Back in my RetroJunk days, many of my articles were list articles, and many of those lists pertained to the pop culture of the 1980s. As a lot of these articles were written in the 00s, they were part of the first wave of 80s nostalgia, probably best exemplified by VH1’s I Love The 80s trilogy. There were three installments, those being 2002’s original I Love The 80s, 2003’s I Love The 80s Strikes Back and 2005’s I Love The 80s 3-D. I was puzzled as to why they called it I Love The 80s when so many of the commentators were snarky and sarcastic about it, lacking the love of the title, but I watched all three installments anyway because of the topics covered. You can preface this article’s title with the words 10 Big Ones because these were big movies not covered on VH1’s I Love The 80s. Surprisingly, there were a lot of movies they never got around to, movies that spring readily to mind when you think of the decade. Whether it was clearance issues or just the fact that each episode was only an hour long, with an episode for each year in all three series making for three hours on that year, there was a lot they could’ve and should’ve covered. Prepare to be surprised.
Going year by year, I start with 1980, which bought us the cinematic classic known as Raging Bull.
The movie that many proclaim as the greatest film of the 80s, this film tells the tale of Jake LaMotta, played by Robert DeNiro in an Oscar-winning performance. By the time the I Love The 80s programs had come to an end, DeNiro was at the beginning of his comedies and silliness era. With work in movies like the Meet The Parents trilogy, DeNiro had pretty much changed his style. Although he continues to do dramas, it’s not with the same frequency. Looking at a movie like Raging Bull shows you what he is capable of, and with any luck, will be again. With the film’s look, the editing, the dialogue and more, there’s a lot they could’ve discussed on I Love The 80s, but discussion of the film was limited to a mention of Cathy Moriarty as Vickie LaMotta in a “Hot Moms” bumper on 2005’s I Love The 80s 3-D. The movie deserved more coverage, though, especially as other serious projects like The Day After and Terms Of Endearment were covered on the programs. Damned if I know…
Moving into 1981, the I Love The 80s series didn’t cover any of the James Bond movies of the decade, whether they were Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton’s official Bond movies or Sean Connery’s unofficial return to the role in 1983’s Never Say Never Again. Of the Bond movies I wish they could have covered on I Love The 80s, I would have to give the topic of discussion to For Your Eyes Only.
There were several unique elements to this Bond outing. Among them are the credits sequence being the only one in the series to feature the singer performing the theme song, in this case Sheena Easton, and the fact that Bond actually turns down a girl who wants him, although it makes sense in this case. That’s because the girl in question, Bibi Dahl (Lynn-Holly Johnson), is still a teenager. Of course, Ms. Johnson herself was not, but still, that could’ve provided some interesting discussion from some of the commentators. Although Roger Moore is my personal favorite Bond actor, I know many have trashed his films. Even Moore himself expressed displeasure with several of his own outings as Bond. Still, this was a very unique film, especially as it was one of only two of Moore’s Bond films to play in theaters for UNICEF after he, a noted fundraiser for the charity, passed away.
Moving into 1982, the year of my birth, I’m surprised that I Love The 80s never got around to talking about Blade Runner.
The tale of Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a detective assigned to track down a group of creations called Replicants, this movie has a lot to offer in terms of discussion. For one thing, this movie is a tremendous example of the trope Twenty Minutes Into The Future, being as the movie is set in 2019, but has a lot of influences of the decade that saw the film’s release. Whether it’s the advertisements in the background or the fashions of the characters, the movie has a very unique look about it.
I’ve also found myself relating to it on a personal level because I sympathize with the Replicants. To paraphrase Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), they want more life. They want the chance to be appreciated for what they are and to have the opportunities and love that humans do, as opposed to being seen merely as workers or less than that. Anybody who has mental issues can relate to wanting to be seen as more than they look like at first view. I’m sure the comedians who commented on the various I Love The 80s programs would have a lot of snark about that, but maybe they could’ve gotten a few cast members from the movie to offer commentary as well.
Moving into 1983, we now come to Clint Eastwood’s 4th Dirty Harry movie, Sudden Impact.
They discussed Dirty Harry in the 1971 installment of the first I Love The 70s, but they never covered any of the sequels in either the I Love The 70s or I Love The 80s programs. This was my favorite of all the Dirty Harry movies. Of all the Dirty Harry sequels, Sudden Impact would have provided the most discussion possibilities for the comedians. For one thing, there’s the fact that Jennifer Spencer (Sondra Locke), who commits the murders that get the plot going, actually goes free at the end. Whether that’s a matter of sympathy on Harry’s part or not, it’s difficult to say, but I could imagine the commentators making jokes about him having compassion.
The big thing, though, would have to be that, several years after Sudden Impact was release, this movie was quoted by President Ronald Reagan. There were a lot of jokes made about Reagan throughout the three I Love The 80s series, whether it was about the attempt on his life or the Strategic Defense Initiative. The connection here is that Reagan quoted Sudden Impact when delivering a speech. The words “Go ahead…Make my day” made for the most notable of Reagan’s many pop-cultural references, and I imagine that someone like Hal Sparks could’ve had a field day with this.
I’ve mentioned some notable movies so far, but as we come to 1984, we arrive at one of the biggest films of 1984, a touchstone for multiple generations, and a frequent topic of discussion here on Pop Geeks. In spite of that, the closest the movie came to being discussed was a mention of its’ theme song, but even then, it was in the context of a segment on Huey Lewis And The News in the 1984 installment of the first I Love The 80s. Who was I surprised that VH1 never called? Ghostbusters!
VH1 did three installments of I Love The 80s, but Ghostbusters as a movie was never covered at all. When discussions of 80s pop culture are done, Ghostbusters is often discussed, whether in a good way or a bad way. People are still discussing it to this day. If you hear somebody ask the question “Who ya gonna call?”, or a variant thereof, at least one person will say Ghostbusters. The 2016 version may have put the breaks on the franchise (although I personally loved it), but the original movie, and to a lesser extent, the sequel, still get a lot of ink.
I think the reason why this movie never got covered was rights issues due to the fact that the movie starred Bill Murray. This is puzzling, being as the first two episodes of the original I Love The 80s covered Caddyshack in 1980 and Stripes in 1981. How they could cover those two Bill Murray films, but not his biggest film of the decade is shocking. Look at the still for the following theatrical trailer, and you’ll see Murray right in the center, as well as first-billed in the credits. I wish I could figure it out. Rights issues have prevented a lot from being discussed on these nostalgia shows, but wait until we get to 1989 for the next example of that.
Sudden Impact was a sequel, and so are the next three movies I’ll be discussing, starting with 1985’s The Return Of The Living Dead.
The movie is not exactly a proper sequel, but it helped to create much of modern zombie lore, especially the concept of zombies craving brains for sustenance. The movie itself is a shining example of the horror comedy genre, as well as an interesting look at how different types of people could come to be friends. The protagonists of the movie are a diverse array of people from punks to preppies to greasers. It was a pretty diverse cast, two cast members of which, Linnea Quigley and Jewel Shepard, and one soundtrack contributor, Stacey Q of SSQ, I was lucky enough to do interviews with back when I wrote for RetroJunk.
When you take a look at The Return Of The Living Dead, it’s an interesting example of what 80s style was like, and the decade’s styles provided a lot of discussion for the commentators on I Love The 80s. Unfortunately, most of it was weapons-grade snark, and truthfully, I’ve never understood why people are so distressed when looking back at the fashions and hairstyles of the 80s. The way many people look back at the decade’s fashions and hairstyles, you would think they were looking at pictures of war atrocities or murder victims. The styles weren’t THAT bad.
Moving into 1986, we come to Aliens, the poster child for the trope Even Better Sequel.
Sigourney Weaver’s return to the character of Ellen Ripley is one of the all-time great action movies, full of memorable lines and even more memorable action sequences. There’s so much that stays with you after seeing this movie. Whether it’s a line like, “Game over, man, game over!”, or a battle between two mothers, Ripley and the Alien Queen, the movie has an impact that stays with you after the credits fade.
Some may say, “But Johnny, ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic mentioned this movie as a film that should’ve been made in 3-D in a bumper on ‘I Love The 80s 3-D'”. While that is true, that’s as far as the discussion went. Just think of all that they could’ve done with a full segment on the movie. I would love to have had a screen full of commentators saying, in unison, “Get away from her, you BITCH!”. They did bits like that for other movies they discussed. Why couldn’t they have done that for this?
Coming into 1987, we have our third horror-related sequel that should have been discussed. That would be 1987’s A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.
I could have chosen any of the sequels from this series as potential topics of discussion, but Dream Warriors stands out to me because of its’ unique premise. Put briefly, the young wards of the Westin hospital are descended from the adults who killed Freddy Kruegger (Robert Englund) in the first place, and in their dreams, they have unique powers that, with the help of the returning Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp), they’re able to attempt to use against Freddy.
Although I loved the movie, my one fault is that they could have done so much more with the concept of the Dream Warriors. Whether it was Kristen’s (Patricia Arquette) athletic skills or Taryn’s (Jennifer Rubin) combination of beauty and brawn, there was a lot they could’ve done with the concept. In spite of that, though, the movie was a blast. When it came to topics of discussion, I think that, again, the styles and looks could have come into play, as well as the memorable sequence where Jennifer (Penelope Sudrow) meets her death via a Dick Cavett interview with Zsa Zsa Gabor.
Coming into 1988, we have what many would consider the greatest action movie of the 1980s, as well as a modern Christmas classic even though it was released in Summer of 1988. That movie is Die Hard.
There was so much they could’ve discussed when it came to this movie. Knowing how movie segments on I Love The 80s often featured discussions about film villains, I imagine that the commentators would have gotten a lot of mileage out of the team of “terrorists” headed by Hans Gruber (the late and much-missed Alan Rickman). We can’t forget about the dialogue, either. The movie was very well-written, and to this day, we’re still seeing memes with lines like “Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho”, or, of course, the immortal words “Yippie-ki-yay, motherfucker!”.
They actually had 4 opportunities to do a segment on this movie, but never got around to doing so. In addition to the three I Love The 80s programs, there was a one-off special in 2005 called I Love The Holidays, which gave holidays the same humorous treatment as decades. As mentioned in my introduction to this part of the article, there has been quite a lot of debate about whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie. I think that I Love The Holidays would’ve been an interesting place to have a humorous discussion about that subject. I’m in the “Die Hard is a Christmas movie” camp myself, but I know some people will disagree with that.
We now come to 1989, and the last movie of this article, by discussing what’s easily the biggest of the big ones in terms of movies not discussed on any of the I Love The 80s programs. That would be Tim Burton’s Batman.
Not necessarily the biggest-grossing movie of the 80s, nor the most critically successful, this movie holds a place in the hearts of many born in the late 70s and early 80s, who ended up being the target audience for VH1’s assorted nostalgia programs. Strangely, though, outside of stills of Michael Keaton’s Batman and Jack Nicholson’s Joker in the Hunks Of 1989 bumper on the first I Love The 80s, they never discussed Batman in any form. From the movie’s look and style to the Prince soundtrack to Nicholson’s portrayal of The Joker, there was so much they could have discussed.
Unfortunately, Jack Nicholson was the reason why they never got around to discussing Batman, or any of the many movies discussed on not only the I Love The 80s programs, but also the assorted installments of I Love The 70s, I Love The 90s, and the two Millennium-based programs, I Love The New Millennium and I Love The 2000s. For many, Jack Nicholson is the actor whose style defined a solid three decade of filmmaking, bringing an intensity and edge that many other actors never quite achieved while living a Dionysian life off-camera. Unfortunately, he’s been so reticent about his likeness and privacy that he rarely gets mentioned on many nostalgia-themed TV shows. They didn’t even discuss him when I Love The 80s 3-D discussed Terms Of Endearment in the 1983 installment, and he won his second Oscar for that! Unusual, in my opinion.
In summation, I guess one could say that the nostalgia in this article is multilayered, especially as VH1 is currently in a phase where their only original programming is reality shows of varying quality. With the ratings and financial issues they’ve dealt with in recent years, they most likely don’t have the money to clear likenesses and clip rights for further installments in any of the I Love The… series, and that’s a shame. On the other hand, retro nostalgia is in an entirely different phase because of the Internet, and now we can have more genuine discussions of why we love the pop culture of the past. That’s not a bad thing at all.
So, with that in mind, what other movies can you think of that deserved discussion on the assorted I Love The 80s programs, but never got the talk they deserved?