Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '86 - Jason Chirevas ""

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Underrated '86 - Jason Chirevas

Oh, bio? I'm a newspaper editor north of New York City, I've written two books in the Fight Card series of new pulp crime novellas and I'm a positive delight on Twitter @JasonChirevas.
Here's the list.

Body Slam (directed by Hal Needham, screenplay by Steve Burkow and Shel Lytton)
A few years ago, professional wrestling got its best, most realistic, most damning movie when Mickey Rourke played THE WRESTLER. Back in the 80's, when Hulk Hogan and Cyndi Lauper formed the nucleus of the Rock and Wrestling Connection, we got BODY SLAM which, while decidedly silly and a bit crass, features the collectively awesome Dirk Benedict, Tanya Roberts, Billy Barty and Charles Nelson Reilly alongside some real wrestlers including The Tonga Kid and, one of my heroes, now and forever, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. The plot is basically Dirk as a low-rent Face trying to save his own ass, but you probably guessed that. A slumming Needham keeps things moving well enough.
There were wrestling movies before, but this is one you don't hear about much anymore and that's a bit of a shame as it's pretty fun. We'll put it somewhere below Robert Aldrich's ...ALL THE MARBLES and well above the WWE-backed Hogan vehicle NO HOLDS BARRED, which is one of the worst things ever put to film.
It's too bad there was never a G.L.O.W. movie. I might never have left my room.

Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives (screenplay by director Tom McLoughlin)
We had a Friday the 13th this month, which, as someone called Jason born in 1974, is a date to which I've always had an involuntary connection. I can't say I've ever been a huge fan of the movie Friday series, or any of the 80's horror diminishing-returns series of sequels to classic originals, but I have always kind of liked Jason Lives for a few reasons. First, it's the only film in the series to actually portray the scenario of Jason doing his killing at Crystal Lake while it's an active camp. There's also the typical local cops involved, and the character of Tommy Jarvis is back for the third time, played by a different actor every time, but the really cool thing about this entry, which, I don't think creators bothered with in the series again until JASON X, is there's a thin vein of humor and satire throughout Part VI. This is perhaps best exemplified by the weekend warriors who run afoul of Jason and their reactions to each other. One of them is played by Ron Palillo, by the way. Horshack. C'mon!
In closing, this is also the movie that introduced the world to Tony Goldwyn. I don't know what else I have to say.

Little Shop of Horrors (directed by Frank Oz, screenplay by Howard Ashman)
When I was a kid, I had a classmate called Slade who was obsessed with two movies. This was one of them. While I can't say I've ever been obsessed with this screen adaptation of the off-Broadway musical, itself based on Roger Corman's non-musical 1960 original, it's really cool to go back now and watch it because there really hasn't been anything like it from a major studio since.
For the uninitiated, Rick Moranis plays Seymour Krelborn, a skid-row nebbish who buys a most usual plant from a local store and uses it to attract attention to the flower shop in which he works with his would-be girlfriend Audrey (Ellen Greene, reprising her stage role). Everything goes really well for about an hour before Seymour realizes his new plant is a sentient, blood-craving monster who won't be happy with drops from his finger...
...and Audrey's dentist boyfriend (Steve Martin, channeling Harvey Lembeck) is a real asshole. Hmmm.
Most of the songs are fun and bouncy, and everyone does their own singing, which is cool, but there's a definite dark — at times very dark — edge to the proceedings that I know some people find off putting. I kind of like the combo, it's makes this a musical sci-fi horror love story. Name another. 
The other cool thing about this musical Little Shop is, in addition to Moranis and Martin, you get appearances from 80's comedy icons Bill Murray, John Candy and Christopher Guest.
Jim Belushi also appears, but you can't have everything.
Baby Tisha Campbell is in it too. That should even it out.

Police Academy 3: Back in Training (directed by Jerry Paris, screenplay by Gene Quintano)
I'll go ahead and say it, I think the first POLICE ACADEMY is a pretty solid 80's comedy. It wasn't quite the cartoon the sequels were and had some actual laughs and characters.
So, why is that movie's second sequel underrated? Simple, I've seen it about 364 times.
When we were kids, my best friend and I had term for movies like Police Academy 3, we called them "good to watch." Good to watch meant, no, the movie is not necessarily good, at all, but it's so entertaining it's quality is largely irrelevant. That's the case with Back in Training, which, in fairness, is definitely a better movie than Police Academy 2. You don't care, but your favorite wacky cops find themselves back in training after Art Metrano's Mauser (still subbing for G.W. Bailey's Lt. Harris as he did in Police Academy 2) opens a rival police academy, putting the original, under the recently departed George Gaines' Commandant Lassard, under threat of close.
Sitting here right now, I couldn't tell you much more about the details of Police Academy 3 despite the number of times I've seen it, but I know, if it was anywhere on cable right now, I'd probably be watching it. It's good to watch, and that's got to count for something.
Oh, there's a boat chase at the end. There, I remembered that.

Transformers: The Movie (directed by Nelson Shin, screenplay by Ron Friedman)
Forget all that Shia LeBay Marky Fox claptrap you've been shoveled the past decade, this is a Transformers movie. 
It's also the other movie Slade was obsessed with.
It was also traumatizing for our pre-teen eyes and psyche the first time we saw it.
Nineteen eighty-four saw the Transformers toys arrive on these shores courtesy of Hasbro. A cartoon soon followed and, by the time the movie came out we were all very well acquainted with Optimus Prime, Megatron and their respective armies. They were more than acquaintances; they were friends.
And how did Hasbro repay that loyalty? But murdering most of the characters we'd adored the prior two years in front of us on a giant screen.
Indeed, most of the season one cartoon characters, AKA the first series of toys, were spectacularly destroyed in the first 20 minutes of the movie, paving the way for a set of characters we'd never seen before.
Their toys hit the shelves that fall.
I've watched TRANSFORMERS- THE MOVIE a lot as an adult. It has a legit cult following I think not only due to nostalgia but because of how ridiculously violent and dark it is for something based on toys. It's the sort of thing you would never see today and, on top of that, it's actually a pretty decent sci-fi adventure with some nice animated action. See it if you haven't. It beats the hell out of the motor oil showers we've seen in live action.
Just don't get attached to anyone you meet in the first five minutes or so. 

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