by Joel G. Robertson
Perhaps the single greatest year, collectively, for sci-fi, fantasy, and horror films. A bold assertion? Yep, but it’s also true. Here’s a quick rundown of genre movies released that year.
The Secret of NIMH
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn
Conan the Barbarian
The Dark Crystal
The Last Unicorn
Class of 1984
All of these are, in my not-so-humble opinion, must sees. I’d love to discuss them all, but as per usual I’m forced to follow these Draconian rules of only picking six.
So, here are my six picks from ’82…
A group of scientists is trapped in an Antartic research station with an alien entity capable of mimicking whatever organism it comes into contact with. A remake of the Howard Hawks-produced The Thing from Another World (1951), the ’82 version is sci-fi-horror hybrid perfection.
With a testosterone-heavy screenplay by Bill Lancaster, The Thing has tight, suspenseful direction from John Carpenter. Early-Carpenter DP Dean Cundey’s beautiful, anamorphic cinematography captures the claustrophobia and white-blanketed landscape of the Antartic tundra. Ennio Morricone’s musical score, with echoes of his previous work with Sergio Leone, and proof that, when done right, practical effects will trump CGI any day of the week courtesy of the ultra-talented Rob Bottin.
When no one will hire an out-of-work, perfectionist actor (Dustin Hoffman), he dresses as a woman, auditions for a soap opera, and gets the part. For any filmmaker wanting to know how you make an entertaining, funny movie loaded with social commentary that doesn’t feel preachy, should check out Tootsie ASAP.
With a cast that includes Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Bill Murray(!), George Gaynes, Geena Davis, and Estelle Getty, and under the steady directorial hand of the prolific and wonderful Sydney Pollack (who also plays Hoffman’s agent in the film), Tootsie is a comedy classic and a must see.
A computer programmer named Flynn (Jeff Bridges) gets transported into a computer system where he must defeat a power-hungry master control program (David Warner). Cutting-edge and revolutionary in 1982, Tron laid the conceptual groundwork for future, digitally-created films.
While the visual effects are “dated” by today’s standards, it’s fun to view Tron as a cinematic snapshot from our past techno-history. It’s a time capsule and inside you’ll find examples of a society just beginning to crawl out of the digi-primordial ooze.
When a Vietnam-vet drifter named John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is harrassed by a small town sheriff (Brian Dennehy), it leads to an all out war between Rambo and the authorities. So, this is a “drama”? “Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout Willis?” That’s right! The first Rambo film was a drama (of course, technically EVERY movie is a “drama” so I can get away with it 🙂 ). Sure, it’s loaded with the staples of any good action film: explosions, booby traps, the unrelenting bursts of metallic fire from an M60 machine gun (toted about the small, northwestern town by a barely comprehensible Sly Stallone.
But at it’s heart First Blood is about the struggle between a broken warrior seeking solitude and solace and the society, represented by Dennehy’s Sheriff Teasle, that refuses to accept him or allow him to exist in the world he swore to defend.
A warrior (Marc Singer) who telepathically communicates with animals, seeks revenge against those responsible for slaughtering the people of his village. This is another one I watched over and over as a kid. My strongest memories of it include the ferrets, Kodo and Podo, and an eyeball popping up in a cauldron. I really loved this movie and was drawn to it because star Marc Singer also starred in V (1984), the television mini-series, a show that I, along with millions of others had gone ga-ga over. Although The Beastmaster came out a couple years before V, I didn’t see it until afterward, but I always secretly wished Diana, or that really cool lizard baby would make an appearance.
It also starred Tanya Roberts (meeeeeoooooow!) and Rip Torn (“Necessary? Is it necessary that I drink my own urine? No! But it’s sterile and I like the taste.”– guess the movie!). Directed by Don Coscarelli, a highly-underrated filmmaker who brought us Phantasm and its sequels as well as one of my top three movies from the 2000s, Bubba Ho-Tep. I’d recommend checking out any of his films as you’re guaranteed to have a good time!
Mrs. Brisby, a widowed mouse, must seek the help of shadowy rats to move her home and save her sick child. I remember this played on HBO (or maybe it was Cinemax) in the early-to-mid 1980s. Along with The Last Unicorn (and, of course, Heavy Metal) The Secret of NIMH always struck me as several steps above the usual animated faire I watched as a youngster.
Dark, scary, and unique in all the right ways, The Secret of NIMH proves that everyone has the potential to be a hero.
There you have it, six movies from 1982 you absolutely, no-ifs-ands-or-big-butts about it, must see before your snout becomes a smörgåsbord for a family of flesh-eating worms.
So, until next time remember, a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it.
And the winners of this week’s Insanely Difficult, Damn-Near-Impossible Movie Trivia Challenge letters are:
A — @Peter_Nielsen
N — @Peter_Nielsen
N — @leehardcastle
I — @Peter_Nielsen
E — @davidimler
Congratulations to all the winners and to everyone who submitted correct answers. Normally, we’d only have one winner per letter, but since Peter was the only one who submitted the correct answers for “A” and the first “N” (well, so did my friend and soon-to-be a Forgotten Flix contributor Terry), I thought it only fair he get the credit.
I’ll be adding everyone’s names (times however many letters you answered correctly) to the next prize drawing, which will take place in the coming months!Share
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