Irrational Childhood Fears #3 – “Rollercoaster”

Death by vomit!

Death by vomit!

In which a psychopathic killer played by Timothy Bottoms decides to make Americans shit scared of another thing by blowing the crap out of them. It was probably most noteworthy for being one of the few films to be released in “Sensurround”, which probably actually caused significant anal leakage throughout the film. It was one of those “disater” films that you just had to watch when it clogged up a 3 hour slot on ITV on a Sunday afternoon (which granted, is still an hour shy of the 4hr slot that gets taken up by “The Swarm”). It’s absolute rubbish, but in a good 1970s small-scale disaster flick way. Unlike the spinoffs and sequels it spawned, “Dodgems”, “Flume Shark” and “Rollercoaster 2: On the Rocks”.

BUT…

It gave me a completely irrational fear of anything fun. No, seriously. I lived in morbid fear of anything slightly fun being sabotaged with me as the sole target. The phrase “Do you want to go to Alton Towers?” was replaced by me running away in fear and hiding in a corner like a gibbering wreck before I reluctantly agreed to go as long as each ride was inspected before I went on them (even the Swan ride). Of course, nothing ever happened, but I was still struck by my internal fear. For instance:

  1. I dared not turn the light out at night. Without realising it I was leaving a shiny beacon for the psychopath attempting to sabotage something fun in my bedroom while I slept.
  2. I would check the swings in the local park (or any park for that matter) just in case they were primed to snap when I reached peak height. I failed to realise at the time that a bomb would have wiped me out anyway.
  3. I feared the goalposts when playing football. It did not help that my normal position was goalkeeper. This probably led to letting the ball through my legs in the last minute of a game. Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
  4. When I did go to a theme park and ended up going on a rollercoaster, every noise was doom, every shady looking person was the psychopath and if I saw one thing out of place then I just wanted to leave. It made for a miserable trip.

Looking back now, I realise that this was probably one of the most irrational fears that I suffered. When you think about it, why the fuck would anyone attack a rollercoaster? Well, apart from disgruntled ex-employees of a theme park or random psychopaths. The norm really. I now haven’t been on a rollercoaster since 1996.

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Irrational Childhood Fears #2 – “Jaws”

We lost the shark around about Manchester....

We lost the shark around about Manchester….

If you don’t know the story of “Jaws”, I’m going to assume that you have only recently starting watching shark based films in the wake of the likes of “Sharknado”, “Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus” and “Sharkback Mountain”. It’s the story of man vs shark in hand to dorsal fin combat, with the occasional bit of boat involved. It has some superfluous sequels where the action escalates into a full on sea war between humans and sharks (Note: the dolphins win) and eventually Michael Caine rescued us from further sequels. I loved these films, even the shit ones.

BUT…

God help me but I spent every waking hour living in morbid fear of a shark attack. Now, this would have been perfectly understandable had I lived my life on a well stocked raft drifting through shark infested waters with my only companion being some kind of hideous fish person (possibly Kevin Costner). But I was living about 50 miles from the sea at the time and the nearest water was a small brook outside of our house which only housed two known terrors: a) rats and b) super-rats made stronger by a probable nuclear/chemical spill from the local megalomaniac complex. No sharks. Still, my irrational fear manifested itself in a number of ways. For instance:

  1. I dared not turn the light out at night. Without realising it I was leaving a shiny beacon for the potential shark patrolling the neighbourhood looking for unsuspecting children.
  2. I would not use an inflatable lilo when in the sea. I’d go IN the sea, but not on a lilo. That’s because they slow you down and I would have ended up being THAT kid who died in a fountain of blood near the start.
  3. There was a shark behind everything. The sofa, the car, any tree.
  4. There was a shark in every cupboard large enough to house it. Under my bed, under the stairs.

I realise now that one of the major flaws of my irrational fear, well, the ONLY major flaw – sharks AREN’T land creatures! I know! It floored (and practically cured) me when I realised this. There I was sitting in my bed 5ft above the floor on the first floor of our house fifty miles inland at an approximate elevation of 200 metres above sea level fearing a shark attack. What the hell did I expect? A land shark????

Oh shit!

Oh shit!

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Irrational Childhood Fears #1 – “Two-Minute Warning”

"You maniacs!"

“You maniacs!”

To date, this is the only film I know of that serves as a pro AND anti-NRA PSA. It basically follows Charlie Heston and a SWAT team tracking down a sniper played by a no-mark actor that doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page that likes to reign terror during the “Two-Minute Warning” period of American Rugby games by firing willy-nilly at a bunch of cliche-ridden disaster film characters. It’s right up there with the best of 1970s magnificent cheese.

BUT….

It gave me a massive irrational fear of being sniped. In any location. I think I was about 9 or 10 when I saw it and probably did not think through my sniper avoidance tactics when the irrational fear struck. For instance:

  1. I dared not turn the light out at night. Without realising it I was leaving a shiny beacon for the potential sniper on the garage roof, or the houses at the back of our house to target through my curtains.
  2. I thought I was safe on higher ground, so where possible, I would seek it. I neglected to realise that it is absolutely feasible to fire guns upwards and a professional marksmen would have no problem hitting a small child on elevated ground that had failed to seek cover.
  3. I tried to avoid bell towers, spires, book depositories and open top stadia where possible. I forgot that any self respecting sniper would not restrict themselves to this narrow spectrum of perches.
  4. I wore a cap. Not a bulletproof helmet. A cotton cap. Maybe I thought the attempt at disguise might throw any sniper that had me in their cross-hairs. If so, why didn’t I go full fancy dress and put a fake chin and wig on? I will never know.
  5. I pretended I had a gun. Granted, this was only made of two fingers and a thumb, but this had proven effective in games of cops and robbers, so I was confident that when the time struck that it would strike a fatal blow to a sniper that I only noticed at the very last second. It was that confidence in my reaction time and poor calibre weapon that would surely have got me killed.

To this day I still walk around with a suspicious eye on the skyline, looking for the dreaded silhouette of a man with a powerful rifle waiting to pull the trigger and snuff me and ONLY me out of existence. Why? Because of “Two-Minute sodding Warning” that’s why.

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A different story #3: what if in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”…

…the Macguffin wasn’t a crystal fucking skull?

If it had been one of the following:

The Spear of Destiny
The Seal of Solomon
Pandora’s Box
The Tablets of Destiny
The Horn of Gabriel
The Hide of Leviathan
Poseidon’s Trident
The Book of Thoth
Atlantis
The Tree of Life
The Helmet of Darkness…

…and didn’t contain Shia Labouef as the annoying bastard offspring of Indiana Jones, it might have actually had a chance at being good good and not bad good.

The problem inherent right from the start is the picking of an artifact that was actually “found” and then proven to be an elaborate and artful hoax. The second problem was then merging it with the Roswell incident and the myth of Eldorado and using Area 51 as the location of the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The film is instantly detached from the previous three that combined religious/mythical artifacts with a religious cult and the Nazis to create a threat.

There was absolutely no problem with using the Russians as the bad guys in this given that it was set in the Cold War. The problem lay squarely in the hands of a quite frankly ridiculous Macguffin. That said, it seemed that Lucas had his heart set on the alien angle since the early 90s. The people’s choice was always Atlantis – to tie in with the “Fate of Atlantis” Lucasfilm game.

Any of the artifacts listed above would have been more in keeping with the previous films – having aliens took it into another genre that it really should not have been dragged into.

The Spear of Destiny – okay, so it was used in “Constantine”, but had they gone with Trevor Ravenscroft’s theory you could have perpetuated the Nazi story and introduced the Russians.

The Seal of Solomon – enables the wearer to control demons. The possibilities here would have been great, though perhaps using something that King Solomon wore might have dragged it in Allan Quatermain territory (not withstanding the fact that Lucas practically stole Indiana Jones from H. Rider Haggard’s material)

Pandora’s Box – a jar that contained all the evils of mankind.

The Tablets of Destiny – From Mesopotamian mythology, they were tablets that contained the secrets of destruction and creation. A perfect Macguffin.

The Horn of Gabriel – Another biblical artifact – the horn is blown to signify Judgement Day (Note to Self: this could have been a great Indiana Jones/Terminator crossover).

The Hide of Leviathan – The hide was supposedly able to be turned into an inpenetrable armour. Ideal for any army/force that wanted global domination.

Poseidon’s Trident – Used on a small scale to create horses and some water sources, when it is struck on the ground it causes earthquakes. With some modifications, it could have been modified to create tanks and oil and still create earthquakes.

The Book of Thoth – This would probably have taken it down a more philosophical route, but nonetheless better than a crystal fucking skull.

Atlantis – Enough said really.

The Tree of Life – Too close to The Holy Grail I guess….

The Helmet of Darkness – Created by Cyclopes for Pluto, it gave the wearer the power of invisibility. This would have been pretty damn useful…especially if the field could have been expanded to cover a whole army.

I don’t even need to explicitly suggest an alternative story. The stories write themselves around the artifact. With the history behind Indiana Jones 4 and knowing that Lucas was keen to have aliens (and probably threw away perfectly good scripts that contains a sum of zero aliens) it seems that the Macguffin was written around a pre-conceived story. At the end of the day though, David Koepp and Lucas gave us the Crystal Skull – an item that, as explained above, was a hoax. Which really is a good metaphor for Lucas’ career after 1989. And if that’s what David Koepp intended, then fair play sir fair play.

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Nic Cage – The Career of a Madman: Part 3

During the first two parts covering the 1980s and 1990s, I established the growing intensity of The Cage and his ability to Rage. The 1990s ended on a stellar high with “Bringing Out the Dead”. How will the noughties and teenies (kill me no, please) fare….

Gone in Sixty Seconds, 2000

…ah. Not very well. When the best thing about the film is Cage’s character name (Memphis Raines – get it? Does it rain in Memphis a lot…I don’t know. I don’t care. Sorry Memphis) you know you have problems. And it’s not for lack of talent. It’s for lack of coherency and anything akin to sense. Want a clue as to how bad it is? It’s not even a quarter of the film the first “Fast and the Furious” film is. On another plus point, Cage is bonkers at times. He might even have thought that this was real…

The Family Man, 2000

What’s this? A romantic comedy drama directed by Brett Ratner? On the plus side, this is almost certainly Brett Ratner’s best film (it doesn’t even touch “Rush Hour” in terms of casual racism for a start). On the down side, it doesn’t really give Cage a chance to display his Rage. But, at least it’s not….

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, 2001

…sweet fucking Christ. I remember when this was first announced and everyone was saying that this would be the film where Cage bagged another Oscar. BEFORE THE FILM HAD EVEN FUCKING BEEN MADE. They were no doubt basing this on the fact that John Madden’s previous film was “Shakespeare in Love”. They were so wrong that the titular Mandolin might as well have been a stringless banjo. Do yourself a favour and read the book. Not that I’m a fan of the book, but the film will bore you senseless.

Christmas Carol: The Movie, 2001

No chance to Rage in this as Cage voices Marley. Really, the only thing you need to know about this is that Kryten co-wrote the screenplay….

Windtalkers, 2002

I expected so much more from another pairing of John Woo and Nic Cage – especically when it comes to a historical war film about Navajo codetalkers. It’s a pretty average film and should really have been so much better.

Sonny, 2002

Where Nic Cage is primarily on the other side of the camera directing James Franco as Sonny. It’s…well…not very good I’m afraid. And the small part that cage gives himself….yeah. Not very good at all.

Adaptation, 2002

This is more like it though. Cage once again dons his acting cape in the dual role of Charlie and Donald Kaufman. I still think that he was perhaps robbed by Adrien Brody for Best Actor, but with Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine and Daniel Day-Lewis also up for the award that year the odds were long. Also, any film set in Nazi Germany that is any good seems automatic favourite for Oscars.

Matchstick Men, 2003

Cage continues to wear his acting cape in this underrated and criminally overlooked film about con artists directed by Ridley Scott. Not only that, but it also allows neurotic Cage to come forward once more. It’s not quite on a par with the fantastic Argentinian film “Nine Queens” from 2002, but it certainly should be regarded as highly as “The Sting” (which, let’s be honest, everyone only really remembers for Marvin Hamlisch/Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” and not for it being quite overlong and cumbersome).

National Treasure, 2004

Whereby Nic Cage plays a modern day Indiana Jones. Pretty much hated by critics but a massive box office success, it is a fun romp. And, unlike some of his other roles, Cage actually looks like he’s enjoying being in some pulp entertainment, and that’s no bad thing at all.

Lord of War, 2005

And if you don’t like Cage in mindless fluff, then this is more your kind of thing. Another overlooked film, “Lord of War” tells the story of the illegal arms trade and the shady deals that they are involved with acting, seemingly, as Government intermediaries. You are not supposed to like or even sympathise with Cage’s character in “Lord of War”. It is supposedly based on real events/stories. Cage is on top acting form once again in a slightly restrained performance – which makes his larger than life character seem all the more real.

The Weather Man, 2005

I’ve still not seen this. Maybe I will, but I’ll save it for a rainy day (Taxi!).

The Ant Bully, 2006

It’s an okay animated film. Urge to Cage rising…

World Trade Center, 2006

So as not to offend anyone, no comment.

The Wicker Man, 2006

After watching this probably three times, I am convinced that it is neither a remake or a reboot. I have come to the conclusion that this is actually a rather genius parody of the Edward Woodward classic. I dare you to watch it for yourself and see if you come to the same conclusion. And make sure you watch the “alternate ending” for added hilarity. Basically, the makers of Scary Movie and the likes of Meet the Spartans – This is how you do parody. You basically just take the piss out of one film by “remaking” it for a laugh. I guarantee you that this film has raised more laughs from people with long attention spans than your films have. Nic Cage is basically a brilliant caricature of Edward Woodward. On acid.

Ghost Rider, 2007

This should have been better than it was. Far better. Cage couldn’t give a damn though. Couldn’t giving a flying damn.

Grindhouse – Werewolf Women of the SS, 2007

He’s only in this short, directed by Rob Zombie, rather than the main films and he plays Fu Manchu. They really should have made this one into a long film rather than “Death Proof”…

Next, 2007

Next is based on a P.K. Dick short story called “The Golden Man”. I say based on. It’s as loosely based on that as Daniel Lambert’s trousers are loose on Kenny Baker. Cage doesn’t look like he cares throughout the film and the film is more like a parable for doing work you hate to earn a paycheck. And yes, the film really does end and then rewinds to halfway through just so that things can be done correctly…

National Treasure: Book of Secrets, 2007

Like the first one, only better. This is noteworthy for being Cage’s first sequel.

Bangkok Dangerous, 2008

Another shit film, another remake, and another paycheck film. That said, Cage is sporting an awesome hairdo and one of the directors is called Oxide. 2008 was a quiet year for Cage…this was his only film. A dark year.

Knowing, 2009

My thoughts on Knowing have been documented twice here. It really needs no further bashing, but I will do anyway. Cage is the epitome of a sleepwalker for the whole duration of this film. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that during filming Cage climbed a crane and was found curled up and asleep at the top. Watching Cage put 2 and 2 together was like watching “Full Contact Combat Maths” – strangely compelling but ultimately empty. If only he’d cared. If only he’d taken some pep pills. If only he was fucking awake.

G-Force, 2009

I’ve not seen this, but IMDB says the following: A specially trained squad of guinea pigs is dispatched to stop a diabolical billionaire from taking over the world. . Cage doesn’t voice a big part, and for that reason, I’m out.

Bad Lieutenant, 2009

Formerly “Port of Call New Orleans” and definitely not a remake – more like an equal…or a superior. Werner Herzog gets 20 levels of crazy out of Cage in this. For a reference point, Gary Busey only has 12 levels of crazy and Mel Gibson 18. Yes. That fucking crazy. He’s such a livewire that at times you actually think he’s going to explode….and the TV with it. What makes it even better is that Herzog actually mirrors Cage’s insane performance with some frankly bonkers scene – the dancing corpse being one of those. A spectcular return to crazy.

Astro Boy, 2009

…and another supporting voice role in a film I’ve not seen…and then it’s…

Kick-Ass, 2010

…and the return of pure nutty Cage. I know he’s not the star of the film, but his role as Big Daddy is a memorable one. Cage plays the Cage we know and love and it’s clear he’s not just doing this for the hell of it – he’s doing it because he loves acting. It’s a big “Fuck You!” to the likes of “Knowing” and “Next”.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, 2010

Nic teams up again with the director of the National Treasure film. It’s alright and passes the time and is fun….not enough nutty Cage though.

Season of the Witch, 2011

You’d have thought that the teaming of Nic Cage and Ron Perlman in a 14th Century fantasy adventure from the director of “Gone in Sixty Seconds” and “Swordfish” couldn’t fail. Actually, none of that could possibly work and it’s a huge pile of bumbling jism that is (almost) so bad that it’s amazing. You can see why it was a total flop though.

Drive Angry, 2011

I’m going to end the summary with this as I have not seen any of the films that come after it (I know, my bad). Drive Angry was the second best film of 2011. The only film better than it was “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”. It is hands down the best exploitation film of probably all time. Cage is on form and it was like his whole career was gearing up to this – he perfectly combines elements of his roles in Con Air, Leaving Las Vegas, Bad Lieutenant, Raising Arizona, REAL LIFE, The Wicker Man, Adaptation, Lord of War and probably even Best of Times. He is just the pure epitome of CAGE from minute 1 to minute 100. And what fucking happens? William Fichtner steals the whole thing right from under his nose. Totally Willem Defoe’d him. Not that I care, because Fichtner is also someone I am in total awe of. If Cage had never made another film again, I would seriously watch this over and over.

****

And that concludes my summary (bar “Justice”, “Trespass” and the “Ghost Rider” sequel). Where next? Well, he currently has three films in post-production – one which reteams him with Simon West, the director of Con Air and another where he’s reteamed with John Cusack. There are four in pre-production, one of which will reunite him with Charlie Kaufman. After that, sequels to National Treasure and Kick-Ass. And, as Arnie, Stallone and Willis have proven, hitting 50 is going to be no barrier at all to being in action films. In fact, it’s possibly only just the beginning…

Note to self: Must add some images later. This is all a bit spartan and really is a disservice to the great man.

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Nic Cage – The Career of a Madman: Part 2

Yesterday, I established that Nic Cage started to go mad towards the end of the 1980s. The 1990s would only solidify that madness into something more tangible. ie. The Nic Cage that we know and love today. The kind of person that turns the Christmas lights on in Bath because a fan asked him to.

Wings of the Apache, 1990

Well, this wasn’t a good start, was it? This came across more like an advert for the USA’s War on Drugs (TM). Cage clearly looks uncomfortable in this film and it’s not something he can get his teeth into. A poor start to the 1990s…

Wild at Heart & Industrial Symphony No.1, Both 1990

1990 would see Cage team up with Laura Dern and David Lynch twice. First for the TV short (which I have not seen) and then for one of Lynch’s finest films (arguably his best). Watching this now, you can imagine that Lynch said to Cage “Be yourself”. That said, Cage is out-Caged by Willem Defoe in this film – a fact that can’t have pleased him in the slightest.

Zandalee, 1991

Get this shit out of my face.

Honeymoon in Vegas, 1992

….and this….fuck off. Cage, what were you thinking?

Amos & Andrew, 1993

You’d think that a buddy movie pairing of Nic Cage and Samuel L. Jackson and a case of mistaken identity couldn’t fail, wouldn’t you? It does….miserably.

Red Rock West, 1993

A cracking and hugely overlooked neo-noir crime thriller where Cage is mistaken for a hitman and then assumes the role for the money. Cage doesn’t need to “act up” in this at all, so if you’re looking for nutcase Cage, go elsewhere – he would be out of place in this. That reminds me, this is one film I didn’t “upgrade to DVD”…

Deadfall, 1993

Proof that the Coppola name can draw quality actors to shit. I can only assume that Cage was doing his brother Chris a favour when he agreed to be in this floating turd. By all accounts, it’s still bobbing.

Guarding Tess, 1994

Where Nic Cage is a secret service agent and he’s personally requested to head the first lady’s bodyguard detail…a woman he can’t stand. I think this would have worked better as a Quantum Leap episode…

It Could Happen To You, 1994

I think I only ever watched this because I had a crush on Bridget Fonda in my teens. I’ve seen worse romantic comedies. Far worse.

Trapped in Paradise, 1994

An underrated classic Christmas comedy. Honestly, it is. I really am not fucking around here. Watch it and see for yourself. Stone cold classic.

Kiss of Death, 1995

You’d think that the pairing of Nic Cage and Samuel L. jackson couldn’t fail….actually, the plus point of this is that Cage sports a rather fetching beard that just adds gravitas to his violent crimelord character.

Leaving Las Vegas, 1995

Nothing more really needs to be said about this that hasn’t been said already – the Oscar that Cage deserved for Raising Arizona was finally won here.

The Rock, 1996

AKA – the start of Action Cage. I’m not saying that he would not have had an action career after this but he had clearly been working up to this and this is the one that set him on the action path. Sadly, he’s not that crazy and Sean Connery takes all the risks….

Con Air, 1997

…but in this he takes all the risks. It’s a sad fact that Hollywood does not make action films like Con Air anymore. They’re missing out on several tricks per year by cramming the summer schedule with big screen films based on toys and boards games and having gravity defying superhero films. Con Air is probably the finest action film of the last 20 years and certainly nothing has come close to matching it – oh sure, The Expendables tried and failed miserably. It’s a shame they never made a sequel really. Cage plays the unassuming and unwilling hero with such a downbeat manner that you almost felt like he didn’t want to be there…that’s what made his character so perfect.

Face/Off, 1997

There are not enough words in the dictionary to describe the sheer impact of THE CAGE in Face/Off. He makes a bag of nuts look like nut dust. Cage literally knocks it out of the park, goes out, picks up the ball, brings it back and knocks it out of the park again for good measure as Castor Troy. He then beats John Travolta at being John Travolta. No one else could have pulled thi off, especially not a Nic Cage who had only appeared in romantic comedies with Sarah Jessica Parker all his career.

City of Angels, 1998

…or romantic fantasy dramas with Meg Ryan. Okay, so it’s not that bad, but you’d be far better off watching “Wings of Desire”, the Wim Wenders film that it is based on.

Snake Eyes, 1998

Ah, the return of nutty Cage. De Palma’s noirish thriller had many effective moments, such as the opening tracking shot and the overhead tracking shot off the rooms. But it was ruined by over complicating the conspiracy – even when it had told you who the bad guy was. Thankfully, Cage’s weedy and unlikeable character saves it from being another “Bonfire of the Vanities” in De Palma’s portfolio….but only just.

8MM, 1999

This time it’s Joel Schumacher’s turn to get his hands on Cage – his first film behind the camera since “Batman & Robin” – well, it was an improvement in terms of quality, but it was mauled by critics and flopped at the box office.Cage doesn’t really fare very well at all in this story about a private investigator hired to find out if a “snuff” film was real or not. (Note: Charlie Sheen is not in this film). It’s average and overlong and doesn’t showcase any of Cage’s talents, unless you call walking around like a misery guts a talent.

Bringing out the Dead, 1999

Closing out the 90s, Cage teams up with Martin Scorcese to great, and underappeciated, effect. Cage is the focus of the film and it’s a role he really gets his teeth into. It is pretty tough subject matter about a paramedic who has failed to save anyone in months who begins to be feel guilty and haunted for those that he has failed to save. If anything, the faults of the film lie with the story….certainly not Cage who is pretty much on Oscar form here.

****

And that concludes a defining and pretty damn strong decade for Nic…sure, it was in some utterly unforgiveable garbage, but for the most part it was pure nutty Cage all the way.

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Nic Cage – The Career of a Madman: Part 1

Nic Cage: Born, Nicholas Kim Coppla, 7th January 1964

Let’s get this right out there: I fucking love Nic Cage. The man is nuts and, for the most part, he brings life to even some of the most turgid shit ever committed to film. There are of course occasions where he doesn’t, but I put this down to perhaps taking the wrong medication or somnambulance or not giving a complete damn at all because “Hey, I’m Nic Cage….I’m getting paid for this shit”.

So, where to beging? Why not at the beginning? Not his birth…but with something that you’d only know existed if you looked at his IMDB page – his first role ever:

Best of Times, 1981

I’ve not seen this, but how could this not be worth a watch?

This ABC pilot starred 7 teenagers in a 80′s style Laugh-In. It told the light and dark side of teenage thoughts with dancing and singing added in for color.

Not only did this have Nic Cage as “Nicholas”, it had Crispin Glover as “Crispin”. It sounds like fate when you hear that it never made it past pilot. And lets be thankful for that, because had it been picked up it probably would have run 7 years and Nic could have been lost to TV forever. He’d probably be wearing sunglasses and going nuts in CSI: Miami by now. Also, the thought of Nic Cage singing and dancing “for color” just makes you wonder what might have been though. Then again, starting off with a dancing role never harmed Jean Claude Van Damme’s career.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 1982

I always forget that Nic had a tiny role in this. Then again, it’s not a starring role and it’s not really an insight into his impending insanity. From here on in, it’s pretty much all starring roles though.

Valley Girl, 1983

Julie, a girl from the valley, meets Randy, a punk from the city. They are from different worlds and find love. Somehow they need to stay together in spite of her trendy, shallow friends.

I think I have to see this just to see if it’s as bad as it sounds. Yes, Nic plays the “punk from the city”, Randy. In reality, Randy is a film that should only exist in films or as a humourous pseudonym.

Rumble Fish, 1983

Again, Nic isn’t starring in this. I can’t exactly remember when I did see this though, but it’s worth seeking out mainly for the cast: Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane, Dennis Hopper, Chris Penn, Larry Fishburne and Tom Waits. In fact, I recall it being a pretty decent film. Cage isn’t really in it enough to make it his own though…

Racing With the Moon, 1984

Another one I’ve not seen…and really, I don’t think I ever will. PS: it’s about war and soldiers saying goodbye to their girlfriends. I wouldn’t be able to watch this without thinking of Cage going absolutely bugnuts. And wanting him to….

The Cotton Club, 1984

The whole point of Nic Cage not going by the name of Coppola was so that he wouldn’t get famous on the back of the Coppola name. Apparently this angered some of the family, though not enough for FFC to cast Nic in this story about the famous Harlem Jazz club. I know I’ve seen this but really cannot remember much about it at all.

Birdy, 1984 & The Boy in Blue, 1986

Neither of these I’ve seen, but they no doubt show the more serious side of Nic.

Peggy Sue Got Married, 1986

Honestly, you’d think that it really didn’t matter to FFC that Cage dropped the Coppola name. I’ll stand by this and say that it is one of the best romantic comedy/dramas – the IMDB rating doesn’t really do it justice. It’s definitely more Kathleen Turner’s film though – that’s not to say that Cage is a footnote at all. That said, it’s nothing compared to what came next…

Raising Arizona, 1987

Yes…the Coen brothers got their hands on Nic Cage in what is still my favourite Coen Brothers directed film. This is the first sign of “Crazy Cage”. It is also the first true sign of the sheer diversity of the man. Without Raising Arizona there really is no ground to build the likes of Wild At Heart, Face/Off, Lord of War or Bangkok Dangerous on. This is the role that made all those possible. Had this been another romantic comedy then he could easily have been trapped starring opposite the likes of Cher or appearing in romantic Vampire films for the rest of his career….

Moonstruck, 1987

…oh…

It’s not a bad film really – I just don’t like it to the context of Cage. It’s just not a Nic Cage film. I guess he had to keep the money coming in though…to save him from going all Bad Lietenant on people.

Vampire’s Kiss, 1988

…ah…

Really, this is a fucking awful film. BUT. And it’s a big but….Cage is NUTS. He’s not just FILM NUTS, he’s REAL LIFE NUTS. Not just NUTS….but BUGNUTS….literally. He eats a real cockroach in the film. Honestly, lunch has started to rev itself up in my stomach.

Never on Tuesday & Time to Kill, both 1989

Nic closed out the 80s with two films I’ve not seen…though I guess even those that have seen Never on Tuesday probably missed Nic Cage anyway due to him being uncredited and NOT SHOUTING DOWN THE CAMERA

****

And that concludes the first part of Nic Cage. Part 2 will summarise the 90s. As we all know, this is where Cage became CAGE. And got RAGE. And inspired the Smashing Pumpkins to write a song about him.

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