6 Must See Movies From 1982

December 10, 2010

by Joel G. Robertson


Perhaps the single greatest year, collectively, for sci-fi, fantasy, and horror films. A bold assertion? Yep, but it’s also true. Here’s a quick rundown of genre movies released that year.

The Thing


Road Warrior

The Beastmaster

The Secret of NIMH

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn

Swamp Thing

Blade Runner

Conan the Barbarian

Cat People

The Dark Crystal


The Last Unicorn



Basket Case


Class of 1984

All of these are, in my not-so-humble opinion, must sees. I’d love to discuss them all, but as per usual I’m forced to follow these Draconian rules of only picking six.

So, here are my six picks from ’82…

The Thing PosterHorror:

The Thing

A group of scientists is trapped in an Antartic research station with an alien entity capable of mimicking whatever organism it comes into contact with. A remake of the Howard Hawks-produced The Thing from Another World (1951), the ’82 version is sci-fi-horror hybrid perfection.

With a testosterone-heavy screenplay by Bill Lancaster, The Thing has tight, suspenseful direction from John Carpenter. Early-Carpenter DP Dean Cundey’s beautiful, anamorphic cinematography captures the claustrophobia and white-blanketed landscape of the Antartic tundra. Ennio Morricone’s musical score, with echoes of his previous work with Sergio Leone,ย  and proof that, when done right, practical effects will trump CGI any day of the week courtesy of the ultra-talented Rob Bottin.

Tootsie PosterComedy:


When no one will hire an out-of-work, perfectionist actor (Dustin Hoffman), he dresses as a woman, auditions for a soap opera, and gets the part. ย For any filmmaker wanting to know how you make an entertaining, funny movie loaded with social commentary that doesn’t feel preachy, should check out Tootsie ASAP.

With a cast that includes Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Bill Murray(!), George Gaynes, Geena Davis, and Estelle Getty, and under the steady directorial hand of the prolific and wonderful Sydney Pollack (who also plays Hoffman’s agent in the film), Tootsie is a comedy classic and a must see.

Tron PosterSci-Fi:


A computer programmer named Flynn (Jeff Bridges) gets transported into a computer system where he must defeat a power-hungry master control program (David Warner). Cutting-edge and revolutionary in 1982, Tron laid the conceptual groundwork for future, digitally-created films.

While the visual effects are “dated” by today’s standards, it’s fun to view Tron as a cinematic snapshot from our past techno-history. It’s a time capsule and inside you’ll find examples of a society just beginning to crawl out of the digi-primordial ooze.

First Blood PosterDrama:

First Blood

When a Vietnam-vet drifter named John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is harrassed by a small town sheriff (Brian Dennehy), it leads to an all out war between Rambo and the authorities. So, this is a “drama”? “Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout Willis?” That’s right! The first Rambo film was a drama (of course, technically EVERY movie is a “drama” so I can get away with it ๐Ÿ™‚ ). Sure, it’s loaded with the staples of any good action film: explosions, booby traps, the unrelenting bursts of metallic fire from an M60 machine gun (toted about the small, northwestern town by a barely comprehensible Sly Stallone.

But at it’s heart First Blood is about the struggle between a broken warrior seeking solitude and solace and the society, represented by Dennehy’s Sheriff Teasle, that refuses to accept him or allow him to exist in the world he swore to defend.

The Beastmaster PosterAction:

The Beastmaster

A warrior (Marc Singer) who telepathically communicates with animals, seeks revenge against those responsible for slaughtering the people of his village. This is another one I watched over and over as a kid. My strongest memories of it include the ferrets, Kodo and Podo, and an eyeball popping up in a cauldron. I really loved this movie and was drawn to it because star Marc Singer also starred in V (1984), the television mini-series, a show that I, along with millions of others had gone ga-ga over. Although The Beastmaster came out a couple years before V, I didn’t see it until afterward, but I always secretly wished Diana, or that really cool lizard baby would make an appearance.

It also starred Tanya Roberts (meeeeeoooooow!) and Rip Torn (“Necessary? Is it necessary that I drink my own urine? No! But it’s sterile and I like the taste.”– guess the movie!). Directed by Don Coscarelli, a highly-underrated filmmaker who brought us Phantasm and its sequels as well as one of my top three movies from the 2000s, Bubba Ho-Tep. I’d recommend checking out any of his films as you’re guaranteed to have a good time!

The Secret of NIMH PosterFamily:

The Secret of NIMH

Mrs. Brisby, a widowed mouse, must seek the help of shadowy rats to move her home and save her sick child. I remember this played on HBO (or maybe it was Cinemax) in the early-to-mid 1980s. Along with The Last Unicorn (and, of course, Heavy Metal) The Secret of NIMH always struck me as several steps above the usual animated faire I watched as a youngster.

Dark, scary, and unique in all the right ways, The Secret of NIMH proves that everyone has the potential to be a hero.

There you have it, six movies from 1982 you absolutely, no-ifs-ands-or-big-butts about it, must see before your snout becomes a smรถrgรฅsbord for a family of flesh-eating worms.

So, until next time remember, a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it.


And the winners of this week’s Insanely Difficult, Damn-Near-Impossible Movie Trivia Challenge letters are:

A — @Peter_Nielsen

N — @Peter_Nielsen

N — @leehardcastle

I — ย @Peter_Nielsen

E — @davidimler

Congratulations to all the winners and to everyone who submitted correct answers. Normally, we’d only have one winner per letter, but since Peter was the only one who submitted the correct answers for “A” and the first “N” (well, so did my friend and soon-to-be a Forgotten Flix contributor Terry), I thought it only fair he get the credit.

I’ll be adding everyone’s names (times however many letters you answered correctly) to the next prize drawing, which will take place in the coming months!

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25 comments on “6 Must See Movies From 1982

  1. Oh my god, Beastmaster is one of my favourite films ever. I also watched it over and over again (and still have a secret hankering for a couple of pet ferrets) – first time I saw it I was inconsolable when his dog died, until my parents pointed out the massive breath the ‘dead’ dog takes just before Dar leaves (Hey, I was 7). An absolute classic.

  2. I always feel like I’m betraying my nerd-ness when I say I’ve never liked Tron. All of my friends are looking forward to the new one, and I’m kind of just like “meh!” about it. Great list of movies though!

    • Hi Bryan, It’s funny, but when I was a kid, I really didn’t “get” TRON. I remember thinking it looked cool, but it was definitely over my 9-year-old head. I’m going to watch it again for the first time in 20 years this weekend, and I’m sure my view of it will have changed a wee bit. I’m really looking forward to Legacy though. Everything from the Daft Punk score, to Bruce Boxleitner and Jeff Bridges returning, to the stunning visuals that echo but improve the style of the original, just feel right. We shall see…

  3. Tim Buchanan Dec 11, 2010

    Secret of Nihm = Don Bluth triumph. I still remember how shocked I was that they would have a murder in the plot. Disney animation must have been horrified and truly threatened by this movie.

  4. Tim Buchanan Dec 11, 2010

    I hope you guys have gotten a laugh from the “Conan the Barbarian; The Musical”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBGOQ7SsJrw

    • That. Was. AWESOME!!! Thanks for posting it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Peter Nielsen Dec 13, 2010

      I first watched this a month or so ago and I now know it by heart. It is beyond greatness to the point where everytime a friend of mine and me look at each other we just start singing… It’s unavoidable! “CROM… show me the wizard that killed my mothaaaa…”

  5. Hey, I’ve actually seen all of the recommended films this time! Love The Thing, Beastmaster, Secret of Nimh and First Blood. I used to watch Secret of Nimh over and over when I was a kid. I only saw Beastmaster for the first time about a year ago and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

    I remember liking Tootsie and Tron alright, but it’s been probably ten-twelve years since I saw them so a rewatch might change that.

    • Hi Will, ’82 really was a great year for movies! Of all the films mentioned, TOOTSIE and TRON are also the two I haven’t seen in the longest time. It’s been 20+ years for both.

      It’s also been awhile since I got my Dar on (wait, that just sounds wrong), so I really want to do a rewatch of THE BEASTMASTER and see if it still holds up for me.

  6. Tim Buchanan Dec 12, 2010

    I almost forgot, for those who love “kung-fu” movies, the incredible fight sequences in the (1982) Ninja in the Dragons Den are a must see. In fact 90 of the 95 minutes of this epic movie are fight scenes. The opening sequence of 25 ninjas popping up out of the sand on a beach is unforgettable. Directed by the legendary Corey Yuen.

    • Tim, I know about Yuen, but I’ve never seen “Ninja in the Dragon’s Den”. I confess my martial arts/ ninja/ samurai film knowledge is limited and is an area I want to learn more about. But this movie sounds awesome! I’ll have to track down a copy and check it out. Thanks for the recommendation!

  7. I am assuming that E.T. is not listed under Family because it is too obvious?

    Biggest miss from your list has to be 48 Hrs. Tootsie deserves the top comedy spot, but maybe 48 Hrs. could be considered Action. Probably my best remembered movie of 1982 after E.T.

    Good call on First Blood. The original was outstanding, the sequels not so much.
    I would rank Conan above Beastmaster personally. If considered Action, would put Rocky III above both of them. I would probably also rank Poltergeist ahead of The Thing.

    Porky’s deserves mentioning for no other reason than its impact on the future of teen sex comedies.

    I have also always enjoyed Diner & Night Shift from that year.

    Thanks as always for the fun topic. Look forward to 1983. These will get tougher and tougher as you get into the mid-80s!

    • E.T., Poltergeist and 48 Hrs. are all worthy of this or any list. In fact, they are all personal favorites, (especially the first two). Rocky 3 was great. You can’t beat having Mr. T AND Hulk Hogan in the same motion picture. “Diner” is a classic, not only because it was Levinson’s feature debut, but it also introduced main stream audiences to the like of Paul Reiser, Daniel Stern, Kevin Bacon (who’d only appeared in “Animal House” and “Friday the 13th” prior), Ellen Barkin, Fran Drescher, and, of course, Mickey Rourke! Great stuff!

      And you are SO right about this getting more difficult. I figure that by the time I get to ’87 or ’88 I’ll have pulled out all my hair if I had any! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. I’m feeling good about my chances of dying a happy death (if my death somehow involved drowning in a pool of film reels haha) The only film I haven’t seen on this list is The Secret of NIMH. The Thing still gives me nightmares, and I gained a newfound respect for ferrets after watching Beastmaster. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Kim! Ah yes, death by celluloid! ๐Ÿ™‚ You should definitely check out The Secret of NIMH. As was said earlier, it’s a surprisingly dark and mature animated tale.

      And ferrets really do kick ass, don’t they?

  9. Chris Dec 25, 2010

    Definately agree with First Blood and The Thing…blasphemous as it may be to say (with Halloween and Escape from New York also) but it is John Carpenter’s best film ever. But I certainly couldn’t leave out one of my top comedies and top ten favorite movies overall, Ron Howard’s early directing gem Night Shift.
    “Wanna know why I carry this tape recorder? To tape things. See, I’m an idea man, Chuck. I got ideas coming at me all day… I couldn’t even fight ’em off if I wanted.”

    • Hi Chris, thanks for commenting! It’s definitely a tough call between those three Carpenter flicks (and I also hold a special place in my hear for They Live and Big Trouble in Little China). I suppose on any given day, depending on my mood, any one of those would be my fave Carpenter movie. That said, I can agree that an argument could easily be made that The Thing is his best film. As for Night Shift, it’s an excellent choice and addition to the “must see” list. Thanks!

  10. Peter Nielsen Jan 18, 2011

    My brain went into overload and ultimately a shutdown, just thinking about all the fantastic movies that was released in 1982. There’s too many to mention…

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