The Summer of 1982 retrospective wraps up with a two-week combo installment. In a summer that began with CONAN THE BARBARIAN, it seemed only fitting that it would end with a similar effort in Don Coscarelli's THE BEASTMASTER. This was the first studio effort from PHANTASM director Coscarelli, and tells the story of Dar (Marc Singer), a barbarian prince who can telepathically communicate with animals, and his quest for revenge against an evil wizard named Maax (Rip Torn). The film was a modest hit in theaters, but became a cult classic through years of seemingly constant TBS airings, and there was also the joke that HBO stands for "Hey, BEASTMASTER's on." The film also featured John Amos (GOOD TIMES, ROOTS), and late-period CHARLIE'S ANGELS co-star Tanya Roberts. Singer seemed poised for a breakout with this and the schmaltzy Tom Sullivan biopic IF YOU COULD SEE WHAT I HEAR, and the classic 1983 miniseries V and its 1984 sequel V: THE FINAL BATTLE. It didn't exactly pan out, but he did have a busy career on TV and in B-movies. He also returned for two BEASTMASTER sequels: 1991's BEASTMASTER 2: THROUGH THE PORTAL OF TIME, and the 1996 TV-movie BEASTMASTER III: THE EYE OF BRAXIS (there was also a Singer-less BEASTMASTER TV series than ran for three seasons in syndication starting in 2001). Coscarelli didn't helm either BEASTMASTER sequel, and didn't make another film until 1988's PHANTASM II. He later had a major critical success with 2003's BUBBA HO-TEP. Coscarelli's most recent film is the still-unreleased horror comedy JOHN DIES AT THE END, with Paul Giamatti.
For such a monumental season in genre entertainment and pop culture, the Summer of 1982 started with a bang, roared all through the months of May, June, July, and August, and ended with the most pitiful of whimpers. We're covering HOMEWORK now, and wrapping this whole retrospective up a week early because this was the only film to open the weekend of August 27, and it's hardly deserving of its own entry. The teen comedy HOMEWORK was shot mostly in 1979 as GROWING PAINS, by first-and-thus-far-last-time director James Beshears, and was subsequently shelved by producer Max J. Rosenberg, best known for co-founding the British horror film production company Amicus in the 1960s. But between 1979 and 1982, two things happened that caused Rosenberg to take another look at GROWING PAINS and attempt to salvage something from the wreckage: the "hot older woman/teacher seduces teenage boy" sex comedy PRIVATE LESSONS became a surprise hit in 1981, and GROWING PAINS co-star Joan Collins, slumming in some dubious drive-in exploitation fare by the late '70s, was enjoying a major career resurgence as the supremely bitchy Alexis on the popular ABC series DYNASTY, which debuted in 1981. The producers of GROWING PAINS reshot a large chunk of the film and added some sex scenes with Collins' character--without the involvement of Collins, who was doubled in the new footage--but left in the three-year-old hairstyles and disco music that made it immediately dated for 1982 audiences. Short-lived, small-time exploitation outfit Jensen-Farley Pictures released PRIVATE LESSONS and clearly hoped lightning would strike twice, acquiring GROWING PAINS, retitling the film HOMEWORK, throwing together a slapdash one-sheet (see above), and passing the whole thing off as a PRIVATE LESSONS retread, prompting an unamused Collins to threaten legal action. HOMEWORK vacated theaters after a couple of weeks, and got into rotation on pay cable, where it was overshadowed by the ubiquitous (and awesome) PRIVATE LESSONS. The "hot older woman/teacher seduces teenage boy" subgenre also brought us 1983's MY TUTOR and CLASS, and 1984's THEY'RE PLAYING WITH FIRE among others (you could probably include 1983's "teacher finds out her student is a male stripper" variant A NIGHT IN HEAVEN in this brief craze), and may have inspired the Van Halen song "Hot for Teacher" from around the same time. Beshears, an editor given his sole shot at directing with HOMEWORK, went back to editing and has remained busy in that field to this day, most recently serving as a post-production supervisor on this year's MADAGASCAR 3.
Also of note: THE ROAD WARRIOR, released back in May, was relaunched on August 20 and reappeared in the top ten.
TOP TEN FILMS FOR THE WEEKEND OF AUGUST 20, 1982 (from www.boxofficemojo.com):
1. E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL
2. FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III
3. AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN
4. THE BEASTMASTER
5. THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS
6. THE ROAD WARRIOR
7. FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH
8. STAR WARS (re-issue)
9. THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP
10. YOUNG DOCTORS IN LOVE
TOP TEN FILMS FOR THE WEEKEND OF AUGUST 27, 1982:
1. E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL
2. AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN
3. FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III
4. THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS
5. THE BEASTMASTER
6. FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH
7. THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP
8. THE ROAD WARRIOR
9. ROCKY III