Repost: Hunk (1987)

Editor’s Note: Leave it to Mill Creek — with their B-Movie Blast set — to carry the entire, two-film career of director Lawrence Bassoff on one disc. And Hunk also reappears on their Excellent Eighties set, which we’re also unpacking this month . . . but not with Weekend Pass, again? Is not Weekend Pass, also from the ’80s, “excellent” as well? What gives, Mill Creek? As you’ll see from the length of this review, we love this movie.

In the Mill Creek B-Movie Blast box set, you will encounter the only two movies that writer director Lawrence Bassoff made, Weekend Pass and this film. It’s not often that you can say that you’ve seen every movie a director has made, so this is a real opportunity. Or perhaps I tell myself that to get through these films.

Where Bedazzled had the devil as Peter Cooke ready to give Dudley Moore seven wishes for his soul — or Elizabeth Hurley and Brendan Fraser in the 2000 remake — in Hunk we have James Coco — he died days before this was released — as Dr. D, the man who tempts this film’s hero with just one wish.

That wish? Well, to be a hunk. What else did you expect?

Bradley Brinkman (Steve Levitt, Last Resort) is a computer programmer who doesn’t yet know that all of the geeks will get rich and he’ll never have to worry about his fiancee who ran off with an aerobics instructor. But hey, it’s 1987 and those years are far away.

Bradley says something about selling his soul to finish a computer program, which means that his next creation, The Yuppie Program, is a huge success. He moves in next door to Chachka (Cynthia Szigeti, who may have appeared in a few films but is best known for her work running The Groundlings and starting the ACME Comedy Theater; she taught plenty of folks, with a short list being Will Forte, Joel McHale, Conan O’Brien, Cheri Oteri, Julia Sweeney and Lisa Kudrow) and immediately all of the yuppies hate him because he doesn’t fit in.

By the way, if you’re reading this and wondering what a yuppie is in the year of 2021, it stood for young urban professional. It went from a demographic term to a pejorative pretty quickly, to the point that my father-in-law uses the term interchangably with socialists and liberals, which isn’t what yuppie means, but I’d need an entire second website to discuss some of these conversations.

The truth is that the program that made Bradley rich was really made by the devil’s agent O’Rourke (Deborah Shelton, who was Miss USA 1970 and runner-up to Miss Universe that year; she was on Dallas and in Bloodtide, as well as DePalma’s Body Double, where he disliked her voice enough to have her redubbed; her second husband was Shuki Levy who wrote the theme songs for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the Mister T cartoon, M.A.S.K. and many, many others, in addition to directing several episodes of the series he helped produce with Saban Entertainment). She makes him a deal that if he wants a new body, he can have it for the summer and he agrees (or else this movie would end about seven minutes or so in to its running time).

He becomes Hunk Golden (John Allen Nelson, Deathstalker from Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell and Dave from Killer Klowns from Outer Space), the ultimate man, a person whose teeth never break, who can eat all the junk food he wants and who is also a martial arts master. I mean, sure, he’s going to burn for all eternity, but the next few years will look pretty great what with all the women he’s sleeping with and fashion trends he’s setting.

The whole reason for this demonic soul bargain is that there’s a shortage of demons, so Dr. D plans on Hunk and O’Brien going through time along with Ivan the Terrible, Jack the Ripper and Benito Mussolini. That’s pretty imaginative, as is the idea that the therapist who has been working with Hunk — Dr. Sunny Graves (Rebecca Bush, who played Florence Henderson in Growing Up Brady) — is really O’Reilly too.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this, a drunk television host named Garrison Gaylord (Robert Morse, who was in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying as well as playing Bertram Cooper on Mad Men; here he is in an 80’s sex comedy which seems like a step down but work is work) nearluy hits them on the beach and Hunk stops the car with just his strenngth. He becomes an instant celebrity while Dr. D worries that Sunny/O’Brien has fallen in love with another client. If she fails again, he promises to return her to her original form.

Instead of helping Dr. D start World War III, Bradley and O’Brien end up cancelling their contracts, with her going back to being a 10th Century princess who sold her soul to avoid an arranged marriage. I mean, now she has centuries of experience and is a great programmer, so I think she’ll be fine.

You’ll also see some familiar faces here. And by familiar faces, I mean the kind of people that maniacs like me shout out loud when they see them, like Avery Schreiber, who was in the Doritos commercials when I was a kid and shows up in Airport ’79 and Silent Scream. He also taught the master improvisation classes at Chicago’s Second City, so the fact that both he and Szigeti are in this is kind of a big deal for comedy nerds. If only Del Close had been in town that day!

Hilary Shepherd, who was in the band American Girls and played Divatox in Power Rangers: Turbo — maybe she met the Saban guys through Shelton? — is in this too. She’s also in Weekend PassScanner CopRadioactive Dreams and Theodore Rex, all movies again that none out of a hundred people have seen, but all ones that get obsessed over here.

You’ll also find Melanie Vincz (The Lost Empire), Page Mosely (Edge of the Axe), John Barrett (who did the stunts for Gymkata and Steel Dawn) and Andrea Patrick, who plays a mermaid and was a beauty queen from the town of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, just a half an hour from my home. Her name may not mean much to you, but she’s married to Fabian Forte and we all know just how much Fabian and his films get coverage here.

Yet perhaps the biggest name in this movie barely is in it. Brad Pitt was an extra in this film, making it his very first screen appearance.

Can you write over a thousand words on a forgotten 1980’s sex comedy? Yes. You sure can.

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