What is it about 80s movies?
And more specifically, what is it about 80s science fiction movies?
We’ve obviously had some amazing science fiction movies prior such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, A New Hope etc, but in the 80s, things went to another level.
The 1980s ushered in a whole new era of epic science fiction offerings. Creativity seemed to be reaching new heights in film making, and the technology was starting to catch up. Sure, some of the sci-fi movies from the 80s have special effects that don’t hold up today, but they were always used to serve the story. They weren’t there just for the sake of special effects – so in that sense, they still work.
But many movies from the 80s have effects that still hold up today. Take Bladerunner for example. I own this on Blu-ray, and a lot of it looks like it was filmed yesterday. And this movie came out all the way back in 1982.
1980s science fiction movies gave us some of the greatest films in history and that brings us to the subject of this blog: The new documentary In Search of Tomorrow and an interview with writer/director David Weiner.
This kickstarter project is the ultimate love letter to 80s science fiction, and before we get to David, check out the greatest trailer you’ll probably ever see…
All the classics are in there, right from the start with the iconic line from Bladerunner by Roy Batty. And I have to point out that I loved the inclusion of some obscure ones like Howard the Duck, and Mac & Me.
An Interview With David Weiner
I reached out to David to get his insights on this new project, 80s sci-fi movies, and everything you need to know about In Search of Tomorrow.
Q: Can We Get A Quick Background On Yourself & Your Work In Movies and Documentaries?
I grew up as a major pop-culture consumer kid in the ‘70s and ‘80s, watching monster movies and Sci-Fi movies and every other film in between, then running out to find the tie-in toys and books and records if they were available.
I decided at an early age that I wanted to work in entertainment, and jumped into the film industry after studying film production and theory in college.
In Search of Tomorrow is my second documentary to tackle ‘80s genre film for executive producer Robin Block and his community-powered entertainment company, CreatorVC, following on the heels of In Search of Tomorrow. Going from covering the decade in horror to the decade in Sci-Fi was a natural progression for me
Q: What Was The First 80s Sci-Fi Movie You Remember Watching That Made A Big Impression On You?
I experienced the one-two punch of watching Star Trek: The Motion Picture and The Black Hole on the big screen in December 1979. Being a huge fan of both the original Trek series and Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, I was happily transported to the excitement of outer-space adventure as I bided my time for the arrival of The Empire Strikes Back. Then, all bets were off.
Q: What Makes Sci-Fi Movies Of The 80s Unique Compared To Other Decades?
Advances in visual effects technology at places like ILM, huge audience reception to genre film at the box office, and the explosion of the home-video and the cable market provided fertile ground for the likes of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, and Ridley Scott to share their unlimited, unfettered imaginations with the moviegoing masses.
Many of the films of the ‘80s provided escape fantasies from gritty realities depicted in ‘70s filmmaking, while other films more directly reflected Cold War fears and Wall Street excesses. It was a game-changing decade of film.
Q: What Can We Expect From In Search Of Tomorrow?
Similar in structure to In Search of Darkness in that it breaks down the ‘80s decade year-by-year with larger-context chapters in between, In Search of Tomorrow will delve into a variety of ‘80s Sci-Fi movies and deconstruct/recontextualize them.
In addition to segments devoted to individual films (ranging from E.T. and Aliens to Back to the Future, The Road Warrior, WarGames, Galaxy of Terror, Buckaroo Banzai and Spaceballs), larger topics covered will include visual and special effects, scores, costumes, production design, weapons, ships and hardware, socio-political context, motion-picture marketing and merchandising, future tech visions that have become reality, and much more.
To tell this tale and share their experiences and views on the decade, we’ve assembled an amazing cast of interview talent that’s growing weekly, including:
- Sam J. Jones of Flash Gordon
- Dee Wallace and Henry Thomas from E.T.
- Sean Young talking up Blade Runner and Dune
- Nicholas Meyer, Walter Koenig, Adam Nimoy and Wil Wheaton of the Star Trek franchise
- Ernie Hudson on Ghostbusters, Spacehunter, and Leviathan
- Lance Guest, Catherine Mary Stewart and Nick Castle of The Last Starfighter
There are also some high-profile directors such as:
- Joe Dante (Gremlins, Explorers, Innerspace)
- John Badham (WarGames, Blue Thunder, Short Circuit)
- Peter Hyams (Outland, 2010)
- John Carpenter (The Thing, Escape From New York, Starman, They Live)
- Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop, Total Recall)
There are also visual effects masters such as Douglas Trumbull, Dennis Muren, and Phil Tippett; recognizable talent from the Star Wars, Aliens, Predator, Terminator, RoboCop, Bill & Ted and Back to the Future franchises. I can’t wait to get started on it.
Q: We All Know The Big 80s Blockbusters, But What Are Some More UnKnown or Underrated 80s Sci-Fi Movies?
We have been revisiting such titles as The Hidden with Kyle MacLachlan and director Stuart Gordon’s Robot Jox in special Watch Parties for our In Search of Tomorrow fan group on Discord, alongside Aliens, The Fly, The Thing, Blade Runner and such sequels as Superman III and Star Trek IV.
That should give you an idea of the scope of films that interest us and the value we put on the output of ‘80s Sci-Fi films. There are so many underrated gems that mean something to us I couldn’t list them all. But this is a group that appreciates the fun in Howard the Duck, Buckaroo Banzai, Galaxina and Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn just as much as the acknowledged classics.
Q: Is It Possible To Reboot Back To The Future?
I really do not want to see Back to the Future ever remade, but if you’re going to force my hand, let’s cast Tom Holland as Marty McFly. He’s essentially channeling Michael J. Fox when he’s playing Peter Parker. Close your eyes — it’s uncanny!
(check out my blog about the 21 things in Back to the Future you probably missed)
Q: How Can We Follow & Support In Search Of Tomorrow?
Check out our Kickstarter, ending this Sunday, May 17 at midnight pacific time, and then stay tuned to more announcements at 80sscifidoc.com and our various socials:
Wrapping It Up
It’s funny, I was just saying to a friend the other day about Tom Holland being the only possible option to play Marty McFly. I’m not totally opposed to this idea now – even though I still am…
But I want to thank David for sharing his insights about 80s sci-fi movies, and a deeper look into this incredible project. I am beyond excited for In Search of Tomorrow. I’m backing it and I hope that you will too to remember one of the best periods in science-fiction movie history.