I think anyone that loves movies has some that they’ve seen a million times, give or take. These may not be their favourite films, and sometimes they may not even be particularly great ones, but for one reason or another, you’ve revisited them time and time again. These are those movies that you’ll come across channel surfing, jump in at some point, then have no choice but to finish it (or it’s over before you realize what happened). Here are some movies I’ve seen more times than I can count, from childhood to today, in alphabetical order.
Beetlejuice (Tim Burton, 1988)
Back when his name drew more respect than snides, Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice is a paradise of ghostly humour. This was when Burton’s projects still had an abundance of imagination, and when his use of absurdity never came off as desperate or tired. This is a massively fun film, and I remember watching it throughout my childhood and appreciating its unique brand of off-kilter vibes. Michael Keaton is delightful, and the production design is fantastic in that 80s-horror way (comedy-horror was a big part of my childhood, and I almost put Re-Animator on here, too). Watching this movie early on is also the first time I remember genuinely considering the afterlife and what will happen to me after I die, which may explain a few things.
Mean Girls (Mark Waters, 2004)
It’s almost unbelievable that its been ten years since this movie came out. With perhaps the best comedy script since the new millenium, Mean Girls is Tina Fey’s monster movie where the monsters are the students in a high school. Packing its on-point social commentary with plenty of killer jokes has resulted in it becoming one of the most quotable movies of the past fifteen years, to the point where everyone knows what colour we wear on Wednesdays. Luckily, these jokes are so clever and timeless that they never get old or annoying. In skewering the social politics of modern high school life, Mean Girls had a biting impact on me, most acutely as I was experiencing that period for myself. I can still return to it now and appreciate comedy at its most sophisticatedly brilliant.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Jeremiah Chechik, 1989)
John Hughes movies don’t always work as well viewed today, removed from their era, but Christmas Vacation is an exception. It has become my family’s version of It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story, in that it became a tradition to watch it every year during the holidays. Part of why it still works for me is how much enjoyment my father still gets out of it, even though he has surely seen it quite a few more times than I have. There are some movies we grow up with that we inevitably attach nostalgic value to, and one of the most powerful examples of this is a movie that a parent loves unabashedly, one they can’t wait to share with you. Luckily, Christmas Vacation is also a straight-up hilarious movie. “You couldn’t hear a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant!”
Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine, 2013)
The newest film on this list, Harmony Korine’s neon masterpiece is one of my all-time favourite films, and it’s one that I can watch back to back without reservations (I’ve done it). Sometimes I very seriously consider having it play on repeat like Alien does with Scarface. From the bro-tastic Skrillexxed opening to the violent finale, putting on Spring Breakers just makes me happy. Which is a little perplexing, because this is, at its core, a rather horrifying film, and by finding so much pure enjoyment out of it, I seem to be proving Korine’s point. At the same time, I think he intentionally made the film so that it could be appreciated from either perspective – critical or celebratory. Which is only part of this film’s genius, and part of why I can return to it so often.
Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977)
We all have movies that we love to show to people, so that they can share in the ridiculous joy you get from it. This can be a double-edged sword, however, because occasionally they won’t feel the same way about the movie and you have to start to wonder if this person is really worth your time (and you’re only half joking). One movie I have had almost complete success with is Dario Argento’s classic horror film, Suspiria. Though not exactly a giallo film, it fits many of that genre’s guidelines, while transcending others. It’s one of the most aesthetically vibrant films I’ve ever seen, through the relatively bonkers colour scheme and Goblin’s masterful music (my vote for the best soundtrack of all-time). Nearly everyone I show it to loves the absurdity and craft, the horror and humour to be found in it. If not, they fail the test and are politely asked to leave.
Toy Story (John Lasseter, 1995)
This is the first movie I can remember being obsessed with. Being born in the early 90s means that my childhood began with classic animation and then, very early on, I was exposed to the new phenomenon of computer animation. It’s hard to say how much of an impact the novelty of it would have had on why I was immediately so enamoured with Toy Story, but once I owned it I was watching it almost literally every single day for quite some time. In the years since, I still watch it perhaps once a year, and each time I kill myself laughing or discover something new (it wasn’t until I reached my teens that I realized what it meant when Mr. Potato Head removed his lips and put them on his ass). I was one of those older audience members bawling at the end of Toy Story 3. These are characters I came to know better than anyone else when I was five or six, and they’re still with me now.
The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)
This movie should be required viewing for every child. The imagination, the wonder, the beauty. There is really nothing else like it, before or since. As a kid, I would often watch something that scared me over and over again until I was able to conquer it, and this movie did that to me. The Wicked Witch is a terrifying villain, in her own campy way, and that coupled with the film’s surreal feel made me exceedingly uncomfortable. And of course, the songs, which still occasionally get stuck in my head to this day (“We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz!” pops up most often). It was undoubtedly my first introduction to Old Hollywood, and gave me an early understanding of all that era could offer.