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updated: 8/3/2014 9:58 PM

Have a totally radical summer movie festival at home

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  • "Ghostbusters" premiered in theaters 30 years ago this summer, and it's still making us laugh.

    "Ghostbusters" premiered in theaters 30 years ago this summer, and it's still making us laugh.

  • Daniel-san got his first lesson from Mr. Miyagi 30 years ago this summer.

    Daniel-san got his first lesson from Mr. Miyagi 30 years ago this summer.


Those warm temperatures and that giant radioactive lizard mean the summer movie season is here, even if summer itself is still a few weeks away. Dann Gire previews a season full of remakes, sequels and familiar faces in his summer movie guide, but I'm going to help you plan a totally radical summer movie festival that you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home.

Let's revisit the awesome summer of 1984!

Thirty years ago, Hollywood unleashed a lineup of comedies, sequels and cult- or camp-classics-to-be that movie fans are still enjoying today. Here's what moviegoers were watching when they weren't jamming out to Van Halen's "Panama" or watching Ryne Sandberg and the division-winning Cubs:

May 11, 1984

"Firestarter," "The Natural" -- The summer started with a Stephen King chiller and one of the great baseball movies of all time. Both are available on disc and digital VOD.

May 23

"Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" -- My favorite of the Indy flicks got a bad rap for being too scary, too gross and too dark, but we can all agree that mine train chase is just amazing, right? "Temple of Doom" is best enjoyed on Blu-ray, with its bevy of special features.

June 1

"Once Upon a Time in America," "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock," "Streets of Fire" -- What a weird triple-feature this would have been: Sergio Leone's gangster epic, a wildly underrated entry in the "Trek" canon and Walter Hill's "rock 'n' roll fable" with Michael Pare, Diane Lane, Willem Dafoe and the incomparable Rick Moranis. The 229-minute director's cut of Leone's film, starring Robert De Niro and James Woods, is the definitive way to see it on Blu-ray.

June 8

"Ghostbusters," "Gremlins" -- Now we're talkin'! Two films that managed to be scary, hilarious and kid-friendly premiered the same day. Five-year-old Sean passed on the former, fearing it would be too scary, and instead saw the latter -- which by all measures is WAY scarier! "Ghostbusters" endures to this day, thanks to the unbeatable comedy trio of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and the late Harold Ramis. "Gremlins" is fun, but its 1990 sequel is pure insanity (in a good way.) "Ghostbusters" is streaming on Netflix ... but I bet you have a copy or two already.

June 22

"The Karate Kid," "Top Secret!" -- You'll enjoy watching Mr. Miyagi teach Daniel-san how to paint the fence and wax the floor on disc and digital VOD, but you'll laugh a whole lot if you stream Val Kilmer's spy spoof from the geniuses who made "Airplane!" on Netflix.

June 29

"Bachelor Party," "Conan the Destroyer" -- Tom Hanks' first comedy is but a footnote in his storied career. You'll probably laugh harder at the far inferior sequel to "Conan the Barbarian," which includes this exchange:

Olivia D'Abo: "I suppose nothing hurts you."

Arnold Schwarzenegger: "Only pain!"

July 13

"The Last Starfighter" -- Greetings, Starfighters! You have been chosen to watch the corny, enjoyable battle between a trailer park dreamer and the Ko-Dan Armada on a fully loaded Blu-ray that you can usually find in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart!

July 20

"Revenge of the Nerds" -- The boys from Lambda Lambda Lambda wouldn't be proud of 20th Century Fox: In this digital age, their movie is still only available on physical media! Ogre should knock some sense into somebody.

July 27

"Purple Rain" -- You can watch the Pride of Minnetonka, Minnesota, play his biggest hits at the First Avenue club on disc and digital VOD, but rockin' out to the CD in your car is probably more fun.

Aug. 15

"The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension" -- They saved the weirdest for last. This nearly indescribable cult classic features Peter Weller as a rock star/brain surgeon/physicist/test pilot, John Lithgow as a scientist possessed by an alien reptile, Jeff Goldblum in a garish cowboy get-up and an end-credits sequence so awesome that Wes Anderson paid homage to it in "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou." This offbeat film from the writer of "Big Trouble in Little China" is only available on Blu-ray overseas, so you have to seek out a DVD copy if you want to experience it.

• Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald copy editor and a tireless consumer of pop culture. You can follow him on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.

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