Then & Now: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

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Geoff Harris

Then:

There are defining moments in everyone’s life. Those moments when the universe opens itself and your life is turned inside out. Some moments are positive. Lightning strikes of such pure joy which resonate through your entire being. The moment is different for all of us but the effect is the same. Afterwards, we are changed and life will never be the same. I wish I could say I’ve had such a moment. Alas, no. However, I have had lots of little shocks to the system. Watching this film for the first time was such a moment. Every journey begins with a single step. One very big step for me was watching The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension for the first time.

Brain Surgeon. Rock Star. Scientist. Crusading force of justice. Buckaroo Banzai is all these things and more. A man of many talents and possessing an intellect far above the norm, He is torn in multiple directions at once. Mastering every discipline he could learn and surrounding himself with a crew of equally skilled experts in their respective fields to explore the outer reaches of science, engineering, and all things in-between. Buckaroo is a hero of the new age. A slick revamped Doc Savage with a sense of style to match his fierce dedication to fighting evil.

During a test of his latest invention, a refinement of his father’s work known as The Oscillation Overthruster, our hero’s jet-car literally transcends dimensional boundaries and crashes through the 8th Dimension, a strange world populated by bio-electrical beings called Red Lectroids.  The Red Lectroids were being held prisoner by the peaceful Black Lectroids of Planet 10.  What follows is a madcap romp to stop an alien invasion lead by Doctor Emilio Lazaro, a scientist now possessed by the evil Lectroids leader, John Whorfin.  (All Lectriods are named John.)

I fell in love with this movie before it ended. How could I not? It was odd. It had a weird premise. The characters were quirky and mysterious. Most of all, it set fire to my imagination. Yes, the special effects were rather “low-fi” and some of the makeup looked haphazard but I didn’t care. I had made a new friend and his name was Buckaroo Banzai.

Now:

A friend of mine and I went to Best Buy before it opened so we could be the first to purchase copies of the DVD when it came out.  Not that there was going to be a stampede Cabbage Patch Kid style but we were hardcore enough fans to make the effort. I have grown so much since the first time I watched Buckaroo and his Hong Kong Cavaliers square off against the Red Lectroids.

I had a slow evolution towards being a geek. The only time I ever heard the word was in reference to a circus performer who would bite the heads of live chickens and perform acts so vile and twisted they were considered anathema by proper society.

We had the sex-craving technophile Nerd, the manic Spazz, and the brain-dead Dweeb. Guys who hung out at comic shops and were these moody loners who kept to themselves and rarely spoke to strangers. My first real convention was a Dr. Who con in St. Louis and that was only for an afternoon. I wouldn’t get the full treatment until my first MidSouthCon here in Memphis. I was a shade among shadows. My social anxiety kept me from interacting with “normal people” but I did find a few lost souls like myself who also liked the movie and from that I moved forward.

In many ways I am like Buckaroo. I don’t hold allegiance to just one fandom. I try to sample as much as I can and take elements with me that I can share with others. I had my own style all through Middle and High school. It often brought me more negative reactions than encouragements. In a way, the movie had influenced me deeper than I had thought. Buckaroo carried himself with poise no matter what obstacle he had to face. His friends each had their own sense of self, mirrored in their dress and interactions. I found myself being drawn towards the moody outsiders; the drama club kids, the artists, the prideful, and the forgotten. My social life today is a rainbow of fandoms and interests rivaled by very few. I am a man who strides across many worlds. Some darker than others. Not all my friends co-exist with each other but isn’t that what makes the dynamics of relationships work? I have my Cavaliers too. We all do. They are the people we hold closest to us. The ones you know who will be there to watch your back, give advice on difficult problems, and help defend against whatever threatens you. Be it sadness, the perils of living in the real world, or even a stray Lectroid or two

Also, Buckaroo was rocking the bow tie long before Matt Smith.  Come to think of it, he also wore the tailred suit and cross-trainers before David Tennett. Makes me wonder…

 

 

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