What did the films, E.T., Blade Runner, Wrath of Khan, Tron, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, John Carpenter’s The Thing, Poltergeist, The Secret of the NIMH, Dark Crystal, and Conan the Barbarian all have in common? They all had their US premiers during summer of 1982. This article would look at why 1982 as coincidence, or convergence became a legendary year in science fiction.
Special effects! I really think the 1980's were a kind of sweet spot for practical Hollywood effects. It was the last decade in which most filmmakers absolutely HAD to rely on their wits and cinematography skills instead of shipping the footage to a CGI studio. – Simon6 years ago
It's a neat idea, but most of the films mentioned above, the special effects were not handled by the directors or their main production crews. Rather the footage came from special effects firms that were contracted to produce them. ILM for example did Poltergeist, Wrath of Khan, E.T., Dark Crystal, and even a small segment of Conan. Rob Bottin with help from Stan Winston oversaw all the effects for The Thing and four different firms worked on Tron's effects. If anything the historical evidence suggests the 80s was the decade when visual effects really changed from being under the purview of the main filmmakers and moved into the purview of externally contracted firms. – rj2n6 years ago
Based on that, maybe the sweet spot existed because the directors let technically-minded effects people work on the effects and those people had to be creative with their methods (e.g. animal training, animatronics, puppetry) instead of just being good at programming and graphic design. – Simon6 years ago
Considering CGI was only first used in 1982 (Tron, Wrath of Khan), this is necessarily true. But I think focusing on just special effects doesn't explain why 1982 is so great. Star Trek, the Motion Picture had much more extensive effects work then Wrath of Khan and is generally considered the inferior film. Also most of the great effects work of the 90s utilized all these techniques at much more mature level. (e.g. Jurassic Park, Terminator 2) – rj2n6 years ago