analog beeps. I must have loved this movie because it features a computer similar to the one my dad kept in the little office under the stairs. An apple II with a green and black screen. We had some sort of computer music program on it. Actually we had a lot of programs on it since my dad copied all of them at work. Also I remember that Fur Elise is one of my mom’s favorite songs.

The Money Pit (1986)

How I remember it: Tom Hanks and the first chick from Cheers buy a big house in the New York Countryside for cheap. Then the whole place turns to shit. They bring in the only contractor that will take the job, hi-jinks ensue.

Most Memorable Moment: How can I start with this one. First off I know I was living in Georgia when I saw this movie because a water main broke under the driveway and Dad had to dig a big hole and fix the pipe. We stuck a sign in it that said “Money Pit” . As for the movie. I have to admit that I have seen this a few times since I was a kid and It’s still funny to me. When he sinks into the carpet and gets trapped there all day. when the tub falls through the floor and breaks in the kitchen. when the stairs collapse and she stands on his fingers. and the whole scene where everything falls apart at once and the scaffolding collapses. But most of all since I was a little kid, the statue peeing on him. This one is pretty tame so I guess it doesn’t fit the list, but I LOVED this movie as a kid.

Deep Star Six (1989)

How I remember it: It’s the Abyss with more miners and less cute water tentacles. I think the people get infected with a virus and then their bodies meld into one big monster. Most of them die.. the end.

Most Memorable Moment: I know I saw this movie while we were living in Georgia. That would make me no older that 10. I remember sitting in the brown recliner staring at the TV and giving little uncomfortable glances to my dad who was watching on the couch. Because I couldn’t believe that he was letting me watch a rated R movie. I don’t remember being scared of it too much. but I have loved underwater sci-fi movies my whole life. so Maybe there is something scarred into my brain.

Back to School (1986)

How I remember it: Thornton Melon is a rich guy with a slacker son. He goes back to college to prove to his son that it’s important, but does it in Rich 80’s guy style.

Most Memorable Moment:
For some reason I remember the montage that has him studying in the shower more than everything except the finale with the triple lindy.

I may be influenced by the fact that Comedy Central played the crap out of this in the mid ninety’s, but our cable system didn’t even carry comedy central until about 1994 so I don’t think that could have been the first time I saw this movie. I think it was at my cousins house, they were always watching strange movies that even I wasn’t allowed to watch. It’s because of my Uncle Jack that I saw Terminator 2 in theaters and also the reason i kept saying ‘eat me’ at Grandma’s house later that night.

Empire of the Sun (1988)

How I remember it: There’s this kid who is abandoned in Japan or China when everybody is forced to leave. He lives in the streets, at one point he finds an air drop of food, then I think he makes friends with a downed pilot…who dies at some point? then I think he eventually finds his parents again and he’s super filthy at the end.

It’s not so much that I wasn’t old enough to see this movie because it’s rated PG, but it’s 152 minutes long.  and I remember watching it in the basement in Georgia because I remember the sun coming through the window and onto the ugly brown striped couch. I’m sure this was on the HBO era of movies, so I would have watched it somewhere around 1989. I just can’t believe that I had the attention span to sit through a 2 and a half hour movie at 9 years old. Christian Bale must have been a pretty good actor to keep my attention for that long.

The Manhattan Project (1986)

How I remember it: Paul is a very smart but very bored high school student in the 1980’s his mom starts dating John Lithgow who is the director of  the local nuclear research facility. For some reason he decides that it would be a cool idea to steal some plutonium and make a nuclear device. But this is all shown in a lighthearted Disney movie fashion… ahh the 1980′ and I think at the end they just let him walk away unpunished and not imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for the rest of his life.

Most Memorable Moment: There are tons of them in this movie. The sequence where his girlfriend distracts the two inept guards at the nuclear facility while he steals the liquid soap looking plutonium with frisbees, lasers, and remote control cars has to be one of my top memories from any 80’s movie. second place would be the part where he actually makes the device using a toolbox, some salad bowls, and what I always thought was a little red lobster made out of wires.  Bonus 80’s soccer clip where he catches a soccer ball and realizes that he it’s the perfect shape to cut the c4 to make a complete sphere. Because in the 1980’s it was pretty easy for any New England high school student to get his hands on some C4 explosives.

Robocop (1987)

How I remember it: Well this is going to be short… I have seen this movie a hundred times since I first saw it but I can tell you that I never made it past the first 10 minutes when I was a kid. I remember even back then that besides Robocop himself the whole movie didn’t have that “set in the future” vibe.  But honestly given what the 1980’s thought 2015 was going to look like I think it’s better that way. I remember Murphy getting captured by the gang and then they hold him down and SHOOT OFF HIS HAND WITH A SHOTGUN… and then it’s all back of my eyelids and gunshots from there on out.  I’m not totally sure I saw this on HBO at my house so you can’t blame my parents for scarring me as a child, I might have seen it at my friend Ryan’s house.

Honorable Mention

I was probably under the recommended age, but I probably watched them much later than they came out on HBO

Red Dawn (1986) – Because I’m pretty sure I didn’t see this in the 80’s. But I know that we did have it on tape and the scene where the russians first invade and the teacher gets gunned down right in front of them really affected me. But that’s probably because he was the actor who played the simple minded janitor from ‘Batteries Not included’

Toy Soldiers (1991) – This was firmly in the Family Video era, because it stars Sean Astin and Will Wheaton.  But I know my mom didn’t want me watching it because when I rented it she said “I don’t want you watching this, with these guys trying to ‘strong arm’ one another”. At the time I had no idea what that meant.

Dead Heat (1988) – I have no idea when I saw this, It could have been on one of those ‘free weekends’ you used to get with HBO on cable. There was this one scene burned in my mind where a woman waves goodbye and then he body desentegrates into a pile of meat. I literally thought it was a nightmare that I had as a kid until someone on Ask Metafilter mentioned it.

House (1986) – I’m sure I saw this when I was younger, but I have no specific memories of it beyond walking by the VHS tape in the store and getting freaked out by the floating undead hand. Eventually I did rent it and discovered that it’s more comedy than horror.

Maximum Overdrive (1986) – Again I remember being actually scared by this so I must have watched it when I was younger, because who could be scared my remote control trucks… EMILIO!

Gung Ho (1986) – I don’t have enough memories of this movie to really be sure that I watched it in the 80’s but I remember the plot and the end where they really try to get the cars built and I remember the shot of the guy hiding in the engine compartment when they are inspecting the cars. Why was he hiding there? were they weighing the cars? What purpose did that serve?

Witches of Eastwick (1987) – Another one that I might have seen on video later than the HBO era, but I remember being actually afraid of Jack Nicholson, I must have been a kid because I have watched it since and it is not frightening.

The Gate (1987) – I’m pretty sure I watched this at a sleepover at someones house, but it’s rated PG-13 so it might not be that bad.

Summer School (1987) – For some reason the only things that stick in my head are how hot the “hot student who lives with him” was and when the two punk guys come running out of the petting zoo with bloody bunny rabbits attacking their necks. Which are things I was interested at a young age, girls and horror.

Dragnet (1987) -  I’ve seen this since and I think it holds up but when I was a kid the only two things I could remember were Tom Hanks in his sheepskin chaps trying to dress like a punk and “The Virgin Connie Swales”. Also I might have seen this at my cousin’s house. Also maybe this shouldn’t be on the list because only kids would think that this was a good movie.

My Science Project (1985) – This is definatley a hidden gem of the Family Video days, It’s one of those easily forgotten 80s sci-fi films. But when I discovered it I thought it was the coolest movie ever. I might have to force my friends to watch this again.

Going through this list one thing is for sure kids like montages and the 80’s were full of montages.

Gotta have a montage!

In hind sight I don’t think there was anything wrong with letting a 10 year old watch most of these movies (with the exception of Robocop) because it made me think differently about the world and probably made me more creative. But the downside being that I think my motivation was influenced by all the montages. Maybe I would be a little more motivated in my projects if somewhere deep down in my subconscious mind I didn’t expect music to break out and I would black out and wake up with a finished product.

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