The Goonies

Weekend Roundtable: Movies You’re Afraid to Revisit

Sometimes our cherished memories of movies we once loved don’t hold up to scrutiny when rewatched later in life. Are you holding onto any fond memories of movies that you simply can’t bring yourself to watch again, for fear of being disappointed?

Brian Hoss

My recollections are fuzzy, but I think we had a taped copy of The Goonies at my grandmother’s house that I probably saw a dozen or so times when I was a really young. When I watched it once a few years later (maybe as a pre-teen) as a tape rental, I realized that I had never even seen the very beginning of the movie. When I think about what I remember from the movie – the kids and teenagers, the subterranean adventure, the hidden pirate treasure and, umm, Chunk’s family – well, it seems like a thing to keep comfortably in nostalgic memory. I can recall from that one later viewing not liking a lot of the characters (both good and bad) and scenes. This a movie that I pretty much know I won’t enjoy revisiting, but I would bet there are plenty others, even AFI quality picks, that are like unexploded ordnance.

Deirdre Crimmins

The movies I’m afraid to revisit are ones that I worry will no longer make me afraid. As a horror fan, so many of my favorite horror films rely on suspense or plot twists to knock the wind out of my chest, and that makes rewatching them and recapturing that reaction nearly impossible. One film I loved on first viewing but haven’t seen since is High Tension. It’s known for a big plot twist, and it completely shocked me when I first saw it. But does the reveal in the finale hold up on repeated viewings? I’m not certain it will, and I’m happy to preserve the film in my mind as-is. After all, there are always plenty of other films to watch for the first time, rather than watch this one again.

M. Enois Duarte

Although there are several movies from the 1980s I’m almost too scared to revisit now as an adult, I would have to say Steve Miner’s 1986 horror comedy House tops the list. After revisiting Dreamscape, which I fondly remembered as one of the best movies ever, a few years back when it hit Blu-ray, I felt somewhat betrayed by misleading childhood memories. Now, I’m afraid the same will happen when I watch House, which I remember as one of the best, most underrated horror movies ever. At the time, my fandom was heavily colored by my love for William Katt, the star of the greatest TV show ever: The Greatest American Hero. Clearly, my judgment of the movie is terribly biased, and the nostalgia glasses are of a deep, rose-tinted shade. Heck, I even bought The Complete Collection box set on Blu-ray from Arrow Video, and it’s still sitting on my shelf unopened because I’m worried the movie is going to turn out far worse than I remember it. One of these days, I’ll get around to watching it, but for now, it sits quietly in the corner patiently waiting for that day.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

Way back in the summer in 1999, Troma was selling its entire DVD library – 21 movies in all! – for a quarter a pop. Yes, as in $0.25 each, which was a jaw-dropping deal even in those heady days of and endless coupons. Even though some of the dreck in that stack sorely tested my Troma fandom, it was all worth it to have been introduced to Sucker the Vampire.

It’s still a movie I reflexively reference whenever someone rants on Facebook or one of my message board haunts about how Troma never made anything worth watching. I loved its premise, with an ancient vampire feeding on the last of Van Helsing’s descendents, only to learn with her dying breath that she has AIDS. This was Van Helsing’s scheme all along: to subject an immortal being to a debilitating and incurable affliction. No longer able to digest the blood of his prey, he’s doomed to wither away throughout an eternity of starvation. Sucker the Vampire hits all kinds of marks: punk rock, horror, and Tromatic gross-out gags. It’s a surprisingly resonant character piece as well, as a once-loathsome monster is transformed into a sympathetic, tragic figure.

At least, that’s how I remember Sucker the Vampire. As much as I think about and talk about the movie, I haven’t watched it in at least 15 years. The synopsis above may be heavily inaccurate. The comic relief of its necrophiliac Igor analog may be more nails-on-chalkboard than I remember. One poignant, haunting moment that’s stuck with me for close to two decades may fall completely flat. I suspect that I cherish my memories of Sucker the Vampire more than I would the movie itself, and I guess that’s why I’ve avoided finding out for sure. Like the man says, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

Josh Zyber

I often worry about rewatching comedies. It’s so rare that the spark and surprise that inspire laughter on a first viewing will have the same effect the second time around. This Roundtable topic sprung from a conversation I had on another forum with one of this blog’s regular readers, Bill M. He wrote a review of Richard Lester’s 1966 madcap sex comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, based on the stage musical by Stephen Sondheim. I responded that I recalled thinking the movie was funny when I watched it long ago, but wasn’t sure it would hold up. That leads us here.

My other pick for this would be, well, pretty much any Woody Allen classic from the heyday of his career – Manhattan and Annie Hall most of all. I used to judge these two movies as masterpieces. Would I still feel the same given Allen’s toxicity in the current cultural environment? I almost can’t imagine watching Manhattan again today, considering that its plot revolves around a middle-aged man dating a teenage girl. Perhaps it’s better to just remember the good parts fondly.

Your Turn

What movies do you worry won’t hold up to your memories of them? Tell us in the Comments.


  1. photogdave

    My pick is The Last Starfighter. The adult me would have a tough time looking past what are undoubtedly pretty bad F/X and a story that is obviously intended for children and pre-teens.
    Although I did see the movie in the theatre with my Dad and he quite liked it, especially Robert Preston’s performance.

    I agree with the comments about rewatching horror and comedy, although some comedies are so good that you can anticipate the approaching joke and relish it all the more knowing exactly when it will hit. I’m talking about movies like Airplane!, Tropic Thunder, Kung Pow: Enter The Fist, and any given MST3K.

    • Effects are still bad, but I still enjoy The Last Starfighter. I am pretty good about remembering why I liked things even if the older me might scoff at it had he not had fond memories. lol

  2. Bolo

    I only saw ‘High Tension’ once and I remember the twist making absolutely no sense whatsoever. !SPOILERS! If the Killer and The Final Girl are the same person, how does she manage to be in two different places at the same time so often? How does she manage to illicit different reactions from people based who she thinks she is at that moment? Like how people she’s trying to kill suddenly react to her as a protector or fellow victim? Where is her weapon concealed when she’s in Final Girl mode?

    It was just a mess. For some reason there were a ton of these “Imaginary Friend” twist movies in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I think ‘Fight Club’ was the only good one.

    • Patsch

      You have to look at it differently: what we see in the movie is the main girls story she tells the police, doctors or whatever… the big plot twist is merely her mind failing to hold up herbstory and the doctors/police finding out what really happened

      • Bolo

        These types of twists work best when the scenes are carefully constructed so that what the delusional character is experiencing and what is reality can be clearly separated by the audience. The more compatible you make the delusion and the reality, the more effective the twist. With this movie, other than a whole lot of people getting killed, we don’t really know how much actually played out. We’re just watching completely fabricated nonsense from a total nutter. I think that’s just cheap. For me, that’s one step short of “it was all a dream” lazy writing.

          • Bolo

            I saw that movie a couple of times when it came out and not since, so don’t remember the specifics too well. But I think its twist worked and never felt cheap because the film was one character screwing with another character, as opposed to the filmmaker screwing unfairly with the audience. It was a battle of wits between two men in a context where one is expected to be deceptive and the other expected to apply scrutiny.

  3. Bolo

    As for my pick, I’ll go with ‘Before Sunrise’. Loved it back in the 90s, but I imagine I would just feel I had outgrown this film if I revisited it. I did revisit ‘Ghost World’ a while ago and even though I loved in its day, I just found it mostly annoying watching it as an adult. I expect the same result with ‘Before Sunrise’. Although I will probably continue to see the sequels as they come out.

  4. Paul

    I used to love Tank Girl when I was a young teen and defended it for years based on my initial judgement. So I was crushed when later, as a young adult who studied film in college and also developed a love for the source comic, I popped in my old DVD from younger days, expecting a good time, and discovered that it’s actually HORRIBLE! It’s got it’s moments that shine and a certain gonzo charm, but it doesn’t ultimately work and Lori Petty is either woefully miscast or just doesn’t understand the character. Huge disappointment.

    • Bolo

      I’ve only ever seen the film and found it pretty fun as a teenager. How is the character different from the comic books? Is she not adolescent and gleefully obnoxious?

      I’m honestly surprised this property hasn’t been fed into the reboot machine yet.

      • Paul

        It’s not that she isn’t adolescent and gleefully obnoxious; it’s just that all of her aggro punk energy is replaced by a quirky Bugs Bunny-like detachment.

  5. Opinionhaver

    I’m not afraid of any movie being bad. I never thought a movie was good that I ended up being “wrong”about. I’ve come to appreciate movies I didn’t think much of on first viewing, but not the opposite. So I’ll alleviate some of your fears, guys.

    Brian – The Goonies is fine. It was never a masterpiece, but I doubt you could hate it now.

    M – House is pretty good for what it is. Perhaps it somewhat exploits PTSD for a corny artistic purpose, but that wasn’t a thing in the 80s so who cares!

    Adam – I’ve never seen that shit in my life, but nothing Troma ages like anything but milk.

    photogdave – Last Starfighter has a memorable premise, but it’s actually surprisingly boring taken on its own merits.

    Paul – I was gonna warn you about Tank Girl but then I kept reading and looks like you found out already. Still, Ice-T as a kangaroo thing.

    • I think I was old enough to see the flaws in Mallrats at the time. Having seen Clerks in the theater we certainly like, “huh?’ when we saw it, but had a long talk after the movie and realized all the things we liked about it. They outweighed the flaws by far.

      • njscorpio

        Having been an actual mallrat from actual New Jersey, a lot of my enjoyment of the movie came from the novelty (and group enjoyment).

        Still, it took me awhile to stop picturing Yondu eating chocolate covered pretzels.

        • Csm101

          My favorite memory from Mallrats is that I’m pretty sure it was the first movie I went to see theatrically and had the whole auditorium to myself.

    • photogdave

      I can’t stand ANY Kevin Smith movie these days but staying with the topic, I thought Chasing Amy was really good when it came out. A revisit just a few years later had me boring holes in my ears with a power drill in order to unhear that horribly pretentious dialogue!

  6. Art Ames

    My pick would be John Ford’s classic The Quiet Man, with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. One of my favorite moves as a kid, its treatment of women, including dragging her by her hair in the street, would be more than offensive.

  7. I’m sometimes reluctant to revisit critically acclaimed serious dramas of past decades. I have COOL HAND LUKE and IN COLD BLOOD and ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST on hand, but I’ve been hesitating for a long time. What happens if gold standard films just don’t hold up for me? It’s like knocking the props out of film architecture.

    On the other hand, little known and critically ignored genre films of the past seldom let me down. Probably because I have no expectations and am pleasantly surprised. There is a lot of unpretentious horror/thriller/sf material made by people who really gave a damn even if they didn’t have the budget. It matters.

  8. Brian,
    Goonies has aged quite well. I watch it every couple of years including a viewing on the big screen for it’s 30th anniversary. Yeah, it’s obviously written from a kids point of view, but that’s what makes it so fun. No adult would dare deal with a bunch of deadly traps and gangsters for an unknown ending.

  9. cardpetree

    The first time I watched Up in Smoke, my face hurt I was laughing so hard. I tried to watch it a month or so ago on Amazon Prime and I didn’t really laugh once.

  10. MovieWatcher

    I re-watched Dark Crystal as a teenager and it really bummed me out, but all these years later, I might appreciated it again.

    I know I’ll catch hell for this one, but I re-watched Star Wars (or whatever it’s been renamed to these days…) when it was re-released in the 1990s and found it long, slow, boring, and nowhere near as magical as I did as a kid. I wish I’d never watched it again and decided not to wreck my precious Empire Strikes Back memories.

  11. njscorpio

    I gotta get my issue with Goonies off my chest…it came out roughly the same time as Cher’s movie ‘Mask’, and I saw that first (for some reason). After that, I felt like Goonies was about a guy with a physical deformity/disability, used to scare children, then later become a novelty. It felt uncomfortable to be “entertained” by kids running away from Sloth, after having watched a movie all about accepting a similar looking kid as being normal. To this day, I never watched the entirety of Goonies.

    • C.C.

      Kids running away from sloth- is absolutely accurate to what real kids would do (for better or worse).
      Rings true. Geez, you forget- they eventually are friends!

  12. Patsch

    „The Mask“ with Jim Carrey! I loved that movie as a kid. When I was around 10 I watched it once a month at least for a year or so. And I am 100% certain I will hate it today! I won‘t be able to laugh at any of the over-the-top jokes. I suspect the same for „Space Jam“ but I might give it a chance soon.

    Another movie from my youth is „The Burbs“ – and this one has definitely passed the test of time. I still re-visit it once a year and always have a great time with it. Maybe because now that I am older I understand a lot of the horror movie references and I am able to like it for other reasons than I did when I was young.

    • Both ‘The Mask’ and ‘Space Jam’ are still a lot of fun, hurrah!

      The CGI effects in ‘The Mask’ have dated horribly, however. But the jokes, quips and quotes are still ace. A TOMMY GUNNNN! SSSSSMOKINNN’

  13. Csm101

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. Even in the eighth grade, I knew it was vastly inferior to the first. I did still get a kick out of the Turtles and some of the martial arts fighting, although it was watered down significantly. I have fond memories of seeing it in theaters and when my dad bought it on vhs for me. But yeah, it’s pretty effin stupid.

  14. Charles Contreras

    The Pink Panther movies, in my opinion, were brilliant comedies. I daresay, I thought they were a genre unto themselves, and when I used to own them I actually enjoyed their silliness, largely because of Peter Sellers. Lately I’ve seen the basic collection at a very low price at my local Walmart and have been tempted to buy it, but I’ve wondered whether or not I could enjoy them again like I did when I was younger. Who knows? I have to do my grocery shopping soon, maybe I’ll throw it in my cart and take a chance on them again.

  15. Pedram

    I remember loving Flight of the Navigator as a kid. I might watch it again, but I don’t know if it’ll be as magical as the memories I have of it.
    There are a few movies that I heard people loved back in the day and I thought I’d give them a shot now. In my opinion they did not hold up and I didn’t find myself enjoying them as much as others did, which is kind of what this discussion is about, just spread amongst two parties. Some were even mentioned in the comments here. The ones I can recall are:
    The Dark Crystal,
    The Last Starfighter
    Star Man
    Buckaroo Bonzai

    I guess nostalgia or young tastes played a big part in the enjoyment of those movies.

  16. TRIGGERED by that banner of ‘The Goonies’ – my second favorite movie of all time.

    Haha, no worries, I’m not really triggered. Everyone is allowed to dislike that movie.

  17. Jon

    Loved The Neverending Story as a kid. As an adult it’s still interesting, but good lord Falcor looks terrible. I can’t image he was convincing even in the early 80’s when this movie came out, but as a kid you never notice.

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