MovieBob - Intermission
The Movie Nerd Bible: Part II

Bob Chipman | 13 Aug 2010 12:00
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From 1977 till today, nerd movies - i.e., films of onetime ghettoized genres such as horror, science fiction and fantasy - have dominated the blockbuster movie business. What used to be disreputable B-movies were now multimillion dollar hits, and just as nerd movies changed Hollywood, Hollywood changed nerd movies.

This list was exponentially harder to assemble than Part I precisely for that reason: There's just so much more to put on here. In other words, don't feel too bad if any of your personal favorites are missing - plenty of mine are, too.

Star Wars Trilogy (1977 - 1983)

What else can be said? Star Wars changed everything, and serves as the splitting point between the early and modern eras of the nerd movie. More than any other film since the beginning of the medium, it's influenced not only movie culture but human culture to an unprecedented degree. I don't truly think you can understand the modern world without first understanding (please note that I didn't say liking) Star Wars.

Also, it should go without saying, the Original Trilogy, pre-Special Edition versions are the ones to see.

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

After inventing the zombie genre, here George A. Romero perfected it. Human survivors hunker down in a mall to fend off the walking dead, and the greatest zombie movie ever made ensues.

Halloween (1978)

A knife-wielding escaped mental patient is somewhere outside the house. A teenaged babysitter is inside. The hero psychiatrist might not get there in time. John Carpenter crafts the most important non-supernatural horror film after Psycho, and the American slasher is born.

Superman (1978)

Before this, no one had any idea what a big-budget superhero movie should be. Previous attempts had fallen on the side of comedy or simplification. Richard Donner opted to go big: Tell the origin and adventures of The Man of Steel straight faced and an epic in scope. In doing so, he made the first great superhero movie, and one that wouldn't be surpassed until Spider-Man 2 almost 30 years later.

Alien & Aliens (1979, 1986)

Ridley Scott's Alien deftly brought "old dark house" horror into the space age, James Cameron's Aliens turned "what if it fought the Marines?" into one of the go-to sequel formulas, and H.R. Giger's "Xenomorph" became the new template of sci-fi monsters. Creature features haven't been the same since.

Flash Gordon (1980)

Good? Not exactly. Influential? You bet. Producer Dino de Laurentis aimed to bring the classic comic strip and movie serial sci-fi hero to the Star Wars age, but the result was a baroque space-age costume epic set to a series of hard-driving Queen rock anthems. Nonetheless, its earnest zeal and the legend-making performance by Brian Blessed has made it a retro-cool classic and a geek benchmark - expect to hear it referenced a lot in the reviews for Thor.

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Another 80s horror/comedy mashup, but this one features cinema's greatest practical werewolf transformation ever. Anything else might be a spoiler.

Escape From New York (1981)

If I would, I'd put every John Carpenter movie on this list. Dispatched to rescue the president from the anarchic penal colony that used to be New York City, Kurt Russell's Snake Plissken proved for good or ill that there was no such thing as too over-the-top for modern action heroes.

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