Tag Archives: 1982

Throwback Thursday: Laura Branigan’s “Gloria” (1982)

Weird world — Laura Branigan wasn’t the first vocalist to perform her signature song, “Gloria” (1982).  It was originally an Italian pop song performed in 1979 by Umberto Tozzi.   (That’s the second video below.)

Anyway, for a lot of people in my age bracket, this remains a quintessential 80’s tune.  Branigan even performed it in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade the year it was released.  I still remember people commenting about how beautiful she looked.

If you’re wondering whatever happened to Branigan, there’s a bit of a sad postscript here — she died in her sleep at a relatively young age, 52, from an undiagnosed brain aneurysm.  By that time she’d become a fellow Long Islander; she’d been living in East Quogue.



Throwback Thursday: “The Last Unicorn” (1982)

“The Last Unicorn” (1982) is an 80’s film that you don’t hear quite as much about in nostalgia circles.  My sister took me to see it in the theater when I was in second or third grade.  It probably wasn’t the first choice of a movie for a kid whose heroes were Sgt. Rock, Conan the Barbarian, and Ka-Zar the Savage.  (Seriously, I read a looooot of comics as a little boy.)  But my sister was the one with the car keys.

Come to think of it, there might have been a dearth of options.  If memory serves (the 80’s were a very long time ago), there were generally fewer films at the local multiplex for the younger set.  “The Last Unicorn” might have been the only children’s movie that happened to be playing.  (I think the market has expanded quite a bit since then.)  I really liked it, though.

“The Last Unicorn” had a hell of a voice cast — including Alan Arkin, Christopher Lee and Mia Farrow.  The animation (to my eyes, at least) looks like strictly average stuff — except for the title unicorn and the monster antagonist.  Those look quite good; they look fluid and natural.  The backdrops are pretty good too.

The monster’s name here is “The Red Bull,” which is probably funny now, given the eponymous modern energy drink.

 

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Throwback Thursday: “The World of the Dark Crystal,” by J. J. Llewellyn, 1982

“The World of the Dark Crystal” was a companion book to “The Dark Crystal” (1982); it was published the same year.   J. J.  Llewellyn penned it as a first-person narrative by the character of Aughra, and it was a terrific, detailed world-building exercise that expanded on the universe of the movie.  But Brian Froud’s full page artwork stole the show.  (This was an oversized book, too.)

It was a welcome surprise under the Christmas tree when I was in early grade school — proving yet again that my parents had a knack for buying me presents that I never asked for but nevertheless loved.

 

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Throwback Thursday: the original trailer for “Blade Runner” (1982)!

I sent this trailer to a pal of mine after he told me he couldn’t remember if he’d seen 1982’s “Blade Runner.”  (The poor, benighted soul!)  As you can see … the trailer is a bit crude by today’s standards.  It’s just a loose montage of key scenes in chronological order — with narration that is obviously performed by a store-brand knockoff of Harrison Ford.  (I am linking here to the Movieclips Classic Trailers Youtube channel, by the way.)

You can kind of tell how Warner Bros. wanted to market the film as a standard action-thriller, instead of the moody, stygian sci-fi meditation that it is.  And you can kind of understand why general audiences didn’t turn out for the movie while its cult following gained so much steam later.



Throwback Thursday: the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” comic adaptation (1982)!

When I was in the third grade, Marvel’s 1982 adaptation of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) might have been the most beloved comic book in my collection.  And that’s saying a lot — there were a couple of issues of “Sgt. Rock” that I probably would have killed to protect.

“Raiders of the Lost Ark” was a quite decent adaptation of what I still revere as my favorite movie of all time (though it’s probably tied for that distinction with a certain unpopular film that I will not name here).  It makes sense that the book was so well crafted — this Internet thingamajig tells me that it was scripted by none other than comics great Walter Simonson.

I’m a little confused by some of what I’m reading online … yes, this was originally published as a three-issue arc.  (I had a couple of those.)  But it was also released as a complete book (with the cover art that you see below).

Postscript — I learned a couple of years ago that Marvel also released a two-issue adaptation of “Blade Runner” (1982) the same year.  The artwork looks pitch perfect.  Sooner or later, I need to get my hands on that.

 

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Throwback Thursday: “The Beastmaster” (1982)!

“The Beastmaster” (1982) was THE movie that captured the imaginations of grade-school boys in the 1980’s.  There were summer afternoons when this was the single biggest topic of conversation.

I almost wrote here that the movie was an obvious knockoff of the far-better-remembered “Conan the Barbarian;” that is how I’ve always remembered it.  But the Internet informs me that they hit theaters only months apart.  Wikipedia also informs me that “The Beastmaster” was actually a commercial failure, and that its two sequels and its television adaptation (all in the 1990’s) were aimed at a subsequent cult following spawned by the original movie’s appearance on 80’s TV.  (I’m pretty sure that’s how my friends and I saw it.)  What the hell was wrong with 1982 audiences, anyway?  Was it something in the water?  “Blade Runner” and John Carpenter’s “The Thing” were also flops that year — and those were some the best science fiction movies of all time.  Talk about pearls before swine.

Anyway, please understand — “Conan the Barbarian” was inarguably the better film.  No matter how much it polarized critics and audiences, that dour, violent, R-rated movie was intended as a serious adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s literary source material.

“The Beastmaster,” on the other hand, was campier stuff that was firmly aimed at kids.  (I was surprised to learn that it had its own literary source material, but its B-movie wackiness only followed those books very loosely.)  It had a PG rating and was jam-packed with garishly grotesque monsters that would thrill a fourth grade boy — the animalistic berzkers were what really got under my skin; my friends were more unnerved by the … bat-people.  (There is a simple but quite effective 80’s-era practical effect that show how these baddies digest a victim alive.  You kinda have to see the movie to know what I mean.)  Hell, even the witches were a little creepy, and witches were not high on our list of things that were scary.  I honestly think the film’s success owes a lot to its successful incorporation of horror movie elements designed to impress the younger set.

“The Beastmaster” starred Marc Singer, who went on to star in another 80’s phenomenon, television’s “V” series.  (I might have loved “V” even more than “The Beastmaster.”)  The movie also starred Tanya Roberts, who was another quite popular topic among gradeschool boys in the 80’s.  John Amos starred in a supporting role, and he did a really good job of it.  A lot of my older friends will remember him as the grouchy Dad in the “Good Times” (1974-1979); 80’s kids might point him out as the owner of “McDowell’s” in 1988’s “Coming to America.”

I really am curious to find out how well “The Beastmaster” has held up over time.  I was surprised to discover that there is a great copy of it here on Youtube.  (Thanks, VHS Drive-In.)  You can bet that I’m watching it this weekend.

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What a day it was for sci-fi 38 years ago today.

If you see an abundance of “The Thing” or “Blade Runner” posts today, it’s because both films opened in theaters 38 years ago today.

We … need a holiday or something. But “Thing/Blade Day” sounds too much like “Sling Blade Day.”

Anyway, both films resonate just fine in 2020 America. “The Thing” is predicated on paranoia about those around you. “Blade Runner” is technically about cruelty to illegal immigrants — and how “human” we all are depending on our reaction to that.

Hey … let’s not even get started on (the overrated) fan favorite “Tron,” also released in 1982. If you want to talk about a movie about a guy trapped in a virtual world and its parallels to the social media age, then I’m gonna need some more coffee.

 

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Throwback Thursday: “War of the Worlds” (2005)!

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog,  I will never stop loving Steven Spielberg’s 2005 take on H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds.”  It was a damned decent science fiction epic, the special effects were fabulous, and it’s actually pretty scary upon its first viewing.  The movie successfully channeled post-9/11 anxieties without exploiting them, and Spielberg characteristically humanized the story’s apocalypse by framing it through the eyes of a realistic, relatable modern family.  (The terror of the genocidal monsters is a little ironic, too … when I was a kid, Spielberg was known for the wondrous aliens of 1977’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and 1982’s “E.T. — The Extra Terrestrial.”)

Say what you want about Tom Cruise … I think he’s a decent actor, and he’s led some really terrific science fiction films.  Dakota Fanning was fantastic child actor here, and Tim Robbins was predictably brilliant (even if his story arc, in my opinion, was largely unnecessary and too depressing).

This was a great flick.

 

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