The Student News Site of Granada High School

The Pomegranate

The Student News Site of Granada High School

The Pomegranate

The Student News Site of Granada High School

The Pomegranate

Grabbing Life by the Horns

Top 5 Films of 1987 (And Why It Matters)

After completing an article about the top 5 movies from 1973, I somewhat arbitrarily picked the year 1987 to follow it up with. 

This year includes so many classic movies like Full Metal Jacket, Moonstruck, Robocop, Fatal Attraction, Radio Days, Blind Chance, and The Princess Bride, just to name a few. However, once again, narrowing it down to 5 movies is the challenging part. 

Once again, I will be choosing these films based on artistic merit, entertainment value, originality, and modern-day relevance.

Bill Paxton and Adrian Pasdar in Near Dark (1987)


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Near Dark

It was a close call between this film and Robocop, but I think Near Dark just narrowly edges out Paul Verhoeven’s satirical sci-fi masterpiece.

1987 was part of a surprising revival of the vampire film in the mid 80s, with many directors presenting their own interpretations on the monster lore. From the ambitious box office smash The Lost Boys, to the space-themed cult classic Lifeforce, even the Hong Kong series Mr. Vampire. While all of these films have their own unique charms, none truly reach the artistry present in Kathryn Bigelow’s solo directorial debut Near Dark. A strange but truly unforgettable mash-up of styles: neo-western, horror, drama, action, romance.

The future Oscar-winning director’s film approaches the fantastical elements inherent to the story in such a stripped down, realistic way. It isn’t really even a horror film. The vampires that populate Near Dark aren’t cool, and their need to kill people to survive is presented in such a gritty, sad, and realistic way. It is a thoroughly revisionist story, brought to life with some incredible performances and breathtaking cinematography. Even from the beginning, Kathryn Bigelow was clearly a talented director.

Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter in Raising Arizona (1987)


Raising Arizona

“Wake up, Son. I’ll be taking these Huggies and whatever cash ya got.”

Long before they were mainstream, Oscar-winning directors, the Cohen Brothers directed a little black comedy crime sleeper hit called Raising Arizona. A rapid-paced film starring Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter as a married ex-con and an ex-cop who, after realizing they are unable to have a baby, decide to steal one. From its iconic opening to its hilarious chase climax, the film is non-stop pure comedy. With a fantastic supporting cast, tons of impressively directed scenes, and some surprisingly introspective moments, Raising Arizona is dark comedy genius.

Despite being a beloved classic in many circles today, Raising Arizona was a bit of a polarizing film on release, with most criticism pointed at its style being “forced”. Now, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like this movie, showing just how much Raising Arizona has changed dark comedy.

Chris Cooper in Matewan (1987)



Based on the real events surrounding a 1920s work stoppage, Matewan is a timeless slice of Americana rage. The film is unequivocal in its stance on unions and worker’s rights, but it’s that very same fixed ferocity that makes John Sayles’ vision and characters so powerful. 

Shot almost entirely on location, Matewan oozes style and grime. The sun-kissed cinematography makes you want to wipe black dust off your face, and protest alongside the characters on screen. Matewan boasts an incredible roster of unique characters, with hateable baddies and charismatic heroes filled out with the likes of Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, Mary McDonnell, and David Strathairn. 

Matewan was just entered into the United States National Film Registry in 2023, and it deserves that honor not just because of its seering politics, but also because it is one of the best films of the 80s.

Ahmed Ahmed Poor and Babek Ahmed Poor in Where Is the Friend’s House? (1987)


خانه‌ی دوست کجاست؟

(or Where Is the Friend’s House?)

Simplicity and power are often thought of in mutually exclusive terms, and Iran’s Where Is the Friend’s House? proves just how wrong that line of thinking truly is. This drama written and directed by Abbas Kiarostami proves that a film doesn’t need to be edgy or even complex to be absolutely sublime. 

Where Is the Friend’s House? follows 8-year-old Ahmed played by Babek Ahmed Poor, who accidentally takes his friend’s notebook by mistake, and must somehow find his house before nightfall, lest he be expelled. Kiarostami’s child-like parable about honesty feels like a cinematic poem that makes you want to run outside and experience the beauties of the natural world that you take for granted.

Bruce Campbell in Evil Dead 2 (1987)


Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn

Hail to the king, baby. 

85 minutes of gory, hilarious, shocking, inventive, creative, disturbing, campy cinematic brilliance. It is impossible to do Evil Dead 2 justice with mere words. A sequel/remake of possibly the most significant independent horror film until The Blair Witch Project, this film also follows Bruce Campell as Ash Williams in a secluded cabin in the woods while evil flesh-possessing spirits terrorize him. The difference between the films comes down to the tone. While the first film is unsettling, dark, and atmospheric, this film is over-the-top, garish and silly. 

This film outdoes its predecessor in almost every way. The Evil Dead series is famous for the way it adapts its films to its budget. The first film’s story is stripped down, simple, and only includes things that would be able to be shown on a shoestring budget. The third film is a crazy, high budget, horror fantasy that could not have been done on a low-budget. And in the middle, Evil Dead 2 sits. You never really see through the filmmaking, but there is an ingenuity and cleverness to it all that gives it a unique indie charm. The film features some timeless practical effects and prosthetic makeup, combined with some surreal, graphic stop-motion animation.

Bruce Campbell is electrifying in the film and has some fantastic moments of instantly classic physical comedy setpieces. Sam Raimi has never made another movie like Evil Dead 2. Nobody has ever made a movie like Evil Dead 2, proving just how special this bloodsoaked masterpiece is.  Similar to the first film, Evil Dead 2 is a testament to going out into the woods with a camera and some friends and making a movie. And this group of filmmakers just so happened to make a horrific cult masterpiece. 

Groovy, indeed.

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