Dude, I remember the Summer of 1982. Check this out. 1982 was something of a blockbuster year and I remember seeing two movies in the theatres. One was “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.”
For “E. T.”, my Mom and I stood in front of the Picwood Theatre in West LA for four hours. This was a one screen kinda deal and you had to wait for one show to get over for the next to begin. When we got inside, the only seat available was on the balcony. I should say, the only seat for my Mom was on the balcony. I ended up sitting in her lap. What kind of theatre was this that my Mom paid for two tickets and got one seat? A theatre that’s no longer around, that’s what kind.
During “E. T.”, I kind of remember feeling a range of emotions, but not listening to the story being told. I cried when ET was near death. I was excited when ET was alive and sad again when ET had to leave Elliot. Oh yeah, and I desperately wanted Reese’s Pieces. But who didn’t in 1982?
And then there was STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN.
“This is Ceti Alpha V!”
“Sauce for the goose…”
“I changed the conditions of the test.”
“He’s really not dead. Just as long as we remember him.”
Where do I even begin with this one? What a ride, what a ride.
My Mom took me to see this one at a movie theatre in Westwood. I don’t know what that place was called. But I do remember it was tall, round and brown with a banner around the side for “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. It was one of the ritzy places that cost a fortune in 1982, like $3.50 a ticket. My Mom and I went with my Aunt Nancy and my cousin Rob.
At the snack bar, there was a souvenir shop that sold pins from the movies the theatre ran. I remember a set of five round pins to commemorate TREK II. I don’t remember what they cost. My Aunt bought two – One of Spock, the other of the Enterprise. I wanted Spock, but it got put into the hands of my cousin. I suppose that’s only fair, as the dude with my Aunt’s son.
After I saw STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK two years later, I figured my button of the now-destroyed Enterprise would be a collector’s item… and worth more money. After all, Spock rose from the dead, the Enterprise couldn’t do that!
Back to 1982.
Other than seeing the Happy Meal box for ST:TMP, I don’t think I knew a think about STAR TREK. I was not watching it on the late night reruns on KCOP-13, now was I reading the comic books or fanzines.
My Aunt Nancy was a Trekkie from back in the day. I think it was her ides to see the movie. She and my Mom were always getting together on the weekends, so this seems logical.
I remember thinking that the screen was huge! And then I was overwhelmed when the 1701 showed up to leave dry-dock. I can’t say that, at age five or six, that I completely understood the film. I certainly didn’t pick up on Kirk’s angst over aging.
I closed my eyes when the Ceti eels crawled into Chekov and Terrell’s ears. That scream, oh that scream. Walter Koenig, your screaming is the stuff of my nightmares. Good job.
I jumped like hell when Doctor McCoy was startled by the rat on Regula. Don’t they have snap traps in the 23rd Century? Or vaporizing bait stations? And what was up with that rat, anyway? Was that a pet of one of the scientists? Did it come in a shipment of supplies? Is star-going transportation still lacking in sanitation, like the container ships of today? So many questions that were never answered in any of the sequels.
The scene I remember most vividly was the death of Spock. Now, I had never seen STAR TREK at this point. I never knew a thing about that logical Vulcan. I had no attachment, except for the duration of the film prior to the death.
I can remember feeling the pain in my gut as Kirk made his way to the Engine Room. The anger and then hopelessness Kirk felt at seeing his friend crumpled on the floor. That scene between Shatner and Nimoy was a high for STAR TREK, and I knew it at my young age. I bawled like a Yellowstone geyser when Spock slumped over and we all knew that he was really dead.
The biggest impact this movie had on me was that it got me into the STAR TREK Universe, even if I didn’t understand that at the time. It was the gateway drug that kicked open the door to become a complete nerd. It started a habit of going to the movie theatre with my Mom and see the TREK movies. This would continue through STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT in 1996. Fourteen years of movie going with my Mom, from being five until I was nineteen, was a great run.
MISC FACT: The Project Genesis film was produced by a little known company called PIXAR. To this day, they are one of my favorite movie studios.
Back in 2010, I wrote an unpublished novel called “Walk Between the Rain Drops”, and part of ST II played into the plot. The story was about a fictionalized version of me and a friendship with a young girl dying of cancer. I wrote at length about seeing the movie. And even those Spock and Enterprise pins played into key parts. KHAN has had a lot of influence.
In 1987, I had money that was burning a hole in my pocket. It was November and I had my first sort-of real job. I was paid $45 for doing the yard work at the apartment complex where we lived. Now, I only received $22.50, my parents pocketed the rest… I guess it was an agent fee. But $22.50 was all I needed. I trekked across the street to Sav-On Drugs, where they sold videos. And guess what I found. Yep, TREK II on VHS. I bought it and took it back to the apartment and watched it with Kay, my grandmother. She didn’t know what to think of the Ceti eels. But I was amazed that I could watch this movie in my own house, anytime I wanted. I watched the movie so often I could quote it. I am very surprised I didn’t wear out the tape.
The older I get, the better TWOK is to me. I love that Kirk and Khan never came face to face in person. I love that Kirk is caught off guard. The Reliant prefix code is a genius maneuver and works well in the TREK Universe. There is a balance of stories — action, revenge, the nature of growing older. It showcases themes of friendship and sacrifice. Spock dying is a tearjerker, but not done in a melodramatic way. I can testify that it’s gut wrenching to watch Spock die, even if you don’t know the character. That’s how I started.
Perhaps not knowing the characters is what drove me to want to watch the original series. I came for KHAN and stayed forever. It was the gateway drug that got me into this mess. There are other things I’m into, but I don’t remember their origins. Obviously STAR TREK was vastly different. I remember Day One like it was yesterday.
FULL DISCLOSURE: As I write this, I am watching TWOK. Of course, to do anything else would be unnatural. I’m also wearing a STAR WARS shirt, so… yeah. Oh, and pants. Not STAR WARS pants, but pants in general. I only offer this because, in the future, I don’t promise to wear pants while communicating my love of TREK.
NEXT TIME: The needs of the one outweighs the needs of the many.
One last thought…