Movies where 'you had to be there'

I was reading a Cracked article today and it had the trailer to the original “Alien” movie linked in it (as an example of a well done and very scary trailer), so I watched it. Yep, it was indeed well done and scary, no doubt. But it also looked quite dated (no surprise, since the movie is from 1979).

Nonetheless, I thought, “Hey, that’s one of those archetypical movies that all geeks should really see, so maybe I should rent it sometime.” That thought was immediately followed by, “Hrm, I wonder if it’ll do anything for me after all these years. People talk about how scary and cool it was back in the day, but since I didn’t see it when it was new, will it just seem cheesy and dated to me now?”

Which of course led to thinking about which movies, while amazing in their day and full of nostalgia factor for those who saw them when they were fresh, would fall flat (in the sense of not impressing nearly the way they did when they were contemporary) if watched by modern-day mainstream audiences. My immediate thoughts:

Would seem cheesy and dated to the uninitiated

  • Star Wars (the first one–Empire holds up a bit better)
  • Superman (the original)
  • E. T.
  • Star Trek - The Motion Picture

Would still seem fresh to new viewers

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Back to the Future
  • Star Trek - The Wrath of Khan
  • Titanic

I can’t really speak to horror movies since I haven’t seen many of the older ones, but I wonder if things like Nightmare on Elm Street would hold up for today’s audiences.

Any thoughts? It seems to me that particular genres of movies lend themselves more to the cheese/dated factor (science fiction, horror, teen movies) than others (period pieces, adventure movies, dramas).

While we’re at it, what recent movies are likely to look cheesy to audiences 20+ years from now? Are big-budget blockbusters like *Iron Man *and *Avatar *going to hold up, or will technology be so advanced then that kids will looks at them and roll their eyes?

Alien looked pretty cheesy to me when it first came out, too.

Science fiction is the obvious genre because of the advancement in special effects. Them! might have been pretty terrifying when it first came out, but no one today is scared by the ants (though it’s still a great movie).

FTR: Star Trek - The Motion Picture was fairly disappointing even at the time.

2001 Space Odyssey was great when I first saw it, it is a tough movie for me to sit through now. But not cheesy, just slow, very slow.

Jaws: I think this film still works, the mechanical shark is not that bad.

For these boards, that movie is probably Citizen Kane. Seems like we have a thread every year 'round the likes of “I saw CK and it was OK… what am I missing?”

The Godfather

Groundbreaking in its time, but so copied, ripped off, homaged, satired and referenced that, if you haven’t seen it yet, it looks ridiculously overacted, derivative, unoriginal and cliched.

Not to mention there are a lot of movies that you simply can’t replicate the experience of seeing it for the first time in a theater.

I saw *Star Wars *in a theater when it was first released. The crowd was literally cheering the good guys and booing the bad guys, and the first time the Millenium Falcon made the jump into hyperspace we all went “OOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHH!!!”

That kind of response is a one-time only thing.

This varies. I know new viewers that have that reaction and new viewers that love it. I’ve hosted two *Godfather *Marathons so while a tiny sampling, this is what I have found.
On *Citizen Kane, *I find one thing interesting. I loved this movie the first few times I saw it. Now I can’t sit through it. Casablanca, compels me every time I watch it. It just doesn’t get old for me. I love old movies but CK for as great as it is does not for me at least hold up to repeat viewings as well. Now clearly the work that went into CK is a class in movie making by itself but *Casablanca *has greater writing and acting to me.

How about The Crying Game?

I saw that with my sister and we read NOTHING about it ahead of time knowing there’s a surprise.

Then Jaye drops his pants, has a penis. I went, “What???” out loud.

Now, living in Los Angeles, what seems to be a girl turning out to be a guy wouldn’t scare a toddler.

This is always the first movie I think of when I think of “movies that don’t hold up.” I don’t know whether it was because of all the satires/ripoffs or whether it just doesn’t speak to current times/sensibilities the way it did when it first came out, but when I saw it for the first time about four years ago, I was seriously unimpressed. Badly acted, characters that don’t seem to develop beyond basic stereotypes, and just plain tedious much of the time. BUT I am informed by many many many people, people whom I trust in many many many other contexts, that it is an absolutely WONDERFUL movie and there must be something seriously wrong with me that I didn’t think much of it.

And maybe there is. Something wrong with me, I mean. Or, maybe, it’s just that it spoke to people in the seventies in a way that it no longer can. I always figured that part of its original appeal was that it became a Cultural Phenomenon that summed up the experience of being a moviegoer at that particular point in American history. Not necessarily because it was a great movie, but because loving it meant that you were part of an exciting new generation of filmgoers who by golly were THERE WHEN IT ALL BEGAN.

I’m not trying to pick on fans of the film, btw. I’m sure I do the same thing in many other parts of life. It’s just a lot easier to see when you’re on the outside looking in than when you’re a part of it.

Pork Lips Nao.

Interminible movie about some guy slogging his way upriver through lots of identical crap. Highlighted by a couple decent scenes. Ride of the Valkyries, the napalm run, and the Kilgore scene.

I hadn’t heard any spoilers, but I knew from very early on that Jaye was a guy…the Adam’s Apple was a giveaway. In fact, I knew so confidently that I looked away just before the penis-revealing scene and said to my wife “oh, no, don’t need to see that.”

There’s a tale told about two Aggies who went to see Hamlet, and complained that it was just a bunch of quotations strung together…

A Fish Called Wanda I remember seeing this in a crowded theater and everybody, myself included, was about to pee on themselves laughing. Somehow it either doesn’t age well or translate to the small screen well.

The Exorcist. Heard it scared the crap out of people when it was first released. The spiderwalk scene was pretty freaky, but everything else was…meh. Though I think that has more to do with the fact that I don’t find exorcisms scary. They’re too over-the-top and leave little to the imagination.

Along those same lines, I didn’t find Nosferatu as frightening as a lot of people did…again, because vampires don’t scare me. I get why it works as a film, and why people would have been scared of it, but it just wasn’t for me.

I did like Alien, though, if just because the beginning sequence was creepy as hell.

The original Frankenstein just isn’t scary nowadays.

**The Sixth Sense **if you have even heard their is a twist, let alone if you know what the twist is before seeing it your first time.

I saw it in the theater, opening weekend, and I was not even looking for a twist. Blew. Me. Away.

You had to be there to hear the crowd gasp, scream, and smack their foreheads all at the same time.

It was amazing.

I saw it about six weeks after its release, and you know the really amazing thing? Even though I worked at a video store (and thus had my ears filled with movie talk day in and day out) I didn’t know there was a twist! Everyone actually kept their big yaps shut, for the only time in my moviegoing life. Got spoilered for Se7en, The Crying Game, Fight Club, The Usual Suspects…every frakking movie of my life, I knew about the twist. Except for Sixth Sense. Gawddamn, was that a special moment. Like you say, the gasp, the scream, the “WHAT?!” from the crowd, and the dawning realization that we’d all been had - not just by the filmmaker, but by all our friends who’d seen it before us and not said a single word.

Yeah. Amazing.

The Godfather is one of my favorite movies of all time. I was born several years after it came out, so I definitely wasn’t “there”, either. And I don’t consider myself to be a film snob or anything like that. I just think it’s an amazing movie, on its own merits.

And I’ve only seen it once, but Alien scared the shit out of me.

Three movies that come to mind for this thread are Bonnie and Clyde, **The Graduate **and Easy Rider. In terms of impact, you certainly had to be there to be aware how these movies were a marked departure from what mainstream Hollywood was putting out at the time.

I think the most effectively creepy and unsettling scene in **The Exorcist **is the archeological dig at the beginning when they discover the demonic-looking statue. It’s all atmosphere (i.e., the statue, the sand storm, the sound of two dogs fighting) but you’re immediately aware that a door to hell has been opened and something evil’s gotten through.

I saw all three of these way after their initial release and loved them all. Though I wasn’t there at the beginning, I was aware of the culture and significance surrounding each movie and appreciated them for that, as well as on their own merits.