Do you ever feel like there are too many movies to choose from? Do you stare paralyzed at your Netflix queue unsure of what's worth your valuable time? Good! Welcome to “You Like That? Then Check This Out!” where we take a look at the movies you Masterminds already love and help you decide what to check out next.
“Oh my god, did you see Cabin In The Woods!?” How often did you find yourself asking that question after the release of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s tribute to all that is horror? Probably pretty often. If you’re anything like us at The MindHut, you watched that movie with mouth agape—how often is it that you see something so smart, so well crafted, and so gosh-dern fun!?
Horror films tend to rely on a pretty set structure. We’re all aware of the tropes and clichés: the virgin hero, the unkillable villain, the cell phone service that oh-so-inconveniently stops working. What was so refreshing about Cabin In The Woods was that it neither relied upon nor completely subverted these tropes, but instead did a bit of both. It commented on clichés while still engaging with and displaying a clear affection for them. And those last fifteen-minutes, boy howdy how cool and weird and original were they? There are very few films that set up dominoes throughout their runtime with such care, only to forego knocking them down in favor of smashing them to pieces.
So, you love Cabin In The Woods. What should you check out next? Well, we here at The MindHut have got something for you—so long as you’re willing to take a slight detour from horror.
It’s called Big Trouble In Little China, and it’s awesome.
Directed by John Carpenter and released in 1986, Big Trouble In Little China is an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-style fantasy action comedy explosion of 80’s culty goodness. It’s about Jack Burton (Kurt Russell, out John Wayne-ing John Wayne), a grubby truck driver who pulls into Chinatown to bet on some cards and make some sweet cash off his old pal Wang (Dennis Dun). Things don’t really go as planned. Soon Wang’s fiancé Miao Yin (Suzee Pai) is kidnapped and the two are roped into an adventure that finds them battling the gangs of Chinatown above ground before traveling to an evil lair below the city, where there await monsters, super-powered fighters, and an immortal sorcerer named Lo Pan (James Hong) who plans to marry Miao Yin and sacrifice her to regain his flesh. Along for the ride are plucky lawyer Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall), bus driver/wizard Egg Shen (Victor Wong), and, well, more gangs.
Lest you’re dissuaded, please redirect your attention to the first four words of the last paragraph: “Directed by John Carpenter.” For those of you who don’t know him, John Carpenter is the director whose movies have served as the foundation upon which all cult horror and action flicks have been built upon for the past thirty-years. Many of the tropes that Cabin In The Woods showed so much love for have their origin in a little movie Carpenter made in 1978. Does Halloween ring a bell? While Big Trouble In Little China isn't horror, it will certainly high-flying-kick its way into your heart with a machine gun in hand and a synthesizer blaring in the background.
Big Trouble In Little China knows it’s a ridiculous film but that self-awareness never feels easy or cynical. In a way it feels oddly earnest. When the main characters have a kung fu/magic/sword fight in Lo Pan’s ancient yet for some reason neon-covered temple, it should feel like a mess. Instead it feels… perfect. And fun!
We had FUN watching Cabin In The Woods. We think you’ll have a lot of fun watching Big Trouble In Little China too.
Fan of Cabin In The Woods and looking for even more movies? Check out Robert Runyon’s article “After Cabin In The Woods.”
Will you watch Big Trouble in Little China?