Ghosts of Futures Past

I grew up with two older brothers, and so was subjected to an almost constant stream of action movies in my childhood. I don’t want to give my age away, but most of that childhood took place in the 1980s, the heyday of Schwarzenegger and many fine John Carpenter films.

I hadn’t seen most of these action movies in years, and decided it might be time to revisit some of these childhood gems. A few things that surprised me during my reviewings: 1) I probably shouldn’t have been watching any of these movies as a child, 2) 48 Hours is a legitimately good movie, but full of some very colorful language, so thankfully, 3) I had remembered almost nothing about these movies, and 4) the future has arrived, and it looks nothing like we thought it would in 1985.

Dystopian films of the 1980s such as Mad Max, Scanners, Blade Runner, Terminator and Robocop all feature charmingly out-of-date technologies. I recently re-watched Total Recall and Escape From New York and made a few stray observations about the technologies of “the future.”

Yes, although there has been a lot of talk in the news recently of self-driving cars, back in Total Recall’s future, cabs were populated by creepy Johnny Cab robots. I’d take no driver over a driver that looks like a murderous ventriloquist’s dummy any day.

Also, according to Total Recall, the phones of the future are really crummy, the video interface is always fading in and out, and there is nary a cell phone in sight.

from the site:

from the site:

John Carpenter’s Escape from New York came out in 1982, but takes place in 1997. Kurt Russell plays the renegade Snake Plissken who is sent into New York (now a penal colony) to save the president. Luckily he has this snazzy digital map to help him:

from the site:

from the site:

Google maps it is not.

from the site:

from the site:

Another thing this movie failed to anticipate—rather than New York turning into a crime-ridden waste land, it has turned into the family friendly outdoor mall we know today:

Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed re-watching both of these fine films. How about you? Do you have any favorite action or science fiction movies from your childhood? Any favorite bits of outdated technology?


PS – Rumor has it that they’re planning a remake of Escape, and anachronistic technology or not, I am not happy about this.

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One response to “Ghosts of Futures Past

  1. Beth

    “Blade Runner” is a great movie, and your photo of Times Square reminds me that they got a few things right. Four-story high video advertisements on buildings; disembodied voices giving instructions (a parking garage near my office echoes with the sound of “Take ticket” day and night); and, although not technology, creepy black make-up around the eyes. Another strange voice is the ATM that tells me to “Enter your secret number” in a British accent.

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