Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '88 - Ryan Larson ""

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Underrated '88 - Ryan Larson

Ryan is a lover, not a fighter. Empassioned by pop culture in general, he is a a huge fan of pop punk and hip hop music, cartoons, comic books, professional wrestling and film. He is currently the editor and founder of Ghastly Grinning, a horror media outlet with the aim to create a place that celebrates the genre in all its forms, and the co-host of the bi-weekly slasher analysis Keep Screaming podcast. Most importantly, he’s a husband and dog dad. 

I was born in 1988 so to say that any of these films are being called to mind from that year, specifically, would be categorically false. In fact, my love for film didn’t hit until my teenage years and even then it was years before I was finally able to branch out and start finding lost gems. I had to watch all the “must-see” movies first and then right around the time that movie stores started to die out, that’s when I was branching out my cinematic grasp. I’ll make it known that my favorite film from ‘88 is Who Framed Roger Rabbit? by a mile but luckily, through friends and streaming sites, I’ve been able to find these buried treasures and here is a small guide to some underrated films from the very year I was born.

Before Child’s Play, Don Mancini wrote the script for this comic book inspired creature feature. Cellar Dweller is just shy of being ripped straight from the pages of an old Tales from the Crypt comic. Feeling distinctly EC, the movie has a completely comic book plot. Colin Childress (played by Jeffrey Combs) was a comic book artist who died in a murder/suicide thirty years prior but we are let in on the secret that he did not murder anyone, in fact, but conjured forth a monster from his drawings that murdered an aspiring musician and seemingly destroyed by setting flames to the pages but also killing himself in the process. Now Whitney Taylor (played by the beautiful Debrah Farentino) has moved into the artistic community where Childress once lived. The movie is off the rails whacky, with a cast of strange but endearing residents that Taylor interacts with and a handful of wildly fun day dream sequences, it’s all wrapped up neatly with an actual badass looking monster that’s a bone gnashing vivisecting giant. Practical effects and gut punch ending make Cellar Dweller a film that’s begging to be seen.
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Lea Thompson and Victoria Jackson star in this oft-overlooked late eighties sex comedy. Flipping convention on its head and using the AIDS epidemic of the time to create a romantic comedy, Casual Sex? was the only directorial outing from Genevieve Robert, but seek it out. A female led comedy from a female director that is boldly discussing casual sex in a smart and funny way is something that must be seen. Jackson is great as the co-star and Andrew Dice Clay delivers perhaps his greatest performance, but Thompson steals the show and is is peak Thompson in this fourth-wall-breaking intrinsic comedy. It’s smart, subtle, and full of nuanced relationships and adult situations but never feels as heavy as it could.
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I’m a huge fan of animated films and Scooby Doo has always been one of my most beloved cartoon creatures. This feature length film from the heyday of the mystery solving great dane takes place outside of the standard Mystery Inc sleuthing. Instead, it gets really wild and is part Universal Monsters, part Speed Racer. Every year, Dracula hosts a race with all of the famous monsters (for horror heads, it’s a great line-up of Universal rip-offs) but when the Wolfman retires, he must make a new one. Shaggy Rogers is destined to become the titular werewolf but because it’s a cartoon, he transforms back and forth with every hiccup. Featuring Scooby and Scrappy, as well as Shaggy’s ne’er seen girlfriend Googie, Reluctant Werewolf is a blast of a film that pays homage to all the monsters represented while also crafting a Wacky Races level of insanity that is laced in cobwebs and tombstones.
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From the master of batshit action, Andy Sedaris, Picasso Trigger is about a crime lord who is on a lethal hunt to eliminate all of the Agents of L.E.T.H.A.L. to avenge his brother that they killed. Listen, I won’t lie to you, a lot of this move feels like some sort of late night Showtime flick you would have run across in the mid 90’s but I can promise you this: the plot makes less sense and way more murder exists. Picasso Trigger, by the way, is the NAME OF A CHARACTER. You know what else? It sports a ton of scantily clad, rifle wielding women and one of them is named PANTERA. This movie is complete nonsense but weirdly endearing. It almost exclusively takes place on or near a beach and it feels just as sunny and breezy. Plus, A BOAT GETS BLOWN UP WITH A GUN THAT SHOOTS TRIDENTS.
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I don’t know how underrated this is, considering in my circles it seems to be pretty loved, but by the general moviegoing audience standard, Waxwork needs to be seen more because it’s a masterpiece. Using the brilliant yet simple premise of a waxwork museum where the set pieces transport you to that location with the dummies coming to life, Waxwork a love letter to the horror genre while also maintaining itself as a solid science-fiction action piece. Zach Galligan of Gremlins fame stars, alongside Valley Girl’s Deborah Foreman and the always bombastic John Rhys-Davies popping up as a werewolf. Waxwork is a meta take on horror before it really existed and needs to be celebrated much more often than it is.
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