The following article is for entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as scholarly research or as a final authority on the subject.
Let’s time travel back to the 80s for a wild night of my favorite teen romance flicks. We’ve popped popcorn, we’ve raided the refrigerator, and Alice the Alcoholic is already calling dinosaurs in the bathroom.
The TV’s on, the VCR is ready to go. Here’s what we’re watching:
Fire with Fire (1986)
This baby starred Craig Sheffer (performing with unibrow intact) and Virginia Madsen. It’s supposedly based on a true story. This website offers a basis for the true story claim, but I can’t guarantee the veracity.
The chemistry between the two leads is believable. I love, love, love the ending, which is totally unbelievable but terribly romantic.
Unfortunately, this is one of those movies that never saw DVD (let alone BluRay). I’ve understood it’s available on Netflix to watch instantly. Update: this is now available on Amazon streaming (both Prime and to purchase) and on DVD and BluRay.
Fire with Fire is unusual because the female lead (Madsen) is interested in photography. There are several gorgeous scenes in which she tries to re-create John Everett Millais’s Ophelia. It added a slightly literary air to the usual teen melodrama fare.
Reckless starred an impossibly young and sexy Aidan Quinn and a stunning Darryl Hannah. The film has this dull, gritty feel to it. The visual style is supposedly inspired by the artwork of Edvard Munch, who is best known for The Scream.
The movie showcases the typical 80s themes:
- forbidden love between kids from different socio-economic classes
- set in a small town where there are few opportunities
- love interest is the bad boy nobody understands
Reckless has something other 80s offerings didn’t have, though.
It is dark, edgy. Johnny Rourke (Quinn) is a troubled kid with sociopathic tendencies. The sex scenes were fairly graphic for the era. The music featured artists like INXS and Romeo Void–not the usual top 40s trash. It sometimes felt like an indie film…but not quite.
This is probably the best scene from the whole movie:
Secret Admirer (1985)
This is the light one of the bunch. It starred C. Thomas Howell, Lori Loughlin, and Kelly Preston. Below is the trailer:
The movie is silly and fluffy, but kind of neat. The secret admirer letter, originally intended for C. Thomas Howell’s character, wreaks hilarious havoc in the lives of both adults and teenagers. The unsigned, un-addressed letter repeatedly lands in the wrong hands, and the wrong conclusion is invariably drawn.
The theme is appreciating what you have rather than dwelling on a fantasy.
Interesting and unusual stuff:
- Kelly Preston tried out for The Blue Lagoon, but lost out to Brooke Shields. She is married to John Travolta.
- Fred Ward plays Elizabeth Fimple’s (Preston’s) father and totally steals the show.
- C. Thomas Howell did his own stunts for the movie. His father is longtime stuntman Chris Howell.
- Dee Wallace Stone, who starred in Cujo, plays the male lead’s (Howell’s) mother.
The credits are rolling, and the party’s over. Let’s vacuum the popcorn out of the couch and take down the streamers. Time to go back to being a middle-aged grown-up…until next time.
When I made this list, I had very specific rules. The movie had to be about teenagers, and, at its core, it had to be a romance. I created such a narrow window because I want to do this again sometime. I was a teenager in the 80s and remember it with quite a bit of nostalgia.
I banned myself from picking any John Hughes movies. Those were the best ones, but they loop endlessly on cable. I hoped to introduce something you’d never seen before and would like to see now.