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What were audiences looking forward to 30 years ago, in 1984?

POSTED: July 3, 2014 10:00 a.m.
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Summer Movie Flashback

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The year is 1984. Frankie Goes to Hollywood is circling top-40 stations with “Relax,” Hulk Hogan defeats that pesky Iron Sheik to become the World Wrestling Federation champion, and your water cooler conversations seem to always include stories about Michael Jackson’s hair catching fire during his Pepsi commercial shoot.
It is, what some consider, the greatest pop culture year in history.
So what are you going to spend your hard earned $3.50 on this weekend? What fine film is calling to you in that dark, air-conditioned theater of 1984? Here are five picks we think may just be perfect.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (May)
Can you start a summer off better than with the return of Harrison Ford in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom?” No, no you can’t.
You’ve been waiting three years now to see your favorite whip-cracking, fedora-wearing hero back on the big screen. Will he disappoint? No. He’s Indiana Jones. That’s not what he does. He jumps out of planes, eats chilled monkey brains and rides through mine shafts like he’s a Mario Kart master — which we all know is impossible, because that won’t come out for another eight years.
Spielberg sets the summer bar high with this May release, but not high enough for the awesomeness to come in June.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (June)
OK, this isn’t a film that can go toe-to-toe with Indy, but Trekkies have been waiting two years to find out the fate of their beloved Spock. And you know, who better to direct a movie about Spock than Spock?
Leonard Nimoy takes the directing reigns for this chapter of the Star Trek saga, and is only included in the opening credits as such. See what he did there? Pretty sneaky, huh? Because, if you didn’t know Spock was coming back, and you were hoping for a hint in the opening credits, you weren’t going to get one. That’s the radness of 1984.

Ghostbusters (June)
Somehow, 30 years from now, kids will still know the theme song to this masterpiece and know exactly what to tell you when you ask the question, “Who you gonna call?”
OK, not all kids. But the amount of kids who will still get "Ghostbusters" references 30 years later is pretty impressive.
Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, William Atherton and the late Harold Ramis — how does this film not come up more often when people talk about perfect ensemble casts? I’m sure there are some cynics in the world who will dislike the original “Ghostbusters,” but in my book, it’s about as close to a perfect comedy as the world will ever come.

Gremlins (June)
Going head-to-head with Murray and Ramis on June 8th is Hoyt Axton and Phoebe Cates in the Christmas comedy, “Gremlins” — or is it a comedy? Maybe it’s a horror film that happens to be funny? I’m not entirely sure, but what are the rules when you make a Christmas film in June? What I do know is it takes a year like 1984 to create the lovable mogwai, Gizmo, and his evil offspring.
You’re probably going to forget in a few years that Corey Feldman is also in this movie, while he’s still a lovable, trouble-making kid. And that’s a testament of the magic of "Gremlins." Menacing, strangely arthritic puppets are done so well, they outshine an early Feldman. Thank you, 1984.

The Karate Kid (June)
How’s a kid from Jersey going to adapt to the karate-crazed teenage scene of the San Fernando Valley?
For most kids, it would be pretty much impossible. But luckily, Daniel LaRusso moves next to Mr. Miyagi and Elisabeth Shue — about the best friends you can have when facing off with the Cobra Kai. Learning that karate comes from being mindful while doing household chores, LaRusso takes on corrupted philosophies of Sensei Kreese and his misguided students.
This is the year millions of moviegoers will learn about the one karate move that cannot be defended, and then they will try said move only feet away from the theater exit.

The Last Starfighter (July)
Rags-to-riches is way too small for the screenplay of “The Last Starfighter.” We’re talking gamer-to-defender-of-the-universe adventure levels in this movie.
This year, your mind will be blown with one of the most ambitious, computer-effects driven spectacles in movie history. Sure, you may forget all about it come 1990, but the “Jurassic Parks” and “Avatars” of the future owe a reaching high five to this project, and in 1984, it sings. No, really. You may not remember this movie, but look the theme up. Yes, this is that movie.

Honorable mentions
Lists of five are nice and tidy, aren’t they? But that’s a bit small for 1984. Here are 10 additional movies that played throughout the year for your retro-consideration. When done considering, tell me, was there a bigger year for movies than 1984?                                 "Amadeus"                                                                                                                                                                     "Romancing the Stone"                                                                                                                                                     "The Terminator"                                                                                                                                                             "Beverly Hills Cop"                                                                                                                                                            "Starman"                                                                                                                                                                       "Footloose"                                                                                                                                                                     "This is Spinal Tap"                                                                                                                                                         "Splash"                                                                                                                                                                         "Police  Academy"                                                                                                                                                             "Sixteen Candles"

You can contact Travis at tspoppleton@gmail.com.

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