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.
I hope that you are all looking forward to a rockin’ New Year’s Eve. It’s hard to believe that we are not only ringing in a new year, but also a new decade — “2020” still sounds like science fiction to me.
Where does the time go? Somewhere irretrievable.
Anyway, here’s a couple of Pinterest finds for my fellow 1980’s nostalgia nerds. (We’ve got a nice little subculture goin’ on Facebook.) These are a few covers from January 1, 1980 (or in the case of the weekly TV Guide, the decade’s first full week). Try to wrap your head around the fact that, in a few days, the decade will have begun a full forty years ago.
Oh … I couldn’t resist throwing in a couple of comic book covers dated January 1980, too. I actually had that issue of “Battlestar Galactica.” I still remember it sitting in a stack at the bottom of my closet, with one or two others — vastly outnumbered by “Sgt. Rock” and various “Archie” titles.
As I explained last year, monster movies were simply a part of Thanksgiving if you lived in the Tri-State region around New York City between 1976 and 1985. This was due to WOR-9’s “Holiday Film Festival” broadcast, which actually also extended to the day following the holiday after the lineup’s first year. (People just called it the “Monster Movie Marathon.”)
As a kid, I was a hell of a lot more thrilled with the monster movies than anything being served for dinner. (Remember, video stores only began arriving the early 1980’s. Before that, you usually had to catch a movie on television if you wanted to see it at all. It’s why every house had a “TV Guide.”)
“King Kong vs. Godzilla” (1962) was one gem in the marathon. (Or, at least, it seemed like an amazing film to a gradeschool boy.) I was raised with the enduring myth that this Japanese film had two endings — an American version where King Kong prevailed, and a Japanese version where its native Godzilla was the victor.) My Dad told me that, and I remember being fascinated that a movie could have two different endings. I actually only learned just now, writing this blog entry, that it was a particularly widespread urban legend — stemming from an erroneous report in “Spacemen” magazine. The American version of the film had tons of alterations, but the outcome was essentially the same — King Kong won.
There were always a few more Godzilla movies on the day after Thanksgiving, too. “Son of Godzilla” (1967) was one of them; that was always hit with the kids. (I could swear at some point there was a cartoon adaptation in the early 80’s.) It was weird how 80’s kids apparently loved that ostensibly “cute” character; the adult in me today swears that “Son of Godzilla” looks like an upright, reptile-shaped poop. (Seriously, check out the second clip below.)
“Godzilla vs. Megalon” (1973) was another one I seem to remember being pretty thrilled with. I was even occasionally scared of the giant monsters in flicks like these. (Hey, I was a little kid.) Even as a first- or second-grader, though, I was smart enough to question why these movies were weirdly inconsistent. (Why was Godzilla a bad guy who destroyed Tokyo in one movie, but the “good monster” that the Japanese rooted for in another?)
I’m learning now that “Godzilla vs. Megalon” was the target of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode. I’m going to have to hunt that one down.