Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2015 - Mike "McBeardo" McPadden ""

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Film Discoveries of 2015 - Mike "McBeardo" McPadden

Mike "McBeardo" McPadden is the author of HEAVY METAL MOVIES (Bazillion Points, 2014), and the upcoming GOING ALL THE WAY: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO TEEN SEX COMEDY MOVIES OF THE VHS ERA. From Castle McBeardo in Chicago, he writes about movies and/or music for a sparkling array of online outposts, including VH1, Vice, Death + Taxes, and The Kind.
On Twitter he's @McBeardo.
On the Air With Captain Midnight (1979)
A fun youth-power romp from fairly fascinating husband-and-wife schlock filmmakers Beverly and Ferd Sebastian (Gator Bait, Rocktober Blood), On the Air Live With Captain Midnight was unofficially and without acknowledgment remade in 1990 with Christian Slater as Pump Up the Volume.
Tracy Sebastian, son of directors Bev and Ferd, stars as Ziggy, a high schooler who works part time at local radio station to make payments on his sweet van. While futzing with the van’s CB radio, Ziggy’s chubby nerdlinger pal Gargen (Barry Greenberg) accidentally takes over an FM broadcast signal.

Ziggy immediately grabs the mouthpiece and launches into a rock-jock rap, introducing himself as “Captain Midnight.” An underground broadcast star is born.

From there, everybody wants the Cap—girls at school, cool dudes on campus, angry corporate radio baddies, and secret agents dispatched by the FCC.
Technically, Pump Up the Volume may be the “better” movie, but in terms of capturing and conveying the movie’s subject—a teenager turned pirate radio star—the Captain takes the high seas all the way.
Hot Times (1973)
Is this a movie? Is it a mugging crossed with a flashing? Is it a car crash in a public toilet? Is it… (gulp) art? Whatever one’s own final deduction, Hot Times aka A Hard Day for Archie lays itself out succinctly via one of cinema’s most endearingly blunt-skulled taglines: “It’s like American Graffiti… but with SEX!”

Hot Times gloms up, bends over, and spews out Archie Comics’ familiar Riverdale ensemble (Jughead gets called Mughead, etc.) into a softcore brain-boggler perhaps beyond anything I’ve witnessed that can be verified as being publicly exhibited to paying customers.

The end result jarringly mashes up ’50s nostalgia with early ’70s hippie-dipisms, and echoes Mad magazine’s “Starchie” parody along with the Firesign Theater’s “Porgie Tirebiter” mind-warp as filtered though rotten, shot-in-the-dead-of-NYC-winter hard-R/single-X abominations on the order of Deep Throat II.
American Drive-In (1985)
Not to be confused with Rod Amateu’s Drive-In (1976)—aside from two-thirds of the title, the basic set-up, and that audiences who caught each film in an outdoor theater must have repeatedly said, “Can you believe we’re watching a Drive-In movie at the drive-in movie?”—Krishna Shah’s American Drive-In is an ’80s teen sex comedy flabbergaster highly worthy of rediscovery (imagine if we could screen it at a drive-in).

Drawn by the big-outside-screen attraction of the heavy metal horror opus Hard Rock Zombies (also directed by Shah), a tapestry of genre archetypes converges at the City Limits Drive-In. There are horny high schoolers attempting back seat orgiastics, a city boy and a country gal on a first date, a family of fatsos, flaming homosexuals, two daffy old ladies, a buttoned-up local politician, a bumbling biker gang, and a dwarf.

It’s all raunch and romping (highlighted by the declaration “You pooed on me and I liked it!”) until, halfway through, American Drive-Inwhiplashes into an entirely different film category. Suffice to say, the bikers stop bumbling and, without divulging too much away, they set up a frowning denouement not entirely unrelated to I Spit on Your Grave.
Wimps (1986)
In circles where theatrical-era hardcore porn directors warrant analysis, NYC pioneer Chuck Vincent routinely gets due praise for blue-screen keepers such as Jack n’ Jill (1979), Roommates (1981), and In Love (1983).

Less fawned over—but, to me, even more deserving of love—are Chuck’s R-rated efforts, in particular his teen sex comedies, Summer Camp (1979), Hot T-Shirts (1981), Hollywood Hot Tubs (1984), Preppies (1984), and Student Affairs(1987).

Wimps exudes the Chuck’s ace way with humor, but the movie seems to have a pace of its own, outside his usual technique. The Cyrano-inspired saga dork-hero’s journey of jock-trodden frat pledge Francis (Louis Bonnano) plays like a feature-length montage. Vincent sets up a gag, it happens, and mid-impact, the next one is halfway through. What a weird approach. Weirder still, it works.

He was no wimp, that Chuck Vincent.
Young Gangs of Wildwood High aka Team-Mates (1978)
After a post-drive-in drop into utter obscurity, 1978’s sub-amateur, psychotically slipshod Team-Mates made its way back to theaters in 1983 as Young Gangs of Wildwood High. The latter is the title I saw the film promoted as, in grungy newspaper ads bearing someone’s hand-scrawled, insanely idiotic word bubbles above smudged shots of the cast.

Being 14 and broke at the time, I missed Young Gangs on the big screen. Then, Young Gangs being some kind of anti-cinema experiment, the home video industry further denied me the ecstasy of witnessing this I.Q.-annihilating abortion for more than 30 years.

When Young Gangs and I finally caught up in 2015, I loved it. Perhaps the affection gushed from all those decades of delayed gratification, or perhaps it’s simply due to Young Gangs’ saga of a high school football team’s first female member barfing up such home-movie-gone-wrong dynamics in such gloriously no-human-should-be-watching-this fashion.

It is possible that the cast stammers flubs more lines of dialogue than they actually get right. My favorite touch of all is that a bookshelf in the back of a classroom is actually just wallpaper with images of books on it!

James Spader and Estelle Getty completists will further be interested in witnessing their idols’ motion picture debuts as good-time dude Jimmy and a priggish history instructor simply billed as “Teacher,” respectively. The pair would reunite in Mannequin (1987). You think they reminisced about good ol’ Wildwood High? I hope so.

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