A big part of lockdown culture is media consumption. I've watched movies, played video games, binged TV shows, and consumed books with great frequency. My friends and I have swapped recommendations back and forth.
After the obvious media was consumed, then we got weird.
It turns out everyone has their list of forgotten movies, beloved movies that they remember that have dropped out the mainstream memory. I've spent my time tracking them down and here are some of my personal favorites.
Synopsis: Salesman Roy Knable (John Ritter) spends all his free time watching television, to the exasperation of his wife, Helen (Pam Dawber). One day, TV salesman Spike (Jeffrey Jones) convinces Roy to buy a satellite dish offering 666 channels. The new addition to Roy's home entertainment system sucks him and Helen into Hellvision, a realm run by Spike, who is an emissary of Satan. For 24 hours, the couple must survive devilish parodies of TV programs if they want to return to reality alive.
My Take: Fans of Tim Burton weirdness will appreciate this macabre take on TV flipping insanity. It's darkly hilarious and really should be better appreciated.
Mom and Dad Save the World
Synopsis: While planning to destroy Earth with a gigantic laser beam, Emperor Tod Spengo (Jon Lovitz), ruler of the planet Spengo, catches a glimpse of housewife Marge Nelson (Teri Garr) and becomes smitten with her. Beaming Marge and her husband, Dick (Jeffrey Jones), up to Spengo from California, the daft, dimwitted leader tries to woo her, and sends her spouse to prison. Soon Dick is plotting an insurgency, in hopes of overthrowing Spengo and rescuing his wife.
My Take: An idiot alien dictator meets a couple of suburban squares in a wild Flash Gordon-esque spoof that has some of the most quotable lines I've ever read.
Highway To Hell
Synopsis: On their way to elope in Las Vegas, teenager Charlie Sykes (Chad Lowe) and his bride-to-be, Rachel Clark (Kristy Swanson), make a wrong turn that brings them face to face with Sgt. Bedlam (C.J. Graham), an undead demon who abducts Rachel and disappears. Then Charlie meets Beezle (Patrick Bergin), a demonic technician who informs him that to free his fiancée he must defeat a hellish highway patrolman in a no-rules road race in which losing means death -- followed by eternal damnation.
My Take: There's something fundamentally wacky about an adventurous romp in hell. It's a straightforward action narrative with a weird sense of humor and a lot of famous cameos. Definitely worth a watch.
Synopsis: In 1957, Evan Rendell (Larry Drake) flees after his father is lynched for killing multiple patients in his effort to find a replacement heart for his ailing wife. After 35 years, Evan escapes from a mental institution and returns to town for revenge, killing off residents one by one. When Jennifer (Holly Marie Combs) and her friends break into the Rendell house out of morbid curiosity, Evan notices Jennifer has a heart condition similar to his mother and decides to make her his final victim.
My Take: This is basically a Tales From the Crypt episode, with the same broad black comedy making this movie stand above typical slasher fare. We didn't get enough of Larry Drake.
Synopsis: New York executive Paul Racine (Christopher Lambert) is on a business trip in Japan when he meets the stunning, enigmatic Kirina (Joan Chen). They spend the night together in her hotel room, and Racine returns the next day to retrieve his forgotten keys. But once he's there, he witnesses Kirina's assassination by Kinjo (John Lone), the leader of a ninja cult. Realizing that Racine has seen everything, Kinjo will do everything in his power to end the executive's life.
My Take: This is the only American ninja movie that's actually good. I'd tell you more, but the swordfight on the bullet train kind of speaks for itself.
Chopper Chicks In Zombie Town
Synopsis: A gang of tough women bikers are the only thing that stands between a crowd of zombies, which have been accidentally let out of their secure cave, and those still alive in the town.
My Take: It's a Troma movie so you're gonna get gore, rock music, stars before they're famous (Billy Bob Thornton), and a surprisingly woke and feminist movie about a bunch of misfits that save a town full of rubes that look down on them. It's a fave and we should all aspire to be like the Cycle Sluts.
Synopsis: An ordinary teenage boy discovers his family is part of a gruesome orgy cult for the social elite.
My Take: A forgotten Lovecraftian gem, Society makes the predatory, incestuous nature of the upper crust into a literal thing. The special effects by Screaming Mad George must be seen to be believed. You can't really hate on a movie that ends in a massive, disgusting monster orgy.
Synopsis: Three malfunctioning security droids terrorise a group of teenagers locked inside a shopping mall.
My Take: Watching this movie is a delight from beginning to end, mostly because I love robots and teenagers misbehaving. A gem, if you like you gems to be about evil robots.
The Brother From Another Planet
Synopsis: "The Brother" (Joe Morton) is an alien and escaped slave on the run from his home planet. After he lands in New York City, he tries to adapt to life on the streets of Harlem. Although the Brother is mute, he does have great abilities at fixing machines, and he gets a job. As the Brother tries to blend in with his new culture, he finds an apartment and gradually makes friends. Meanwhile, he is pursued by two agents from his home world who are intent on returning there with him.
My Take (as provided by Brian my roommate, who recommended this to me): It's the kind of weird movie you stumble across at 1AM. It's oddly moving yet comedic take on race and the inner city in the 1980s.
Surviving The Game
Synopsis: When Mason (Ice-T), homeless and living on the streets of Seattle, hears about a job as a hunting guide for a group of wealthy clients, he gladly signs on and is taken to a cabin in the middle of a Pacific Northwest forest. There he meets psychiatrist Doc Hawkins (Gary Busey), oil baron John Griffin (John C. McGinley) and Wall Street investor Derek Wolfe (F. Murray Abraham). The next morning, however, Mason is awakened to learn that he's the prey the men will be hunting.
My Take: This is a movie about a group of Academy Award-level actors getting together to hunt Ice-T in the woods. It's a great riff on "The Most Dangerous Game" and completely over the top.