Livin’ In The 80s : The Nerdy Wonder Years

Our genre interests are shaped in those formative teen years. For better or worse, they influence our movie viewing for the rest of our lives, and we always come back to these cinematic touchstones for comfort, for reassurance.

Go take a look at your movie library. Take stock of the titles on your shelf. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Done? Good. Now, I’ll wager easy money that at least 80 percent of the titles in your collection are films that you watched between the ages of 14 and 19. This isn’t an exact science, I’m making a best-range guesstimate here, but chances are…I’m right. Because that’s the lay of the land when it comes to MY library. The things we collect and keep often act as a time capsule for our wonder years.

And for me, that time period was The 80s.

Now, I’m not going to say that my generation was the luckiest when it came to horror and sci-fi… no, just kidding. I totally am. We were spoiled rotten. In particular, horror fans were blessed with an embarrassment of riches, films that blew our fragile little minds and shaped the genre to this day (for better or worse).

fango coverLet me paint a little picture for you: it was summer, 1987. I was hanging out with friends at the local gas station – it was a small town, we worked with what we had. I had just returned from the local drug store with Fangoria #65 ( posted to your left for visual convenience). Let’s take a look at the contents, shall we?

A cover story on the soon-to-be-released PREDATOR, with your first look at the titular creature.

There were also features on THE LOST BOYS, EVIL DEAD II and Clive Barker’s impending directorial debut, HELLRAISER. And I tore through that issue, cover to cover and back again. It was a cornucopia of amazing horror goodness. Remember that quote from the finale of THE OFFICE? The one that goes “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” ? That didn’t apply here. I knew I was smack-dab in the middle of the good right then and there. Horror was at a level of popularity and mass appeal that has yet to be duplicated. Some will argue that the 90s were also a boom period, but not in the same way. At least not to me. Fango #65 wasn’t my first issue, it wasn’t my gateway, merely a signpost on my path to fandom that said “yeah, you’re on the right path, kid”. The golden rule of writing, according to some, is write what you know. And that’s what this column will be about: the films that shaped and molded me into the genre fan I am today. And there’s a lot of subject material to cover. The classics – mainstream and cult, the ones that found instant success and the ones that took some time to percolate in the public’s consciousness. Even the ones that are (let’s be honest) god-awful, yet still made their mark on the territory.

Many of the choices will be inarguable – classics are classics for a reason. But there will be those that are open for debate. And that’s cool. The world would be pretty boring if we agreed with everything. So call me on it. Post comments, send e-mails, let’s get a debate going here. I’m not looking to educate or impart old-fan wisdom here. I just want to share the things taht I think are cool, and that you might think are cool, too.

I’ll be back next week with my first topic of conversation/debate. For now, time to go through the library and start stockpiling ammunition. Because knowledge is power… and fun.

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2 Replies to “Livin’ In The 80s : The Nerdy Wonder Years”

  1. I was 13 in 1987 and I love everything about those years. I thought the film Super 8 captured it very well actually. One thing that made it doubly exciting was that these things were often hard to get hold of: comics, back issues comics, movie and SciFi magazines, so when you did finally get hold of one, it felt like you’d struck gold. Today everything is at your fingertips at the click of a mouse but back then, it was hard work to find this kind of stuff, especially if you lived out in the sticks like I did.

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