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1982 in Film
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I have composed a geeklist on a subject near and dear to me: film. In particular, the year 1982 has stood out as a time of transition, when Hollywood was moving away from the experiments of the 1970s and towards the stagnant era of today. Yet, times of uncertainty breed creativity, and the popcorn films of this era were vastly superior to the dreck of today. This is for a variety of reasons, including limitations in special effects which forced filmmakers to tell a story. Mostly, the filmmakers were charting new terratory, and they drew from the previous decade, which was known for strong characterization, dark themes, and powerful endings. Consider Raiders of the Lost Ark. Technically, Indiana Jones loses. He does not defeat the bad guys and the Ark is confiscated. Today that would never wash. Today, movies have more in common with the exploitation films that once were left in the ash heap of the drive in theater. However, most of all 1982 was a time of chaos. Hollywood did not yet have a formula to make consistent money. The 1970s and 1980s were essentially the quest to return to the predictable. For instance, film posters are a sign of stagnation. In the 1950s they all looked the same. In the chaos of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s they were varied. We have returned to film posters with similar styles. Few catch our eye because they need not: profits are assured. I cannot wait for a great change occur, if no other reason that it might shake up our vapid film industry.

I hope this list help to dispel that notion that a film can be "timeless." It is the Holy Grail of artists, but essentially a fool's errand. Everything is of its time and restricted by its time. Some films age better and others speak to common themes, but the devil is in the details, and the details always show their age.

Lastly, I almost included The Road Warrior and Das Boot, since both saw a wider audience in 1982. Yet both were released in 1981, arguably another year that could use a list such as this.

I have chosen today to post this list because both The Thing and Blade Runner were released on this day, June 25, 2012, 30 years ago. I wish to pay my respects to both films.
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1. Board Game: Cops 'n' Robbers [Average Rating:5.25 Unranked]
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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48 Hrs.


The Plot: In order to catch a pair of cop killers, Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) must team up with Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy), a convict serving time. Hijinks, violence, and racial slurs ensue.

Back in 1982: 48 Hrs. was an odd film concept made accessible through solid storytelling and action scenes. Cops and convicts have been a staple heroes on American film, but rarely had the two been forced to work together. Then there was the added dynamic of race. 48 Hrs. plays the racial tension for laughs by being about as bare-knuckle on the issue as one could be in 1982. Combined with Walter Hill's tight direction and superb performances by Murphy and Nolte, 48 Hrs. was a critical and box office hit, and it even won a few awards.

30 Years Later: 48 Hrs. is clearly among the most influential films of the decade, spawning the buddy cop film trope, which would be seen in Lethal Weapon, Tango & Cash, and Rush Hour to name a few. Yet few of these films were as potent as 48 Hrs., which had an edge lacking in the rest. Demolition Man, by including some playful themes on gender and political correctness came closer to being original than most. While still a well regarded movie, 48 Hrs. has been a bit left behind. Partially this is because the film did not spark a franchise. Its' only sequel, Another 48 Hrs., was panned. Part of Nolte's growing disgust with Hollywood stemmed from being forced to make a sequel. In addition, the racial tension in the film is so raw that I find modern audiences squirm more than they laugh. So while 48 Hrs. remains a well-regarded movie, I find that like The Wild Bunch, contemporary audiences are uneasy with the films themes and bored by its more leisurely pace. I for one think the film is the best of its kind.


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2. Board Game: Blade Runner [Average Rating:5.75 Unranked]
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Blade Runner


The Plot: Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a bounty hunter of sorts, ordered to kill Replicants, which are bio-engineered super-humans. Deckard falls in love with one (Sean Young) and manages to kill the rest, but by the end of the film he has had enough of his career. Carpe diem!

Back in 1982: Blade Runner's plot sounds simple, and its characters are by no means deep. Both were understandably held against Blade Runner when it debuted. Critics and audiences generally found it cold and the film was for a brief time forgotten. Everyone agreed that it was a visual feast and featured one of the most superbly realized futuristic worlds, but the film was too strange for the average moviegoer and too mechanical for critics used to the character-driven films of the 1970s. For both it may be said that Blade Runner was a sign of what was wrong with much of American film.

30 Years Later: Blade Runner was soon resurrected through VHS, becoming the ultimate cult-film. I cannot do this masterpiece justice in a paragraph, so I will highlight a few points. First, the world of Blade Runner, in which technology is out-pacing humanity, corporations are powerful, and decay is everywhere, makes it more relevant as we approach 2019. The film is not just a visual feast, but filled with nuance and clues. It's greatest strength lies in combining the old with the new, just as our surroundings are but a reflection of past, present, and future styles. The film influenced not just movies, but literature. In short, Blade Runner has achieved a well-deserved reputation as a classic. It is not that critics and audiences in 1982 were so wrong. Indeed, both had valid critiques, for nothing is perfect. I think their appreciation grew only as the 1980s wore on and failed to provide a more seminal piece of science fiction. I like Return of the Jedi and Dune, but neither is on the level of Blade Runner.


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3. Board Game: Cats in a Box: A Game of Feline Photography [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Cat People


The Plot: When Irena Gallier (Nastassja Kinski) is reunited with her older brother (Malcolm McDowell) she eventually finds out she is the product of some ancient bestiality. The result is that if she has sex with a man, she'll become a leopard, and remain in that form until she kills a human. That makes my life sound rather pleasant.

Back in 1982: Cat People was a remake of the 1942 film of the same name, and directed by legendary screenwriter Paul Schrader. The idea was to make a kind of horror art-film. Results were considered mixed. It was a critical hit, with Roger Ebert giving it the highest praise (Ebert loves the themes of sex and race so this was a given). The film though was not a financial success, and it damaged the careers of both Schrader and Kinski.

30 Years Later: Cat People was indicative of a shift in Hollywood, as the films critics praised increasingly had less connection with audiences, and directors saw their power decline. The producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, until then was mostly interested in more artsy Hollywood cinema projects. He then turned towards Footloose to save his declining reputation. One good thing can be said for the failure of Cat People: it helped to discourage remakes for many years. Cat People remains mostly a curiosity. Films that followed some of its themes, such as In the Company of Wolves and Ginger Snaps, have not really drawn from Cat People. In addition, Cat People has been judged to be dated and inferior to the original, but for once I prefer the remake. Then again, I like the 1980s.


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4. Board Game: Munchkin: Conan the Barbarian [Average Rating:6.71 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.71 Unranked]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Conan the Barbarian


The Plot: Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) witnesses the destruction of his tribe. He is enslaved and by pushing a big wheel he grows strong. Conan grows up and seeks vengeance, learning the value of friendship and Nietzsche along the way.

Back in 1982: Conan was part of the revival of the fantasy genre, which included some great films such as Excalibur and Dragonslayer. Conan was different though. It was bloody and filled with nudity. The heroes were more savage, its villains more heinous, and its world was a barren land of violence. This led to mixed reviews, with Richard Schickel famously declaring that "Conan is a sort of psychopathic Star Wars, stupid and stupefying." While a box office success, it was not quite a hit because the creators had not yet learned that children would want to see a film like this. So with an R rating firmly in place, Conan did not develop into a film series.

30 Years Later: Yet, Conan's R rating explains much of its mystique. The film has an edge that few can match, and while the writing and acting are not dynamic, it works in the film's favor because it proclaims to represent a simple time. Conan therefore remained popular long after 1982, spawning a tame sequel and a reputation for awesome scenes (punching a camel, killing a vulture, "then to hell with you!"). The soundtrack has achieved cult like status since 1982. While not representative of the "sword and sorcery" genre of the era, it remains its most popular of that era. Indeed, it spawned a host of bad imitations, with the Deathstalker series being the most infamous. As for myself, this is my favorite fantasy film of all time, rivaled only by The Fellowship of the Ring. Also, the film pushed Arnold forward, and for a fan like me that alone makes this a worthy film.


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5. Board Game: Creeps! [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Creepshow


The Plot: Billy (Joe King) has problem with his father, who won't let him read horror comics. So the Crypt-Keeper comes and tells Billy five stories: "Father's Day", "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill", "Something to Tide You Over", "The Crate" and "They're Creeping Up on You!" Afterwords Billy gets a voodoo doll and tortures his father.

Back in 1982: Creepshow represented both a new and old kind of horror. It's stories were throwbacks to E.C. Comics, and did not draw on the then popular wave of slasher films. Yet the movie pointed to the new with stylistic shots and a healthy dose of humor. Despite being unusual in conception and execution, Creepshow was a critical and box office success. It also entrenched the reputation of both George Romero and Stephen King as lords of the macabre.

30 Years Later: Creepshow has had diffuse but long-term influence upon horror. The film spawned one official sequel, but in 2006 a third unofficial film was released, lacking any involvement from Romero or King and suffering as a result. Still, the idea of horror vignettes was popular enough to spawn films in the same vein, an official comic-book, and television series such as Tales from the Darkside, Monsters, and Tales From the Crypt. While not legendary, Creepshow is a well-regarded horror film and among my favorites.


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6. Board Game: The Dark Crystal Card Game [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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The Dark Crystal


The Plot: Jen, an elf like Gelflings, must restore the Dark Crystal, and reunite the Skeksis and urRu. The Skeksis though would prefer to achieve immortality by keeping the crystal broken. Dark Muppet violence and adventure ensues.

Back in 1982: The film was an attempt to both tell a compelling fantasy story and use cutting edge puppetry and animatronics. The result is a live action film without humans in a world of striking visual imagery. The film was only a modest critical and financial success in America, although it was wildly popular in France and especially in Japan.

30 Years Later: The Dark Crystal has attained a better reputation in the years following its release, and it is an excellent snapshot of Hollywood in an era where special effects, while superb, were limited in such a way that filmmakers had compensate with creativity. The film led to another box office disappointment that attained later acclaim: Labyrinth. I'll admit that The Dark Crystal has always left me cold, but I understand its appeal and I respect what was accomplished. At the time plans for a sequel were scrapped, but in our age of cheap 1980s nostalgia, it will only be a matter of time before the film is resurrected.


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7. Board Game: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial [Average Rating:3.72 Overall Rank:10736]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial


The Plot: A hideous but kind alien lands on Earth, befriends a human (Henry Thomas), is captured by the government, and then returns home. In between we are treated to mystery, comedy, adventure, and general sappiness. This film seems to cover all genres.

Back in 1982: Somehow this film surpassed Jaws and Star Wars in terms of box office gross and became the biggest film not just of 1982 but of the entire decade. While it never had a sequel, it did start a feverish merchandising orgy. Those who fawned over the film were legion from Roger Ebert to Ronald Reagan. Richard Attenborough confessed that the film was superior to his work on Gandhi. Leonard Maltin considered it the best film of the era. Steven Spielberg could now do whatever he wanted, earning a U.N. Peace Medal after the film was shown to that varied body.

30 Years Later: E.T was to be the death blow to the more adult oriented popcorn film that was the rage of the era. The film proved that selling to children was big business, and not long after Transformers and Care Bears would be marching into living rooms, while films took a turn for children's entertainment. I do not besmirch E.T for this (I love Transformers and enjoy Care Bears) and nor do I fault Spielberg. He made a solid film and he remains one of my all time favorite directors. However, I never cared for E.T. As a child it bored me and it was the first time I could feel the hand of the director, not imploring me to cry, but commanding me. While the film remains well known and well regarded, I believe that is popularity is more ephemeral. I know it is circumstantial evidence, but I rarely hear anyone discuss this film nowadays, except to say that the alien is utterly hideous.


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8. Board Game: Kids On Stage [Average Rating:6.14 Unranked]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Fanny and Alexander


The Plot: Two children (Bertil Guve and Pernilla Allwin) find their warm and opulent family life destroyed when their father (Jarl Kulle) dies and their mother (Ewa Fröling) marries a stern Lutheran bishop (Jan Malmsjö). Strangely enough, Fanny plays almost no role in the plot.

Back in 1982: It was perhaps the most widely anticipated art film of all time. Ingmar Bergman, a giant of cinema, had announced retirement. He had returned to Sweden after a brief self-imposed exile to make a five hour film. The long version was shown on Swedish television. The shorter one saw an international release in 1983. If you loved Bergman then you loved Fanny and Alexander. It was, as one critic put it "an anthology of personal reference points, designed as an auto-critique analyzing his repertoire of artistic tricks." It also drew from most of his major films, including a particularly creepy reference to Persona. The film had just about everything you would expect: God, ghosts, magic, sex, death, family, despair, and a sudden ending. Bergman himself said it was “the sum total of my life as a filmmaker.” If you hated Bergamn, then a parade of his style, ideas, and preoccupations, was like a death sentence, even if the film was unusual for Bergamn due to its cheery atmosphere, long running time, fart jokes, and obsession with childhood. Yet this was the end of the road for a particular kind of style, made popular in the 1950s, and fading out as the culture transformed. Bergamn chose the best time to bow out.

30 Years Later: Fanny and Alexander was technically not his last film: there was Saraband is a 2003, closing a career that began with Crisis in 1946. Yet his later work was more theater centered and the films were austere and made for television. Fanny and Alexander was the last film made with fanfare. Among critics and directors it remains a favorite. When Sight and Sound, the British film magazine, asked the world's directors and critics to select the best films of the last 25 years it won third place. This was natural. The film is about the triumph of imagination, which is the sort of myth that artists eat up (the most insidious being the quest for the timeless work of art). In that way the film speaks to the artists and critics because it was deftly made, celebrates their virtues and vices, and is self-congratulatory. I admit though that even I fell under its spell. Few films combined magic with an attention to detail and depth, a lesson lost on Tim Burton/Baz Luhrmann in our vapid era of eye candy. The film is deftly acted. Most of all it is saved by Bishop Edvard, one of the greatest villains in film history. He is a cruel and tragic man, both tortured and a torturer, wise and yet a complete fool. He represents what is best in Bergman films, that complexity of humanity, for there are no cheap villains here. Every character does something we admire and something we despise. Edvard, by demanding both fear and compassion, offers no easy answers. To me he is the ultimate Bergman character best represented in his last two scenes. In one brief segment we see his pain. In the last we see the pain he inflicts, leaving us with him standing in the shadows declaring "You will never be rid of me."


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9. Board Game: High School Drama! [Average Rating:5.42 Overall Rank:9835]
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Fast Times at Ridgemont High


The Plot: High school kids get experience in work, sex, love, and awkward moments with Led Zeppelin.

Back in 1982: Wonderboy Cameron Crowe, who might be the luckiest man of the last century, wrote a book based on his undercover experiences in a California high school. The product was this film, which was given only a limited release and therefore did poorly. It also suffered from critics who saw it as another sign that in the wake of Animal House, comedy was declining into smut.

30 Years Later: Fast Times at Ridgemont High later gained acclaim, and I suspect it has to do with the film's unique features. Unlike most teen films before or since, Fast Times at Ridgemont High tried to capture the moment, so the film is not a product of nostalgic longing. This is best captured in the film's opening credit music: We Got the Beat. The more matter of fact style and blend of humor and drama has made it a well regarded, if not a classic film. It also featured early performances by a horde of young actors who would be active in the years ahead: Sean Penn, Judge Reinhold, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz, Nicolas Cage, and Anthony Edwards.


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10. Board Game: Guerilla [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:2963]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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First Blood


The Plot: John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), a drifting Vietnam War veteran who happens to be a one man army, is harassed by the cops. He flips out and eventually blows up the town before breaking down in tears when confronted by his old commander (Richard Crenna).

Back in 1982: First Blood was a moderate Box office hit that gained further recognition in the years after 1982. Critics were unsure what to make of it, with many detecting a conservative sensibility that annoyed them. For action fans the film was perhaps too much of a drama and only one person died in the entire film, and it was an accident. That stands in contrast to the novel it was based one, which by all accounts, is even darker and bloodier.

30 Years Later: As attested to by most of the cast and crew, the politics of the film was not readily apparent and the movie defies stereotyping. Rambo is the victim of Vietnam, and therefore guiltless of America's sins. On the other hand Rambo attacks cops and the war is not celebrated or avenged. That came with the obnoxious sequel, which in turn destroyed the novel's reputation. At any rate, First Blood remains a strange film. Not quite an action film, it also takes no clear stance on Vietnam, itself a rarity in films about that war. In terms of story style, First Blood was a bridge between the 1970s sensibility, with its love of misfits and failures, and the rising ethos of the action film. This is illustrated in the ending. Originally Rambo was supposed to die. Instead they went for a more positive ending, although the word "happy" would be an overstatement. As for myself, I consider it to be Stallone's finest work and among the best and most emotionally challenging films of the decade.


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11. Board Game: Addition in the Amazon [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Fitzcarraldo


The Plot: Fitzcarraldo (Klaus Kinski) wants to bring an Opera house to a village in Brazil. To do this he decides to first become a rubber baron.

Back in 1982: Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo was that strange beast: a big budget dramatic epic. The most famous of these was Apocalypse Now, and like that film the making of Fitzcarraldo was a hellish experience. Halfway through production Herzog had to replace the sickly Jason Robards with Klaus Kinski, a brilliant but erratic actor who had made three other films with Herzog. Their strange relationship devolved into antipathy. It also included one of the most lavish film feats in history. Herzog decided to move a 320-ton steamship over a hill without using special effects. Such an expensive and arduous undertaking made the film infamous and Herzog aptly described himself as the "Conquistador of the Useless" for his accomplishment. Shortly afterwards, the film was followed by an acclaimed making of documentary, Burden of Dreams. The film was a critical success, but it nearly destroyed the relationship between Herzog and Kinski, one of the finest creative teams in movie history.

30 Years Later: Fitzcarraldo remains a favorite with Herzog's fans, but the film arguably never achieved the legendary status it seemed destined to enjoy. Herzog and Kinski had one more collaboration. Meanwhile, dramatic epics made at the whim of half-crazed directors were fast falling out of favor. Fitzcarraldo was perhaps the most audacious Parthian shot of a dying trend.


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12. Board Game: Defining a Nation: India on the Eve of Independence, 1945 [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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Gandhi


The Plot: Gandhi (Ben Kingsley) leads the fight to end British colonial rule over India. Once this is achieved, Pakistan splits off. Gandhi is assassinated for his troubles.

Back in 1982: With a cast of thousands (apparently there was a record setting 300,000 extras for the funeral scene), Gandhi was novel in that it eschewed the typical military subjects of epic filmmaking. It was Richard Attenborough's passion project, and was a box office and critical success, going on to win best picture. The later had a lot to do with the film's restrained classical style and the old age of many academy voters. At a time when faith in revolution had faded and epics were wholly lacking, Gandhi was like a salve to many.

30 Years Later: Gandhi has been all but forgotten today, and for reasons pointed out by Attenborough when he won the award for best director: "I was certain that not only would E.T. win, but that it should win. It was inventive, powerful, wonderful. I make more mundane movies." The victory of Gandhi was a throwback to old epics and classical filmmaking. It was also part of a dying breed of large scale dramatic films that could still earn money. The industry though was shifting towards movies with guaranteed sequels and merchandising rights. However, producer Don Simpson's vision still a ways off. As he declared "we have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make a statement. Our obligation is to make money" and "to make money, it may be important to win the Academy Award, for it might mean another ten million dollars at the box office." Simpson's vision was popular, but it had not yet triumphed. As for myself, I find that Attenborough was right. Gandhi is rather mundane.


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13. Board Game: Halloween Lies [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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Halloween III: Season of the Witch


The Plot: Killer Halloween masks. That is all I have to say.

Back in 1982: People were pretty furious with the film not having Michael Myers. As the story goes produces John Carpenter and Debra Hill wanted to launch a series featuring different monsters. Trouble is Halloween II set up the expectation for more slasher horror. So audiences felt cheated, although the creative team did not hide the fact that Myers was going to be absent. Critics also panned the film. While it made a profit because of its low budget, the film was considered a failure.

30 Years Later: Halloween III is not a cult film buy any means, but it seems the hatred it stirred has died down. It was a unique film, flawed, but certainly not without merits. Dan O'Herlihy played the villain quite well, and would reprise a similar role in Robocop. I actually saw this film first as a child so I was disappointed to find out it was just another slasher series. Mostly though the film killed the chances for divergent sequels, particularly in horror films where the movies started to blend into one bloody mass.


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14. Board Game: Inchon [Average Rating:5.65 Unranked]
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Inchon


The Plot: The Korean War begins and only MacArthur (Laurence Olivier) can win the war with his plan to take Inchon.

Back in 1982: Bizarre cultist Sun Myung Moon (sorry if you believe this guy you need to get your head checked) decided to fund an epic war film made in the 1940s style, where the bad guys are pure evil and the good guys are the bee's knees. Although Moon got Terence Young to direct, Jerry Goldsmith to compose the music, and the acting talents of Laurence Olivier, Jacqueline Bisset, Richard Roundtree, Ben Gazzara, and Toshirō Mifune, the production was troubled. Young blasted the film in interviews and Olivier, fearful of not getting paid, had his money flown in on set. He openly declared during filming that he only did the film for money. The budget ballooned to about $46 million. In spite of an intense promotional campaign, the film made no more than $5 million and was blasted by critics.

30 Years Later: Ronald Reagan wrote of the film "it is a brutal but gripping picture about the Korean War and for once we're the good guys and the Communists are the villains." He was right about the roles, but Inchon is hardly gripping or brutal. Instead, it is merely banal hero-worship for Douglas MacArthur, perhaps the most overrated military commander of the 20th Century. The film is fascinating as a failure. It was never released on VHS and has only seen a limited television run. Quite literally this is a film that will NEVER make its money back or "find its audience." Indeed, the film is so bad it is not funny, although every fan of bad films should see this colossal flop. It was also the victim of Hollywood's fear of the independently wealthy circumventing the system. As such, epic war films, already having a mixed record in the 1970s, gave way to the personal style of films such as Platoon and Saving Private Ryan. As for Inchon, it often makes the lists for worst films of all time and even Moon has tried to forget about it. It is also a wonderful example of Laurence Olivier at his worst. He was a good actor, but often he was just awful. Here he is Ed Wood worthy.


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15. Board Game: The White Unicorn [Average Rating:5.15 Unranked]
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The Last Unicorn


The Plot: A unicorn (Mia Farrow) discovers that she is the last of her kind and sets out to save her brothers and sisters from the Red Bull. There is lots of magic, unicorns, cruelty and even an alcoholic skeleton and a lustful tree.

Back in 1982: The Last Unicorn saw only a limited release and grew in esteem only as the years went on. For Rankin/Bass, a children's entertainment company that took risks, it was among their last films. By 1987 the company had folded. The Last Unicorn was novel in that it was based upon a popular fantasy novel, yet the author was involved in the production throughout. The film also used music by the band America (best known for "A Horse with No Name") and a quite a few celebrities voice talents: Mia Farrow, Alan Arkin, Tammy Grimes, Angela Lansbury, Jeff Bridges, Keenan Wynn, Robert Klein, and Christopher Lee.

30 Years Later: While by no means a particularly influential film, The Last Unicorn has retained some popularity. It was unusual in its day for having a popular band provide the music and having some well known actors provide the voices. Both have become staples of animated films today, where professional voice actors have been shoved aside. In this sense The Last Unicorn was ahead of its time, but it should be noted that none of the voice actors were considered a-list talent. Today, it seems that most cartoon films are obsessed with celebrities. Also, the animators for The Last Unicorn would later become the core of Studio Ghibli.


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16. Board Game: Top Gun [Average Rating:5.32 Overall Rank:9721]
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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An Officer and a Gentleman


The Plot: Zack Mayo (Richard Gere) joins the navy to become a pilot. He is terrorized by drill sergeant Emil Foley (Louis Gossett, Jr.) but manages to fall in love with Paula Pokrifki (Debra Winger). Things between his friend Sid (David Keith) and Lynette (Lisa Blount) do not work out so well.

Back in 1982: The film was considered a dying project for a time. Casting had been difficult and only with the intervention of Don Simpson, by then leading the charge away from art film sensibilities, was the film even made. It was a critical and box office hit, the later being especially impressive when you consider that the film was released in the summer of 1982. This was before summer became the sole domain of action and comedy films. Pauline Kael, as witty and as irascible called it "a slick, high-pressured, and well-acted variant of the picture that was made fairly regularly in the thirties and forties: the selfish or arrogant fellow with a chip on his shoulder who joins some branch of the military, learns the meaning of comradeship, and comes out purged - straight and tall, a better human being, one of the team...(the minor characters have tragedies so that the major characters can learn lessons..)" Even as Paula is being swept off the factory floor in 1982, millions of Americans were being laid off in the great offshoring frenzy.

30 Years Later: Like First Blood, An Officer and a Gentleman signaled a shift in the the way films were made. An Officer and a Gentleman wore its 70s sensibilities on its sleeve. On the one hand it was not a flattering film. The characters are are deeply flawed and come from rough backgrounds. While the main romance comes to fruition, the secondary one utterly fails, giving the film a richness and honesty sorely lacking in most romantic films. Yet it is also a film that represents the shift towards sunnier themes. The Cinderella ending with "Up Where We Belong" blaring was going to be scrapped as too cheesy. Taylor Hackford, the director, kept it reluctantly and the ending became a classic. Perhaps it was the way it was shot or the over the top music, but I find the ending effective because the characters have been through hell in getting there. At any rate, those lessons from An Officer and a Gentleman have been lost on the romance genre of today, which seems more fanciful than anything Tolkien ever wrote.


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17. Board Game: Up Against The Wall, Mother****er! [Average Rating:4.40 Unranked]
 
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Pink Floyd-The Wall


The Plot: A rock star (Bob Geldof) sits in a hotel room and ponders his life, including failed relationships and the death of his father (James Laurenson) at the Battle of Anzio. He then has Neo-Nazi fantasies. It does not get more narcissistic than this. You'll never look at flowers the same way again.

Back in 1982: The whole thing is driven by visual images and the music of Pink Floyd, making it arguably just a giant music video. In fact, the film was originally to be an animated movie with shots of Pink Floyd in concert. The film saw a very limited release, but based upon critical accolades and promising figures, the release was expanded and it became the sleeper hit of 1982.

30 Years Later: Although popular with Pink Floyd fans, the creators later revealed themselves to be not quite so sanguine. Roger Waters found it difficult and lacking in humor. David Gilmour all but wrote the movie off and director Alan Parker described the experience as "hell." Still, the film has retained a respected status. In particular, it made some more receptive to the still nascent channel called MTV by showing the artistic potential in a format many saw a little more than a commercial.


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18. Board Game: Poltergeist [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Poltergeist


The Plot: A family is attacked by evil spirits, which come in many forms: rotten meat, demonic trees, and television static to name but a few.

Back in 1982: The film was notorious for the controversy over who directed the film, although it seems that movie really was directed by both Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg. In addition, Spielberg had to use all of his clout to give the film a PG rating. The film garnered critical honors and was a financial success. Like many horror films, the terror was moving from the dread of castles and cemeteries to the suburbs of America.

30 Years Later: Poltergeist was followed by some lackluster sequels and the infamous "Poltergeist curse." To the superstitious, the later was a result of using real skeletons for the ending scene. Poltergeist signaled a new route for horror that wished to avoid the cliches of slasher films. First, the film relied upon elaborate special effects, making it a departure from preceding ghost films. In addition, the fight for the PG rating was an indication that Hollywood was trying to make intense films that were still ostensibly suitable for younger audiences. PG-13 was only a few years away, and with it came the end of big budget movies like Conan the Barbarian, which featured blood and nudity. Still, few horror films would be as effective or as popular in the wake of Poltergeist. More importantly, few were as poignant.


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19. Board Game: Rocky [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Rocky III


The Plot: I don't want to ruin it for you but Rocky wins this one.

Back in 1982: Unlike Halloween III, Rocky III was a hit all around, soldfying the series as one of the biggest franchises around. It even managed to snag some award nominations, including Best Original Song at the Academy Awards for "Eye of the Tiger." It was not that critics loved the film. Indeed, most found it weaker than the first two films. It also made Hulk Hogan and Mr. T more famous.

30 Years Later: To say that Rocky III has not aged well is an understatement. Personally I find it laughably bad, right down to Mr. T as the embodiment of the "scary black man who will take away my manhood." This was where the series fell off the cliff, for Rocky II still took the characters and the situation seriously. Here the series becomes a joke, with the Rocky theme itself being played by a brass band in the movie. So it was that Rocky III took no chances, was actually dumber than the first two films, and was a hit. Meanwhile, Halloween III took a chance and failed. I can't but think that this, and the success of Friday the 13th Part III, helped set the stage for more banal sequels. Well at least this one is MST3K worthy.


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20. Board Game: The Secret Of Nimh Game [Average Rating:4.10 Unranked]
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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The Secret of NIMH


The Plot: In order to save her son, a brave mouse (Elizabeth Hartman) must seek the aid of some rather peculiar rats.

Back in 1982: Don Bluth had been working at Disney since 1955. In 1979 he jumped ship with some of his fellow animators. They decided to go all out with The Secret of NIMH, an ambitious adaptation of an award winning children's book. Lavishly animated, the film featured some rather unusual aspects for cartoon movies, including a polished film score by Jerry Goldsmith and scenes of death and terror, along with no sing along scenes. It was also a difficult production, since Bluth believed animation had become cheap over the years and needed to return to older methods. Despite good reviews, the film was poorly promoted and Don Bluth Productions went bankrupt.

30 Years Later: Bluth and his band recovered, making tons of cash with the video game Dragon's Lair. Then came the creation of An American Tail and The Land Before Time, which had the fine production values of The Secret of NIMH but were more conventional. After being the king of 1980s animation he fell in the 1990s with the horrible A Troll in Central Park. The Secret of NIMH found its audience on VHS (including me) and while I saw An American Tail and The Land Before Time in theaters, I have always preferred The Secret of NIMH above all other cartoon films. The film itself was a harbinger of the more lavish animation projects that culminated in the rebirth of Disney.


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21. Board Game: After the Holocaust [Average Rating:5.97 Overall Rank:5778]
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Sophie's Choice


The Plot: The guy from Dragonslayer meets a contentious couple and discovers that Sophie (Meryl Streep) survived the Holocaust.

Back in 1982: The film was fairly popular, becoming a sleeper hit in the last decade where dramas were considered top draw theater entertainment. Critics lauded the film and the choice scene became infamous overnight. Otherwise, there is not much else to report.

30 Years Later: Meryl Streep was an up and coming actress before 1982. Sophie's Choice made her what she is today, a woman who i able to win awards even when she does poor impersonations of Margaret Thatcher. As to the film, it represents that dramas were still popular enough to penetrate popular consciousness. However, other films were making more money and in the end these films were overshadowed. In that sense the movie represents a rearguard action. Also, while still a respected film, it is also emotionally draining. I think there is no other film more depressing. SPOILER ALERT It was perhaps the first film I saw where suicide seemed completely reasonable.


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22. Board Game: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan [Average Rating:6.20 Unranked]
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan


The Plot: Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and his aging crew must confront an old nemesis: Khan (Ricardo Montalban). The two hams battle for ham dominance, with one quoting Dickens and the other invoking Melville.

Back in 1982: Star Trek: The Motion Picture, although a financial hit, was a critical bomb. Rather than sit around like gorillas and say "hey it made money, let's do it again" Paramount tried something new. The result was that rare combination: a financial and critical hit that revived a popular franchise from near decline. Among the film's technical achievements was a scene that contained a complete sequence created entirely with computer-generated graphics. It was a box office success, earning $97 million worldwide and setting a world record for first-day box office gross.

30 Years Later: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan has maintained its reputation as the greatest Star Trek film of all, challenged only by a few other films. Although the acting was at times hamfisted, the music, action scenes, themes, and daring plot turns made it fresh. Most of all the film has a mood, a feeling that is rare in similar fare. Most of all, it proved, along with Star Wars, that science fiction films could be both art and entertainment. What was once the backwater of Hollywood, was coming to the front. In addition, the success was just one step in the emerging truce between film and television. Over time more television shows would be adapted to film, although few could compete with Star Trek II. Lastly, just as VHS revived many films on this geeklist, Star Trek II saved VHS. Before this time most tapes were just too expensive. Paramount slashed the prices in half for Star Trek II and had a runaway home video hit. Other studios soon followed suit.


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23. Board Game: The Thing [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:2858]
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The Thing


The Plot: A unique and disgusting alien is found. It does not make friends.

Back in 1982: The Thing was not a remake, and nor was it postmodern "fan wank" to the original, although John Carpenter included some well done homages to the 1950s flick. It was instead a dark horror film, utterly serious and pervaded with a mood of paranoia. It also bombed. Audiences wanted lighter fare, and film critics snubbed it as a special effects extravaganza.

30 Years Later: Old reviews of The Thing are hilarious to read. The critics speak of the film being overwhelmed by the effects. Truth is, compared to today this film is "restrained." As with Blade Runner it found its audience on VHS. However, horror and science fiction were only sparingly combined in big budget films, although low budget ones were churned out. Although now hailed as a classic, its failure only made Hollywood more wary of darker themes. As for myself I was blown away when I caught on television. As with They Live, I saw and promoted this one before it became more well known. Apparently this might make me a movie hipster.


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24. Board Game: Tron: Assault on MCP Game [Average Rating:6.30 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Tron


The Plot: Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) and two of his friends get sucked into a computer, where they must defeat David Warner, playing yet another diabolical genius.

Back in 1982: Tron was hailed as a visual breakthrough because it was. The combination of computer generated images, effective backlighting, and live action was unprecedented. Still, the film, while successful, was not the smash hit the ailing Disney hoped for. Disney at this time was making genre pictures, and while films such as Dragonslayer and The Journey of Natty Gann were well received, they did not bring the company back to prominence. Tron[i/i] was the product of a desperate Disney. They needed it to be something more and it was not.

30 Years Later: [i]Tron
has survived as a cultural artifact, a groundbreaking special effects film, and as a cult classic. With the wave of 1980s nostalgia in the last ten years came a rash of mostly pointless sequels and remakes. However, those films were trying to relive something. Tron: Legacy was, like its predecessor, about something just over the horizon. For Tron it was computers generally and more specifically the future of special effects. For Tron: Legacy it is that vague idea of an emerging digital world. I'm not a big fan of the first film. I actually prefer the second. But I understand its importance and appeal and neither has been overstated.


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25. Board Game: Verdict [Average Rating:4.18 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
mbmbmbmbmb
The Verdict


The Plot: Frank Galvin (Paul Newman), an alcoholic ambulance chaser, decides to press a case rather than accept a settlement. Courtroom drama ensues.

Back in 1982: With Sidney Lumet directing and David Memet doing the screenplay, much was expected of The Verdict. It was a high end drama more in league with the old style of the 1970s, with its concentration upon a morally dubious hero, corruption, loss, and incomplete victories. Even the successful dramas of the 1980s were rarely this dark. Nevertheless, it was a sleeper hit of 1982.

30 Years Later: The Verdict was arguably the last of the 1970s styled dramas to be both a critical and financial success. Afterwords the style faded out and dramas became more glossy and grand. By 2000, even those dramas had faded out. Now the dramatic film, once the fixture of Hollywood, is an affair of independent director and actors questing for Oscars and in some cases an escape from blue screens. This had led to better quality, but a lack of exposure and therefore a decline in cultural significance. The Verdict represents what has been lost. Lastly, The Verdict was among that last leading roles for an aging (by Hollywood's standards) Charlotte Rampling. Veteran actor James Mason died soon after.


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