Knocking out a brief list and explanation of ten random movies that might fall into the category of "guilty pleasures", but I feel no guilt at all in my enjoyment of these films. This isn't to say people can't have guilty pleasures in movies, but after four years of film school and countless hours of debate before, during, and after college about the films I watch, I have developed a "put up or shut up" attitude about my tastes in movies.
So, in no particular order, but off my "Top Shelf", we have:
01: Conan the Barbarian (1982): This is the film that put Arnold firmly in the spotlight, although it was the next film on my list that made him a true Hollywood Juggernaut. This is John Milius at the top of his game, great production values (especially compared to other 80's Sword & Sorcery movies) and a truly, utterly epic score by Basil Poledouris. I saw this movie in the theater (twice) a few years ago, and on the big screen, it is friggin' incredible.
02: Commando (1985): Arnold's superstar action vehicle, and the movie that set the tone for action movies over the next decade. Utterly gratuitous (including completely pointless nudity), great one-liners, extras dead by the dozens, some totally, wonderfully slimy bad guys, and who can forget the steel drum soundtrack? This movie knows what it is and what it tries to do, and embraces it like a long-lost lover.
03: The Running Man (1987): Are we noticing a trend here? This sci-fi manhunt movie (and I will have to one day do a whole post on the manhunt movie sub-genre) pretty much explains the appeal of "reality television" a decade before such trash became popular. Some great gruesome deaths, cool character actors, and just about the ONLY time you see Arnold with a beard on film.
04: The Terminator (1984): Although I do love T2, the original is dark, it is gritty, it is brutal and uncaring, and it absolutely will not stop...oh, wait, never mind. Michael Biehn begins his long career as "Guy wearing a comms headset" in this film (seriously, start looking at his other movies...). This might also be the earliest that Bill Paxton works with either Arnold or James Cameron.
05: Red Heat (1988): My last Arnold movie, I promise! This is one of Walter Hill's great "buddy cop movies", with a fish out of water twist; Russian (excuse me, Soviet) cop hunting down Russian (excuse me, Soviet) drug dealers in Chicago. Also contains one of my favorite Arnold lines of all time, "You think parakeet is feminine?" Priceless.
Okay, to keep this from just being a list of Arnold movies:
06: Revenge of the Ninja (1983): One of the great Sho Kosugi's martial arts / ninja movies, this movie is more than just karate in a black bodysuit; Kosugi and his ninja bad guys employ a whole host of historical and semi-historical ninja weapons and equipment. Way better than any of the American Ninja movies, and very close to being better than The Hunted.
07: Prime Cut (1972): You gotta love a movie that starts of with a dead man being made into sausage. Lee Marvin and Gene Hackman go head to head in a crime thriller that pits big-city enforcers against a midwest criminal enterprise. Filled with cornfield gun battles, sex slavery, and Marvin packing the Cadillac of 70's era submachine guns, the Swedish K 9mm SMG. You'll never look at a plate of scrapple the same way ever again.
08: Starship Troopers (1997): Yes, I read the book. No, I don't really like it. I think the movie tells pretty much the same story, but points out how fucking twisted the whole concept truly is. Verhoeven is one of my favorite directors, and I think this movie is a big "piss off" to the ivory tower of 1950's/60's science fiction (i.e., psychotic Cold War politics with a palatable candy coating).
09: The 13th Warrior (1999): Yes, I read the book. No, I don't really like it. Yes, I know the armor is inaccurate, and the horses are too big, and...well just piss off, it's a Viking version of The Dirty Dozen And Guest, and it kicks some serious ass. Beheadings, badasses, guys who dress up in bear outfits and bear-claw clubs and bear-man cavalry and battles in caves filled with piles of freakin' skulls and bones and all sorts of other goddamn insanity.
10: Spice World (1997): Yeah, go fuck yourself. It's on the movie shelf. I didn't buy it, but I haven't thrown it out. Honestly, it's pretty entertaining. Meatloaf, Roger Moore, and Alan Cumming are all awesome, and the Spice Girls, for all their ridiculousness, knew what they were about and sold it for all it was worth. I put this one in here to make a stand and say YEAH I WATCHED SPICE GIRLS AND I FOUND IT AWESOME IN ITS OWN SPECIAL WAY. So there.
Annnnnd, I'm spent. Although this list is written with a light heart, I am serious when I say I find all of these movies utterly watchable. I do have movies I can't stand, and movies I think are really only watchable under certain circumstances, but I also feel that movies are all about watching with the right kind of eye, and with the right sort of attitude.