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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Movies: Flashback! The Best Movies of 1978 - Part Three

Our final installment of the Best Movies of 1978 finds us grappling with the supernatural and downright horrific. 

11) Invasion of the Body Snatchers
One of the very few remakes that may be even better than the original, Philip Kaufman's remake of the Don Siegel 50s frightfest takes place in 1970s San Francisco. Where Siegel's film was a veiled take on McCarthyism and anti-Comunist paranoia Kaufman is interested in the 70s self-help EST driven search for self that ultimately found a bunch of numb alienated people (or just plain alien pod plant people) going through the motions. Donald Sutherland plays the hero, Leonard Nimoy is terrific as the turtleneck wearing "I'm OK You're Ok" shrink and Jeff Goldblum does his neurotic schtick while it was still fresh. Don't miss original Body Snatchers star Kevin McCarthy and director Siegel in cameos.

12) Dawn of the Dead
Ten years after Night of The Living Dead George Romero was ready for the sun to rise. Where his original zombie fest was an attack on racism during the peak of race riots and American civil unrest, Dawn of The Dead took us to the heart of zombieland - the capitalist utopia of the mall. The enuui of the Carter years transmuted into pure terror.

13) Halloween
Producer/Director/Screenwriter/Composer John Carpenter kicked off an entire genre of slasher picks with this low-budget b-movie left field hit. Jamie Lee Curtis, a stalker in a mask, Donald Pleasance and that famous piano score and yet the movie's depiction of teenage life in the late 70s rings oddly true and nostalgic from here. Other than the crazed slasher who won't die. Spawned 328 sequels.

14) Heaven Can Wait
Ernst Lubitsch's 1943 film Heaven Can Wait starred Don Ameche as a rake who dies and goes to Hell where Satan demands some proof of his Hellworthiness before entry. Ameche obliges with a recounting of his lusty adventures. Perfect for a remake starring famous cocksman Warren Beatty right? Well same title, but this Heaven Can Wait is actually a remake of a different 1940s film, the much sweeter Here Comes Mr. Jordan. No matter as Beatty is great as deceased football star Joe Pendleton who dies thanks to a mixup from inept angel Buck Henry. Pendleton is inserted into the freshly murdered body of a jerky millionaire to the surprise of homicidal wife Dyan Cannon and her lover Charles Grodin. Even more surprised is real-life Beatty paramour Julie Christie as the environmentalist protesting the rich guy who turns out to have a heart after all.

15) Superman: The Movie
This is where the superhero blockbuster started. Hokey, tongue in cheek and with effects that have aged this is still a hoot. A lot of the pleasure comes from a crackerjack cast - Christopher Reeve as the man of steel/Clark Kent, Margot Kidder as hardboiled Lois Lane, a magnetic Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, and spitcurled tubster Marlon Brando as Jor-El. Don't discount the big setpieces though - the helicopter crash, the earthquake, Luthor's lair below Park Avenue. Sheer escapist fun.

Part 1 of the Best Movies of 1978

Part 2 of the Best Movies of 1978

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