Welcome to an exciting year-long project here at The Nerdy. 1983 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 four dozen.
Yes, we’re insane, but 1983 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 1983 so that it is their true 40th anniversary. 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 August 26th, 1983, and we’re off to see Daniel, Fire and Ice, Hercules, and Strange Brew.
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 numerous episodes and it’s fun checking off their thoughts against my own. Check them out over at Vintage Video Podcast.
I’m not really sure who thought it was a bright idea to make a fictionalized story about Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and then made fictional kids for them. Yes, the Rosenbergs became the Isaacsons, and then they were given fictional kids who were traumatized by their alleged actions. Eventually the daughter, Susan (Amanda Plummer) dies from the trauma, while Daniel (Timothy Hutton) continues to try to clear their name.
In the end, you think he has found the answer, but he can’t confirm any of it, and turns out everything that happened to his family was for naught.
When you see Sidney Lumet is directing a film, you think, “Oh yes, this will be a mesmerizing work.” You expect something great from the man who gave you something like Serpico, but this appears to be when he was just trying to see how many movies he could make. In 1981 I already reviewed his Prince of the City, and in 1982 there was Deathtrap and The Verdict. The idea of someone turning out this many movies this fast is just insanity in this day and age, and especially from someone with as storied a career as Lumet.
From the ground up, Daniel is just an odd choice of a film from script to very flat direction. His schedule was clearly catching up with him.
Fire and Ice
Speaking of someone that was potentially directing too much, Ralph Bakshi is back. I’ve reviewed American Pop from 1981 and Hey Good Lookin’ from 1982, both of which I enjoyed, but Fire and Ice is definitely the weakest film of this run of his work.
It is a very bare-bones evil wizard plot. The damsel, Teegra (Cynthia Leeke/Maggie Roswell) is captured… rescued… captured… rescued… captured… rescued by Larn (Randy Norton/William Ostrander) so many times you wonder why anyone is still trying. It’s monotonous and slow going, and nearly puts you to sleep.
This also marks Bakshi’s weakest rotoscoping work I’ve seen. Instead of the normal tightness we’re used to seeing, the animation here feels very slap-dash and loose, like the human actor may escape from under the paint at any moment.
It’s clear this film was put together just so Bakshi could work with Frank Frazetta’s concepts, and the mediums of paintings and storytelling just never seem to meet up properly.
Lou Ferrigno stars as Hercules – with his English voice provided by Marc Smith – and he has to save the princess he has fallen in love with after 20 minutes of knowing her. Along the way, every woman he meets falls in love with him, but, no, he must get that ONE woman because… plot.
The effects are laughable, Ferrigno is not the best at emotions, and the whole thing is just a car crash of ideas, but, yet, there’s something endearing about it. You sense that some actual effort went into it, and that makes it difficult to just write it off.
By no means will I ever call it ‘good,’ but I also wouldn’t be angry if it was put on while I was in the room.
Bob & Doug McKenzie were easily the Wayne & Garth of their day. Everyone in school quoted them. We all loved this movie when it came out on home video. And we all wanted to be them. Somewhere long the way this movie has become somewhat forgotten and relegated to ‘cult classic,’ so I was happy to revisit it after several decades.
For the most part, Strange Brew holds up. Some of the comedy is uneven but we’re here for the McKenzie brothers.
Bob and Doug (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) have spent all of their dad’s beer money, so they come up with a plan to get free beer due to the mouse they ‘found’ in a beer bottle. They get sucked into a plot to take over the brewery as Brewmeister Smith (Max von Sydow) has a plan to take over the world with mind control drugs added to the beer. From there the movie is a mix of serving the plot and finding excused for the brothers to just get into increasingly odd situations.
In general, the film works. While basic, you aren’t here for a great mystery. The romance subplot between Pam (Lynne Griffin) and Rosie (Angus Macinnes) feels unnecessary, but it doesn’t take up that much screen time thankfully.
You won’t walk away from Strange Brew a changed person, but it is essentially viewing in any retrospective of 1980s comedy. SCTV – the Canadian show where the characters were created – doesn’t get talked about nearly enough these days, and it’s important to remember its contributions to that period of comedic history.
1983 Movie Reviews will return on Sept. 2, 2023 with Escape from the Bronx and Mortuary!
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