Monday, 16 May 2011

1986: A Very Personal Horror Story

My brother: the pride of 1986

Many notable events occurred in 1986. Halley’s Comet put in an appearance, and became the first comet to be observed in detail by a spaceship. Mexico hosted the football World Cup and saw Diego Maradona’s infamous (and rather cheaty) ‘Hand of God’ bring victory for Argentina. We put our Hands Across America, (not me personally sadly, I was busy starting Big School), to fight hunger. And, most importantly, my little brother was born! Kurt came into this world on 16th May 1986 at 15.05 weighing in at a mighty, and rather alarming, 9lb 3oz, and he has plagued and delighted my life ever since.

Initially I was none too thrilled about getting a little brother, I’d have rather gotten a dog, or Mousetrap, but despite my repeated assertions that we didn’t need a baby one turned up anyway and I reluctantly became a big sister. To my eternal regret I wasn’t the greatest big sister. I spent much of Kurt’s early life either ignoring him or tormenting him. The two most notorious instances of my evilness, the ones that are rolled out at Christmas and birthdays go thusly: Once I came home late during the summer when it was still quite light at night and woke him up and told him it was morning and time for school, he got dressed and went bleary eyed into my mother’s room expecting his breakfast at about half ten at night. And worse, and most shamefully, once when I was babysitting I covered myself in tomato ketchup and lay on the floor with a massive knife on my chest, when the poor little lamb found me and ran away and hid in the airing cupboard I proceeded to follow him and rattle the knife across the slatted door. I know, I’m ghastly, and I honestly couldn’t hate myself more. For the record both of these instances occurred when I was about 17 and old enough to know better. I disgust myself. Fortunately, and clearly despite my best efforts, he grew up well balanced and healthy and has grown up into an extraordinary young man. I quite genuinely love my brother more than breathing and the one regret in my life is that I didn’t give him the attention he deserved and missed all that time with him as a child due to my own horrificness.

To any ladies reading; my brother would wish me to point out that these pictures are a couple of years old, because his sister sucks, and that he's been working out a lot.
So in honour of Kurt’s 8th birthday (he’ll always be 8 in my head) let’s sit back and remember some classic horror of 1986. It’s all for you, Kurt!!!

Aliens (1986)

Ripley’s back and this time she isn’t taking anymore of this darn nonsense, yeah, damn skippy. Hmm, turns out there’s a reason I don’t write movie taglines, scratch that off the potential new career list.

Beginning directly where Alien left off, Aliens catches up with Ellen Ripley as she wakes from her cryogenic sleep to find it is now fifty seven years later and people now live on the home planet of the alien that decimated the Nostromo. Unsurprisingly the stupid colonists soon find themselves it a whole mess of trouble and naturally it’s then left to Ripley accompanied by a troop of Space Marines (Space Marines!!! Awesome!!!) to save the day.

James Cameron takes the helm here with explodey gusto the likes of which probably only James Cameron can achieve. Debates will probably rage eternally as to whether this or Alien is the superior movie in the franchise, I have to say that my heart lies with Alien largely because I’m purist but also because Ridley Scott is a local boy. Interesting fact: Dawdon Blast Beach features as the alien planet in the opening credits of Alien 3, I used to play there as a kid.

April Fool’s Day (1986)

Muffy St. John invites her closest pals to her fancy mansion for a Spring Break weekend of fun frolics and other such stuff that 80s teenagers enjoy. Conveniently, Muffy’s friends all fit into handy stereotypes and this makes them easy to spot; jock, geek, goodtime girl, sensible girl next door, etc. As they all pile onto the boat to head Muffy’s dream house everything seems fine and dandy, but then people start messing around with knives and, just as our mother’s warned us, it ends in tears as what begins as a prank ends in propellers mushing faces. Things don’t get much better when they arrive at the holiday hideaway either as soon Muffy is wandering around acting ten shades of crazy and people start disappearing.

April Fool’s Day is a slasher genre classic with the kind of plot twists M. Night Shyamalan can only curse god he didn’t think of first (sometimes in my darker moments I think if my life had turned out the way I planned I could have been M. Night Shyamalan, starring, writing, directing in my own movies like a massive egomaniac, which would be awful and I’d have to kill myself, and then I think, no, how silly, if my life had turned out the way I planned I would have been a serious Garth Marenghi, and that would be awesome. I have a huge affection for April Fools Day, although it only just occurs to me now that if hadn’t seen it and loved it my darling brother might have had a less disturbing childhood (sorry, Kurt, I love you).

Night of the Creeps (1986)

“I got good news and bad news, girls. The good news is your dates are here.”

“What's the bad news?”

“They're dead.”

In 1959, an alien experiment crashes to earth right near Corman University. While this strange intergalactic catastrophe is going on, frat boy John and his lovely girlfriend Pam are indulging in some, what I believe in popular parlance would term ‘making out’ when they hear the news that escaped axe wielding maniac is loose and headed right for them, bloody typical. Their night goes from bad to worse when aforementioned axe wielding maniac murders lovely Pam and John gets himself infected with an alien parasite. Worst date ever. Fast forwarding in time to the modern day, Chris Romero and J.C. Hooper are two hapless geeks pledging a fraternity who accidentally manage to thaw the cryogenically frozen corpse of the original victim and proceed to infect the campus with alien parasites that transform their hosts into killer zombies.

Seriously, what’s not to love about that set up?

Night of the Creeps is a movie that loves horror movies; everything about it loves horror movies. With more references to horror movies and icons than you can shake a xenomorph at, Night of the Creeps was once a neglected classic but thankfully it seems finally getting the recognition it deserves. And it’s got Tom Atkins in it. I love Tom Atkins.

Friday The 13th 6: Jason Lives (1986)

Because mental Tommy Jarvis can’t leave things well enough alone, Jason is resurrected as an unstoppable zombie killing machine. Well, nice one, Tommy. Naturally, much like an undead homing pigeon, Jason immediately marches off back to the place he knows best, Crystal Lake, and the obligatory massacre commences.

I find Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives to be hysterical. Part of this amusement comes the fact that I invariably give a running commentary throughout that mainly consists of ‘for fucks sake, Tommy’ while I hold my head in my hands in exasperation. I find Tommy so moronic in this film and it makes me laugh. Forest Green also makes laugh. Forest Green! Most futile attempt at rebranding ever!

Obviously not the best in the series, but it has a place in my heart nonetheless.

Edited to prove my love for Jason Lives to Matthew: I have the tour t-shirt and everything

Critters (1986)

‘The battle began in another galaxy. It's about to end in the Brown’s backyard.’

When a bunch of furry miscreants known as the Crites escape from a prison asteroid head straight for earth in a stolen spaceship, all hell breaks loose for the people of a small Kansas town. Armed only with the local drunk and his space bounty hunter pals (I think space bounty hunters may just trump space marines as coolest job ever) a family fights for survival against the razor toothed, quick quipping balls of furry doom.

My brother watched Critters over and over and over when he was small. This meant I had to watch Critters over and over and over again. For a long time this ruined Critters for me. I knew every word of dialogue; it was ingrained in my brain for so long I began to think I’d been born with that knowledge. Fortunately I got over that I can now appreciate Critters for the glorious B movie, monsterfest that it is. While it may not be Gremlins, I still love it, and not just because it will always remind me of my brother.

1986, eh? What a year!! It gave us so much; this list could easily have been twice as long, easily. But of all the great things 1986 produced I love my brother the most, he is my favourite 1986er without doubt and the one I’m most grateful for. Yup, he's even better than Highlander.

Happy birthday, Kurt! I love you. xxx


  1. An excellent tribute. I remember '86 fondly, mainly due to Critters being released. Oh, how I love that movie.

    Happy birthday to your brother - I used to torment my little brother in many of the same ways! When he was really little, I used to make up stupid ghost stories just to scare the shit out of him and it always worked. Glorious!

  2. Aw, thanks, Jenn. Wish I'd though of ghost stories, hmmm, wonder if it's too late....
    '86 was a damn fine year. My most vivid memory of brother being born was getting to watch The Goonies on video while my mum was in hospital. I thought that was pretty great.
    After writing this I bought Critters because I'd forgotten how awesome it was.

  3. Hello..would you like to write some paid movie reviews? do contact me if you do.. thanks!


  4. Ha, great story!
    And the April Fool's Day poster remains one of my favorites of all-time.

  5. Hello! I'm in Bath and I'm back online! Thanks for checking in during my absence and making sure I wasn't lying dead on the floor like poor Yvette Vickers...

    I did spot a misprint in the above post, however: you wrote that Jason Lives is "obviously not the best in the series", when of course what you meant to write was "obviously the best in the series." After years of increasingly strained attempts to keep it going 'logically', at last they had the genius to say, 'sod it, let's make it supernatural'. So we get that magical rising from the grave scene, and before you know it, he's meeting Freddy, and it's almost like Universal in the golden age again, only with bratty ripped-jeans teenagers instead of Una O'Connor...
    And doesn't Tommy go to a general store called Karloff's in it? I usually hate name-dropping in horror films, but that's taking it to the level of fine art.

    For me, 1986 was not so much a year for watching films as for cursing the fact that I wasn't old enough to: Blue Velvet, Cobra (Stallone impales sicko on meat hook!), Betty Blue, Gothic, Psycho 3... I couldn't get in to see any of them. I think the only things I actually got to see that year were Clockwise with John Cleese (still watch that at least once a year; not sure why) and Police Academy 3: Back In Training.

    Anyway, enough rambling: just wanted you to know I was back in business. Hope things are going in the right direction with your foot - I noticed from the last picture that it has developed an appetite for Agatha Christie novels, which has to be a positive sign.

  6. Wow! I am seriously jealous of that t-shirt! You don't have a Police Academy 3 one as well do you?

  7. Man, so many of my faves from the horror genre came out that year! I mean, Night of the Creeps! Awesomeness all around (Tom Atkins just RULES)!!! Aliens? You really just couldn't have a better sequel to a classic film! April Fool's Day? Soooooo much fun! Critters? Freakin' fantastic! Jason Lives....I LOVE that movie!!! Seriously, it was the first of the series to inject a little humor, and I love it for that. Oh, and it has Welcome Back Kotter's Arnold Horschack getting PUNCHED THROUGH HIS TORSO by undead Jason!!!! Perfection!!!!

  8. Oh, and I should probably give a birthday shout-out to your bro! I too tormented my younger equally twisted ways!

  9. Great story. And Aliens and The Empire Strikes Back are definitely two sequels that dominated the originals, which were great as well.

    While mountain biking in Moab, Utah one time, I bought a fake pistol in a western store that was used as a prop in City Slickers 2. I guess they rented everything the store had b/c all of the boxes were mixed up. To this day - when I've been drinking and company is over - I still like to bust that gun out and start waving it around, acting like I'm suicidal. New people always go runnin like hell. My younger brother was the first to experience it...

  10. Hey, Drew, so nice to see you. I completely adore April Fool's Day. Such a classic!

    Matthew!!! Hurrah, you are back! And glad that you are still associating with the likes of me now you are resident of Bath. I knew it wouldn't change you.
    You are completely right to point my glaring mistake, Jason Lives is, of course, the best in the series.
    I also have an odd fondness for Clockwise, I think you see it that often because it's on that often. I got my copy free with a newspaper. Funnily enough, at the weekend my friends and I discovered we knew far to much about the Police Academy franchise. (We accidentally watched the first one). This fact scares me a little. Wish I had the t shirt. Get some posts up soon, I miss them and I need to learn new stuff.

    Gill-Man! Thanks for the birthday shout out and for reassuring me that everyone torments their siblings, I feel less evil. 1986 was just so awesome, it was almost impossible to pick just a few films to represent that year.

    Sean, thank you so much for joining me here. Also, thank you so, so much for that story. I genuinely laughed out loud, or lol-ed, as the cool kids say. I actually can’t decide which bit I like best; the fact it was City Slickers 2 gun, the fact you still enjoy waving it around, or the fact that it was brother who got the first show. Just brilliant! Looking forward to reading your blog, it looks awesome!

  11. Ha, I have that t-shirt.

    And also, I was born in 1986, so I fully approve of this post.

  12. Yay, it's an awesome shirt. Is yours lightly coated in cat hair too? Should have known you were an 1986 baby, 1986 babies are the super coolest.

  13. All of my clothes are coated in cat hair. And not lightly :s

  14. I know this is after the fact, but The Fly came out in 1986, too. It's forever linked in my mind with Aliens because I saw them as a double bill that year (the last studio-released double bill ever, I believe).

    All of my clothes are coated in dog hair. Black and yellow labs, so it doesn't matter what color my clothes are, they're victims.



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