Monday, May 11, 2015

At Flashbak: The Five Greatest Heroes of the Post Apocalyptic 1980s Cinema

At Flashbak, I celebrate Post-Apocalypse Week (leading up to Fury Road) with a look at five great heroes of the 1980s Post-Apocalyptic Cinema

"Thanks to George Miller, Mel Gibson and The Road Warrior (1982), the eighties represents the great era of post-apocalyptic movies. 

It wasn’t just the success of The Road Warrior, either. 

During the Reagan Era of politics, there was a pervasive “apocalyptic mentality” roiling the culture. This may have been because the senior citizen president joked on an open mic (on August 11, 1984) about outlawing The Soviet Union, noting that bombing would commence in “five minutes.”

Or the zeitgeist of apocalypse might also have arisen because President Reagan and his Secretary of the Interior, James Watt both spoke in public about the possibility that the End Days were coming. Reagan did so in an interview in People Magazine in December of 1983 -- as commander-in-chief -- stating that the 1980s was the first time in history that so many Biblical prophecies were coming together. He had also said, on the campaign trail in 1980 -- to televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Baker -- that “ours might be the generation that sees Armageddon.”  

Watt, on the other hand, testified before the U.S. Congress on February 5, 1981 that there was no need to preserve America’s national resources for future generations because he did not know “how many future generations” we could count on before “the Lord” would return.

As a tuned-in kid of that era, I paid attention to such terrifying words, as did many filmmakers, musicians and writers.  Accordingly, the 1980s imagined all kinds of apocalypses (nuclear, comet-based, and even zombie-oriented) but also provided the strategy for surviving it: creating a brand of sturdy hero who could adapt to the world after the fall of civilization.

Here are five of the greatest heroes of 1980s post-apocalyptic cinema.  I have included Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) -- a character from a post-apocalyptic future – only because he does all his fighting in The Terminator in the 1980s, not in the new landscape of the post-apocalypse."

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