It was a rainy Saturday afternoon during the summer of ‘84. My mother had some errands to do at the mall and asked if I wanted to call a friend to catch a movie with me while she shopped. I quickly agreed, knowing that this was just a scheme to make me try on pants…but hey, she knew my price. I called my friend Brian, tried on the damn pants at JC Penny’s, and finally found myself looking over the 3 movie posters outside of the theater, wondering which one to see. The movies that weekend were Revenge of the Nerds, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom or Ghostbusters. Our first choice, of course, would have been Revenge of the Nerds, but this was a mall theater and there was no way we were getting in to see an R-rated movie. We had both seen Temple of Doom twice, so it looked like it was Ghostbusters. We had heard it was supposed to be funny, but that was about it. Boy, were we in for a treat.
So this was the part where I was going to talk about the Ghostbuster sequel and how it stunk and how Ghostbusters 3 is a terrible idea and how comedy sequels rarely worked and so on…bleh. I was getting bored writing it so I could just imagine how anybody reading this would feel. What did peak my interest though, was the list of classic movies that were released the summer of 1984. I had been checking on what year Ghostbusters came out when I came across it. Holy crap! I quickly realized that this had to be one of the most influential summers of my childhood movie going career. So, instead of whining about failures like the Hangover sequels, Caddyshack 2 or Anchorman 2, (Sorry First Run podcasters, but you gave Will Ferrell & Company an easy pass on that one. Waayyyy too much Brick), I have decided to celebrate the greatest movie season ever with a list of my favorites that came out that summer along with some of my fondest movie memories.
Disclaimer: I did not see every movie which I am about to list in 1984. I was only 11 for crying out loud! And don’t forget, movies ran for a lot longer than they do now. Also, studios would re-release them the following year with a few extra scenes or some spruced up special effects. Yeah, that’s right Futureman, we weren’t able to instant stream our movies two months after they came out!
A bunch of my friends and I were in Little League when The Natural hit the screens. I had not seen the actual movie yet, but what I did see was every wooden baseball bat in the dugout with a lightning bolt drawn on it. After finally seeing the movie a few months later, I turned in my trusty aluminum bat and bought a wooden bat right away. However, not being a skilled artist, I screwed the picture up so badly that I ended up grabbing a lightning bolt sticker and slapping it on the mess.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
I did see this one in the theater. I believe my friends and I tried to remove each other’s hearts while chanting gibberish on many occasions. Lucky for us, it never worked. Also, the famous dinner scene with all the bizarre foods was the topic of many hilarious conversations in the school cafeteria. One day, a friend of mine, using a pudding cup as a prop, had done such a good impression of the man who slurped out the beetle guts, it made a girl that was sitting with us at our table sick, which got us all in trouble. Freakin’ girls, man.
Ghostbusters - See first paragraph
I could recite the rules for Gizmo upside down and backwards, yet I could never remember to feed my fish. Go figure. I also remember the movie being a little more disturbing than I was used to at that age. Come to find out that Gremlins was one of the movies that sparked the debate that eventually led to the creation of PG-13. Ah well, I came out OK. No harm, no foul.
The Karate Kid
My friends and I all became experts in the art of Karate after watching this one. Someone should do a study on how many kids went to the emergency room with a broken nose after this movie came out. I know I came close to one with a well placed crane kick from my friend Charlie. I also know I hurt my pal Eric with a sweeping kick that actually landed him on his back. He said he was fine, but I don’t think so.
It doesn’t stand up like the Airplane movies do today, but to an 11 year old, it was comedy gold. How can you not love scenes like this one:
The Last Starfighter
This is, without a doubt, my absolute favorite movie of the summer. God, did I love this movie. It had every pre-teen boy’s fantasy, (besides girls, depending on where you were in your pre-teeniness……I think that’s a word), wrapped into two hours of pure movie bliss. Who wouldn’t want to be plucked out of your boring life to lead a battle of epic proportions, in space mind you, all because you’re good at a video game? It’s a shame that nothing else ever came of this movie besides a bad Atari game. I did here a whisper about a sequel some time ago, but nothing as of yet. Then again, maybe that’s a good thing.
The Muppets take Manhattan
Any sense of humor I posses comes from the Muppets.
Revenge of the Nerds
Now of course, I did not see this one in the theater. In fact, I don’t believe I saw this one until it came out on video a few years later. However, I did have the pleasure of watching it with a bunch of friends at a sleepover one night. My friend Aaron’s older brother secured us a copy and as luck would have it, we were all spending the night at Eric’s house, whose parents were older and always tired. Jackpot. As soon as 9:00 hit, Eric’s mother went to bed and his father was already passed out on the couch. We went downstairs to the rec room and had an awesome movie experience. How could you not with a character named Booger and a bunch of naked college girls?
Not the best movie on the list, but still a fun one. The opening scene, when the school is attacked by commie paratroopers still terrifies the 13 year old in me every time I see it.
Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers! Need I say more?
The summer of ’84 also had such gems as Breakin’, Sixteen Candles, Star Trek 3, Purple Rain, Bachelor Party, Cannonball Run 2, Conan the Destroyer, and Sheena: Queen of the Jungle. Crazy, Huh? Thinking about these movies or any movie for that matter has always been a great way to jog my memories about the past. Whether it’s a great movie, a catchy song, a thrilling book series, an amazing piece of art or even a sports team that you’ve followed since childhood, any form entertainment can trigger your memory just as well as going through an old photo album or looking at a scrapbook.
So, do you have a better year in mind? Think you can do better than 1984? If so, send us your list to email@example.com. Good luck, though. I don’t think it can be done. Now if you’ll excuse me, I just received a text letting me know that I have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada. I hope this isn’t that damn Tea Party guy again.