It Came From the ’80s: Neighbors (1981)

March 15, 2011

Neighbors Movie Posterby Sheri White

December of 1981 was a heady time for me.

Kevin and I had been on-again since November, and he and I went to my school’s Christmas dance.  This was my first semi-formal dance, and I was so happy and excited.  I wore a beautiful light purple dress with a dark purple shrug-type cover; Kevin just wore a suit since it was a semi-formal.  I got my first corsage!

The dance was magical.  The DJ played the music of the day, like “Under Pressure” by David Bowie and Queen, “Harden My Heart” by Quarterflash, “Jesse’s Girl” by Rick Springfield and “Waiting for a Girl Like You” by Foreigner, which I considered to be “our” song after the dance since we slow-danced to it.

After the dance, we went to a friend’s place where parents made breakfast for a bunch of us.  Kevin and I hung out for a while, then went out to his car.  There was a little kissing and hugging, then the big moment – Kevin told me he loved me for the first time.  One of the best nights of my teen years (and of course I said it back!).

We were inseparable after that.  We lived in the same neighborhood, so we’d get together after school.  Kevin was working towards his Eagle Scout award, so one night his Scout Master gave him two tickets to see the J. Geils Band (“Centerfold”) in concert.  These weren’t just any tickets; these were tickets to sit in the Sky Suite at the Capital Centre, where they didn’t card you when you ordered drinks to be delivered to the room.  We had a BLAST.

Ackroyd and Belushi in Neighbors.

Ackroyd and Belushi in Neighbors.

Shortly thereafter, the movie Neighbors opened. It starred John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd, so we definitely had to see it.  In a bit of a twist, Belushi was playing the straight man while Ackroyd got his crazy on. Belushi and his wife were quiet people living in a quiet, normal neighborhood until Ackroyd and his wife moved in.  Wackiness ensues.

This movie was very strange.  Ackroyd and his wife pretty much terrorize Belushi and his wife throughout the whole movie.  From Ackroyd lewdly talking about Belushi’s daughter’s underwear to his wife trying to seduce and blackmail Belushi, the entire film is just a nightmare.

The whole movie just feels wrong, and I can still recall how uncomfortable I was during the film, not because it was raunchy and I was with Kevin (I was over that kind of thing with him by now), but because it was just so off somehow.  Neighbors was dark, warped, and just plain mean. But it was hilarious, the kind of funny you feel guilty about laughing at.  Like seeing some guy slip on the ice and snickering at him, only to realize he broke his leg.

One of the scenes I remember vividly is Ackroyd making dinner in his house while “Hello, I Love You” by The Doors plays in the background.  Ackroyd presents this meal as something he got at a new restaurant, but Belushi had seen him cooking it, and they argue heatedly about it, trading zings and one-liners throughout.

Kevin and I saw this movie with his cousin who was in town at the time.  I don’t remember his name; I was so wrapped up in Kevin and being in love that we could’ve seen the movie with John Belushi himself and I wouldn’t have noticed.  Which is probably why I don’t remember Neighbors as well as I do other movies from the 80s. I probably remember that one scene because I love The Doors’ music so much.

Kevin and I would be together until that awful night at his graduation party in June of 1982 when he broke up with me.  But until then, we had such a good time that winter, hanging out with our friends and going to parties together.  I wore his high school ring around my finger (taped so it would fit), and his letter jacket (shown off proudly at my all-girls’ school each day).

Do kids even do that anymore?

Well, young love doesn’t usually last, so about a month after Kevin and I broke up, I met Andy. It was July 4th and I was hanging out with friends on the Mall in DC when we began a summer romance that left me with a lot of great memories.

But again, that’s a story for another week…

Neighbors Trailer


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