Let’s face it. We’re all old. Even if that’s not technically true, there’s always something a person can say or do to make you feel that way. One of those is when we realize a movie we feel an affinity for is way older than we remember it being. The best course of action? Use the fact that your favorite movie is about to celebrate a landmark anniversary and watch it again!
io9 has collected another chunk of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror films celebrating some big anniversaries this year. You’ll probably see us highlighting a few of them individually as the year goes on—in fact, you’ll find two examples at these links—but for now, take a look and bask in the nostalgia. We already did winter and spring, and now, it’s time for summer.
Batman: The Movie (July 30) - Matt Reeves, Christopher Nolan, Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher—they can all take a back seat to Leslie H. Martinson. He directed this 55-year-old masterpiece that spun off the popular Adam West/Burt Ward TV show in a feature-length, mega-crossover event movie. It still holds up beautifully.
Fantastic Voyage (August 24) - Not to be confused with the Coolio song of the same name, this Oscar-winning sci-fi film is about a submarine shrunk down to help save an ailing scientist by going inside his body. Several other films and TV shows have stolen the premise in the decades since but the original still works as well as ever.
The Omega Man (August 1) - Before Will Smith was I Am Legend, Charlton Heston was The Omega Man. Both films were based on Richard Matheson’s book about a man who believes he’s the last surviving human battling some kind of monsters. This is the smaller, more dated version obviously, but still packs a punch.
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (August 27) - This creepy, moody horror film probably deserves its own entry and, what do you know, io9 has you covered with this deep dive Retro Review.
Dracula vs. Frankenstein (September 20) - What more could you want? On one side you’ve got Dracula. And on the other, you’ve got Frankenstein’s monster. From what we can tell, what you might want is a much better movie because this one has largely gotten forgotten.
Futureworld (July 28) - Way before Westworld was a hit HBO show, it originated as a movie... which then got a sequel called Futureworld. You can read our very own, long-form Retro Review here.
Obsession (August 1) - Though they made bigger, more famous movies in the years that followed, writer Paul Schrader and director Brian De Palma teamed up for this solid, tense thriller about a man who becomes obsessed with a woman who looks like his late wife.
Escape from New York (July 10) - It’s a good year for fans of John Carpenter/Kurt Russell team-ups, such as this neo-noir classic about an outlaw dropped into dystopian Manhattan to rescue the President. Often imitated, rarely duplicated, Escape from New York kicks ass and takes names.
Heavy Metal (August 7) - Violence, nudity, sex... what’s not to like about this cult animated anthology film, based on the sci-fi magazine of the same name and featuring a who’s who of voice and animation talent all combining to blow your damned mind?
An American Werewolf in London (August 21) - Director John Landis made one of the best horror comedies ever in 1981, telling the story of two American tourists who get caught up in some werewolf mayhem thanks to Rick Baker’s Oscar-winning effects.
Also: The Fox and the Hound (July 10), Wolfen (July 24), Condorman (August 7 ), Hell Night (August 28), Mommie Dearest (September 18), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (August 22)
Big Trouble in Little China (July 2) - Five years almost to the day since their collaboration with Escape From New York, John Carpenter and Kurt Russell teamed up again (with The Thing in between of course) for an even more madcap action film with monsters and ancient magic and tank tops and 18-wheelers. Basically, a perfect film.
Labyrinth (July 27) - While I personally was never enamored with Labyrinth, it’s become clear in the years since its release that I’m in the minority. Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie star in this stunning fantasy made by director Jim Henson and executive producer George Lucas. Not a bad pedigree.
Aliens (July 18) - If the original Alien is one of the scariest sci-fi movies of all time, James Cameron’s follow-up, Aliens, is the most exciting. With incredible action, effects, and characters, it’s truly not just one of the best sequels ever, but one of the best sci-fi movies ever, period.
Flight of the Navigator (August 1) - A little boy goes missing for several years and randomly reappears having not aged at all. Oh and there’s a spaceship. And Pee-Wee Herman. Intriguing, yes? Well, read our longer Retro Review of this dated but fun 1980s Disney film right here.
Transformers The Movie (August 8) - Oh, so that means it will be 35 years since children who grew up in the 1980s realized what death was when this movie killed Optimus Prime? Yes.
The Fly (August 15) - Gross. Vile. Hilarious. Yes, Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, and David Cronenberg sure did team up to make a weird, unforgettable movie called The Fly.
Stand By Me (August 22) - Stephen King adaptations are a dime a dozen these days. But 35 years ago, director Rob Reiner took one of his short stories and turned it into maybe one of the best movies of the decade. Killer cast, soundtrack, just perfection through and through.
Night of the Creeps (August 22) - Thrill me and read our full Retro Review of this cult classic right here.
Also: The Great Mouse Detective (July 2), Psycho 3 (July 2), Robotech the Movie (July 25), Maximum Overdrive (July 25), Howard the Duck (August 1), Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (August 1), Manhunter (August 15), Blue Velvet (September 19)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (July 3) - Five years after making “truly not just one of the best sequels ever, but one of the best sci-fi movies ever, period” with “incredible action, effects, characters” James Cameron went did it again with Terminator 2. And yes, I’m quoting myself from a few hundred words ago.
Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (July 19) - It took 30 years to see a follow-up but that doesn’t matter. Even with the new film now a reality, Bogus Journey was a fitting, wild, hilarious sequel and worthy conclusion to the story of Bill and Ted. Station!
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (September 13) - I was so, so excited to see this movie when I came out. And I loved it. It was in 3D! So cool! In the years since I’ve realized it’s pretty bad but it’s got lots of very funny, very dumb Freddy and that’s always fun.
Independence Day (July 3) - When you think of movies that define the 1990s, it’s hard to top this Roland Emmerich mega-blockbuster about aliens decimating planet Earth and the few survivors brave enough to fight back. Just pure, unfiltered, cheeseball entertainment.
The Frighteners (July 19) - Before Peter Jackson set a course for Middle-earth he made this highly underrated, really excellent ghost story starring Michael J. Fox. Read a much longer write-up at this link.
Also: Phenomenon (July 5), Escape from LA (August 9), The Island of Dr. Moreau (August 23), Solo (August 23), The Crow: City of Angels (August 30)
Planet of the Apes (July 27) - The Tim Burton one. Not the great Charlton Heston one. And not the excellent Andy Serkis ones, though those are coming up. No, the Mark Wahlberg one. You probably forgot it happened but trust us, it did.
Jurassic Park III (July 18) - First Jurassic Park? Masterpiece. Second Jurassic Park? Average but okay. Third Jurassic Park? Makes no freaking sense but let’s get some new dinosaurs in here and bring back some old characters. Is that enough? No. But also, kind of?
The Others (Aug 10) - M. Night Shyamalan may have followed up The Sixth Sense with Unbreakable, but in terms of cultural sequels, it was this Nicole Kidman thriller that felt like a true, spiritual sequel, thanks to the similar scares and a buzzy, surprise ending.
Also: Scary Movie 2 (July 4), Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (July 11), Osmosis Jones (August 10), Jeepers Creepers (August 31)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (July 7) - That the first Pirates of the Caribbean worked was something of a miracle. This, the first of several sequels, works too, but it’s so much more reliant on visual effects that it feels like it’s from another series. Still entertaining though.
Lady in the Water (July 21) - M. Night Shyamalan was on fire in the early 2000s but eventually faded away for a few years. If you’d like to see the reason why, it’s called Lady in the Water and it celebrates its 15th anniversary this July. He made several more big movies after this, but here’s where it all went wrong, until 2015's The Visit.
Snakes on a Plane (August 18) - Best known for being so overly hyped on social media and blogs coming out of San Diego Comic-Con and then failing miserably, Snakes on a Plane is still a quintessential “so bad it’s good” kind of movie.
Also: Monster House (July 21), The Wicker Man (August 1), Crank (September 1), Idiocracy (September 1),
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (July 7) - That means this summer marks 10 years since the Harry Potter movies ended. Like we said right up at the top of this article, feeling old yet?
Captain America: The First Avenger (July 19) This spring brought a new Captain America to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the form of Sam Wilson, so it’s fitting that 2021 is also the 10-year anniversary of Steve Rogers’ first appearance in the MCU, in a film that remains one of the best in the entire saga.
Attack the Block (July 29) - While it might have premiered at a film festival a few months prior, summer was when the world was first introduced to John Boyega as Moses, riding across London, kicking the crap out of vile space aliens. And now, 10 years later, a sequel is in the works. Allow it.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (August 5) - While its two sequels were obviously superior, this first Apes prequel starring James Franco is the reason they exist. It’s decidedly more human than the other films, especially since main ape Caesar is young, but it’s still a deeply moving, emotional sci-fi action-adventure.
Real Steel (Sept 6) - Fan of sports movies and sci-fi so rarely get a genre crossover, let alone a good one. But Real Steel, starring Hugh Jackman as a man who, along with his son, brings a scrappy young robot to Robot Boxing glory, is absolutely a good one.
The Raid (Sept 8) - Gareth Evans’ Indonesian martial artist film was so influential, so groundbreaking, and so jaw-dropping that it basically changed the entire action genre. If you haven’t seen it, it and its sequel are simply incredible.
Also: Cowboys & Aliens (July 23), Final Destination 5 (August 4), Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (August 19), Fright Night (August 14) Contagion (September 3)
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