The Video Dead (1987)

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There’s a scam in the low-budget movie world. It’s a variation on the “make a cool poster, sell that to distributors, then make a film based on the poster”, but it’s a little more advanced. Have you ever watched a movie which started off really well, got you interested, then suddenly dropped off a cliff of quality after the first five minutes? This is often associated with a change of location or characters, or both.

 

The big secret is, they make that first five minutes to secure funding, and distribution, and all those other fun little ways low-budget people stay in business. Then, when they’ve got their money, based on the expectation that the rest of the movie will be as good as that first five minutes, they knock out any old piece of cheap crap. This crap will then get sold to cable channels, video rental places (now streaming services, I guess), eke out a meagre profit and the cycle will continue. The ur-example of this is Fred Olen Ray’s “The Tomb” from 1986, which starts off as an Indiana Jones-style adventure before switching to a series of people talking on telephones, but I think “The Video Dead” is a dishonourable member of this group.

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The scam in this instance is a first five minutes featuring a writer, depressed-looking, sat in his scruffy house with real dead goldfish when the doorbell rings. A couple of delivery guys bring him a TV, even though he didn’t ask for one. Or, indeed, anything – which makes the bit a few minutes later when the delivery guys realise they mixed up a delivery for the local Occult Studies Centre not really make sense – but never mind that, the TV keeps turning on and showing “Zombie Blood Nightmare”, which looks like a fun movie. One of the zombies emerges from the TV, a pretty cool effect if we’re being honest, and when the delivery guys come back for their TV they find the corpse of the writer. Boom!

 

And then they make the switch. This first part is well acted, filmed, tightly edited and has tons of promise – I actually turned to my wife, smiling, and said “I think this is going to be a good one”. But then logic gets thrown out of a window, and the movie goes down the toilet.

 

Now, you might be thinking “why do you expect logic from a movie about zombies coming out of a TV?” but that’s just letting crappy low-budget movies off the hook. The more times you ask “why did X just happen?”, the more you’re drawn out of the movie, and when there’s no reason for it, it just comes across as lazy. So, to begin, the zombie TV. The local occult place is aware of it, even if they allow it to be transported by the world’s dumbest delivery company – so when the writer dies, one would assume they’d ask for it back, or at the very least it’d be taken away by the police, the estate agent or the writer’s next of kin. But no, it’s just in the attic! Did it teleport itself up there? For what purpose?

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Three months later, and a new family moves in – a woman in her late teens and her slightly younger brother. It appears the woman is going to be the star, then the movie decides to concentrate on the brother and “The Garbage Man”, who’s apparently a zombie tracking / supernatural TV set expert (even though he waited three months before trying to track the TV down)…before switching back to the woman for the last 15 minutes or so. The Garbage Man tells them the rules of the zombie game, and the movie helpfully ignores both his most important instructions.

 

First up, zombies can apparently take on human “shells” and trick us living folk. This would be an interesting idea if the movie ever used it, but it’s just mentioned once and then ignored. They sort of hint one of the main characters might be one of these zombies right at the beginning, but it’s just a red herring. Boo, movie! Secondly, zombies can’t be killed by normal weapons, but if you do enough damage to them you might trick them into thinking they’re dead. Can you then just re-bury them? Oh hell no, that would be bad, you just have to leave them lying out to let nature take it course – but when our “heroes” do this, the zombies just lay there for a few minutes, before realising they’re zombies, waking up and getting back to killing.

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What else can we add to the cavalcade of stupidity…how about the way the Garbage Man, after baiting a trap with the brother, immediately falls asleep, managing to stay that way through the sound of a shotgun blast from thirty or so feet away? Or how the brother, despite apparently being a horror movie fan, knows none of the rules? Or the way the Garbage Man prefaces the request to hang brass bells everywhere as a zombie detector with “Don’t ask me how or why, but…”

 

There’s the faintest whisper from time to time that this is a self-aware comedy, but there just aren’t enough jokes in it to warrant the description. The way the daughter handles the zombies at the end is great, but it’s a funny situation with nothing to back it up. Such a miserable shame of a movie, with an ending that manages to be deeply nihilistic and utterly pointless at the same time. And the name! I guess video shops were right at the peak of their popularity in 1987, so I understand the filmmakers were using something in the zeitgeist, an ancient and honourable tactic. But…there’s no video in it. It’s a zombie-infested TV – which I admit is splitting hairs slightly, but with such a cool title I at least wanted to see it delivered on!

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For such an extremely low budget movie (estimated cost $80,000, filmed on weekends when the cast was free over the course of a year) some of the flaws are kind-of explained. Actors would disappear for great swathes of the movie because they just weren’t available when the crew were; and the zombies themselves look excellent for the money. But it’s still boring and stupid, and you don’t need cash to avoid that.

 

Rating: thumbs down

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Dude Bro Party Massacre III (2015)

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The question on everyone’s minds is, of course, can the guys match the sheer brilliance of parts 1 and 2 of this storied franchise? Obviously, you’ve seen them – you’re not a fool – and you’ve been waiting for what the guys can deliver…

 

Yeah, sorry, I hoped that joke would have more legs. 5 Second Films, the hilarious group / website that’s made some brilliant, if somewhat short, movies in recent years, decided to make a full length movie based on a slightly longer “trailer” they’d made for “Dude Bro Party Massacre 3”. One successful Kickstarter campaign later, and a mysterious benefactor who doubled the Kickstarter take, and we’ve got ourselves one of the funniest, best judged, best filmed, best acted slasher film parodies in years (this and “The Slashening” are really showing how good this particular sub-genre can be).

 

The high-concept stuff of this film is that it’s the sole surviving copy of a movie deemed too violent, so all the prints were destroyed, recorded from a late-late-night cable-access TV channel on its last ever showing. This allows them to have the odd bit of VHS “noise” on the screen, which is a lovely touch for those of us who spent many an hour trying to tweak with the tracking of some old tape to get it to play properly. Plus, they play snippets of fake adverts too, in keeping with their 5-second origins – my favourite being one for a compilation album, which I grabbed a screenshot from for you:

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After surviving the murderous rampage of a sorority house “Mother” in part 1, then “Motherface” in part 2 (the killer’s daughter, wearing her mother’s face over her own) it looks like the rest of the Delta Bi fraternity have got to withstand yet another attempt from Motherface – but didn’t they kill her? Ah, who knows? The frat are the regulars at 5-Second Films, plus a couple of special guests – Greg Sestero, co-star of “The Room” and author of the fantastic “Disaster Artist”; and Andrew WK as party animal “Rip Stick”. The first person we see killed is Brock Chirino, who has his throat cut by an unseen therapist; Brock has a twin brother called Brent, and he decides to try and infiltrate the fraternity to find out what happened.

 

Without even trying too hard, this movie does a couple of very clever things. First up is reversing the genders of the traditional roles in the movie – while we’ve had female slashers before (eurgh, “Sleepaway Camp”) they’ve always been fairly equal-opportunity about the people they’ve slashed. Motherface is going after those frat guys and that’s all she’s interested in, and they even throw in a guy who’s super-worried about losing his virginity to his aggressive girlfriend, a lovely touch.

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Clever thing two is making the victims the villains. Frat pranks are normally toilet-papering the Dean’s house (so I’ve been led to believe, Americans and their traditions are a mysterious world to me sometimes), things of that nature. Delta Bi’s pranks have involved causing two planes to crash over an orphanage; destroying a dam and flooding an entire town, killing thousands; and the thing that stopped the Dean from expelling them for the other things, bringing down a South American dictator thanks to a hot-air balloon playing heavy metal music. Absolutely brilliant, and the straight way the unimaginable carnage is played is hilarious.

 

Now’s the time when I’d normally say something a bit negative, to balance things out, but I got nothin’. The largely unknown (to me) cast nails their parts, Sestero has learned to act since “The Room”, and even ancient TV host Larry King is pretty funny in his tiny cameo. You’ve got clever little montages, an amazing running subtitle gag, porn star Nina Hartley showing she could probably go “legit” and have a decent career…it’s just really well done.

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We’re in a bit of a golden age for indie horror comedy, so drop a few £ on “Dude Bro Party Massacre 3” (available wherever movies are streamed or sold) and have a guaranteed good time.

 

Rating: thumbs up

Reel Baseball: Major League 2 (1994)

I was going to write a serious, normal sort of review for this movie. Then I thought it’d be a lot easier to just publish my review of the first one again BECAUSE THEY’RE REALLY REALLY SIMILAR

Now that shout is out of the way…I appreciate there’s not a ton of different things you can do with a baseball movie. “Plucky band of misfits win the day” is by far the simplest, but the problem for the producers of this movie is, they already did that and the Cleveland Indians are winners now. So, what to do, what to do? The answer is – spend the first 45 minutes of the movie turning them back into loveable losers! Willie Mays-Hayes (now played by Omar Epps, as Wesley Snipes had become a star since 1989) has a knee injury so isn’t as fast as he was; Roger Dorn (Corbin Bernsen) buys the team and is terrible at being an owner; Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger) retires to become a coach; Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert) becomes a Buddhist and doesn’t care if he hits or not; and coach Lou has a heart attack and is relegated to a hospital bed for most of the movie. In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her cameo, Rene Russo pops up to give Berenger some advice which he completely ignores. I get the feeling she was in town for half a day and they got her to film a scene – still, it’s good to know they’re still together I guess?

Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) has a transformation greater than them all. He becomes a corporate shill whose crazy days seem far behind him, with a beautiful blonde agent / girlfriend, abandoning the 2nd grade teacher girlfriend he apparently had the previous year. This is Nikki (Michelle Burke), who despite working with troubled kids thinks Ricky was much better before – which in this case was when he was a violent troublemaker, in and out of jail (where we met him at the beginning of the first movie). I hope you’re getting a flavour of where this is going.

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So when the team is torn down again, just before the halfway mark…they run what amounts to a repeat of the first movie. Dorn sells the team back to Rachel Phelps, the villain from part 1, even though when her plan to run the team down and move it to Miami was discovered, she’d have definitely been barred from ever owning another team again. She does the same dirty tricks she did in part 1, the team bonds the same way they did in part 1, and they get all the way to the World Series, one better than they did in part 1. The primary antagonist (Phelps isn’t in it enough) is catcher Jack Parkman (David Keith), who is signed by the Indians, treats the rest of the team like garbage then is traded to the Chicago White Sox halfway through the season – guess who they need to get out in the last game of the movie?

Reading the IMDB goofs section for this is fun. They get pretty much every aspect of baseball wrong, from simple matters of fact like batting orders changing from inning to inning to blatant rule infringements (catchers aren’t allowed to insult batters at the plate, for one). They rip off the most famous incidents in the game’s history, like Babe Ruth’s called shot and Willie Mays’ overhead catch, almost casually; okay, this is worse if you’re actually a fan of baseball, but there were real players involved with the movie who probably could have told them this stuff.

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Again, like the first movie, it’s a drama with comedy elements awkwardly welded on. Bob Uecker as the commentator tries to provide laughs but fails, Randy Quaid as the mouthy fan in the bleachers is just loud and annoying, and while the team are mostly strong actors, comedy doesn’t appear to be their thing – honourable exception to Dennis Haysbert, whose new religious faith is played pretty well (although I’m sure Buddhists are able to compete at sport, the same as everyone else).

A couple of years ago, during Charlie Sheen’s “troubles”, they were evidently planning a new “Major League” movie, ignoring the part 3 that was made in 1998 (which a surprisingly large number of cast members – minus Sheen and Berenger – returned for). No-one mentioned to Charlie at the time that the entire cast would be a tiny bit long in the tooth to be baseball players, and unless they were all going to be coaches? Anyway, it was a bad idea, and it looks like it’s been dropped, plus Sheen’s star is somewhat less bright than it was then.

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“Major League 2” did manage to predict the future, in two odd ways. The Cleveland Indians made the World Series the year after this movie was released, their first time ever; and their trading for a Japanese player (comedian Takaaki Ishibashi) predates the influx of Japanese players into baseball by a number of years. But sadly, that’s not enough to make it a good movie, which is a damn shame as there’s tons of potential for a great comedy to be made about baseball. It’s not going to offend you, and there’s gentle laughs here and there, so go into it with very low expectations and you might be okay.

Rating: thumbs down

Another Midnight Run (1994)

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Pointless sequels litter the average multiplex like ground up popcorn underneath seats (and are about as edifying). But “Another Midnight Run”, the first of three made-for-TV sequels to the 1986 classic, is something a bit different, and that’s why I’d like to take your time banging on about an almost completely forgotten, virtually impossible to get hold of movie (I didn’t even know it existed until fellow ISCFC reviewer Kilran suggested we watch it).

If you’ve seen “Midnight Run”, you’ll recognise the characters, if not the faces playing them, although they’re all solid hands. Stepping in to Robert DeNiro’s shoes is character actor Christopher McDonald; bail bondsman Eddie Moscone, formerly Joe Pantoliano, is now Dan Hedaya; and other bounty hunter Marvin Dorfler is now Ed O’Ross, aka the guy who plays Russians so often it’s genuinely surprising to hear him do an American accent. Downgrades in all cases, for sure, but not too bad.

As you’re really only going to watch this movie if you’ve seen that first one – a classic, although one which on rewatch could stand to trim a subplot or two – you’ll have a couple of fairly important questions quite early on, questions which the movie never answers. First up is, er, how are these people still working together? Jack Walsh let “The Duke” go at the end of “Midnight Run”, costing Moscone Bail Bonds $450,000 and almost certainly driving it out of business. Marvin was arrested at the airport along with the Mafia guys. The assistant at the bail bonds place was arrested due to working for the Mafia. And Jack Walsh left the business to set up a coffee shop. There’s no way! You might think “this is probably a prequel, right?” and circumstantial evidence would back you up – McDonald is certainly younger than DeNiro, and Ed O’Ross has a full head of hair in the way that the former Marvin Dorfler didn’t. But…

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Like I said, the movie never answers this question, so if you assume it’s a prequel (and there’s at least as much evidence to say it isn’t than it is, the title for one) you’re just trying to make the movie make sense, like fan-fiction. Actually, fan-fiction is a perfect way to describe much of this movie, as if the reason we liked the first movie was the characters and not the fantastic central relationship between DeNiro and Charles Grodin; and the script which expertly dovetails the strands of plot in a funny and clever ending.

This alternate universe Moscone Bail Bonds pays the bail for a couple of con artists, Bernie Abbot (Jeffrey Tambor) and Helen Bishop (Cathy Moriarty), who of course abscond. Jack is given the contract for Bernie, with Marvin getting it for Helen; but Jack captures them both, and there’s a whole thing where he tries to get them back to LA from San Fransisco, one form of transport fails, etc. etc. Here’s the second time you people who had the temerity to watch “Midnight Run” will be scratching your heads – Jack, a former cop in Chicago, is both remarkably taciturn and pretty smart. It takes a lot of work from The Duke before Jack opens up, and an amazing performance is required to fool him, the only few times it happens. The Jack of “Another Midnight Run” is both talkative and so mind-buggeringly stupid that you’re surprised he’s able to dress himself every morning – Bernie and Helen trick him constantly, escape from him on multiple occasions, get him arrested, and so on. Perhaps the worst example is when they complain of a noise from the boot, get him to stop the car, open it, hand them something heavy, then lean into the boot so he can be bashed over the head and trapped in there! I know children who wouldn’t fall for that! When you discover that he could have escaped from the boot instantly by kicking the back seats forward (which the movie doesn’t actually tell us deliberately), it’s merely the rotten icing on the cake of dumbassery.

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Even if this was a couple of episodes of a proposed TV series hurriedly edited into movie form when someone decided not to go ahead with it, it’s still rotten. I’d take two episodes of…pretty much anything, over this. Let’s compare this to a similarly light, basic cable procedural show like “Leverage”. You know how every episode’s going to end up, pretty much, you know no-one serious is going to die, but there’ll be twists and turns and cons and thefts and a variety of crime-based fun. The script for “Another Midnight Run” would have been rejected for that show for being too stupid, and this is something that’s being sold to us as a movie.

There are two more movies to go, and I’ll probably end up watching them out of some morbid curiosity, but I’m just so disappointed. Not a single bit of effort was made to make this movie enjoyable – it’s a moron being constantly outwitted by a couple of unlikeable assholes for 90 minutes.

Rating: whatever below thumbs down is

PS – don’t believe me? Think I’m just trying to have a laugh? Look at the poster at the top of the screen. See that awful photoshopping? They couldn’t even be bothered to have McDonald take a photo in his own character’s outfit to provide a cover. Screw this movie.

Torque (2004)

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Although “The Fast And The Furious” is a world conquering franchise these days, with its most recent instalment one of the highest grossing movies of all time, there was a time when it was just another (albeit very good) high-budget B-movie about the frankly rather silly subculture of street racing. Back in 2004, Warner Brothers saw the bandwagon and jumped on, giving a decent budget to music video director Joseph Kahn, along with a script from first timer Matt Johnson.

And that’s where things get a little strange. Kahn realised how ludicrous it all was and wanted to make what he called “a dumb movie for smart people”, parodying all the silliest ideas and bits of the first two “Fast and Furious” movies. The studio, on the other hand, wanted none of that, so in that conflict Kahn just snuck in as many jokes, references, and wildly OTT moments played dead straight as he could – in the grand tradition of movies like this, it lead to a bit of a disaster at the box office and Kahn retreating back into the world of music videos (although he’s just done the new Taylor Swift one, and he did that “Power / Rangers” short film too, so he can’t be short of a few quid).

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11 years on, how does it all hold up? Co-star Adam Scott still has a lot of time for it, once doing a live commentary along with comedian Doug Benson at a showing; and with the ISCFC’s love for failed OTT comedies (think “Hudson Hawk” and “Double Dragon”) it’s right up our street. So, of course, I loved it, and its awful critical reception (currently 3.9 on IMDB, 24% on Rotten Tomatoes) indicates a heck of a lot of movie reviewers and fans just didn’t get the joke.

There’s not a lot of time in 80 minutes for all the bonkers things they want to do, as well as a plot, so we neither get nor need a lot. Biker Cary Ford (Martin Henderson) is back in town, 6 months after fleeing both a redneck biker gang and the FBI; he abandoned his girlfriend Shane (Monet Mazur) to protect her, but wants her back and wants to put everything right. He stole bikes belonging to the rednecks,  which are full of crystal meth – very different-looking to the meth we’re used to on “Breaking Bad” – and they want them back, the FBI wants them (and Cary), and thanks to a murder the rednecks are pinning on Cary, all-black bike gang the Reapers, led by Trey (Ice Cube) want him too.

TORQUE, Monet Mazur, 2004, (c) Warner Brothers

TORQUE, Monet Mazur, 2004, (c) Warner Brothers

All this is just the bare minimum framework needed to do two things. One – throw in as many digs at “The Fast And The Furious” as possible. Cary absolutely smokes a couple of guys in supercars at the beginning, driving so fast that he causes a road sign to spin round and read out “Cars Suck”; and there’s a line I’m surprised they got away with, where Cary says jokingly “I live my life a quarter mile at a time”, a direct lift from Vin Diesel, and Shane replies “that is the dumbest thing I have ever heard”. Two – stunts, stunts, stunts.

Just listing the wonderful insanity of the stunts will help to give you a flavour of what goes on. Cary and Trey are feuding, so chase each other through the desert and along a traintrack. When the train comes, they…both jump on top of the train and drive their bikes along it; then Cary actually drops his bike into a carriage and drives past a bunch of surprised commuters. It’s tons of fun, but it pales in comparison to the bike vs. bike fight. Shane and main evil biker lady China (Jaime Pressley, having a blast) fight while on bikes, almost jousting with them. It’s brilliantly done, hilariously over the top and even manages to squeeze in a funny, totally blatant bit of product placement.

Compared to this, the superbike race through crowded streets at the end (where both riders appear to break the sound barrier, so badly does the background blur) is almost mild; and the homage to the speeder-bike fight from “Return of the Jedi” is charming too. But, much like most of the movie, it’s tons of fun. The cast are having a blast – the ones in on the joke anyway; Adam Scott tells a story about seeing minor characters pumping iron minutes before going on set so their muscles would stand out! These people did not realise they were making a comedy, but luckily Scott did, and he steals every scene he’s in. Ice Cube scowls almost permanently; and brink-of-superstardom comedian Dane Cook pops up for a funny little cameo. None of it makes sense, really, and that’s just fine.

It’s a great film. Dumb stunts, fun comedy, manages the tightrope of being a straight movie with parody laced through it admirably. Ignore the fool reviewers who completely missed what makes it great, and give it a go.

Rating: thumbs up

Endless Bummer: Pick-Up Summer (1980)

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The mission of our “Endless Bummer” feature is to find the weird, the wonderful and the unappreciated among the “summer T&A” genre (also incorporating spring break movies). We’ll hopefully uncover a few forgotten gems, and re-bury some long-dead garbage; and our journey down many odd rabbit holes brings us to “Pick-Up Summer”. There’s a reason there’s only one good pinball movie, and it’s not really about pinball (“Tommy”, of course) – because it’s almost impossible to make a game so heavy with chance into anything dramatic. But they try, gol-darnit!

This film keeps the “super-awful theme music” run going, with a beautiful ditty called “Pinball Summer”. The seemingly random collection of images that accompany this song actually sort of introduce us to the cast and themes – two guys who look like they’re in their late 20s, but have apparently just graduated high school; two women who they either know or want to get to know; a biker gang who try and raid a pinball hall; a rich asshole and his girlfriend; some fast food location or locations (not sure); a simple-looking pervert; and some local politicians. Don’t worry, though, the “local politicians try and spoil the kids’ fun” subplot is dropped at about the halfway point and never mentioned again.

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Childish sense of humour? What now?

Greg and Steve are the two horndogs, throwing their books out of the window as they’ve done with their last day of high school (I’ll take a wild guess and say they’re not college-bound). Their brightly painted van pulls up alongside the car containing Donna and Suzy, and they act like this is the first time they’ve seen these two smokin-hot ladies, although it would appear two of them (I honestly can’t be bothered separating the four) have been in a relationship, sort of. They don’t leave their home town, just hang around the two shops the town has to offer – a pinball arcade and a burger place. The biker gang, who are a pretty gentle group of ruffians, decide to steal the trophy for the upcoming pinball trophy – incorporating the extremely un-sexist “Pinball Queen” beauty contest!

That’s your plot, really. The biker gang are a mild nuisance, the romances between the main four develop, “Whimpy” stares at womens’ breasts and acts like a complete moron throughout – doing a decent impression of that weird, gross, stupid kid you knew at school, or maybe that’s just how he was; women are carried about so often I began to suspect none of their legs worked properly; there’s at least two old perverts (one of whom who wears womens’ underwear) to go along with the young pervert;  and the actual “plot” of the pinball tournament turns up at 1:20 of a 1:40 movie. Only the big tournament isn’t anything of the sort – it’s just the head of the biker gang taking on Horndog #1, with the prize being a trophy and a date with Horndog #1’s girlfriend, who just won the hotly contested title of  Miss Dingy Pinball Place.

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There are three interesting things to talk about, relating to this movie and the time it was made though. First up is the amount of male closeness– Greg and Steve hug a lot and seem entirely comfortable with being physically intimate; and the biker gang at one point are staring in a window to see Whimpy have sex with a prostitute. One of the bikers gets so turned on he grabs his friend’s ass and starts humping him; five years later, that move would have got him shot, but here all it elicits is mild annoyance.

Second is the video arcade. “Space Invaders” was released in 1979, “Pac-Man” in 1980, “Donkey Kong” in 1981, and the number of video arcades doubled between 1980 and 1982. I would lay good odds on the pinball arcade featured in this movie, in real life, either converting to video games or going out of business in a few years – and that lends it a rather quaint quality.

That quaintness brings me to my last point, and that’s “Porky’s” and the influence it had on this sort of movie. I assumed (correctly, as it turns out) that this movie was originally called “Pinball Summer”, but when the pinball craze died out and the teen T&A craze picked up, a little repurposing was done and this movie was probably re-released. “Porky’s” was insanely popular, mostly due to its worship of its teen male audience – it’s about people like them, but who stand up for themselves, prank the teachers, get illicitly drunk and see naked ladies. Wish fulfilment, in other words. “Pick-Up Summer” is nothing like that, at all – our two heroes are only interested in the two ladies, even the main bad guy is faithful to his lady-friend (who does provide most of the movie’s T&A quotient), and the plot, such as it is, is king. While “Porky’s” was set in the early 60s, this movie could have been made in the early 60s – okay, it’d have had no nudity, but that would have to be the only change.

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A couple of random thoughts before we go – firstly, directed to the photo above. To make her horndog jealous after an argument, Donna asks evil biker Bert (Tom Kovacs) to take her for a ride. She starts off secretly resenting it, only doing it to spite her man, but as you can see, she seems to discover something about herself and really gets into it. This potentially interesting subplot is, of course, completely dropped the instant she gets off the bike. Shame, that.

Then we have Whimpy, one of the more repellent characters in movie history. He was played by a guy called Joey McNamara, who hadn’t acted before and never would again (an uncredited role the same year notwithstanding) – yet check out his IMDB page for a couple of photos clearly taken very recently. Respect to whoever decided to update the page of a guy with basically one credit to his name!

Also, in terms of T&A movies, this one gives the women a fair shake. Donna and Suzy drink and smoke weed with the guys, aren’t just there for sex, and are the guys’ accomplices much more than the shrinking violets their sort of characters would be portrayed as in thousands of later movies. Okay, it’s a long way from perfect (the shaming of rich asshole’s girlfriend is a little unpleasant) but it’s at least worth pointing out.

Lastly is the pleasantly surreal ending. The pinball machine that our two competitors have their big match on? It’s called “Pinball Summer” and has pictures of the main cast, their vehicles and stuff from the movie on it. It’s not drawn attention to, really, but it’s a nice touch. Perhaps it was an early directorial flourish from George Mihalka – this was his first movie, he’d do “My Bloody Valentine” the next year and then go on to a long career (still working , most recently on insane Canadian show “24 Hour Rental” in 2014).

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So, while it’s all sorts of rubbish, and doesn’t so much have a plot as a central location where people sort of pass through, it’s enough fun to warrant a watch.

Rating: thumbs in the middle

Endless Bummer: Lauderdale (1989)

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While this might not be the worst movie we’ll cover as part of our “Endless Bummer” feature, I’d very surprised if it’s not right at the bottom when all is said and done. It’s lazy, stupid, features subplots which are almost unbearable to watch, a swathe of deeply unlikeable characters, rotten acting, nothing approaching a joke and crumbles under even the most gentle scrutiny. Are you as excited as I am to go through this?

Yes, it’s on Youtube so you can join in with the fun. I’m not recommending you do, of course, but I’m going to spoil the hell out of it. You might be one of those people who is worried by a reviewer spoiling a 25 year old T&A movie, but if you are then I suggest taking a serious look at yourself. Or, never going on the internet ever again? Anyway, we’ve got some garbage to dissect!

 

It’s a rare movie that will have a full length music video, with basically no link to the rest of the movie, in the first five minutes. But “Lauderdale” is brave, some might say foolish, some might say shamefully cash-grabbing, so we get that music video, with a slightly out of tune singer, for no reason at all that I can tell. Both before and after, some dull-looking kid called Larry (Darrel Guilbeau, who does voice acting for English translations of anime these days) is discussing with his friend “Animal”, a very very poor man’s Bluto from “Animal House”, about how he can’t wait to go to Fort Lauderdale for spring break in order to bag himself a perfect ten. Oddly enough, one such woman strolls past him almost immediately (while he’s in Southern California, no travel involved), and he comes on to her and is rejected. Then, minutes later, another one walks past, and here the plot wheezes into action.

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I suppose this bit isn’t all that unusual for the movies of the time, but just this sort of thing is now a battleground for sexual equality. Women, for some reason, think they ought to be able to walk round without being constantly hassled by men. I know, right? Importantly, paying them a compliment isn’t enough of an excuse to stop them, because chances are you’re the tenth guy that day that’s said exactly the same thing, and it’s not as if they should be so delighted to be paid a compliment by some dull-looking idiot that they’d agree to sleep with them, or something. All “Lauderdale” does is provide a particularly ugly example of it. Here’s a tip for guys: no great relationship has ever started by stopping a woman on the street to tell her how beautiful she is.

 

The second woman is Heather, played by Janine Lindemulder. She went on to become a famous porn star (her acting in mainstream movies was, to put it mildly, awful); but that was a whole year in the future. Her performance, and the direction she presumably received, is utterly baffling – absolutely nothing fazes her, as she’s kidnapped maybe four times in the movie and as soon as she’s rescued just blithely goes on about her day, or rides off with her new boyfriend (who didn’t seem to be aware she’d been forcibly taken from wherever they both were).

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I’m slipping away from this movie again. Right, here’s the plot. Two guys who live a stone’s throw from the beautiful beaches of California decide, for some reason, to head all the way across country to Fort Lauderdale for spring break. So far, so good. They see Heather, Larry hits on her, she appears oblivious, then they see two guys kidnap her. Okay, plot! They rescue her and she takes Larry back to her hotel for thank-you sex…then starts perhaps the most interminable scene in this or any other movie, where she sends him out for Dom Perignon because it gets her horny. Room service don’t appear to know what champagne is; he goes to the liquor store across the road and meets “Beano”, who I’m confident was a local comedian who wrote all his own lines; then meets porn star Ron Jeremy as “Cycle Psycho”, who tries to rob the liquor store; then, for some reason, walks back to the (high end) hotel through a filthy alleyway, gets his bottle stolen and then buys another one from a tramp; and gets back to the hotel room to find Heather, who had another bottle in her luggage, a few seconds from passing out. And scene! Oh, they pull the “horny guy forgets super-willing woman’s hotel room number” gag, old as the hills even by this point.

 

The two guys, because they know where her hotel is, kidnap her again, but they’re so unbelievably stupid that Larry is able to outwit them (which he does on multiple occasions throughout the movie). My favourite is when, even though Heather has a full day’s head start on them and no-one knows where she is, the two dumbasses (names: Dick and Duke Dork) manage to kidnap her.

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Why do they keep kidnapping her? For some reason, she’s inherited a million shares of something or other, and needs to go to a meeting in New York to vote on…something? Trying to help her get there is…honestly, I’ve got no idea of the woman’s name, and IMDB is no help, so I’ll take a guess and say Rachel. She teams up with Larry, who ditched the spring break idea to go and help track down Heather, and the two of them track her down to somewhere else in California, then Texas, then two different places in Florida. She’s with surf legend “The Big Kahuna”, apparently, then she isn’t, then she sort of is again, by the end.

 

Larry and Rachel, even though they don’t like each other and don’t really share any nice moments during the movie, fall in love, “It Happened One Night” style; the baddie woman who’s in charge of the Dork brothers keeps leaving them alone with Heather, despite the fact that every time she does so it leads to an escape; and the evil woman’s boss…well, he has the best couple of scenes. We see him on the phone, with a couple of topless women just sort of dancing next to him, like the world’s most ennui-filled strip club. He presumably stands to benefit financially from Heather’s absence at the important board meeting – nothing like arcane business practices to get the blood pumping!

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What becomes apparent very quickly in this movie is how little care anyone put into making it remotely coherent. Animal shows up again at the end in Fort Lauderdale (although the movie barely spends any time there before going back to UCLA), with the two women who worked in the Texas lingerie shop that Larry and Rachel visited, perhaps because the movie ran out of money and needed a couple of hot women for a scene (one of them is Sherrie Rose from “Summer Job”, which is like Shakespeare compared to this movie). This is one example among many – there’s the time they track Heather down to an oil-wrestling bar in…Florida somewhere?…before having a quick oil wrestling match with three women (in a bar with a band), then Heather just leaving, finding clothes magically from somewhere and jumping on stage with another rotten 80s rock band in a different bar to do lead vocals on a song (which we see pretty much in its entirety). Ron Jeremy may well have played several different characters, as I’m not sure he’d have been thrilled to meet the guy who knocked him out and led to his arrest otherwise.

 

I don’t feel like I’ve peeled enough of the layers of this particular onion of stupidity, but you’d presumably get bored before I would. It’s rare to see a film as aggressively incompetent as this one, so if you’ve watched “Spring Break” and are in the mood for another movie which features someone going nuclear to win a belly-flop contest (presumably filmed at the same pool)m, or are doing some anthropological research on the real bars and bands of the Fort Lauderdale of the late 80s (a niche market, for sure), then pop it on. Otherwise, shoot anyone who suggests watching it.

 

Rating: thumbs down