The simple premise: A killer android (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) is sent back to 1984 to assassinate the mother (Linda Hamilton) of a resistance leader of the future. A soldier of that resistance (Michael Biehn) is also sent back to protect her from harm, but the killer android is virtually unstoppable in its mission. This classic science fiction/action/horror/thriller represents the best in all of those genres that the 1980s has to offer. James Cameron put his name on the map with this action masterpiece.
Hands of Steel is an Italian-produced film obviously influenced by James Cameron’s The Terminator if combined with the basic plot of First Blood. Set in the near future, we find a beefy thug (Daniel Greene) has been brainwashed by the evil head of a pollution-spewing corporation called the Turner Foundation, headed by John Saxon’s Francis Turner, we soon learn, to assassinate a popular ecological guru leading an environmental movement that is set to make major radical changes to the drastically worsening country. But he’s no ordinary thug; Paco Queruak is a war veteran that was left for dead before getting his body used for a radical cyborg assassin experiment, rendering him with an electronic mind and a body of hardened steel, underneath his very human-like exterior. However, at the last second, his human side begins to question what he’s doing, leaving him on the run from the organization that made him in order to hide their tracks. Paco goes on the lam to his old stomping grounds in Arizona, where he meets a lovely motel and bar owner named Linda who offers him room and board in exchange for doing some chores around the property. Meanwhile, he engages the locals in arm wrestling contests he can easily best them in. Meanwhile, he’s being pursued by a world-class hitman, and also the FBI.
RoboCop is set in near-future Detroit, where the city streets are just about completely dominated by the criminal element, while the police are neither respected nor welcome; they are virtually walking targets out there. Desperate to clean up the crime-ridden community and build a gleaming new one in its place, the government officials turn to OCP, Omni Consumer Products, to build and manufacture the future of law enforcement, robotic police that are more powerful and well-armed than anything anyone has ever seen. However, when the first prototypes prove inconsistent, the city officials balk at the idea, so an upstart faction within the OCP comes up with a newer, more “human” cop, a cyborg built using the remnant body of downed officer Alex Murphy (Peter Weller), and dubbed simply as “RoboCop”.Things proceed splendidly for the RoboCop program, that is, until the human side of the cyborg begins to recollect his past life as Murphy, plagued with flashbacks to the family he lost and the psychopathic criminals who all but ended his life as he knew it. Determined to bring the bad guys that did him in to justice, RoboCop sets out on a mission of his own, not realizing that the gang in question is actually in cahoots with a rogue entity within the OCP, who for all intents and purposes, also own the city, the police department, and the machine side of Murphy. Paul Verhoeven directs this scathing and potent satire on American commercialism and privatization.
JoBeth Williams stars as suburban Ohio housewife and mother Cathy Palmer, who escapes her joyless marriage in her spare time by reading her favorite romantic thriller novels, all starring a Modesty Blaise-like globe-hopping female private detective, Rebecca Ryan. She loves them so much, she enters a Rebecca Ryan fan fiction writing contest in which the winner of the would-be authors scores an all-expenses-paid trip to Paris, including seeing all the famous sights, as well as meeting the author of the novels herself, Margaret McMann. When her selfish hubby tells her he has no time for it, and she should just not go at all, Cathy decides she’s going to Paris alone if she must, leaving him and their two boys behind for the week. A curious thing happens on the trip, as Cathy ends up taking a blow to the head after getting hit by a car while pursuing some purse thieves, and when she awakens in the hospital, she not only forgets she’s Cathy, but she thinks she’s the heroine of her novels, Rebecca Ryan herself. She begins her make-over to glamour and adventure, all the while imagining everyone and everything around her is part of a plot of one of the novels, including the leader of the French opposition party, whom she suspects is part of her mission to help protect. Meanwhile, she mistakes Englishman Alan McMann, Margaret’s son (played by Scottish actor, Tom Conti), as her partner-in-crime-solving, Dmitri, and the two get themselves into a heap of real trouble as she dives head-first into snooping around where she doesn’t belong without the skills or expertise to truly know what she’s doing.
Rosanna Arquette stars as Roberta Glass, a dreamer New Jersey housewife who contents herself to reading about the mysterious lives of others through perusing the personals in the local paper. One in particular has caught her eye, involving “Jim and Susan” (Susan is played by Madonna) who use the ads in order to meet in public places. Curious Roberta heads out to catch a glimpse of the two when they meet in New York City, and. through a mishap, ends up with amnesia, not to mention a case of mistaken identity that sees her playing the role of being Susan herself. Trouble is, the artsy hipster Susan is being followed by a crazed thug (Will Patton) intent on recovering some heisted priceless Egyptian artifacts that end up given to Jim, earrings that have been seen in the real Susan’s possession. With the help of Jim’s friend Dez (Aidan Quinn), who also mistakenly thinks Roberta is Susan, she must traverse this dangerous territory and find meaning to her own life, even if she has to live the life of another to do it. Susan Seidelman directs this whimsical, artsy farce.
Dreamscape stars Dennis Quaid as a psychic enlisted into a top-secret government experiment that puts him into the nightmares of another person in order to cure them. However, when the President of the United States becomes the subject, he finds himself embroiled in a plot to assassinate the world leader in his sleep. Kate Capshaw, Max von Sydow and Christopher Plummer co-star in this low-budget but high-concept sci-fi/thriller that would be the precursor to a great many genre films, including THE MATRIX.
Disney’s first big foray into the realm of computer animation would prove to be a box office disappoiuntmen in 1982, but garner a legion of fans over the years for its revolutionary design work and the influence it still continue to have in science fiction today. Jeff Bridges stars as Kevin Flynn, video game programmer, who is ripped off of several ideas by an unscrupulous power hungry man named Ed Dillinger. Dillinger soon starts a meteoric rise to the top of a powerful global corporation, Encom, while the computer that runs it has become so powerful that it is a life-force unto itself, thinking and talking (not to mention plotting world domination). Flynn tries to hack into the computer to get evidence of Dillinger’s theft, when the Master Control Program sucks Flynn into its own cyber-world, dubbed “the grid”, where programs in the voice and form of the programmers that created them are mere toys by which Master Control Program uses for its own enjoyment. Bruce Boxleitner, Cindy Morgan and David Warner also star in this film by Steven Lisberger.
Henry Thomas plays Davey, a young San Antonio boy with a vivid imagination and a love o fantasy games. The lines between fantasy and reality blur when he ends up in possession of a video game cartridge that is the conduit for top secret information wanted by some pretty bad hombres who will kill to get it. With the help of his imaginary friend, the daring man of adventure named Jack Flack, Davey must find a way to survive before more people end up dead — including him! Richard Franklin directs from a Tom Holland script.
One of the biggest blockbusters of the 1980s, and of all time, Tim Burton would take the reins of Warner Bros. hugest hit with 1989’s BATMAN, a much more dark and eerie take on the character than any prior screen take to date. With a tremendous Danny Elfman score, hit singles by Prince, and a very energetic Jack Nicholson performance as Joker, it would be the movie to watch for its era, despite the Michael Keaton casting backlash leading up to its release.
In this episode, Vince takes a look at “Innerspace” from director Joe Dante, starring Dennis Quaid, Martin Short, and Meg Ryan. produced by Steven Spielberg, this sci-fi based comedy riffs on “Fantastic Voyage” where an unassuming supermarket clerk is injected with the microscopic vessel containing an ace test pilot who is wanted by hi-tech thieves looking to score.