[movies] Movies I didn’t see when they came out

Sometimes I am just a contrarian. For example, it took me years to see E.T. [ imdb ], simply because of all the hype surrounding the film. (Apparently I was a proto-hipster back in 1982.) Likewise, The Karate Kid [ imdb ], because it was billed as “the feel-good movie of the year”, and I refuse to go see any movie with that billing. I’m not sure I wasn’t right about The Karate Kid, either, though I did enjoy myself when I finally did see the movie.

Alien [ imdb ] was probably my biggest error. I was so afraid of being afraid of the movie that it took me years to see that one as well. It’s a hell of a science fiction movie, one of the best in the history of cinema, and I can’t believe I deprived myself of that experience either in the original theatrical release, and for years after.

What I wish I could understand today, prior to the advantage of hindsight, is which movies I blew off or ignored, that I would regret having done so upon seeing them. Honestly, my life would have been just fine if I’d never gotten around to seeing The Karate Kid, but if I’d never seen Alien, I would be much the poorer for it.

Do you share this tic of mine, or some equivalent of your own?

What movies (or books) did you ignore and avoid, only to realize your error later?

What overlooked movies (or books) would you urge me to pay attention to?

8 thoughts on “[movies] Movies I didn’t see when they came out

  1. Laurie Mann says:

    My favorite movie that I skipped in the theater but have seen at least a dozen times is 1979’s All That Jazz. If you never liked theater, or if you hate Bob Fosse, you’ll hate this movie. But, if you like movies about self-obsessed, self-destructive & still reasonably creative people, with a very early but pointed John Lithgow performance (and Roy Scheider’s best performance ever).

    1. Jay says:

      I loved that movie, though it was the early 1980s before I saw it for the first time.

  2. Paul Feeney says:

    Well it might sound a bit crass, but I really wish I’d gone to see the first Transformers movie in the cinema. As big and dumb as it is, it gave me goosebumps to see my childhood favourite on film, and I can only imagine the feeling would have been amplified on the big screen. Other than that I can only regret not having the chance to see films that were in the cinema before I was able to go, like Star Wars, Jaws, The Godfather etc.

  3. David Ivory says:

    Snap – still haven’t seen ET or Karate Kid – for the same reasons as you and we’re about the same age so I reckon there’s probably some time of life thing going on there. But I saw Close Encounters so it wasn’t a Spielberg thing… it is now though.

    Alien was on high rotate amongst my friends so I saw it multiple times on VHS even if we never saw it at the theatre.

    Bladerunner was my proudest win however. We saw the last session on the last day of first release at Christchurch’s Cinerama theatre – and it blew our young minds. It had been recommended to us by the father of one of my friends – a Maths professor at the local university. He was also responsible for me discovering more SF writers than I care to to name – but that was a standout recommendation sir.

  4. Dale says:

    I took a pass on Buckaroo Banzai in the theaters, mostly because I couldn’t figure out what sort of movie it was. Perhaps I wasn’t ready to appreciate that it was a clever spoof of SF and comic tropes, but now I find it quite funny and engaging, in a wacky, almost Illuminatus fashion. I also missed seeing Princess Bride in the theater, but that was because I was still in college at the time and movies had fallen off my radar screen. As for books, I wish I’d picked up Storm Front when I first saw it at the local Fred Meyer’s shortly after it’s publication, but it looked more the horror novel than it is. Five years later I finally read it and realized what a fun, noir meets urban fantasy it is.

    If you haven’t seen Primer, I recommend it. A Canadian SF film made for a song, I found it clever and engaging.

  5. C.E. Petit says:

    Approximately contemporaneous with one other recommendation, The Stunt Man is absolutely marvelous. And make sure that you also watch the second-DVD extra, The Sinister Saga of the Making of The Stunt Man, which is (in some ways) quite nearly as surrealistic.

    If you have not seen Lawrence of Arabia in a theater, do so. If there was “retroactive IMAXing” available, that’s the film that would justify it. It’s one of the very, very few “intellectual” films that is not equally enjoyed at home.

    Aside: I did not miss The Princess Bride in theaters; I just missed it in civilian theaters — I was overseas at the time and saw it in a theater packed full of military dependents, on base. There’s nothing quite like coming to attention for the national anthem and seeing everyone else in the theater do the same before the opening strains of that Mark Knopfler soundtrack…

  6. Tony Liese says:

    For some reason, I avoided anything related to Star Trek, until later in life. Now I gobble it all up. My young self would have loved that show, but at the time it seemed a bit stiff.
    If you haven’t seen John Carpenter’s Dark Star, then please see it asap. Great low budget comic sci-fi.

  7. ces says:

    I’ve been to a movie theatre maybe 20 times in my life, and almost all of them were before my age of 15. And I rarely watch any at home – Star Wars and Harry Potter I have seen in a theatre and at home. There are 2 movies I saw in a theatre that have never left me – Dr. Zhivago and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. I saw both in a theatre more than once. The last time I was in a theatre was to see Platoon – I went with a grup of friends just to be sociable, not to see the movie. Give me a book anyday!

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