Friday, 30 August 2013

The 80s memoirs Part 1 - Movies, music, and TV-series

The 80s Rules! -blog was made to raise out memories from the eighties, a colorful and wild era, which many of us experienced either by as kid or as teenager, or perhaps as a young adult. The eighties had it's own tone, look, and feel in all territories I can think of...

(Lamborghini Countach, a supercar from the eighties)

Cigarettes, leather-jackets, flashy clothing, long and/or weird hairstyles, denim, synth music, VHS-tapes, C-cassettes, "the hell with the fuel economy"-attitude (global warming, what's that?) and most beautiful sports cars yet, flashy neon-lights, and gangs. Some random things that come to my mind when thinking about the era. But, that's just the beginning.

Musically the eighties had very versatile and experimental list of artists, ranging from synth-heavy music to guitar music, being the one of the most creative eras musically until today. It was the time when music was still made of steel, and CDs were pressed mainly just for the rich few in Japan (until the very late era of eighties). Vinyls were still holding major part of the market, while C-Cassettes also had a big slice of music market, and were especially used in illegal tape trading between the friends. While rap didn't really break through before the end of the decade, eighties had great artists from rock genre such as Queen, Van Halen, Bon Jovi and Billy Idol, hard rock such as AC/DC and KISS, heavy metal such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, Megadeth and Slayer (not to mention amount of lesser known bands), more towards New Wave-genre nodding bands such as Duran Duran, The New Order, Depeche Mode, The Cure, and various different forms of pop-acts such as Madonna, Samantha Fox, Sabrina Salerno, Laura Branigan, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson... or Toto which played mixture ranging between different types of rock's sub-genres, or Norwegian synthpop band A-ha. My own favorite genres would had been classic heavy metal and italo-disco, as well as some rock, ranging from Tank (part of The New Wave of British Heavy Metal, big heavy metal movement in early 80s) and Accept (German heavy metal) to Mötley Crüe, Billy Idol, and even to pop acts such as Samantha Fox, Kim Wilde, Mandy Smith, or italo-disco such as Aleph. Personally, I listen from rather popular to very obscure bands. There sure was music for every taste, music videos were very flashy, clothing was... wicked?  There's just too many bands to mention and drawing the line between genres is tough. But the more important is the music itself. Don't you just miss music like this?

(Samantha Fox was one of the well known pop-icons)

(if you were into heavier music in eighties, this CD insert might look familiar...)

Home-theater systems were relied to VHS-tapes at the time, while DVD wouldn't come out until closer to mid-nineties. Movies and TV-series were not quite as effect-filled and action-packed as nowadays, when thinking about the general tempo. However, I feel that they were better in terms of narrative stories and great ideas, having better, cleverly deliberate pacing. Some of the settings that took places in movies or series were very memorable. Especially several future visions of post-apocalyptic world. Do you remember Blade Runner, starring Harrison Ford, and it's cyberpunk future vision of Los Angeles (2019), or perhaps Mad Max (2): The Road Warrior, with it's desert-filled dunes, envisioning post-apocalyptic world? With lesser effects and technology to create CGI (computer generated imagery), the results were more ambitious and memorable, than on films today! Sci-fi was a next big thing in movie-business, as computers generally started to get more advanced, including now also home-models - as did technology in general. Thus, this inspired movie writers with science-fiction and supernatural related topics. Sci-fi was running high with other movies as well, such as space adventures Star Wars (Episodes V, VI) and Star Trek (Wrath of Khan and The Search of Spock). Few of the more comedic sci-fi movies were Ghostbusters, with catchy soundtrack and featuring Bill Murray, along with Sigorney Weaver, and Back To The Future (trilogy) featuring Michael J. Fox, with that futuristic looking car, DeLorean, making time travelling possible.

(Post-apocalyptic vision by Mad Max: Road Warrior)

(One of the most memorable and catchy movie-soundtracks from the eighties. Ghostbusters)

Within action movie genre in the eighties, there were no many female heroes, who took part into fights as an aggressor (unlike nowadays), but all the shooting and brawling was mostly left for men, whereas women filled up more traditional, feminine roles. Some testosterone-laden action-movie stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone made big bunch of action movies during the eighties, with rather tongue-on-cheek mentality, being both brutal but humorous, as well: Commando, Running Man, Rambo, Cobra... or the most popular boxing movie-series ever, with more narrative approach, filled with that never-give-up-attitude: Rocky. Although the first Rocky movies had already came out in the seventies, parts III and IV took were made during the eighties, featuring memorable anti-heroes in both of the films (Mr.T and Dolph Lundgren). As counterpart for these "lonewolf"-type of action starts, there were few of a "buddy cop" movies, such as Lethal Weapon featuring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover duo, or comedic Beverly Hills Cop featuring Eddie Murphy along with his partners Judge Reinhold and John Ashton. "Vengeance films" had been popular genre ever since Death Wish (by Charles Bronson, 1974), which got several sequels in the eighties, along with the movies that were most likely influenced by it, such as Savage Streets (with a strong female hero Linda Blair), and Vigilante, which, however, weren't as popular, and had rather underground-following.

(Rocky never gives up!)

(Linda Blair was one of few physical eighties female movie stars who did actually brawl)

Slasher/killer type of movies were perhaps more brutal with mostly hand-crafted effects than the films today, of which the three: Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer, Maniac, and The New York Ripper, are perhaps the most infamous ones - and great, too. Cannibal Holocaust (1980) that gathered underground following, surely is as violent and more, but I'm not quite certain it's as good, despite being a real shocker. Neither of slasher/killer movies are not for the faint of heart. Horror films were more innovative filled with totally crazy ideas, than ever after. To be honest, the eighties had perhaps best "violent films" ever created so far. The more known horror films featured films such as mental-horror masterpiece The Shining (with Jack Nicholson), Sci-fi horror such as The Thing, or more realistic Cujo, about a dog that catches rabies and starts attacking people. Or the late eighties classic Pet Semetary, based on Stephen King's book. The era had several movies about zombies or the possessed, of which few more known are George A. Romero's epic and surreal vision Day Of The Dead, and Sam Raimi's bit more dark-humor seeding The Evil Dead. While few of the most memorable anti-heroes of horror movies were in Nightmare on Elm Street (Freddy Krueger) and Friday The 13th (Jason Voorhees), of which both movies had handful of sequels! And I haven't yet had time to dive into the fields of cult classics (Bad Taste, Hellraiser, Scanners, etc.), which feature some of the most weird visions ever... there are plenty of those, while the amount isn't even close within the era of nineties of New Millennium. It's like the movies lost their creativity and experimentality, with a trade-off for cheap CGI effects.

("You called - we came". A supernatural cult-classic horror movie Hellraiser!)

(The New York Ripper, one of the most violent movies of the 80s...)

I think that friendships and "never leave a friend in trouble"-mentality was stronger in the eighties, than it is today. The mentality influenced some of the most memorable "buddy"-movies, within drama and comedy genre, movies about friendship and youth. Such films were Breakfast Club, where five high school students from totally different worlds meet in detention, where they get to know each others better whether they like it or not, finally ending as friends. Or perhaps a movie about gang of greasers going through an era of hardship, seen in The Outsiders by Francis Ford Coppola. Mention-worthy are also Ferris Buller's Day Off, about a high school student who's determined to take a day off no matter what. Although, my favorite out of this types of movies has to be Stand By Me directed by Rob Reiner, where four young friends take a journey through local woods to find a missing body of a local teenager, then getting in controversy with a local gang of older boys.

(The "posse" of Breakfast Club - everybody's different!)

(The greasers gang in The Outsiders, featuring several known actors. Can you spot Tom Cruise?)

TV-series weren't any less memorable in the eighties than movies. Most of the people, especially men, probably watched Knight Rider TV-series starring by David Hasselhoff, dreaming of... well, not to be like David, but to get a car like which he drove in the movie. A sci-fi element was brought in the series by a talking car called KITT, that beautiful black Pontiac Trans Am with a flashing red sensor on the hood (the thing that stuck to my mind forever!). Cars were also major factor in crime-series Miami Vice, starring "black-and-white" cop duo Don Johnson (Sonny Crockett) and (Philip Michael Thomas), featuring some of the most sexy girls and cars in the history of television, with memorable tunes from eighties as soundtrack. Car driven in Miami Vice was initially Ferrari Daytona Spyder 356 GTS/4, and later Ferrari Testarossa 1986, both beautifully filmed. Out of the several other police series, more of an drama flavored Matlock, and full-blown "realistic" police-series Hill Street Blues are widely known, while Magnum P.I. nodded more towards Miami Vice direction. A-Team featured rather "family-friendly" setting being fairly well action-packed with good cast: George Peppard (Hannibal), Dwight Schultz (Murdock), Dirk Benedict (Faceman), and, of course, love-or-hate-him actor Mr. T (B.A. Baracus). More of thriller approach was taken in unforgettable MacGyver with Richard Dean Anderson, the man who can fix anything with duct-tape and an pin. Of course, comedy-series such as the counterparts of white-family, Married With Children, and African American family, The Cosby Show, shoundn't be forgotten either!

(David Hasselhoff in Knight Rider, with his Pontiac Trans Am called KITT)

(One of the more memorable sound tracks of TV-series of the eighties)

However, as most of the above are suited more for adults, the eighties wasn't bad era for being a kid either. What were your favorite toys? If you were a boy, like I was, I'm sure you remember four big ones, featured as TV-series, cartoons, and toys: G.I. Joe, Transformers, He-Man, and Turtles (TMNT). Man, those rocked! I used to read G.I. Joe cartoons a lot, I still have several of them somewhere. Turtles, on the other hand, had the most cool setting... man, they knew martial arts and ate pizza all day long. That tasty pizza...! Transformers, on the other hand were innovative, which kid wouldn't want a toy that can transform from a car or plane into a robot of mass-destruction? All of these trademarks had beautifully drawn real art in TV-serie format, a style that is now pretty much dying. That's sad, too. Many of us kids also had either of 8-bit generation video game consoles, Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) or Sega Master System (while elder people had Amigas or Commodore 64's). First real video game consoles to ever come out for sale for home users. The games didn't "hold you at hand" like nowadays and walk you through every hardship you encounter, but rather, those games were often insanely hard. Being primitive, they presented some memorable levels and setting, with even better game music. Hands up who loved Sonic, Super Mario, TNMT (Turtles), Castlevania, Double Dragon, Mega Man? Those were the days.

(Turtles was a TV-serie, and was released as a drawn cartoon magazine, and toys, too. Pizza time??)

(Music of Mega Man 2)

The era of my childhood featured many good memories. The eighties had much character, and it was a diverse, memorable era, in every aspect. Bring back the spirit of the eighties!

No comments:

Post a Comment