I have a confession. I just ran through a scene of dialogue in my head. From start to finish. I do this often, but the movie that dominates my brain waves usually is Labyrinth.
I still remember the first time I saw Labyrinth. It was 1987 and my father had rented it for me. I really do not remember why I hadn’t seen it in the theater. Perhaps since it was released on June 27, 1986 and opened in 8th place behind The Karate Kid, Part II and dropped to 13th place by the second weekend, I just never had the chance. Nevertheless, I remember watching it that night in the “side porch” TV room of the house I grew up in.
It was dark. Really dark for a 7-year-old. I watched the opening, immediately envying the beautiful young Jennifer Connelly, and by the time that light switch stopped working for her, terror was engulfing me. I kid you not. While I love scary movies now at the ripe old age of 33, back when I was a kid the mention of a horror film sent shivers down my spine. I’ve always been one to have nightmares where the lights won’t work, so when Sarah flipped that switch and Toby stopped crying, I wasn’t sure what I had gotten into. Of course, she had to turn around, calling out to him as the rain and lightning and thunder began to pick up and then the kicker. That damn light switch.
I remember a bit of panic as she flipped it back and forth with no success. Then the crib. That horrid growling noise from the convulsing baby blanket as she crept closer and closer.
Then the reveal.
I jumped from the floor and ran to the back of the TV room so that I could see into the kitchen of the house. “Daddy, I don’t like this.” I cried out.
But soon, a calm was about to come over me.
The panic. The owl at the window. The goblins appearing and disappearing. Sarah’s panicked breath. The doors bursting open to the flapping wings rushing and…
David. Freakin’. Bowie.
The wind tousled his hair and cape. The mist of glitter through the air. That music. Oh god, that music.
I was in love.
Labyrinth became a staple in my life. And I mean one of those permanent “you can’t just use a crowbar / you have to use the strength of King Arthur to remove the sword from the stone” type of permanent staple. I watched Labyrinth every week, if not every day, of my childhood. This lasted for years beyond as well, watching a worn-out VHS copy of a copy every night of my first year at university.
It’s interesting that I never really collected the merchandise as a kid that came from this highly influential film. I think I just never had the opportunity. Of course, this changed as I neared adulthood and had my own checking account.
Let’s start at the beginning…
As I mentioned, I watched a worn-out VHS copy of a copy with my roommate Tracey back in 1997. Why a copy of a copy? Well, that’s all there was. At the time, Labyrinth had not seen its revival. No, you could only scour this newish thing called eBay and attempt to get an old ex-rental copy for maybe $100 if you were lucky. I kid you not. Me? I went ahead and made a copy of my childhood copy which was a dub from the rental store copy. Tracey and I wore that tape out that year. Some nights we’d finish the film before we dozed off. Sometimes we’d never make it near Hoggle’s introduction. We had to wait until 1999 to finally be able to buy Labyrinth in the stores again. And this time, we could get one of those cool new DVDs. Wow.
After that year, I was able to find a Labyrinth poster on eBay. I honestly don’t remember how much I paid except for the fact that I sent a money order. I didn’t even know what PayPal was at the time. I ended up with an amazing theatrical poster from the US and an even more amazing copy of the Spain release.
Next to add to the pile was a lobby card. Originally, I was only able to obtain the Sarah and Jareth ballroom scene card. I am almost certain I spent at least $15 on the one card. Still, it was glorious and I framed it and kept it close to me. Eventually, I was able to get the complete lobby card set.
Labyrinth was a kids’ movie and that meant a ton of great merchandise was made for it. A lot of merchandise that I am still learning about. If you are of my era, you probably remember how epic birthday party supplies could get. Sure, now you can get Disney princesses or Transformers, but back in the day you could get some amazing movie and TV tie-ins. Little did I know that Labyrinth had a complete party kit. A few months ago I came across an unopened pack of Labyrinth paper plates. Paper. Plates. I snagged them, no doubt.
Beyond the weirdness of paper plates, through the beauty of eBay I also found a set of Dixie Cups. Though I am still searching for an unopened pack, having these guys is pretty awesome.
And I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to own Labyrinth gum. Yes, gum. I found this a few years ago — a box with five packs each featuring a different character. The seller even threw in a promotional pin.
Labyrinth, of course, had a book version. It also had comic books, activity books — you name it. I have both the novel and a photo album. The novel is very rare, apparently, and I was lucky I found it at a half-price book store instead of buying one off eBay for $100+!
The greatest part of Labyrinth for me is David Bowie. I adore him. His music is amazing, so I feel pretty cool to have Magic Dance on vinyl.
Newer merchandise came about a few years ago, with a ton of good stuff like this darling little Jareth bust. I also have poster books and a talking Jareth doll.
Really, I own a good amount of Labyrinth memorabilia that I continue to collect. And in comparison to some, I have a tiny collection. However, again, these items remind me of great moments throughout my life.
Sure, it all started when I was that scared 7-year-old, but to carry Labyrinth in my heart to this day is a feat not many are brave enough to endure. There is no way I could ever say that Labyrinth has no power over me.