The year 1984 was a seminal time in the world of film. It was the year we were introduced to the Terminator, the Karate Kid, Freddy Kruger, Axel Foley, and Buckaroo Banzai. It was also the year of the first of many Children of the Corn films, which is unfortunate for us, but we also met the Coen Brothers with Blood Simple, who would go on to give us many other classics, so there is kind of a balance right there.
We also got the cheesy but fun 80’s classics like Night of the Comet, Dreamscape, Purple Rain, Bachelor Party, Revenge of the Nerds, Cloak and Dagger, All of Me, Police Academy, Firestarter, Red Dawn, and Johnny (did you know your last name is an adverb?) Dangerously.
Mixed in were also some essential classics such as The Natural, This is Spinal Tap, Footloose, Dune, Splash, Cotton Club, The NeverEnding Story, Amadeus, Sixteen Candles, Ghostbusters, The Last Starfighter, and Gremlins.
And lest we forget even as far back as 30 years ago there were still tons of sequels and spin-offs, like the follow-up to the Kubrick classic 2010: The Year me Make Contact, the third Star Trek, the second Cannonball Run, the second Indiana Jones, the fourth Friday the 13th, the second Conan (the barbarian, not the comedian), the third Muppets movie, Supergirl, An Ewok movie, Ninja III: The Domination, a personal cable favorite of mine, and the later-to-become punchline of movie sequels that was released a record-breakin’ 7 months after the first film Breakin’ was released, was Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.
Then there was a ‘ fit for its time, but doesn’t hold up’ films such as Rhinestone, Sheena, Missing in Action, Electric Dreams, Micki +Maude, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (Lord that’s a long-ass title), The Woman in Red, Runaway, and the one-two punch of Michael Paré in The Philadelphia Experiment, and Streets of Fire.
As always there are the films that feel like I was the only one who ever saw them and when I describe them to people I’m met with a strange gaze, but it’s more attributed to the fact that instead of playing outside I watched movies on cable, like: Teachers, Firstborn, Iceman, Tank, The Ice Pirates, Body Double, Against All Odds, C.H.U.D., The Company of Wolves, Kidco, City Heat, Old Enough, and Best Defense.
Then there is what I consider the outliers, the ones that were ahead of their time like: the Jim Jarmush classic Stranger Than Paradise, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Top Secret! The only true successor to 1980’s Airplane, Starman, The Brother from Another Planet, Repo Man, all involving aliens but speak about humans and to our society at the time as most great sci-fi usually does, Sergio Leone’s pretty awesome attempt at a Godather movie in Once Upon a Time in America, then there’s the completely original Romancing the Stone, a romantic comedy with action, adventure, treasure maps, Danny DeVito and Pépé the little mule.
Now that 30 years a lot of Hollywood exec’s who grew up in the 80’s are greenlighting all these remakes like Footloose, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Karate Kid, Red Dawn, and they are still making more Indiana Jones, Star Trek, and Muppet movies. And as much as we bash them on this and other sites, there are still some movies that I wouldn’t mind seeing remade like Cannonball Run, The NeverEnding Story, Dreamscape, Firestarter, and mostly The Last Starfighter which is ripe for a remake with the video game culture being what it is now.
Believe it or not, I have actually seen all the 70 plus films listed above. Not all in 1984, mostly in the following years on cable and video, one as recently as last year. I only saw about ten of them in the theater, since I was only 8 or 9 years old. There are still some I have yet to see, like The Killing Fields, The Flamingo Kid, interestingly enough the movie 1984, and Flashpoint which has Kris Kristofferson going up against a JFK conspiracy. I better get watching.
Until the next year.
–Robert L. Castillo