Five Film Favorites: My Favorite Films To Watch When I Was In High School

I need to write out a few, quick caveats before commencing with this list.  First, the following films represent what I imagine were my favorite films during my tenure as a student at Wenatchee High School (1988-1992).  Not all of the films in my list were produced and released during those four years.  Out of all the films I watched during those four years, these are the ones that I remember watching the most and enjoying the best.  Second, this list in no way reflects how I currently view these films.  I am indifferent to some of them.  A few I still really enjoy.  And there is one that I do not think I could bear to watch again.  But much like my mullet, it is part of my high school history.  (By the way, I no longer have a mullet and have done my best to destroy any and all visual evidence of its existence.)

So without any further ado, here are the films that I enjoyed most as a 15-19 year old high school student.

Nightbreed (1990) – Directed by Clive Barker

I was really into horror films in high school.  I would see every crappy one that came to one of Wenatchee’s two cinemas and rent everyone at the video store.  This is a genre I rarely watch anymore, but out of that vast cinematic library that I imbibed during high school, I remember Nightbreed as my favorite.  I honestly have not seen in at least twenty years, but I still remember it well and remember it fondly.  Clive Barker wrote the original story and directed this film adaptation.  Rather than recapping the plot, let me point out two of its most awesome features: it takes place in Canada and director David Cronenberg plays a psychopathic, murderous psychiatrist.  Looking back on the movie, I sometimes wonder if Barker simply did not splice in documentary footage to Cronenberg.  Canada and Cronenberg.  No wonder I liked this film. 

The Blues Brothers (1980) – Directed by John Landis

This is the film that makes me cringe.  I may have watched this film more than any other in high school.  I now treat is as a food item that once gave me such a horrendous case of food poisoning that I cannot even stomach looking at it.  I must have thought that it was funny or cool.  Maybe I still had romantic feelings for old Saturday Night Live performers and skits. I cannot imagine viewing this film and thinking it funny, cool, skillful, well-made, or even mediocre.  But I was in high school, and I really liked  it.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) – Directed by George Miller

This film I still like.  My reasons for initially liking this Australian post-apocalyptic movie have not changed much over the years.  It has a simultaneous B-movie and big budget appearance, awesome leather outfits, and my favorite car chase scene of all time.  Mel Gibson had not yet publicly disclosed his rather vile personality to world, so he could still be viewed as a rather charismatic and likeable lead actor. 

Die Hard (1988) – Directed by John McTiernan

This action flick has not worn with me as well as The Road Warrior, but, thanks to the complete awesomeness that is Alan Rickman, it is still worth another viewing.  As a film, Die Hard was suspenseful and taught enough to be amusing, but Rickman’s delectable Hans Gruber made it one that I willingly saw multiple times. 

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974) – Directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones

During the final year or so of high school I could recite nearly all the lines from this film, and in doing so I would think of myself as being super cool.  “There are those who call me . . . Tim.”  To be quite frank, I still like reciting this line and trying to perfectly imitate the inflection in John Cleese’s voice, but as a 38 year-old man, I cannot do it in public.  Nor can I walk by a nursery displaying flowers, plants, and shrubs and screech out “A shrubbery!!”  Well, I could, but I would quickly find myself with fewer friends now than I had in high school.

Few things have made me realize my age and made me sadder than the fact that so few of my students recognize a Monty Python reference.  What hope is there in the world if people can no longer communicate through lines used in Python films and skits?  For those of you who have not taken the time to learn this most essential human language, “I fart in your general direction.”

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About Todd Hunter Starkweather

Todd Starkweather is an Assistant Professor of English at South University-Richmond. He has a PhD in English Literature from the University of Illinois-Chicago; his interests include film, Victorian studies, sport, and post-colonialism.
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2 Responses to Five Film Favorites: My Favorite Films To Watch When I Was In High School

  1. I must’ve watched “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and “Life of Brian” two dozen times during high school, back when I was in a Python frenzy (I still love ‘em.) But it took me nearly 15 years to get that line when the taunting French call them “ka-nigits!”

  2. F.T. Rea says:

    I like this variation on the Fives theme, but it’s not easy to think like I did in the mid-’60s.

    Still, to play along, here are five I remember liking a lot: “Cat Ballou,” Dr. Strangelove…,” “The Great Escape,” “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (the original) and “Psycho.” I still like all of them, but only Strangelove and Escape would still be on a short list of all-time favorites.

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