This is the script to my slot in Kevin Markwick's weekly film & music show on Uckfield 105 FM, Mondays at 9pm
If the film business had learned anything by 1985, it’s that there’s a huge teenage market hungry for cinema. Back To The Future was that year’s most successful film – everywhere – so it’s unsurprising that Michael J Fox got wheeled out again in Teen Wolf. As Kevin mentioned last week, this one was made before Back To The Future, though no one needs a time machine to know that this Beach Boys track will never date. Surfin’ USA underscores the celebrated set piece as Fox, now confusingly a Wolf, goes van-surfing. Don’t try it at home kids.
By 1986 new romanticism had matured and was starting to split into the tributaries of stadium rock and shoegazing indie. Despite the pop monopoly over young romance, Merchant Ivory continued to provide elegant period drama in the genre. A Room With A View is one of their best-loved productions, introducing the offbeat English rose that is Helena Bonham-Carter and misappropriating a famous opera aria in which a mother sings to her children, to stand as the surge of young love across the Florentine landscape. Other music by Puccini was used in this film but enduring popularity for variety entertainers and at talent shows proves O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicci may be second only to Nessun Dorma in its familiarity.
It wasn’t all rose-tinted coming of age though. David Lynch’s Blue Velvet is a very different sort of film from the vital, zesty teen adventures flooding the cinemas of 1986. Kyle MacLachlan’s suburban utopia takes an early wobble when he finds a severed ear behind his home – this is David Lynch as William Blake, with his vision of the sick rose, who says ‘the invisible worm that flies in the night, in the howling storm has found out my bed of crimson joy, and his dark secret love does my life destroy”. It gets pretty close to that when we encounter the terrifying, black-hearted Frank Booth. Dennis Hopper’s celebrated psychopath presides over a mesmerising aside at the climax of the film in which Dean Stockwell steps out and performs this Roy Orbison song, In Dreams, not as a celebration but as a threnody for youth’s illusion.
In this year of the teen flick, John Hughes was the unofficial king of direction. His first hit was The Breakfast Club, a chamber piece set in a Saturday morning school detention. The intensity of the acting from a charismatic young cast, and the injustice of weekend incarceration makes for an espresso shot matinee.
If we remember John Hughes for anything though, it would be for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, an outwardly innocuous tale of a teenager who simply decides not to go to school. The film regularly ignores the fourth wall, just as Ferris, played by Matthew Broderick, charmingly refuses to play by any rules. The result is utterly irresistible, culminating in the famous Twist and Shout sequence in Chicago city centre, where the production team appropriated an annual parade to create an unforgettable street party. Goodbye.