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IFC.com’s 2011 Holiday Gift Guide

IFC.com’s 2011 Holiday Gift Guide (photo)

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Whether you’re a fan of superhero action, absurd humor, or heart-wrenching drama, it’s a great time to be reading comics – but it can be a little intimidating to shop for the comics fan on your list if you’re not exactly a regular reader. And with that in mind, we’ve put together a list of some of books you might want to add to your holiday shopping list.

The list below features some great mainstream books, indie darlings, a television tie-in or two, and even some collections of popular webcomics that are finding a new audience in print. In fact, all you need to do is match the book with the person you’re buying it for, and your shopping is done – aside from the gift-wrapping, that is. Consider it our holiday gift to you.


Batman: Knightfall Vol. 1-3

batman.jpgFor the mainstream superhero fan on your list, next year will be a big year for Batman. Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises” hits theaters in July, and the film will introduce one of Batman’s greatest enemies, Bane – who famously “broke the Bat” in the now-classic Batman: Knightfall storyline.

Anyone looking for a refresher course on why Bane is one of the Dark Knight’s most dangerous foes need only pick up the collected editions of the Knightfall arc (“Broken Bat,” “Who Rules The Night,” and “KnightsEnd“) to get all the back story on the brilliant behemoth Tom Hardy will play in the film. This is must-read material for any Batman fans out there.


Ultimate Comics Avengers, Vol. 1: The Next Generation

avengers.jpgWith Marvel’s massive team-up movie looming on the horizon, now’s as good as time as any to get caught up with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Marvel recently relaunched many of its most popular characters in the Ultimate Comics line, offering up a more modern, gritty take on the heroes that’s frequently cited as one of the chief inspirations for its recent (and upcoming) movies.

The first volume of Ultimate Comics Avengers features a story scripted by Wanted creator Mark Millar, and introduces readers to the team dynamic by throwing the cast of characters into yet another world-threatening catastrophe – or in this case, multiple catastrophes. While it’s certainly not recommended for children, Ultimate Comics Avengers goes a long way toward reminding older fans why the Avengers are not a team to mess with.


DC Comics: The New 52

dcnew52.jpgDC Comics made headlines a few months ago when it rebooted its entire universe and launched 52 new series in the span of a month. The first issues of all of those series are collected in this impressive hardcover volume, and it’s no exaggeration to say that there’s something for everyone in this book.

From Superman and Wonder Woman to Swamp Thing and Aquaman, this collection has all of DC’s new line of characters, and provides the best jumping-on point you can ask for when it comes to the DC universe. Oh, and on a side note, I highly recommend Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man – it’s one of my favorite of the bunch.


The Walking Dead: Compendium One

walkingdead.jpgSure, everyone loves the AMC television series, but Robert Kirkman’s post-apocalyptic zombie saga has been rolling along for years now and steadily building a shambling legion of fans. This massive tome collects the first 48 issues of the series, and includes some of the most memorable moments from the first few years of the comic. Despite its size, it’s also a bit more manageable than than the beautiful-but-heavy hardcover “Omnibus” editions, so it’s an easier (and cheaper) way to get caught up with the hit series.

It’s also worth noting that the comic book series and television series differ quite a bit in some areas, so if you know someone who’s a big fan of “The Walking Dead” tv series, they’ll find plenty of surprises in this collection.


Doctor Who: The Dave Gibbons Collection

doctorwho.jpgAlso spinning out of a fan-favorite television phenomenon is IDW Publishing’s Doctor Who: The Dave Gibbons Collection, a hardcover collection of Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons’ celebrated run on the series. The popular artist had a lengthy, memorable run on the series, which took the BBC’s science-fiction hero from the television to the printed page for some wild adventures.

This particular collection follows the fourth iteration of The Doctor (played by Tom Baker in the television series), and brings together all of Gibbons’ work for the very first time. If there’s a “Doctor Who” fan on your list – and there seems to be a lot of them these days – this collection could send him or her into a fandom-induced frenzy, so consider yourself warned.


Locke & Key, Vol. 1-4

locke.jpgAlso from IDW Publishing – and also with a television connection – is Locke & Key, the award-winning series written by Joe Hill, the son of novelist Stephen King. Hill clearly inherited his father’s talent for telling a scary story, as Locke & Key manages to be both terrifying and compelling, and keeps readers guessing from one page to the next. The series tells the story of a family that inherits a mysterious mansion in which magical keys unlock all sorts of wonderful – and occasionally nightmarish – secrets.

The series was optioned a while back amid much fanfare, but the pilot episode of the series was never picked up. Nevertheless, the episode received heavy praise from fans when it was screened during this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego. The four volumes of the series (“Welcome to Lovecraft,” “Head Games,” “Crown of Shadows,” and “Keys to the Kingdom“) will show you what the fuss is all about and – I’m betting – make you a fan, too.


Wednesday Comics

wednesdaycomics.jpgThis oversized, hardcover collection of DC’s critically praised Wednesday Comics series features 16 different stories by some of the best-known writers and artists in the comics industry. Originally published as weekly newspaper-style strips, the series assembled an impressive cast of characters from all across the DC universe, including Batman, Adam Strange, Metamorpho, Wonder Woman, and Sgt. Rock.

Even more impressive than the characters featured in the series are the creative teams the publisher assembled for the project – an eclectic list that includes everyone from Neil Gaiman and Paul Pope to Walter Simonson and Joe Kubert. While the book isn’t likely to fit on your comic fan’s shelf (it’s slightly smaller than an unfolded, standard newspaper), it will definitely occupy a place of honor in his or her collection.


Morning Glories, Vol. 1 Deluxe Collection

morningglories.jpgOne of our favorite new series, Morning Glories is what would happen if you set the “Lost” television series inside a mysterious prep school. Filled with shocking cliffhangers, multiple layers of brain-tingling mysteries, and characters faced with more questions than answers, the series is a no-brainer for gift guides and “Best Of” lists – mainly because it feels like a great television series in comic book form.

This hardcover edition of Morning Glories collects the first 12 issues of the series, and is filled with lots of extras and exclusive content that fans will certainly appreciate. If you end up thumbing through the series while you’re waiting in line, don’t be surprised if you end up buying one for yourself to accompany the one you’re giving away.


Twenty-Seven, Vol. 1: First Set

27.jpgYou know all of those stories about why so many musicians and other artists died at age 27? Well, this series from Image Comics tackles that very subject, and crafts a fascinating mythology out of the “27 Club” that you’ll need to read to believe.

From Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin to Kurt Cobain and – most recently – Amy Winehouse, the “27 Club” has sparked no small amount of speculation and urban myths. This book is an easy pick for the music-loving comic fan on your gift list, and collects the first four issues of the series in one place.


Infinite Kung-Fu

kungfu.jpgIf you know someone who’s a fan of old-school martial arts films – or the modern-day homages to them – Kagan McLeod’s Infinite Kung-Fu needs to be on your shopping list. The critically praised graphic novel follows a former soldier who must master the greatest kung-fu techniques in existence in order to save the world from the evil emperor’s diabolical plans. Not only is it a great story, but it’s the sort of epic tale that will have readers cheering along each stage of its hero’s quest.

This 464-page book collects the entire story in one bookshelf-worthy novel, and you’ll realize in no time why it’s regarded as one of the year’s best books.


The Homeland Directive

homeland.jpgIf the comics fan on your list is the sort who appreciates a tense drama peppered with high-octane action (a la the “24” television series), this story by the writer of The Surrogates will scratch that itch quite nicely. Robert Venditti’s The Homeland Directive follows an expert researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who’s caught up in a massive conspiracy that threatens the lives of millions of Americans.

At times feeling like an edge-of-your-seat thriller straight off a movie screen, The Homeland Directive should appeal to anyone who wants a little more than capes-and-tights superhero fare, and appreciates a fast-paced story with real-world danger and implications.


Fables: The Deluxe Edition, Books 1-3

fables.jpgIt seems like faery tales are all the rage these days on television, but comic book readers have been privy to years of edgy spins on Snow White, Pinocchio, and the rest of the faery-tale world in Bill Willingham’s Fables. The award-winning series chronicles the adventures of popular characters from folklore who were forced to hide out in modern-day Manhattan after being driven from their homelands by a mysterious adversary.

The series reached its 100th issue earlier this year, but these hardcover collections each take you through 10-12 issues of the series and offer lots of great extras that other editions are missing. If you like what you read, you can decide to catch up with the more frequently published paperback collections or even the single issues – but these editions are a great way to begin this thrilling series that somehow manages to get better with every story arc.


Scenes From A Multiverse: Book One

multiverse.jpgJonathan Rosenberg had everyone guessing what was next when he ended his long-running, wildly popular webcomic Goats, but his follow-up series Scenes From A Multiverse has more than lived up to expectations. Chronicling the weird science and alien cultures of a variety of fictional planets, Scenes From A Multiverse manages to be both hilarious and thought-provoking – and the perfect gift for the comics fan on your list who doesn’t mind a few jokes about advanced physics and the trouble with time-travel drugs.

Scenes From A Multiverse: Book One is the first (obviously) collection of Rosenberg’s popular new series, and features an introduction by Skepchick.org lead writer Rebecca Watson.


Octopus Pie: There Are No Stars In Brooklyn

brooklyn.jpgMore than just a love letter to the urban experience, Meredith Gran’s Octopus Pie is a wonderful story about two women trying to figure out how to make the best of life in that uncertain time after school ends and the rest of your “grown-up” life begins. The first two years of Gran’s poignant, funny, and occasionally very personal webcomic were collected in this treasury published by Villard Books, which also includes a bonus story available only in the collection.

As with all webcomics, if your intended recipient enjoys the book, he or she will find plenty more comics to read on the Octopus Pie website – so there’s a good chance you’ll be giving a gift that keeps on giving.


The Abominable Charles Christopher: Book One

snowman.jpgKarl Kerschl’s beautifully detailed webcomic about an adorably naïve sasquatch and a forest full of talking animals was named the best digital comic of 2011 at this year’s Eisners – the comic industry’s most prestigious award ceremony. A respected artist already known for his work on various superhero comics like Teen Titans: Year One and the aforementioned Wednesday Comics #1 (as well as a well-received comic based on the Assassin’s Creed video game series), Kerschl has made a nice home for himself in the online world among the wise-cracking creatures of Charles Christopher.

Kerschl self-published this first print collection of the series in a nice paperback edition that deserves equal space on any comic fan’s bookshelf. Simply put, if you don’t find yourself grinning while reading Charles Christopher, you might not have a soul.

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Fast Times at Ridgemont High Ratner

Name Game

The Best ’80s Movie Nicknames

Catch Fast Times at Ridgemont High during IFC's '80s Weekend.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Shakespeare once asked, “What’s in a name?” If Ol’ Bill was a Hollywood screenwriter during the ’80s, he might’ve mused, “What’s in a nickname?” Any ’80s movie worth its popped-collar and feathered hair had at least one character with a great nickname. In celebration of IFC’s ’80s Weekend, we compiled a list of some of our favorites.

1. Maverick and Goose, Top Gun

Maverick Goose
Paramount Pictures

Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) and Lt. JG Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) are not only best friends — they’re the best pilots aboard the USS Enterprise, which is why they’re sent to the Top Gun school. Maverick, as his codename suggests, is a total hotheaded risk taker while Goose tends to be a bit more cautious and protective. During the ’80s, Maverick and Goose had one of the all-time great movie bromances, inspiring a loving feeling that even the Righteous Brothers couldn’t lose.


2. Baby, Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing Swayze
Vestron Pictures

“That was the summer of 1963 –- when everybody called me Baby, and it didn’t occur to me to mind.” So says 17-year-old Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) at the beginning of Dirty Dancing. Baby begins the summer as an idealistic and naïve young woman who has her eyes opened to the ways of the world by working class dance instructor/eye candy Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) and the summer staff of Kellerman’s. By the end of her sexy, ballroom dancing-filled, coming-of-age in the Catskills, it’s safe to say she’s definitely outgrown her Baby nickname.


3. Duckie, Pretty in Pink

Duckie Pretty in Pink
Paramount Pictures

Philip F. Dale, better known to the students of his high school as “Duckie,” is actually quite the odd duck. From his bolo ties and dirty white “Duckman” loafers (which all the hipsters in Brooklyn are now wearing) to his pompadour hair and love for Otis Redding, Duckie never tries to fit in with the in-crowd. Like his avian counterpart, Duckie seems to be floating through life and school, much to best gal pal Andie’s chagrin, but he doesn’t let much ruffle his proverbial feathers except guys named after appliances who try to date the object of his affections.


4. Mouth, Chunk, Sloth, and Data, The Goonies

Goonies
Warner Bros.

HEY YOU GUUUUUYS! There are two kinds of people in the world: those who say “die” and Goonies. Our favorite ragtag band of adolescent adventurers from Astoria, Oregon all have totally killer, perfect nicknames. Mouth (Corey Feldman) has a smartass comment for everything even in Spanish. Chunk (Jeff Cohen) enjoys making fake vomit and eating pepperoni pizza. Sloth (John Matuszak) is a little slow-moving, but knows how to make a dashing Errol Flynn-style entrance. Data (Ke Huy Quan) builds pretty nifty booby traps. Mikey (Sean Astin), Brand (Josh Brolin), Stef (Martha Plimpton) and Andy (Kerri Green) round out the precocious gang who managed to steal both our hearts AND One-Eyed Willie’s treasure in this 1985 cult classic. Fratellis, watch out!


5. Indiana Jones

Scruffy archeology professor/adventure-seeker, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is usually the one unearthing secrets, so it came as a bit of a shock when it was revealed Indiana is not his real first name. At the end of Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, Henry Jones, Sr. (a playful Sean Connery) reveals that Indy’s name is Henry Jones, Jr. after loyal pal Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) keeps asking, “What does it always mean, this ‘‘Junior’?” The punchline is that our dashing, Nazi butt-kicking hero took his nickname from none other than his scrappy childhood dog. Awww puppy love looks good on you, Indy, erm, Henry!


6. Stiles, Teen Wolf

Enterprising teen Rupert “Stiles” Stilinski (Jerry Levine) never met a sarcastic/slightly offensive T-shirt he didn’t love. When he’s not sartorially expressing himself, he’s being the life of the party or running some scheme to make a little fast cash, capitalizing on best friend Scott’s (Michael J. Fox) werewolf alter-ego in every way he can. Whether van surfing with Scott, trying to get a keg for a party, or cracking wise, Stiles always does everything in style.


7. Rat, Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Fast Times
Universal Pictures

Inexperienced Ridgemont High nerd Rat (Brian Backer) is head over heels for popular Stacy (Jennifer Jason Leigh), but he lacks the skills and social status to land her, i.e. he’s pretty far down the high school food chain. Like the mammal with whom he shares his nickname, Rat spends a lot of time in the dark both literally (he works at a movie theatre in the mall) and figuratively (fumbling his way through his feelings for Stacy), even nervously scurrying away from Stacy’s advances with his tail between his legs, so to speak. Rat definitely gets picked on, but he has a biting sense of humor about pretty much everything.


8. Pee Wee, Porky’s

Porky's Pee Wee
20th Century Fox

The most desperate of his group of friends to lose his virginity, Pee Wee concocts plan after plan to “become a man,” all of which fail miserably. Definitely the runt of the litter, so to speak, Pee Wee is often the butt of everyone’s jokes. And since this is a raunchy sex comedy where guys drop trou fairly often, we probably don’t have to explain what Pee Wee’s nickname REALLY refers to.


9. Snake, Escape from New York

Snake Plissken
Embassy Pictures

Forget what you heard — Snake Plissken (full name: S.D. Bob Plissken) is DEFINITELY not dead. And if there’s anyone we’d trust with the survival of the human race and the rescue of the President, it’s the former Special Forces war hero turned criminal with the badass eyepatch and cobra tattoo on his abdomen. With a sharp tongue and killer instincts, Snake always manages to slither his way out of the worst situations (like being injected with explosives that will kill him in 22 hours if he doesn’t complete his mission). Oh, and somehow he does it all without ever wrecking his perfectly-coiffed hair. Consider us jealoussssssssss, Ssssnake!


10. Cobra

With a name like Marion Cobretti, it’s pretty much a given that you’re going to go into a line of work that involves bashing heads and blowing away creeps. As played by Sylvester Stallone in the over-the-top 1986 action movie that shares his name, “Cobra” lives up to his nickname by being coldblooded when it comes to dispensing justice to any perp who gets in his way.

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blog-ringwald-featured

Good Golly Ms. Molly

Ranking the Guys From Molly Ringwald’s John Hughes Movies

Catch Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles during IFC's '80s Weekend.

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Photo Credit: Universal Studios

John Hughes isn’t the only one who loved Molly Ringwald throughout the 1980s. Thanks to his trio of Brat Pack movies starring the teen icon, we all did. And since her character’s biggest problem is often who is going to take her to the next school dance, we’ve decided to take a look at her many memorable suitors and rank them from lamest to dreamiest. (For more Molly, catch The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles during IFC’s ’80s Weekend.)

10. Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe), Sixteen Candles

Long Duk Dong
Universal Studios

In addition to annoying Sam (Ringwald), foreign exchange student “The Donger” manages to score a date at the school dance before her. Plus, he’s got the whole dated cultural stereotype thing going against him.


9. Bryce (John Cusack), Sixteen Candles

John Cusack Sixteen Candles
Universal Studios

As one of the geeks who pines for Sam, Bryce may have some nifty gadgets but he’s barely a blip on her radar. Give it a few years, Cusack. You’ll get the girl eventually.


8. Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez), The Breakfast Club

Universal Studios
Universal Studios

You may have missed it but at the start of their day-long detention at Shermer High School, Andrew casually invites Claire (Ringwald) to a party that very night. She brushes him off. Which leaves him with Ally Sheedy’s “basketcase” Allison styled by Claire as an in-crowd lookalike. Which probably means Andrew still wants Claire.


7. Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall), The Breakfast Club

Universal Studios
Universal Studios

Brian’s the only one on the list who doesn’t openly pursue Molly, but we can totally see him pining after Claire from his desk. In fact, Brian puts his hat on his lap at one point to hide his erection then boasts of having sex with her. Right, like maybe in your mind, Brian.


6. Steff (James Spader), Pretty in Pink

pretty-spader
Paramount Pictures

Spoiled rich kid Steff has been hitting on Andie (Ringwald) in the school parking lot for years yet she won’t give him the time of day. His revenge? He trashes her to his best friend then makes her feel like a hoser at his house party. Seriously, she should ask him to the prom and then leave him hanging. This guy needs a takedown.


5. “Farmer Ted” (Anthony Michael Hall), Sixteen Candles

16-candes-2
Universal Studios

Ted’s all false bravado and his constant fawning over Ringwald’s Sam is kind of cute until he crosses the line and starts charging admission so his fellow geeks can gawk at her polka-dotted underwear. His blackout sex with a senior doesn’t bode well either. He’s young, so maybe he’ll grow out of it.


4. Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling), Sixteen Candles

Universal Studios
Universal Studios

Yes, dreamy Jake gets Sam a belated birthday cake and saves her from attending her sister’s wedding reception which is bound to be a bummer. But he also pawns off his drunken ex on a freshman after remarking that she’s passed out upstairs and could be done any which way. Plus he cruises Sam before he’s even single. Jake? More like jerk.


3. John Bender (Judd Nelson), The Breakfast Club

Universal Studios
Universal Studios

Bender’s so deep, he bares his soul and the cigar burn he got from his pop. He’s also the first guy to see Claire’s panties up close while she’s wearing them. By the end of the movie, he’s got her diamond earring in his palm and she’s got him in the palm of her hand.


2. Duckie (Jon Cryer), Pretty in Pink

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Who defends Andie’s honor when Steff and the other rich kids put her down? Who’s there to escort her into the prom when Blane stands her up? Who exhibits somewhat stalker behavior by bicycling by her house every day? It’s Duckie! “Do I offend??” Yes, but we still love ya, Duck.


1. Blane (Andrew McCarthy), Pretty in Pink

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

He stood her up at her last prom but we just know he’d never do that again. I mean, he LOVES her. And frankly, she loves him. Plus, she tricked him into buying a Steve Lawrence album, for God’s sake. They both jerked each other around. Get over those abandonment issues with your mom, Andie. This one’s a keeper.

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The Last American Virgin 1980

Back to School

10 Underrated ’80s Teen Movies You Need to See

Go back to high school with The Breakfast Club, Footloose and more during IFC's '80s Weekend.

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Photo Credit: Cannon Film/ Everett Collection.

The 1980s saw the rise of cable television and the fall of the Soviet Union, but you can make a case that it’s also the decade where the teen movie really came into its own. Whether you were once a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess or a criminal, we can all relate to ’80s teen movies. But as much as we love John Hughes, there were some great teen movies from the Atari decade that had huge laughs and a few life lessons that didn’t come from the mind of the great and soulful teen whisperer. Before you flashback with IFC’s ’80s Weekend, check out these 10 underrated teen movies that deserve to be seen.

10. The Last American Virgin

The success of the hilariously raunchy Porky’s jump-started the R-Rated teen comedy genre, and no movie captures the way-too-harsh reality of being a sex-crazed and hormone filled teen like 1982’s The Last American Virgin.

Starring Diane Franklin of Better Off Dead and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure fame, The Last American Virgin has a gritty look and a cast of young actors who could’ve come straight from a Devo concert or roller rink. This movie is the greatest PSA for teen abstinence ever made as our hero Gary (Lawrence Monoson) and his pals go through some raw and un-sexy attempts to lose their virginity, including an awkward encounter with a prostitute that would never be confused for Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.

The Last American Virgin is mostly remembered today for having the saddest ending ever for a teen comedy that also has Oingo Boingo on the soundtrack. It’s right up there with the ending to Old Yeller, except it’s Gary’s heart that gets shot to pieces by his jerk friend Rick (Steve Antin) and the girl he thought he loved.


9. Hiding Out

The 1987 high school comedy Hiding Out gave Jon Cryer the chance to play an adult after immortalizing himself in teen moviedom as Duckie in Pretty in Pink. Except here he plays a twenty-something stock broker forced to pose as a teenager in order to hide out from the Mob. It helps that when he shaves off his beard, he’s got a baby face and convinces his nephew Patrick (an even more baby faced Keith Coogan) to hide the fact that he’s living in the upstairs bedroom from his aunt.

Cryer’s Andrew Morenski becomes the impulsively named “Maxwell Hauser” and proceeds to have a much more popular high school experience the second time around. He develops a kinship with the adorably sweet Ryan (Mystic Pizza‘s Annabeth Gish) and ends up running for Class President, which isn’t the best way to keep a low profile. Cryer and Gish have a sweet chemistry together and Coogan’s Andrew has some funny moments trying to fit in with the cool guys at school.

If you’re looking for an ’80s blast complete with a roller rink date and a soundtrack that includes everything from the Johnny Rotten band Public Image Ltd. to Pretty Poison’s pop gem “Catch Me (I’m Falling),” then you’d be wise to spend a night in with Hiding Out.


8. Little Darlings

Featuring ’70s child stars Kristy McNichol and Tatum O’Neal as rival 15-year-olds coming of age at summer camp, 1980’s Little Darlings is like a feature length “After school special” that’ll leave you feeling as good as its soft rock soundtrack. McNichol is Angel (don’t let the name fool you), the rough-around-the edges tomboy who’s new to the camp. O’Neal plays Ferris Whitney, the girl seemingly born with a silver spoon in her mouth. All the girls in their bunk are likeable and funny and the story revolves around a bet Angel and Ferris make to see who loses their virginity first.(No easy feat at an all-girls camp.)

Little Darlings is the movie that every parent should have their teenage daughter watch, as the emotions Angel and Ferris go through are far more raw and real than the ones depicted in glossy modern teen dramas. Retro cameo alert: In addition to Matt Dillon in an early heartthrob role, look for a very young (and very blonde) Cynthia Nixon as one of the girls in the bunk who are all not quite ready for adulthood.


7. My Bodyguard

Before Matt Dillon solidified his teen idol status as the cool, unstable brother figure greaser in The Outsiders, he terrorized Chris Makepeace as a bully in My Bodyguard. Makepeace, who you may remember as the homesick camper in Meatballs, could’ve used Bill Murray in this film as he plays a kid whose dad (Martin Mull) becomes a manager at a Chicago hotel, forcing young Clifford Peache to become the new kid at school.

With a name like Clifford Peache, it’s no wonder he becomes a target for Matt Dillon’s Moody who likes to shake down the smaller kids for lunch money. Basically the Mafia boss of the school, Moody offers Clifford protection from another teen named Linderman (Adam Baldwin), who rumor has it killed his own brother. In a fun twist, Clifford befriends Linderman and tries to get him to be his bodyguard against Moody.

Baldwin (no relation to Alec) is great in his film debut as the titular bodyguard, and the casting of Ruth Gordon (Harold and Maude) as Clifford’s cantankerous grandma helps give My Bodyguard its quirky hidden gem status. (Keep an eye out for a young Joan Cusack as the geeky Shelley.)


6. River’s Edge

In the dark 1986 drama River’s Edge, the kids live in a stoned haze and run wild while the parents all seem to be more messed up than they are. The story revolves around how a group of teens react when one of their friends, Samson (Daniel Roebuck, delivering a truly creepy performance), kills a young woman for no apparent reason. Matt (Keanu Reeves) and Clarissa (Ione Skye) try to come to terms with what their friend has done while Layne (Crispin Glover, bringing a Nic Cage level of over-the-top intensity) tries to cover up the murder.

You know a movie is dark when it has Dennis Hopper playing a crazed Vietnam Vet who’s a little too attached to a blow up doll and he’s not even the creepiest character. That award belongs to Matt’s little brother Tim (Joshua John Miller), who gives one of the all-time creepiest/funniest child actor performances as a punk kid who doesn’t just fall in with the wrong crowd but is the wrong crowd. Tim’s crazy eyes, along with everything Crispin Glover does, helps make River’s Edge a cult classic.


5. Vision Quest

Forget the Rocky movies — if you were a teenage boy in the ’80s, Vision Quest was the movie that had you doing push-ups in your living room. When Louden Swain (Matthew Modine) decides to drop over 20 pounds to wrestle an immovable object/cyborg of a state champion rival, he takes on the biggest challenge of his life and slowly wins the trust of his teammates and coach.

Featuring Linda Fiorentino as the older woman that Louden falls for, Vision Quest is a movie about how what you can accomplish in six minutes can change your life. It’s also a pure shot of ’80s awesomeness with Michael Shoeffling, aka Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles, sporting a Mohawk and The Material Girl herself performing “Crazy for You” at a club.


4. Heaven Help Us

Welcome to St. Basil’s, a Catholic school where they preach discipline and patience — except patience is a paddle wielded by Brother Constance (Jay Patterson), a sadistic priest dedicated to instilling his will and spoiling any fun had at the all-boys school. In 1965 Brooklyn, Michael Dunn (Andrew McCarthy) quickly learns that it’s not so much fun being the newbie at a strict Catholic school, until he reluctantly becomes friends with Kevin Dillon’s wise-cracking Rooney.

The gang — which includes Caesar (Malcome Danare), a know-it-all nerd who carries a laminated note to get him out of any gym related activities — end up breaking the rules and engaging in teenage shenanigans in their quest to meet girls. McCarthy’s Dunn is the heart of the movie as he recently lost his parents and meets Danni (Mary Stuart Masterson), a girl who runs the local soda shop and cares for her depressed father.

Masterson exudes approachable cool, and shares some sweet moments with McCarthy. Look for The Princess Bride‘s Wallace Shawn as a priest who gives a lecture on the evils of “lussst.”


3. The Legend of Billie Jean

Teenage boys in the ’80s may have had Heather Locklear’s poster on their wall, but they dreamed of Helen Slater as Billie Jean. Slater stars as a Texas girl who lives in a trailer park with her mother and her brother Binx (played by a young Christian Slater) and dreams of living in Vermont. When spoiled and cocky Hubie (Barry Tubb) hits on Billie Jean and steals Binx’s scooter, it sets off a chain of events that leads to Billie Jean, Binx and their friends becoming fugitives.

Billie Jean lives up to her outlaw name as she becomes famous and helps people she meets while on the run. At one point, Billie Jean cuts her hair to look like Joan of Arc and also conveniently looks a lot like a blonde Pat Benatar, whose song “Invincible” is played throughout the film. Billie memorably says the line “Fair is Fair,” but it’s not fair that The Legend of Billie Jean isn’t legendary in its own right.


2. The Hollywood Knights

The Hollywood Knights might’ve been riding on the ’60s revival coattails that American Graffiti, but the George Lucas classic didn’t have a scene where prankster Newbomb Turk (Robert Wuhl) farts “Volare” into a microphone at a school dance. This classic scene of teenage shenanigans is just one of numerous Animal House-style moments that have lived on in the memories of anyone who stayed up to watch The Hollywood Knights on late night cable in the ’80s.

Newbomb is the goofball of The Knights, a car gang with a longstanding tradition of annoying the stuffy Beverly Hills Resident’s Association. The gang of teenage misfits causes havoc for the snobs who shut down the Knights’ hangout, Tubby’s Drive-In. It doesn’t get more ’80s than a film where a young Michelle Pfeiffer makes out with Tony Danza and Fran “The Nanny” Drescher turns up as a young fan of Newbomb’s antics.


1. The Flamingo Kid

Directed by the late, great comedy master Gary Marshall, The Flamingo Kid is one of the most likeable and underrated films of the ’80s. Matt Dillon breaks out of the tough teen mold as Jeffrey Willis, a kid who just graduated high school in 1960s Brooklyn and gets a job working at a posh Long Island Beach club that his upper middle class friends belong to.

A classic fish out of water (or fish out of Brooklyn) story ensues when wide-eyed Jeffrey meets a flashy car salesman (Richard Creena) who shows him a life his working class father doesn’t understand. Jeffrey’s not just another kid from Brooklyn — he also happens to be a world-class gin rummy player, and when he gets a chance at joining the big game, he makes the right choice at the table and in life. Give this one a shot and you’ll be rooting for “The Flamingo Kid” to say “Sweet Ginger Brown.”

Catch The Breakfast Club, Footloose and Fast Times at Ridgemont High during IFC’s ’80s Weekend! For more classic films you need to see, check out our list of underrated ’80s comedies

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