Guest Post: Summer films from my teen years

So with the summer movie season well under way, I’ve decided to go back to the time when I was still in my teens and looking forward to every summer season because not only I had the entire summer off from school, but also the big summer films Hollywood has to offer. I used to love watching Entertainment Tonight because they would always show the upcoming trailers of summer flicks; the internet was still new so you can’t watch movie trailers online yet.

I’m going to list big the films from the summer seasons of 1990 to 1996; I was still in my teens in those years and went to see a lot of movies in theater. And I’ll name my favorite films from that Summer, too. If you’re the same age as me and love films, then you might remember what went on during those hot Summer seasons.

1. Summer of 1990:

The notable big films were Days of Thunder, Dick Tracy, Die Hard 2, Robocop 2, Ghost, Fire Birds, Back to the Future Part 3, Total Recall, Another 48 Hrs., Gremlins 2, Presumed Innocent and Air America. Around this time I was too young to get into R rated films so I didn’t see Die Hard 2, Robocop 2, Total Recall and Air America until they came out on VHS. A lot of people probably don’t remember but the summer of 1990 was the summer of Disney vs. Paramount. Disney has Dick Tracy and Paramount has Days of Thunder and the marketing for both films were huge! I remember I went to McDonald’s that summer and all I could see was Dick Tracy related items and Burger King was pimping Days of Thunder.

Jerry Bruckheimer didn’t have nice things to say about Disney and their big film Dick Tracy (This was a few years before Bruckheimer signed with Disney), so the battle was on. The results? Well the two films didn’t earn that much at all compare to the other films, in fact no one saw it coming that Ghost ended up being the biggest hit of the season. My favorites were Die Hard 2, Total Recall, Another 48 Hrs. and Back to the Future Part 3. Robocop 2 and Days of Thunder were quite disappointing to me.

2. Summer of 1991:

The big guns were Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Rocketeer, Backdraft, Point Break, Mobsters, Doc Hollywood and Child’s Play 3. I don’t remember why but the summer of 1991 offerings were pretty weak, maybe because a lot of studios were afraid of T-2 and they were right because it’s the biggest hit of the summer and the year. It’s also the first film to actually have cost over $100 mil to make and it set the standards for special effects in films. I actually saw the film on the big 70mm screen and I was blown away by it. The picture and sound were pretty spectacular.

My favorite from the list was Point Break, I fell asleep watching Backdraft, while Robin Hood with Kevin Costner was okay. The only other film I saw in theater that summer was The Rocketeer, I don’t remember much about it though, and I might have to give it a rent soon.

3. Summer of 1992:

The big films were Lethal Weapon 3, Alien 3, Batman Returns, Far and Away, Sister Act, Patriot Games, Iron Eagle 3, A League of Their Own, Cool World, Prelude to a Kiss, Universal Soldier, Unforgiven, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Death Becomes Her, Mo’ Money, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery and Single White Female. I called this the summer of sequels and Lethal Weapon 3, Batman Returns and Patriot Games were big winners.

Alien 3 on the other hand was the biggest bombs of the year, it was plague with bad behind the scenes rumors and it was way over budget. Another big bomb of that summer was Far and Away, Ron Howard’s attempt to imitate David Lean’s film was met with bad reviews and audiences didn’t care to see Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman on the big screen. Howard even shot the film with Panavision Super 70, the highest quality in film, very similar to Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia and Ryan’s Daughter. My favorites were Lethal Weapon 3, Batman Returns, Patriot Games and Unforgiven (it’s probably my favorite western film ever).

4. Summer of 1993:

Hollywood offered us Hot Shots! Part Deux, Super Mario Bros., Jurassic Park, Cliffhanger, Last Action Hero, The Fugitive, Hard Target, Free Willy, Rising Sun, Another Stakeout, Coneheads, and In the Line of Fire. This summer was billed as Arnold vs. Sly since each of them had a summer flick, Stallone has been doing comedies for a few years and Arnold didn’t have a summer movie in 1992. So when it was announced that Cliffhanger would open in May and Last Action Hero in June, many predicted that both films would earn hundreds of millions of dollars.

Boy were they wrong, Cliffhanger ended up making around $80mil while Last Action Hero became one of the biggest box office misfires of the decade, ouch! The summer actually belonged to the dinosaurs and Harrison Ford. Jurassic Park became the biggest hit of the summer/year and The Fugitive was right behind it. My favorites were Jurassic Park, The Fugitive, Cliffhanger, Hard Target, In the Line of Fire and Rising Sun.

5. Summer of 1994:

The summer kicked off with Maverick then Beverly Hills Cop 3, The Flintstones, The Cowboy Way, Speed, City Slickers 2, Wolf, Wyatt Earp, The Lion King, Forrest Gump, True Lies, The Client, The Shadow, The Mask, Natural Born Killers and Clear and Present Danger. So this was the first summer ever that has two films earned over $300 mil at the box office, Forrest Gump and The Lion King. Also, it was a reunion for Arnold and James Cameron, their film True Lies was the priciest of the year costing at around $120mil to make. Even though this was a huge summer for films, somehow I don’t remember much about it. I think I only saw 4 films in theater that summer; True Lies, Speed, Clear & Present Danger and Forrest Gump and I enjoyed all of them. The rest were pretty forgettable with the exception of The Lion King which I didn’t see until it came out on video and I really enjoyed it.

6. Summer of 1995:

The theaters were filled with big films such as Crimson Tide, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Braveheart, Casper, Congo, The Bridges of Madison County, Batman Forever, Pocahontas, Apollo 13, Judge Dredd, First Knight, Species, Under Siege 2, Clueless, Free Willy 2, The Net, Waterworld, Babe, Dangerous Minds and Mortal Kombat. 1995 was a pretty weak year in films and the summer season offerings weren’t that impressive either.

The summer kicked off with Crimson Tide (Jerry Bruckheimer’s first big budget film with Disney after he and his business partner Don Simpson left Paramount). I went to see it with a friend and we loved it and thought this could be a great summer for films. Boy was I wrong, the next movie I went to see was Die Hard 3 and even though I enjoyed it, I was still quite disappointed with the movie. Then I saw Congo and wow that was bad, Batman Forever and Judged Dredd were also quite bad. In July I saw Under Siege 2 and Waterworld, I was surprised how much I enjoyed both films but by no means they were great or even good films.

At the time, Waterworld was the most expensive movie ever, cost around $175mil to produce. The last summer movie I saw in theater was Mortal Kombat and I really enjoyed that one. I didn’t get to see Braveheart in theater until it won all those Oscars and they decided to re-release it back in theaters in the spring of 1996. My favorites were Braveheart, Crimson Tide and Mortal Kombat.

7. Summer of 1996:

Hollywood gave us Twister, Mission: Impossible, Dragonheart, The Rock, The Cable Guy, Eraser, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Striptease, The Nutty Professor, Independence Day (ID4), Phenomenon, Courage Under Fire, The Frighteners, A Time to Kill, Chain Reaction, Escape from L.A., Tin Cup and Island of Dr. Moreau. I remember this summer well because I graduated from high school that May and also it was the summer of films filled with CGI. Also, this was the year where most movie theaters in America updated to digital sound. I think I’ve seen most of the films on the list in theater that summer.

My favorites were Mission: Impossible, The Rock, Eraser, ID4 and Twister. Now I’m not saying these were great or even good films, but they were quite entertaining, especially if you saw them at a theater that has digital sound. I thought I was gonna go deaf after I saw The Rock at the revamped theater close to where I used to live.


Well those are my memories of summer films during my teen years, what about you? Feel free to share your memories of summer flicks; I would love to hear from someone who grew up in the 70s since I believe that decade had so many great films.

36 thoughts on “Guest Post: Summer films from my teen years

  1. I didn’t turn thirteen till 2000, so I grew up with a legion of 21st century movies as “summer blockbusters,” though strangely, I could never be bothered to see the Lord of the Rings movies. I tried once, but failed. I envy the 90s as a growing up period because some of my favourite movies came out then. I remember when Titanic came out, everyone in my family was so excited. They bought the video as soon as it hit shelves and watched it over and over like it was the best thing ever. I never really got the hype, though it is enjoyable. Then when I turned 18 in 2005 and went to university, I kind of stopped caring about movies. When I got out and settled down in the last couple of years, they’ve become a huge part of my life, and I guess it all really starts when you’re growing up.

    1. Ted S.

      Hey Tyler, I assume you don’t live here in the States? Both Lord of the Rings and Titanic didn’t come in the summer here, they were released around Christmas time.

      I think by 2000s, Hollywood has doubled their offerings when it comes to summer films. A lot of good stuff from that decade though.

  2. These were good years, although I was bti older than you in these years….the 80s were my teenie ones!!

    Love Point Break…Great film, ah heack who am I kidding I love every film you listed, I think me and you Ted are brothers from another mother!! We have such similar Film taste!!


    Scott aka Custard

    1. Ted S.

      Thanks Scott, I wasn’t living in the States in the 80s, well I came here in 1989 so I remember a little of that summer season. Tim Burton’s Batman was everywhere, it was such a huge film that year.

      Point Break is definitely my ultimate guilty pleasure film, it’s kind of strange that the film sort of ruined Patrick Swayze’s leading man career. After this film came out, his career just went down the toilet.

  3. Hi, Ruth and company:

    Great list of films!

    Though my teen years started in the mid 1960s before blockbuster weekends. Your choices are eerily close to my own.

    Big fan of ‘Die Hard’, ‘Fire Birds’, for its ‘Top Gun’ cheeziness, with Apache helicopters. ‘Point Break’ and ‘The Rocketeer’.

    Still think that Gary Sinise;s Lt.. Dan character is the best part of ‘Forrest Gump’ and that ‘Apollo 13’ is Ron Howard’s best work. Also enjoy ‘The Rock’. Not just for its storyline, but for its superior cast and pacing.

    1. Ted S.

      Thanks Jack, yes Fire Birds was so cheesy that you can’t help by enjoy it. I thought the helicopter battle sequences were pretty great, although Nic Cage wasn’t as cool as Tom Cruise, ha ha.

    2. PrairieGirl

      Hey Jack, nice to know I’m not the oldest commenter… mid 60s started my teen years too. I went to quite a few summer films, but the goal was to make out with a boy in the last row of the balcony, so remembering the actual films… well, not so much! Thanks for the memories, Ted ;-D

      1. Ted S.

        LOL, thanks Becky. I guess I’m such a geek that I didn’t even bother paying attention to my dates when I saw all those films, I actually wanted to see the movie.

        1. PrairieGirl

          Oh, yes Ted, that certainly certifies you as a geek, and, as Lionel Logue says, that makes it official! But what a lovable one you are!

      2. FUNK

        HI PG, do they still make theatre’s with balcony’s (those where the days) now a-days, bout the only movie’s I looked forward to back then with high anticipation was the next Bond movie, or one of Clint’s westerns. I think movies back then went more on pure star power.

    3. @ Jack – Yay, another Rocketeer fan! I hope that with the success of Capt. America, people will go back and re-watch some of Joe Johnston’s earlier films, including that one. I’m hoping it’ll be released on Blu-ray soon!

  4. In the summers of ’95 and ’96 I worked as a counselor at a sleepaway camp in Massachusetts, so I vividly remember seeing movies like Apollo 13 and Independence Day with my fellow counselors. Pleasant memories.

    1. Ted S.

      Yes, I remember the summer of 95 and 96 like they were yesterday. I think I only saw a couple of films in theater in the summer of 95, while in 96 I went to see most if not all of the films that came out that summer.

  5. You have an amazing memory, Ted, I don’t remember much of what I saw in my 20s, let alone teens!

    I LOVE a lot of the movies you mention here, though I saw most of them on DVDs. I just saw a Kathryn Bigelow movie this weekend, and seeing that Point Break mention makes me want to see that again (I only remember bits & pieces of it).

    Thanks for taking us down memory lane, Ted!

    1. Ted S.

      I know it’s kind of scary and sad that I remembered seeing all those films in theater back in those days. I guess that’s what happen when you live in pop culture.

  6. Pingback: Robin Hood Season One

  7. summer of 89 was pretty sweet. Lethal Weapon 2….Batman…..License to Kill…..Indiana Jones….The Abyss….. I think I spent the entire summer at the movies that year. Definitely one I remember fondly.

    1. Ted S.

      All I remember from summer of 89 was Batman was everywhere but yeah that summer offered some fun films.

    2. Props to Markus for including Licence to Kill!! One of the most underrated Bond films… or any film for that matter. I even love the villain in that one!

    1. Ted S.

      Thanks Paula and yes I’ve seen Point Break countless times myself. I actually bought the VHS, then DVD and now I have it on Blu-ray.

  8. Teeny years = Back to the Future, Tim Burton’s Batman, The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Batman Returns, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Last Starfighter, Karate Kid, Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai.

    Preteeny years = E.T., Empire Strikes Back

    I enjoyed them all too.

    1. Ted S.

      Ah yeah, those are fun films. Especially Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, that’s a film in need of a remake.

  9. Yea, Jurassic Park was the big milestone for me. It was a great cinematic experience for me and the most memorable of my childhood (I was 10). Then came Forrest Gump, Crimson Tide and The Rock, childhood favorites right there as well. Good times.

    1. Are you gonna get the Jurassic Park BD, Castor? I’m tempted to buy it as I like the first one so much. And The Rock is definitely guilty pleasure material for me.

  10. FUNK

    Ruth, another great posting, it sure bought back some memories of the 90’s that’s for sure.
    When I was growing up as a kid we didn’t have the summer blockbusters, the Bond movies and Clint’s westerns where block buster enough for me, even if they didn’t come out in the summer months, but boy did we look forward to them. McQueen, Newman, Eastwood, Welch, Liz, to name just a few actor/actress’s that we looked forward to their movies.

    1. Hi Dave, I wish I could take the credit but this post is courtesy of my good friend Ted. I don’t have as good memory as he does 🙂

      Oh yeah, I grew up watching Bond films as well. They seemed like such big-budgeted fares back then, but I’m sure it’s nothing compared to today’s movies. I didn’t watch plenty of movies at the cinema though, mostly on VHS back then.

  11. Hmm, let’s see. Because we need a little girliness around here … 🙂

    1990: Days of Thunder, Pump Up the Volume
    1991: Robin Hood, Hot Shots!
    1992: Sister Act, A League of their Own, ENCINO MAN
    1993: Dave, The Fugitive, Robin Hood: Men In Tights, So I Married an Axe Murderer
    1994: THE CROW, Maverick, The Mask
    1995: French Kiss, Casper, Clueless
    1996: The Craft, Hunchback, Independence Day

  12. Pingback: What’s Everyone Watching? 7/11/2011 « Southern Vision: A Blog About Movies

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