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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Geeky Movie Night: 1982

On my drive home today, I recalled how much I'd enjoyed the movies of 1982. It was a great year for lovers of science fiction and fantasy: that year I marvelled at Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Blade Runner, Airplane II: The Sequel, Firefox, Tron, Swamp Thing, and Conan the Barbarian.

I also put up with E.T.. No year is perfect.

There were some films I was too young to see in 1982: The Thing, Cat People, Creepshow, and Poltergeist, among others. But I caught them later, and The Thing in particular became a favourite.

As I drove, I wondered if perhaps I should arrange a 1982-themed movie night. But with such a wide array of great movies to choose from, how could I possibly pick just two or three representing the SF/F/horror/cult sphere of that incredible year?

If I had to pick one film that captured the zeitgeist of my early teens, it would have to be Tron. At that age I was obsessed with computers, video arcades, and home computer games, and Tron held out the mind-bending possibility that one could enter a whole new digital realm. It also looked and sounded like no other movie.

For a second feature, I would probably choose Conan the Barbarian, which is almost the polar opposite of Tron; it's low tech, it presents a world of fantasy and magic, and the hero is a man of brawn rather than brain. And yet it's just as exciting and fun as my first choice, and the two films share the spirit of adventure that I adore most in escapist film.

Choosing a third film is considerably more difficult. As a Trekkie, I'm tempted to pick the most highly regarded of all Trek films, Wrath of Khan. It's a legitimately great movie, and holds up to this day. But it's also part of a larger story, and it feels a little weird to view a sequel without its larger context.

Blade Runner is tempting, but for authenticity you'd have to screen the original version with the happy ending and voice-over, which I think most fans of the film would see as inferior to the later director's cuts.

In the end, I'd have to wrap up my 1982 movie night with John Carpenter's The Thing, still one of the creepiest and bleakest horror movies of all time, with a terrific story, claustrophobic atmosphere, and perhaps one of the most nihilistic endings ever. It also serves as a nice counterpoint to my more upbeat choices.

How about you? I've posted a poll at right to measure my readers' favourite cult, fantasy and science fiction films of 1982. I'm interested to see what three or four or five films you might choose for you own movie night. 


Andrea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrea said...

Argh, technical problems this morning. Another vote for Beastmaster please. I loved that movie as a kid.

Jeff Shyluk said...

I remember a bunch of my friends getting in to see The Thing in the theatre. I didn't go, although I was a big fan of John W. Campbell's "Who Goes There" pretty much from the point as a child where I learned to read. Then I found out that my school chum Donny S. crapped his pants watching that movie, for real. I thought that was hilarious, but nobody teased him for shitting himself, which I thought was odd. It wasn't until maybe twenty years later that I finally caught up with that film. Just... dang.

Earl J. Woods said...

I added a Beastmaster vote for you, Andrea.

And yes, The Thing warrants a "dang."