With Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the series took a swing in the exact opposite direction from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, putting things on a raw emotional level. This is a sequel, not of the first film, but of an original “Star Trek” episode, “The Space Seed”, also starring Ricardo Montalban in the Khan role. Now, it is 15 years later, and Khan and his men are marooned on a desert planet which is slated as an experiment in the Federation’s Genesis project. This project is actually a bomb of sorts that can take any uninhabited planet and make it habitable for life as we know it, transforming it into a tropical paradise. Khan hijacks a small cruiser piloted by Chekhov (Walter Koenig) and the duel between Khan and Kirk (William Shatner), the man with whom he is filled with hatred, for control of the bomb and for sheer revenge. Nicholas Meyer directs.
In this onscreen persona-defining movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as Col. John Matrix, a highly-trained military special-ops expert whose unit was disbanded and now live under secret identities in retirement. Matrix spends his days as a single father taking care of his spirited young daughter, Jenny (Alyssa Milano), to whom he has promised not to go out on any more special missions. However, John’s hand is forced when Jenny is abducted by a displaced South American dictator (Dan Hedaya) of a banana republic named Val Verde who wants his old gig back, planning to use her for ransom as John puts out an assassination on the current leader. Thinking that Jenny will be killed even if he fulfills the demands, Matrix sets about dismantling the small army the dictator has around him, with the help of an airline attendant named Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong), in the hope that he can rescue his daughter before she is offed. Mark L. Lester directs this humorously over-the-top actioner from a Steven E. de Souza script.
Set in the near future, Mel Gibson stars as the titular Max, one of the best police officers working for the MFP fighting against the increasingly hostile lands, full of marauding car and biker gangs who have no regard for life, or for laws, and especially not for law officers. One such gang of bikers, led by a psychopath named Toecutter, is on the rampage and is targeting MFP officers who’ve messed with their way of doing things, putting them all in potential harm’s way. A family man, Max doesn’t know if he’s really cut out to put his neck on the line in a losing battle against anarchy. He soon discovers there is not much escape from the criminal element that has permeated everywhere, and it’s kill or be killed in the lawless and bloodthirsty territories. George Miller directs in this wildly successful action vehicle that propelled Mel Gibson, and Australian cinema itself, to even greater success.
Roseanne Barr stars as Ruth Pratchett, a devoted wife to her accountant hubby Bob (Ed Begley Jr.), and mother to two precocious children. One day while attending a swank party, Bob meets and eventually has a fling with best-selling romance novelist Mary Fisher (Meryl Streep), and while they do their best to keep things under wraps, Ruth knows better. As their marriage falls apart, Ruth vows revenge, and set about destroying all of the things good old Bob and his mistress hold dear – his home, his family, his career, and his freedom. Susan Seidelman directs this cult comedy.
Wes Craven refreshed the struggling slasher film genre with this more surreal and intense take, saving New Line Cinema with one of the big surprise hits of 1984: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Heather Langenkamp stars as Nancy Thompson, who finds out that she is not alone in having a recurring dream about a badly burnt and scarred man named Freddy Krueger who terrorizes her with horrific acts of terror (Craven says that the character’s name was based on a school mate who bullied him as a child). What’s even more scary is that her friends are starting to die mysteriously, and Nancy is sure that if she were to fall asleep and dream, she will be next in line to be a victim. Her parents think here is something wrong with her, and the local police can’t believe a word of it, so she must fend for herself. But surely she can’t stay awake forever! John Saxon, Johnny Depp and Robert Englund also co-star in this first of many films in the long-running and beloved horror series.