The summer of 1986 is memorable to me as a time of intense highs, and sad, sorry lows. The highs: Hands Across America, the reopening of the refurbished Statue of Liberty, Greg LeMond winning the Tour de France, and the videos for Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach" and Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer." Intel introduced the 386 processor. Gas was 89 cents a gallon, and Pee-Wee's Playhouse made for great, hungover Saturday morning TV.

The lows: Ronald Reagan was President. Peter Cetera, Klymaxx and Survivor got seemingly endless radio play. Kids were entranced with those creepy Cabbage Patch Kids, and that even creepier Teddy Ruxpin. Ronald Reagan was President. Benny Goodman, Vincente Minnelli and Ted Knight died. And Ronald Reagan was President.

Summer movies ran a similar gamut, from the resplendent to the abysmal. To wit:

May 23: Memorial Day weekend, not yet considered a tentpole release date, kicked off the summer with the dreadful Sylvester Stallone action flick Cobra, opposite the anemic Poltergeist 2: The Other Side. Which was just as well, as audiences were still piling in to see Top Gun, which had been released the weekend before.

May 30: A pathetic day in movie release history, as audiences had to choose between Thunder Run, starring Forrest Tucker and John Ireland (total take for entire box office run: $145,975) and the tepid Indiana Jones imitatorJake Speed. Hey ... the stupendous success of Top Gun is really starting to make sense now, isn't it?

June 6: It looks like this is where studios thought that summer truly began -- Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered his own brand of two-fisted justice in Raw Deal, while Spacecamp offered the ludicrous notion that Kate Capshaw would be a better actress if she was accidentally launched into space with a bunch of kids. Also in theaters: the My Little Pony movie for the young 'uns, and Tobe Hooper's criminally underappreciated Invaders From Mars.
tags fandom