It makes me cry now, too (but for different reasons)

Ed has a post about his Top Five Summer Movies over at the Ed Zone. It’s a great read, but he neglected to mention my role in one of the anecdotes.

I, too, was in attendance at that double bill of Conan the Destroyer and The Last Starfighter (which makes sense, seeing as how Ed’s Uncle Ron is my dad). However, being a bit younger than Ed at the time, Conan scared the living crap out of me. It made me cry, and so (actually—I don’t remember this all that well, so I’m going to call Dad and get the details straight here).

Okay. To the best of my dad’s memory, I got scared about halfway through and he took me outside the theater until Conan was over. Then we went back in to watch The Last Starfighter, which was what I’d wanted to see anyway (it would be fifteen years before I would become a diehard Conan fan, though Destroyer would remain a low point in the Cimmerian’s career). Ironically, the hammerhead-shark alien guy in The Last Starfighter scared me almost as much as Conan had.

It’s funny how well you remember going to specific movies as a kid. I remember seeing Star Wars at the Braintree drive-in—probably the first movie I ever saw. I remember my dad getting me out of school to see Return of the Jedi on opening day (and how loud and deep Jabba’s voice sounded to a four-year-old kid). I remember seeing E.T. with my childhood friend Carrie Carpenter [actually her name was Carrie Willett, my mom says]. I remember seeing Flight of the Navigator at the Cameo in South Weymouth with my cousin Noelle (Ed’s sister). Two years later I saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit with Noelle when she came along on one of our family vacations. And it was my mom who stood in line with me to see the original Batman (hey Mom–remember “biff!”).

My dad also took me to see The Boy Who Could Fly during one of the Red Sox playoff games in ’86, and kept going to the lobby to get the score of the game. I never saw that movie again, but I remember it being kind of depressing.

I know I saw Ghostbusters, Back to the Future and The Goonies in the theater, but I don’t have any specific memories associated with them. I suspect they were just run-of-the-mill trips to the Hanover Mall theater.

  1. Ed left a comment on June 1, 2007 at 10:13 am

    @Jason – I forgot you were at that flick. I think the reason is the presence of Conan. I thought maybe you hadn’t gone due to your age (if I was 12 in 1984, you must have been 8 – is that right?)

    Anyway, I agree on Destroyer being a low point for Conan. It certainly played well to a 12 year old but I can only imagine the horror all those Conan the Barbarian fans felt when they came to see the follow-up to a Hard R balls-to-the-wall sword and sorcery flick and ended up getting a PG fable. Ahhh, well. At least they got Wilt the Stilt out of the deal.

    I agree completely with that ability to remember the exact time and place we saw particular flicks. I remember seeing Godzilla 1985 with you and your Dad (I still remember the sequence where they find all those slimy sea creatures on that abandoned ship) and I believe you were there for King Kong Lives as well.

    I saw Back to the Future with you and your Dad as well and I believe, The Neverending Story. I also know I saw Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan with Aunt Reg and Elye. Aunt Reg liked to watch the credits straight through so that was the first time I didn’t jump up and exit the theater the moment the film ended. Later on – as I because more in tune with the craft of moviemaking – I made it a habit to stay through the credits.

    Last one – I saw Jurassic Park with your whole family on opening day in Kingston. I believe you had a friend with you – as we picked you both up on early release from school. Talk about remembering details. I remember being in a Ford dealership that morning as I brought my Mom’s car there for some work and while I waited I noshed on a chocolate cake donut (think chocolate frosted – only cake not raised) and read Jay Carr’s glowing review of the flick. I also went that evening to see the film again with Sean (that time in Braintree) and then saw it the next day with my Mom and Noelle (my treat – I just couldn’t get enough of the flick).

    BTW Your post gives me an idea for a new post. Top 5 Films that Made Me Cry as a Kid.

    As a preview – Twilight Zone: The Movie scared the hell out of me.

  2. I thought maybe you hadn?t gone due to your age (if I was 12 in 1984, you must have been 8 – is that right?)

    I was born in late December ’78, so I was only five in summer ’84.

    I remember seeing Godzilla 1985—I’m pretty sure Elye was there for that one too. I remember being scared by the bugs on the abandoned ship, then upset when Godzilla “died” at the end (and Elye assuring me that lava couldn’t kill Godzilla—which turned out to be true when Godzilla vs. Biollante came out five years later).

    I remember that I saw King Kong Lives and The Neverending Story in the theater—and I think I remember you being at the latter.

    Oh, and as for Jurassic Park—I’m thinking that friend was Maria, my first girlfriend.

    As for moments in movies that scared me, freaked me out or made me cry:

    –The aforementioned alien hammerhead dude in The Last Starfighter
    –The mynocks in Empire Strikes Back
    –The dead knight’s mask flipping up in The Neverending Story
    –Gmork the werewolf at the end of Neverending Story (he looks so fake now)
    –Pretty much anything going on in The Last Unicorn (trees with bosoms?!)
    –The Nazis melting at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark
    –Large Marge (now it’s my favorite moment in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, but as a kid it scared the living bejeezus out of me)
    –The news anchor’s death grin from Smilex gas in Batman

  3. Kate left a comment on June 1, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    Props to the JP, guys – gets my top vote for ‘most indelible summer blockbuster film-going experience,’ hands down. I am a child of 1980 so all the greats you’ve mentioned – Empire, NeverEnding Story, etc. – skewed old for the likes of my three and four-year-old self. I have memories of seeing second-run Disney movies they’d show for fundraisers at the nearby high school (including Sleeping Beauty which is THE BOMB on the big screen, holy God), and I’m fairly certain I saw a re-released Snow White and Peter Pan in the theater. But nothing grabbed my brain like the children of the Spielberg-Lucas-Zemeckis-Donner braintrust. Those, I don’t remember when I first saw–only that I saw them again and again and again, thanks to cable and the VHS my father brought home after work one day (an event which I do remember vividly).

    So Jurassic was the first current summer movie I went insane over. Completely insane, to the point where I was writing in yearbooks at the end of 7th grade (o ye painfullest year ever) ‘go see Jurassic Park’. I was a one-woman schill for Universal, oblivious to how easily, and willingly, I’d fallen for the hype. I still have my supersize plastic drink cup from McDonald’s, the one with Drs. Grant and Sattler attending to the sick Tricertops (which I felt particularly blessed to have secured, since it was the only cup where you really got to see Sam Neill’s face, and did I, at 13, have a crush on Sam Neill? Hell yes I did.)

    I was a little girl who shunned Barbie (vacuous!) and embraced “my brother” (there’s a story there, ask if you really want to know), Tyrannosaurus Rex, Esq. I had read the book; I had loved the book. I made a board game, which I then presented to my 7th grade English class as a ‘non-traditional’ book report (and yes, I still have it; and yes, it is playable; and yes, I made tiny game tokens out of Fimo and Sculpey, that other crafty touchstone of my adolescence).

    After all of the fangirl activity, the movie was almost inconsequential–though, thank God, I didn’t have to will myself into thinking it was good. It was good–awesome, even–and, having recently watched it a few weeks ago, it totally holds up. I do not know how or why it ever happened, but I felt a loyalty to that movie like no movie before; felt protective of Steven Spielberg, who had already given my life meaning via a rumpled brown fedora and Corey Feldman wearing a Purple Rain t-shirt.

    But it happened: I fell hard, and I loved it. That’s what I’m still chasing, perhaps like a fool, every summer in the theater, and why going to the movies will never, ever really be replaced by DVDs: fangirl justification is never sweeter than when it’s surrounding you in Dolby.

    …did I just hijack your blog?

  4. Kate left a comment on June 1, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    Hm, and as far as movies that made me cry? Well, Beetlejuice and Large Marge terrified me (curse you, Burton!)…the Gmork wigged me, and Artax’s death was never fun to watch. When the Wicked Witch of the West threw fire at the Scarecrow, I ran out of the room.

    But I don’t ever remember crying from fear; I was a hider and a runner. In fact, the only movie I remember consistently crying over was Return to Oz, at the very end, when Ozma sends the triumphant Dorothy back to Kansas. It slayed me: Dorothy saying she wasn’t ready to go, it was too soon, and she’s trying to say goodbye to everyone she loves but doing a rush job of it…broke my heart every time.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Dr. Freud.

  5. @Kate—I went nuts for Jurassic Park too. In fact, my family got our first online service, Prodigy, around that time, and one of my first experiences with fan bulletin boards was getting into a flame war with a guy named Den Elms who thought the effects in JP looked fake. I even remember another poster admonishing me, telling me she disagreed with Elms too, but that I shouldn’t “build a temple of hate” toward him. I never got into a flame war again after that.

    But my favorite JP-related anecdote is that after I finished reading the book, I told my dad it would make a good movie, but “only if Stephen Spielberg directed it.” True story.

    I got the toys, of course, and I loved the soundtrack–probably John Williams’s last great score (“Duel of the Fates” excepted). Yes, 1993 was the summer of dinosaurs.

  6. Ed left a comment on June 1, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    @Kate – “I was a little girl who shunned Barbie (vacuous!) and embraced ?my brother? (there?s a story there, ask if you really want to know)”

    Do tell.

  7. Ed left a comment on June 1, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    @Kate – By the way, GREAT Commentary!!! And though the gender is flopped, I agree wholeheartedly with this statement:

    “That?s what I?m still chasing, perhaps like a fool, every summer in the theater, and why going to the movies will never, ever really be replaced by DVDs: fangirl justification is never sweeter than when it?s surrounding you in Dolby.”

    Long live the big screen. Save me the Middle Middle seat (middle of the theater, middle of the row.)

  8. Kate left a comment on June 1, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    @Ed – thanks, dude! (and thanks for kicking off this wicked fun digression)

    Ahhh, the T.Rex story…I’m an only child, but that didn’t stop me from willing myself siblings. One was Monica, a black Cabbage Patch doll I adored that was given to me by my parents, who were otherwise unable to provide me with the black sister I asked them for.* And I can’t remember my particular thought process at the time, but I definitely announced to my mother that “Tyrannosaurus Rex is my brother.” I’m not sure if I meant “brother is spirit” or if I believed a particular, specific Tyrannosaurus Rex was waiting to be adopted into the Racculia clan. Regardless. He was my brother. And so he has been, lo these many years.

    *This is a whole other digression wherein I, fully embodying the ‘We Are the World’ ethos of the 80s, thought that my white (albeit very, very tan) Eastern-European descended aunt was one of the background dancers on Solid Gold.

  9. I posted my list over on the Zone, but I wanted to agree with you on the melting Nazis in Raiders. I couldn’t watch it the first few times I saw the movie. Freaked me out then, but now, like so much melting wax it is…

  10. Mumma left a comment on June 3, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    With all the movie talk, between this blog and Ed’s…can someone tell me when it became okay to talk through a movie? Our latest movie experiences have been beyond tainted and right into ruined by idiots who think they are watching DVD’s in their living room, and I won’t even credit them with a Home Theater because they should treat that with a little respect too! These aren’t kids ( anything between middle school age -sneaking-into-R-rated to young 20-somethings), I blame myself when I wander into a showing that is at a date-appropriate day and time and burn my eyes when I sit in the very back row, but these violators are old-enough-to-know-better. I’ve heard about the new tattling device, which is the stealth form of hard looks and shushing. Jase and I can be key offenders at home, and it’s mostly just to torment Ron, but in public, I behave myself!

  11. Dad left a comment on June 3, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    Just a pre-emptive strike…Mom is going to try and pass off some outrageous claims about movies I have cried at…I categorically deny her observations, and will post my own notes at teh appropriate time…I do agree that talking at the movies drives me insane and has probably led to my attending fewer movies in person lately, and I do prefer to see a new movie on teh big screen…

    Finally, I did get Jason to a lot of opening days, getting him out of school early…I don’t know if my company knew how often I conducted business on the pay phone in the lobby of the Hanover and Kingston movie theaters..

  12. […] This piece was originally posted in July 2006. When I caught a Comment on my Cousin Jason?s Biggerboat site stating my Aunt Sharon?s intention to reveal a list of film?s that made my Uncle […]

  13. Big Guy left a comment on June 4, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    Man, you guys saw all the good movies. Being the oldest child meant I had to see age appropiate films that all three of us could see. Think “Benji – The Hunted” and “The Great Mouse Caper.”

    @Mumma – Mrs. Clarke, what would you do if two friends of yours went to a movie with you, the first time all three of you had ever seen this movie, proceeded to tear it apart? No holds bard complete mockery of what turned out to be, what most people consider a landmark movie, and it ruined it for you?

  14. @Big Guy—I’ve apologized before for ruining your moviegoing experience in that incident. But I stand by my dislike of The Matrix.

  15. Ed left a comment on June 4, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    @Big Guy & JFCC – Big Guy, if it is some consolation, JFCC and I got in a battle royale a few years ago over his disdain for The Matrix and he let slip the knowledge that he had seen it and laughed it up the whole way through. Although we buried the hatchet soon after, let it be know that once upon a time, I stood up against the Machines for your freedom.

    Yes, I am your Neo.

    I am the One.

  16. Ed left a comment on June 4, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    @JFCC – And the olive branch extended so many years ago thrives to this day. I am completely fine with your dislike of The Matrix so long as you remain cool with my love for Point Break.


  17. Mumma left a comment on June 4, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    To Big Guy ( who are you??)
    Guilty as charged on at least one movie attending incident! Ron and I went with our best friends, Mark and Beth, to see The Horse Whisperer a few years ago, Mark and I lobbied heavily for a real movie, but the chicks won out. Mark and I commented throughout the entire movie ( The Horse Talker, as we referred to it) in our best Mr. Ed voice. We were beyond annoying. When the dialogue lagged for dramatic pause, we would just whinny to fill the space.
    Haven’t really done it since.
    And I absolutely hated every one of Matrixes that they made me see. I’m pretty sure I never saw the last one. If I did, I didn’t care.

  18. @Ed—Hey, I don’t want it insinuated that I don’t like Point Break. I don’t mind Reeves in dumb action flicks. It’s the idea of Ted “Theodore” Logan as the digital Messiah I just can’t buy.

    And Mom—I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  19. Ed left a comment on June 4, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    I never saw The Horse Whisperer but envisioned a lot of hushed dialogue…

    “pssst, horse. wanna’ sugar cube? what? speak up? wait, you mean you can understand me? hmmmm, maybe all this time we could have been carrying on a conversation, if only i had sense enough to SPEAK THE F@#K UP!!!”

    Damn, I knew I should have seen that flick in the theater. A horse talking trash?!?!? That kicks ASS!!!

  20. Ed left a comment on June 4, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    @JFCC – I just used Point Break because it was the first Keanu flick that popped in my head. Agreed that Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan as an action hero is a bit hard to swallow let alone the savior of all man but hey, he is the one to crack the code:

    The Ex-Presidents are surfers!!!

  21. Ed left a comment on June 4, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    @Mumma (aka Aunt Sharon) –
    You wrote, “To Big Guy’ (Who are you?)”…
    never mind Big Guy, whose Baby Carrot. Man, I gotta’ get me a code name.

    BriefsBather, out.

  22. What ever happened to Bill S. Preston, Esquire?

  23. @BB—What ever happened to Bill S. Preston, Esquire?

    I wondered that too. IMDB says he’s directing a movie based on the cartoon Ben 10. And that’s what Alex Winter is up to! Thanks for playing.

  24. Big Guy left a comment on June 5, 2007 at 9:29 am

    @JFCC – I know you have apologized and it was completey accepted, I just laugh about it. I understand your point about Keanu completely, and I know you think its a ripoff of Dark City (they even used the same sets) but you cant tell me you didnt go WTF when he took the blue pill? Or was it the red pill?

    Mrs Clarke? Its me, Greg. You know, 6’8, Two Tons of fun? Big Guy? Get it? Maybe? Used to come over your house on Friday nights back in high school to play Magic and made sure everyone knew the words to Weezer’s Blue Album?

  25. Mumma left a comment on June 5, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    @Big Guy- Jason told me your not-so-secret identity…just never made the connection!
    And, if we are keeping score, I hate Keanu Reeves and everything he’s ever done with the exception of the first Bill and Ted where he was carried by the other guy!

  26. Big Guy left a comment on June 5, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    @Mumma – Parenthood? Youngblood?

  27. Mumma left a comment on June 5, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    @Big Guy In Parenthood he just played the same Bill or Ted, whichever one he was…I never saw Youngblood which may be because his name was on the cast list. I found each and every moment of whatever Matrix I was forced to endure as completely painful as the Bourne movies I had to go to…and I like Matt Damon!

  28. Big Guy left a comment on June 6, 2007 at 9:59 am

    @Mumma – Whats a matter with the Bourne movies? I know there not the books, but they were at least enjoyable.

  29. I feel like I should just install a chat program on the site…

  30. Big Guy left a comment on June 6, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Why? This is more fun!

  31. While you’re at it, offer up Twitter. Although I don’t know Big Guy from a Puglug or a Baby Carrot, I want to know what he’s doing right this moment.

  32. Ed left a comment on June 6, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Probably watching ‘The Lake House’.

  33. Big Guy left a comment on June 6, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    Nah, Bad Boys II

  34. Mumma left a comment on June 9, 2007 at 8:41 am

    @Big Guy – The Bourne movies are just painful to watch, all that cutting in and out, quirky camera cuts, the editing drives me into migraine! I saw 2, and if there is a third one, my Big Guy, Ron, spared me! And please, all of you afficiandos out there, I don’t need to hear about how great all of those nuances are, it just drives this $9-a-ticket-$5-for-a-small-popcorn ( yeah, I ,know for $2 more I can get a tub o’ popcorn and refill it free!) NUTS!

  35. Ed left a comment on June 9, 2007 at 9:50 am

    @Aunt Sharon a.k.a. Mumma – There is a 3rd Bourne flick – only it hasn’t been released yet. It arrives this August in a theater near you.

    You haven’t been spared yet.

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