1980s Mismatched Double Features – Netflix DVD Blog

By James David Patrick

A long time in the offing, this follow-up to my list of Mismatched 1990s Double Features took a time to gestate. The initial list of movies flooded multiple scratch notebook pages and Word documents. Multiple six-hour flights provide time for the mind to wander and pair random hypothetical double features.

Who needs in-flight entertainment when you’ve got a readily accessible and useless catalog of 80s movie titles? The trick is merging the clever with the quality. Providing the surprise twist, but also selecting a pair of movies that would honestly make a great night at the movies. You might vehemently disagree in a couple of instances, but consider the pairing, consider how the movies could play off each other to change our perception of tone and genre tropes.

We’re all busy humans so I’m going to paste some of the introductory copy from my prior list, linked up above. Consider it a TV-show jingle that gets skipped three episodes into a four-hour binge. And if you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you.

A merely adequate double bill keeps you awake and engaged, whereas the best doubles create opposing and complementary forces that allow for a dialogue between films. In his New York Times feature, “In Praise of the Double Feature,” J. Hoberman states “the double feature created the art of programming.” Home movie watchers fancy themselves festival programmers every time they plan a multi-movie lineup or invite friends over for a movie marathon. Picking any two random movies from your shelf requires no nuance or consideration. That’s not programming. Good doubles (or triples!) hold our interest throughout and leave us wanting more – no matter how much movie we endure. But what’s the difference between mere adequacy and excellence?

Let’s dive deeper.

While there’s scholastic value in comparing The Thing From Another World (1951) and John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), for example, it requires no creative matchmaking to associate an original with its remake or a movie with its sequel. Likewise, it’s not viewer-friendly to program tonal stasis. Since we’ve made the 1980s the topic at hand, consider the following evening at the cinema: Platoon (1986) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989) – a before and after portrait of the Vietnam War. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a total slog.

The juxtaposition of seemingly disparate films, however, teaches us something about how we watch movies. The greatest doubles allow viewers to discover new threads of connectivity that might not have been otherwise apparent. Some of these just felt like a fun time at the movies. Others required a moment of deep thought. I hope you enjoy them all, conceptually, even if you never go through the motions of fulfilling the double bill.

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