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Dan Aykroyd Tag

Thanks to a welcome new trend of special event screenings at certain theater chains, this past year I’ve had the pleasure of revisiting Sixteen Candles (1984) and Back to the Future (1985), the subject of my very first Revival House installment. The latest of these films returning to the big screen is Ghostbusters in selected theaters October 13, 20 and 27.

1984 was one hell of a summer for movie nerds like me. May 23 brought us the highly anticipated Raiders prequel Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, while the following week allowed us to discover what happened after the death of a beloved character in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Back in the day when a film wasn’t considered “dead on arrival” if it didn’t open in the #1 spot, June 8 saw the arrival of two big summer films, Ghostbusters and Gremlins — but that didn’t stop both movies from breaking $100 million at the box office that year.

In the weeks before these four films opened, I remember sitting in my high school Calculus class attempting to draw the logo lettering of all of them with the exception of Ghostbusters, which to be honest I wasn’t anticipating as much as the others. But as it turned out, even though it was a comedy, Ghostbusters (thanks to help from the excellent special effects by Richard Edlund) was as epic in scope as the other films in the summer of ’84.

Ghostbusters is directed by Ivan Reitman, who at the time had previously directed Meatballs (1979) and Stripes (1981), in addition to serving as a producer on National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978). The screenplay is written by Dan Aykroyd (who also wrote 1980’s The Blues Brothers) and Harold Ramis (co-writer of Animal House, Stripes and 1980’s Caddyshack; director of Caddyshack and 1983’s National Lampoon’s Vacation).

“They all have husbands and wives and children and houses and dogs, and, you know, they’ve all made themselves a part of something, and they can talk about what they do. What am I gonna say? ‘I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork. How’ve you been?'” —Martin Q. Blank (John Cusack), from Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)

High school reunions. Some people live for them. Some don’t really care about them but will attend one just to see if the popular kids got fat/ugly/stupid/lost their hair. And some people would rather chew gum made of asbestos than reunite with anyone or anything associated with high school. I fall somewhere in between the latter two groups.

I attended my ten-year high school reunion four years ago, and I’ll admit I had a good time. Actually, the reunion itself was kind of lame, but what made the night great was that almost my entire group of friends showed up, so we made our own fun. It was good seeing some people, but I doubt if I’ll ever go to another reunion (unless there’s a lot more alcohol involved).

While my reunion had its moments, it was nowhere near as exciting as the ten-year reunion of the fictional Grosse Pointe High School class of 1986 that’s depicted in Grosse Pointe Blank. Their reunion included an alumnus turned hit man.

I suppose if you disappeared for ten years and became a hit man who needs therapy, you might not want to go to your high school reunion and deal with all the people you barely liked and all the questions they’ll inevitably ask. But Martin Blank (Cusack) sucks it up and heads home, since he has to be in town for a job anyway. He figures the visit will also give him the chance to see his old girlfriend, the lost love of his life, Debi (Minnie Driver) and try to make things right with her. Seems pretty simple, right? Well, not so much. Two other hitmen have followed Blank to Grosse Pointe to take him out, one being an assassin named Grocer (Dan Aykroyd), who’s been trying to form a hit man’s “union” with him. And there are two NSA operatives after him as well. The guy can’t catch a break.

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Various Artists – Dragnet Original Soundtrack (1987)
purchase this album (Amazon)

You know, writing about cutouts in the digital age is more difficult than it looks. Not a week goes by that some knucklehead doesn’t decide to start up a reissue label, hoping to license crappy old records on the cheap and siphon mythical big bucks out of niche markets. (For instance, as we discovered last week, both the Village People’s Rendezvous and The Ethel Merman Disco Album are in print.) To find an album that’s both out of print and worth writing about is easier said than done. (For instance, I’ve had a copy of the last Quarterflash album in the Cutouts Gone Wild! on-deck circle for close to a year.)

But this? This, friends, is the magic fucking bullet. Today we gather to discuss an album that will never be in print so long as Tom Hanks, or any of his heirs, walk the earth.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Dragnet soundtrack.