Tag Archives: The Goonies

Rocks In The Attic #774: Dave Grusin – ‘The Goonies (O.S.T.)’ (1985)

RITA#774I sometimes worry that my kids are watching the wrong kind of films. They seem to exist purely on a diet of animated films – which isn’t that bad considering how well made the likes of Pixar and Dreamworks films are – but those films are always very full-on, very colourful and not exactly subtle.

I fear that when their tastes develop, they won’t appreciate nuance. Or that they won’t understand the joy of a perfectly composed camera shot. But most of all, I worry that they’ll find live-action films boring. It’s a fear that’s probably shared by lots of cinephile parents: have animated films turned my children into ADD viewers?

RITA#774aMy kids are a range of ages – seven, six and four at the time of writing – so it’s hard to judge what’s appropriate for them. They’ve seen – and love – the first Star Wars film (by that, I mean Episode IV, not Episode I – I’m not an animal). My wife’s also shown them a few live-action classics like Mary Poppins and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. I’m just eager to show them all of the films I was watching at their age. I tried them on Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie about six months ago and it was “too scary” for the eldest and the youngest. Middle-child seems to be unaffected by anything she sees.

I saw Return Of The Jedi and Octopussy at the cinema when I was weeks away from turning five (and Never Say Never Again a few months later in that most Bondiest of years), and had been watching recent films of the same ilk – For Your Eyes Only, The Empire Strikes Back – on video at home, yet here’s my 7-year old saying that a 40-year old superhero film is too frightening.

My almost-desperate need for them to like Bond films led me to showing them a couple of exciting moments from a few films – the Lotus Esprit driving off the dock in The Spy Who Loved Me, and the AMC Hornet barrel-roll in The Man With The Golden Gun ­– but none of them seemed to show any interest. My middle-child has been saying ‘The name’s Bond, James Bond’ to me in recent weeks, so perhaps there is some hope…

RITA#774bI recently showed them The Goonies, another Richard Donner film, and an evergreen favourite of mine since its release. It’s now generally accepted as a classic ‘80s kids film, but I don’t seem to remember it having such universal acclaim when I was growing up. The only people who liked it were myself and other weird non-sporty kids who liked action and sci-fi films. I never heard girls discussing The Goonies. They talked a lot about Bros and New Kids On The Block maybe, but never Back To The Future or Explorers. Maybe I was talking to the wrong girls.

I had better luck with The Goonies. My eldest – the scaredy-cat of the three – thought parts were too frightening, and watched half of it from behind the couch. The youngest fell apart at the scene where Sloth is introduced to Chunk, and didn’t watch any more. Middle child – again – loved every minute. I think she might end up being my cinema-buddy when she’s older.

The Goonies – alongside Back To The Future – might just be the most Spielbergian of the films the wunderkind is involved in but didn’t direct. In more recent times he’s lent his name to the likes of Super 8, but that film felt like a cheap attempt at capturing the spirit of Donner’s 1985 film: all style, no substance. Of course, Stranger Things owes more than a little to this film – although the ‘boys on BMXs investigating a mystery in small-town America’ trope is really only apparent in the first season.

RITA#774cI saw The Goonies at a midnight screening at Glastonbury one year with my wife. Three things stuck in my mind about the experience. Firstly, a drunk guy casually asked a girl if he could sit in the empty camping chair next to hers. She said that no, he couldn’t sit in her friend’s chair, and loudly proclaimed as he walked away, ‘What a loser; did he think all these chairs were just put here?” Secondly, as the Walsh father is about to sign the house over in the film, one clever guy in the audience shouted out ‘CHECK YOUR POCKETS!’ to a huge laugh. The drunk guy from earlier then repeated it, to little response. Yes, drunk, stupid and also a joke thief. The third and final take-out from the screening is that due to sound issues on the quite scratchy print, the dialogue wasn’t fully audible. As a result, the worse thing happened. My wife, who had never seen the film before, dismissed it as a bad film. She’s since watched it at home on her own and loved it – although due to her bad memory – she now can’t remember either watching it or praising it.

Listening to Dave Grusin’s fabulous score to the film, I’m really quite glad that it wasn’t composed by John Williams or any other Spielberg alumn like Alan Silvestri. I love both those guys, but Grusin’s score has such a childlike quality to it that would be hard to find in another composer. A Williams or Silvestri score to The Goonies would of course be excellent in their own right, but I’m just glad Donner and Spielberg chose Dave Grusin for this particular project. And given the connection to John Williams through Spielberg, it was that nice that he references Williams’ Superman: The Movie theme in the sequence on board the pirate ship.

This copy is from Varèse Sarabande’s 2018 first pressing of Grusin’s full score, on ‘Willy’s Gold’ double-vinyl (no. 477 of 750).


Hit: Fratelli Chase

Hidden Gem: The Fighting Fratellis, Sloth’s Choice And Ultimate Booby Trap


Rocks In The Attic #548: Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – ‘Stranger Things Volume One (O.S.T.)’ (2016)

rita548Clearly the pop-culture TV phenomenon of 2016, Stranger Things landed in July through Netflix – with all eight episodes released concurrently, providing the perfect opportunity to binge-watch. The show is steeped in nostalgia, tailor-made for somebody my age, taking its cues from science-fiction films of the 1980s, most notably the works of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, John Carpenter, Richard Donner, Joe Dante, Stephen King and Robert Zemeckis. It’s almost as if the kids from Stephen King’s It met up with Richard Donner’s Goonies and fell into a Carpenteresque, Spielbergian sci-fi horror.

On paper, that all sounds amazing, but the thing that clinched it for me is the heavily John Carpenter influenced soundtrack – all moody synths and drum loops – which really helps to place the show in the 1980s. I’ve written about John Carpenter’s soundtracks twice before – I’m a big fan – and this soundtrack stands up with the best of his work, but also touches on the likes of Vangelis and Tangerine Dream among others. Composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein are half of Austin-based synth pioneers Survive, a band I really need to check out. Stein and Dixon were brought on board after the show’s creators, the Duffer Brothers, used a Survive song in the mock trailer they created to pitch the show to Netflix. They were hired when the show was green-lit, with early demos influencing the casting process by being played over the actors’ audition tapes.

Season two of Stranger Things is planned to air some time in 2017, with the main cast fleshed out by the addition of ‘80s stalwart Paul Reiser and chief-Goonie Sean Astin.

Hit: Stranger Things

Hidden Gem: Kids

Rocks In The Attic #398: Various Artists – ‘Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version Of The War Of The Worlds’ (1978)

RITA#398I was listening to a film podcast the other day – the BBC Radio 5 Live radio show with Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode – and they were talking about must-see films for kids to watch before they reach the age of 10. Listeners were emailing with their suggestions and the usual suspects came up, leading to a definitive list being drawn up by the end of the show:

1. Karate Kid
2. Spirited Away
3. Finding Nemo
4. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
5. Star Wars
6. The Goonies
7. Watership Down
8. To Kill A Mockingbird
9. The General
10. Big

I’d agree with most of those – it’s bloody hard to pull such a list together with so many choices. Where’s Back To The Future? Where’s Raiders Of The Lost Ark? Ghostbusters? Jaws? What about the James Bond films – a multitude of options?

On the show, they were talking about films with a scary element or an emotional edge to them, which are usually the ones that stick in your mind at that age – hence Spirited Away and Watership Down in the list. I’d put Stand By Me in there also – although I’d probably only show that to a 9 or 10 year old. That Ray Brower kid by the train tracks probably isn’t a good sight for a 6 year old. I’d also put a wildcard in too – Joe Dante’s Explorers, from 1985 – a film that should have received a lot more attention than it ultimately did.

If I had to choose, my top 10 would be:

1. Star Wars
2. Jaws
3. Ghostbusters
4. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
5. Stand By Me
6. Explorers
7. Back To The Future
8. The Goonies
9. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial

..and my last on the list would be…

10. Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version Of The War Of The Worlds

Okay, so it’s not a film. But what other top 10 list for kids is it going to go on? Top 10 musicals? Surely only effeminate boys with an unhealthy interest in dressing up in Mummy’s clothes would be concerned with such a list. Top 10 prog-rock double albums? I’m not sure you’ve ever asked an 8-year old to listen to The Wall, but the nightmares inside the mind of Roger Waters aren’t for developing minds. Top 10 spoken word recordings by Richard Burton? The horror!

No, I put War Of The Worlds in there because it’s so good at drawing a visual picture of what’s going on (assisted by the great drawings in the booklet) that it might as well be a film. A great story (courtesy of H.G. Wells of course), great music, great narration by Burton and appearances by the likes of Justin Hayward, David Essex and Phil Lynott – what more could you want? Except a pair of huge headphones so you can really immerse yourself in the story). Jeff Wayne really pulled together something magical.

And for Bond films, I’d expect any 10 year old to have seen them all by that age anyway!

Hit: The Eve Of The War – The Black Smoke Band, Justin Hayward & Richard Burton (narration)

Hidden Gem: Horsell Common And The Heat Ray – The Black Smoke Band & Richard Burton (narration)