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10 Wonderfully Bad Sci-Fi Movies from 1982 [List]

1982 is considered the greatest year ever for great science-fiction films, but it's also a great year for terrible movies.

Above Image: Conan the Barbarian (1982) Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

1982 had crime comedies like Eddie Murphy's 48 Hours, and dramatic films like the Academy Award-winning Gandhi. But, science-fiction really came into it's own in that year.

The year 1982 was a year of highs and lows in science-fiction. With movies like Blade Runner and E.T many have called 1982 the best year for science fiction movies ever.

1982 brought us E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Blade Runner, John Carpenter's The Thing and the best Star Trek movie ever Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

There are even some movies that were critically panned that became classics like Conan the Barbarian and Tron. But, for fans of bad movies, it was also a great year, since it gave us some fantastically campy stinkers.

1. Swamp Thing
The greatest campy superhero movie of all is Swamp Thing. Based on a long-running comic book, it told the story of a scientist who is burned by chemicals and transforms into Swamp Thing, a living creature made of plant and muck. Directed by Wes Craven, it starred B-movie actor Adrienne Barbeau in a tank top running away from bizarre creatures by Dr. Arcane. The evil Dr. Arcane was played by veteren actor Louis Jourdan. It spawned a sequel and a television series, but we'll always remember the cheesy rubber suit. What a freak show of a movie.

2. Android
Doctor Daniel (Kinski) and his android assistant Max 404 (Don Keith Opper) are working on a space lab in the year 2036 developing illegal android program. The Doctor is working on the creation of a female robot, named Cassandra One (Kendra Kirchner), which will make Max obsolete. Max saves a space craft and meets his first human woman. Opper was sweet and slightly stalkerish, but manages to make her fall in love with him. Cinefantastique calls it "a typical New World production that opens nice, but soon short-circuits with all the clich├ęs of the genre." On the other hand, George Lucas called the film "smart" and "relevant". I call it wonderfully bad.

3. The Beastmaster
The Beastmaster is a sword and sandals movie directed by Don Coscarelli and starring Marc Singer as Dar, a guy who can control animals. Tanya Roberts, John Amos and Rip Torn rounded out the cast. The film was marketed with the tagline "Born with the courage of an eagle, the strength of a black tiger, and the power of a god."

Wonderfully over the top, Rip Torn chewed so much scenery that they probably had to build new sets. NY Times said, "neither better nor worse than 'Conan the Barbarian,'." The movie did poorly at the box office, but found it's audience on video and TV. More on Conan later.

The makers of Beastmaster couldn't afford a black panther, but they were so brazen they literally spray painted a tiger. Now that's great film-making. Except the tiger died from spray paint poisoning. Which is not so cool.

4. Megaforce
Rocky Horror Picture Show star Barry Bostwick stars on this cult classic about a team of motorcycle riders who shoot missles. The plot is about a "phantom Army of super elite fighting men whose weapons are the most powerful science can devise."

In reality they were a bunch of mercenaries running around shooting missles by popping wheelies in motorcycles and dune buggies. It costars Edward Mulhare (Knight Rider) and Persis Kambatta (Star Trek the Motion Picture). While the film is incredibly cheesy and silly it's also a lot of fun.

5. Firefox
Firefox wasn't always a browser. Back in 1982 it was an action film produced, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood based on a novel of the same name. Eastwood played ex-Vietnam War pilot Mitchell Gant, a pilot sent into Russia to steal a prototype stealth plane controlled by brainwaves.

It was a fun movie with dubious physics and dialogue. But, it's still fun to watch the aerial battles. The movie did so poorly that the author of the novel told people to read the book, but "avoid the film." It is insanely boring at times, but how many movies have mind-controlled planes?

6. Zapped! 
A science-fiction teen comedy starring Scott Baio as a teenager who gets telekinetic powers and mostly uses it to open girls blouses. The hilarious duo of Scott Baio and Willie Aames couldn't save this film from box office disaster. It has a rotten tomatoes score of 0% and NY Times called it a "half-baked, rather retarded parody of 'Carrie''' The movie has a cult following though and led to an even worse direct-to-video sequel, Zapped Again!. Now that's 80s comedy at it's finest.

7. Q: The Winged Serpent

The tagline for this horror movie was "It's [sic] name is Quetzalcoatl... just call it Q, that's all you'll have time to say before it tears you apart!" Yes, the movie is so bad that the tagline has a typo.

The movie tells about an ancient Aztec serpent that comes back life and terrorizes the rooftop sunbathers of high-rise apartments. A small time crook knows how to find it and holds the city for ransom. The best part is the stopmotion, which is knd of like a retarded version of Ray Harryhausen's Clash of the Titans. Roger Ebert and Siskel gave it two and a half stars. Amazingly, the film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival under its original title, THE WINGED SERPENT. Ebert relates that Samuel Z. Arkoff, the film's producer, and Rex Reed, talked about the film. Reed said, "Sam! I just saw THE WINGED SERPENT! What a surprise! All that dreck--and right in the middle of it, a great Method performance by Michael Moriarty!" Arkoff replied, "The dreck was my idea." What makes it so amazing is it stars so two big names from the 70s: Richard Roundtree and David Carradine. Plus, the film poster was painted by science fiction/fantasy artist Boris Vallejo.

The tagline for this horror movie was "It's [sic] name is Quetzalcoatl... just call it Q, that's all you'll have time to say before it tears you apart!" Yes, the movie is so bad that the tagline has a typo. Roger Ebert and Siskel gave it two and a half stars. Amazingly, the film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival under its original title, THE WINGED SERPENT. Film critic Rex Reed went up to producer Samuel Z. Arkoff and said, "Sam! I just saw THE WINGED SERPENT! What a surprise! All that dreck--and right in the middle of it, a great Method performance by Michael Moriarty!" Arkoff replied, "The dreck was my idea."

The film poster's glossy monster illustration was painted by science fiction/fantasy artist Boris Vallejo, so it's gotta be worth something.

8. Conan the Barbarian
Conan is a long running comic book about a barbarian king who battles the forces of evil. Conan the movie is about Arnold Schwarzenegger flexing his muscles in leather while swinging a sword. The plot is forgettable, but it stars Arnold as a man out to avenge the death of his family by James Earl Jones. Jones puts in a hilariously over-the-top performance while Arnold tries his best to be serious with all the sword-and-sandals. Today it's largely well-liked, but Time Magazine critic Richard Schickel said, "Conan is a sort of psychopathic Star Wars, stupid and stupefying."

Oddly enough, as bad as this movie is, the remake was supposedly worse. A little "Ahnold" goes a long way I guess.

9. Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann     

What if Back to the Future was a low-budget film using a motorcycle driver? Co-written and produced by Ex-Monkee Michael Nesmith,Timerider tells the story of Lyle Swann, played by Fred Ward, riding his dirt bike in the desert and "accidentally" getting sent back to November 27, 1875. A gang tries to steal his time-traveling bike and he falls in love with a girl. Then, a helicopter from the future shows up, chops a guy off at the boots and saves him. I'm going to spoil the ending because its the best part of the movie. In the end, it turns out Swann is his own great-great grandfather. Paradox! That's great film-making.

You go Mike. People say you're monkeying around.

10. Battle Truck
If you think you have gas problems, then you should watch BattleTruck. Battletruck (also known as Warlords of the 21st Century and Destructors) is directed by Harley Cokeliss and stars Michael Beck as a motorcycle driving mercenary trying to find the last supply of diesel fuel.

This post is part of the "Top Ten Movie Blogfest" by Alex J. Cavanaugh.
Visit all the participants!

Was 1982 a great year for good and bad sci-fi movies? What's the best bad movie you've ever seen?

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  1. Great twist on the top ten! Sadly, I saw all of those except Zapped in the theater. Yes, I've always been a movie junkie.

    Thanks for participating in my blogfest!

  2. I'd argue that 1984 was a better year (the Terminator), but this is one Awesome list!!

  3. Hey. That's the year I was born! now I need to see all of those. :)

  4. I think that Megaforce one was on MST3K at one point, which probably made it a lot better. It's sadly ironic that in a movie about a guy who has such an affinity with animals they ended up murdering one.

  5. BTW, the mention of Zapped makes me want to watch that Family Guy where Peter goes back in time to the 80s. I thought he went back to 1984 and Lois was all bugging him to go watch Zapped, but maybe it was 1982? Or maybe there was a slip in that episode. Hurm...

  6. I've always been curious about Swamp Thing. Horrible rubber suit or not, could still be worth a look.

  7. I haven't watched any of these Sci-Fi flicks but am familiar with Conan the Barbarian and Swamp Thing because of their cult following. The fans make them what they are, which is good for these films. Somebody's gotta watch 'em! lol

  8. Even the names of some of those movies are crazy! ET, Blade Runner, Khan! Awesome!!!

  9. How could I not have seen Battle Truck? That seems right up my alley.

  10. Dude, Battle Truck? I need to see this.

    And I saw Megaforce in the movie theater. I think me and my friend were the only ones watching it.

  11. Yeah, the Family Guy takes place in 1984 but IMDB says it came out in 1982. Someone did not do their homework.

  12. After reading your post, I am looking forward to this. Your post is particular useful, plz keep going. RS accounts for sale is also cool!

  13. Good call Pat. I didn't pick up on that. Still funny though.

  14. Battle Truck slipped under a lot of radars MPax. I actually didn't think of it until I was looking up another movie and Amazon recommended it. Thank you Amazon.

  15. Sometimes the fans are more famous than the films Nicole. LOL

  16. Fun twist on the list. I remember when I saw Conan the Barbarian. There were four of us, and at the end, none of us would admit they were the one who selected it. We all hated it :)


  17. Never seen any of these films. Will have to check them out though.

  18. Madeline Mora-SummonteMarch 20, 2013 at 5:43 AM

    I don't think I've seen any of those! Maybe CONAN but if I did, it didn't stay with me.

  19. I liked Firefox. But then again I am biased. I like Clint Eastwood too.

    Great Bloghop idea by the way. Maybe next time I could join.

  20. wait... wait those were awesome.. i loved zapped!

  21. I've only seen Conan from your list, but I'm curious to watch the rest since I have a soft spot for cheesy/camp/bad movies, particularly action movies. Also, I never knew the series "Beastmaster" was based on a movie. Go figure.


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