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 June 24th, 1983, and we’re off to see Porky’s II: The Next Day, The Survivors, and Twilight Zone: The Movie!
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.
Porky’s II: The Next Day
Despite its title, Porky’s II: The Next Day has very little to do with the day after the first film.
You have to applaud this sequel for one very specific thing and that’s how it was released just over six months from the original. But it also feels like that may be what led to its downfall.
While the first film had some social commentary on the wrongs of the 1950s, this film seemed to think that was why everyone loved it. From taking on the KKK, to corrupt local politicians, and potential statutory rape, this film just went for way too much when all you wanted was some simple humor.
There is also a distinct issue where you could somewhat buy the wild plans of the teenagers pulled off in the first film, this one everything is just too amped up. When a high school student pulls out the blueprints of the building and knows exactly which sewer pipe will let him get a snake into a specific toilet, you know that everything is just out the window.
Somehow, a third film was greenlit despite how bad this one was. I’m not looking forward to when we get to that one.
Robin Williams was a great comedic actor. Walter Matthau was a great comedic actor. That does not necessarily mean they were meant to work together.
The Survivors follows Donald Quinelle (Williams) after he is fired by a parrot (don’t ask). He then accidentally blows up Sonny Paluso’s (Matthau) gas station, and then they end up on the run from an armed robber (Jerry Reed) that they pissed off. Throw in some survivalists they get pissed off at all three of them and somehow, we end up with a heartwarming ending of them working together.
Beyond the humor of the movie not really working, this movie has one of the worst senses of time I have ever seen. In an off-hand comment just before the armed robbery you realize that Williams was fired, destroyed Matthau’s gas station, and they both went to the unemployment office, and then ended up in a diner together where they stop the armed robbery all in the same day.
Twilight Zone: The Movie
There is hardly a person who doesn’t know the original Twilight Zone. Even in 1983 you still had people who watched it originally, and then you had people such as myself who were catching them in syndication. Bringing the property back as a film was an odd call, but focusing on well-known stories and only one new one, as well as prologues and epilogue, was sure to at least make people feel comfortable with it.
But at the same time, more new material seems like it should have been in order for a theatrical film. Add in the inclusion of the well-known episode “Kick the Can,” it wasn’t really a story that screamed a need to be seen on the big screen.
Possibly the biggest downfall was the inclusion of four stories. At only 101 minutes in length for the whole film, the segments felt rushed. The original episodes weren’t that long, but in this format they seemed to a lot of their development, and in a story such as “Kick the Can,” that connection is essential.
And then there was the dark cloud that hung over the entire production.
In 1983 you didn’t have the internet for news to travel at lightning speed, but the news of the death of Vic Morrow along with child actors Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Che travelled like wild fire. They were killed in a helicopter accident that was shown all over TV endlessly. Even forty years later, it’s still a definite factor in viewing the film. How it was decided to go ahead and release the other portions of the segment in the film is still a puzzler.
It’s not a bad film, but I would always take the original series over it.
1983 Movie Reviews will return on July 1, 2023 with Stroker Ace!
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