Q The Winged Serpent – Get Rekt!

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Greetings, Glancers! Today I run a more critical eye over my tenth favourite movie of the year 1982, seeking to ignore my bias and provide a fair score based on the 20 criteria I feel are most important in the creation of a film. Today’s movie is Larry Cohen’s low budget Q: The Winged Serpent, Godzilla-esque tale of an ancient gargantuan creature looking for victims in New York City.

Sales: 3. I could be showing my bias with this one. I’m torn. It’s more realistically a 2, and some could even go with a 1. It only made back a quarter of its budget at release. But I have to think it’s made some money over the years thanks to TV replays, VHS, and DVD releases. Let’s just say I’m being very generous with a 3.

Critical Consensus: 3. I can afford to risk the 3 on this one. Contemporary critical response was average, more negatives than positives, but enough positives that it wasn’t completely dismissed. That consensus has improved over the years and it’s not seen as one of Cohen’s best movies.

Director: 3. Cohen has a lot of fun with quite a large playground – New York City. Lots of cool POV shots, Q is seen sporadically through the movie, the story flies by leaving its surprises till the end, and the satirical and topical material is not battering you in the face.

Performances: 3. When you have Michael Moriarty in a lead role, you know what you’re going to get. He’s a lot of fun, crazed, hamming it up, and alongside him you’ll find Richard Roundtree, David Carradine, and Candy Clarke enjoying themselves.

Characters: 3. Three is the ceiling here, and it only reaches there because of Moriarty’s scheming Jimmy Quinn who tries to use the monster’s appearance to make him rich. Elsewhere it’s just cops and gals and victims.

Cinematography: 3. It’s all about the sweeping shots of the NYC skyline and streets below. There’s something about the 70s to 80s shooting of US cities which is so appealing to me. Maybe it’s because I had not experienced anything like it, coming from a small Country. Maybe it’s because it’s such a clear and semi-modern vision of a time already lost. It looks better than a B movie with this plot has any right to.

Writing: 3. You know there’s going to be something underneath the story. Cohen always sets up an outlandish story so that he can talk about something else. In Q, he’s mocking the police and politics of the era, the various types of people you may find in NYC, and even B movies themselves. It’s not his most acerbic writing, he’s having fun. As such, the dialogue is light and campy.

Plot: 3. It’s a film about a giant flying monster attacking modern day New York. It’s also a Detective story. It’s also a story about a small-time crook trying to exploit a unique situation for himself. It turns out the monster is also an ancient, resurrected God being brought back by a whack job. If any of that appeals to you, this is likely a 3 score for you.

Wardrobe: 3. Nothing of note.

Editing: 3. All good.

Make up and Hair: 3. Nothing of note.

Effects: 3. It’s difficult to be objective with this one, so I’ll go right down the middle. In terms of modern-day effects, it’s crap. Even for 1982… not that great. But it’s a much lower budget film than those of the era which did look better, and the creature design is cool. Until the climax, most of the effects work is fleeting and hidden, the eggs and babies are neat, and I always enjoy stop motion. It’s a 2 or a 3, unless you’re being extremely harsh.

Art and Set: 3. Cool use of the rooftop scenes and everything within the Chrysler building set, doubling as Q’s den.

Sound And Music: 3. Lots of nice, guttural roars and beasty sounds and the soundtrack is serviceable if forgettable. Lots of creepy crawly violins – standard horror stuff.

Cultural Significance: 2. It had an impact on me and likely many other little horror nerds like me who saw the movie young. But unless those guys went on to make other movies, Q’s impact is minimal. Even in the B-movie, Monster Movie, and Larry Cohen movie world, it’s hardly the most famous, notable, or culturally significant.

Accomplishment: 3. Shooting anything in NY, or in general, is difficult – even more difficult with a small budget. But Cohen pulled together a strong cast and managed to make a cult film which a lot of people have a great degree of fondness for.

Stunts: 3. There’s plenty of action towards the end, but it’s nothing you won’t have seen before. A 2 or 3.

Originality: 3. Another 2 or 3. Giant monsters rampaging in New York isn’t original, but the monster itself and the other nuggets Cohen spices up the stories with are enough to push it into a curio bucket rather than the mainstream.

Miscellaneous: 3. If there’s nothing worth mentioning here, I go with a 3. It’s a little sneaky, but what are you gonna do?

Personal: 4. I’d be tempted to go 5 because I always have a fun time when I watch this. But there are other stop-motion and monster movies I enjoy more which I reserve a 5 for.

Total Score: 60/100

Let us know your score in the comments!

Best Art Direction: 1982

Official Nominations: Gandhi. Annie. Blade Runner. La Triviata. Victor/Victoria.

A solid list of nominations with no real surprises, as period pieces and musicals are represented as the regularly are in this category. Blade Runner is perhaps the unusual choice given it’s a Sci-Fi movie, but it was so visionary that it couldn’t be overlooked. Let’s be honest, Blade Runner is going to be my winner. Gandhi picked up the official win – an epic in every sense and one which would have been considerably less impressive had they not nailed the look.

Annie is a musical – we all know the story, the songs, the red hair. Musicals have exactly two things going for them – music and visuals. The songs are mostly irritating yet catchy in Annie, and it looks okay. It’s hardly a standout visual treat. Victor/Victoria fares better on the visual front while La Triviata puts a lot of stock in its interiors but can be dismissed as a 1983 release.

My Winner: Blade Runner

Blade Runner (1982) | film freedonia

My Nominations: Blade Runner. Conan The Barbarian. The Dark Crystal. The Wall. Poltergeist. The Thing. Tron.

While it’s a foregone conclusion that Blade Runner is sweeping up here, there are a number of notable also-rans to consider. Tron was every bit as revolutionary as Blade Runner yet aged much more quickly and lacked the narrative quality to warrant anything more than a brief nod in awareness of its existence. The Dark Crystal too deserves a mention, given the amount of dedication, talent, and effort involved in creating its world. The Wall brings together all manner of chaotic art styles in its smorgasbord of debauchery, while Poltergeist takes its suburban setting and wrenches every ounce of dread out of it as any Haunted House movie has in the past.

Conan The Barbarian suffers from looking cheap in comparison to some of the other films on the list, but excels in its world-building in a time of brutality, while The Thing uses its edge of the world setting in just as claustrophobic a manner as its long corridors and shadow encrusted rooms do.

My Winner: Blade Runner

Let us know your winner in the commenrs!

Best Costume: 1982

Official Nominations: Gandhi. La Triviata. Sophie’s Choice. Tron. Victor/Victoria

Gandhi is the official winner and the obvious choice. Victor/Victoria is obvious too if you only consider the subject matter and the fact that it’s a Musical. There’s a lot of money and attention thrown at the clothing.

Sophie’s Choice is partly a historical film so ripe for a nomination here, but it feels like a proxy nomination – you’ve got all these big nominations so have this one too. La Triviata looks great on all fronts, while Tron crucially tries to do something different – in this category I tend to go with imagination over historical accuracy – what another or a future world could look like over what we know the world did look like. Tron is dated now, but manages to be iconic too.

My Winner: Tron

Episode 15 - Tron (Steven Lisberger, 1982) — Fantasy/Animation

My Nominations: Tron. La Triviata. Blade Runner. Conan The Barbarian. The Dark Crystal. The Wrath Of Khan.

Only two make it over to my list, joining a bunch which never stood any chance of being nominated in reality. Blade Runner was likely the closest to a genuine nomination, but it makes the conscious decision to stay as close to contemporary fashion versus anything overly outlandish. It’s all in the coats, from Dekkard’s to Rachel to Pris, it’s difficult to separate the character from the outfit.

Conan The Barbarian is the best of all the sword n sandal movies of the era and as such doesn’t look as cheap as others. The costumes aren’t on par with any of the actual nominees, but again they fit the environment and the world of the film wonderfully – you can’t imagine how else the movie should look. The Wrath Of Khan goes several steps further than the original Star Trek movie on all fronts, including costume design. My controversial winner is a movie where there aren’t even any humans to drape costumes over – Dark Crystal setting a new precedent for puppetry and story-telling. I get the sense that costumes are even more important to bring life and character to puppets over people. The attention to detail seems heightened, and the fact that each creature has their own unique look is enough to be a worthy winner for me.

My Winner: The Dark Crystal

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Writing (Original) – 1982

Official Nominations: Gandhi. Diner. ET. An Office And A Gentleman. Tootsie.

Gandhi picked up the official win, the key moments of his life brought to life for mass modern consumption, through the Hollywood lens. For such a sweeping and sizeable movie, the screenplay tells the historical story of non-violence in an effective way – but I don’t think it’s something I would ever pick for the win.

Diner isn’t the first or best ‘friends hanging out’ movie, but it was one of the most respected and brought credibility to an oft overlooked type of story. While cemented in a time and place with a specific group of characters, its humour and charm has nevertheless remained universal and timeless, with plenty of witty observances on friendship. Its mixture of these set observances along with off the cuff improv in a vignette style would become a hallmark of this type of film for years to come.

ET is the icon here – phone home and all that. If we’re going purely for memorable lines, this is your winner.  An Officer And A Gentleman has notable one liners too and while wrapped up in a love story like a thousand others, it is presented in a more contemporary way, setting up a tonne of imitators in the 80s.

Finally, Tootsie is more than just a dude looking like a lady. It still doesn’t do much for me in terms of its humour, but it’s unquestionably a fast-paced and witty look at life as a struggling actor in an industry which doesn’t necessarily reward talent. I’m not sure we can really have it nominated here due to it still being based on a story from MASH creator Larry Gelbart.

My Winner: Diner

How Barry Levinson's Diner Changed Cinema, 30 Years Later | Vanity Fair

My Nominations: Diner. ET. Tootsie. 48 Hours. Veronika Voss.

I add a mere two newbies to my list. 48 Hours is the first smash buddy cop movie of the era, setting up all of the touchstones which other movies would follow while also laying the groundwork for much of the action genre of the decade and beyond – the wise-cracking hero, the fast-paced action interspersed with faster dialogue, the machismo. It wasn’t the first film to do any of this, but it was the first movie to bring it all up to the modern day 80s, while also selling Eddie Murphy as a huge star. While Lawrence Gordon is credited with the overall premise of the movie, it’s the team of Walter Hill, Steven E De Douza, Larry Gross, and Roger Spottiswoode who defined the vibe, mood, style, and the humour. It’s not surprise that some of these guys would go on to write a sequel, Streets Of Fire, Commando, The Running Man, and Die Hard.

Finally, Veronika Voss is a tragic and tragically prophetic version of Sunset Boulevard loosely based on the life of German actress Sybille Schmitz who embarks on a new relationship even as the last glints of her fading star begin to die away thanks to a cocktail of aging, neurosis, and addiction. It’s a nihilistic story which leaves no happy endings where the most notable pieces of dialogue revolve around cynicism, darkness, and defeat.

My Winner: 48 Hours

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Make-Up – 1982

Official Nominations: Quest For Fire. Gandhi

Quest For Fire is a deserving winner, but it’s a 1981 movie and doesn’t need to be here. My default winner therefore is Gandhi. 

My Winner: Gandhi.

The History of the Academy Awards: Best Picture – 1982 | News from the San Diego Becks

My Nominations: Basket Case. Conan The Barbarian. Creepshow. ET. Swamp Thing. The Thing.

Does an animated, puppet freak deserve a nomination? I guess so, given some of the bigger films coming later in the 80s. Basket Case is a weird movie, but Belial becomes a character through the skill and grotesque artistry of his creation. If we nominate Basket Case, then we have to have the more impressive, expressive, bigger budget ET.

Conan The Barbarian has its fair share of creature make-up too, but more impressive is the gore work and paint work, particularly seen in the stealth attacks on Thulsa Doom towards the end of the film. My final three picks are all creature-effect heavy; Swamp Thing may be a dude in a suite, but it’s several levels more impressive than what you think of when you imagine a dude in a suit, largely down to the film’s setting and the facial make-up allowing us to see the actor’s emotion. Creepshow is a smorgasbord of Make-up treats, vignettes just as the film’s stories are vignettes, with Tom Savini leading the group of expert artists letting their imagination run wild.

But lets be honest; there can only be one winner here, with Rob Bottin and his team’s ground-breaking work on The Thing remaining awe-inspiring to this day. It’s not only a movie of Visual Effects, but of make-up – the two working hand in hand in an era when practical application meant the two art forms were more intrinsically linked.

My Winner: The Thing

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Foreign Film – 1982

Official Nominations: Begin The Beguine. Alsino And The Condor. Clean Slate. Flight Of The Eagle. Private Life.

Not the most thrilling line-up this year, although Spain picked up their first win with Begin The Beguine. It’s fine, you don’t need to ever see it, but it’s a story you’ve seen any number of times before following a man returning home to reconnect with his past. There’s a political background, there’s the added twist of the guy being sick, but it’s par for the course. Alsino And The Condor is the best of the bunch, a coming of age war story set in Nicuragua as the US becomes involved in the Sandanista/Contra conflict. Dean Stockwell stars as an American Military pilot while Alan Esquival is the titular Alsino, a boy who believes he can fly but who is increasingly horrified by the war and violence on all sides.

Clean Slate is a little longer than it needs to be, an adaptation of an American Hard-Boiled Crime novel, transposed to a small African town. It’s funny, violent, but ultimately bleak, emboldened by the great Philippe Noiret and Isabelle Huppert. Flight Of The Eagle similarly features a familiar face in Max Von Sydow, starring in the biographical tale of three men attempting to reach the North Pole in a hot air balloon. You can guess how that went. Finally, Private Life is your typical Soviet drama – a man forced to re-evaluate his life and position after being forced to retire.

My Winner: Alsino And The Condor

Alsino y el cóndor (1982) - Filmaffinity

My Nominations: Alsino And The Condor. Flight Of The Eagle. Gandhi. The Dark Crystal. The Wall. Passion. Tenebrae. The Year Of Living Dangerously.

I carry two over from the official list, and add a bunch of my own picks. Gandhi. It’s an English film. It won Best Picture. Of course it should be here. In fact, Great Britain makes up the bulk of my picks, with The Dark Crystal’s unique story and vision taking up a deserved spot and The Wall with its excellent music and iconic imagery grabbing another.

We hop over the Channel to France and Jean Luc Godard’s Passion, the story of a director’s struggles in creating an obscure Art film. That’s what Godard does. I’m not remotely the most qualified person to discuss Art, but I’m fairly literate when it comes to Film – while much of this was lost on me, the central themes of creation and the balancing of the love of creating versus physical human love with another person, are handled with Godard’s usual intense lens, and it’s bolstered a strong lead in Radziwilowicz and support from Isabelle Huppert. It’s pleasingly swift too.

Tenebrae is Argento’s follow up to Inferno, offering a more traditional Giallo but with plenty of his trademark artistry. It lacks the complexity of his previous couple of films, but his experiences in making those films honed his knife mystery story telling skills and could be called his best straight slasher. Of course, it’s clinical, garish, and super violent – but that’s what we expect from Argento.

Finally, Australia’s The Year Of Living Dangerously has a taste of neo-noir, a dashing of war intrigue, but is of course a taut romance. You don’t get many of those these days – it’s all Rom Coms or Tragedies. Weaver is great, Gibson is great, Hunt won the Oscar. Great film.

My Winner: The Wall

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Writing (Adapted) – 1982

Official Nominations: Missing. Das Boot. Sophie’s Choice. The Verdict. Victor/Victoria

Das Boot is out – not a 1982 movie. That leaves us with a Legal Drama written by David Mamet, a turbulent movie with flashbacks to the Holocaust, a biography dealing with the search for a missing journalist, and a Blake Edwards musical. Victor/Victoria is a remake but also a musical coming in a post Cabaret world – it’s the same vibe as Cabaret but a more light movie. What was it with cross dressing this year? It’s fine, but forgettable for someone like me who’s not into musicals.

Biographies tend to be hit and miss for me, unless I’m interested in the subject. Missing is set in the aftermath of the Pinochet Dictator led and US backed overthrow of the Socialist Chilean government, leading to countless deaths and atrocities. Costa-Gavras adapts the book, detailing the disappearance of an American Journalist, but chooses to focus on the relationship between the journalist’s father and wife as they come from political opposites. It’s good, but doesn’t go deep enough in its pointing of fingers.

You can’t go wrong with David Mamet – he raises the quality of whatever he’s involved in, and rather than being a typical dull courtroom drama, we get the personal touches and sparkling one-liners regarding an alcoholic lawyer who develops a personal relationship with a malpractice suite involving the Catholic Church – his closing speech of the case is among the best you’ll hear in this sort of film.

Finally, Sophie’s Choice is an unflinching look at the long-lasting damage of the Holocaust on a woman who managed to survive and continue her life in the US. Everyone knows ‘that moment’, but the film is a series of such moments both in flashback and present day form which suggest that no amount of time or distance can free you from the past’s most decisive moments.

My Winner: The Verdict

David Mamet, The verdict A screenplay - AbeBooks

My Nominations: The Verdict. Conan The Barbarian. The Thing. Blade Runner. Creepshow. Fast Times At Ridgemont High. The Wall.

A world away from the serious tone of the Official Nominations, my unlikely picks are a lot more fun. Along with ET, Fast Times is one of the movies which defined what the 80s was, early in the decade. Adapted from Cameron Crowe’s book in which he famously pretended to be a high school student (he was 22) and went back to school for a year to detail the lives of the kids he saw everyday. It’s a loose coming of age movie which deals with the always/never changing problems of teens as they cross into adulthood, given that LA gloss by Amy Heckerling.

The Thing is more of an adaptation of Who Goes There? than it is of the previous movie – albeit one which John Carpenter was a massive fan of. It doubles down on the paranoia of the story, sharing just enough of the characters thoughts that we learn about them but never enough to trust them – of course it helps that there’s a few great one-liners in there. Blade Runner features some of the most famous dialogue of the 80s and does arguably the best adaptation of any Philip K Dick story while The Wall is a visual extension of both the album and live show of the same name, adding more transparent detail.

Creepshow… probably doesn’t qualify as a true adaptation, but it still features stories written for another medium rewritten for the screen. Good enough for me. The stories come thick and fast, they get straight to the pulpy point from first frame and waste no time with periphery gubbins – you have the story, the characters, then the comeuppance. In a similar vein is my winner – not only an adaptation of the character and short stories of Conan by Robert E Howard, but also a story of individual strength in overcoming as written by Oliver Stone and John Milius, and again featuring some of the best cinematic one-liners and soliloquies of the decade.

My Winner: Conan The Barbarian

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Cast – 1982

My Nominations: Creepshow. Blade Runner. Diner. ET. Evil Under The Sun. Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Gandhi. The Thing. The Verdict. Conan The Barbarian.

You know me; I love a good ensemble movie and I love a good ‘small team against the odds/Dirty Dozen type movie. We have both of those this year – Fast Times perhaps being one of the first and finest examples of an up and coming ensemble forming a formless slice of life coming of age format – Judge Reinhold, Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, Nic Cage, Forest Whitaker, Brian Backer, Anthony Edwards, Eric Stoltz, Amanda Wyss, Robert Romanus, Ray Walston, and Vincent Schiavelli all pop up.

Diner follows a similar group of youngsters in another part of the US, a group a few years out of school but also on the verge of a shift in their lives. Steve Guttenberg, Micky Rourke, Paul Reiser, Kevin Bacon, Daniel Stern, Ellen Barkin, and Tim Daly star. Looking back to a more established ensemble is Evil Under The Sun, an Agatha Christie tale featuring Peter Ustinov, Maggie Smith, Sylvia Miles, James Mason, Jane Birkin, Colin Blakely, Roddy McDowell, and Diana Rigg.

With a massive cast, albeit perhaps featuring less well known stars, is Gandhi with Ben Kingsley, Edward Fox, Candice Bergen, John Mills, John Gielgud, Martin Sheen, Trevor Howard, Rohini Hattangadi, Roshan Seth, Nigel Hawthorne, Daniel Day Lewis, Pradeep Kumar, Ian Bannen, Amrish Puri, Richard Griffiths etc etc.

It’s not all large casts though, with The Verdict relying mainly on Paul Newman, James Mason, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden, and Milo O’Shea, while ET introduces Drew Barrymore and Henry Thomas alongside Dee Wallace and Peter Coyote. Blade Runner features some of the most iconic casting of the year – Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Daryl Hannah, Joanna Cassidy, and Edward James Olmos. Creepshow is an anthology with little to no crossover between stories – those stories featuring Ted Danson, Stephen King, Adrienne Barbeau, Ed Harris, Jon Lormer, Viveca Lindfors, Leslie Nielsen, Gaylen Ross, Hal Holbrook, and EG Marshall.

Finally, The Thing sees Kurt Russell lead an increasingly threatened and paranoid team of snow boys including Wilford Brimley, Keith David, TK Carter, Richard Masur, Donald Moffat, Thomas G Waites, Joe Polis, Peter Maloney, David Clennon, Richard Dysart, and Charles Hallahan. It’s one of the greatest single location movies ever and it wouldn’t be that way if the cast and characters were not all likeable and relatable.

My Winner: The Thing


Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Stuntwork – 1982

My Nominations: 48 Hours. The Beastmaster. Blade Runner. Conan The Barbarian. ET. First Blood. Megaforce. Rocky III. The Thing.

We’re into peak 80s action era now, and as such we have stunts galore. Of the many swords and sandals movies released in this era, The Beastmaster is one of the most fondly remembered thanks to its silly charm and unique premise. It’s the animal work which is most notable here, but the film has plenty of sword swinging action too.

Putting every other Sword and Sandal film to shame, is Conan The Barbarian. Thanks to Milius and Stone the story has the look and smarts which most in the genre lack, and in Schwarzenegger there’s a genuine star in the making – it helps that he’s backed up by Bergman, Mako, James Earl Jones, and Max Von Sydow.  The film has several epic battle scenes throughout, from the opening village attack, the temple raids, and the climactic battle of the mounds, to many interspersed fights and encounters meaning it’s a practical stunt fan’s delight.

ET is 80s Spielberg, and while it’s not an action movie, he knows how to entertain a family audience – BMX chases. Blade Runner is not an action heavy movie but the scenes it does have are memorable for their visuals. Rocky III gets a cursory vote for for glove on glove action.

Megaforce is famously one of the worst movies of the decade, but it’s still a spectacle. While Hal Needham may not have cared much for story or character, when it came to stunts there were few better and in Megaforce he pulled out all the stops. The Thing is all about close quarters and the action is relatively contained even within the claustrophobic surroundings. Like Blade Runner, it’s all about the impact and how the action serves the story. Finally, the only genuine contender to Conan is Ted Kotcheff’s First Blood – the film which introduced us to John Rambo. A noticeably more dramatic, less action focused piece that its sequels, First Blood still sees Rambo taking out cops and amateurs in the Pacific North West using all manner of traps and tactics.

15 Fun Facts About CONAN THE BARBARIAN — GeekTyrant

My Winner: Conan The Barbarian

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Score – 1982

Official Nominations: ET. Gandhi. An Officer And A Gentleman. Poltergeist. Sophie’s Choice. Victor/Victoria. Annie. One From The Heart.

Here we are ladies and gentlemen; the single greatest snub/error/mistake/catastrophic fuck up in the history of The Oscars, made worse by the fact that this is another year where the Original Score category was split into two awards, and they still didn’t nominate the best movie score of all time. Lets see what they did nominate, the fools.

ET was the winner this year, John Williams racking up another one, and you can’t complain that it won out of the nominations. Really, it’s the only choice here. How one man could create so many greats scores to so many great movies remains a mystery – there is truly no-one like him. I’m not the biggest fan of ET but in truth I haven’t watched it since I was a kid – it is of course on the list of movies to show my kids. The score starts out eerie and mysterious, but before long will have you reaching for the handkerchief.

The Gandhi soundtrack is not one I’m overly fond of – I like it, I like the merging of East and West, but still it never quite touched me. An Officer And A Gentlemen shouldn’t be here, existing solely because of the popularity of the hit song which accompanied the film – half the score is the chorus melody to that song played with different instruments and the other half is other songs. No way it gets nominated here. Poltergeist is okay… for such a stellar horror film it deserves a much better score, Jerry Goldsmith was capable of so much more. Sophie’s Choice is of course a soundtrack filled with beauty and sadness and if you’ve seen the film then hearing pieces of the music are sure to tug at your heart and soul.

On to the adaptation nominations and Victor/Victoria which won the award is… look, lets not even bother. All three choices don’t need to be here, don’t need their own category, and aren’t very good.

My Winner: ET

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Amazon.co.uk: CDs & Vinyl

My Nominations: ET. Sophie’s Choice. Conan The Barbarian. Blade Runner. First Blood. Halloween III. The Wall.

Stop what you’re doing. Watch this clip. Go out and buy the Conan The Barbarian soundtrack. Thank me, and thank Crom. Look at the way the conductor gets his orchestra hyped up for playing in the first few seconds – he knows. If that video doesn’t make you want to go out and punch a camel, suplex a witch into a fire, and behead some roaming marauders then I don’t think I can be friends with you. That clip has a fraction of the power of the original. And that track is only a small piece of the greatest soundtrack ever written. There is no sense in arguing – if you aren’t agreeing with me, you are wrong. If you don’t listen, then to hell with you.

There are many many people who will turn their nose up at this, the mere notion that a Schwarzenegger movie could win a Best Score Oscar. There are many film fans who aren’t even aware that this exists. Once again, stop what you’re doing, and listen to this now. That second clip is Poledouris himself conducting, his only live performance, a few months before he died. The sound quality on it is crap, but still – I guarantee it’ll wipe the floor with anything else you’ll hear today. Never before or since has a movie soundtrack had so many integral pieces, so many memorable cues and melodies. Most movie scores have a main theme, maybe an additional love track, character track, or quirky track but Conan The Barbarian never lets up for a single second.  You can listen to this without ever seeing the film, but seeing it certainly raises the score to another level, just like the score raises the film. If I have one wish from writing these hundreds of Oscars posts, it’s that anyone reading listens to this soundtrack. Go. Now.

What competition was there this year? If you don’t care about Conan missing out on a nomination, surely you feel that Blade Runner deserved one? I guess they didn’t want Vangelis winning again. Jerry Goldsmith was nominated this year, but it should have been for First Blood. It’s unusual for action movies to receive good scores, classy scores, but as we saw with Conan, it’s not always the case – the 80s has a host of monumental scores for action movies.

Although I’m loathe to mention it at all, given that it’s one of the worst films ever made, Halloween III does have a great score, once again provided by the maestro John Carpenter. It’s much different from his previous efforts in the series, uses much more synth, but is filled with threat which the film itself doesn’t have. It’s another score you can stick on and enjoy without seeing the film – in this case that’s probably the best option.

Another travesty, especially when they added an extra category, is that The Wall did not receive a nomination. Pink Floyd’s album may be the best album ever and the film adds additional tracks as well as reworking some from the original. There’s so much wrong with this category this year. Also getting a nomination from me is Morricone’s score to John Carpenter’s The Thing. It’s interesting that Carpenter didn’t write it as it sounds exactly like something he would have written  – I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t heavily involved with its composition.

My Winner: Conan The Barbarian

Feel free to leave a comment once you have listened to the Conan soundtrack, and tell me how it has changed your life!