Recently on the Dissolve podcast, the site’s writers debated what the best movie summer of all time was, with critic Keith Phipps nominating 1982 as his choice. I can’t argue with his logic. 1982 was a — maybe the — seminal year for modern genre movies, most of which came out between May and August, and many of which are still spawning sequels and remakes more than thirty years later. Consider this lineup: Conan the Barbarian, The Road Warrior (American release), Poltergeist, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, E.T., Blade Runner, The Thing, Secret of NIMH, and TRON, all within the span of a few weeks. I saw all of these movies in the theater that summer, some more than once, and I was not disappointed by any of them. (I even have some fond memories of the not-so-great ones, like Megaforce and Firefox.)
Looking back, there were some really solid years during my childhood and early adolescence — 1981, 1983, 1984, 1986 — but it’s really hard to top 1982 as the best and most varied of the post-Star Wars blockbuster summers, with a nice balance of R-rated and all-ages oriented movies, and an impressive slate of talent involved. And at this point, the studios were still willing to experiment with new and weird concepts to see what would work, though within a few years the kinds of movies that got made would tend to become frustratingly generic action or family friendly vehicles. Or are Phipps and I succumbing to Gen-X nostalgia? What’s your choice for greatest movie summer of all time?