Kelly's November Pick
The 80s Fantasy Trifecta: Legend (1985), Labyrinth (1986), & The Dark Crystal (1982)
This pick is going to age me terribly, but like a fine wine, these films have aged well and provide a strong sense of nostalgia for me. Despite the fact that they have also produced many nightmares for others! I grew up on 80s fantasy movies such as Legend (1985), Labyrinth (1986) and The Dark Crystal (1982). These films are top tier for me as I watched them a lot; first on recorded VHS tapes until I was old enough to own them on DVD, and then with an upgrade to Blu-ray. I may, or may not, also own the soundtracks to all of these films.
A friend of mine can’t even think about Labyrinth as the goblins make her shiver in disgust and fear. I remember the opening sequence of the movie when Jennifer Connolly’s Sarah is chanting the words to have her annoying baby brother, Toby, taken away by the Goblin King (played to absolute perfection by David Bowie RIP). The goblins wake up in the castle, all bunched together, and for some reason as a kid, I thought they were hiding in the bedroom drawers. But, eventually, an onslaught of puppet goblins invade the bedroom Sarah is in, and this was the beginning of a nightmare in the form of a kids movie!
The Dark Crystal is chock full of fantastical creatures big and small; from Gelflings (straight from the Uncanny Valley), Skeksis (skeletal monstrosities), and Land Striders (massive rabbit like animals with hoof/stick legs), it’s nightmare fuel at it’s finest! But, I loved it, and still do. It’s rich in layers of folklore and is a story about family, friendship, and battling against negative commanding forces who prey on the weak and powerless. It’s a tale as old as time and resonates even now, especially with the release of The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019) on Netflix, which was a magnificent feat of puppetry, magic and story. It blew me away and I have watched it many times. However, it tragically will not be seeing a second season despite its popularity.
Ridley Scott’s tremendously dark, high fantasy epic, Legend, is my all-time favorite movie. Meaning, it enriches whatever feelings of empathy I have left, as I still weep at the heart bursting ending. Its darkness can also bring night terrors to children, even though this wasn’t as marketed for young people, it very well could have been watched by them – I know I saw it at a very young age! It’s utterly wholesome, with fairies, dwarves, goblins and the All Mighty Darkness (a stand in for Satan), played incredibly well with tremendous bravado by Tim Curry. It’s for me his most iconic role. The scenes of torture in the dungeon and Darkness’ glowing green eyes sitting atop his throne is enough to make even the most hardened youngster tremble. It’s a beautifully done movie, bubble machine and all.
I can honestly say I haven’t seen anything quite like the horrors of 80s cinema for children these days. There are a lot more animated movies like Monster House (2006), ParaNorman (2012), and Frankenweenie (2012), which do hold a magic within their darkest themes, but also a youthfulness, making them less terrifying for us as baby Millennials. Growing up in the 80s and 90s holds something special for us - a time where the ratings/content wasn’t so strict and the wonder of puppetry and fantasy were a thriving artistry.
What do you remember the most about these movies? It can’t just be David Bowie’s remarkable codpiece.