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