Branded in the 80s at 80s cartoons, kid's books, toys, films, etc! <![CDATA[Garfield and Friends Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]>
It's a shame that I didn't get the DVD sets of the show when they were still in print.]]> Wed, 27 Mar 2013 02:12:46 +0000
<![CDATA[The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]>
I like to use cartoons such as this to shut up the ignorant people that always bleat out about how everything from the past is better than what's out now.]]> Wed, 13 Mar 2013 20:11:07 +0000
<![CDATA[Care Bears Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]>
Skip this mind and teeth-rotting garbage and go for Hayao Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro for a "cute" animated feature done right.

Finally, does it make me morbid to admit that I sometimes daydream of the US Navy Seals and Russian Spetznaz conducting a joint operation wiping out the Care Bears?]]> Wed, 16 May 2012 16:37:16 +0000
<![CDATA[Alvin and the Chipmunks Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> Sun, 11 Dec 2011 22:17:09 +0000 <![CDATA[Alvin and the Chipmunks Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]>
Though as bad as the 80's incarnations of these singing rodents are, the recent 3D incarnations make me cry tears of blood because of how abysmal they are.]]> Sat, 10 Dec 2011 19:27:37 +0000
<![CDATA[ A killer bear, a spooky mausoleum and a haunted bordello; sounds like fun to me]]>  
“Girls Nite Out”
I would have to say I found this movie to be the weakest in the collection.  Mainly due to the fact the title of the movie has no conduit to the film itself.  There never really is a “girl’s night out”, rather a long and drawn out scavenger hunt. This hunt takes place on a college campus and there is an escaped mental patient killing students.  Now the interesting twist is the killer is using the college’s mascot costume, which is a bear, as a disguise to kill.  Another interesting aspect is the killer has made “claws” with knives.  I believe this film pre-dates “Nightmare on Elm Street”.
However the first forty-five minutes of this movie is dull and there is no character development with the students.  I did find Hal Holbrook’s character interesting, but he is really a supporting player. There is some good gore and even a few creepy scenes but overall the movie is too long and disjointed for its own good.  As for the shocking ending, I found it lackluster and “Sleepaway Camp” did a better job.
Oh and I wasn’t sure when this movie took place.  I felt like it was the 1960s but it seemed like it was taking place in the early 1980s.  If it was suppose to take place in the 60s then the AC/DC and Nosferatu (1979 version) posters were textbook anachronisms.
2 out of 5 stars
“One Dark Night”
This movie I found to be the strongest in the collection, it was just different.  There are two stories in this film that end up blending together.  The first story revolves around Meg Tilly’s character wanted to join a popular group of girls.  It should be noted that these are high school girls so of course there is some tomfoolery to be had.  The leader of this “popular click” is played by Robin Evans.  Ms. Evans is absolutely stunning, the epitome of a California Girl with blonde hair, blue eyes and smooth skin.  Anyway, the click wants Meg Tilly to spend the night in a mausoleum as a hazing ruse to be accepted to the group.  Well Robin Evans is still sore about Meg Tilly dating her ex-boyfriend so she is going to make the night pretty tough on her.
The second tale revolves around a woman whose “creepy warlock like” father just died.  He has been buried in the same mausoleum where this hazing prank is transpiring.  The odd thing is he might not be as dead as we all think.  Adam West (Batman from 1960 TV show) has a supporting role as the son-in-law of the recently deceased “creepy warlock”.
This movie has mood and atmosphere going for it.  There is an eerie vibe that makes this film really shine.  I have read that many people are upset about the transfer on this DVD.  I found it to look pretty good; there are some scratches here and there.  Nevertheless, the picture is clear and the audio for the most part is crisp. I have seen much, much worse slapped on DVD for higher prices.
5 out of 5 stars
“Blood Sisters”
This movie isn’t bad, this movie isn’t great.  Here we have another hazing exercise, but it is for college not high school (yet does it really matter?). This sororitywants to have its new pledges spend the night in a haunted bordello. In addition, one of the fraternities has put all sorts of spooky things all over the house in order to really scare the girls. And this movie wouldn’t be complete without a killer on the loose.
The whole haunted bordello isn’t explored as much as it should be in this movie. In addition, there is a very slow build towards the end.  Yet the pathos of the 1980s, shoddy acting, sub par special effects and horror movie stereotypes really make this one enjoyable movie to watch. 
It should be noted that Joe Bob Briggs does commentary and an introduction for this movie.  Joe Bob is awesome and I have always appreciated his wry sense of humor.
3 out of 5 stars
The packaging of these movies is great.  They come in a standard DVD case that houses four disks, so no flippers here.  GNO is on disk one and the picture quality is very good.  ODN is on disk two and as noted prior the picture quality was good.  The third disk is features for ODN and an alternate version of the film called “A Night in The Crypt”.  I have not seen the different cut yet so I can’t comment on it.  Notwithstanding, it is pretty cool it is included.  The four disk is for BS and the picture quality is also very good and has the Joe Bob commentary and some trailers.
Overall this is a smart investment for horror or 1980s nostalgia fans.  I am glad this set is in my collection and will certainly be watching ODN again.  Fiscally speaking this mini box set is much more cost efficient then buying all of these movies separately.  So dim the lights grab a snack and get ready to have a good time.]]> Tue, 8 Nov 2011 16:06:56 +0000
<![CDATA[ Cramming for Finals Can be a Killer]]> As a huge fan of 1980 horror/slasher films I was very, very eager to watch “Final Exam”.  I had heard so much about it, both good and bad things.  In addition, I had seen the trailer/preview on other DVD releases but wasn’t able to get my hands on it.  The only DVD available at the time was out of print and being sold at a hefty price.  Adding insult to injury, I wasn’t able to rent it anywhere.  Therefore when this most recent addition became available I gobbled it up.


The story is very simple and basic, but aren’t all of these horror flicks from the 80s?  It is the end of the semester at Lanier College and most of the student body has left the campus.  The remanding students are studying and/or cramming for final exams, when they aren’t joking around. Enter the killer who roams the campus slowly taking out each student one by one. 


As for the characters, there is the usually gallery of college students (victims); the dumb jock, the obnoxious frat guy, the eager frat pledge, the nerdy guy the easy girl, the love struck girl and the nice girl.  The nice girl is Courtney and is played by Cecile Bagdadi.  Courtney is a pretty girl in a “girl next door” sort of way.  She is sweet and actually the film gives time for her character to develop a bit, which makes her a great “final girl”.


As for character development, this movie actually has it. This might seem odd for a slasher film but it is true.  All of the characters have apt amount of screen time before they meet their demise.  I actually found this refreshing, different and interesting.  I will return to this notion in a moment.


As for the killer himself, he is just some guy, some random dude killing people.  He doesn’t wear a mask or costume.  There is no complex origin of how or why he became deranged, he just is.  Actually from a distance he could be a stunt double for a young and frumpy Jim Belushi.


I recall hearing/reading that “Final Exam” is a failure in the slasher genre due to the following elements:


  • Extremely slow pace
  • Lack of gore
  • Banality of the killer
  • A wannabe “Halloween”


I must say I loved this movie for the same reasons it is disdained. 


Extremely slow pace


I found the slow pace a ruse to promote character development and build tension.  Not to mention the college campus setting was extremely different.  At believe at this point in time slasher films only took place at a camp.  The lighting and mood created many eerie aspects in this film.  The shot under the basketball score board is a prime example.  


Lack of gore


As for the lack of gore it really didn’t bother me.  There was blood in this movie, but there weren’t bucks of guts, blood and entrails.  I love gore in a flick but it isn’t a deal breaker.


Banality of the killer


The “insipidness” of the killer I found interesting.  Many times in these types of movies there is a long and winded story of why the killer came to be. In this movie the guy is just blooming nuts.  No rhyme, no reason, and no explanation he is just crazy and that is all there is to it. 


A wannabe “Halloween”


As for a “Halloween” rip off, no it really isn’t. Michael Myers is a complex character and Bootleg Jim Belushi is not. The only comparison I can make to “Halloween” and “Final Exam” is the catch phrases in the trailers.  In “Halloween” it is “The Night He Came Home”; in “Final Exam” it is “He’s Come Back”.  Since there is no background on the killer in this movie it is sort of silly to state “He’s Come Back” but whatever….


As for this DVD edition, it is pretty cool.  As for the transfer of the film, it is wonderful.  The picture is crisp and clear, as is the audio.  The movie has a “play only” option or watch the movie with an intro and outro by Katarina Leigh Waters. KLW use to be on WWE, I don’t really watch wrestling so this was my first exposure to her.  I found her intro to be great mainly because she gave some basic info about the movie but didn’t provide any spoilers.  I found her remarks witty and insightful.  The outro was also pretty cool.  She also provides a commentary track with one of the producers of “Final Exam”.  I haven’t heard the commentary yet. Another feature is some interviews with some of the cast from the film. There are also some trailers for other movies in this DVD series.


I absolutely loved “Final Exam” I loved the dualism within the title of the motion picture.  I will be watching this movie again and again for years to come.  I do think slasher and 1980s horror fans should give this a go.  This movie if nothing else is a testament that I have no plans to go back to college.

]]> Tue, 8 Nov 2011 16:02:22 +0000
<![CDATA[Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Quick Tip by CharlesAshbacher]]> Thu, 15 Sep 2011 02:19:47 +0000 <![CDATA[ Thats AWESOME you guys!]]>
Now, before I begin, I gotta say that the 80's show was a bit of an anomoly in the franchize.  It's the most kid friendly, marketable and least violent of the shows and movies.  The early comics were dark and violent where the Turltles regularily KILLED they're enemies and didn't guzzle Pizza and rarely made jokes.  The 2003 show tryed to emulate these qualities and the 90's movies were a hybrid of the two being serious, but still having levity.  The 80's show was cute, colorful and safe, so it's no wonder why it was the most popular of the series.  The creators put they're stamp on the show but still continued to make they're underground work to keep they're original fans happy.

The story if you didn't know is how 4 petshop turtles were mutated and taught martial arts from a mutated rat who looked over them as his kids.  They meet a human woman named April O Neil who in this carnation is a news reporter instead of a lab assistant/junk store owner.  Shredder was always the villain with rare exceptions to characters like Rat King and Leatherhead among others and the show had a larger sci fi slant to it with more far out ideas like anti gravity satellites, weather controllers and other gizmos.  The origin is fudged a little with Splinter having been a man who the mutagen turned into a rat and some other quirks but the results are the same.

The turtles in this carnation are mostly the same.  Leonardo is the "first son" and Splinter's best student who leads the Turtles on they're adventures.  Donatello is the brainier member of the group who works on cars and other inventions.  Michelangelo was the youngest and more adolescent but instead of having childlike tendencies, he had a surfer dude attitude as if he lived in California (never mind hes in New York) but Raphael got the biggest makeover.  While still rebellious in a way with his smart remarks, Raph in the original comic run was a hot head who hated his isolation and would lash out in violence.  Toned down for the kid show he is here and the nuances of being alone is a little deep for what was Saturday morning fare.  April as I mentioned was a news reporter and, can I say a babe ?  A big head of red 80's hair, a shapely figure stuffed into a form fitting yellow jumpsuit and a chest anime women would kill for?  Sometimes, no joke they even drew cleavage on her.  Yes, on a kids show.  What a great time to be young!

The turltes in an average episode would be making jokes, watching TV or eating pizza when they would get news of crime or Shredder up to no good.  Shredder was the chief villain in the show trying to steal a fuel source to power his mobile fortress the Technodrome or some way to defeat the turtles.  His henchmen were BeBop and Rocksteady and they were as dumb as a box of rocks.  His Foot Soldiers got increasingly more worthless as time went on and there were even times when victory was at hand and.......Shredder does nothing but retreat.  Heres two great examples, in one episode-Shredder comes up with a love potion to infect the Turtles and drive them in love with a woman they see, and with great love comes great jealousy.  So, why not POISON the turtles?  If your going to lace the food with something, why not poison and kill them off?  Heres another great one.  The turtles and April get caught in quicksand and can't get out, Shredder comes to rescue a captive foe and.......leaves the Turtles and April stuck and using James Bond villain logic will simply assume that they will die.  As soon as he leaves, the turtles find a way to get out of the trap.  Shredder, as awesome as he could be (voiced by James Avery no less) could be REAL dumb.

A sad fact that did rear it's ugly head eventually is that the Turtles were seen as violent for all the wee tots who were watching them and slowly but steadily after the mini series was over, the Turtles were much more slapsticky and wacky by beating foes with garbage cans, pies and whatever else was lying around.  If you've seen Turtles Forever then you know this got ratcheted up to 12.

The artwork was never bad, but you can tell changes were made after the first 5 episodes and it still looked good and the music as the show progressed had some great 80's fare for a kids show.  The theme song, rock'n as always, does make me realize I'm on memory lane when I fire these up in the DVD player.

It's a show that while it didn't age badly, the surf lingo and heavy presence they had at the time dates the show a little bit.  It can still be fun to watch and for me has those timeless qualities of youth and growing up.  It, was in the day and still is to many people AWESOME.]]> Mon, 27 Jun 2011 07:34:16 +0000
<![CDATA[Dungeons & Dragons: The Complete Animated Series Quick Tip by kfontenot]]> Wed, 1 Jun 2011 20:19:45 +0000 <![CDATA[Star Wars Animated Adventures - Ewoks (The Haunted Village / Tales from the Endor Woods) Quick Tip by kfontenot]]> Wed, 1 Jun 2011 20:19:19 +0000 <![CDATA[Care Bears Quick Tip by kfontenot]]> Wed, 1 Jun 2011 20:18:36 +0000 <![CDATA[He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Quick Tip by kfontenot]]> Wed, 1 Jun 2011 20:17:30 +0000 <![CDATA[Thundarr the Barbarian Quick Tip by kfontenot]]> Wed, 1 Jun 2011 20:16:55 +0000 <![CDATA[Muppet Babies Quick Tip by kfontenot]]> Wed, 1 Jun 2011 20:16:04 +0000 <![CDATA[Captain Power Quick Tip by kfontenot]]> Wed, 1 Jun 2011 20:15:26 +0000 <![CDATA[ThunderCats Quick Tip by woopak_the_thrill]]>
]]> Fri, 22 Oct 2010 20:40:17 +0000
<![CDATA[Thundarr the Barbarian Quick Tip by smurfwreck]]>,default,pd.html]]> Sun, 26 Sep 2010 15:40:11 +0000 <![CDATA[He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Quick Tip by woopak_the_thrill]]>
]]> Sun, 26 Sep 2010 02:52:30 +0000
<![CDATA[Thundarr the Barbarian Quick Tip by woopak_the_thrill]]>

 ]]> Sun, 26 Sep 2010 02:47:47 +0000
<![CDATA[ Yeah, well, uh, just keep your Power Gloves off her, pal, huh?]]>

I missed the flick in the theater because my family was in the midst of moving from Florida to New Hampshire during its theatrical run, but I know I helped to wear out a VHS copy at our new local video store when we were all settled.  When this flick came out the 8-bit Nintendo system was at its height and they just starting doing crazy stuff like introducing the Power Glove.  For all those unfamiliar with the PG, it's depicted in the picture above, which is also sort of a fanboy gripe as Fred Savage's character never wears the glove in the movie.  In fact, that's one of the cooler (or most stupid depending) parts of the film, when Lucas (the de facto villain) has one of his lackeys (one of which is a young Tobey Maguire) bring him a box that he slowly opens to reveal the glove.  It's such a James Bond moment.  It's also funny that the glove comes off as the best Nintendo accessory since the plug-in cheese slicer, when in fact it was one of the worst. The power glove was one of Nintendo's first shots at working in a virtual reality aspect to their games systems (after the Zapper pistol and the Robotic Operating Buddy) which has culminated in their new interface on the Wii system, though they didn't design the glove, just licensed it.  The power glove was heavy and required the wearer to position their arm in such a way that it was in the field of a trio of sensors that attached to the TV.  Because of this it was a pain to use, literally and figuratively, so what ever benefit it provided in terms of a more natural game-play, were out weighed by the pain of trying to use it.

The other Nintendo thing this movie introduced the public to was Super Mario Bros. 3, which at the time was starting to make its way around arcades thanks to the Nintendo Play Choice Ten.  Other than these items the flick is really shitty at pimping Nintendo merchandise as almost every instance that a game is mentioned in the movie is either factually wrong or just plain stupid.  First of all, most Nintendo games, even though they have a points system int he game, are not about getting a high score, but are more concerned with advancement in terms of boards or beating the game.  Points as a measuring stick were more of an aspect to Atari games, most of which don't have endings, but just get progressively harder as the game goes on.  There are so many instances were people are exclaiming "He got 50,000 on Double Dragon in the first two minutes..." which is both impossible and pointless.  There are also a number of times when a game is referred to as one name while the cabinet shows a different game entirely not to mention that most of the off screen game play sound effects are culled from the Atari library of games and just come off as silly.  When Jimmy is playing the Legend of Zelda and it sounds like Pac-Man it's pretty silly.  Don't even get me started on the fact that he was playing console only games in arcades around the country, up to and including a sit down horizontal table screen system in a diner of all places.  The most funny of these inaccuracies is during the final contest at the end of the flick when Super Mario 3 is revealed and the contestants are playing their hearts out and the crowd is shouting out what they should be doing.  I mean the game wasn't even released yet and people are shouting out crap.  "Find the warp zone Jimmy!"  WTF?

Anyway, beyond all these silly fanboy gripes, I always loved the film, I think because at its heart it's a road movie in the vein of Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Big Shots, Dutch, and National Lampoon's Vacation, and I really dig that format.  When you pit two or three kids against the open road I get huge pangs of envy as it's the ultimate freedom for a kid that's got both a curfew and restricted distance from the house he can travel.  For awhile this is the largest obstacle a kid has to face, starting with being able to cross the street, then leave the neighborhood, to finally being able to stay up past 9:00 at night.  So these movies, especially the Wizard, are a way for a kid to live out his most unrestricted dreams.  Even if it's just to get to Universal Studios and play a Nintendo game that he really doesn't even care about.]]> Sun, 26 Sep 2010 00:26:44 +0000
<![CDATA[ Don't you understand, the only thing I'm good at is riding this bike!]]> Growing up in the 80s I had a chance to catch the insane home video boom right from the beginning, what with all of the mom & pop rental shops opening and the initial flood of movie titles on VHS and Beta.  My family was a late adopter in terms of getting our own VCR, so instead we'd rent one every other weekend from a little store tucked in a corner of a Gooding's shopping center down the street from us.  As a kid I was a creature of habit when it came to renting movies, not only because I loved watching the same flicks over and over, but also because there were only a handful of titles that I was interested in packed into that tiny rental store.  I remember that the store was divided pretty evenly between Beta and VHS, and the little old couple that owned it only ordered the flicks in one format or the other.  For some reason my parents only ever really wanted to rent a VHS player, so I was severely restricted in terms of titles to rent.  Usually it was a choice between three or four movies, Red Dawn, War Games, SpaceCamp, and RAD, and for some reason the flick that I was always choosing was RAD.   It was also around this time that I realized just how much VHS tapes used to cost back in the day.  I think on my sixth or seventh rental I got up the courage to ask my mom for a copy of the movie for Christmas, so we asked the rental store owners how much a copy cost. ;'When they told us that a new copy of the movie would run about $110, both my and my mother's jaws hit the floor.  Owning VHS was apparently only for the very, very rich in 1986 (well actually it was aimed at store owners for rentals as the industry really hadn't caught a whiff of just how much people wanted to own copies of films.)

So I never got a copy of RAD on VHS, and later on when I starting building my own library of films, I was cheated again as RAD has never been officially released on DVD.   I had to resort to picking up a bootleg copy on ebay, which was just a crappy port of an old VHS rental ripped and burned to disc.  My copy did come with a nice bonus disc though, which included the majority of the RAD soundtrack songs.

The flick begins with the very iconic Tri-Star opening (with the Pegasus running kitty corner into the screen and then leaping over the logo), something that I associate with plenty of Saturday afternoons spent glued to the TV during movie marathons.

Anyway, I thought I'd sort of go through the movie chronologically and talk about the stuff I find interesting.  RAD is part of an unofficial trilogy of flicks in the 80s that touch on the 3 main popular extreme (for lack of a better term) sports of the decade (skate boarding, which was covered by the movie Thrasin', surfing covered in the seriously underrated flick North Shore, and BMX.)  Though there were a couple other BMX movies in the 80s (namely the Aussie flick BMX Bandits, which was more about escaping murderous thieves than BMX), none were as cool to me as RAD.  The opening features a plethora of professional BMXers free-styling over the credits, set to the rocking Jon Farnham tune, Break the Ice (which deserves to be held up with other 80s triumphant movie rock ballads like Rock Until You Drop from Monster Squad, and You're the Best from Karate Kid.)

The flick was produced by Jack Schwartzman, the husband of one of the film's stars, Talia Shire (and father of Wes Anderson regular Jason Schwartzman.)  It was directed by Hal Needham, the guy responsible for many of the goofy Burt Reynolds car-centric comedies of the late 70s and early 80s (like Smokey and the Bandit and the Cannonball Run series), so you know that he can handle the fast paced action of RAD.

I think it was during this credit sequence that I got the most jazzed while watching the flick.  The pro BMX riders doing all sorts of stunts (which I can only hazard a guess to what the names are by using the internets) would always get me in the mood to go outside and try them myself.  Trouble was that I'm horribly uncoordinated when it comes to most physical activities, not to mention that I'm deathly afraid of pain and looking too much like an ass (a trait I've since grown out of), so I'd get pumped, go outside to ride my bike (a sweet powder blue and white GT Performer covered in pink GT stickers), fall off once while trying to do a simple trick and then pedal back home in a huff.  Pretty sad I know.  Guess I would have been the definition of a poser.

Anyway, the flick's main star is Bill Allen who at the time was a 24 year-old guy who looked a hell of a lot like a young Powers Booth.  Playing opposite of Allen was a young Lori Loughlin, who would later on play Uncle Jessie's girlfriend/wife on Full House for six or seven seasons.  Rounding out the cast (in terms of the more known established actors) are Ray Walston of Fast Times at Ridgemont High fame, Jack Weston (who I remember mostly from Dirty Dancing, Ishtar and Short Circuit 2, but who also had turns in flicks like the Cincinnati Kid and the original Thomas Crown Affair), and H.B. Haggerty (who was a familiar wrestler and starred in another underrated flick from the 80s, Million Dollar Mystery.)

In the above screen caps you can take a gander at two of my favorite 80s BMX memories, the first being a fabled full pipe and the second my favorite freestyle move though I have no idea what it's called.  Basically it's when someone does an endo, starts pogoing on the front tire and whips the frame of the bike around in circles, stepping over it as it flips around.

The opening credits sequence is one of those (for me) breathtakingly awesome bits of 80s nostalgia and excitement that I revel in like a drug.   Between the sickly sweet fist pumping heartfelt ice breaking and right making anthem playing over the free-styling action, and the non stop montage of professional BMX riders doing all your basic tricks and such, it's just 80s perfection.  Every time I hopped on my GT Performer heading out for school in the morning, this is the kind of thing I had in my mind's eye.  Sure, I couldn't do much besides popping a wheelie or coming to a side-sliding stop, but I always imagined I was just as talented and, well, cool.  Never meant to be though.

Anyway, back to the film.   The action opens on Cru Jones and his two friends Becky and Luke, splitting up to do their morning paper routes…

What follows is a montage (of which this film has in spades) of the three playing out every possible BMX cliché and fantasy, at least in terms of riding around a local neighborhood goes.  There's riding through construction sites (which was always a favorite of mine growing up within a series of newly built subdivisions…)

…followed by the perfectly timed (or not so much so) jump off of one structure onto a car (and the hilarious wipe out that ensues, complete with straightening of hair and uttering the word "gnarly".)

To illustrate just how ensconced Cru and his compatriots are in their small town, the local fire department is shown getting their delivery mid-street at the appointed time, as well as a friendly garbage man who obviously gives Cru a 'lift' on a regular basis…

Of course, everything isn't wine and roses.  The filmmakers had to make sure and keep an edge to the characters, which is where the ornery residents of the 'hood come in.  You've got the guy who doesn't appreciate his paper thrown into his flower bed, and the most typecast curmudgeon of all time, Ray Walston, who gets a walkway full of spilled coffee and newspaper, courtesy of our hero Mr. Jones.

The sequence ends with Cru in the middle of town staring down an iconic clock tower pumped at another shot at his own best time.  Again, though this sequence is pretty cliché, it does address a lot of what it felt like to cut through my own neighborhood, using my regular shortcuts through golf courses, and light woods to get to school or my friend's houses.

There's even a nicely executed bit with Cru riding though a specifically rigged section of fencing (again, another childhood fantasy of secret passageways hidden throughout the subdivision), which he then turns to face revealing the plot of the film in an advertisement for Helltrack, a 7-Eleven sponsored BMX event coming to the small town.

Again, the plot is pretty straight forward with the corrupt owner of a BMX company (an actual company Mongoose, who I'm sure didn't realize how their company was going to be painted when they agreed to be featured in the film) putting on Helltrack to promote one of his star riders, Bart Taylor (played by real life Olympian Bart Conner), and securing a million dollar T-Shirt licensing deal.  The catch, and the entry of our hero into the story, comes with a local town hall meeting where the residents want to know if local talent can enter into the race.  After some thought, Mongoose owner Duke Best (played with plenty of sleeze by Jack Weston) decides that there will be a qualifying race, the top contenders of which will be featured in the final Helltrack race.

If you've ever seen a kids flick in your life you can probably figure out the rest of the film from here.  But this is beside the point as the cult status of this film isn't in its intricate plot shenanigans, but in the 80s laced cheese, and fun BMX sequences.  One of my favorite of which takes place in a lumberyard where our heroes have a clubhouse (again, another staple of my childhood fantasies realized on film.)  Again, like with the morning paper route antics, this group of BMX nerds is apparently frequently confronted by a local motorcycle cop (played by the iconic H. B. Hagerty) who chases them for sport.  In this bit, it involves riding around huge stacks of freshly cut & stacked wood, as well as a mountain of logs that Cru ends up very unconvincingly riding up to evade the policeman (you can see the planks through the logs the stunt rider used to scale the heap.)  It's crazy and over the top set to a goofy fun rock song called Get Strange by the act Hubert Kah.

Of course, there's also the angle of the Cru's home life with precocious sister Wesley (place in pitch perfect Peppermint Patty tomboy by Laura Jacoby), and his hardworking depressed mother played by Talia Shire (who brings way more gravitas to the role than the film probably calls for, but is plenty welcome.)   Basically, the old push and pull of Cru's hopes and dreams of becoming an ace BMXer, and his obligation to get good grades and go to college (the money for which his mother works hard to earn.)   It's not enough that there's a super evil greedy BMX company owner to contend with.

Completing the template set up by films like the Karate Kid, Cru also has to master that perfect race winning BMX trick, the awe inspiring 360 degree mid jump back flip.  It's surely the crane kick of this film, though is eventually more or less useless in the grand scheme of things.

The film really picks up steam with the introduction of the main villains of the piece, Bart Taylor and his twin toadies, Rod & Rex Reynolds (played by the dreamy real life twins Carey and Chad Hayes respectively.)  They're introduced in the weirdest fashion, a parade through the center of town.  Granted, the whole Helltrack business would probably be a big deal, but parade worthy?  I don’t know.  Of course, blowing into town along side Bart, Rod, and Rex is the lovely Christian Hollings (played by the one and only Lori Loughlin, who looks about ten years older than the character she was cast to play.)

One of the weird themes in this flick involves our hero Cru not always portrayed in the best of lights.  As I mentioned in the beginning of the film he's not the best paperboy, annoying shop keeps by riding through their stores, and knocking coffee out of senior citizen's hands willy nilly.  There's also a short bit with Cru jumping a fence into the school parking lot right into the middle of a group of yuppie teens, who granted probably deserved it, though it's still unprovoked and not the nicest.  During the parade, there is a weird sequence where Cru and his friends stop the parade to let a lady in a car on a side street through the traffic, but then to the angry sneers of the evil BMXers and being chased by the local fuzz, Cru beats a hasty getaway by jumping his bike onto a car and riding over it.  Maybe it's just the crotchety old curmudgeon in me, but this would have pissed me off and I'm sure dented the hood and roof to hell and back.  Maybe I'm just getting to old to appreciate these teen action flicks.

By far, my favorite sequence in the entire film revolves around a school dance that Bart, Rod and Rex are forced to attend while in town.  The scenes feature two of the zaniest, most ridiculous dance sequences ever put to film (including both Rodney Dangerfield performances in Caddyshack and Back to School.)  The first is the stupendously retarded evil line dancing bit, set to the song Music That You Can Dance To by Sparks.  Bart Taylor is decked out in his supremely "cool" suit jacket over a plain yellow T-shirt looking like a reject Billy Zabka clone and is dancing with a hussy all gussied up to look like Debbie Harry.   They're both so stiff and trying way too hard to exude sexiness that they come off laughable, particularly in their Macarena-like dance moves (don't you dig the crossed arms grasping the shoulders dance move?)   The look of evil intensity on their faces is offset by the absurd faux break dancing styles of the Reynolds twins dancing around a zebra-striped, skintight-lycra-wearing shell of a woman.  Hands down, the evil dancing craziness reaches a nice crescendo when the twins drop to the floor doing the god awful push-ups move, followed by a double dose of the worm that has to bee seen to be believed.

As all this is going on inside, Cru (who has come to the dance Dutch after being rebuffed earlier in the film), is doing a bunch of freestyle BMX tricks outside the school gym.  A crowd begins to gather, when all of a sudden Lori Loughlin arrives and a very tenuous, yet lasting connection is formed between the two star-crossed lovers…

…which leads to the single most insane dance sequence ever!

Set to Real Life's Send Me an Angel, Cru and Christian proceed to rip up the floor BMX style, dancing on their bikes.  The above screen captures just don't do this sequence justice.   In fact I don't have the words to adequately describe just how over the top, hilarious, and amazing this sequence is (check out youtube for the proof and judge for yourselves…)
This craziness is followed by a lightening fast procession of falling in love montage scenes set to With You by John Farnham.  Again, it's predictably hokey, but lovable just the same and ends with the oddly named Ass Sliding scene.  Why is there a nice concrete slide in the middle of the woods leading down into a nearby lake?  Don’t know, but it makes for some zaney love scenes…

Again, adding to the idea that Cru isn't the best person in the world, he ends up sort of cheating during the Helltrack qualifying races by riding outside of the boundaries to avoid entangling with the other racers, and skipping over obstacles.  It's a weird message to send to kids, and it sort of ends up muddying the film a bit.  Ces't la vie though.  The sequence is scored by the rocking Thunder in Your Heart by John Farnham, which is equally as high five inducing as the opening song Break the Ice.   It's rare that a movie like this get two fist pumping anthems…

Of course, by taking part in the qualifiers, Cru has to pass up on taking his SATs, and really pisses his mother off.

To complete the clichéd plot, Cru is wooed by both Duke Best and the evil BMX hussies to come ride for them, and just as soon as he turns them down, our hero finds more obstacles in the way of riding at Helltrack…

Enter the last bit of cult styling to the movie with the introduction of the Rad Racing team, as Cru and his friends find that they have to have a liquid corporate sponsor in order to ride at Helltrack.  The group decides to print up their own T-Shirts with their newly formed team logo and sell them to raise the money they need to race.

Of course in all the ruckus there is some strife for the blossoming relationship between Cru and Christian.   If this film holds the record for the most insane dance sequence, then it also holds the record for the corniest make-up love scene involving a god awful poster featuring pandas and ice cream, reenacted by the two doe-eyed lovers.

As a quick aside, take a look at that monster comic book rack in that ice cream/convenience store!

Again, falling back on the Karate Kid template, the film features a 'sweep the leg' moment as Duke Best informs Bart, Rod and Rex that they need to wipeout Cru no matter what it takes (punctuated by Weston knocking back some whiskey.)

The film builds to the crazy BMX track called Helltrack, and boy does it live up to its name.  Featuring an almost two story vertical drop and some craze jumps (for standard BMX bikes at least), not to mention a giant cereal bowl (of Kix no less), Helltrack was a very convincing set piece.

Again, another strength of this movie was that it featured a bevy of real BMX superstars…

A). Team Hutch – Jeff Ingram. B). Team Robinson – Richard Fleming. C). Factory DK – Robert Rupe. D). Powerlite – Danny Millwee. E). Redline Team – Scott Clark. F). Norco – Kirk Bihun. G). GT – Mike Napareho. H). Binghams Schwinn – Glen Adams. I). Peddle Power Rider – Chris Phoenix. J). Team Robinson – Travis Chipres. K). GT – Eddie Fiola (who also did most of the stunt riding for Cru in the Film as well as being the Technical Advisor on the stunts.) L). GT – Kevin Hull. M). Skyway – Richie Anderson. N). Vans – Beatle Rosecrans. O). Hutch – "Hollywood" Mike Miranda.

All in all, this is one of my favorite cheesy films from the 80s, one that I can watch a hundred times in a row and never get tired of.  I'm sure true BMX fanatics can't stand the flick, but as a kid I loved it to pieces.  Hopefully one day it'll get a true DVD release, but in the meantime I hear that Bill Allen is signing copies of the bootlegs (as well as selling headshots.)  Also, don't forget to check his site for some more Rad trivia, straight from Cru's mouth...]]> Sat, 25 Sep 2010 23:39:41 +0000
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