On this day, through the decades, some pretty damn great films were released. Here’s our lowdown, in case you wanted to mark some anniversaries...
It would seem that films released on 26 October are usually quite good.
We rewind four decades and make five 10-year-hops to look back at our favourites...
(Released: 26 October 1984)
James Cameron’s breakout film The Terminator may not have been a huge hit in theatres, but it was such a cult favourite on home video that it spawned a highly lucrative movie franchise.
The original film was inspired by the works of Harlan Ellison, and plays like a horror movie and a sci-fi action flick. For those of you who haven't yet had the pleasure, Linda Hamilton plays Sarah Connor, a waitress who doesn’t realize she’s been marked for death by a high-tech robot from the future, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. In comes Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), a soldier from the future who attempts to save her life so that her future-rebellion-leader son can be born.
To this day, the practical effects continue to impress, masking how much of a low-budget production this epic was. And Arnie’s T-800 remains an iconic figure in the world of cinema. In many ways, The Terminator was the film that gave Schwarzenegger the reputation of being a great actor to cast in action movies, having only been in a handful of semi-successful films and two Conan films before his big 1984 break. Then came Commando, Predator, The Running Man, Total Recall, True Lies ...
To date, The Termainator is only surpassed by 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day in the franchise, with the other four films in the series having proved to be either godawful (Terminator Genisys), naff (Terminator: Dark Fate), very mildly underrated (Terminator Salvation) or just plain forgettable if it wasn’t for that deeply depressing ending (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines).
The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride
(Released: 26 October 1998)
Direct to video or no, it’s a great Romeo and Juliet-inspired sequel that is better than it had any right to be. And we won’t hear a bad word said against it.
(Released: 26 October 2001)
Dark... Darker... Darko.
Donnie Darko was writer-director Richard Kelly’s debut film, and it’s pretty much the only good thing he’s done since.
Despite it's modest release, the inventive sci-fi / pitch black comedy snowballed into a cult hit, giving viewers plenty to ponder with its mind-bendingly effective time travel adventure centred on the matter of predeterminism. It kick-started Jake Gyllenhaal's career, put a self-referential stamp on the latter days of Patrick Swayze's, and gave us some powerfully sinister hallucinatory elements with Frank the bunny – who is always a Halloween staple when it comes to a decent creepy mask.
(Released: 26 October 2018)
I’ve waxed lyrical enough about Luca Guadagnino’s brilliant remake of Dario Argento’s giallo horror classic.
The savagely stylish and intoxicatingly layered film turns five this year, and it remains everything a remake should be: fresh, inventive and challenging. In fact, 2018’s Suspiria stands alongside Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, John Carpenter’s The Thing and David Cronenberg’s The Fly as one of the rare horror remakes that actually outclasses the original.
If you want to find out why, read on here.
Boy From Heaven
(Released: 26 October 2022)
Swedish-Egyptian filmmaker Tarik Saleh was awarded both the François Chalais Prize and the Best Screenplay award at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival for Boy From Heaven, or Cairo Conspiracy as it was titled in most English-speaking countries. Yet, despite the accolade and being one of the stronger films in Competition that year, the film doesn’t get the praise it deserves.
It’s a twisty narrative about a young student, Adam (Tawfeek Barhom), who attends Cairo’s top religious school, Al-Azhar University. There, he finds himself trapped in a labyrinth of corruption stemming from the search for the country’s next grand imam. Having been recruited as a mole by Colonel Ibrahim (Fares Fares), a shadowy representative of the state security agency, Adam’s task is to covertly report back on any subversive political views held by imams.
The film impresses due to its bold depiction of institutional and religious corruption in Egypt, and its anti-clerical tone. Moreover, it should delight fans of a good spy thriller, as Boy From Heaven plays out like a John LeCarré novel spliced with All The President’s Men. You’ll be biting your nails til the very last (and poetic) scene.
There we have it.
Take your pick, and happy 299th day of your film-viewing year.