Saturday, January 31, 2009

Top Ten Movie Shows To Watch at 3:14 A.M.

As you may have gathered, I've seen a couple or three movies in my life so far. Sometimes I watch them at unusual hours to get a different perspective. The best time to watch some of this stuff tends to be, at least for me, in the middle of the night at approximately 3:14 A.M. Here's a list I compiled, in no specific order, of 10 of my Favorite Middle of the night Movie snacks...
Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) Director: Susan Seidelman
Madonna, Rosanna Arquette and Aidan Quinn running around big bad New York City. There are, among many key ingredients: Mistaken identities (Which really works at 3 A.M. as the night owl in some of us can attest to feeling like a completely different person at such loony times) A weird, wacky stalker and a trip or two to the Cinema. And what better image of seeing Madonna dance to her own song in some East Village Club? Desperately Seeking Susan captures a mood and feeling you don't often find in the usual 80's comedy. It's also authentic New York. Just get into the groove already.
Trading Places (1983) Director: John Landis
One of the most quotable movies ever, can also be for some of us our most watched movie ever. Recently a friend recited the entire Train Scene dialogue verbatim to me. He apparently use to watch this film every night before bed for many, many years. It's addictive stuff. Give it a go and try it for yourself every night. It'll always bring a smile to your face. Remember when Eddie Murphy was a comic genius? Are you old enough to remember that far back? Certainly you remember Jamie Lee Curtis, regardless of your age... Beef Jerky Time!  

Friday The 13th - Any of 'em (1980-1989) Director: Sean Cunningham & Friends Watching horror films in the middle of the night might not be the advice for most, but if you're feeling up for it, what better way to treat yourself to the gory pleasures of the original series of films under the Paramount logo. Witness many nubile young persons get hacked to pieces with various weapons and garden tools; Witness your brain in total shutdown with giddy delight. Jason has only his mother to thank...And so should we for birthing such a wacky mixed up kid to entertain us with such carnage.

Foul Play (1978) Directed By Colin Higgins
This Chevy Chase/Goldie Hawn vehicle earns a place in my why-can't-I-sleep-yet heart for always being there for me, whenever I needed it most. Like the movie's famous Barry Manilow theme song suggested, I was ready to take a chance again. Ready to put my love on the line. And gosh, I really do love this zany comedy. It's filled with great episodic moments and one liners... It's nuttiness (killer albinos!) can most be appreciated late at night when all sensibilities can easily be thrown out of the window. Or down the stairs along with the dwarf! All the actors have such a great chemistry and rapport. Burgess Meredith and his karate moves will forever bring a smile to my face. He's so god damned cute in this.

Miracle Mile (1989) Directed By Steve De Jarnatt
What better way to spend 3:14 A.M. then with a movie about the end of world set during one night, around 3 A.M.? Perhaps a bit heady for the noggin' at 3, MIRACLE taps into your emotions, fears and anxieties like no one's business. Even more so because of that time of the night. Still, the movie somehow finds hope, even in devastation. You'll find yourself moved and touched. It's required viewing for humanity. Sleepy or not.

The Heavenly Kid (1985) Directed By Cary Medoway
Certainly not the best of movies ever made, but, The Heavenly Kid is a picture I find that only works at 3 A.M. This is pure fluff about a rebel without a cause knockoff type who dies and gets a shot at going to heaven by becoming guardian angel to the son he never knew some 17 years later. The odd mixing of greaser 60's shtick and wacky 80's teen comedy never really gels until you watch it late at night and don't have to think too much about it. Also pretty odd are the scenes in heaven... or is it wait station... whatever... They are pretty atmospheric and lend into that 3 A.M. where-the-hell-is-everybody-and-what-am-I-doing-here vibe. Hearing it's pure 80's cheesy theme song "On My Way" transports me way back to watching this thing when it played on HBO endlessly late at night...

Love Story (1970) Directed By Arthur Hiller
Screw watching this on a Sunday afternoon while it's raining out or when you invite the girls over for GIRLS NITE IN with Kleenex and endless varietals of tea on hand. The best time to watch the ultimate movie tear-jerker is late at night peeking out under a blanket when no one's looking. Especially for us macho men who want and look forward to our emotions being toyed and manipulated with by this well manufactured and polished Hollywood work. Love Means Never having to admit you watched it, dude.

Just Before dawn (1981) Directed By Jeff Lieberman
Admittedly, I'd watch this well made slasher flick any time of the day, but I feel a movie with such a title as such DARES you to watch it at that time. And right along with it's characters, you'll have to try to endure through the night. Witness hikers meeting inbred locals. George Kennedy talking to his plants and Horse, Lucille. Creepy waterfalls, rope bridges and abundant atmosphere brewing everywhere. Most memorably, witness a scene that involves one's transformation into a fist killing machine. Jeff Lieberman's picture works as a simple slasher and as a more complex metaphor to the dangers lurking beyond what we know to be natural and our inclinations to not worry about such things until we have to. A theme Lieberman explored earlier with his film "Squirm". Also great for a middle of the night watch.

Into The Night (1985) Directed By John Landis
Another John Landis film... This one much more specifically about the middle of the night/I can't sleep blues has it's lead character, as played by Jeff Goldblum, go through a series of nightmares because of his lack of sleep. Like some of the best movies that play well at night, Into The Night has an abundance of strange scenes that tend to be more episodic. And the movie really captures a unique tone that can only be found late at night when you get mixed up with wacky women and the terrorists she may piss off. Dig on B.B. King's music that fills the movie with a total blues club atmosphere. It's a great contrast to the comedy.

*The Temp (1993) Directed By Tom Holland
Make no mistake about it, The Temp is pure and total trash. But, when you're up at 3AM, I urge everyone, and I mean everyone, to tune in to The Temp. It's the perfect movie. You get mystery, the promise of sleazy sex (courtesy of not yet Anorexic Lara Flynn Boyle) death by wasps, missing depositions, killer copiers, a member of the A-Team, Oscar nominee Faye Dunaway, Oscar winner Timothy Hutton, that dude from Wings, umbrellas as a key plot device, killer cookies and countless other treats. This movie at 3:14 A.M. is better than Citizen Kane and The Godfather combined.

*See also any of the other myriads of "Fill in The Blank From Hell" movies from the 90's. They all work at 3:14 AM!


Ross Horsley said...

Meep, goddammit, you RULE! I absolutely love this article. I'm so astonished at how much on the same wavelength we are... I've always had a thing about "late-nite movies" as I call 'em. I even thought of writing a book/film guide on the subject once! Some of my favourite late-nighters are: A Kiss Before Dying (the Sean Young version), Plain Clothes, The Raven (and Roger Corman in general), Into The Night (totally!), Compromising Positions... Something about 80s movies seems to work well -- maybe because there's a lot of them that seem to be set overnight...?

Meep Parker said...

I can totally see those as being great late-nite movies. I actually kind of held back on more titles because they were from the 80s so I can mix it up a bit.

Ever see MODERN GIRLS? Perfect late nite movie. Perfect movie general!

Amanda By Night said...

Awesome list.

Can I add my four? Well, I'm going to anyway:

1. Rich Girl - I was surprised this isn't on your list. It's one of the best I-can't-sleep-so-something-better-soothe-me-before-I-sacrifice-my-cat-for-entertainment-purposes-only movies ever. I adore it. It kind of puts me in a good place.

2. This House Possessed - My ultimate escapist film. It's just good.

3. Let's Scare Jessica to Death - whoa! At 3 am, this movie is SCAREE! Also for some reason that Harry Novack movie The Child also gets me terrified.

4. Killer Party - I'm sure you know why.

Meep Parker said...

I actually really like Let's Scare jessica in the morning... It has the eerie quiet Sunday Morning vibe, dontcha think?

Rest easy, Rich Girl will make it onto a future list I have in mind, for sure.

The Warfreak said...

This is singularly the greatest top ten list I've ever read. Bravo, Meep. I'm a big fan of lists as a way of promotion, and you have just inspired me to go out and get The Heavenly Kid (to be watched late at night, natch). Awesome stuff!

Stephen Langlois said...

Just discovered this list. Awesome! I'm familiar with all the films on here except, for some strange reason, Miracle Mile, which sounds great. Thanks for the tip.

I, too, watched Just Before Dawn in the early hours of the morning--let's say 2:37 am. This was a long time ago, back in high school, on an old VHS tape. The tape petered out towards the end and somehow broke the VCR, so I never saw the end. I was nodding off by that point, anyway, so my memories of the film are a bit fuzzy. A blurry, incoherent viewing--somehow it was perfect.

Maria Maria said...

It's been almost 20 years and there hasn't been another film like Desperately Seeking Susan. At times, the movie feels like French New Wave with its characters and storyline. Even the setting of the crude but artistic background of New York City, the movie lets off an emotion of fantasy. The cast which includes Rosanna Arquette, Aidan Quinn, John Turturro and Madonna create a story like no other. Madonna is both the eye candy and the punch lines as Arquette gives her best leading lady qualities. It's hard to believe that this movie cost less than 5 million dollars to make. A true coming of age drama with moments of comedy and struggle, Desperately Seeking Susan falls under many genres of film.
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The independent style and its outrageous subject matter makes this an interesting and timeless film. Even though it is full of 80's moments with the clothing and music, the movie is one of Madonna's and Arquette's best.

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