This one is a biggie. This one comes as a confession too. In my defense I was a fan of horror movies before I was a fan of rock music. So I saw The Lost Boys at the cinema when I was definitely too young to see The Lost Boys at the cinema. I thought from getting into the film and by virtue of that (not to mention being mates with Suzie the Goth at School) it’s soundtrack (INXS and Jimmy Barnes!!! I loved that one too) that People Are Strange was an Echo & The Bunnymen song for quite a long time. I mean the name stands out. On Top Of The Pops when they’re doing the run down. It’s the sort of band name your parents snort at as the Kiddie Cuddler who’s reading the charts aloud mentions them for the fifth year in a row. That sort of thing makes a kid like a band even more. Even before you’ve heard them.
After Crocodiles, Heaven Up Here, Porcupine and the peerless Ocean Rain, 1985 brought us Bring On The Dancing Horses from the Bunnymen’s first compilation Songs To Learn And Sing. Then in 1987 the self titled 5th album proper remoulded the goth new wavers as something bigger. Echo & The Bunnymen had released three UK singles in ’87 from that album. People Are Strange was the fourth.
The film is a lot of fun still to this day. Joel Schumacher was hot off the back of his big hit St. Elmo’s Fire and used similar casting stunts with Teen Beat heart throbs to build his gang of cool vampires who go to war with The Frog Brothers and their Grandpa. In hindsight it’s an action romp not a horror film. At 12 I thought it was the frikkin’ Exorcist.
Schumacher built on this high school age horror with the higher education setting for Flatliners before making the burned out adult fantasy/nightmare Falling Down at the dawn of the 90’s.
There’s the three stages of 20th Century Man (and or Woman) right there. Then he went on into some very iffy territory with the ‘take the money & jump the shark’ entries of the Batman cannon that were so bad they managed to kill superhero movies for at least until the next century arrived.
He also made promos for INXS, Smashing Pumpkins, Seal and Lenny Kravitz in his time. His biggest hit with me though is his video of footage from The Lost Boys inter-cut with the promos that went before from those first four E&TBM albums that makes up E&TBM’s People Are Strange.
At the time the track felt like a streamlined jet black streak through the song. In hindsight, it’s a sparse cover version. Akin to a board mix of the baritoned original track from Strange Days The Doors second album (which also got a film made around it Strange Days the movie is a Sci Fi oddity that deserves its own post). The originators definitely had the darker aesthetic to their sound. The Bunnymen were kinda just playing at it on this one. Still, the impetuousness of youth. Once I heard that People Are Strange was a cover I just had to hear the original. Inquiring minds want to know.
Whenever I hear either version in public and see other people singing along, the urge to chant “One of us! One of us! One of us!” over and over is quite strong. Goths never die. But they do go grey eventually.
So thanks Joel. Thanks Keifer 24 and Ian McCulloch, Will Sargeant and all those other Bunnymen. My first taste of Northern English rain soaked goth rock came from a Hollywood movie set in Santa Carla echoing Venice Beach 20 odd years earlier. Still, those faces come out of the rain one way or another.