Courtesy of the “Horror and Sci-Fi” insert in the October 4, 1986 issue of Billboard comes the “HORROR/SCI-FI VID RENTAL REVIEW” chart for the preceding year.
It’s an interesting period of time, personally speaking, because it reflects the brief window where my family had a functioning VCR and a rental membership at the Video Station and a premium package cable subscription. On top of that, my adolescent self had begun catching flicks at the local multiplex sans adult supervision.
If there was ever a time when I had my finger on the pulse of contemporary geek-appealing cinema, 1984 through 1986 would be it. To commemorate that exceptional moment (and provide a semblance of substantial content for a change), I might as well run down the list and note the viewing circumstances for the various entries.
1. Ghostbusters – Caught it twice in the theater during its original run, a few more times via rental, and eventually got sick of the damn thing after too many viewings on HBO.
2. Return of the Jedi – Saw it in the theater during its original run, have not watched it again since.
3. Back to the Future – Watched multiple times on VHS, now kinda loathe the mid-Eighties high-gloss cuteness of it.
4. Gremlins – Saw it on the big screen, and multiple times on cable.
5. Cocoon – A staple of daytime HBO and Cinemax, yet I’ve never seen the entire thing. Not even when they wheeled in a TV and VCR into the junior high locker room and played it to keep us occupied while the gym floor was getting refinished.
6. A Nightmare on Elm Street – Experienced first a tape rental, then as repeated plot summaries offered without solicitation my freshman art “pal” Mike,
7. Starman – My mother rented the tape to watch it, which was kind of pointless given how frequently it ran on the pay movie channels. I’ve never watched it in full.
8. The Goonies – Yet another rental, though mostly experienced through the Cyndi Lauper concept video and the NES Goonies II gamepak.
9. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome – Watched roughly one billion times on cable, with long passages of dialogue permanently etched into my brain for maximum quotability. (Maura caught it on the big screen, but missed the second half after lightning stuck the theater.)
10. Teen Wolf – Seen once via rental and never again.
11. Weird Science – Tried watching it on cable but got bored when I realized it had fuck all to do with the EC comic series of the same name.
12. Fright Night – First seen as a rental, watched way too many times since.
13. The Terminator – Watched it on HBO with my parents, and it was the sole topic of discussion during shop class the following morning. A perfect pulp flick somewhat overshadowed by the bloated big budget franchise it spawned.
14. Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge – see entry 6 above
15. Silver Bullet – Leafed through the Bernie Wrightson illustrated paperback at the mall bookstore, but never caught the actual movie.
16. My Science Project – It wasn’t Real Genius, so I didn’t bother.
17. Friday the 13th Part V – A new Beginning – One of Maura’s friends tried to press gang a bunch of us into watching every movie in the series in one marathon sitting. I can’t recall if we made it that far before we revolted and put on The Kids in the Hall instead. He was very peeved at us for bottling out.
18. D.A.R.Y.L. – Is that the one with the robot kid? Never watched it.
19. Cat’s Eye – Saw it at the multiplex with my pal Scott. On the way there, a group of upperclassmen ambushed us on the canal path and beat the crap out of us. The sting of that memory has been mellowed by the knowledge that most of them are either dead or in prison.
20. Lifeforce – Caught a late night airing on cable when everyone else in the house was asleep, and that was probably a good thing.