This Day in Horror History: STAND BY ME Was Released in 1986

By Josh Millican

The Summer of 1986 made me the horror fan I am today. It was the season of Aliens, The Fly, Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, and Stand By Me. While the latter was released nationally on August 22nd, Stand By Me was given its initial, limited release on August 8th and so, today, we celebrate the film’s greatness.

While no one will ever argue that Stand By Me is a straight-up horror movie, the fact that it’s based on a short story by Stephen King made genre fans take notice. The outstanding direction of Rob Reiner combined with a powerhouse cast that includes Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, and Kiefer Sutherland made one hell of an impression. Stand By Me remains an enduring classic.

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If it’s been a while, or if you’ve yet to experience the hormonal comradery and adolescent terrors of Stand By Me, give the trailer and synopsis a spin below.

After learning that a stranger has been accidentally killed near their rural homes, four Oregon boys decide to go see the body. On the way, Gordie Lachance (Wil Wheaton), Vern Tessio (Jerry O’Connell), Chris Chambers (River Phoenix) and Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman) encounter a mean junk man and a marsh full of leeches, as they also learn more about one another and their very different home lives. Just a lark at first, the boys’ adventure evolves into a defining event in their lives.

Related Article: Revisit STAND BY ME in 4K Ultra HD with Never-Before-Seen Footage!

After director Rob Reiner screened the movie for Stephen King, he noticed that King was visibly shaking and wasn’t speaking. He left the room and upon his return, told Reiner that the movie was the best adaptation of his work he had ever seen. (Source)

Kiefer Sutherland claimed in an interview that in one of the locations of the film, a Renaissance Fair was being held and the cast and crew attended and bought some cookies. Unfortunately, the cookies turned out to be pot cookies and two hours later, the crew found Jerry O’Connell crying and high on the cookies somewhere in the park. (Source)

As with most of Stephen King’s stories, this one originally contained connections to other books he has written. Ace Merrill later re-appeared in the book Needful Things (1993), although he does not appear in the film. The dog Chopper is compared to Cujo (1983). Characters are familiar with Shawshank Prison, from The Shawshank Redemption (1994). Teddy Duchamp was actually first mentioned in King’s first book, Carrie (1976), in which Carrie destroys a gas station he once worked at. (Source)

Stand By Me Pez Poster - This Day in Horror History: STAND BY ME Was Released in 1986

Are you a fan of Stand By Me? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! You can also carry on the convo with me personally on Twitter @josh_millican.