It was 1975 when Jaws unwittingly made the Summer blockbuster a thing. (I mean Star Wars also helped two years later) Ever since then the major studios would roll out their biggest popcorn movies, tentpole franchises, and sequels hoping for some of that big big cash that comes from anticipated entertainment and people wanting to escape into some air conditioner. Of course a lot has changed since 1975, people can argue to death about this, how the Summer blockbuster ruined movies etc. etc. I mean it's kind of hard act to follow anyway trying to chase the quality of a Jaws or Star Wars. I mean, a lot of times the don't try....I am getting off track, one thing that has definitely changed is the sheer amount of movies that are not only released in the Summer but throughout the year all over the country.
So where am I going with this? Usually, like in those Summers there might be one either really good movie or really popular movie (sometimes both see : The Dark Knight) but there's usually one or two, nowadays MAYBE more just because the market gets so flooded. But there was one Summer that just might be considered the greatest summer of all just by the shear amount of classics that were released during that Summer, and THIS year is the 30th anniversary of that Summer. That's right (of course) I am talking about the Summer of 1982. The Alamo Drafthouse in Austin is doing a mini-film festival of the 9 gargantuan (their words) classics that were released that Summer (Also, I am using the word classics loosely. I mean it could be argued, and probably will be if all these are really classics, and it's a fair criticism with one or two of them-or all, depending, of course, on your point of view) For a movie nerd, or a just an obsessive nerd in general it really is an embarrassment of riches. (I wish they were doing the same around here at one of the theaters. But it doesn't stop all of us from having our own festivals with friends. Ideas!)
Here is the video the Alamo Drafthouse made for their Summer of 1982 Film Festival
Here they are in order of their release dates:
Conan The Barbarian (May 14, 1982)
While I am at check out this clip of the ridiculous/strangely mesmerizing commentary from the Conan DVD from John Milius and Arnold Schwarzenegger
One more fun fact: John Milius was an inspiration, if not THE inspiration for Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski.
The Road Warrior (Mad Max 2)(May 21, 1982)
LOL. This was obviously the Americanized version of the trailer for U.S. audiences with all the weird voice dubbing in the trailer. They seemed really scared about Americans not understanding the Australian accent.
Rocky III (May 28, 1982)
This is definitely one that can be argued, but I love this movie. Without a doubt the best Rocky sequel (I know this is damning with faint praise) but it pretty much set the model for nearly every fighting movie that came after it. Plus, you can not front on Mr. T here, in his wide introduction to America, as the ultimate bad ass.
Poltergeist (June 4, 1982)
I know this says it was directed by Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg only produced it. But rumors have persisted for years that Spielberg was very hands on, so to speak, on this one. His hands are all over it. Funny thing too, this movie scared the bejeezus out people (okay me) and now it seems like a more quaint haunted house story, particular to modern day youngsters. The most "shocking" part, and the part that might get it censored at kid's events and parties: Jo Beth Williams and Craig T. Nelson, former hippies, blazing up before they go to bed one night. (I maintain the stuff with the clown is still pretty scary. Clown + Ghosts = nightmare fuel)
Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (June 4, 1982)
The best Star Trek sequel. Introduced us (and Quentin Tarantino) to the old Klingon proverb : "Revenge is a dish best served cold". Plus, Ricardo Montalban and William Shatner making absolute mincemeat of the scenery. PLUS, a really sad and sort of brave ending. C'mon!
Here's a taste:
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (June 11, 1982)
Speaking of Spielberg and Jaws at the time the master of the Summer blockbuster rears his head again with another classic. Only a sharp tug on my nose hairs will bring me to tears faster than the last part of this movie.
The Thing (June 25, 1982)
"Man Is The Warmest Place To Hide". Amazing. Kurt Russell rules. Kurt Russell and John Carpenter in the early days rule even more.
Blade Runner (June 25, 1982)
Tron (July 9, 1982)
Here is another time when the word classic might be thrown around a bit too loosely. But, hey, I grew up with Tron and will maybe not a great, or even objectively good, movie it has a certain cheesy charm too it. Plus Jeff Bridges. (Plus Bruce Boxleitner-remember Scarecrow and Mrs. King!?)
Now in case you need a couple of fill-ins or something you can go through what came out the rest of the year, but here is a couple of alternates if need be one a classic comedy and one, to me, a classic action movie.
First Blood ( October 22, 1982)
80's audiences learned a lesson here: never ever harass a Vietnam vet, this might be what happens.
Also, it has an amazing song playing over the closing credits: "It's A Long Road" by Dan Hill. (Sample lyric: "It's a long road, and it's hard as hell..."
Tootsie ( December 17, 1982)
Seriously, it's good. Plus Bill Murray's in it too.