I’m a little late to the party, but a few weeks ago the charity Into Film released a list of Must See Films Before You Grow Up (click here for the full list!). Before you’re eleven, you should have watched all fifty films. Are you grown up after eleven? I thought you were grown up after eighteen…but that’s up for debate! Regardless, it’s a great list, including classics such as The Lego Movie (too early to call that a classic?), Beauty and the Beast (the original!), The Wizard of Oz and E.T. The Extra-terrestrial, among others. It got me to thinking about the films I watched before I was eleven. More specifically, the less child-friendly films.
We’ve all watched 15/18 rated films (well, if you live in the UK under the BBFC certifications!) before we were 15/18. It’s part of growing up, watching Chucky kill someone before stopped playing with dolls yourself, or seeing a zenomorph tear someone before you’ve even finished primary school. My parents were never too bothered about what I watched, but I still turned out fairly normal! I think…However, I was inspired me to do a Top 10 List of the films I watched before I grew up…but probably shouldn’t have done!
Who doesn’t love Batman? I had the toys of the film, including Batman and The Joker AND the Batmobile, but I didn’t see the actual film until I was about ten. I wanted to be Batman after watching it! He was a little scary, creeping from the shadows and surprising the villains, but he always looked cool. However, I also wanted to carry around a portable stereo like The Joker’s henchmen do. ‘I’m Batman’ became my casual response to friends. Back in the late 1980s, superhero films weren’t made for kids. Or at least Tim Burton didn’t think so. It’s dark…
Compared to most of the films on my list, Critters is child friendly! I remember watching the first one whilst eating Frosted Shreddies. It wasn’t a film full of blood and guts, but it did have little creatures killing people by shooting needles from their backs or eating them. That’s pretty much all I can recollect about the film, apart from the two bounty hunters and a barn being burnt down. But I did enjoy it and desperately wanted a Critter bear/figure. Did they ever release any?
Gremlins was rated PG-13 over in the US, but here it was rated a 15. Are they similar ratings? I’ve never understood the differences. However, I remember seeing Gizmo in a shop or in an advert and that led me to watching Gremlins. My mum rented it for me from the local video store. Soon after watching it, I wanted both Gizmo and Stripe! I got Stripe, my brother got Gizmo (complete with little fur balls in its back!). Along the same line as Critters, the film wasn’t full of blood and guts, but it does feature Gremlins clawing at people’s faces with their nails and Gremlins being killed in gruesome ways (see the microwave scene, for example!). There was enough cuteness to appeal to the toy-hungry child in me, but enough gruesomeness to make me feel I was watching something grown up.
- Way of the Dragon/The Big Boss/Fist of Fury
I watched one Bruce Lee film before I was eleven, but I’m not entirely sure which one. It wasn’t Game of Death, as I’d have remembered Lee’s distinctive costume. It wasn’t Enter the Dragon, as I’d have remembered the Hall of Mirrors. That leaves three others. I think it was Way of the Dragon, as I remember Lee kicking the heck out of a group of people circling him. Whichever one it was, it began my love of martial arts film and became the hook of one of my most enduring friendships. Who didn’t want to be Bruce Lee, after all? He wasn’t massive like Arnie, but could just as easily take out a horde of bad guys. My attempts to do roundhouse kicks afterwards tended to cause destruction…but in my parents’ house!
How do you make a policeman cool? By turning him into a robot! Robocop looked bad-ass and that’s all I wanted in my childhood. He took no nonsense, and spouted phrases like “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.” Of course, I didn’t understand much of what was going on. I just understood that he was the law and no criminal was tough enough to face him. I also thought the in-film adverts were actual adverts. My mum tried to explain to me that they weren’t and failed. This was yet another 18 rated film that was accompanied by toys. I had Robocop and his police car! You could take Robocop’s helmet off!
- Total Recall
I remember watching Total Recall towards the end of primary school. It was the big network TV premiere on ITV. The next day at school, no one talked of nothing else but Arnie’s bulging eyes and the three breasted lady. It was a big deal back then, all those years ago. Those were spectacular parts of Total Recall for a youngster, but even better was the over-the-top violence and the visuals. It seemed like a video game, with this invincible guy killing people with a visually fantastic backdrop.
- Terminator/Terminator 2
I’m going to bunch these two together. My mum loved The Terminator, and I often watched bits and pieces of it until I finally watched the whole thing. Yes, I was a little bit scared by The Terminator (the scene where he gouges his eye out freaked me out!), a relentless robot who wanted to kill Sarah Connor (or me, as I imagined). But I couldn’t get enough of it. And when I saw an advertisement for the second one at the local video rental store, I couldn’t contain myself! However, I had to wait for the network TV premiere on BBC1. I was at my grandparents, and they went to bed and left me to it. And to say I was in awe was an understatement. Who knew that the T-100 was the good guy? I had never felt so much adrenaline flooding my veins whilst watching a film. The Terminator scared my child self, but the second one blew my mind (The Terminator also taught me about love…more specifically, physical love!).
(Click here for my review of The Terminator)
(Click here for my review of Terminator 2: Judgment Day)
I’ll bunch these two together as well, because they mesh together in my childhood memories. Those memories are held together by the Li-lets adverts, as Li-Lets sponsored films on ITV back in the day. Either that, or Li-Lets hoped that Ellen Ripley would inspire women to wear their tampons. We had both films on tape (Alien/Aliens were two more of my mum’s favourite films). I don’t recall which Alien film I watched first, but I recall seeing the xenomoprh in all its glory. So probably the second film. I have a great memory of clapping after Ripley shouts ‘Get away from her you bitch!’ My subsequent attempts to copy her saw my parents shout at me. But it was my mum’s fault for letting me watch it! I also remember Bishop being torn apart by the Alien Queen and Vasquez’s heroic suicide. A few weeks ago, I found a toy xenomorph, part of a small collection I had of Aliens toys. Back then, selling toys based on 18 rated films to kids was normal! It also inspired me to write my first ever story, called The Quadilateritahola, which brought the story of the xenomorphs into my neighbourhood. My teacher liked it…I think?
(Click here for my review of Aliens)
- The Fly
Subsequent viewings of The Fly have left me disappointed about the arm wrestling scene. When I saw it at the kid, I remember Jeff Goldblum breaking the guy’s arm in half! In reality, it’s still a horrific scene, but not as horrific as I recalled. Back in the day, I loved science fiction (and still do!). I read the description of The Fly in the TV magazine and pleaded with my mum to let me watch it. It was about a guy who creates a teleport machine and it all goes wrong! She said yes, but said she’s watch it with me. When Goldblum broke the guy’s arm, she suggested we turn it off. I said no. I was a little grossed out by the end, but I loved it! It taught me never to fall in love…if you are going to teleport yourself using your own machine.
(Click here for my review of The Fly)
Every child has to watch a horror film, don’t they? I mentioned Chucky above, but I’ve never watched a Chucky movie. I did, however, stumble across the original Nightmare on Elm Street. Yes, it was gory; yes it was scary to a child. But in spite of the scares, I enjoyed it. I may have not been able to sleep a few nights afterwards, in case Freddy butchered me whilst dragged me across the ceiling, but it was worth it! Horror naturally leaves a deposit of exhilaration. Kruger and Wes Craven were responsible for my enduring love of horror movies. And it all started one night on my miniature TV. All together now, one, two Freddy’s coming for you…
Agree or disagree? Any you’d take away or add? What is your Top 10?