Rupert Pupkin Speaks: VHS Gems Guest Post: Michael Koopmans ""

Monday, October 8, 2012

VHS Gems Guest Post: Michael Koopmans

Michael Koopmans writes for Fangoria Magazine ( and is part of the duo that is the Entrails from the Skeleton Closet Podcast (

Grunt: The Wrestling Movie (1985; Allan Holzman)
One of my four favorite things in the whole world in professional wrestling. Sadly, wrestling-centered films are few and far between. Even worse, good wrestling films are as rare as bad Family Ties episodes (that’s pretty rare!). Luckily, Grunt is not only good, it’s near perfect. This tongue-in-cheek mocumentary is a satire of the professional wrestling world (which is basically a satire of the real world); filmed during the most entertaining and larger-than-life decade the sport has seen. It’s centered around the search for “Mad Dog” Joe De Curso, who, in 1979, was disqualified from a title match after accidently decapitating his opponent in the ring. “Mad Dog” was found not guilty, but body slammed the judge anyway. Rumor has it that after spending 9 months in prison he took his own life. Cut to the present, and there’s something suspiciously familiar about a newcomer who calls himself “The Mask.” I’d be lying if I said you don’t have to be a wrestling fan to truly appreciate this gem. And oh yea, the decapitated corpse is still the champion since he hasn’t had a title defense since his death.

Hockey Night (1984; Paul Shapiro)
One of my other four favorite things in the whole world is hockey. Although not the best, it is the best hockey film not on DVD… and it’s not really about hockey. Using the sport as a backdrop, the film is basically about a young girl finding love while trying to survive in a boy’s world. Much more heart and intelligence than your typical children’s sports film.
I’d also like to add that this film technically is on DVD. However, the company which released it on DVD (as well as one of the two VHS versions), Feature Films for Families, edited out a handful of scenes (including a very tender moment) they found too questionable, ruining the entire film. So to me, Hockey Night is not on DVD.

A Gnome Named Gnorm (1990; Stan Winston)
Anthony Michael Hall is an LA detective whose key witness in a murder case is a gnome who was just trying to recharge his gnome stones in the sunlight when they were stolen by the killer. What else do I need to say? How about, “Jerry Orbach and Robert Z’Dar”?

Unmasking the Idol/Order of the Black Eagle (1986/1987; Worth Keeter)
These films are bad. But not bad-bad, they’re special-bad. Special in a way that they are bad in a way that they transcend the moniker “so bad it’s good” to a point where they become really good. Like, really fuckin’ good (can I say fuck on this blog?). Fuck! So there’s this secret agent/ninja named Duncan Jax who is an 80’s yuppie rip-off of James Bond and has a baboon for a sidekick who is much cooler than he is. Together, along with the help of some perfectly under-developed mercenaries, they must thwart an evil terrorist with the power of nuclear energy on his side, as well as a group on Nazis who plan to bring Hitler back to life and start World War III. Lots of comic book action and violence. Plus, the baboon drives a tank. I demand this be a double disc DVD set because I cannot fathom someone owning one and not the other. Yes, films involving monkeys or apes are also one of my four favorite things in the whole world. 

The Boy Who Drank Too Much (1980; Jerrold Freedman)
There are so many amazing made-for-TV movies and after school specials out there that I want to see on DVD, so I’m sort of just using this one as the example. The title basically sums up the entire plot, but what it doesn’t tell you is that the 15 year old alcoholic is played by Scott Baio and he’s on the high school hockey team. Bam! Two of my four favorite things in the whole world wrapped into one painfully hilarious misrepresentation of teenage angst!

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