The films you watched growing up really say a lot about a person. They stick with you for life and seem to hold some kind of homeliness about them. Whenever somebody mentions them you feel like they are talking about a family member- a distant, second cousin removed type family member- but still, they have something special. I’m talking about the films you watched over and over as a child not just ‘Ah, yeah, I remember watching that’. I’m talking about the ones you truly loved and knew all or almost all the words to and this is a list of those very films.
From 1970 – 2001
Grease (1978) I would watch this every single weekend as a kid. I’d pop down to my local corner shop, buy a pick-n-mix bag of sweets, smoke the chocolate cigarettes wrapped in edible paper on the way home and then hit play on my tiny silver VHS/T.V. I fancied Danny Zucco, obviously, and thought the idea of going to a high school where everyone can sing, dance and is always sunny was a dream. Although, I always, always, had to skip pass the scene Danny GOES with Cha-Cha at the school dance – how could he betray Sandy like that!
Halloweentown (1998) A Disney channel début, that wasn’t very popular, but I LOVED it. I was convinced that if I tried hard enough, over time, as I got older and my mind grew, I could potentially develop a small fraction of a magical power and if I believed it, then the power would grow strong. I always watched witches and magical films and read books about witches and spells, so Halloweentown was just *diamonds* to me. A story about three kids with boring parents that don’t let them celebrate Halloween much, until their (secret) witch grandma (Debbie Reynolds) comes to town and wants to train the oldest kid as a witch. Grandma takes the kids to her secret parallel home town, Halloweentown, where magical beings and things take place.
May I add there is Halloweenteen II: Kalabar’s Revenge (2001), Halloweentown High (2004) and Return to Halloweentown (2006).
Robin Hood (1973) Yet another Disney classic, I’ll admit I was much younger when I watched this than the others, I first watched it on VHS in the 90s along with various other Disney animations. For some reason I felt a strong connection towards Robin Hood, he reminded me of my dad and Maid Marian reminded me of his sister, my Auntie (I’m sure there is some kinds of Freud analysis that means I’m mentally unstable and want to be a goat). I watched this on repeat whilst others watched The Goonies and Mrs Doubtfire, maybe I liked to live life in an animated world but once again the magical animals that could play football and buy jewels drew me into an imaginary world I dreamed of living in.
Who remembers Friday nights going to the rental shop and trolling through hundreds and hundreds of DVD’s whilst the smell of musk and stale popcorn filled the room? That was the weekends of many of us, and at such reasonable prices! When I was young I would rent all the girly chick flicks, anything that had a girl and a boy with pink and love symbols on the front cover, but as I got older I started to explore my options because there was so many! I’d venture into the horror section, crowded by older, hairy, young boys and pick the most appealing cover image ready to scare my friends and I at our sleepover. For Pati, our designer, she remembers renting James and The Giant Peach (1996) plenty of times. A stop-motion animation adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s tale, loved by us all; James is orphaned by his parents and goes to live with his awful and ugly Aunties, he climbs inside a peach, meets insect friends and travels to New York, all at the age of seven years old.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), watched religiously by Gill, was the first of the peculiar Burton dark children films that could be enjoyed by adults too, so when it was released it caught the world by surprise. Vincent (1982), Stalk of the Celery(1979) and Doctor Agor (1971) was of a similar style released as short stop-motion animations. The Nightmare Before Christmas was Burtons first movie, in that distinctive style, that made it mainstream and boy did it make it! It’s loved by all children and adults because it touches that inner dark side of us and led to the equally successful Corpse Bride (2005), Coraline (2009) – A Christmas favourite for some reason – Frankenweenie (2012) and special mention to James and The Giant Peach (1996).
I remember the first time I watched Labyrinth (1986) I had no idea who David Bowie was, I just thought he was this mysterious, odd looking man actor that freaked me out with his placid personality and evil confidence. I was shit scared of the scene where the goblins got into the house and took the baby, the majority of the time I had to turn away whilst my older brother shouted at me to carry on watching with him like an army officer. For Gill, Labyrinth was another film she grew up with and it’s one that has only got better with time.
We managed to get this one in! South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (1999) South Park conquered the young boys and girls of the late 90’s and 00’s and with characters such ‘Mr Hanky, the Christmas Poo’ it was a sure thing, kids love to talk about poo! This was another favourite of Gill’s growing up. May I just add, Gill’s dad had no concept of ‘age appropriate’ films so she had seen Alien (1979), Jaws (1975), Pulp Fiction (1994) and The Exorcist (1973) before the age of ten, but she’s OK folks! This fascination in movies led to Gills studies in film.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1998) A classic film loved by children, teenagers, adults and O.A.P’s. One of Cormac’s most watched film growing up, and one we still love today. It’s timeless and has some of the funniest lines that can still get you cracking a smile. There’s just something about a silly old animated rabbit and a grumpy old man that works, a mix of animation and reality and let’s not forget the voluptuous and sexy Jessica Rabbit. I’d recently seen this at the Southend Film Festival, not the biggest crowd but a variety of people including an old, old man sat at the back of the theatre, on his own, pouring with laughter and how nice is that to see a film you loved growing up is still getting the laughs and respect it deserves.
Home Alone (1990) Of courseeeeeeeeeeee, how could we not include this gem! Home Alone filled the hearts of kids across the world and had all of us attempting booby traps, pranks and somewhat dangerous frolics- the shenanigans played in Home Alone are for survival reasons and Kevin is actually in a lot of trouble. Can you imagine if you were Home Alone and two grubby men tried to break in? You would shit your pants and hug your game boy under the covers! I still freak out when I hear the old water pipes do their thing in the night, let alone actually coming face to face to men in your home openly yelling they’re going to get you. #KevinGotBalls
The Sandlot (1993) I could possibly say this film has one of the best ever scenes; when Squints wants to impress hot stuff, Wendy the lifeguard, and jumps into the deep end of the swimming pool and ‘drowns’. His friends go wild, scared for his life and Wendy jumps in to rescue him, pulls him out and gives him mouth to mouth resuscitation. There is a moment in the suspense where Squint looks to his friends and gives the cheekiest smile, turns his head back to Wendy and cunningly grabs her head and kisses her out of her dismay and cue The Drifters- This Magic Moment playing whilst the boys run away shouting and laughing, banned from the swimming pool but oozing with respect.
For many people growing up, they didn’t get the option to watch a film over and over again like we can now, there were no video recorders or DVDs, you just had whatever was on the TV at the time, or you take a trip to the cinema. Therefore, if a film stuck out in your memory, it was one that had impact on you. For Andres, films that made an impact on him were The Goonies (1985) – on every single Christmas.
The Neverending Story (1984) A fantasy adventure film with a groovy poster that represents 80s film artwork so well. This is a film about a young boy who escapes his dull, bullied life by entering an ancient story book and helping to save the world of Fantasia. Something we all know too well, escaping into books. Some of us have managed to actually do this and some of us can’t seem to break that wall between reality and imagination. The Neverending Story holds a message that the world is what you make it, and for those of you that were lucky enough to watch it when it was first released were subject to this beautiful magical world that just doesn’t watch the same these days.
Poltergeist (1982) Ghosts, ghosts, ghosts! There are always those daredevil kids that should have been watching cartoons and making daisy chains but snuck into cinemas and watched through the crack of the lounge door whilst mum and dad caught it on T.V. Another Andres childhood film, Poltergeist tells the story of friendly ghosts that visit the family through the T.V. and then they go crazy-mental and kidnap the youngest child, dun, dun, dun.
So, there we have it kids. A list of our most watched childhood films, they bring back floods of memories, not just about the films but about our lives at that time, who our friends were, what the living room looked like, these are the films that helped shape our minds believe it or not- no matter how embarrassing.
You can relive childhood dreams and catch The Princess Bride at Happenings @ Fitzwilliam Square Friday 22nd July 8pm. Tickets in the app!