November 3rd, 2011
Listomania: Houston Makes the Movies
When it comes to movies, Houston isn’t a mecca in any regard. We have, however, made a few splashes on the silver screen. Here are eleven. We’re sure you can add more. In fact, we even left off a couple of well-known cinema classics just to give you fodder to scream, “UR SO STOOPID!! DON’T YOU MEMBER DIS ONE?! PWNAGE!”
Give us your favorites or the ones we missed, in the comments.
Apollo 13 (1995) – “So long, Earth. Catch you on the flip side.”
Starring: Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris
You know, it’s easy to put any of a number of movies that involve astronauts into a list like this. Can’t Apollo 13 just stand as all of them at once? I mean, how many times have you seen the huge round door of NASA’s diving/training tank open and close during a space movie?
Hellfighters (1968) – “…the biggest piece of crap I’ve ever done!” – Katharine Ross
Starring: John Wayne
The story explodes with John Wayne’s Chance Buckman, a character loosely based on fire fighter extraordinaire, ‘Red’ Adair. It’s about what you’d expect. Sure, it has the Duke. But by this time, his career was going out like the blazes he smothered in the movie. Oh and then it’s Baytown—refineries and such. They’re necessary, but shouldn’t have been included in the 1968 Houston PR package.
Sugar Hill (1974) – “Meet SUGAR HILL and her ZOMBIE HIT MEN…The Mafia has never met anything like them!”
Starring: Marki Bey, Robert Quarry, Don Pedro Colley
Let’s see, what are some vital plot points that might help you wipe that confounded look off your face? Sugar Hill raises an army with the aid of Baron Samedi and does so out of revenge for her boyfriend’s murder at the hands of la Cosa Nostra. An important location in the film was none other than the Heights Branch of the Houston Public Library. Maybe some a’ the old voodoo texts were left behind.
Terms of Endearment (1983) – “Five Academy Awards!”
Starring: Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Jeff Daniels, John Lithgow
Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger are mother and daughter, McLaine, a single woman and Winger, married to Jeff Daniels. McLaine becomes involved with Jack Nicholson, an astronaut, who acts much as he later does in As Good as It Gets. People cheat. Notably, Winger with Lithgow. A disease is discovered. Truths are realized. Brennan’s, the Heights, and River Oaks—all tucked into the background, like Flap and Emma’s garage apartment on Heights Blvd.
Urban Cowboy (1980) – “My legs are sweatin’, momma.” – Sissy
Starring: John Travolta, Debra Winger, Scott Glenn, Barry Corbin, James Gammon, Charlie Daniels
Two-stepping with two left feet and a lack of rhythm make for a mess. Meet the plot—it’s easier to follow Sugar Hill, and somehow, there’s no denying its place among the classics. Travolta comes to Houston. He works at a refinery in Pasadena. He meets Sissy. He learns to ride a bull to keep her from running off with Wes. Newsflash: The overall decline in mechanical bull riding venues is directly responsible for the increase in America’s divorce rate. And the only place of note, is Gilley’s. It’s a grass field with an old sign. Buck up little cowpoke, there’s always *cough, Rebels.
Brewster McCloud (1970) – “My favorite directorial effort.” – Robert Altman
Starring: Stacy Keach (A-hole, Cameron from American History X), Bud Cort, Shelley Duvall, Margaret Hamilton (Witch, Wicked Witch from Wizard of Oz)
Brewster is an odd fella that resides in the depths of the Astrodome. Hoping to fly, he creates a massive pair of wings. Strange bird related deaths occur, prompting the investigation by law man Frank Shaft. Brewster goes on the run. The Wicked Witch sings the national anthem. Weird, right? Get to what’s relevant. Like Gilley’s, much of the Houston scenery in the film no longer exists, or has been dramatically altered. Case in point, Astroworld.
Reality Bites (1994) – “Hello, you’ve reached the winter of our discontent.” – Troy
Starring: Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Janeane Garofalo, Steve Zahn, Ben Stiller, Renée Zellweger
The post college lull—uncertain times for those that actually manage to infiltrate the professional club and even more so for those resisting anything resembling corporate. It’s flannel hipsters vs. shoulder pad wearing yuppies. To sellout or not to sellout? In the end, we all do. Gotta finish paying off that loan for the water bed fish tank. The Heights and Tranquility Park both make an appearance. Now, go smoke some Camels and loiter by the fountains.
My Best Friend is a Vampire (1987) – “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades” – Timbuk3
Starring: Robert Sean Leonard (Oncologist in House), Kathy Bates, David Warner
This one’s not to be mistaken for Jim Carrie’s Once Bitten. Leonard is bitten by a three hundred year old vampiress. He resists feeding on humans and instead hits up the local butcher for pig’s blood. Be cautious, should you find similar behavior at Revival Market. He learns the ropes from Rene Auberjonois (appeared in Brewster McCould) while evading the mad Professor Leopold McCarthy. Take a date to Eleanor Tinsley Park or reminisce about the old Whole Foods on Shepherd. Either way, stay outta the sunlight.
The Chase (1994) – “You kidnapped me with a candy bar?”
Starring: Charlie Sheen, Kristy Swanson, Henry Rollins, Flea, Anthony Kiedis
Being a car chase, this movie got around and that may or may not be a reference to the questionable actions performed while driving—this was before texting. Whaa? Sheen is a criminal. He kidnaps Swanson. They run from the police. Swanson falls in love with Sheen. I think they call that Stockholm Syndrome. We’ve got the Hardy Toll Road, a convenience store in Kemah, the Mecom Fountain, and HPD Headquarters. Go for a drive.
Sidekicks (1992) – “Gabrewski, if you die I’m going to shoot myself and come on after you!”
Starring: Chuck Norris, Jonathan Brandis, Mako, Beau Bridges, Danica McKellar (Winnie Cooper)
Asthmatic Brandis enlists the help of Mako, to teach him the martial arts so that he might defend himself. How’s this different from The Karate Kid? It has Chuck Norris. Trade waxing wood for getting hit in the face with dough balls. Go back to Tranquility Park. Then jump into your sweats and jog it on over to the Water Wall and Lamar High School. Ya gotta train for the big fight. C’mon kid.
Independence Day (1996) – Houston is destroyed by a nuclear warhead.
Starring: Will Smith, Bill Pullman (similar to Paxton), Jeff Goldblum, Brent Spiner (Data), Randy Quaid
Aliens invade earth. They will not stop until the entire human race has been annhilated. What’s the solution? Nuke the bastards. Which city is chosen as the prototype to try out this method? Houston, of course. By the time our city makes its cameo on screen, it’s been turned into a pile of radioactive rubble. At least Jeff Goldblum saved the rest of earth in the end.
Penned mostly by Richard. Yell at him if you must.