When Alfred Hitchcock released Stage Fright in 1950, he was roundly criticized for presenting an unreliable narrator and delivering flashbacks to events that never happened. 45 years later, he looked positively prescient as Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects attempted the same trick and was hailed as a masterpiece. Hitchcock, of course, aged far better than his critics, and Stage Fright now enjoys a solid reputation among the master’s work.
If you want flat-out horror instead of mere suspense, you’ll have to look elsewhere… like director Sam Raimi and his producer Robert Tapert, who spent years hustling up money to make a cheesy little monster movie and then another two years marketing it before finally hitting a genuine release date today in 1983. The movie was the original Evil Dead, and though eclipsed by its sequel, it now stands as a watershed moment in the annals of horror.
Speaking of watershed moments, the same day in 1983 also saw the release of Flashdance, a harmless piece of commercial dross that heralded a more ominous shift in Hollywood sensibilities. Burned by the latter days of the 1970s, when visionary directors began running amuck and producing turkey after turkey, a young executive named Don Simpson circulated a memo at Paramount stating that studios are not obligated to make art. Bums on seats were the name of the game, and Flashdance was his first attempt to demonstrate it. He and his partner Jerry Bruckheimer built an empire on that MTV sizzle, and for better or worse, helped defined cinema in the 1980s as a result.