That’s right, movie fans! It’s a double dose of Geek Movie Milestone Goodness!
1982 is arguably one of the best summers ever so far as awesome movie releases goes, and two reasons for that are right here. 35 years ago today, a pair of iconic entries in science fiction film debuted on the silver screen, each going a long way toward redefining the genre in their own ways….
Blade Runner — adapted in rather liberal form from Philip K. Dick’s seminal novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? — influenced…what…the look of every other near and/or dystopian SF film since then? Yeah, pretty much. Ridley Scott, having already dabbled a bit in the genre with that little flick you might know, Alien, brought Harrison Ford out from under the shadow of the Millenium Falcon and Indiana Jones’ fedora long enough to have him play what would become yet another iconic role: Rick Deckard, the “blade runner” charged with finding and neutralizing renegade androids (“replicants”) in 2019 Los Angeles. The film’s production design established a benchmark which has yet to be surpassed, for whatever the hell my opinion’s worth. The movie was not an easy sell to American audiences, but has gone on to take its rightful place as a true classic.
Meanwhile, John Carpenter’s The Thing — less a remake of 1951’s The Thing from Another World than a new adaptation of John W. Campbell’s 1938 novella Who Goes There? — helped remind audiences that the SF film realm could definitely be one which might scare the shit out of us if it was done correctly. It was a welcome respite from the scads of Alien knock-offs to which we’d been subjected by that point.
I didn’t get to see either of these movies in the theater, for different reasons. Blade Runner, at that time, didn’t appeal to me, whereas theater ushers were being very conscientious about keeping underage delinquents like me and my friends from sneaking into screenings of The Thing (Damn, those “R” ratings.). I watched both on home video (VHS!) later, and I fell in love with Blade Runner on the spot. It’s a smart, layered film, in which you can always find something new to appreciate.
(Of course, the 57 different versions of the movie which have been released over the years help with that.)
As for The Thing, it was and remains a tight little monster movie. The 2011 prequel did little for me, besides demonstrating that Carpenter’s movie can hold its own without such skirt-hanging claptrap. That doesn’t mean we won’t see some form of sequel or reboot in the not too distant future.
Elsewhere, the world of Blade Runner has been revisited in prose, in the form of a trio of novels penned by science fiction author K.W. Jeter. Later this year, the long gestating Blade Runner 2049 will hit movie screens, starring Ryan Gosling and featuring Harrison Ford as Deckard.
For now, though? Spin up this double bill.