Is There Value in Movie Nostalgia?

November 15, 2010

by Joel G. Robertson

“Like stumbling into a 1980s dream…”

That quote came from fellow blogger Kimster (whose own blog That’s What She Said is definitely worth following). She was referring to this site and why she liked it. I read that line over and over thinking about what it meant. About what all this means. You see, when I started this blog my goals were pretty simple.

Ferris Bueller in the shower.

80s nostalgia: It's like singing in the shower, only we keep our pants on.

I started it to…

… express my passion for movies, specifically movies from the 80s and early 90s.

… create a community with other, equally as passionate film fans.

… preserve the legacy of the movies I (and others) grew up with and love.

And while I’m slowly but surely fulfilling the first two goals, the third remains to be seen. Preserving the legacy of forgotten or ignored movies is how I personally define whether or not this blog is a success. However, Kim’s comment made me realize how nebulous success really is. Is taking a trip down memory lane with the windows rolled down and you squinting into the dying embers of the past really enough? Is that what you, the always important and immeasurably appreciated reader, want?

I agree Forgotten Flix deals in nostalgia. But is there real value in memories, or should there be more?

And now for something completely different…

I want this blog and podcast to be different. Sure, I could (and will) have movie reviews on the site. But there are so many other movie review sites that I don’t think creating yet another one would cut it. Then, I considered movie news. Nope, same problem.

So, what then?

Well, recently, while looking up information about horror historian and prolific genre movie writer extraordinaire Tom Weaver, it hit me in the face like a sack of rancid horse chuck. Growing up as a child of the 80s, and one who also loved horror movies, I’d been introduced to Weaver and his writings through Fangoria Magazine. He wrote retrospectives about classic horror films. They were filled with amazingly valuable interviews he’d conducted with filmmakers and actors who’d made horror films in the 40s, 50s, and 60s.

His articles were one of the things that kept me coming back to Fangoria (well, that and the kick ass behind the scenes articles and pictures… and David J. Schow’s “Raving and Drooling” column…oh! And “The Video Eye of Dr. Cyclops”… and “Skeletons in the Closet”… okay, I’ll stop now). Whether he was writing about Poverty Row pictures, or interviewing an actor who’d only appeared on screen in a rubber suit designed by Paul Blaisdell, Weaver did it with no sarcasm, no irony, no winking at his audience. You’d almost think he was writing about “acceptable” classic films like Citizen Kane or Dr. Zhivago.

That’s because to him, that’s exactly what they were—classics. He loved them. He respected these films and the people who made them. And it showed in his writing.

Walkin’ the walk…

There’s one thing I’ve always found very difficult—criticizing the films of others. This makes it kind of tough to write movie reviews. Now, that’s not to say I don’t have an opinion and won’t go on for hours when a movie leaves me wanting (see my Mist rant here, but be warned—there are spoilers). But I have this problem, see… I’ve made movies—shorts and a feature, and I know how stinkin’ hard it is. How much blood, sweat, and debt went into making even the worst film happen.

Even when everyone and their Pekingese thinks the finished film is “bad,” few know what a miracle it is that the movie got made at all. So, when I hear people flippantly tearing apart a picture because it didn’t meet their pre-determined standard of “what makes a good movie,” a part of me gets a little—well, defensive.

And I want to defend them—no—I want to CHAMPION the movies I love and the people who made them. I want to celebrate the works of filmmakers like Mick Garris (Sleepwalkers, The Stand) and Ron Underwood (Tremors). And the special effects of John Carl Buechler (Ghoulies, Troll) and The Chiodo Brothers (Critters, Killer Klowns from Outer Space). And the amazing acting talent of Jill Schoelen (The Stepfather, That Was Then…This Is Now) and Tim Thomerson (Trancers, Uncommon Valor) and, oh, so many others!

I also want to champion the works of up-and-coming filmmakers, providing a way for them to discuss the movies and filmmakers that influenced them. But I don’t want the usual, “artistically safe” answers like, “Influences? Oh, Welles for sure, but not Citizen Kane, far too common a choice. No, I prefer Touch of Evil…”


Sure, maybe you like Touch of Evil and were even inspired by it (it’s a fantastic movie after all), but what I really want to know about are your pre-film school influences like Army of Darkness, and Explorers, and Monster Squad, and Can’t Buy Me Love, and Lionheart… just admit it damn it! These aren’t simply “guilty pleasures” (a not-so-subtle implication that you should be ashamed for liking them), they’re movies that define what made you love movies to begin with.

Then there was YOU…

And finally, I want to champion you, the faithful film fan, by providing you with an alternative to the usual mainstream naysaying and tearing down of your cinematic heroes. Just because “They” don’t get it, doesn’t mean you’re wrong for liking and appreciating these films; not only as entertainment, but as art.

Angry Johnny 5 - Short Circuit

Johnny 5 wants your feedback... or he'll disassemble a kitten!

So, let me know what you think. What would you find valuable in a site like Forgotten Flix? Do you want to read retrospectives, interviews, or are you happy with “list” type posts? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section or send me an email.

They say if you want your dreams to come true, you have to tell people about them. Well, here’s mine:

I want to be your Tom Weaver. But rather than pre-70s cinema, I’ll champion the movies of the 80s and 90s (with some late 70s stuff thrown into the mix). I want to help everyone appreciate what was great about these movies, even when the adjective “great” is seldom used to describe them. I also want to interview as many of the folks who made and starred in these pictures as I can, giving them the chance to tell you, their fans, about what it was like being there when the director called “Action!” and the images were seared onto celluloid.

So, take my hand as we stumble into the movies of the 1980s and beyond…

Until next time, remember, a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it!

QUIZ NOTE: And don’t forget, tomorrow is our second Insanely Difficult, Damn-Near-Impossible Movie Trivia Challenge quiz. And this one’s a doozy!  Be sure to play, ’cause if you get all the answers in to me before 8 PM on Thursday, your name will be entered into the prize drawing on 11/30!

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