“I don’t know why he saved my life. Maybe in those last moments he loved life more than he ever had before. Not just his life – anybody’s life; my life. All he’d wanted were the same answers the rest of us want. Where did I come from? Where am I going? How long have I got?”
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.
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.
“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.
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.
How do you suppose we “Blade Runner” (1982) fans should celebrate? How do we commemorate the final arrival of the setting for the greatest science fiction movie of all time — and arguably the greatest film of all time?
There aren’t many terribly good suggestions from the movie itself. It’s not like “Animal House” (1978) or “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975), which lend obvious themes to a party. If you think about it, much of “Blade Runner’s” action consists of people having labored, intense conversations in dimly hit, high-ceilinged rooms. There’s also a lot of screen time devoted to Harrison Ford brooding while he drinks alone. Those things are not exactly the stuff that good times are made of.
I suppose that the idyllic drive through the mountains with a loved one at the story’s end would be a nice way to mark the occasion … but that particular coda is only part of “Blade Runner’s” theatrical release — and most people I know prefer the director’s cut.
And learning origami takes too much time.
Should we … flip a turtle on its back in the desert and resolve not to help it?
Tortoise. I meant tortoise.
If you’re acquainted with this blog at all, then you’re already aware of the sheer reverence I have for Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” (1982). So I won’t belabor that subject yet again in order to note Rutger Hauer’s passing this past Friday.
Hauer was a prolific actor, and his fans can remember him fondly from any number of roles. Below are the trailers for my three favorites.
The first is 1986’s “The Hitcher,” which might have been the first modern, adult horror film that I truly loved. (This is leaving aside Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 “The Birds” and various monster movies aimed at kids.) I’m a little concerned that the trailer below misrepresents the movie, though. “The Hitcher” aspired to be a serious film, and was truly a great horror-thriller, in my opinion. It was moody, atmospheric, thoughtful and methodically paced (although it didn’t lack blood and violence either). It was far better than the 80’s action-horror boilerplate movie that the trailer seems to depict.
Hauer was terrifying. (If you are wondering, that is indeed C. Thomas Howell and Jennifer Jason Leigh costarring. And if you watch the trailer very closely, you can see Jeffrey DeMunn — who contemporary audiences will recognize as Dale from “The Walking Dead.”)
The second is movie is 1985’s “Ladyhawke,” which saw Hauer co-star with none other than Matthew Broderick and Michelle Pfeiffer. It had far more mainstream appeal, and it reliably kicks up nostalgia every time it’s mentioned on social media. (Seriously, go try it.)
The third is one that far fewer people will remember –1989’s “Blind Fury,” which rode the tail end of the decade’s martial arts craze. It was zany stuff, and it didn’t hold back on the 80’s-era cheese, but it had a lot of heart and was surprisingly earnest. Some of the action sequences were damned impressive too. (And if you were a nut for 80’s ninja movies, you’ll of course recognize Sho Kosugi as the acrobatic villain here.)
I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
— Rutger Hauer’s closing soliloquy in “Blade Runner” (1982), Ridley Scott’s seminal adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s 1968 science fiction novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.” The actor co-wrote the speech that appears in the movie.
Hauer died Friday at age 75. The news of his passing was reported today.
His role in “Blade Runner” will always define him in my mind. But I also grew up seeing him in “Ladyhawke” (1985), “The Hitcher” (1986) and “Blind Fury” (1989); and later was pleased to discover him in “Batman Begins” and “Sin City” (2005). Believe it or not, it was “The Hitcher” and not “Blade Runner” that first made me love Hauer’s performances. I was still in early high school when I saw both films. The former was among the first horror movies I truly loved, and I wasn’t yet mature enough to fully appreciate the latter.
Hauer was Knight in the Dutch Order of the Netherlands Lion.
What an amazing artist, whose creativity in his craft brought so much enjoyment to others.
And she was predictably impressed. Here are a few observations that came up for me, about the categorically rewatchable sci-fi/horror movie that keeps on giving. (Yeah, I know I sound overly preoccupied with this movie, and that’s weird, but I’m just really into movies. And John Carpenter’s “The Thing” is the same kind of classic for monster movie fans as “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “A Christmas Story” is for people who like Christmas movies.) [THIS BLOG POST CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS.]
1) It was fun watching “The Thing” with someone who was seeing it for the first time. Not only did I have to stifle a chuckle at her cry of “That poor dog!” during the opening credits, but I also watched while she guessed (incorrectly, as most of us did) at which characters had been assimilated by the shape-shifting monster as the story progressed. (I noticed something ironic last night that I couldn’t mention. When MacReady delivers his short “I know I’m human. And if you were all these things, then you’d just attack me” speech, all of the men he’s addressing are also still human … Unless I’m mistaken, Norris and Palmer are elsewhere.
Which brings me to what at first occurred to me as a … remotely possible plot hole in this otherwise perfect masterpiece. If The Thing truly wants to escape Antarctica and prey upon the rest of the world, it doesn’t need to assimilate (or “Thingify,” as I like to think) everyone in the camp. It only needs to overtake a single human. (This would be the silhouetted figure that the dog first approaches; my money’s on Norris.) Think about it … nobody stationed at Outpost 31 remains at the research station indefinitely. They’d cycle out at the end of a shift of … six months? Eight months? Longer? (And what about vacations and holidays?) Sooner or later, they’d fly home. And, having perfectly replicated a human’s anatomy, The Thing need only sustain itself until that departure by eating the same food the other humans were eating. Then, as soon as it arrived at any other, warmer location on earth, it could attack life in its abundance.
But this morning I realized that my analysis here is faulty. First, the humans were already getting wise to The Thing and its means of procreation — thanks to a pre-diabeetus Wilford Brimley wisely intoning, “That ain’t dog.” Maybe The Thing was smart enough to realize the humans could effectively quarantine it. Second, I am assuming in my criticism that “The Thing” is acting as a single entity. Yet it shouldn’t act that way at all; this is the entire point of MacReady’s “blood test.” While one incarnation of The Thing is safely munching on canned goods disguised as a human, a separate incarnation was sitting in storage, exposed — presumably only until the humans finally realized it needed to be destroyed somehow. That iteration of The Thing needed to attack and duplicate Redding if it wanted to save itself.
2) The Thing actually shouldn’t need to reach civilization in order to begin attacking all life on earth; it only needs to reach the Antarctic coast. If it enters the water and begins assimilating sea life (and why shouldn’t it be able to?), then it’s game over. I said last night that “a fish can travel wherever it wants,” which my friend found pretty funny, but it’s true. A Thingified fish (or its fish-Thing progeny) could arrive at any continental coastline.
3) If The Thing replicates a human perfectly on a cellular level, then … might it be reluctant to kill anyone else, because it would basically be a human? (Obviously, the film’s plot-driving antagonist has no such reluctance, but … still, think about it.) If it perfectly replicates a human brain, right down to its cellular structures and chemistry, then wouldn’t it have a conscience and experience empathy? My friend pointed out the reductionist nature of my question, though — it assumes that conscience and empathy can have only physical origins.
4) The movie’s characters (and most viewers) assume that The Thing is “a lifeform” or an organism. Is it, or is it simply “live” tissue? Somebody on the Internet Movie Database message board pointed out long ago that it’s “just cells,” and that’s … literally true; the film even shows this via crude 80’s-era computer graphic. Is it an “organism” if it is simply tissue that replicates? Or is it no more a “lifeform” than a cancer, or tissue grown in a lab?
5) I honestly opine that the film is perfect, or very nearly so. It is the paragon of sci-fi/horror movies. And I’d put it on par with other films that I hold virtually perfect, like “To Have and Have Not” (1944), “Alien” (1979), “Blade Runner” (1982), “Aliens” (1986), “The Accidental Tourist” (1988), “Alien 3” (1992) and “Vanilla Sky” (2001).
6) My friend reaaaally likes Kurt Russell’s hair in this film.
Okay, enough. I’m sorry about this. Hey, at least I’m not obsessing over comics tonight.