Category Archives: 1982 Movie reviews

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial-1982

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial-1982

Director-Steven Spielberg

Starring-Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace

Scott’s Review #756

Reviewed May 10, 2018

Grade: A

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) is a wonderful, magical film that will succeed in melting the hearts of anyone with even a tad of cynicism. The film is otherworldly (quite literally) and contains a message of acceptance and appreciation of other beings. Mixing many humorous moments with tender drama and tears, the film becomes part fantasy, science-fiction, and humanistic story. The film still feels fresh and relevant today with a bevy of forever remembered scenes and references- a wonderful story of friendship.

The audience is immediately introduced to a pack of alien botanists, arriving in a California forest from their far away planet to study plants one night. When government agents interrupt the peaceful moment, the “extraterrestrials” are forced to depart leaving one creature behind. When ten year old Elliott (Henry Thomas) discovers and begins to communicate with what will come to be known as “E.T.”, the duo forge a wonderful, lasting friendship as they attempt to return E.T. to his homeland.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is crowd pleasing in every way offering a bit of everything for all of its lucky viewers. Director Steven Spielberg reportedly made this film as a result of his desire to share a childhood imaginary friend with the world so the charm really shines through in this very personal story. The film contains an overall innocence that is pure benevolence- E.T. teaches Elliott as much as Elliott teaches E.T. Who can ever forget the pairs initial interaction as the use of Reese’s Pieces candy became a huge cultural phenomenon? The lovely quote of “E.T. phone home!” is still as poignant and teary eyed as it was in 1982.

Enjoyable and recognizable is E.T. himself becoming a cult figure. Odd looking, wide-eyed, and yet of a lovable nature, even cute, the film makers were careful not to make him too frightening. Using real actors and distorted voices E.T. became famous, appearing on lunch boxes, tee-shirts, notebooks, and binders throughout the early 1980’s.

The film, released in the “modern age” of 1982, provides a genuine portrayal of suburban life at that time. From the sunny sub-division style neighborhood that Elliott and his family live in, the absent father figure (so common in many 1980’s films), the single-mom/divorced parents phenomenon takes hold and makes families like this common place. If made in the 1960’s Elliott would for sure have had two happy parents and a white picket fence. Dee Wallace as Elliott’s mother Mary, received several mom roles throughout the decade, portraying them with a wholesome middle-America quality.

Henry Thomas, as Elliott, is crucial to the success of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and sadly the actor never did much beyond this great film. While tough to create chemistry with a creature from outer space, the young actor does just that as we buy the two as connected friends. The duo especially shine during the emotional “death” scene and the farewell scene finale.

The other supporting characters rounding out Elliott’s family are well cast and appropriate at relaying what a typical suburban family looks like. Michael (Robert MacNaughton) is slightly surly yet protective as the older brother and Gertie, played by a very young Drew Barrymore (soon to experience super stardom throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s) is cute, bubbly, and teeters on stealing the show as the precocious five year old.

At its core and what makes E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial so appealing is its heart- a sympathetic creatures desire to return home and be with his loved ones is the main focus. In this way, only slightly reversed is a comparison to the 1939 masterpiece The Wizard of Oz. As Dorothy yearns to return to her home amid of an exotic, unknown, and sometimes scary world, the same can this be said for E.T. and this makes both films similar and equally appealing.

Rich with elegance, intelligence, and creativity, Spielberg creates a tale that is both primed for mass consumption and rife for mainstream appeal. Rather than weave a contrived or cliched story, he spins a magical and long-lasting, good story that will appeal to the kid in all of us. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) reaped many Oscar nominations, but lost out on the big prize to the epic Ghandi that year.

The Seduction-1982

The Seduction-1982

Director-David Schmoeller

Starring-Morgan Fairchild, Andrew Stevens

Scott’s Review #749

Reviewed April 27, 2018

Grade: C

The Seduction (1982) is a slick, by the numbers voyeuristic thriller that could really be a made for television Lifetime channel or Hallmark channel production- or something of that ilk.  A woman being stalked by a dangerous admirer is quite formulaic and episodic even. Alas, at the time of release it was a major motion film and a perfect starring vehicle for upstart young actress of the time, Morgan Fairchild.  Admittedly, she is well cast and the film has a smoldering,  glossy, sexy appeal, but is quite predictable in the story department, leaving little of substance behind after the droll conclusion.

Gorgeous and sexy television news anchorwoman Jaime Douglas (Fairchild) has it all- with a handsome beau on her arm (Michael Sarrazin) they swim, bathe, and make love many a steamy night as they reside in the lavish Los Angeles hills. Jaime is approached by a photographer, Derek,  (Andrew Stevens) eager to take her pictures, he slowly develops an obsession with her as events become  more dangerous and sinister for the young woman until she is finally forced to defend herself from the now crazed stalker.

The role of Jamie is Morgan Fairchild’s big screen debut and, being unaware if any other actresses were in the mix for the part, she is perfectly cast in a role that just “is her”. In the glitzy and steamy world of Los Angeles media, how adept were the film makers at landing the blonde and leggy actress, who screams plastic and glamour. Posing on posters on the walls of millions of teenage boys everywhere in the 1980’s, director David Schmoeller wisely incorporates multiple scenes of Jamie swimming naked,  soaping in the bathtub, or other situations where the actress is semi-nude. He certainly capitalizes on her looks and popularity with the sensual The Seduction.

A perplexity of the film though is clearly on the story front.  The chemistry between Fairchild and Stevens is readily apparent and while chemistry is crucial between acting leads, it also makes the story far-fetched. Call me crazy, but I did not get the fear Jaime would experience at the hands of Derek. Dashing and handsome, with much more appeal than her boyfriend Brandon, I felt that Jamie and Derek should have really been dating!

Arguably, the only reason Derek becomes obsessed with Jamie is because of her refusal to give him the time of day.  I get that the film wanted a really good looking  male lead, but a homely or even average looking actor playing Derek would have made more sense from a story perspective. Stevens is way too handsome to elicit real terror- especially since his only crime is wanting a nice romantic date with Jamie.

The film gives a decent glimpse inside the bustling corporate Los Angeles newsroom studios as the offices exude 1980’s glitz and glamour- in fact the entire film drizzles with sunny, California excesses and the film makes a perfect decision to be set on the west coast.  The Seduction does well with combining the dark voyeurism of lurking figures in the shadows and the hairspray, lipstick,  and shoulder pads shown under the hot lights of competitive L.A. television cameras.

Otherwise, The Seduction falls victim to being a predictable, poorly acted film with the inevitable cliches and final scenes. As the police are of no help to her and her boyfriend brands a rifle, the audience  just knows there will be some sort of final stand off between Jamie and Derek. The film pulls out all of the possible female in peril stops- the night time scenes, Jamie being home alone, scantily dressed and ready to be victimized, Derek continually lurks around (as he does through most of the film) secretly taking photos, sweating and breathing lustfully. The climactic conclusion was far from satisfying or surprising.

A wise cinema friend once coined the term “craptastic” to describe an otherwise atrocious film that somehow contains some sort of morbid appeal- perhaps being so bad it is good? I think the 1982 film The Seduction falls perfectly into this category- predictable and trivial, the film is an intended watch for only those seeking something shamelessly awful, that holds little appeal yet for the gorgeous stars Fairchild and Stevens, who hold the film together while looking great.

Friday the 13th: Part III: 1982

Friday the 13th: Part III: 1982

Director-Steve Miner

Starring-Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka

Scott’s Review #743

Reviewed April 17, 2018

Grade: A-

By 1982 the Friday the 13th installments were becoming an almost annual event, which would continue until the late 1980’s. Still popular and fresh at the time (the novelty would soon wear thin), Part III has the distinction of being released in 3-D, a highly novel concept and just perfect for a slasher film, including sharp weapons to shove at the camera at every turn. Directed once again by Steve Miner, who also directed Part II,  the film charters familiar territory that will certainly please fans of the genre. The horror gem still feels fresh to me decades after its original release.

The plot originally was intended to copy 1981’s successful Halloween II and capitalize on the return of one central character, Ginny (Amy Steel), and continue her night of terror as she is whisked away to a local hospital following her ordeal at Camp Crystal Lake. While this plot seems laden with good, gruesome “kill” possibilities (think syringes, scalpels, and other neat medical objects), unfortunately this was not to be after Steel balked at a return appearance.

Directly following the bloody events the night before, a new batch of teenagers- oblivious to the recent killings- except for tortured Chris (Dana Kimmell), who once was attacked by the crazed killer, travel to Camp Crystal Lake for a weekend of fun and partying. As Chris teeters between imagining sounds and shadows, traumatized by her past, Jason lurks nearby waiting to pounce on unsuspecting victims. In this installment, Chris is most certainly the “final girl”, a fact that is obvious with the immediate backstory. The other characters fall in line with traditional slasher stereotypes- the lovelorn couple, the prankster, and a stoner couple. Also, a rival biker gang is thrown in for added drama as they vow revenge on the group following an incident at a convenience store.

A few main differences between Part III and Parts I and II follow:  Part III incorporates less “point of view” camera shots from Jason’s perspective, and more from the viewpoint of the victims. The result is neither better nor worse- just different. This is the first installment in which Jason dons his trademark hockey mask giving the film a slicker feel, and more identity, than Part II did, where Jason mostly wore a burlap sack. In clever fashion, Jason steals the hockey mask from one of his victims. Finally, as evidenced by the soundtrack, Part III adds a disco/techno beat to the famous “chi chi chi” sounds, giving the music a distinct 1980’s feel that the two preceding installments do not have- those feel more like 1970’s films.

Memorable slayings include a knife shoved through a victims chest while resting on a hammock, an electrocution via a basement fuse box,  and death via a shooting spear gun. The main draw to the kills and thus the film itself is the clever use of the 3-D technology, which makes the audience feel like the center of the action. What a treat to see the implements used in the killings coming right at me!

Credit must be given to the added diversity Friday the 13th: Part III incorporates. For the first time (a glorified black extra in Part II does not count) minority characters are featured. Bikers Fox (Hispanic) and Ali (Black) as well as pretty Vera Sanchez are included giving the film more of an inclusive feel- though each of these characters is killed off.

Enjoyable also is the inclusion of a quick recap of Part II, similar to what Part II did with the original, so that the climax of the preceding film gives the viewer a good glimpse of how the action left off.  The screenwriters add a few comical characters, admittedly offed rather quickly into the mix. I would have loved to have seen a bit more of junk food eating Harold and his nagging wife Edna, for example, before they meet their maker.

Hardly high art, Friday the 13th: Part III is mostly remembered for some cool, innovative technology, a tiny bit of camp that does not overwhelm the straight-forward horror flavor, and for still seeming fresh before the franchise got old, stale, and tired. Part III, along with I and II, make for a wonderful trio in one of horror’s finest franchises.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch-1982

Halloween III: Season of the Witch-1982

Director-Tommy Lee Wallace

Starring-Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkins

Scott’s Review #506

569108

Reviewed November 1, 2016

Grade: B

Halloween III: Season of the Witch was met with much disdain when it was released in 1982- a mere one year following the very successful Halloween II- the sequel to the iconic Halloween. Fans (and critics) expecting a third chapter in the maniac wielding Michael Myers saga were sorely disappointed and perplexed at what they were “treated” to. After all, the title is billed as “III”. Therefore, the film was met with disapproval. To be clear, this film is not even in the slasher genre- more of a science fiction meets Twilight Zone.

Years later, this film would be heralded as a not so bad offering from a stand-alone film perspective. A different title might have been wise, but at the risk of being a forgotten film.  I agree with the sentiment-it’s not a fantastic film- the plot far from its strong suit, but a brave film and one that has aged well. Apparently, the franchise creators (John Carpenter and Debra Hill) had hoped to create an anthology type film series with different chapters all surrounding the holiday of Halloween. This was not to be and Michael Myers would return for the fourth installment. Director Tommy Lee Wallace was also affiliated with the original Halloween.

The story actually begins a week before Halloween (reaching a crescendo on Halloween) as shop-owner, Harry Grimbridge,  runs along a highway in northern California, panicked and fleeing from corporate looking men in business suits- he clutches a Halloween mask. Finally rushed to the hospital by a stranger, he is killed by one of the business men, who then sets himself on fire. Grimbridge manages to tell Dr. Dan Challis that “They’re going to kill us.” Challis and Grimbridge’s daughter, Ellie, mount an investigation to solve the mystery of her father’s demise. Naturally a romance ensues between the pair.

The film, while not a stinker, does have some issues. The corporate greed that we realize exists by villain, Cochran, the founder of a company producing Halloween masks and responsible for the prosperity of a town is silly. Even more perplexing are his motivations- he plans to sacrifice children wearing the masks to honor some ancient witchcraft- huh? He creates androids as his henchmen and airs creepy television commercials to release a signal- and there are strange bugs that emerge from the masks, thereby killing the mask wearers. The story is ludicrous.

Others gripes involve no chemistry between leads Tom Atkins and Stacey Nelkin, and the shameful waste of actress Nancy Loomis’s (Annie Brackett from Halloween) time and talents as she is reduced to a one-scene appearance as nagging and haggard looking, ex-wife of Challis. She deserved better and would have been perfect in the lead female role. The fact that Loomis was married to director Wallace makes this even more surprising- they were later divorced.

The negative attributes listed above would make one think that I detested this film, but somehow it is compelling in its own right. The musical score is one highlight of Halloween III. Techie and new-wave-ish, it really does wonders at portraying peril and creepiness- especially where the male androids are concerned. And the sing-along jingle to the tune of the classic children’s song, “London Bridge is Falling Down”, encouraging children to buy the masks, is superb.

Though the story does not work- the subject does contain a throwback to science fiction films of yesteryear- most notably, highly resembling Invasion of the Body Snatchers in its eeriness and mystique, that renders the film appealing. In the end a character we do not suspect is revealed to be an android spinning the plot into a fun finale.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch is flawed, but becomes a bit of an acquired taste- appreciated a bit more over the years- if for no other reason than going against the grain and trying to be something different and creative. The story fails, but other little nuances succeed immeasurably.