Monday, February 27, 2023

24 Hours of Movies: 1983!

by Patrick Bromley
Kick off 1983 Week with a marathon celebrating a wild year for movies!

It's one of my favorite weeks of the year at F This Movie: the week leading up to our annual F This Movie Fest, in which we celebrate the movies of a single year. This year it's 1983, which was all over the place in terms of movies but which makes for a good marathon for that very reason. Enjoy the variety, and enjoy 1983 week!

10 am - All the Right Moves (dir. Michael Chapman)
1983 was the year Tom Cruise became a movie star between this, Losin' ItThe Outsiders, and Risky Business. Given the fact that he's now coming off 2022's Top Gun: Maverick, one of the biggest hits of the last 20 years, and still one of the biggest and most bankable movie stars in the world 40 years later, I thought it was worth celebrating as we kick off our marathon. This might be my least favorite of Cruise's three '83 offerings (I haven't seen it in a long time), but I still like it plenty because I like teen movies and I like coming of age stories and I like football movies and this checks all those boxes. Plus, as Erika will tell you from years of experience at sleepovers, if you pause it at just the right moment you can see Tom Cruise's penis, which is also called Maverick.

11:45 am - Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (dir. Charles Band)
Here's a movie I want to love more than I do, seeing as it's produced and directed by Charles Band and more or less helped finance Empire Pictures (which subsequently financed Full Moon). There's a ton of stuff in it that I love, but it's all kind of slow and lifeless when it should be zippy and fun. I want to include it in the lineup because it's such a product of 1983 -- the post-Star Wars boom of low-budget sci-fi and fantasy, and in 3-D no less! It was either this or Spacehunter and I just rewatched that one to see if it would play during FTMFest (it wouldn't). The two movies have a lot in common. This one is shorter.

1:15 pm - Blue Thunder (dir. John Badham)
So I know I've seen Blue Thunder but I can't remember much of Blue Thunder, which is why I want to program it on the early side of our marathon before I start getting too tired to pay attention. It's funny that this wouldn't have totally interested me as a kid because stars Roy Scheider and Warren Oates were Dad actors and now that I'm an adult they're two of my favorites. Amazing that John Badham had this movie and WarGames in the same year. Let's watch a helicopter fuck shit up.

3:15 pm - My Tutor (dir. George Bowers)
Typical early '80s sex comedy about boys trying to lose their virginity, told with a surprising amount of thoughtfulness and humanity thanks to the performance of Caren Kaye as the titular French tutor who helps a recent high school graduate (Matt Lattanzi) get into Yale and become a man in the same summer. Crispin Glover plays the horny friend because of course he does. It hits every cliched bit of the sex comedy genre (a category of film for which I have soft spot, I must admit), but it's less raunchy and more sensitive than most, allowing us to care about the characters -- and, more importantly, for them to care about each other.

5 pm - Something Wicked This Way Comes (dir. Jack Clayton)
One of the things with which I most identify 1983 movies is kindertrauma, whether it's the lady getting turned into a robot in Superman III or the movie playing next in the lineup or this one, one of the greatest gateway horror movies ever made and by Walt Disney Studios at that. Based on the novel by Ray Bradbury, the film stars Jonathan Pryce as Mr. Dark, who brings a carnival to a small Illinois town that's far more than what it appears to be (his name should be a giveaway I would think). Given how troubled the production and post-production were, it's a miracle that this movie is as good as it is. It's a special one. Had it been available for streaming (like, I don't know, on Disney+,) it probably would have made the FTMF lineup.

6:45 - Twilight Zone: The Movie (dir. John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante, George Miller)
Speaking of kindertrauma, look no further than the above image to see what fucked me up most as a child. This movie is impossible to talk about because of the tragedy involved, so my apologies to everyone who refuses to watch it. You can take a dinner break here. It's still 4/5 of a good movie and 3/5 of a great one (try as I might, I can't quite get into Speilberg's "Kick the Can" segment) and an example of four filmmakers at the top of their games: the first two in terms of power and box office clout and the second two in terms of creative juice. 

8:45 pm - Christine (dir. John Carpenter)
While 1983 was something of a mixed bag overall, it was a great year for horror. With that in mind, we're going to pivot to scary movies earlier than we normally would just so we can fit more in. Let's start with Christine, John Carpenter's Stephen King adaptation about a boy's obsession with a killer car and the director's consolation prize for getting fired from Firestarter. The years have been very good to this one, which has gone from "another King adaptation" to "Carpenter's most underrated" to "legit classic" over the last 40 years. Friend of the podcast Joe Maddrey once referred to this as Carpenter's Nicholas Ray movie and I've been unable to see it as anything else ever since.

10:45 pm - Curtains (dir. Richard Ciupka)
An oddball Canadian slasher that's actually two movies stitched together (the second directed by an uncredited Peter R. Simpson) about a group of wannabe actresses living in a house together as they audition for a movie. The famous ice skating sequence (pictured above) is the one for which the film is best known, but I actually love the whole thing for the vibes more than the coherent story or direction. This will be a fun one to watch as we get later and weirder. It's one of my favorite slashers.

12:15 am - The Deadly Spawn (dir. Douglas McKeown)
I saw this screened at an all-day sci-fi marathon years ago with late director Doug McKeown in person and haven't seen it since, but it totally played for me as a monster movie with a dark sense of humor. The film, about a monster growing and eating people in the basement of a suburban home, is as low-budget and DIY as they come, but that's the charm. 

2 am - Sweet Sixteen (dir. Jim Sotos)
Part slasher, party murder mystery, part coming of age story, Sweet Sixteen is a crazy movie passing itself off as a normal one. It's about a 15-year old girl (Aleisa Shirley) who is so hot that she drives a small Texas town insane after moving there. These are the movie's words, not mine. There's so much weird stuff in this movie that could have easily been solved with a single script change, but oh well. Dana Kimmell (of Friday the 13th Part 3) shows up as a mystery-obsessed teen; Bo Hopkins plays her sheriff father. I love the combination of YA lit and grindhouse sleaze in the movie, which is surprisingly slick and well-directed. The great news is that we'll have the movie's main theme "Melissa" in our heads the rest of the night.

3:30 am - Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (dir. William Asher)
In the absence of some wacky Italian horror, this is as insane as our marathon is going to get. Luckily, it's plenty insane. Susan Tyrell goes for broke as a murderous woman who probably wants to fuck the nephew she's raised since he was a kid. Bo Svenson plays a homophobic cop. Bill Paxton shows up. It's all a kind of magical madness that has only in recent years gotten its due. Programming it here is kind of a cheat; it was originally released in 1982 but reissued in '83 under the title Night Warning, which is why I'm including it in this lineup.

5:15 am - Strange Brew (dir. Rick Moranis & Dave Thomas)
One of the best comedies ever based on a sketch (in this case from SCTV), Strange Brew brings Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas to the big screen as Bob and Doug McKenzie, Canadian brothers who uncover a plot by beer distributor Max Von Sydow to take over the world using mind control. This loose remake of Hamlet was a movie I watched again and again on cable growing up, and I love the idea of coming out of the overnight portion of our marathon with a movie this shaggy and silly. This is another one that came very close to making the cut for this year's F This Movie Fest, so at least we'll get to watch it and celebrate it this way.

7:15 am - Sahara (dir. Andrew McLaglen)
I want to be sure to include at least one Cannon film in the lineup because this was their heyday, and the legendary disaster Sahara is one I (and I alone) unabashedly love. One of several shots the studio took at the big time, this sweeping adventure spared no expense -- clothes by Valentino, a score by Morricone -- but exists primarily to capitalize on the stardom of Brooke Shields. Instead, it wound up exposing her limitations as a teenage actor and was a very expensive flop for Cannon: they spent $25 million and grossed about $1 million of that back. Making a point of watching this on TV as a kid was a major event, and I'm happy to say I still love it to this day. 

9:15 am - National Lampoon's Vacation (dir. Harold Ramis)
Let's close things out with one of my favorite comedies, a movie I saw so many times as a kid that I have it memorized. There were a lot of Vacation movies and spin-offs and remakes in the wake of this one, but the original is still the best: a cross-country odyssey to visit a theme park and still Chevy Chase's best big-screen work. I don't reverse engineer these programming decisions, but I do love the idea of ending our marathon with the montage of the Griswolds happily riding the rides at Wally World while Lindsey Buckingham's "Dancing Across the USA" plays before our bleary eyes. It's a happy ending for everyone.


  1. Lamberto Bava's A Blade in the Dark is a 1983 movie. I know it came to the US later, but it was released in Italy in 1983.

  2. I love that I’ve only seen five of these.
    I also love Something Wicked This Way Comes, as it’s a good adaptation based on my favorite novel of all time. And I will make a road trip to The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies in Indianapolis someday to watch the sole VHS copy of director Jack Clayton’s original too-dark-for-Disney cut.

    1. I didn't even know that existed and now I want to see it!

    2. me neither! this article has some of the backstory on it.
      sounds like this one pre-dated modern "oh boy the studio is doing 'reshoots' and 're-edits' " by like 40 years.

  3. Kudos for including Something Wicked This Way Comes. Jonathan Pryce gives my all-Time favorite villain performance in that movie. There's a wonderful Ray Bradbury audio commentary from the laserdisc that's been nearly lost to history due to home video neglect by Disney.

  4. hazaaa! love this list sooooo much!! Thanks Patrick.

    I once heard a realllllly interesting observation on a podcast..regrettably i forget who made it...but people were discussing their favorite movies and most influential movies and during the conversation someone said to another "ill bet you saw that when you were, what, 12?". The other person reacted somewhat surprised "exactly". Then others commented the same...the original person stated that around 12 or 13 we really start to discover the flicks that make a huge difference for us. I began to reflect and realized it was totally true for me as well. Lists like this and the upcoming F This Fest only solidify it moreso.

    PS: Thanks for including a lesser known 3D flick from the 80s!

    PSS: Blue Thunder was one of those that replayed on an early version of cable...its soooooooooo good. You cant go wrong with Scheider v McDowell

    PSSS: {turns to christine} "show me"