He’s a fun thing a friend passed on to me, contributor J Blake. Pick 10 movies. They don’t have to be good, or groundbreaking. You don’t even have to like them anymore. But these 10 movies are films that really sculpted you into who you are today, and really had an affect on you growing up.

the terminator

Like I said, you may not even be able to watch them now because you’ve worn them out, but its an interesting exercise to see what you come up with. I just finished mine and put a little reason why below each, which makes it even more fun.
Maybe the other Wits-of-Pod will take part, and we can see who has what on their lists, and finally understand why they are the way they are…

Well here they are. In no particular order:

 
1. Sorcerer (1977)
Here’s the plot: A small desolate town tugged in the armpit of Hell located in South America, is a haven for the world’s criminals, outlaws and any other riff-raff that are on the lam and looking to just disappear, except for one problem: once you get there, you do not have the money ever to leave. So when an American oil derrick explodes 200 miles away, scores of men line up eager to drive two trucks across a tropical rainforest, carrying a very unstable cargo of nitro needed to blast the oil rig closed; all the while awaiting certain death from any bump in the road the unsettles their precious load.
 
This gem of a film was a remake of what was called the ‘most suspenseful film of all time‘, the French classic Wages of Fear, and was directed by William Friedkin, which followed up his hugely successfully film The Exorcist.  It starred Roy Scheider and friend to the Podwits, Randy Jurgensen. Sadly, Sorcerer completed tanked at the box office due to the fact that it opened the same weekend as Star Wars, and because people expected to see another horror film on par with Friedkin’s last classic (as well as the title suggested some sort of fantasy genre film, but instead was just the name on the side of one of the trucks).
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The movie really scared me as a kid and I didn’t know what it was called until I was a sophomore in college, and finally tracked it down. This story really grabbed my attention, even though I must have been 5 or 6 when I first viewed it and followed the storyline completely. For years, I was haunted by the mean-looking-converted-army truck trying to cross this dilapidated, ancient rope bridge which hangs over a river, during a tropical storm saddled with unstable nitro. The truck see-saws literally on a 45 degree angle because of the wind, while the ropes are beginning to break and the rain is streaming down… gives me goose bumps to this day.
 
2. The Muppet Movie (1979)
The plot: Kermit the frog, determined to get to Hollywood and make it big, embarks on a cross-country journey that leads him to other fun people (and muppets) that he picks up along the way that also share his dream.
 
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This was probably one of the first movies I ever saw, and it taught me about comedy and is the one that made me want to make movies. I instantly saw my purpose in life because of Kermit, and immediately wanted to get the quote “standard rich and famous contract” from Orson Welles; and make people laugh, and make millions of people happy.
 
3. The Untouchables (1987)
The Plot: 4 Treasury officers led by Elliot Ness, take on the Al Capone and the corruption that was modern Chicago in the roaring 1920’s.
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This really opened my eyes to the time period of ‘the Probihition‘, the gangster film, and overall, the gangster as a genre. Because of that, I was seven years old and reading about Frank Nitti, Dion O’Banion and Hemi Weiss, and then seeking out James Cagney movies.
 
4. Dirty Harry (1971)
The Plot: The film that spawned sequels, imitations and practically an entire genre, centers around maverick Inspector Harry Callahan going up against a crazed serial killer sniper (alla Zodiac) named Scorpio, who targets the people of San Francisco.
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The first movie I saw Eastwood in that made me really take interest in his films was Escape From Alcatraz. But this was the film that became the symbol for the no non-sense action star for me while I was in my teens. He opened my mind to contemporary issues that can be discussed in cinema, like race or political correctness. While others my age were watching Sly and Arnold, Clint was my man.
 
5. The Last Man on Earth (1964)
The Plot: The first adaptation of Richard Matheson’s masterpiece I am Legend, we have the brilliant Vincent Price as the lone survivor of a plague which has turned the earth’s population into zombie/vampires, who descend upon his house daily after nightfall to badger and drive him mad for being the last one left.
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This Vincent Price classic along with John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing (’82), really scared the shit out of me. I remember watching it and not being able to take my eyes off the screen. It introduced me toVincent Price, who’d I’d only known at the time for the Michael Jackson Thriller rap. And boy was it scary!! (SPOILER) The scene after his wife dies and he goes to the top of the mountain where they are burning all the infected bodies to retrieve his daughter’s body, which was taken to burn, is frightening; all the men have gas masks on throwing bodies in the fire from big army trucks. Then only to go home and have his dead wife trying to get into the front door- the reaction on Price’s face when he opens the door and realizes it’s his dead zombie/vampire wife -will stay with me till the day I die.
 
6. The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Plot: Psychopath preacher and widow killer Harry Powell terrorizes two children to get at a large sum of money was hidden by their bank-robber father, with only the 2 children to know exactly where.
 hunter
 
The first movie I really took notice of the cinematography, lighting and shot composition. I saw this with my father when I was about 13, and it was like my Citizen Kane realization, where I suddenly understood all these things that can be done to enhance the narrative in a way to intrigue the audience. Along with James Cagney’s White Heat, which I saw around the same time, it really opened my eyes to the psychological maniac. This was also the only movie directed by the legendary actor Charles Laughton, and though it was received poorly when it was released, it proved to be quite ahead of it’s time and had deservedly found it’s place in cult status.
 
7. Transformers the Movie (1987)
Plot: A large robotic planet that feasts on smaller planets, suddenly appears and threatens to wreak havoc in the cosmos, and once again pits the Autobots against the Decepticons in the future of the galaxy.
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This and the G.I.Joe franchise were such big influences on me as a child. I played with them watched every episode on TV and tried to collect every toy I could without ultimately breaking them. This was such a huge event when this came out in the theaters, and with (SPOILER ALERT) Optimus Prime dying in it, the scope of the entire movie really blew my mind and reinforced my obsession with toys and childhood, which I’ve tried still not to lose. The sequence where Megatron is jettisoned and gets a new body from Orson Welles’ “Unicron” for me,  is one of the greatest scenes in cinema history (Mr. Welles last film as well).
 
8. The Black Hole (1979)
Plot:A long-lost spaceship is discovered on the outskirts of a black hole, and the small crew that stumbles upon it tries to uncover the answers as to what happened to it and it’s crew.
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(SPOILER ALERT) A Disney movie that goes to Hell at the end! A zombie crew, Tony Perkins being viciously murdered by a menacing seven-foot tall robot and Ernest Borgnine rounding out the cast (proving once again that no matter how expositionary dialogue can be, he can make it as believable and emotionally stirring as Shakespeare)! Brilliant special effects for its time, and some of the best matte painting by Harrison and Peter Ellenshaw (more mattes than Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back combined). I still love making some Jiffy-Pop and curling up on the couch once a year and giving it a pass. And let’s not forget John Barry’s amazing theme that plays out over the opening credits, which by the way has the first CGI animation in a film. This film also introduced me the patron of the Podwits, Mr. Borgnine.
 
9. The Terminator (1984)
The Plot: An evil cyborg comes back from the future to killer the mother of the child that will grow up and become the leader of the human existence in a post-apocalyptic machine dominated world.
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This was really the first action movie I fully fell in love with, the very moment I saw it. It was just so amazing and interesting; the FXs, the action, the characters and story, it really fascinated me. My dad taped it the night it premiered on HBO and I had it on a tape book-ended with The Karate Kid and Commando (which had taped over Empire Strikes Back, so when Commando would finish, the tape would come out to Vader stealing Han’s gun away in Cloud City; an amazing mix), So as soon as I watched it, I took the tape, watched it over and over again, and brought it around the neighborhood for every other kid to see. Me at 6, pushing a hardcore R rated movie. Priceless.
 
10. A Night to Remember (1958)
The Plot: In a docudrama style, the film follows the story of the RMS Titanic maiden voice into history.
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When the Titanic was discovered, I immediately took an interest and started researching as much as I could about the subject; well as much as a 6 years old can. So the first movie my parents showed me on the subject was this one (quickly followed by Raise the Titanic, which is also a classic in my mind). But this confirmed what would become my fascination with the ship, it’s story and its faithful night. The narrative is done superbly, and really follows Sir Walter Lord’s book to of the same name. This movie I think really made me comfortable with black & white movies as well, because I learned about pacing and story and realized film’s weren’t always about comedy, action or horror. Story and dialogue were just as big of a setup as the latter devices are used in other films to move along the narrative.
 
So there you go. My list of 10 films that changed my life.
 
But what about you? Could you make a list of 10 movies that influenced you growing up? Here lies the Podwits challenge: Make a list of 10 films that shaped you, and post them below of email to us at podwits@podwits.com. Let’s see what you can come up with and what’s on your list. We can maybe even get the other Podwits and contributors to compile a list as well, and see what helped aid in warping their young impressionable minds. Could lead to some great discussions!

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