There are many things I look back on fondly from my childhood. Grange Hill on TV, those plastic high-heeled princess shoes, and the acceptability of Findus Crispy Pancakes followed by butterscoth Angel Delight as a ‘proper tea’.
One of the other things I really loved was the high volume of sleepover parties I attended between the ages of about 11-15. Sharing a living room or loft conversion floor with all of my friends, our best pajamas, snacks, gossip, sleeping bags and a couple of choice films was one of the greatest ways to have fun. At my friend Stephanie’s house we had the whole top floor of the house to ourselves and were supplied with an amazing buffet that always included her mum’s addictive potato salad. At Emma’s house, her mum would make us giant bowls of popcorn and we’d lie on the luxurious cream shag pile carpet of the living room, watching episodes of Dynasty and talking about which character we would be (I wanted to be Fallon, but I also had an obsession with Joan Collins as Alexis Carrington)
My only issue was that we watched the same films all the time; Dirty Dancing and Grease. Dirty Dancing I didn’t mind as I enjoyed both Jennifer Grey as Baby and the bizarre soundtrack of 60s tunes and modern day pop (including Patrick Swayze’s very own classic, ‘She’s like the Wind’). Grease, on the other hand, was/is total bobbins.
I hated the songs, hated the characters (except for Rizzo) and really hated the whole storyline. I thought Danny was a moron and Sandy was a wet rag and the idea that you need to change to find love was abhorrent to me. Plus, when you have to watch it approximately 15 times in one year, it really gets on your wick.
However, there were occasions (including the sleepovers hosted at my house) when the film selection was much better. These are some of my favourites:
- Pretty in Pink
That there is an original, 1986 Pretty in Pink movie poster and it lives on the wall of my living room. I love most John Hughes films (though he didn’t direct this one, he ‘only’ wrote and exec produced it) but Pretty in Pink is one of my favourites and I could watch it repeatedly without getting bored. The characters of Andie, Duckie and Iona are fantastic and, as ever, James Spader gives excellent creepy bad guy. My only niggles with it are Iona’s ‘repectable’ makeover, and Andie ending up with Blaine but as you’ll know if you’re a mega fan like me, that wasn’t the original ending .
Molly Ringwald’s Andie was the sort of female character that then seemed to disappear from films in the 90s; an outsider who was happy to be so, who knew who she was and would not change just to get a boy. I loved her independence, her intelligence, her maturity in caring for her father and her obvious disdain for the over-privileged and spite-filled insecure girls she went to school with. I loved how her obsession with pink contrasted with the stereotypical notions of pink and girliness being weak and flimsy and airy fairy. That’s why I just didn’t understand her obsession with the insipid Blaine, man as blancmange.
The costumes and make-up are fantastic (let’s gloss over the whole prom dress thing) and, to this day, I still have dreams about owning a Karmann Ghia Coupe like Andie. It also has a fantastic new wave soundtrack, one of the first I ever bought, featuring Suzanne Vega, New Order, OMD, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Smiths, and The Psychedelic Furs.
Also recommended: The Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful, Sixteen Candles.
2. The Lost Boys
Teenage vampires before they became vegetarian and began sparkling in sunlight (though I’ll happily watch the Twilight films too).
This film had everything I could possibly want; the drama and excitement of the murderous gang of vampires, the comedic relief of Coreys Haim and Feldman and the hint of sexy romance between Michael and Star. Plus, one of the greatest lines of dialogue ever: ‘They’re only noodles, Michael’.
A great cast featuring the aforementioned Coreys, Kiefer Sutherland, Edward Herrmann, Dianne Wiest and, my own personal favourite, Alex Winter. The soundtrack is also really good. The film also has a special place in my heart because I once watched it at a birthday party and then stood up to find the boy I secretly fancied had tied my shoelaces together. This is a sign of real love, as any fule kno.
Also recommended: Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (the Alex Winter love was strong in my early teens).
3. Empire Records
OK, this one came out in the mid 90s so, technically, past my sleepover years. However, I have had several film nights with friends in which it has featured and I really think it still holds up as a great sleepover choice.
It’s the sort of film where parents are absent and teens are making their own life decisions about college, career, relationships etc. On top of this they all have great jobs in a record/CD shop (remember those?) and a pretty cool boss in the shape of Anthony La Paglia’s Joe. The storyline follows a day in the life of the record shop and its employees and it includes a lot of entertainingly weird stuff (though I doubt working in a record shop was ever like this). The film also stars a pre-Bridget Jones Renee Zellweger and Liv Tyler in the ubiquitous, Clueless-esque 90s girl uniform of a mini kilt and cropped mohair sweater.
One of the best parts in the film is the appearance of Maxwell Caulfield as cheesy and sleazy pop fop Rex Manning, ushered into the shop for a meet and greet with customers for ‘Rex Manning Day’. The fake video for his single, ‘Say no more, mon amour’ is brilliant. Oh Rexy, you’re so sexy!
Also recommended: Pump up the Volume, Clueless, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Those are my top choices and now I’m really tempted to hold a 40th birthday sleepover to watch them all!