“Cult classic” is a term that gets thrown around quite a bit nowadays. There are even films that purposefully hope to earn that title as if there’s some formula to attain the status. But true cult classic films are created with the best intentions and through the sheer will of the fans, they become something greater than anyone could ever imagine. The 1986 BMX film, “Rad,” is one of those films. And on this episode of The Playlist Podcast, we talk to the star of “Rad,” Bill Allen, as the unlikely hit celebrates its 35th anniversary.
Odds are, you aren’t super familiar with “Rad,” so here’s a quick history. “Rad” came out in 1986 and tells the story of the young Cru Jones (Allen), who risks it all to fulfill his dream of being a professional BMX rider by competing in a massive event called Helltrack. When it was first released, it was far from a hit. It wasn’t until the film came to VHS and was available to rent in video stores that it became a cult classic. And as the years went by, a very passionate fanbase grew.
But the big problem for fans of “Rad” is that there was never an official home video release that was widely available. So, many fans, like myself kept bootleg copies and watched it over and over again that way. However, last year, Vinegar Syndrome released a 4K restoration of the film, and this year, in honor of its 35th anniversary, “Rad” is getting a massive one-night-only release around the country as part of a Fathom Event on October 14.
In the interview, we talk about the history of the film, and the incredible popularity that has grown into “a tsunami,” as Allen puts it, over the decades.
“I used to check in just randomly on where [‘Rad’] was on the iTunes chart, when it first came out [on digital in 2020] and it was consistently beating tiny films like ‘E.T.,’ ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ and ‘Chinatown,’” said Allen. “At that point, I went, ‘Well, it’s not really a cult film, is it?’ It’s actually a mainstream film that hasn’t gotten the play like a ‘Goonies’ or other films of that era…but certainly, it has an audience.”
Even though it wasn’t an immediate hit when it was released in 1986, Allen was always confident that “Rad” would eventually find its audience.
“I really felt like it was a game-changer and was going to make its mark. And it did! It just took longer than I expected,” he said.
As for the future, the big question is “what’s next?” If “Rad” is more popular now than ever before and “Cobra Kai” has proven that you can take an ’80s film and make it just as popular now, will this film get the chance for a sequel or a new series? Allen is confident, though he doesn’t know when it might happen.
“Yeah, I think [a sequel series] would work,” Allen said. “It was just such a cliffhanger ending. And ‘Cobra Kai’ has shown us how you can take a story decades later and make it relevant. All these things are open to discussion, so we’ll just have to see.”
He added, “I think the wave of love and interest this film has created is just a tsunami and it will find its way. I just don’t know how that’s gonna look or when it’ll be. I’ll just leave it at that, at this point.”
“Rad” is getting a one-night-only 35th-anniversary theatrical release on October 14 through Fathom Events. You can hear our full discussion below:
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