Tag Archives: Throwback Thursday

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.




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 Dark Crystal” (1982)!

My Dad took me to see “The Dark Crystal” when it came out in 1982.  I remember looking it up in the newspaper’s movie listings — and deciding on it even without knowing much about it.  (That was just how we did it in those days — we used “the phone book” and TV Guide as well.)

Hot damn, did I love this movie.  If you’re familiar with the 1980’s at all, then you know that “The Dark Crystal” was a surprisingly dark tour de force for Jim Henson, showcasing his ability to create a detailed and truly immersive alternate world.  (Modern CGI just wasn’t a thing yet — it arguably made its first appearance in 1989’s “The Abyss.”)  And you can’t really grasp the sheer spectacle of Henson’s world designs without seeing this movie on the big screen.

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: “Charley Chimp!”

This is takin’ it waaaay back — people were joking about creepy vintage mechanical toys on Twitter, and it totally reminded me of the mechanical monkey I had when I was not much older than a baby.  It was originally manufactured and marketed as “Musical Jolly Chimp” between the 1950’s and the 1970’s by Japanese company Daishin C.K., according to Wikipedia.  But it was resold under various names on the street in New York City.

My guess is that my father picked it up for me after work in the 1970’s.  (He was a municipal bus driver in Manhattan.)

It was loud.  It did scare me — but I also remember loving it too, and it remained in my toybox for years.  (Maybe I had a split personality as a little kid or something.) 

Anyway, you can see the thing in action over at Youtube, courtesy of echelon16.



Photo credit: YuMaNuMa, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

Throwback Thursday: “The Secret Hide-out,” by John Peterson (1965)!

John Peterson’s The Secret Hide-out was absolutely one of my favorite books growing up — and with good reason.  As I’ve noted on this blog before, I and the other boys on my street placed paramount, enduring importance on whatever iteration of our “club” that we had going — whether we had a viking club, an explorer club, a “ninja clan,” or whatever.  (Did other groups of boys act like this?  I honestly wonder.  The human instinct for affiliation ran pretty strong at an early age for me and my neighbors.)

Anyway, this book was a goldmine for a second grader with our particular brand of preadolescent tribalism.  It was about a trio of boys who find a mysterious “club handbook” behind a stone at two of their number’s grandmother’s house.  The handbook outlines club minutes, membership tests, and the location of the titular secret hideout — along with instructions on how to craft the masks, spears and shields — and with whistles made out of paper.  (I swear to you that those whistles were easy to make and that they really worked quite well.)

Anyway, The Secret Hide-out was a 1960’s book that my brother would have brought home from school in the 1970’s — probably from one of those Scholastic Books fairs.  It wound up in my hands by 1980 or so.  I am by no means the only person who remembers this book; it was a favorite for a lot of people.  There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to it.

There’s even a sequel, as it turns out — Peterson wrote Enemies of the Secret Hide-out a year later.  This time out, the Amazon description informs me, there is a rival club of boys who try to appropriate the clubhouse.  (I know from boyhood experience that such conflicts were entirely common.)  I might have to hunt that one down someday ona lark.


Throwback Thursday: “The Odd Couple” (1970-1974)!

Does anyone else remember “The Odd Couple” (1970-1974) growing up?  I was too young to remember its original run, but it played endlessly in reruns in the early 1980’s.  For a lot of us, it was a show our parents watched.  It was based on an eponymous 1965 Neil Simon play, and Tony Randall was absolutely a household name.

Hearing that theme song — and seeing those priceless shots of early-70’s New York in its opener — absolutely takes me back to my gradeschool years.  I can practically smell dinner cooking in the kitchen.

Turns out it didn’t have a lot of cultural staying power — with my generation, at least. When was the last time you heard someone make a pop-culture reference to “The Odd Couple?”  Yet people still fondly remember things like “The Partridge Family” (1970-1974), “The Six Million Dollar Man” (1973-1978) and “Voltron” (1983-1985).