Drop Dead Fred (1991) by Amanda Salazar
Now honestly, there were two favorite films as a child but one of them I have already used in the first entry of this series for my favorite film, Predator. For my next favorite film as a kid it would have to be Drop Dead Fred. It is a pretty simple story about a young woman going through a rough time in her life as she is visited by her childhood imaginary friend, Fred. Doing the best that he can, Fred tries old tricks to cheer her up but is afraid that she has lost her sense of imagination and fun.
This is a quirky film that has bits of Beetlejuice and Blue Velvet sprinkled throughout it, being that a lot of the film is quite dark. It was this strange film that I was attached to as a child I think because of its scenes with imaginary friends and make-believe elements. One of my favorite scenes is when Fred is in a waiting room with all of his other imaginary friend colleagues, just the idea that they would gather and know one another was so funny to me. This really is a dark comedy that is violent and at times very disgusting but at its heart it teaches that there is always a kid in us, no matter how old we get.
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
As a Gen X-er, my generation was among the last group of kids growing up who didn't have a choice in what we watched at home. There was no Internet to view things; only early adopters tried these massive, expensive new machines that played something called Betamax or VHS; and in my Southern California neighborhood, it wasn't until I was a teenager in the early '80s that cable started making the rounds, leaving us with seven VHF channels and a small handful of UHF depending on what your antenna could pull in. Yet, due to the choices made by some local station programmers, anonymous people I owe a great deal of thanks to, I was glued to the TV on Saturdays.
I don't know how long they ran them but Channel 9 was the home for Abbott and Costello movies in the morning. I bet I saw all of their films. Their combination of verbal banter and slapstick humor had me hooked. The Bowery Boys usually followed and after a while the A&C movies took a break and Laurel and Hardy shorts aired. Channel 5 offered more serious selections in the afternoon, featuring all sorts of monsters: the horror icons from Universal Studios and the giant creatures from Japan.
Saturdays were absolutely heaven for this young man. Couldn't have imagined it any better, but thankfully some genius did and decided to have the comedy duo meet the Universal monsters in a series of films. The incorrectly titled ...Meet Frankenstein was the first and the best as they cross paths with the Trinity: the Wolfman, Count Dracula, and Frankenstein's Monster. Lon Chaney, Jr. and Bela Lugosi reprise their classic roles, which is why the film works so well. They play their parts straight while Bud and Lou do the clowning. Spoilsport Boris Karloff took a pass, allegedly because he thought it an insult to horror movies, though he would later appear in Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff, and the role of the Monster was played by Glenn Strange.
This hybrid of my two favorite types of films is what made Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein my favorite film as a kid, and to be honest, it's still one of my favorite films as an adult too.
Toy Story (1995)
I still remember seeing cryptic previews for Toy Story and wondering what this film could hold and what computer animation would even look like. Well, more than 15 years later, it's obvious that a dynasty with a near-unassailable reputation (at least before Cars 2) would emerge from this charming tale about a boy and his toys that came to life when he wasn't around.
Pixar has gone on to create some truly remarkable films (Up, Ratatouille, the first half of Wall-E), but Toy Story and its well-worn VHS tape that were a near-constant presence during my pre-adolescence might evoke the most pleasant memories of all.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory by Shawn Bourdo
I think it's been an interesting month because of the generalities of the categories. We've had the option of interpreting the categories in many different ways and often we have. But in general, we've found some common ground with the spirit of each day. This is another open-ended category. The "as a kid" designation is quite confounding. As we get older, I think we expand that definition of "kid". It's not like it said - Shawn's favorite movie in 1975. Kid's today are from 0-15 for me. But I'm not going to choose movies I saw in high school. I'll try to keep it to films I saw before my teens. And I think there's a hint here that maybe they're not still your favorite. The obvious choices here are still in my all-time favorites - Star Wars, Jaws, Wizard Of Oz, and It's A Wonderful Life. And there's the fact that I was quite precocous in my film fandom from an early age - I enjoyed A Night At The Opera, Casablanca, A Hard Day's Night, and Vertigo from an early age.
The film that can instantly put me back in those years is the 1971 version of Roald Dahl's Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. It wins out of Escape To Witch Mountain and Shaggy D.A. because of the last impression it has made on me. It still a great movie - maybe a little dated - but Gene Wilder is still the only Willy Wonka you'll ever need. It's my favorite movie as a kid because, like Wizard Of Oz, it typically aired once or twice a year and that was an event. I'd read the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book in second grade - which would have been a couple years after the release of the film. It was one of my first "big" books. The film is legendary and even today I don't think it needs to be described. Five tickets - Veruca Salt, Mike Teevee, Violet Beauregarde, Augustus Gloop and Charlie Bucket. And, of course, Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka and the great Jack Albertson as Grandpa Joe.
It's got everything you'd want as a kid - candy, great music, Oompa-Loompas and enough suspense to drive the plot forward. It's got a great lesson about giving in to your temptations and it all feels worth it when we're flying over London (slash Munich) in the glass elevator. I can picture it right now and I'm in that world - I'm in that factory. It was the ultimate of my childhood imagination. It was my favorite movie through my childhood for many reasons. I love those other films but this one told you that you could change the world as a kid!!!! "There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination."