I had a great friend who lived round the corner from me in Bronte Beach, Sydney. We went to school together and hung out almost every day with his sister and my brother. Chris and I spent HOURS trawling our local video store for films we would watch and re-watch. I doubt he would have sat through Pretty In Pink – our thing was horrors, so it was any Stephen King we could get – Creepshow, Carrie, Christine, Children of the Corn were all particular faves.
What strikes me is the sheer breadth of choice we had, though. Of really great original cinema, and not just adult cinema – family and children’s cinema was at it’s absolute peak. Look at the films that came out in 1984 and I challenge you to find a better year.
Hadley Freeman is one of my personal favourite Guardian Columnists. Possibly because we’re around the same age, but mostly also I love her take on pop culture, film, fashion (Are ripped jeans the new Ugg Boot?) and politics (Don’t like Hillary Clinton? You need to watch Parks and Recreation.)
Her new book is a love letter to 80’s cinema and a great read for those who were there first time around, and those keen to explore a decade or arguably the best original cinema of our time.
Here she is answering my embarrassingly bad questions (sorry Hadley, I’m no journalist!).
If someone came straight into this, wanted to start on a 1980’s film binge – where would you send them?
Oh God, my brain explodes with all the possibilities! I think you’d have to start with some John Hughes: The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink. Then I’d encourage them to go to the action comedies: Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop. Next it has to be more classic teen films, like Dirty Dancing, Heathers and Say Anything. I’d move then onto the great female-led comedies, like Moonstruck, Steel Magnolias, Working Girl and Baby Boom, followed with the women’s weepies, such as Beaches and Terms of Endearment. Then I’d close it out with Top Gun and Tootsie. And that’s still nowhere near enough!
My local video store was so small, but it was such a world of possibilities to me. I knew every shelf. And we preferred (always) the weekly rentals as they were like 1 buck each. Did you have those movies you went back for over and over and over again? (Mine was Summer School…!)
Oh for sure. I loved Summer School, too! I think the one I rented most was Meatballs, which is a really stupid Bill Murray comedy.
I had an unhealthy thing for Corey Haim when I was younger, but I also loved a lot of the Mum’s. Carol Kane is so batshit and wonderful. Is it just me, or do today’s film mum’s kind of feel invisible, shallow or dead?
I think that’s true. The mother I loved was the harassed single mother in ET, played by Dee Wallace. Today’s movies are much lazier about dealing with mothers – they can’t be bothered to create those complicated child-mother relationships.
I look at the list of films that were released that year – nearly all original screenplays – and then you look at the list out now (sequels, prequels, reboots etc) and it’s thoroughly depressing. Is there any hope TV is picking up this slack?
I think TV is definitely picking up the slack – but only on mainly networks, like HBO and subscription services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. And those aren’t accessible to everyone.
A few fun ones.
Favourite Stephen King?
Book or movie? If it’s book it has to be Different Seasons. I love Stephen King’s shorter stories so this, Four Past Midnight and Night Shift were major books for me when I was a teenager. If it’s movie then probably Misery, although The Shawshank Redemption is also wonderful.
Probably Andie from Pretty in Pink. She never changes for anyone.
All the teachers in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Best ever prom or first date dress?
I love Lea Thompson’s 1950s look in Back to the Future
If you liked…. then you have to see….
Meet the Fockers? Valley Girl
Guardian’s of the Galaxy? Gosh, I don’t know. Raiders of the Lost Ark?
The Fault in Our Stars? Pretty in Pink
Warm Bodies? Heathers
The Perks of Being a Wallflower? Some Kind of Wonderful
About Life Moves Pretty Fast – The Lessons We Learned From Eighties Movies
‘Mail-order ham’ – New York Times on Steel Magnolias, 1989
‘Not worth cutting class’ – Chicago Tribune on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986
‘Full of canned romance’ – New York Times on When Harry Met Sally…, 1989
‘A lot of dancing that is comparatively erotic’ – New York Times on Dirty Dancing, 1987
Hadley Freeman begs to differ. For her, American movies of the 1980s have simply got it all.
‘I know people who have changed their entire lives because of a line of dialogue from When Harry Met Sally…, and when I say “people” I obviously mean “me”.’
Life Moves Pretty Fast is a clever, hilarious and charming defence of our best-loved cult classics – and a much-welcome nostalgia hit.
What are you waiting for? THIS AWESOME BOOK Is Out now!