Welcome to an exciting year-long project here at The Nerdy. 1980 was an exciting year for films giving us a lot of films that would go on to be beloved favorites and cult classics. It was also the start to a major shift in cultural and societal norms, and some of those still reverberate to this day.
We’re going to pick and choose which movies we hit, but right now the list stands at nearly three dozen.
Yes, we’re insane, but 1980 was that great of a year for film.
The articles will come out – in most cases – on the same day the films hit theaters in 1980 so that it is their true 40th anniversaries. All films are also watched again for the purposes of these reviews and are not being done from memory. In some cases, it truly will be the first time we’ve seen them.
This time around it’s July 2, 1980, and we’re off to see Alligator, Airplane!, and The Blue Lagoon!
Quick side note: Since we launched this series this year, we’ve discovered that Vintage Video Podcast is doing the exact same project with two differences: First, it’s audio (naturally), and second, they are doing every major film. We’ve listened to a couple of episodes and it’s fun checking off their thoughts against my own. Check them out over at Vintage Video Podcast.
Following the success of Jaws in 1975, multiple films were made trying to capture a similar formula. Most of them were to be avoided, but apparently at least one of them knew to have some fun with it.
Alligator plays off of the urban legends of the late 1970s and early 1980s of cities around the U.S. having alligators in their sewers. People would pick them up as pets and end up flushing them down the toilet as they didn’t what to do with them. Throw in some toxic waste from a lab, and you end up with a massive alligator terrorizing a city.
While Alligator certainly doesn’t break any new ground, the movie is fun and wacky in the right ways. It clearly was aware that it was falling into numerous cliches and uses them rather deftly.
There is no mistaking that Alligator was a copy of Jaws, but in its own subtle ways, it works. It’s a fun little film and worth checking out some night if you’re bored, but you can definitely stop after one viewing.
I haven’t watched Airplane! in several years, but anyone who knows me knows I will quote this movie anytime, anywhere.
“What happened today?”
“Well, first, the Earth cooled…”
“I should have known better.”
Is Airplane! childish? Yes. Do I care? No. I laughed throughout this rewatch and probably will for the rest of my life. I am not sure I have ever seen another movie where absolutely every joke lands.
All that aside, how would someone feel watching it for the first time? I honestly don’t know. I think the humor stands, but this is one of those films so burned into my brain that I know full well I am biased.
To be fair, this movie also arrived during the yearly disaster films that seemed to pepper the movie theaters. It very much was a parody of those, but I think it still works as just a straight-up comedy.
Have I mentioned I love this movie?
The Blue Lagoon
Jumping from a movie I’ve seen dozens of times to one I had never seen, we arrive at The Blue Lagoon.
… I want to go back and watch Airplane! again.
Set in the Victorian times, two cousins end up shipwrecked on an island and grow to maturity cut off from the world. They also go through a bunch of stressful situations that have absolutely no payoff.
First, when first shipwrecked they are with the ships cook, and he warns them away from these red berries, highly implying they will kill you. Okay, no problem, we’ll circle back to those.
Then he also discovers an altar on the other side of the island where sacrifices are made. To safeguard the kids he tells them the law forbids them from going to that part of the island.
Later, after the death of the cook, the kids grow up and every so often hear drums from the other side of the island. After “breaking the law” numerous times, Richard (Christopher Atkins) witnesses the ceremony one night, and runs off in horror and… nothing. Absolutely nothing comes of it. No one chases him. No one finds their (incredibly over the top) hut, nothing. You spend the whole move fearful of that side of the island and absolutely nothing happens.
Towards the end of the film, after the cousins discover sex, they have a child. After accidentally floating out to sea in a boat, the child eventually eats the scary berries from earlier in the movie and appears to die. Richard and Emmeline (Brooke Shields) decide to eat them as well and die with their child.
Wow, that’s sad. They ate the berries JUST as they are finally found by Richard’s father. Seeing the three of them in the boat, he asks a sailor if they are dead. “No, sir. They’re asleep.”
The two scariest things set up early in the film come to absolutely nothing? Well, thanks for wasting my time I guess.
The film is pretty to look at, and Atkins and Shields do a fine job with what they are given, but the script is an absolute pile of nothing.
1980 Movie Reviews will return on July 11 with Used Cars and Oh! Heavenly Dog!
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