We’re normally inclined to start with horror movies this time of year and we have a couple of tasty grindhouse numbers to close things out. But neither of them hold the enduring power of Dumbo, one of Walt Disney’s most beloved creations. Along with Snow White, it was the only one of Disney’s early features to turn a profit, and while it appears a tad saccharine today (plus racist crows; we have NOT forgotten the racist crows), the gorgeous animation and spot-on characters still hold their charms. And who doesn’t love a flying elephant? Dumbo opened today in 1941.
For something you don’t want to show on family night, there’s John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness, in which Satan appears in a giant lava lamp in the basement of an LA church and a group of hapless scientists are brought in to study it. It’s exactly, precisely as goofy as it sounds, but also wildly original and undeniably a Carpenter joint. It opened 30 years ago today in 1987.
Finally, there’s Enter the Ninja, un film du Cannon Pictures which pits Franco Nero’s not-at-all Japanese ninja against Sho Kosugi’s considerably-more-Japanese ninja in a battle to the death. Yes, it’s awful — profoundly, in a wide variety of way — but I will confess that watching Kosugi in a ninja picture never gets old. It opened today in 1981.