Ghostbusters is a movie that stands the test of time. Thirty years after the film first came out people are still talking about how great it is and with good reason. The jokes are still hilarious, the writing is still sharp, and the performances – especially Bill Murray – are near perfect. In fact, if Ghostbusters had been the only major film to come out in 1984, the year that George Orwell warned us about would still have been a banner year for movies. On closer inspection however, it appears that 1984 gave us a plethora of major motion pictures that have gone down in the annals of cinema as classics. So many important films were released that year that it begs the question: Was 1984 the best year in cinema? The answer of course is hard to quantify. To quote Kip from Napoleon Dynamite “Like anyone can even know that”. Looking at the movies released in 1984 however, one thing’s for sure, if not THE best year in cinema history it’s certainly one of them.
For starters, a little film called Gremlins came out the same day as Ghostbusters. If Gremlins isn’t quite the cinematic masterpiece that Ghostbusters is, it is arguably more influential. Ghostbusters was so popular and yet it spawned very few imitators. Gremlins on the other hand multiplied like a wet mogwai into a slew of ripoffs and copycats. Movies like Critters,Ghoulies, and Munchies had the mischievous little creatures formula down but none of the heart of Gremlins. Gremlins with its liberal use of violence was instrumental along with another movie that came out in 1984 in ushering in the PG-13 rating.
That other movie was of course Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The legend behind Temple of Doom’s darkness – heart rippings, child torture, and monkey brains, oh my!- is that supposedly George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were both going through divorces at the time and the blackness in their souls transferred itself to the screen. It’s rumored that the film only received a PG rating because Spielberg threw his Hollywood clout around and insisted that he didn’t make R-rated movies. Temple of Doom was for many years considered the worst of the three Indiana Jones movies. Then Crystal Skull came out and everyone changed their mind about Temple of Doom. In recent years Temple of Doom has definitely become more favorably looked upon by Indy fans. Coincidentally, the first movie to actually carry a PG-13 rating also came out in 1984: Red Dawn.
So many classic comedies came out in 1984 that I’m sure someone, somewhere is still laughing thirty years later. Sounds like hyperbole right? Well check this list out: Beverly Hills Cop, Police Academy, Revenge Of The Nerds, Sixteen Candles, This Is Spinal Tap and of course the aforementioned ghost movie. Police Academy is a franchise that definitely went on for at least four movies more than it should have but people forget how funny the original was. The same goes for Beverly Hills Cop and Revenge Of The Nerds. This Is Spinal Tap needs no explanation. On a scale of 1-10 in terms of movie hilarity, 1 being “Scary Movie V “ and 10 being “Monty Python”, Spinal Tap gets an 11.
Not to be outdone by the laugh riots listed above, the horror genre represented itself in a big way as well in 1984. The first A Nightmare On Elm Street was released and it was immediate heralded as an innovator in the genre and an instant classic. Freddy Krueger himself went on to become a rock star of sorts in the late 80’s early 90’s. Freddy’s contemporary Jason Voorhees also made an appearance in theaters that year in Friday The 13th : The Final Chapter , which was to be his last. We all know how that worked out. Cult favorites C.H.U.D. , Children Of The Corn,Firestarter and Silent Night Deadly Night were also released in 1984.
Speaking of cult movies, 1984 was also the year of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The Last Starfighter, and Repo Man; all movies that didn’t do very well at the box office but that gained loyal followings thanks to home video and cable. If you’re in your late twenties or early thirties chances are you remember a little movie by the name of The NeverEnding Story? What about The Muppets Take Manhattan? Maybe you were more of a Conan The Destroyer kind of kid? All three came out in 1984.
If movies featuring a heavy dose of music are your thing, don’t worry, ’84 has got you covered. There’s the Mozart biopic Amadeus complete with the theme song of the same name by Falco. The Prince movie Purple Rain complete with ITS theme song of the same name, not to mention Footloose complete with…you get the idea.
If you’re not convinced that 1984 was the best year in cinema yet, allow me to try and sway you with three more movies. The Terminator was James Cameron’s breakthrough and paved the way for him to make Aliens, The Abyss and the even better Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Despite leading to those other movies Terminator was no slouch itself . Introducing the Stan Winston’s iconic red-eyed endoskeleton and one of the most quoted lines in film history “I’ll be back!”, The Terminator is a modern action classic. If killer robots aren’t your thing maybe you’d prefer a wimpy Italian kid trained to use karate by an old Japanese handy man? That’s right the Karate Kid arguably one of the most famous movies of the 80’s and with lines quoted almost as much as the ones in the Terminator – “Wax on, wax off!” “Sweep the leg!”- was also a 1984 baby.
Lastly, I could mention Dune, Blood Simple or even Star Trek III : The Search for Spock and those movies all have their own merits but for the clincher I have to break out the big gun: Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. Many of you are probably scratching your heads right now wondering what in the hell is a “Breakin’ 2 : Electric Boogaloo”. Well according to IMDB it’s a 1984 movie about break dancing or something, but that’s not important. What is important is that “Electric Boogaloo” is possibly the best subtitle for a sequel ever. It’s a subtitle that should be added to all sequels ending in the number two. In fact I am 100% positive that The Amazing Spiderman 2’s box office would have doubled had it been titled “The Amazing Spiderman 2: Electric Boogaloo”.
So there you have it, 1984 saw an inordinate amount of amazing movies released. Was it the best year in cinema history? That’s a matter of opinion but enough evidence exists that it should at least be in consideration as such. You’re free to disagree of course, you know if you’re one of those red commies like the ones in Red Dawn. WOLVERINES!