While we’re in the midst of this summer’s crop of movies, one thing to remember is that it’s the 30th anniversary of the summer of 1982 films. That summer saw the release of many genre classics that are still revered today.
10. Firefox: Clint Eastwood’s stars as an emotionally fragile fighter pilot who is assigned to steal a Soviet stealth fighter plane. The sci-fi twist? The plane’s weaponry operates on thought. This underrated Cold War thriller is tense and riveting with some slick visuals of the plane in action.
9. The Secret Of NIMH: Former Disney animator Don Bluth showed up his old studio with this visually stunning animated feature. Beautiful layouts and designs highlight this tale of a mother mouse seeking aid from a society of rats with artificially enhanced intelligence.
8. Tron: Admittedly, the then-groundbreaking computerized special effects don’t hold up today, but Tron laid the groundwork for future CG productions. This film’s production design is very distinct and otherworldly and Tron gave viewers a fascinating cyberworld to explore in future follow-ups.
7. Conan The Barbarian: Arnold Schwarzenegger was perfectly cast as the title hero in this violent sword-and-sorcery film. While The Terminator truly made him a star, this film put Schwarzenegger on the map as he flexed his mighty muscles and hacked away at his enemies.
6. Poltergeist: Despite the ongoing controversy of who really directed this horror classic (either producer Steven Spielberg or listed director Tobe Hooper), this movie about evil spirits haunting a typical suburban family is very frightening with jump-out-of-your-seat thrills and special effects. It made many wary about falling asleep in front of a TV!
5. The Road Warrior: Technically this movie was released overseas in 1981 but didn’t premiere in the U.S. until the summer of 1982, so that is why it’s on the list. This sequel to Mad Max (about a renegade ex-cop in a dystopian future fighting crazy thugs that rule the highways in their custom vehicles) is actually a thrilling, white-knuckle action flick with kinetic car chases and stunt work.
4. The Thing: John Carpenter helmed this remake of the Howard Hawkes 1950s classic that is actually superior to the original thanks to a moody, paranoid setting and disgustingly gory makeup effects. Unfortunately, this movie about a deadly shape-shifting alien in an Antarctic research base bombed in theaters in the summer of 1982 but has attained a classic status over the years.
3. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece about a lonely boy who befriends a stranded alien won near universal acclaim and was the biggest box office hit for many years. It’s quite a wonder that still holds up today and would rank higher if not for the fact that E.T. hasn’t persevered in the popular culture and geekdom circles as much as the next two movies. Nonetheless, it’s still a terrific film that must be watched by film lovers.
2. Blade Runner: Ridley Scott directed this eye-popping, futuristic, detective noir movie. Blade Runner happens to be one of the earliest and best cyberpunk presentations ever filmed. Harrison Ford stars as Rick Deckard, a specialized cop who is brought out of retirement to hunt down renegade Replicants (synthetic humans). Along with the striking visuals of a crowded, deteriorating Los Angeles, this movie brings up many philosophical questions about what it means to be human and the impact of emotions and memories on souls.
1. Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan: As with The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek II set standards for movie sequels. Generally regarded as the best Trek film, many subsequent films in the franchise (and other movie franchises) tried to copy Star Trek II’s winning formula. The movie has great character development, nifty special effects and an engaging storyline about growing old and being obsessed with vengeance. While other movie in this list may be considered superior in terms of the filmmaking talent behind them, Star Trek II is still emulated to this day. How many times has anyone screamed out “Khaaaan!” or talked about the Kobayashi Maru scenario? Also Ricardo Montalban’s classic portrayal of the revenge-minded Khan elevated that character as not just Star Trek’s best villain but as one of the best ever seen on film.
Lewis T. Grove