I’m back with part 2 of the Greatest Summer of Movies! This time we are talking August 1985. As good as July 1985 was for movies, August was even better. The new 5-screen movie theater in my town was finally figuring out how to rotate movies through.
The old theater was still in town but the new mall theater complex was slowing driving it out. The Drive-In was always great to watch movies but since I couldn’t drive yet, I was forced to tag along with my older sisters and their boyfriends, no thanks!
I spent my time watching movies at the new mall. I could head there a couple hours before the movie started and check out a few of the new stores. Then I’d head to the theater, plop down my $2.50 (man I wish movies were that cheap now), grab a bucket of popcorn and a pop and pick a good seat to watch the movie.
August was jammed packed with great movies and I had a lot of free time to watch them. Unfortunately none of the movies released in August would grab the number one box office spot. The power house movie Back to the Future was number one for the entire month of August!
With the exception of one week in July when European Vacation knocked it out of the top spot, Back to the Future was number one from 07 July until 22 September. European Vacation took the number one spot when it debuted on 28 July.
The movie that knocked Back to the Future out in September was Chuck Norris’ Invasion U.S.A. Which only held on for one week until Commando starring Arnold Schwarzenegger hit the screens.
Those movies are for another time, let’s take a look at the movies I watched in the theater and the rest of the movies that come out in August 1985.
Follow That Bird – 02 August 1985
In August 1985 I was a few months shy of my 13th birthday. I was still into ‘kid’ movies, but didn’t really want my friends to know. A friend and I went to see Follow That Bird during a matinée showing. It was sort of on a dare. We were both joking around, saying ‘I bet you wouldn’t go’ and then we both went. I think he wanted to see it as much as I did. Follow That Bird is a great movie, telling the story of Big Bird’s quest to get back to his friends on Sesame Street.
The movie is filled with cameos from some of the best known actors of the 1980’s. Waylon Jennings, Chevy Chase and John Candy all show up during Big Bird’s journey. I enjoyed the movie and I’m glad I went to see it.
Follow That Bird is a stark contrast to my favorite movie that came out the same weekend. We’ll talk about that movie in a little bit, but safe to say it is not a kids movie!
Real Genius – 07 August 1985
I saw this movie the weekend it come out. Which would be my only chance. It was only in town for one week. I thought the movie was OK, it didn’t really do much for me. Val Kilmer is a good comedy actor, I loved him in Top Secret. I don’t remember much about the movie, something with lasers and a house full of popcorn.
It seemed like a rip off of Weird Science without Kelly LeBrock. Had it come out before Weird Science I might have enjoyed it more. I’ve only seen it one time, all those years ago. I hear people talk about how much they enjoy it and how good it is. But I’ve never gone back to watch it again. For me there are better Val Kilmer movies to re-watch.
Volunteers – 16 August 1985
When I saw this movie I liked it for the supporting actor, not the lead. Tom Hanks stars as a rich kid who joins the Peace Corps, travels to Thailand and hilarity ensues. The best character in the movie though is Tom Tuttle, played marvelously by John Candy. Don’t get me wrong, Tom Hanks is a good actor, but in 1985 he was still relatively unknown. He was better known for the TV sitcom Bosom Buddies.
I was a fan of John Candy after seeing him in Vacation, Blues Brothers, Stripes and Brewster’s Millions, which came out in May 1985. Volunteers is the second time Tom Hanks would team up with John Candy. In 1984 they were in Splash together.
Summer Rental – 09 August 1985
Speaking of John Candy let’s talk about another one of his movies from August 1985. John Candy was on the screen a lot in the summer of 1985. In August alone he starred in three movies and appeared in four movies in 1985! Starting with Brewster’s Millions in May, followed by Follow That Bird, Summer Rental and Volunteers, all released in August.
In Summer Rental Candy plays a burned out Air Traffic Controller who takes his family on a summer vacation to the Golf Coast of Florida. From the beginning when Candy freaks out over a fly on his screen to the end when he enters the Citrus Cove Regatta Summer Rental is an excellent comedy.
Had this movie starred someone else it may not be as good. Candy lends his comedic talent to make the movie hilarious. His timing is flawless and he can deliver a deadpan insult with great effect.
Brewster Millions would be Candy’s biggest financial hit of the summer but Summer Rental is my favorite John Candy movie of 1985. It’s also the first movie John Candy plays the lead role, opening the way for other great movies like Uncle Buck and Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
Weird Science – 02 August 1985
I’d like to say I saw this movie because it was directed by John Hughes. I was a little too young to care about who was directing a movie at the time. I’d see movies based on trailers, actors I liked or word of mouth. I wasn’t interested in behind-the-camera stuff yet. I saw this movie based on the trailer and Kelly LeBrock.
It’s a great mix of comedy and action. Nerdy friends Gary (played by Anthony Micheal Hall, not me) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) are outcasts at school and want to change their image. They decide to create a woman since they are unable to get a date with the girls they like. Lisa (Kelly LaBrock) arrives and helps them change their image and get the girls.
It’s really a coming of age type movie. Gary and Wyatt realize they aren’t as lame as they thought and they can be assertive and take control of their lives. Defeating a gang of evil mutant bikers helps too.
Weird Science is a fun movie. It’s not the same type of angst ridden teenager movie we associated with John Hughes but it is worth watching.
Teen Wolf – 23 August 1985
Micheal J Fox was unstoppable in 1985. While his mega-blockbuster Back to the Future was still crushing the box office he starred in Teen Wolf, released on 23 August 1985. Teen Wolf opened at number two, behind Back to the Future. Fox was number one and number two at the box office! Not too bad.
Teen Wolf isn’t one of my favorite movies. I enjoy it but I don’t go back to it or even own it. It was however one of the highest grossing movies released in Aug.
The weekend Teen Wolf came out there wasn’t much competition. The other two movies released that weekend, Better Off Dead and Godzilla 1985, didn’t come to my theater. Teen Wolf was the only new movie at the theater that weekend, so it got my money.
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure – 09 August 1985
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure came out the same weekend as Summer Rental. I saw Summer Rental first, but a friend and I went to see Pee-Wee over the weekend. I had no idea who Pee-Wee Herman was when I went to the movie. Herman’s humor is wacky and over the top and I loved ever minute of it! The movie was completely ridiculous and totally funny!
I watched Pee-Wee’s playhouse now and then after seeing this movie, but I never enjoyed it as much as the movie.
Jeff wrote a great piece on Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure that you should definitely read. Tell ‘em Large Marge sent ya!
Fright Night – 02 August 1985
Of all the movies I watch and re-watched in August 1985 Fright Night is without question my favorite! I love Vampire folklore and Fright Night covers all the good Vampire myths.
My friend BJ and I saw this movie late on a Saturday night and had to walk home after it was over. Walking home in the dark of night after seeing a horror movie was always a little freaky. Every dark alley we passed, we’d brace for Evil Ed to jump out at us. And the short cut through the woods was complete torture!
I made it home safe and sound and was ready for another round of Fright Night! Only I made sure one of my sister’s could pick me up.
For whatever reason the studio decided the best time to release a horror movie was early August. By the time Halloween rolled around this wasn’t playing at my theater. I would have loved to see it during the Halloween season.
There were only two horror movies released in October, Silver Bullet and Re-Animator, which Fright Night would have easily beat at the box office. The other marketing blunder of the year was releasing A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge the day after Halloween!
In Fright Night, Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) is convinced a vampire moved in next door. He even sees the vampire bite his victim’s neck in front of an open window. The only problem is no one believes in vampires and the cops tell him to stop wasting their time.
“The kids today don’t have the patience for vampires. They want to see some mad slasher running around and chopping off heads.”Peter Vincent
Charley turns to the one man who knows everything about vampires, washed up B-movie actor Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall). The name Peter Vincent is a call out to the great horror actors Peter Cushing and Vincent Prince. Peter Vincent agrees to help Charley with his vampire problem. McDowall is great onscreen as the campy B-movie actor, you can tell he enjoyed the part.
The visual effects in Fright Night are outstanding. The movie used the same visual effects team from Ghostbusters.
Fright Night was nominated for five Saturn Awards and won three for Best Writing, Supporting Actor (McDowall) and Best Horror Film.
And the rest of the movies…
Those weren’t the only movies released in August 1985 just the ones I saw in the theater. One of my all time favorite Martial Arts movies, American Ninja hit the screen on 30 Aug.
American Ninja didn’t make the cut for my home town and I was never able to see it on the big screen. It’s a movie I can watch over and over again. It’s amazing on so many levels!
Below is the full list of movies released in the August 1985. How many did you see?
Movies Released in August 1985
- Fright Night
- Follow That Bird
- Weird Science
- Real Genius
- My Science Project
- Pee-wee’s Big Adventure
- Summer Rental
- Pray for Death
- American Flyers
- The Return of the Living Dead
- Year of the Dragon
- Better Off Dead
- Godzilla 1985
- Teen Wolf
- American Ninja
- Compromising Positions