King Solomon’s Mines (1985)
It was 4 years after Indiana Jones captured the hearts of people everywhere, not to mention their hard earned greenbacks. Paramount took their little whip cracking hero all the way to the bank and then some with George Lucas chuckling away in the background. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that type of success? Jones was already a hero that would never be forgotten and even though years had passed, suits were scrambling to recreate his charisma and style.
The Cannon Group, famous for making movies “inspired by” far better ones, decided to have a go at the war-era type hero and cast gay actor Richard Chamberlain as their version of Indy. King Solomon’s Mines also stars Sharon Stone in an early role as well as Indy pal John Rhys-Davies and its sequel starred James Earl Jones. The franchise wasn’t legendary, but the films were certainly entertaining.
In Mines, “Fortune hunter Allan Quatermain teams up with a resourceful woman to help her find her missing father lost in the wilds of 1900s Africa while being pursued by hostile tribes and a rival German explorer.”(source: imdb.com) Germans? Check. Sexy woman? Check. Handsome, manly, wise-cracking lead with a great big strong ticker? Uhhhh…ermmm…
Anyway, my adult mind can see how schlocky this movie is and that it’s clearly a rip-off of Raiders of the Lost Ark but there buried deep inside is 8 year old me watching the VHS repeatedly and thinking it was just charming.
I’m looking forward to re-watching this classic B grade adventure.
Harry and the Hendersons (1987)
When I came back to work from my lunch break I was thoroughly excited by this find. Rick Baker’s gorgeous Bigfoot creation and John Lithgow’s angry Dad were in my hot little hands! As I went from staff member to staff member excitedly showing off what for me was like the Lost Ark itself, I was met with blank stares. Harry and the whatsthatnow? Seriously, does anyone remember this film?
In the film, George (John Lithgow), Nancy, Sarah and Ernie (who make up a very average cheesy sitcom-type American family) hit a huge Bigfoot with their station wagon. They take the creature home and Harry, as he is dubbed, promptly begins to destroy everything while capturing the hearts of the family (including their dog). George is the only one who can’t wait to get rid of Harry but when men looking to take advantage of the big lug come into the picture, the family bands together to get Harry home to his forest safely.
This movie was hilarious to me as I was 9 years old when it came out but it’s always made me cry (and wish Harry were real). It’s a touching story of how people can either live with nature or fight against it and how average people can do extraordinary things. It’s also one of those films that showcases exploitation, even if it is in a nicey-nice sort of way.
Harry and the Hendersons is a great family film and I think kids today would still enjoy it, so long as they aren’t too young to be scared or too old to realize something about the hair and clothes just isn’t right.
And yes, before you even ask, there was a TV show based on this flick.
I’m totally excited to have gotten my hands on both of these DVD's, if only for nostalgic reasons. See, movies don’t always have to be blockbusters or entrants in Cannes to be enjoyed and loved. Bring on 5pm!