19 Movies You Probably Memorized Because They Were on Cable
Long before the days of Netflix and iTunes, you were pretty much stuck watching whatever movies happened to be playing on cable at any given time. And as '80s and '90s kids will attest, stations weren't always great about providing variety. These are the movies we all watched so many times that we see them in our sleep even now.
'The Empire Strikes Back' (1980)
Widely regarded as the best movie in this uber-popular franchise, "The Empire Strikes Back" is also the Original Trilogy movie that best stands the test of time. Special effects technology had clearly come a long way in the three years sicne "Star Wars," making for more epic space scenes and a far more satisfying lightsaber duel.
Few comedies are as quotable as "Ghostbusters." That's the power of good writing and endless cable TV reruns. There's rarely a situation that can't be improved without a spontaneous recitation of Bill Murray's "Cats and dogs living together. Mass hysteria!" rant.
'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom' (1984)
It may not be the best entry in the Indiana Jones franchise, but "Temple of Doom" may well be the most watched of the bunch, given how often it popped up on TV. We suspect it did some lasting psychological damage, too, what with the chilled monkey brains, the heart removal and Kate Capshaw's endless shrieking.
'The Princess Bride' (1986)
"Inconceivable!" is just one of many quotable lines from this cable staple.
'Big Trouble in Little China' (1986)
One thing that usually helps a good action flick stand the test of time is a strong sense of humor and a dash of self-awareness. "Big Trouble in Little China" has both in spades. Not just a great martial arts/action flick, it's also a hilarious romp featuring Kurt Russell at his most lovably inept.
Tim Burton's Batman is an indelible part of so many childhoods, in part because the movie has enjoyed such a healthy run on cable. At this point, each and every one of Jack Nicholson's Joker rants is burned into our collective memory.
'Batman Returns' (1992)
"Batman Returns" may have gotten even more play on cable than its predecessor, despite the fact that it's arguably much less kid-friendly. As a result, you only need mention the phrase "harp from hell" to send Bat-fans spiraling into nostalgia for this kookily dark take on the Batman mythos.
'Mom and Dad Save the World' (1992)
Sometimes cable Tv is the safety net that saves a movie from plunging into obscurity. "Mom and Dad Save the World" may have been a critical and commercial dud in theaters, but it built up a solid fanbase after being broadcast repeatedly throughout the '90s.
'Addams Family Values' (1993)
The only thing more surprising than the fact that Hollywood gave us a great "Addams Family" reboot is that we also got an even better sequel. "Addams Family Values" was basically required viewing for any self-respecting '90s kid. It's the rare family-friendly comedy with a real bite to it.
'So I Married an Axe Murderer' (1993)
While this dark romantic coemdy may not have been the "Wayne's World" successor many people were hoping for, it is a worthwhile addition to the Mike Myers canon. And it certainly found its calling on cable TV, where for a while it seemed like Coemdy Central couldn't go more than a few hours without broadcasting it again.
'Ace Ventura: Pet Detective' (1994)
"Ace Ventura" is one of the most quotable '90s movies around. And it's safe to say everyone of a certain age has honed their Jim Carrey impression by now.
'The Mask' (1994)
Look, we had a good time at this movie when were, like, 13. But our friends' constant quoting of "Sssssmmmokin'!" got on our teenage nerves real quick, thanks to VHS and cable.
'Batman Forever' (1995)
This particular Batman movie is far from the best to feature the Caped Crusader, but most '90s kids have undoubtedly committed it to memory. When we weren't compulsively rewatching this neon-drenched superhero misfire, we were playing the soundtrack over and over again.
'Billy Madison' (1995)
Adam Sandler's early comedies are basically tailor-made for lazy Saturday afternoon rewatchings. It's a shame that Sandler doesn't make them like this anymore.
Few movies are more definitively '90s than "Clueless." It doesn't hurt that "Clueless" has been such a constant presence on cable TV ever since its release. Even now, it's like hopping into a time machine and travelling back to a period where the fashion was wild, the cellphones were huge and Paul Rudd looked exactly the same.
'Happy Gilmore' (1996)
"Happy Gilmore" has joined "Billy Madison" as a comedy that's almost invariably playing on some cable network or another. (It's on Netflix right now!) We never get tired of watching Adam Sandler's rage-filled sports hero battle his way up the ranks of the professional golfing world and get in fistfights with Bob Barker.
'Liar Liar' (1997)
After all this time, we're not sure if "Liar Liar" is actually a good movie. But it is certainly a fantastic showcase for Jim Carrey, here playing a a crooked lawyer who suddenly finds himself physically unable to lie.
'Rush Hour' (1998)
"Rush Hour" was absolutely critical in terms of exposing Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan to a wider American audience. We're glad it succeeded, but there's also a lot about this buddy cop movie that doesn't hold up so well with age. It's overly formulaic, and some of the racial humor is a little cringe-y by today's standards.
'The Wedding Singer' (1998)
Who can resist a good romantic comedy starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore? This movie has not only the benefit of being Sandler's best comedy, but also allowing the comedian to flex his singing muscles for a change. It's one of those movies you can't help but get sucked into whenever you're flipping through the channels.