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. 40 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 as envisioned by legendary futurist Syd Mead 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 could 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 see Blade Runner during its original theatrical run, because at the time it didn’t really grab me. As for The Thing, my friends and I eventually managed to slide past the ushers looking to keep underage delinquents from sneaking into those auditoriums (Damn, those “R” ratings.), so we were able to watch it in all its big-screen gory goodness. I eventually caught Blade Runner on home video (VHS!) later, and fell in love with it 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 and comics laying out the past and future events spinning out from the original film. In October 2017 during the movie’s 35th anniversary year, Blade Runner 2049 hit movie screens, starring Ryan Gosling and featuring Harrison Ford as Deckard. It did what good sequels are supposed to do: scratching the familiar itch with moderation while expanding and deepening the world established by its predecessor(s). There was a time when the very idea of a Blade Runner sequel seemed impossible if not insane to me, but 2049 took little time to rise to the top tier of my all-time favorite films.
Meanwhile, there there’s Blade Runner and The Thing, representing 1982 cinema like the boss movies they are. You could do worse on this Saturday than to spin up this double bill.