A big welcome to Kristi Charish who is here telling us about the 80s movies that influenced her Owl series and celebrating the release of Owl and the City of Angels, Adventures of Owl #2 (published on October 15, 2015 by Pocket Star).
Kristi Charish’s Influential 80s Movies
As some of you may (or may not) know, one of the major influences on my writing has been action adventure movies- particularly of the 1980’s variety. When I started writing, my love of those campy, adventure happy movies was what pushed me to write Owl. Rather than concentrate on the big hitters- Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Goonies (Oh, that Cindi Lauper song!!), The Princess Bride, and Back to the Future – I figured I’d mention some of the lesser discussed movies – ones you may have heard of or, if you grew up in the eighties, may get the rusty gears moving.
Below are five movies that may not be on your radar if you didn’t grow up in the eighties…enjoy, and chime in if you’ve seen these! (When they were released or otherwise!)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
(with honorable mention to Escape From New York/LA)
In Big Trouble in Little China, Kurt Russell plays hard-boiled truck driver Jack Burton, who gets roped into a strange conflict in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Lo Pan, an ancient Chinese sorcerer and modern day crime lord, has kidnapped a green-eyed Chinese woman who happens to be Jack’s best friend’s fiancée. Jack and a rag tag group of misfits who get pulled into the mix (and includes Kim Cattrall for SITC fans) have to stop Lo Pan and an assortment of ancient magic and monsters before Lo Pan can enact his evil plan and steal another few centuries worth youth and immortality.
It sounds ridiculous. It is ridiculous. Everyone I show this movie to rolls their eyes as the movie starts. And then they’re drawn in. This movie is an absolute 80’s cult classic. It’s adventure for the sake of adventure and veered away from the exotic locations of the Indy movies. It is ridiculous and fabulous because everyone- writers, actors, you name it- committed and bought into the plot. It’s on Netflix, and I highly recommend you give this one a shot.
Side note- if you are a fan of this movie make sure to check out Kurt Russell’s other eighties entries Escape from New York and Escape from LA. They are truly niche sci-fi masterpieces. For trivia, the character in those movies that Kurt Russell plays- Snake Lispkit, is absolutely the inspiration for Snake in the Metal Gear series. Eye Patch included.
Enemy Mine (1985)
When people chat aliens in the 80’s, usually images of ET or Sigourney Weaver as Ripley come to mind. This movie was another favorite of mine as a kid, but for very different reasons. The premise is that an intergalactic war is on between humans and an alien race known as the Dracs, a reptilian looking species, who are both trying to colonize planets in the distant future. During a space battle, pilot Willis Davidge (Dennis Quaid) crashes on a Volcanic planet. The only other survivor of the battle is a Drac, Jeriba Shigan, Willis’s enemy. The movie is spent watching the two of them put aside their differences and hatred for each other as they try to survive.
Not only was this a bit of an odd movie out in the 80’s-SFF movies were more fun adventure than looking at the potential disputes that could occur between future Alien encounters- but as a kid it was absolutely fascinating to watch the two characters try not to kill each other. I don’t know how many times I re-watched this- and the ending was a bit of a surprise. This movie won’t be for everyone but the fact it was even made in the 80’s surprises me even today.
Conan the Barbarian (1982)
This movie was probably my very first introduction to the wonderful world of Dungeons and Dragons…or at least that’s how I remember it. A vengeful barbarian warrior and his crew of misfits set off to avenge his family and kill the sorcerer who decimated his tribe. These movies (c/o Arnold Schwarzenegger & Grace Jones) showed the ideal D&D adventure team- a mage, a warrior, a thief, and Conan- the barbarian. Why do I love a movie with such a simple premise? Because they knew exactly what kind of movie they were setting out to make- a fun adventure that didn’t take itself to seriously. And everyone committed to the task. This movie was remade in 2011 but the remake didn’t do the original justice, namely it didn’t live up to it’s campy, all-in origins. The next time you are in the mood for a visually appealing adventure that puts fun first, check this one out.
Romancing the Stone (1984)
Another one of my favorite action movies as a kid, this one starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. If I remember the time period correctly, it was a real hit back in the 80’s but has fallen out of fashion in the last couple decades. That is a real shame. Particularly because this movie’s protagonist was really Kathleen Turner. Besides Sigourney Weaver in Alien, I don’t know of a lot of 80’s action movies that gave equal billing to a female protagonist. Michael Douglas is a main protagonist as well but Kathleen absolutely gets equal billing.
Kathleen Turner plays a introverted NYT Best selling romance writer who gets hurled into a real life adventure when her sister is kidnapped over a treasure map supposed to lead to the location of a priceless gem stone. She is helped by a brash mercenary type (Michael Douglas- who is actually less mercenary and more catching expensive birds to sell over seas) who convinces Kathleen to find the stone instead. Columbian cartels, Danny DeVito, and run-ins with the Columbian secret police later and we find out just what kind of romance writer Kathleen is and how much of a mercenary Michael Douglas is.
The follow-up, The Jewel of the Nile, was just as fun. If you want a fun romantic adventure where the protagonists don’t take themselves too seriously and are far from perfect, this is one to put high up on the list.
Good Morning, Vietnam (1988)
This one will probably strike everyone as the odd man out on this list, but hear me out. Dark humor mixed with a serious topic can do things other stories and movies can’t. There’s a lot to learn from this one.
Radio DJ Adrian Cronauer (Robin Williams) is sent to Vietnam to play jockey for American soldiers. Delighting G.I.s and shocking his superiors with his outrageous and irreverent take on the war (his superior spends a lot of time trying unsuccessfully to sensor Williams), the movie delivers a lot of laughs in between highlighting the horrors of war.
The beauty of mixing comedy with such a potentially topic is that if it’s done well, it can give an audience insights into tough topics. Out of all the movies on this list, if you haven’t seen Good Morning, Vietnam I recommend you put it on your to watch list.
Kristi is the author of OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS (Jan 13th, 2015, Simon and Schuster Canada/Pocket Books), an urban fantasy about a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. She writes what she loves; adventure heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix. She’s also a co-host for the Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing Podcast.
The second installment in the Owl series, OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS, is scheduled for release Oct 5th 2015. Her second urban fantasy series, KINCAID STRANGE (Random House Canada), about a voodoo practitioner living in Seattle, is scheduled for release mid 2016.
Kristi is also a scientist with a BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. Her specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, all of which she draws upon in her writing. She is represented by Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative Artists.
Owl and the City of Angels by Kristi Charish
Available on October 15, 2015 by Pocket Star
The wild second adventure for unforgettable antiquities thief Owl—a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world—from the pen of rising urban fantasy star Kristi Charish. For fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Jennifer Estep, Jenn Bennett, and the like.
Alix Hiboux, better known as Owl, international antiquities thief for hire, is settling into her new contract job for Vegas mogul Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon with a penchant for ancient, supernatural artifacts. And now he has his sights set on some treasures of the mysterious Syrian City of the Dead that are sitting in a recluse’s private collection.
There’s just one wrinkle. To stop the resurrection of an undead army that could wreak havoc on Los Angeles, Owl must break into a heavily guarded archaeological sight in one of the most volatile regions in the world. A detour through Libya and a run-in with Somali pirates sends the clock ticking hastily toward total paranormal disaster.
Meanwhile, Alexander and the Paris vampires have stopped stalking Owl’s apartment, but they have by no means forgotten their death grudge against her. To top everything off, Owl finds out the hard way that there is nothing heavenly about the City of Angels…
Read an excerpt
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