The summer of 1982 was legendary for cinema. Films across all genres made a splash, with several now considered classics. They live on through the films and shows they’ve influenced since—including the more recent overt homages—as well as their legendary music and, of course, their quality quotes. From Annie’s iconic music to Poltergeist’s simple yet utterly terrifying two-word phrase—you know the one—the summer really delivered some of the best lines in cinema. And I haven’t even mentioned two of the great all-timers, from E.T. and Rocky III. To celebrate this summer of iconic cinema, we’re breaking down some (sadly, not all) of the summer of ‘82 movies’ iconic lines.
Conan the Barbarian
“Conan, what is best in life?”
“Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of the women!”
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s entire movie-making career can probably be summed up in a series of quotes, beginning with 1977’s Pumping Iron. But his turn as the vengeful titular character in Conan the Barbarian thrust him into national spotlight. In the film, while with a Mongolian general and his troops, the barbarian delivers a paraphrased version of Genghis Khan’s quote on happiness. It’s a simple, powerful line that sums up where Conan is on his journey. It not only defined Schwarzenegger’s performance, it’s definitely in the top five most quotable Arnold lines.
“Tomorrow, tomorrow/I love ya tomorrow/You’re only a day away…”
The musical Annie is as famous for its music as it is for its plot. I mean, one of the musical’s songs is an instrumental part of an iconic Jay-Z song. But in 1977, the Broadway musical saw its first movie adaptation, featuring an all-star cast of Carol Burnett, Albert Finney, Tim Curry, Edward Herrmann, and Bernadette Peters. Still, amid that star power the most iconic sequences and songs belong to Aileen Quinn, who played Annie, and her fellow orphans. If you had to choose, “Tomorrow” is probably the most iconic song from Annie. It’s an optimistic tune, one that fully showcases the titular character and her sweet outlook on life.
Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid
“I always carry my harmonica: it’s lighter than an accordion and more powerful than a sleeping pill.”
This Carl Reiner-directed film is wild and beautiful. Depositing Steve Martin in a period murder mystery, the film lifts nearly two dozen films from Hollywood’s Golden Age, turning iconic Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis performances from the ‘40s and ‘50s—among so, so many others—and twisting them into a new noir film. To me this line encapsulates so much about what makes the film work, with Martin’s goofy Rigby Reardon holding the many moving parts together.
Mad Max 2: The Warrior Road
“Greetings from the Humungus. The Lord Humungus. The Warrior of the Wasteland. The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n Rolla!”
There’s a lot to love about Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. But the introduction of the antagonistic Lord Humungus, leader of the Marauders gang, is perfect. For starters, the fact that the gang employs a crier is incredible. But Toadie’s over-the-top delivery perfectly sets the tone for the wild character and exemplifies how the horrible gang operates. They’re garish and murderous but they certainly have a little flair.
“Now, when we fought, you had that eye of the tiger, man—the edge! And now you gotta get it back, and the way to get it back is to go back to the beginning. You know what I mean? Maybe we can win it back together.”
The Survivor song “Eye of the Tiger” is one of the most iconic songs from the ‘80s. And its origins make it all the more powerful. The song was written for Rocky III, with Carl Weathers’ sublime (and pivotal) motivational speech serving as inspiration. In the scene, Apollo Creed gives the beaten down Rocky a much-needed talk after his brutal defeat at the hands of “Clubber” Lang. Sure, the song is maybe more popular than the movie itself. But that scene, that stellar moment from Creed, serves yet another reminder at how instrumental the character is to the franchise’s (continued) success.
It says a lot that just two seemingly innocuous words—a casual phrase—brings chills. But little Carol Anne’s delivery of that simple line is so menacing, it’s nightmare-inducing 40 years later. (Its mere inclusion in those ABC Family Halloween movie ads gave me nightmares as a child.) In the film, young Carol Anne, while the rest of the family’s asleep, watches as a glowing white mist—initially in the shape of a hand—floods the master bedroom from the TV, awakening the whole family. Standing at the foot of the bed, staring back at her startled family, the child utters the phrase in a soft, sing-songy voice. Poltergeist isn’t the first film or the last to employ the creepy kid, but it really hits a sweet spot.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
“I’ve done far worse than kill you. I’ve hurt you. And I wish to go on… hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her: marooned for all eternity, in the center of a dead planet… buried alive. Buried alive.”
Khan remains one of the Star Trek franchise’s most iconic villains. That’s saying something considered the franchise has endured for well over 50 years. Initially a one-off villain in the original series, Ricardo Montalbán returned for the first Star Trek film sequel. And he plays deliciously off William Shatner and company. Montalbán delivers his lines with such a calm, sinister tone, it makes Shatner’s scream so much more stark. And it forever secures the character’s high place in the greater canon of Star Trek villains.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
“E.T. phone home.”
Imagine a world in which we did a list of iconic quotes where we didn’t include Steven Spielberg’s seminal coming-of-age film. In the film, the titular alien crash lands on Earth, finding himself in the care of Elliott Taylor and his siblings, Gertie and Michael. When Gertie teaches E.T. about the telephone and inspires him to make connection with his family via that legendary quote, it’s an incredibly moving moment. It certainly reminds Elliott and his siblings that there is a greater universe out there, setting the strange for so many iconic scenes. It examines the titular alien through a heart-felt, empathetic lens we don’t often get from alien invader content.
“I want a cool rider.”
Grease 2 is one of those films that wasn’t totally well-received at its release, but is such a cult hit that the “hot take” that it’s actually more popular than Grease is incredibly common-place. Michelle Pfeiffer’s Stephanie Zinone is one of the coolest characters to come out of ‘82. There are so many fun musical numbers, including “Reproduction” and “Score Tonight.” But Stephanie’s “Cool Rider” during which she tells the preppy Michael (Maxwell Caufield) what she’s looking for in a man is excellent, setting the stage for Michael to channel his cousin Sandy and give himself a legendary makeover.
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”
Roy Batty’s monologue is one that still brings chills on the 100th watch. Throughout Blade Runner, Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard is on the hunt for Batty and three other replicants. But in this pivotal scene, Batty, who at this point knows his lifespan is about to end, saves Deckard from plunging to his death. As the startled Blade Runner watches, Batty delivers his moving last words. Rutger Hauer famously deviated from the script, making a few key changes when delivering the monologue. But more than just the words themselves, his wistful delivery—featuring several pauses—only emphasizes their impact. Time to cry.
“It’ll fight if it has to, but it’s vulnerable out in the open. If it takes us over, then it has no more enemies, nobody left to kill it. And then it’s won.“
This is The Thing’s version of a game time speech. And luckily the future theatrical Herb Brooks aka Kurt Russell is on-hand to deliver a rousing speech. Obviously, having a terrifying parasitic monster on the loose is terrible. Toss in a remote, icy Antarctica landscape, and that’s when things really get spicy. MacReady, leader of the ever-dwindling pack of survivors delivers this stark note, laying out exactly what the stakes are. It’s a gnarly movie but it’s one of Russell and John Carpenter’s best collaborations and MacReady’s speech always leaves us ready to fight, should a Thing ever emerge from the shadows.
The Secret of NIMH
“Courage of the heart is very rare. The stone has a power when it’s there.”
The Secret of NIMH is a fantastic animated fantasy film following a field mouse as she tries to save her family and their home. It’s full of excellent lines, but this one stands above the rest. The wise rat Nicodemus utters it while giving Mrs. Brisby a magical amulet that only activates when the person wearing it is acting courageously. It’s a pivotal moment in the film when Brisby receives Chekov’s magical amulet as she learns the truth about her husband’s heroic death. While literally about the amulet, it’s also a sweet reflection on courage and drive, one we all benefit from hearing every now and then.
“On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy.“
It always does. Tron follows Jeff Bridges’ Kevin Flynn as a hacker abducted and thrust into a digital landscape called the Grid. Once in the digital world, Flynn, who is trying to prove his former employer stole his plans all while trying to survive a digital gladiatorial situation. But in the Grid, he sees the impact of his code first-hand. Suffice to say he has some regrets as the tanks he created start to chase him. It’s visually incredible—even watching it now, understanding how groundbreaking the digital effects were in ‘82.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
“All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine.”
Fast Times at Ridgemont High is the blueprint for teen ensemble films that have followed in the decades to come. It’s full of teen archetypes that exist today, but Spicoli, the chill stoner, stands as one of the most memorable characters among them. Spicoli is the ‘80s version of “No thoughts, just vibes” and you have to respect that energy. Nearly every line the character utters throughout the film is beautiful. And even if I didn’t know Amy Heckerling also directed 1995’s Clueless, I’d still note the through line between Sean Penn’s Spicoli and Breckin Meyer’s Travis. Even through 2019’s Booksmart and beyond, the lovable stoner endures and we can only look at Heckerling (and scribe Cameron Crowe) for that.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
“In the end, we don’t decide these things you know, the planets do. They’re in alignment and it’s time again. The world’s going to change tonight, Doctor. I’m glad you’ll be able to watch it.”
Michael Myers is nowhere to be found in the Halloween threequel. The Halloween franchise sans its iconic villain was certainly a choice—one that maybe led to the film’s tepid reception. Conal Cochran, the maniacal owner of a Halloween mask factor, picks up the villain role, in this film. And while he isn’t the iconic villain Michael Myers is, Cochran delivers several excellent villainous lines throughout the film. But this one is his very best.