In the wake of the success of ANIMAL HOUSE, there were a lot of movies that tried to capture that film's spirit and maybe didn't quite get there. KING FRAT, UP THE ACADEMY, and others gave it a shot. Even Disney waded in with MIDNIGHT MADNESS and went so far as casting Stephen Furst AND aping ANIMAL HOUSE poster in attempts to draw a younger crowd that they were having trouble reaching. This "college party" type movie continued to be a thing for several more years and and had a shot in the arm from other hits in the early 1980s. UP THE CREEK is one of the lesser-known, but more enjoyable ANIMAL HOUSE types. It takes a fun spin on that film in that it is still a wild college kinda thing, but set during a crazy river rafting competition. What's fun about this one is a it's a game movie on top of being a good-time, blowout adventure. You've got a bunch of different teams, including some cheating preppies to contend with our underdog heroes. It's kind of like an R-rated live action version of RACE FOR YOUR LIFE, CHARLIE BROWN.The cast includes a couple ANIMAL HOUSE alumni in both Tim Matheson and Stephen Furst, but it also has Dan Monahan from the PORKY'S movies as well. It is something of a sex comedy all-star team and the resulting chemistry and comedy from these guys certainly elevates what could be a very pedestrian farce to something next-level. Matheson is as charming and sleazily charismatic as ever. It also has the lovely Jennifer Runyon, who most will remember as the blonde girl that Bill Murray is flirting with during the psychic testing scene near the beginning of GHOSTBUSTERS. This movie, like MIDNIGHT MADNESS, has ties to Disney in that was directed by Robert Butler. Butler helmed several films for the Mouse in things like THE COMPUTER WORE TENNIS SHOES, THE BAREFOOT EXECUTIVE and SCANDALOUS JOHN, but he was primarily a TV guy for the most part. Perhaps part of the reason UP THE CREEK has been overlooked a little is that it hit theaters in 1984 and in the midst of a flurry of sex comedies. PORKY'S had obviously been a gigantic surprise hit in 1981, and it was followed by things like SCREWBALLS, SPRING BREAK, and PRIVATE SCHOOL soon after. Out in 1984 were even more films of this ilk like POLICE ACADEMY, HARDBODIES, BACHELOR PARTY, HOT DOG...THE MOVIE, WHERE THE BOYS ARE '84, and of course REVENGE OF THE NERDS. So it was clearly a very crowded marketplace and, much as with similar glut of slasher films in the early 80s, I think lots of decent films got lost in the bedlam.
The supporting cast here is quite good and has the likes of Jeff East, James B. Sikking, and Julia Montgomery (who you will certainly recognize from REVENGE OF THE NERDS)aong others that will be reginizeable.John Hillerman is great in a small role as the dean of the University who compels Matheson and gang to enter the the raft race.
"Without a Paddle - Revisiting UP THE CREEK"
Includes interviews with Actors Stephen Furst, Sandy Helberg, and Harriet Helberg (casting director)
The Blu-ray can be purchased here:http://amzn.to/1nArpbN
HIGHWAY TO HELL (1991; Ate de Jong)
HIGHWAY TO HELL is one of those movies that reminds me how much I miss video stores nowadays. This was totally the kind of flick you could discover late on some Saturday night after you'd been roaming the aisles for hours. The VHS cover was a little cheesy (as they often could be) and though that might have deterred some, I know a lot of folks who came upon this little gem back in the day on videotape. In fact, one of my coworkers at my old shop used to have it in his employee picks and that was the reason that I first watched it. It is really not like any movie you would see today in that it is bizarre and disgusting (with lots of good practical FX) but had a seemingly okay budget to carry across the vision of Hell that was captured on the page. I totally forgot that Brian Helgeland wrote this script, by the way and it is a very interesting entry in his filmography. Also, the movie has cameos from not one Stiller, but the whole family with - Ben, Amy, Jerry and Anne Meara showing up in bit parts. On top of that, it has Gilbert Gottfried as Hitler for a minute and that is quite entertaining.
The basic plot is that a youngster (Chad Lowe) and his girlfriend (Kristy Swanson) decide to elope and in doing so must make their way to Las Vegas in a hurry. Paranoid, the fella decides on taking a back road to get there to keep a low profile. Despite warnings from an old weird guy running an all night filling station (Richard Farnsworth), the two proceed with their route and the girlfriend ends up getting taken by the "Hellcop"(who is a very creepy, Terminator type dude) and must be saved from Hell somehow. What's really neat about the film is the production design. Think of Tatooine as Hell and you're halfway to what this version of it looks like. Weird bars and highway stops and tons of creepy demon-type people all over the place. They even have workers that throw trash onto the roads instead of cleaning them up. It's all very clever and you can see why this movie has become something of a cult favorite over the years.
The cast is littered with other familiar faces including Patrick Bergin, Lita Ford, Pamela Gidley, Kevin Peter Hall, and Adam Storke.
Directed by Ate de Jong who also did another cult item in DROP DEAD FRED.
-A very interesting audio commentary from Director Ate de Jong.
-An Interview with SFX Make-up Artis Steve Johnson
I'M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA (1988; Keenan Ivory Wayans)
As we are currently in the midst of the Wayans' latest offering, 50 SHADES OF BLACK, it seems a fitting time to remind folks that despite what their movies have become - they used to make some funny stuff. These days, it may be hard for folks to remember the zeitgeist-grabbing humor that was contained in IN LIVING COLOR in the 1990s. As a high school kid during the beginning of the show, I know I was completely swept away by it and the edgey-ness of the comedy. It was seemingly edgy to me at that time and I could hardly believe it was a network show. I do know that we talked about it at school constantly and could never have conceived of the Wayans family losing their midas touch for sly jokes and off-the-wall drollery. It wasn't until a few years after IN LIVING COLOR that I finally caught up with I'M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA on VHS. This was for the better anyway as I hadn't delved too deep into the wild world of Blaxploitation cinema when I was in high school. I made a friend in college who loaned me a great book called THAT'S BLAXPLOITATION! , which I used as a proper entree to the genre. It was then that I started to discover the films of Pam Grier, Jim Brown, Fred Williamson and Richard Roundtree. I first saw TRUCK TURNER (now a favorite of mine) because of that book. But I digress. It was this context that allowed me to come to I'M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA with an affection for what the Wayans were sending up and I couldn't help but laugh my ass off when I saw it. It is my theory that part of the reason that I'M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA is so funny is because they clearly have a love of those old movies. They even went so far as to cast Jim Brown, Isaac Hayes, Bernie Casey and Antonio Fargas as a loving nod to their work from the 1970s. It is sad to see that the Wayans have understandably lost their passion for the films they are making fun of with their parodies and thus the quality has dipped sharply.
Keenan Ivory Wayans had been a writer on Robert Townsend's indie smash HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE in 1987, but he clearly preferred the more straightforward lunacy of the spoof film as his genre of choice. I have little hope that we will ever seen a return to form for the Wayans in their comedy films, but we always have I'M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA to come back to and get many laughs from. This movie is on par with and should be in the same conversation as the Zucker/Abrahams classics like AIRPLANE! and THE NAKED GUN. It's a recommended good time.
Special Features on this Blu-ray include a Making-of Featurette, Additional Interviews and B-roll plus a Trailer gallery.
The Blu-ray can be purchased here: