Sunday, November 06, 2005

Speculative Fiction in the Movies: 1980

Since I’d done a list of terrific and influential S/F in the 1970s, I decided to review the decade of the Eighties. I got as far as 1980. S/F was well represented in that year. So here’s my list (sure hope my resource material is correct):

The Oscar for Best Picture went to Ordinary People (not a good omen).

It should have gone to what has become a classic: George Lucas’ The Empire Strikes Back. For my money this is the best Star Wars film in the series. Slightly ahead of the first (or is it the third?) film in the series. This movie rocks. The characters are all in place and a few new ones have been added. Luke learns the ways of the Jedi from Yoda then faces mano-a-mano one of the great screen villains of all-time – Darth Vader. Leia and Han fall in love as they battle the Empire. Lando makes his first appearance. C3P0 and R2D2 are still the comic relief and let’s not forget Chewie or Jabba the Hut. The beginning battle on the ice planet Hoth would have been a climax in other films. Cool movie even with the cliffhanger ending (we moaned and groaned about that because we knew it’s be three years or more before the next film was released – then we went back and saw it again.)

But other terrific s/f films were released that year: The Shining (I loved King’s book and, for me, with a couple exceptions the movie was a disappointment), Superman 2 (one the best of the comic-book hero movies), Star Trek: The Motion Picture (we’d have to wait until the second film in the series for them to get it right), Mad Max (this introduced Mel Gibson to the world), Friday the Thirteenth (this welcomed Jason to the world), The Changeling (classic ghost story with George C. Scott), and Brian de Palma’s Dressed to Kill.

Plus there was Altered States, The Awakening, Battle Beyond the Stars (Roger Corman “big” budget film – a space opera remake of The Magnificent Seven), Death Ship, The Final Countdown (Kirk Douglas and the USS Nimitiz are transported back to Hawaii just prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor), The Fog (a John Carpenter head-scratcher – why did they remake this?), He Knows You’re Alone (notably only because it had Tom Hanks’ first role in it) The Howling (strange little werewolf film that doesn’t take itself too seriously), Saturn 3 (how could you go wrong with Kirk Douglas, Farrah Fawcett and Harvey Keitel? – watch this film and see how), Somewhere in Time (time travel romance) and Terror Train.

1981 coming soon. (After the GM convention in San Diego probably – gotta pay those pesky monthly bills that keep cropping up.)

No comments: