It’s another banner day, and we’re going to start with one of those wild 80s weekends where multiple future classics opened on the same day. Nobody knew that back in 1982 when Ridley Scott released Blade Runner unto the world. It suffered from a troubled production which saw Scott battling with both the studio and star Harrison Ford (to say nothing of the tacked-on ending and ill-conceived 11th-hour voiceover). Furthermore, it opened in the wake of E.T., and its pessimistic vision just didn’t fit the cultural vibe the way Spielberg’s masterpiece did.
John Carpenter’s The Thing opened the same day, and it fared even worse than Blade Runner: savaged for daring to reboot an established classic and embracing a nihilistic straight out of H.P Lovecraft. Both movies suffered at the box office and were dismissed as forgettable misfires. Time has proven otherwise. The advent of the video revolution (as well as the release of subsequent versions of Blade Runner much closer to Scott’s vision) allowed both movies to find their audience and more. Today, they’re both ranked among the greatest sci-fi and horror movies ever made. Both opened today in 1982.
A third movie opened that day that was more justly chastised. Megaforce, a ripe slice of pure 80s nonsense, featured Barry Bostwick as the leader of an elite mercenary force out to stop a vaguely foreign army from invading some damn place or another. It’s a disaster from start to finish… but it holds a cult following, mostly among Gen Xers who view it with their nostalgia filters fully in place, and it does have a stake in that incredible summer of 1982.
Looking back earlier, we find Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2, a semi-autobiographical tale of a stifled film production intended as a veiled stand-in for Fellini himself. It’s widely regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time, but I always found it excessively indulgent. Earlier works such as La Strada and La Dolce Vida do much better for their comparative lack of self-regard. In any case, 8 1/2 opened in U.S. theaters today in 1963.
We’ll close with The Omen, Richard Donner’s ode to the devil that also stands as a horror classic. I’m not a fan — the plot is ridiculous, and the overheated components evoke as much laughter as chills — but Donner has a good eye and tells the story well enough. And it does have that outstanding Jerry Goldsmith score, which resulted in the celebrated composer’s lone Oscar. The Omen opened today in 1976.