Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '87 - John S. Berry ""

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Underrated '87 - John S. Berry

Attempted positive guy on Twitter @JohnSBerry1 (I am not high on quantity of followers but overflowing with quality), occasional wise cracker on Gonzo Guys podcast and guy that saw Alien on HBO at way to young of an age. I still actively hunts down VHS tapes and am constantly taking notes to seek out films. It is near impossible to describe how happy I am after watching a gem of a film, often I have to go walk it off in the cool night air. Viva la cinema! 

I always feel like I am a broken record, mantra or sample that keeps harping about how movies these days do not take chances and in the 80s we had a huge and wide variety. But just looking thru a release list for 87 you see the gamut from Rutger Hauer bad ass action to what the hell Slumber Party Massacre 2 alongside beautiful movies like Matewan. Maybe we took more chances in the 80s because movies were not as plenty as they are today, maybe we stuck thru awkward beginnings or dragging middles because we were in the theater and it wasn’t as easy as going back to the Netflix menu?
 I like many of my friends past and present went thru a Bukowski phase. I remember in high school reading Factotum in one night, it started my book hunting for anything I could find of his and some of my favorite belongings are the Black Sparrow Press versions I have of his books. I was shocked on vacation to come across the script book of Barfly and sought the movie out when I got home. Finding it in western Kansas was a little tricky but Hastings (RIP) had it.

I was hooked right into it from the beginning outside bar shot while Booker T and the MGs plays and it goes behind the bar to Chinaski taking a beating. Mickey Rourke takes a pretty unique approach to the role of drunk poet via almost a Hanna Barbera ‘put up your dukes’ caricature. He looks the part and thank god this was not filmed in smell-o-vision. It is a bleak movie with odd bits of humor and Faye Dunaway puts in a great role as well. I remember being shocked at how rough she looked as I had just seen Bonnie and Clyde recently.

When I saw it when I was younger I enjoyed the humor and peak into a world I did not know. It has taken on new meaning as the years have passed. A movie we used to quote the “I’m a crazy old wrestler who likes to fart” and giggle about how dirty Rourke looked is now a bleak and sad cautionary tale. It paints the world as a cruel place that breaks your heart and it is usually your own fault.
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Amazon Women on the Moon
I owe a lot of my warped sense of humor to my Dad and his brother my Uncle Stan. When we were visiting my uncle he was telling us about this movie that was similar to The Groove Tube and Kentucky Fried Movie (my parents took me to see those at a drive in, no wonder how I turned out) and had some stars of the 80s in it.

I can still remember my uncle imitating the Ed Begley Jr. not so invisible man scene in the bar. I could not wait to see this movie and when we finally rented it I remember thinking the opening with Arsenio Hall was the funniest thing I had ever seen at that age. The old movie that serves as a wraparound is not funny but it serves the purpose of getting you psyched for when we do go back to the “commercials.”

Most of the skits work and it still holds up today and I still find myself referencing and quoting it all these years later, may be time to introduce this to my nephews who are being passed the wise ass torch in the family.
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Backwoods AKA The Geek
I often get overwhelmed when I have free time for movies, I can often spend the time of a movie clicking thru options if I am on a streaming site. I often sit down with a list and search made via Nightmare USA or Rue Morgue Magazine’s 200 Alternative Horror Films book to stream line my efforts. Somehow, I randomly picked The Geek.

The movie is nothing ground breaking but it is entertaining and you are not quite sure where it is going with the hillbilly family who has a crazy messed up member, the geek. The chemistry is non-existence between the college age guy and gal to the point I thought oh maybe they are brother and sister. They couple end up doing a good deed and the dad decides to take them to his place to repay them.

This is when you expect it to go into Sawyer family but it doesn’t with the hillbilly dad actually coming across kind as he shares his moonshine. Of course, things go to hell soon and Karen played by Christine Noonan goes from screaming girl in the woods to being able to handle herself. The Geek looks like a lankier drooling Charles Manson and is actually effective as being gross and out of control.
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Los Verduleros 2
I was thrilled to get to include another title into the Rupert Pupkin Speaks universe. Per my past lists, I love watching the zany 80s comedies of Mexico. Anything with Alfonso Zayas and I am in, he is so goofy and over the top that it transcends any language. You can see his love scenes and hear his wolf howl and watch his bug eyes and just wonder was that enticing in the 80s? What would be his appeal to the ladies?

Los Verduleros 2 picks up right where part one ended, with Zayas being chased by a sex crazed biker with a switch blade. From what I can pick up if you get into a zany chase at the end of your wedding it null and voids the commitment and you are free to seduce all you want. But not a lot makes sense in these comedies.

This movie would have fit in great for the Pure Cinema Podcast Rip Off episode as it steals a lot from the Police Academy franchise. Some scenes are almost straight beat for beat of one from Police Academy, others they improve upon. The punk gang in this one is introduced as they are pumping iron in the gym, each gang member named after a Stallone film. There is counterfeiting, police training, undercover work and revolutionaries that have dynamite strapped all of them thru the movie.

As usual along with the comedy there are some truly odd Giallo like murders and brutality. It gives the movie a weird tone where there is goofy slap stick of a couch dropping on a guy’s head to a man murdering his wife in a car and said wife is moon lighting as a lady of the night. Major bonus that Hugo Stiglitz is in it. Huh? What?
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The Stepfather
Another movie from my youth that was quoted a lot. Mainly the whole “Little law and order around here” part. This was a staple of HBO back in the day and further evidence in my warped sense of humor upbringing my dad and I howled and reenacted when the investigating “hero” meets an ending that Scatman Crothers in the Shining would have shook his head at. Terry O’Quinn is amazing in it and the opening always spooked me a little bit with the transformation. Jill Schoelen plays the teen daughter with a scratchy voice that probably adds power to the teenage tone of the attitude she gives ole Jerry, wait who is he?
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Hiding Out
I kind of hate 2 and a Half Men and not because of the laugh track or beating a dead horse stories. I hate that they made Jon Cryer into a weenie, because the Cryer I grew up with in Hiding Out and Morgan Stewart is Coming Home is a cool guy that if we went to the same school he would for sure been in my group of friends.

What I like about this movie is the odd tone to it. It starts off kind of violent and rough then goes into kind of awkward and silly goes back to violent and then ends kind of heart-warming. Keith Coogan and Cryer have a lot of fun scenes with Cryer trying to mentor Coogan. Annabeth Gish plays the girl who falls for Max and is really charming. Major bonus points for the KD Lang and Roy Orbison duet of “Crying” that still just kills me.
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Nice Girls Don’t Explode
This is one of the HBO staples of my youth. My Grandma Minnie saw this one first and said it was super silly and she thought we kids could watch it. I think she just wanted to watch it again, there is a scene when someone really eats it and one of her favorite things to laugh about was people falling.

The movie almost feels like it is from the Pee Wee Herman Show universe, as most of the characters look like they are from the 50s and are uh very quirky. Barbara Hershey plays the mom who has told her daughter that if she gets too excited fires will start and she could possibly explode.

Michelle Meyrink plays April Flowers who is for sure one of my underrated crushes from 80s movies such as Real Genius and she has a great awkward charm in this. This was also the first time I saw Wallace Shawn and just loved the little weird (still do). I did a bit of research on this and it was a major flop only making about $65,000 but now I want to go revisit as much of it was filmed in my old stomping ground of Lawrence, KS. Where some of Carnival of Souls was filmed as well. Let me know if anyone wants to do a road trip hallowed grounds tour.
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The Dark Side
So as usual when doing a list, I crack open the IMDB list to see what came out when. Often, I could fill up a whole notebook of movies that have peaked my interest just by their descriptions. I decided this time to pursue one from 87 with fresh eyes. I chose The Dark Side which even though the cover on the box references Blue Velvet it is more like a Canadian version of a description of After Hours and Taxi Driver.

It is not good, but entertaining to watch with a group. If I would have watched this by myself I would have been in agony. As much as I don’t like mocking or making fun of films this one I think would be ok with it. I say this because in the middle of this taxi cab falls in love with a girl being black mailed by two demented film makers story there are 2 absolutely random WTF scenes. One almost like Benny Hill and one a short 80s Dice Clay monologue.

Also, it is kind of a bad omen when we realized the best actor in the movie is a minor side mentor character (who also had off moustache and sweaters going for him). Still, I am glad after all these years I can still find a movie that is quotable and has odd scenes from my past that will now live on in our wise ass universe.
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White of the Eye
I was not going to include this one as my initial thoughts were this is a Scream Factory release so it was on a many radars. But I think this is one of their lesser selling titles and that is a shame because this movie is all over the place, bonkers with a bat shit never gonna guess it ending. After watching it I just felt kind of off and took the dog for a walk. David Keith in a way is playing 3 versions of the character in this film and even thru all his craziness he still comes across as charming and likeable. The setting of Arizona really adds a unique vision and dimension to the film and it has one of the most gripping openings in cinema. You will never hear “I Believe in Miracles” by Hot Chocolate the same way again.
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I am also a huge supporter of these gems: Hollywood Shuffle, The Gate, I was a Teenage Zombie, Blind Date, Blood Rage, Hard Ticket to Hawaii and many more. 87 was one fine year for cinema.

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