Col Buchanan's Fierce Gods is the fourth and final book in his 'Heart of the World' series, published yesterday. Col stopped by the blog to tell us about his very first pop culture love - the classic 1984 Ghostbusters.
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In my early teens, before Science Fiction and Fantasy became a life-long obsession, I sought escapism through the big popular kid's movies of the day - which just happened to be all those the 80's classics like Back to the Future, The Goonies, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Gremlins, WarGames, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, the original Star Wars trilogy ...
At the time, I was attending a day-release prison for the young (aka secondary school), and in order to survive that particular ordeal, I began to skip classes so I could hop on a bus or train to Belfast, alone or with a friend, to catch the afternoon matinée in the cinema. It was the only cinema in the city, and if I remember rightly, it only had two screens. I'd find people queing around the block in the bright daylight waiting excitedly to see whatever was showing that day. After waiting my turn I'd pay my saved-up pocket money for a ticket and hurry into the darkened theatre, where people would be munching on popcorn, treading over the chewing gum stuck to the carpeting, speaking in eager hushes. And then, finally, the curtains would raise from the screen, the projector would spray its light over our heads, and there were the living images I'd travelled all those miles to see, larger than life in every way. The movie starting with a lion roaring loud enough to make me jump, or a peal of trumpets, or a charging unicorn. And then the real magic of the opening scene.
One afternoon I was fortunate enough to catch the premiere of Ghostbusters, one of the funniest, most wise-cracking kids' movies ever made. I laughed when Bill Murray got slimed. I laughed when the guys were in the lift and they switched on one of their packs for the first time – 'an unlicensed nuclear accelerator' no less - and the other two backed away behind Ray while his pack whined ominously. I laughed and I laughed, but I was thrilled too by what I was watching. Wow wow wow, I thought.
When I spilled out into the daylight again I felt transformed. Like I'd just had an education worth a thousand days of 'schooling'. Like I'd just had a religious experience. That was the effect these movies had on my young mind. While the rest of life seemed to involve endless rules and drudgery that made little sense to me, here was clarity. Here were the joys and freedoms of creativity lingering fifty feet tall in my head.
From those early days came a realisation that endeavours of the imagination could be a means of escape. And consequently, my life-long pursuit as an escape artist.
When I look back on it now, whiskery yet still boyish, the 80's seems like some kind of Golden Age for kids' movies. The 80's was an era when a younger generation of movie directors threw their hearts and talents, quite unabashedly, into making some of most iconic kids' movies of all time, and some of the most POPULAR ones too. They showed that pop culture didn't have to be reduced to the lowest common denominator for the sake of profits. Pop culture could have genius and soul and still be appealing to millions of people.