The May edition of the Time Warp Drive-In series is a smorgasbord of tasty fantasy treats from the 1980s.
The Last Unicorn
Saturday night at 7 PM at the Malco Summer Avenue Drive-In, the More Dreams Of Gods And Magic program opens with a stone cold classic. Rob Riener's 1987 adaptation of William Goldman's novel The Princess Bride was added the National Film Registry in 2016. It has become, as is said of Casablanca, a film consisting entirely of quotable lines. Here's one of the film's iconic scenes, the battle of wits between Wesley, aka Dread Pirate Roberts, and evil mastermind Vizzini, for the life of the hostage Princess Buttercup. Also like Casablanca, virtually everyone in this film went on to have a great career. Carey Elwes, who played Wesley, will be the mayor in season three of Stranger Things. Wallace Shawn, who played Vizzini, is an acclaimed playwright who broke into film with the 1981 adaptation of his play My Dinner With André and, at age 74, is still working as a voice over artist on Bojack Horseman. And Princess Buttercup is Robin Wright, who has received four straight Emmy nominations for her role as the first lady in House Of Cards, and just last year appeared in both Wonder Woman and Blade Runner 2049.Even if you think you have it memorized, check out this tour de force scene:
The second film is another literary adaptation, this time of the 1972 Newberry Award winner Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. The children's book is something like a cross between Watership Down and Flowers For Algernon, although maybe not as depressing as that might sound. The 1982 film version The Secret Of NIMH was spearheaded by Don Bluth, the former Disney animator who became the House Of Mouse's nemesis during the 1980s, when he had a run of films with MGM that included The Land Before Time. Bluth is also famous among gamers for his work on the beautiful but unplayable Dragon's Lair, which pioneered what would later be called DVD ROM games. The film is more than a little cheesy, but makes up for it with some amazing classical animation.
The Secret of NIMH was released in 1982 at the height of the post-Star Wars sci fi fantasy boom. Sharing screen time that year were the last two films on the Time Warp slate. The Last Unicorn was a Rankin/Bass production with a killer voice actor lineup that included Mia Farrow, Angela Landsbury, Jeff Bridges, and Christopher Lee. It's perhaps most significant for the young Japanese animation crew who got their start on the film and would go on to form the core of Studio Ghibli.
And finally, there's Krull. By 1982's lofty standards, Krull is not a good movie. If it were released today, it would be probably make $500 million. Nowadays, the film's biggest attraction is the elaborate pre-digital special effects, which include the high point of that light-leak video laser thing. The screenplay is a bloody mess of Lucas-damaged Hero's Journey cliches, but veteran British character actors Freddy Jones and Franchesca Annis occasionally step in to elevate the proceedings with committed performances that the material probably didn't deserve. But hey, that's why you spend your money on the Brits—they always bring it.