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FrightFest Interview: Scott Mantz for 1982: GREATEST GEEK YEAR EVER!

Updated: Feb 4

Part 2 of 3

No stranger to film journalism, Scott Mantz is a noted critic and former correspondent for Access Hollywood. For the past four years, he has hosted the Official Golden Globes Red Carpet Pre-Show, while also moderating highly viewed press events for various blockbusters, including Incredibles 2 and Blade Runner 2049. His on-camera movie reviews have also appeared on various national platforms and has been a regular contributor and film commentator for The TODAY Show, Headline News, and CNN, to name a few. As a producer of 1982: Greatest Geek Year Ever! he shares how the documentary was developed and his involvement.

First off: personal favourite from ’82?

Well, that’s a tough question right there, and that alone proves that 1982 is not just “the greatest geek year ever,” but quite possibly the best movie year ever, period! But in an effort to answer your question, I can narrow it down to two movies. The first is the obvious choice for me, and that’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I’m a lifelong Star Trek fan, and I grew up in the 70s as a proud member of what I like to call the ‘Syndication Generation’. This is the generation that discovered Star Trek when it was on five nights a week on UHF channels in syndication. So, while I loved Star Trek: The Motion Picture from the day it first came out in 1979, The Wrath of Khan was the Star Trek movie that really did it for me (and the rest of the fans) when it came out on June 4, 1982… the same day as Poltergeist. To this day, Wrath of Khan is still the greatest Star Trek movie of them all — the franchise’s Citizen Kane — and it’s the one movie I have seen more than any other movie in my lifetime.

The second answer to this question is Blade Runner, which came out just three weeks after The Wrath of Khan. June of 1982 was absolutely incredible! I was just 13 years old when Ridley Scott’s masterpiece came out… and, I have to say, it bored the hell out of me. But when I moved out to LA in 1991 and saw “The Director’s Cut (the version without Harrison Ford’s uninspired narration), I finally got it and was able to appreciate the provocative and cerebral ideas explored, and loved the groundbreaking production design, which is still, to this day, ahead of its time. In other words, Blade Runner was a movie I had to grow into, which is why it’s tied with The Wrath of Khan as my favourite movie of 1982.

Producer Scott Mantz with Henry Winkler

From your perspective, how did this project begin?

Mark, Roger and I had known each other for a few years after working on the Star Trek: Roddenberry Vault Blu-ray release a few years earlier in 2016. We were talking then about how great 1982 was, and that we should do something about it. We were getting ready to reach out about booking interviews, but then the pandemic hit, and we had to wait. Then in May of 2021 — just after the vaccines opened up our lives again — we hit the ground running with around 100+ interviews, which we finished in November of 2021, right before the Omicron variant became a… ‘thing’.

What were you attempting to capture in the interviews?

We wanted to cover a wide path that of course included a little about the making of each movie, but more importantly, the impact of those movies at a time when all of these other great works of American cinema were being released. We wanted to capture the magic of the time. And out of those conversations came a lot of nuggets that even we didn’t know, and we started to find what the project eventually came to be.

For you, what else is it about the spirit of these movies that defined 1982?

The things that really defined the spirit were this unrivalled passion, inspiration and a whole lot of risk-taking. The filmmakers were inspired by the movies of the late-70s, like Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Alien, Jaws and The Spy Who Loved Me, and they just took everything to the next level. They took really big swings, which is why movies like Star Trek II, Blade Runner, E.T., Tron — and (especially) John Carpenter’s The Thing — still hold up to this day.

There are so many people sharing their memories. How long did it take to organise the final roster?

The start of the pandemic slowed us down, but that actually turned out to help us, so we could put more thought into our wish list without being rushed. But, like I said, there were professional relationships that we had already established through the course of our individual careers, and there were people we had to ‘cold call’ and who were able to participate because of our well-known reputations. And we also have a lot of friends who were excited to be a part of it. The trust and intimacy made the entire series much more genuine and personal.

A hard one to top, but any plans to tackle other definitive years, or another movie topic entirely?

Are you kidding?! Absolutely! We think 1982 is “the greatest geek year ever,” but there are definitely other years that qualify for that title, such as 1984, 1994, 1999 and (of course) 1977. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Our first time out of the gate covered the movies of 1982, but there was also a lot of great TV and music during that year, or any other year. The hope is that we’re just getting started, because the sky is the limit, and the human adventure is just beginning!

1982: Greatest Geek Year Ever! has its UK premiere at FrightFest on Saturday 26th August. Book your tickets now.


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