Summer Camp: The Campy Movies of My 80’s Youth, Installment #5

It’s the last day of camp! Hopefully you’ve found a couple of this week to add to your “must watch” list. Hopefully you’ve found a couple to avoid as well. One last honorable mention: Howard The Duck (1986). This one really should have been on the list as there are a couple of lines I still quote. It’s streaming in several places so go give it a watch.

I absolutely loved both of today’s movies when I was kid. Both are unfairly judged at times due to their sub-par creatures and effects in the time of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back (to be honest, Star Trek: The Motion Picture suffers from the comparison so they’re in good company.) Both of today’s movies, however, employ their respective styles for specific reasons and achieve the goals their reaching for. Let’s get to it, shall we?

#9 – Clash of The Titans (1981)

Synopsis: Tales from Greek mythology. Perseus, son of Zeus, must battle Medusa and the Kraken to save the Princess Andromeda.

Biggest Star(s): Sir Lawrence Olivier, Maggie Smith (Harry Potter), Burgess Meredith (Rocky).

My Take: The movie was panned by many because of the comparison to the first two Star Wars movies. The film features the final work of renown stop motion visual effects artist Ray Harryhausen (The Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and The Argonauts) but, while it’s true that the film is extremely lacking in comparison, the effects aren’t why I loved this movie. To be honest, I don’t really know why I love this movie. It’s most likely because of the childhood memories tied to it. Also, a buddy and I tried to make a stop motion movie with our Star Wars figures and ships and it was a GRUELING task so I can appreciate what it took to make this movie. The dialog is cheesy and at times the creature effects are cringy but the story is fun. A family friendly watch on a Friday night.

High Point: The close up scenes with Calibos (his makeup is awesome) and Medusa.

Low Point: The Kraken. They could have done better.

#10 – Flash Gordon (1980)

Synopsis: Based on 1930’s comics, heroic earthling Flash Gordon saves the world from the nefarious Ming the Merciless.

Biggest star: Max von Sydow, Sam Jones.

My Take: The sets, costumes, creatures and ships were meant to mirror the the 1930’s comic strip. Though it looks low budget compared to the Star Wars movies, the budget for Flash Gordon was almost $10 million more. I never saw it in the theaters the first time it was out but, late last year, it was the midnight feature at a theater here in town. As far as scenes, I love the football skirmish in Ming’s Great Hall and the fight between Barron and Gordon in Sky City. My favorite characters have to be Zarkov and Prince Vultan. This movie isn’t for everyone and it ‘s not exactly family friendly but if you haven’t seen it lower your expectations and enjoy! It’s worth the time.

High Point: The soundtrack. Queen did a superb job.

Low Point: Can’t think of a single one.

About Eric Vardeman 114 Articles
80's lover. Screenwriter. Cohost of The Greatest Lists podcast. Christmas enthusiast. Tulsa Curling Club founder. Cherokee. Guitar player. Boomer Sooner. Curator of 80's playlists (

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