Rob Reiner was still known as a comedic filmmaker when he tackled Stand by Me, based on a nostalgic Stephen King story that ran dead-set against the author’s own reputation as a scare master. It turned out to be one of the best King adaptations to date, with strong performances from a very young Wil Wheaton, Jerry O’Connell, Corey Feldman and the late River Phoenix as a quartet of young boys who set out into the woods near their town to find a purported body. (The real scene-stealer, though, is Kiefer Sutherland as their slightly older nemesis… signaling a very interesting career to follow.) The movie was released today in 1986.
Over in the Land Down Under, we have Picnic at Hanging Rock, in which a group of turn-of-the-century schoolgirls and their teacher mysteriously vanish on an outing to an Australian national park. It not only cemented director Peter Weir’s status as a filmmaker of note, but heralded the emergence of Australian cinema as a major international force: paving the way for a bevvy of notable films to follow. It opened in its native Australia today in 1975.