1982: The Best Year for Geek Movies Ever?

When I saw that the good folks at Geek Magazine were hosting a Comic Con panel to discuss the great movies of 1982, I knew I had to attend. And, I was far from alone. This proved to be the longest line I personally waited in (keeping in mind that I didn’t camp out with the Twilight fans). The panel discussed classic horror films such as The Thing and Poltergeist. Science fiction landmarks like TRON, ET, Blade Runner and The Wrath of Khan. One panelist noted that both Poltergeist and Khan opened on the same day – and it has been rare to have such enduring films go up against each other. They wondered if kids today would be too jaded to accept the wonder of ET, and noted that DVD sales of that film haven’t always met expectations. (I, for one, still love seeing it and will be snapping up the blu-ray).

The panelists made a good argument that 1982 was a tipping point in film. Effects were truly able to create magical worlds yet some serious elements of 1970s style filmmaking remained. The result is visible in ET and Poltergeist that blend fantasy elements with a look at suburbia rather than typical urban or rural settings. Or the exploration of aging and death wrapped into Wrath of Khan.

For me, 1982 is unparalleled in “geek” or popular cinema. But, I’m always hoping that this year will be even better. What do you think? What was the best year ever – and can 2012 or 2013 match it?

vinvectrex

Author at Retroist
Vinvectrex has not only reviewed every game made for the Vectrex, but discovered a long lost game for the IBM Jr. and probably changed the history of Star Wars fandom.

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6 thoughts on “1982: The Best Year for Geek Movies Ever?

  1. Another great post, Vinvectrex. It certainly is feeling like this is the year I should have made a trip back to the Comic-Con. Sigh.

  2. Spottedfeather says:

    I can’t believe how many of my absolute favourite movies came out in 1982. Tron, E.T., and The Thing…

  3. OlderGamer says:

    Don’t forget The Dark Crystal and The Secret of NIMH also came out in 1982. Those two plus Tron and Blade Runner were considered box office bombs at the time, but went on to become (in retrospect) major cultural events. The big problem was too many movies competing for the same audience. Or more accurately, those movies had the misfortune to be in the same summer opposite E.T.

  4. Atari Adventure Square says:

    Yeah, in retrospect some now-classic movies didn’t get much love when they came out.
    Honestly, seemingly every theater-goer, including myself, was kinda puzzled by TRON’s forward-thinking graphics and Oz-like approach to a non-plussed stranger in a strange and attractive land.
    I grew to love it, and kinda *live* it nowadays, with all our whizbangery tech allowing us to do all but crawl inside our PCs (soon though…).

    Same with Blade Runner and the handful of people in the theater, back then.
    Grossed out by the gory first edition and put to sleep by Deckard’s sleepy voice-over.
    The dull color-scheme didn’t help.
    Again, forward-thinking and, seen as sci-fi noir, truly impressive with the most heroic actor of the time cast in a passive anti-hero role.
    Ya gotta like your bourbon straight up for this one.

    Loved going to the movies then, and as the years wore on, and effects were milestones, we could be awed by Poltergeist (please don’t remake it – its visuals are perfect as is). E.T. (Spielberg’s failed CG tweaks in later version were recognized as such and corrected in recent release – he still *does* have that Peter Pan soul) and Dr. Jones could do no wrong (except hook up with a couple of loud-mouths, but then our screams of delight drowned them out).

    Yeah, what I wonder is – can blockbuster movies truly break new ground or just turn up simply good (like The Avengers – believably insane graphics but just plain good old storyteling wins the day, sorta – I’m still a bit confused, it seems Loki actually won according to some folks).

    All in all, I enjoy going back to the ‘oldies’ not just for the movies, but for the time-stamped experiences that course through my mind as I watch them and feel the 70s and 80s audiences around me.

    I don’t think I’ve ever topped that first-run thrill of Star Wars and Raiders.
    Though in the 80s, that glee of surprise and innocence was still in the air.

    Watching these with a crowd of fresh, eager eyes gave those movies a magical power.

    I’m off track now, so I’ll hightail it with a vote for 1982, as a year of discovery.

    But 1984? Temple Of Doom? Arcades everywhere? Could actually plunk down a quarter and *play* Indy with the whip and the snakes and the mine?

    Argh…
    I dunno.

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