Geek Guide to 80’s Movies (1980 – 1984)!

Jondee here on the Grid,

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Short recap of the 70’s, we have the end of the Vietnam War, Watergate; political unrest reflected in the dramatic films from Patton in 1970 to Apocalypse Now in 1979. We got a peek into the summer blockbuster with Jaws (1975) and triumph seen in Rocky (1976). A peek into a time period, American life, and music was in George Lucas’ American Graffiti (1973). Lucas brought all of the uncertainty of the 70’s into a timeless period of hope with Star Wars in 1977. So take out your boom box, put on your leg warmers, it’s time to slam dance into the 80’s! 1980 began with Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining based on Stephen King’s novel. We had the other half of the Superman film in Superman II with Richard Lester’s additions. Then, we had the Star Wars follow ups; Flash Gordon’s Vegas take on Alex Raymond’s sci fi comic strip and also the Roger Corman produced Battle Beyond the Stars. The Academy Award went to Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull. The highlight of 1981 was Raiders of the Lost Ark which combined the talents of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg under Harrison Ford’s fedora. It also brought the apocalyptic classic Mad Max: The Road Warrior and John Carpenter’s Escape from New York. There was the submarine war film moved to starships in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and the surreal Time Bandits from Terry Gilliam. In fantasy we had Ray Harryhausen’s last film, Clash of the Titans, John Boorman’s brilliant Excalibur, and still the most impressive dragon on film, Vermithrax in Dragonslayer. The soundtrack of that year was in the animated film, Heavy Metal, that popularized the European comics work with guitar riffs and adult themes. The Academy Award went to Chariots of Fire.

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1982 was the year of a wide range of films, Steven Spielberg reached the height of family films, sci fi, and pop culture with E.T. The opposite spectrum was in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Between the two was the cyberpunk trailblazer, Tron, that imaged a computer generated world based on video games. End of line. Spielberg also helped unleash the terrors of Poltergeist directed by Tobe Hooper. We had the sword and sorcery of Conan the Barbarian which catapulted some guy named Arnold Schwarzenegger to fame. Then, there was the surreal fairy tale of The Dark Crystal. Best Picture Academy Award went to the well deserved Gandhi. The Star Wars trilogy wrapped up with Return of the Jedi in 1983. There was the comedy of Superman III. We also decided to play a game with artificial intelligence in War Games. For fantasy, we had the glaive of Krull and the vision of Frank Frazetta in animated form in Ralph Bakshi’s Fire and Ice. Terms of Endearment won the Academy Award. 1984 had Arnold with his sunglasses in The Terminator and David Lynch adapted Frank Herbert’s Dune. Side note: Helen Slater flew as Supergirl, but the Super films were winding down. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom had Harrison Ford’s whip cracking down again. For fantasy films, The Neverending Story explored the farthest reaches of Fantasia. There was no waking from the terror of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Gremlins swarmed an It’s A Wonderful Life town, and the proton packs were out in Ghostbusters. In animated films, Hayao Miyazaki brought his manga vision to film with Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Another perfect Academy win went to Amadeus. Some strong dramas, not socio-political films of the 70’s, more personal, historical, but with a strong mix of sci fi and fantasy. Millennials, here’s your Top Five Must Sees for 1980-1984: 1 Raiders of the Lost Ark, 2 Mad Max: The Road Warrior, 3 Blade Runner, 4 Tron, and Ghostbusters.

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