When it hit theaters in 1980, “The Empire Strikes Back” changed everything. Yes, “Star Wars” was huge when it arrived three years earlier, but there had been blockbusters before. Movies like “Jaws,” “The Godfather” and “The Exorcist” drew record audiences and wowed the filmgoing world. But the reality we live in now, the one where every movie has a sequel pre-sold and any movie that goes into the black instantly becomes the foundation for a multi-film franchise? That’s the reality that “The Empire Strikes Back” spawned
Dead teenagers. That, believe it or not, was the dominant image in 1980s horror movies. Teens, who make up most of that audience, apparently loved nothing better than seeing themselves slaughtered on the big screen. Teens didn’t care about plot, acting or filmmaking techniques. As long as some mad killer, usually wearing a cheap mask and carrying an iconic weapon, was chopping up their age group, they were more than happy to pay to see that slaughter then come back next week, hungry for more.
It’s hard to remember now, but back in 1981, when “Raiders of the Lost Ark” hit theaters, the world — the movie world — was a different place. Sure, there had been blockbuster movies before — “Star Wars” and “Empire Strikes Back,” to name two, and “Jaws” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” to name two more. Those four movies were directed by two guys — George Lucas and Steven Spielberg — men who, in 1981, were still known mostly as the “Star Wars” guy and “The Jaws” guy. But with the arrival of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” which was directed by Spielberg and based on a story by Lucas, those two guys suddenly became two of the most successful filmmakers in Hollywood history.
This week’s episode of Out of Theaters takes a look at teen movies from two generations: “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” which was released in 1982 and aimed at the oldest members of Generation X, and “Can’t Hardly Wait,” which hit theaters in 1998 and targeted the Millennials. In a strange twist, “Fast Times” arrived three years before Will graduated high school, and “Can’t Hardly Wait” arrived three years before Billy got his diploma. So, for two of the members of our esteemed podcast (I’m leaving Kevin out because he doesn’t fit the math), these movies didn’t so much reveal what high school was like, they revealed what high school might be — at least, according to Hollywood.
“The Princess Bride” was an unlikely movie to arrive in 1987. Hell, it was an unlikely movie to arrive in any year. The other big films of that year, in case you’ve forgotten, were “Robocop,” “Full Metal Jacket,” “Wall St.,” “Lethal Weapon,” “Beverly Hills Cop II,” “Fatal Attraction,” The Untouchables” and “The Lost Boys.” Cynical, violent, movies for a cynical violent time.
The 1980s were the Golden Age action movies. And “Die Hard” was the very, very best. During that long-ago decade, action movies starred actors who seemed to be more than mere human beings. Guys like Stallone, Gibson, Van Damme, Seagal and, striding like a colossus above the rest, Schwarzenegger, the Teutonic god with the unpronounceable last name who was the biggest star of them all.
We are a mere two months away from the creation of the first NEXUS-6 replicant and only four years away from the events documented in Blade Runner. As you know, we’ve all been living peacefully with NEXUS models 1-5. But it is January 2016 when Tyrell Corp. will secretly introduce NEXUS-6 replicant models to off-Earth colonies. The extremely advanced NEXUS-6 model has a four-year lifespan because its creators fear the android may develop emotions and be resistant, even dangerous to mankind.
Strap on your power-laced Nikes, gulp down your Pepsi Perfect, and hop on your hoverboard because today is the day that Marty McFly walks among us. Well, technically there are two Marty McFlys: the old one who wears two neckties and the one from 1985 who’s just here to stop his kids from becoming assholes or something — and maybe place a few bets when he gets back. Today is Oct. 21, 2015, a pop-culture holiday 26 years in the making. “Back to the Future” Day is officially here.
Special guest Stan Kiejko, film series program coordinator for The Element, joins the program to talk about The Shining (1980). Kiejko and The Element are hosting a viewing of Stanley Kubrick’s classic horror film in Rockford. Rockford-area listeners can catch it at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, at Rockford Brewing Company, 200 Prairie St., Rockford.
Eden Rohatensky of the Jimmy and Eden podcast visits the show to talk about War Games (1983). Eden, a musician and web developer, lends her computer expertise to help dissect the 32-year-old film about mistakenly hacking into United States military supercomputer.