I was never what you’d call a Prince fan, but in light of his untimely passing earlier this year, it’s probably right to start today’s column off with Purple Rain, his splashy cinematic debut that placed him on the pop culture radar for good. The Purple One won an Oscar for Best Original Song Score for it, and it turned out to be the last time that category was offered at the Academy Awards. Purple Rain opened today in 1984.
If there was a moment when people on this side of the Pacific sat up and realized that Korean cinema was something worth watching, it probably came with The Host, a one-of-a-kind giant monster movie that flashed with wit and imagination, but also a strange fatalism that lifts it well above button-pushing scare tactics. It remained the highest grossing South Korean movie of all time for several years, and opened in its native country today in 2006.
While we’re on the subject of foreign films, we should probably mention Allegro non Tropo, an Italian effort to emulate/parody the model of Disney’s Fantasia. It finds the same spirit as that earlier film, but with plenty of subversive bite that Uncle Walt was never comfortable with, and if it can’t quite match Fantasia itself, it certainly does a sight better than Fantasia 2000. (The “Bolero” sequence has become legend among animation fans.) It opened today in 1977.
I debated whether to mention The Amityville Horror, an inexplicably seminal fright fest based on rampant fraud and delivered with the kind of lugubrious self-importance one normally expects from pro-wrestling promoters. It sucks. Hard. But for some reason, some people consider it a horror classic. These people would be wrong. The movie opened today in 1979.
And since we’re going there, we may as well close with this little nugget: the first live-action Transformers movie opened today in 2007. You may commence weeping for cinema’s shattered soul… now.