Films that defined us

All of us have particular movies we’ve seen, whether as an adult or child, that stay with us in a way others hadn’t before. They’re special experiences we hold onto, whether it was because you saw them with a close friend or the film connected with your life in a personal way. These are movies that define us, and we’re breaking down each by genre. Each week, one of our contributors will list the movies that defined them.


Comedy: I remember going to see Airplane! in Manhattan and being a couple of minutes late. It was a packed house and a friend and I had such a hard time finding seats because we could not stop laughing!  I am a die hard lover of slapstick comedy and of the Three Stooges and Abbott and Costello, but back in the 80s, when cerebral comedy was ruled by Woody Allen and his ilk, this film was so damn refreshing. It is unapologetic farce. It never takes itself seriously and delivers gag joke after gag joke at a machine gun pace. Even if it flies against all rhyme and reason. I immediately loved it for that alone!  A couple of my favorite scenes: The line of passengers waiting to deliver the hysterical lady her dose of violence. I love the adorable scene where the young girl tells the young little boy she likes her coffee black…like her men!

Horror: John Carpenter’s Halloween is my pick, but this was very hard because even though The Exorcist scared the crap out of me way more than Halloween ever did, Halloween managed to leave a long lasting impression on me. It struck a deep nerve in me that forever carved and shaped what I was to perceive as the horror genre. Similar to the inflection George A. Romero nearly perfected in Night of the Living Dead, Carpenter disrupts our daily, normal, routine lives by sticking a maniac into the mix — on Halloween no less. The evil that is outside is trying to get inside and in the form of an unassuming escaped maniac named Micheal Myers. Carpenter changed how I view cinema and the darkness that dwells out there. The genius of the music and camerawork is also worth noting.

Acton/Adventure: Jaws is my favorite film of all time. I am sure that the genre it’s in can be debated because it has elements of drama and horror. In the end, it is full of adventure and plenty of suspense and action. I saw this when I was 8 years old at a matinee with my mother, and once that music started during the Universal Pictures logo I was changed forever. This was a movie!  Through and through. This is why I wanted to direct and write for the movies. A monster that lurked in the sea that ate unsuspecting people and forced the townspeople to close the beaches and have a constable, salty old fisherman and scientist go out and kill it?  It gets no better than that!  Jaws has great music, great believable portrayals throughout, realistic dialog and even a landlocked villain in the form of the Mayor. For me, though, the best part was that this sea monster really exists.

Science Fiction: I was so pissed that I got to the theater late and missed the opening scroll of The Empire Strikes Back on a winter night in 1983. I got there just in time to see Luke get swiped off his Tauntaun by that snow beast. But that was OK. I caught up with what I had missed. Many, many times after. I thought the first Star Wars had  left an impression that would never go away but after Empire ended (even with me missing the opening) all that just flew out the window. Lucas set the bar extremely high with A New Hope, but blasted past that at warp speed with Empire. I was just thrilled that we were getting to know these character better. More of their likes and dislikes. More of their personalities and more action and suspense!  We were introduced to Yoda and Lando who were and still are 2 of the best Star Wars characters around. It also boasts the best of the John Williams scores. What makes this a film that defined me was that it had, above all else, eye popping effects, emotion and drama, including best revelation in all sci-fi film history. And you all know what I’m talking about.


12 responses to “Films that defined us

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Films that defined us « The Movie Brothers --

  2. Hey, great article. Some great picks here. Jaws would be on a lot of people’s lists I think.

    I seem to be a little younger than you, so these would be my picks:
    Comedy- Wayne’s World
    Action/Adventure – Jurassic Park
    Sci-Fi – Star Wars

    • Good picks! We did one of these every week for the past month. You can check out our other versions from other writers.

      Thanks for reading and for your comment!

  3. 3 great picks there! I love Jurassic Park and Wayne’s World! Thanks for reading our reviews and commenting. Keep checking back!

  4. I love every film on your list like a member of my own family. These films left an indellible mark that can only described as timeless. Halloween, Jaws, and Star Wars are three of the biggest reasons I even got into watching movies in the first place.

    • I love all of these, too. You should have seen Brian after he watched Jaws. He became obsessed with sharks. I swear, he rented every book in the Greece Public Library system on sharks. I’m not even joking.

  5. Jaws changed me forever and not just because it scared me shitless. The music, the pacing, the acting, and everything that made it one of those rare films that gives you a sense of sadness every time it’s over. I will still watch it all the way through the end credits every time.

    Also, Matt is right. I still remember facts about sharks from all of the research I did. Sharks were the subject of my 8th grade science fair project because of Jaws.

    • I literally remember you emptying every library book on sharks available. It was this immense stack that took you, mom and me to carry out. I think it was a way of understanding your fear. Lots of kids do that. I had a similar experience with The Exorcist.

  6. It was hard for me not to put The Exorcist as my top film that defined me for horror. It deeply frightened me more viscerally than Halloween but Carpenter’s film left more deeply rooted impressions that outlasted Friedkin’s more moral and religious overtones.

  7. This is the list that’s closest to mine, so far. I just showed my Australian roommate the original Halloween!

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