A big thanks to our friend Dr. Jose for penning this guest post, a follow-up to his original article about ’80s movie tees! His incredible homage to cult film can be found at cameraviscera.com.
*Ominous, uplifting music cues over black screen — think Brad Fiedel’s Terminator 2 score*
“…Just when the world had lost all hope…”
*Fade in: Explosions; burning cities; fleeing, screaming masses of people*
“…in ever reading another piece about iconic and obscure t-shirts from ’80s movies…”
*Machine gun sounds effects; shattering glass; culminating in big block letters smashing into the screen*
*Pan up to me, wearing cool t-shirt. One foot resting on the bumper of a rusted, burnt out hull of a car. Trusty dog by my side*
“Dr. Jose’s Favorite ’80s Tees… Part 2. Playing now at a blog near you!”
Yes, it’s true, I am back to talk about more of my favorite ’80s t-shirts. Forgive the long, excessive (and quite frankly, expensive) intro. But y’see, I had to take advantage: it is as close as I’ll ever come to having a real-life badass opening like that. Plus — and perhaps, most importantly — this article is a sequel! Like all sequels, it has to be bigger, badder, and more overblown than the first one. And if it fails at succeeding the original article’s awesome list of ’80s tees, well, we’ll always have that killer intro, now won’t we?
So without further ado, here are more of my favorite ’80s t-shirts!
Big‘s Billy Kopecki had a lot on his plate for only being 12. A family that ignored him, a best friend that mysteriously transformed into a 30-year-old overnight. It couldn’t have been easy for ol’ Billy. But no matter how much he had on his mind, he didn’t let it get in the way of his killer style. He wears a lot of horror movie t-shirts throughout the movie – which is undeniably cool – but my personal fave is this Gumbo shirt he wears during one brief scene. A mash-up between Gumby and Rambo, it’s the type of bootleg gem you’d snag at a state fair or boardwalk arcade. I’d kill to have this thing!
Oh boy. I really can’t say enough about Summer School and its resident gorehound, Francis “Chainsaw” Gremp. I related so much to this character growing up, and still do today. The love of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the obsession with bloody special effects, the bedroom covered in pages torn from Fangoria Magazine. No kidding, the man is truly my spirit animal. He even shares my love of quirky t-shirts! Above, he’s rocking something you might pick up in the Florida Panhandle during Spring Break: an image of an alligator decked out in a Hawaiian shirt, lounging and sipping one a-them drinks with the umbrella in it, above the words “party time”. But that’s not all!
Later in the movie we see Chainsaw in a shirt that says “Eat the Rich”. Now, this same-messaged t-shirt would pop in Adventures in Babysitting, which happened to be released the same year as Summer School. Also released in 1987? Motorhead’s album Rock ‘n’ Roll, which featured the single – you guessed it – “Eat the Rich”. Coincidence? I think not!
As Larry Storch (impersonating Cary Grant) once said: Judy, Judy Judy! As silly and simple of an idea as it is, everything about the shirt is strangely iconic, a fabric snapshot that forever preserves the fashion sense of a camper in 1983. Moreover, it’s the perfect outfit to sum up Sleepaway Camp‘s Judy character: a loud, brash brat who wants all eyes on her. Full disclosure: I once made a shirt with my name on it when I was a teenager. I went to the grocery store with my mom and immediately had a stranger shout my name. I’d forgotten I was wearing the shirt and had no idea how the person knew me. Safe to say, it was the last time this loud, brash brat wore that shirt.
These next few shirts – as far as I’m aware – weren’t made specifically for the movies they appear in. That is to say, the images they feature already belonged to long-existing properties. I’m not claiming the previous shirts were made for their respective movies, either – but they were ambiguous enough to seem as such. The following tees, however, feature recognizable (and copyrighted) images.
I haven’t seen Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home is many, many years – and I’ve not read many positive reviews of it since – but I remember liking it as a kid. It was like a poor man’s version of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which was just fine to little me – and it was one of those movies that always seemed to be on HBO. One of the main reasons I liked it was because Morgan, like the aforementioned Chainsaw Gremp, was an unabashed gorehound who lived in a world of latex monster masks, splatter magazines, and horror t-shirts – like the one seen above! The simple design, the great color combination, the snug fit: the perfect shirt.
In 1984, single adults (who lived with a roommate who also happened to be their co-worker at the local diner) could lounge around after a shower in an oversized t-shirt with rolled up sleeves which featured children’s cartoon characters – and it wasn’t weird at all. People who don’t understand what made the ’80s so great needn’t look further than this screenshot to help them understand why it was one of the best decades ever. Sure, nowadays 30-something adults can hang out in t-shirts featuring The Rugrats or Ren & Stimpy and no one bats an eyelash – but that’s because nothing is cool or strange or impressive anymore. In 2016, where everything is commonplace and ubiquitous and unimpressive. The nerds are also jocks, and anyone can be a punk. But I digress. Linda Hamilton in Terminator looks downright quaint wearing a shirt featuring The Flintstones – something worn for comfort due to its age versus any sort of hip fashion statement.
And finally, we have John Cusack in Say Anything… (Kinda looks like he’s talking to Linda Hamilton up there, doesn’t it?) With his role as the sweet and earnest Lloyd Dobler, Cusack secured his teen heart throb status – especially amongst those who preferred their good guys painfully realistic. But it’s safe to say without exaggeration that Lloyd literally wouldn’t have been able to do it without his favorite Clash tee, as he wears it in almost every scene. After working out (seen above), while laying on his bed talking on the phone, while kicking the broken glass from Diane’s path as he walks her home, and yes – even during the most memorable scene in teen romance history, with his arms outstretched above his head, boombox gripped by his hands, Peter Gabriel blasting from the speakers – Lloyd was clad in his Clash shirt. Combined with the baggy sweatpants and tan trenchcoat, it’s an iconic teen uniform if there ever was one – and a really easy Halloween costume to boot.
Well, that’s all for now, mutants. Between this article and the last one, I’ve talked about almost 30 of my favorite ’80s movie t-shirts. But there are plenty more out there to be spotted, appreciated, and taken note of. What are some of your faves and which ones am I missing?