Forty years ago, movie lovers got the gift of the best summer ever. Picture it: the United States of America, 1982. School’s out for summer. Modern day social media and cell phones do not exist. “I Love Rock and Roll” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts is a jam. There’s boomboxes on shoulders, Walkmans in ears, and loads of hairspray in very teased hair. People are ready to slip into their colorful Jams shorts and head out to the movies for some entertainment. And while the citizens of 1982 probably didn’t realize it then, they were in for arguably the most iconic slate of summer movies ever.
In fact, its become such an ubiquitous part of pop culture that people are still saying there will never be another lineup like it. That’s exactly why we, the humans of Nerdist (and major movie fans) are doing an entire theme week about Summer of 1982. We want to celebrate this stacked slate of film goodness, which includes Poltergiest, E.T., Friday the 13th Part III, Tron, and many more. While we obviously cannot name and go into a deep discussion of every single movie that came out from May-August 1982, we are singling out a few faves.
Are you ready to take a dive back in time with us? Not yet? We understand. It’s probably been years since you’ve seen some of these films. Or maybe you’re ready to experience them for the first time. There’s no way to capture the magic of seeing them in theaters at the time of release. But you can still nab some of the chills, thrills, and pure joy from the comfort of your own home. Here’s where you can stream our Summer of ’82 picks
Conan the Barbarian – Available with Starz Subscription/Prime Video Rental
Conan the Barbarian stars a young Arnold Schwarzenegger as the titular character, a gladiator who seeks vengeance for his parents’ deaths. Long before comic, graphic novel, and magazine strip adaptations were a nearly-guaranteed avenue for success, this film saw decent success. Sadly, it is only available with a Starz subscription or you can rent it via Prime Video.
Annie – Available via Netflix
We all know and love this classic tale. An orphan gets the break of a lifetime, finding familial love with a rich dude. But first she must warm up his cold, wealthy heart. There are countless adaptations of Annie but nothing quite like this film. Fans can relieve Annie’s hard knock life days on Netflix.
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior – Available via HBO Max
Chaotic dusty apocalypse energy intensifies in this classic sequel. We continue to follow Max as a literal road warrior who gets caught up in mess before heading off to be alone once again. The entire Mad Max franchise is available on HBO Max.
Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid – Available for Rent Via Apple TV+ and Prime Video
We love an unorthodox choice. Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid is a comedy gem starring Steve Martin as a private investigator. The parodies and references to noir and pulp detective films of the 1940s abound in this goofy ride. It is not streaming now but viewers can rent or purchase via Apple TV+ and Prime Video.
Rocky III – Available for Rent/Purchase Via Apple TV+
The quintessential underdog story about a boxer who rises to fame despite all odds takes its hero full circle in this third installment. He gets hit (literally and physically) by life’s toughest opponents and goes on a journey to rediscover the passion and drive that made him the champ. Ya know, the eye of the tiger. Rocky III available for rent or purchase through Apple TV+ in all its ’80s bromance glory.
Poltergeist – Available via HBO Max
This classic film is woven into our public consciousness, upping the stakes for horror. It taps into a common fear: the idea of evil spirits encroaching on our safe space. (Also, it being based on a true story doesn’t help.) The images of a ghostly white hand reaching from a TV is still ever-so chilling forty years later. It truly knows what scares you. Poltergeist is currently available via HBO Max.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – Available via Paramount+
The second Star Trek film shows the Enterprise crew coming against Khan, who is a fresh escapee from a lengthy exile. He’s thirsty for revenge with a dangerous tool at his disposal but Kirk and company have their defenses on the ready. Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan is, as all Trek things are, over on Paramount+.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial – Available for Rent on Prime or Apple TV+
Ahh a story about a wrinkled, large-eyed alien who simply wants to phone home. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a classic in every sense of the word, from its imagery (that bicycle flying high in the sky) to its swelling score by the legendary John Williams. The magic and wonder of this film will never, ever get old. It’s not streaming anywhere right now but can be rented or purchased via Prime Video or Apple TV+.
Grease 2 – Available with Starz Subscription
Grease 2 is the sequel that everyone loves with a great twist. The “bad” girl from the Pink Ladies meets the “clean cut” new guy who tries to be more like her. Love ensues and being yourself wins. Grease 2 is available with a Starz subscription, which can unlock it for viewers in Hulu and Prime Video.
Blade Runner – Available via Netflix and HBO Max
Deckard (played by a young and ambitious Harrison Ford) continues to hunt Replicants under the thumb of the police boss. It’s usual business for him… until he meets Rachel, a Replicant, and falls in love. We love an enemies-to-friends kinda plot with a (then) futuristic outlook on the world. Blade Runner is on Netflix and HBO Max for everyone’s streaming pleasure.
The Thing – Rent or Purchase via Apple TV+ and Prime Video
The Thing is the stuff of remote nightmares. An unknown alien force creeps its way into a research group, causing discord among the crew. Paranoia and infighting abound as they eyeball each other, wondering who is real and who is… the thing. This nihilistic film didn’t get a lot of love back in 1982 but now it boasts a cult following and gets its respect. Check out The Thing by renting or purchasing it via Apple TV or Prime Video.
The Secret of NIMH – Available via Roku Channel, Pluto TV, and Tubi
The Secret of NIMH may be an animated film but there’s some darkness behind its premise. A mouse’s home is threatened by a farmer’s plowing; however, she cannot leave because her son is ill. She seeks out rats who have gone through science experiments to use their smarts to help her. But things go awry and her mission is in jeopardy… until her son Timmy shows his bravery. The film is available via several platforms including The Roku Channel, Pluto TV, and Tubi.
TRON – Available via Disney+
A computer engineer finds out an executive is stealing his work, so he hacks the system and gets far more than he bargained for. BOOM, he’s into a digital world where he rises as a fighter for oppression. Tron is a legendary film, paving the way for CGI, inspiring a franchise, and still holding its weight as an all-around action spectacle. TRON is available on Disney+.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High – Available via Peacock
Who doesn’t love a quintessential coming-of-age story? The life and times of a slew of Ridgemont High students navigating sex, drugs, and partying during this rad era. It’s a perfect time capsule with a ton of familiar faces, comedy, and heart. Fast Times at Ridgemont High is streaming on Peacock.
Friday the 13th Part III – Available for Rent/Purchase on Apple TV+ or Prime Video
You can’t keep a good camp killer down. Part III is a pivotal installment in the long (and at times exhausting) Friday the 13th franchise. This is the film where Jason Voorhees cements himself among the horror villain elite. He discovers his infamous hockey mask and gets really, really violent. Rent or purchase this film on Apple TV+ or Prime Video. Or, if you have AMC+, you can watch it there!
The Beastmaster – Available via Prime Video
It is quite mind boggling that Conan the Barbarian and The Beastmaster came out in the same summer. You’d think one of them was copying the other’s paper but that’s not the case. It’s just a double dose of ancient warrior weirdness as a hero goes against an evil, powerful dude. This time, though, the hero’s telepathic connection to animals is helpful. Good times. The Beastmaster is currently available on Prime Video.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch – Available via Peacock or Tubi
If ever there were a Halloween film that evokes a strong visceral reaction, this one is it. The fans who like it stand ten toes behind it. And those that don’t… well, they have some choice words for sure. Halloween III is quite the odd addition to relatively new (at the time) franchise, leaving Mike Myers behinds completely for a witchy theme. Honestly, it is easier to digest (and perhaps enjoy) if you just pretend that it is its own thing. It is available through Peacock and Tubi.
So catch up and relive all the 1982 summer movie glory! We can’t wait for you to see what we have in store for our Summer of 1982 celebration.