Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Olive Films - THRASHIN', STONE COLD and JOHNNY BE GOOD on Blu-ray ""

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Olive Films - THRASHIN', STONE COLD and JOHNNY BE GOOD on Blu-ray

THRASHIN' (1986; David Winters)
"Tear it up today, Thrashin' U.S.A. uh-huh."
THRASHIN' started as kind of a joke movie to me. It was always "that skateboarding movie" that was kinda silly and starred Josh Brolin from GOONIES and Robert Rusler from WEIRD SCIENCE. It wasn't a movie that I watched a ton as a kid so it had some nostalgia for me, but not nearly as much as something liked RAD (the BMX movie) which was a true classic for me and my family watched it often when I was a younger. I still love RAD to death, but I've totally come around to THRASHIN' and it's become a true favorite for me. I love basically everything about it. The cast, outside of Brolin and Rusler also has Sherilyn Fenn, Pamela Gidley, Brooke McCarter (THE LOST BOYS), Josh Richman (HEATHERS, RIVER'S EDGE) and Chuck McCann. Apparently the director initially cast Sherilyn Fenn and her then boyfriend Johnny Depp (who was to play the lead) in the movie, but the producer later got cold feet and Brolin was cast. Also, real-life skaters Tony Alva, Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Christian Hosoi make appearances as well. I love Robert Rusler's rat-tailed skateboard kingpin "Hook", the leader of the evil skate gang "The Daggers". Down to his sinister laugh, Rusler just makes an awesome villain. I am also a fan of the loosely ROMEO & JULIET/WEST SIDE STORY plot that writers Alan Sacks and Paul Brown have hung the movie on. Sure there's lots of skating, but there's also forbidden romance between Hook's sister (Pamela Gidley) and Corey Webster (Josh Brolin). Skateboarding is inherently cinematic though and this movie has lots of gratuitous skating action to show off. It's pretty neat to watch. In this day and age of the proliferation of Go Pro cameras, it's not as unexpected to have follow anybody just about anywhere, but for 1986 THRASHIN' has some pretty neat footage of all kinds from skateboarders. Lots of point-of-view shots of skateboarders rushing down hills, and flying through the air on skate ramps and in swimming pools. On top of all that, the movie has a killer soundtrack featuring the likes of Devo, Fear, The Bangles, The Red Hot Chili Peppers (who perform in the film), The Circle Jerks and more. The theme song to the movie is even performed by Meat Loaf! Oh and by the way, I really miss theme songs that incorporate the title of the movie you're about to watch. Anyway, THRASHIN' is a whole lotta fun and for those that are only familiar with Brolin's more recent work (or even GOONIES), it's a treat.
The transfer on this Blu-ray looks nice, there are no extras.

STONE COLD (1991; Craig R. Baxley)
This movie is one that I will forever associate with my friends Big Willy and The Samurai over at the delightful Gentlemen's Guide to Midnite Cinema podcast. I have a long commute to my work each day and so podcasts have been essential to me for years. The "GGTMC" was one of my early favorite shows and these Gentlemen had a cool action movie sensibility that really caught my attention. There were just certain movies that you could look at and say "That's a GGTMC movie" and STONE COLD was one of them. What's to love about STONE COLD? Well to begin with - everything. Taking a page right out of the COBRA playbook, STONE COLD opens with a crazy supermarket standoff between star Brian "The Boz" Bosworth and some crazy criminals. In this lovely opener, The Boz shows off not only his flair for stylish dusters and souped-up violence, but also his truly epic mullet. This probably the greatest mullet in cinema we're talking about here and that's no small feat (I mean, have you seen Kurt Russell's hair in TANGO AND CASH lately?). Bosworth's mullet is a thing of beauty though. It is a luxurious, feathery delight and he wears it with a confidence that few other mortals could pull off.
Bosworth is a case of a professional athlete (a former pro football linebacker) stepping in front of the camera for his own feature. We've seen this happen countless times and is often a case of not being something particularly worthwhile. The Boz is certainly no Dwayne Johnson if that tells you anything, but in this kind of a part and in this kind of an overblown, testosterone-driven action flick he makes for a pretty compelling lead. Bosworth plays Joe Huff, an undercover cop tasked (by FBI agent Sam McMurray) with diving deep into the world of a sinister biker gang. This gang is not beyond lots of evil doings (including blowing up judges) and the FBI needs someone who has logged lots of biker-related arrests like Huff has. This particular gang is also headed up by a couple psychos (played by William Forsythe and Lance Henriksen). Forsythe's character is introduced having another biker shooting a beer can off of his head. Forsythe  is actually one of my favorite movie psychopaths. In the same year as STONE COLD he also played another homicidal maniac in the excellent Steven Seagal actioner OUT FOR JUSTICE. Those two roles alone give him cause to be nominated for the lunatic hall of fame. This whole movie is turned up to eleven though. Violence, machismo, nudity, quippy dialogue and overblown action are all the currency of STONE COLD. It is absolutely something else and it's a hoot of a good time.
Transfer looks good, no extra features included.

JOHNNY BE GOOD (1988; Bud Smith)
I have this theory that this entire movie is the nerd fantasy/alternate dimensional dream of Brian Johnson. It's easy to picture right? Brian is sleeping soundly after having knocked it out of the park with that essay for Mr. Vernon when his mind suddenly conjures up this fantasy about him being a star football player. Not only a star player, but a player that college recruiters are lining up outside his house to convince him they are the place he should go. I'm not saying that Brian wants to be a football star, but maybe after spending that day with the rest of the kids in Saturday detention, his subconscious mind started coming up with ideas. I mean, Mr. Vernon (the late great Paul Gleason) is in the dream as his coach. It makes sense that Vernon would find his way in there. Brian as the football player even rebels against Mr. Vernon as his coach which also makes sense. So in this dream, Brian is not only a highly sought after athlete, but he has a smoking hot girlfriend (Uma Thurman) as well. He even has a dorky sidekick (Robert Downey Jr.). It all makes sense to me.  Seriously though, here you have Anthony Michael Hall, only three years after THE BREAKFAST CLUB (where he played one of cinema's greatest geeks) and he's playing this superjock. It's kinda nutty when you think about it. I'm sure there was some wish on Anthony Michael Hall's part to break out of that nerdy stereotype and I guess it's tough to blame him, but this is such a one hundred eighty degree turn from that. It's tricky to even take at first. I guess it was for the movie-going public in 1988 too. The movie supposedly cost around 22 million and only pulled in about 18. JOHNNY BE GOOD is still not particularly well thought of these days it seems. As 80s comedies go it's not bad in my eyes. Seeing Anthony Michael Hall in this over-confident, smart ass kind of role is an enjoyable curiosity at the very least. At most it is goofy and entertaining. Interestingly, this film is one of the earliest credits for master cinematographer (and longtime Wes Anderson collaborator)  Robert Yeoman. It also features the "Introducing" credit for the gorgeous and wonderful Uma Thurman as well.

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