From Peter Hartlaub at the San Francisco Chronicle:
Thirty years ago, there weren’t a lot of people declaring the summer of 1982 the best of anything. Many of the now-heralded films that came out that summer were panned by critics. Others were box office failures. At least two of the films on our list weren’t even deemed worthy of review by the San Francisco Chronicle.
But looking at this list of 1982 summer films today, it’s extraordinary. “Blade Runner” and John Carpenter’s “The Thing” came out on the same day. So did “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” and “Poltergeist.”
This is Part II of our Summer Movie Project, which we started last month after Adam Savage tweeted about the greatness of the summer film season of 1980. We’ll profile a few different seasons recommended by readers, and vote for the best at the end of the summer. You can see all the 1982 summer movies here, search for other great summers at the-numbers.com, and make recommendations in the comments.
I’ve been defining the summer movie season by 2012 terms — starting May 1 and ending Aug. 15, based on U.S. release dates. A few more notes below …
* I ended the gallery with negative Chronicle reviews of “Blade Runner,” “Star Trek II” and “The Thing,” which now show up on all-time best lists in their respective genres. All were written by the same reviewer, Peter Stack, who is by all accounts a charming man and a good writer — even though I disagree with almost every one of his opinions here. (He also didn’t like “Poltergeist.”) You can read the reviews on The Big Event page on Facebook, where I’ve uploaded larger copies than the ones in the galleries.
* “Das Boot,” “Porky’s,” and “Diner” missed the cutoff, but they were still in Bay Area theaters when May 1 rolled around. And “The Beastmaster” just missed on the back end, with an Aug. 20 release.
* My favorite find while putting together this post: Herb Caen loved “The Road Warrior.” See his blurb in the ad below, which appeared in a June 23, 1982 San Francisco Chronicle.
* The over/under for variations of the “all summer movies are horrible” remark in the comments is six.
* As punishment for throwing Peter Stack under the bus, I hope there’s an 8-year-old future film critic who is already taking note of my apparent critical missteps. (Here’s a head start: Begin with my reviews of “Moneyball” and “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” I apologize for nothing …)
* I was 11 years old during the summer of ’82, and too young to see most of the films on this list. I discovered them a couple of years later on video, and they were the basis for the foundation of my geek-centric love of movies. One could argue that there’s a shortage of good comedies in 1982, but “Fast Times” (which the Chronicle didn’t even deem worthy of review) makes up for a lot of lost ground. I think 1982 is going to be difficult to beat.
PETER HARTLAUB is the pop culture critic at the San Francisco Chronicle and founder/editor of The Big Event. He takes requests. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @peterhartlaub. Follow The Big Event on Facebook.