Joysticks (1983)

Jefferson Bailey (Scott McGinnis, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock) owns the hottest of all businesses in 1983: a video arcade. It’s driving local business tycoon Joseph Rutter (Joe Don Baker, a man whose name I screamed into the ear of a sleeping girlfriend once, which is a long story I should really get to sometime) nuts, so he gets his two nephews and plans on shutting down the arcade. Mean! Unfair! No!

Bailey’s too smart for Rutter and has two pals named Eugene Groebe (Leif Green, Davey Jaworski from the legendary bomb Grease 2) — who is molested by swimsuit girls before he even gets to the arcade — and McDorfus who are ready to deal with this affront.

This movie was such a big deal that Midway allowed the image of Pac-Man to be used as well as their new game Satan’s Hollow and the as-yet-unreleased Super Pac-Man during the big showdown at the movie’s end.

Corinne Bohrer, who is pretty much teen movie royalty thanks to appearances in films like Surf IIZapped! and Stewardess School shows up, as does John Voldstad who played “my other brother Daryl” on TV’s Newhart.

There are two real reasons to watch this movie. One is the theme song, which has beeps, boops and promises “video to the max” and “totally awesome video games!” This song will infiltrate your mind and not leave, trust me.

The other big reason is John Gries, who completely owns every scene he appears in as King Vidiot, a punk rock maniac surrounded by punker girls who only communicate in video game noises when they’re not all riding around on miniature motorcycles. In a more perfect world, King Vidiot would be the star of the film. Every other person pales in comparison to his greatness. Gries would go on to steal the show in plenty of other films like Real GeniusNapoleon DynamiteFright NightThe Monster Squad and TerrorVision.

This all comes from Greydon Clark, who directed The Uninvited — a movie where George Kennedy does battle with a house cat — Without Warning and Wacko, as well as appearing in movies like Satan’s Sadists.

The saddest part of this movie was that even though the good guys win, arcades would be dead by the mid-1980’s. So really, the bad guys did win. King Vidiot? Well, no one knows what happened to him.

You can watch this for free on TUBI and Amazon Prime.

Thanks to felicity4771 for the typo notes.

5 thoughts on “Joysticks (1983)

  1. Pingback: Surf II (1984) – B&S About Movies

  2. Pingback: Malibu Express (1985) – B&S About Movies

  3. Pingback: Wacko (1982) – B&S About Movies

  4. This is a good movie. I discovered on late-night TV in the early 2000s and was blown away. How could I have not been aware of it before then?! Totally agree that King Vidiot is the best thing in it. Also agree that the theme song rules! Two minor corrections: Eugene’s last name is “Groebe,” and Darryl is “my other brother” (not “older”—unless I’ve been mis-hearing it all these years!). Greydon Clark also made SKINHEADS (1989), starring Brian Brophy, Chuck Connors, Barbara Bain, and Dennis Ott (who played a thug in a POLICE ACADEMY sequel).


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