“See it again, for the first time!”
With these words, George Lucas launched his reissues of the space opera that defined a generation. It set us to thinking: what movies would we watch again for the first time if we could? In this fantasy scenario, we wouldn’t be jaded by the filmgoing experiences that came after these films and then borrowed heavily from them. No, we would be clean slates sitting down with our box of popcorn, keg of Coke, and king-sized candy bar in a packed house of eager movie lovers, to be shocked, thrilled, scared, and entertained as we were the very first time. These are our picks.
(SPOILERS ahead, though most of these films are old enough where it shouldn’t matter.)
6. Batman Begins
Batman had seen better days when director Christopher Nolan got his hands on him for the 2005 reboot Batman Begins. To this day, I hate the name, but I love the movie, even more so than The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. This was a unique, modern take on the character. Nolan made the wise decision to keep Bats in the shadows for the entire first act. The story was solid. Gadgets, cool. And that Joker tease at the end had us clamoring for more.
5. Blazing Saddles
It’s a little sad that I can sit through Blazing Saddles now and not crack a smile. The reason: I’ve seen it at least a 100 times and know the film verbatim. Now I have a deep appreciation for it, and there are moments when a piece of dialogue will apply to my normal life, so I’ll use it. In those moments, I may give a chuckle. But the first time I saw it, I never laughed so hard, and probably never will again.
John Carpenter’s influential slasher film was scary as hell because it could have really happened. (Well, all but the ending.) The idea of a madman running amok in a small town for no apparent reason has fueled countless horror films since, although most, including this film’s own sequels, usually end up trying to “explain” things with some stupid backstory. In my mind, however, Michael Myers is someone “on the loose” choosing his victims at random. That Laurie Strode angle doesn’t exist. It’s much scarier that way. At least it was the first time I watched it. Today, it’s still enjoyable for atmosphere around October 1, but it doesn’t affect me like it used to.
Of the films on this list I’d love to see again for the first time, this one comes closest to actually recreating the experience. That’s because the performances are so strong, the characters so lovable, and the third act so brutal yet uplifting, ending at that exact right moment of exultation, that it’s hard not to get caught up in it. Same goes for pretty much the whole series, but if we could pick only one, it would be the first.
My love for anthology horror began with this film, and it served as a gateway drug to those classic 1950s EC Comics — Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, and The Haunt of Fear — that have given me so much joy over the years. Also, the hand in the graveyard scene — “Father’s Day” — still gets me almost every time I watch it.
1. The Empire Strikes Back
“Luke, I am your father.” I was floored. I’d spent so many afternoons watching Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader avoid each other on the capacitance electronic disc (CED) of the original film, and now here they were fighting with lightsabers, Luke was getting his butt kicked, and to add insult to injury, the bad guy informs him they’re father and son. This wasn’t how good vs. evil films were supposed to go, but it was apparently the right move, billions of dollars later.
Those are our picks for films we wish we could see again for the first time. What are yours?
Also, for more list movie fun, be sure to check out our list of movie cops we’d like to see in reboots or sequels.