Sky High (1985)

Man, Nico Mastorakis made some crazy movies. Like this one, in which a bunch of teens on a Greek vacation discover an entirely new kind of drugs: audio cassettes that deliver orgasms via hallucination filmed music videos. No, really. What is this, The Digital Underground’s Sex Packets: The Movie?

It also has a soundtrack filled with songs by Chris de Burgh, the guy who wrote “Lady In Red,” so it has that going for it. Also, Seiko paid big money to get their Data 2000 watch into this movie, as if the people who watch Nico Mastorakis movies are looking to upgrade their digital watches.

This is a movie about an old man inside the cassettes trying to get the three heroes to find the second tape, which will weaponize the music video orgy inside. So basically Porky’s meets Videodrome but Debbie Harry never puts out a cigarette on her breast.

Yes, it’s exactly as odd as it sounds.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Back to School (1986)

I always wondered if William Atherton and Billy Zapka had a support group. They’re great actors, but they seemed to excel at one role: being the absolute biggest jerks possible. I’d love to see a movie where they were in community service together, trying to right their wrongs, but slowly seething that society is throwing trash at them when they’re trying to clean a highway, knowing that they’re going to eventually become bullies again, but this time in the service of good. Their case worker? Ron Silver.

Anyways, Back to School was dedicated to Estelle Endler, Rodney Dangerfield’s longtime manager who guided him in his second time as a stand-up and got him into movies, where he’d find the kind of eternal life that he never could have dreamed of in his youth. To say Rodney had a hard life was life saying he told jokes. So many of them — “I was so ugly my parents had to hang a pork chop around my neck to get the dog to play with me.” — come from the pain he felt as an abandoned child.

Born Jacob Rodney Cohen, he claimed that his mother never kissed, hugged or showed any sign of affection toward him; he was also molested by a neighbor. He legally changed his name to Jack Roy at the age of 19, following the father who left him behind by taking his name and telling jokes and working as a singing waiter in the Catskills. After he was fired, he went into selling aluminum siding.

When he went back into comedy in the 60s, he was in deep debt and couldn’t get booked. That’s when he realized he’d need a hook. His new name Rodney Dangerfield came from a Jack Benny routine — indeed, Benny even visited him once backstage and complimented him on his act — and came from a place he understood very well: he got no respect.

In just a few years, he’d headline Vegas and own his own club, a place where young comedians came to get a break. Rodney never forgot what it was like to struggle and gave so many young performers their start. He also kept struggling mentally throughout his life, using marijuana to self-medicate.

Unlike his stand-up persona and maybe even the real Jacob/Jack/Rodney, his film characters in movies like Caddyshack and Easy Money were portrayed as successful, happy and popular men. However, they had gone from nothing to something all on their own, thereby becoming the enemy of the ruling rich. They may have money, but Rodney’s characters would never truly be part of the 1%.

Yet despite their success, the club of Hollywood kept him at arm’s length. Dangerfield was rejected for membership in the Motion Picture Academy in 1995 by the head of the Academy’s Actors Section, Roddy McDowall. His fans protested and the Academy reconsidered, but Dangerfield then refused their membership.

Actually, those fans were really important to him. He was the first celebrity to operate a website and he’d often directly e-mail the fans who visited the site, which had to be a huge surprise.

Rodney used to say, “I tell ya I get no respect from anyone. I bought a cemetery plot. The guy said, “There goes the neighborhood!”” That phrase is emblazoned on his tombstone. Man, I get teared up even thinking about Rodney, because while I never met the man, he meant so much to me and my family. I’d get the opportunity to stay up late if we knew he was on Carson and I can still recall a riotous screening of Easy Money where the film was barely audible from all the laughing from my father and uncle.

Anyways — Back to School is the big starring role from Rodney, the chance to shine on his own. He plays yet another of his regular guys made good, Thornton Melon. His plus-size clothing stores have made him rich, yet he can’t connect with his son Jason (Keith Gordon). After leaving his newest wife (Adrienne Barbeau), he goes, well, Back to School to be part of his son’s life. But he does it as only a rich man can, taking over most of the campus and living it up while his son pretty much is embarrassed.

This film completely understands the pure comic formula: set up a simple premise and allow hijinks to ensue. To wit: A rich regular guy goes back to school and hijinks ensue.

Those hijinks include Burt Young as Rodney’s tough butler and best friend, Robert Downey Jr. as his son’s punk roommate, Kurt Vonnegut as a guest speaker hired by Rodney, a romance with Sally Kellerman*, a memorable Sam Kinison cameo and the aforementioned Zapka being, well, Billy Zapka.

And oh yeah, the Triple Lindy.

This film is pretty autobiographical in parts, as Rodney was a diver and truck driver in his youth. I’ve always loved its message that he may have changed with wealth, but he’s remained a kind-hearted man throughout it all. Harold Ramis was one of the co-writers and his comedic sensibilities really help the picture.

For metal fans, you can hear Michael Bolton’s pre-crooner metal song “Everybody’s Crazy” during a party scene, and the Alice Cooper song “The Great American Success Story” was intended to be in this film. It appears on Constrictor and features the lyrics “Back to school, he’s gonna take that plunge.”

We all need more Rodney in our lives.

You can watch this on Tubi.

*She lives in Tommy Doyle’s house from Halloween. Seriously.

O.C. and Stiggs (1985)

The actual date for the release of this movie is under some debate, as director Robert Altman — yes, the same one who did Nashville — shot the film in 1983, it was copyrighted in 1985, then shelved until it got a small theatrical release in 1987 and 1988.

Now, we could debate whether Altman is the right person to shoot a National Lampoon magazine, but then again, I kind of like this movie, which has a ramshackle all over the place feel to it.

Loosely based on stories written by Ted Mann and Tod Carroll. O.C. and Stiggs were recurring characters in the magazine, with the entire October 1982 issue being about “The Utterly Monstrous Mind-Roasting Summer of O.C. and Stiggs.” One of the big differences is that the print version of the characters are destructive while their film versions are a little more socially redeemable.

O.C., which means Oliver Cromwell Oglivie (Daniel H. Jenkins), and Stiggs (Neill Barry) are two Arizona teens whose idea of a great night is driving their car, the Gila Monster, to pick up girls, get booze from Wino Bob (Melvin van Peebles) and pick up some ladies. And oh yeah, drive the Schwab family — Randall (Paul Dooley), Elinore (Jane Curtin), Randall Jr. (Jon Cryer) and Lenore (Laura Urstein) — nuts.

Altman’s argument is that while audiences to see his take on Porky’s, he saw through the fake outrage in those movies and was delivering a satire. But yeah. No one else wanted that. As the director himself said, “It was a satire of teen sex comedies, gosh darn it, not an example of that dubious breed!”

But hey! Ray Walston is great as always as Gramps and it’s kinda inspired to get Dennis Hopper to be in one of these movies. He even flies his helicopter so Mark can woo Cynthia Nixon.

It’s kind of fascinating to me that this movie was even made and that’s pretty much the charm of it.

Cugini Carnali (1974)

Cugini Carnali translates as First Cousins, but this movie was also titled The VisitorHot and Bothered, La PrimaLoving Cousins and High School Girl.

This is the story of Nico d’Altamura (Alredo Pea, who was also in two other commedia sexy all’italiana, the Dagmar Lassander-starring Classe Mista and the Edwige Fenech movie The School Teacher), who is a shy sixteen year old who falls in love with his city-born cousin Sonia (Susan Player, Invasion of the Bee GirlsMalibu Beach).

This comes from director Sergio Martino, who you may know better from his early 70s master class on making giallo — Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the KeyAll the Colors of the DarkTorsoThe Strange Vice of Mrs. WardhThe Case of the Scorpion’s Tail — or his sexy bedroom movies with Edwige Fenech.

Nico comes from a more provincial family than Sonia and while his parents are strict, they have their secrets. His father is sleeping with the family maid (Rosalba Neri, Lady Frankenstein) and also waiting for their uncle to die, but he keeps alive either out of spite or to keep sleeping with prositutes. When Sonia comes to town, she causes a scandal by wearing miniskirts to church and sunbathing nude, but let’s face it, Nico has no idea what he’s in for.

Martino was a genre hopper. The year following this movie, he made two poliziotteschi (Gambling City and Silent Action), a giallo (The Suspicious Death of a Minor) and Sex With a Smile, which features Barbara Bouchet, Fenech and Marty Feldman. This may not be his best movie, but it’s not his worst.

Porky’s (1981)

Bob Clark wrote and directed this film — the adventures of the students of Florida’s Angel Beach High School in 1954 — that ended up inspiring an entire generation of movies much in the same way that Animal House inspired it. Clark based the movie on his own experiences growing up.

At one point, every studio in Hollywood turned down Porky’s. Clark got the movie produced through Melvin Simon Productions and a Canadian firm, Astro Bellevue Pathe, making the film up north to take advantage of tax benefits. So yeah. This is yet another Canadian tax shelter film.

Much like, well, every teen sex comedy that would follow this,  the boys all want to lose their virginity. They go to Porky’s, a strip club in the swamp, thinking they can hire a girl there, but they’re all dumped into the Everglades by the club’s owner, Porky. They demand their money back, but Porky’s brother is the sheriff, which means that they lose even more cash.

The movie revolves around getting back at Porky and also getting into the pants of the ladies, including Lynn “Lassie” Honeywell (Kim Cattrall). In 1954 and 1981, this was a common part of growing up. Today’s viewers may not see the film in such a comedic light, but you can’t expect things made forty years ago to understand the progress that has happened since they were made. The fact that you recognize that these movies are outdated points to how much progress we have made; enjoy them for the parts that you can enjoy them for.

The real Porky’s — Porky’s Hide Away in Oakland Park — is now an L.A. Fitness. That makes me incredibly depressed.

Junesploitation 2021: Accident Man (2018)

June 10: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie — is a Scott Adkins movie.

Scott Adkins film career started when he was offered a role in the Hong Kong martial arts film called Dei Seung Chui Keung. After that he worked for some of teh best action experts in the world, like Yuen Woo-ping, Corey Yuen, Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan. But it was his role as Russian MMA villain Yuri Boyka in Undisputed II: Last Man Standing that made him known to action film fans. He fought Van Damme in The Shepherd: Border Patrol, battled Donnie Yen in Ip Man 4: The Finale, took on Jason Statham in The Expendables 2 and was Ryan Reynolds’ double in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

For this movie, Adkins did more than star as Mike Fallon, an assassin who specializes in creating deadly accidents. He also produced and wrote this adaption of Pat Mills and Tony Skinner’s comic book.

After losing his girlfriend to another woman, Mike takes jobs and hangs out at The Oasis, a bar that’s owned by his mentor Big Ray (Ray Stevenson, the Punisher in Punisher: War Zone and Volstagg in the Thor movies). It’s a drinking establishment frequented exclusively by killers like Poison Pete, commandos Mic (Michael Jai White) and Mac (Ray Park), weapons creator Finnicky Fred, axeman Carnage Cliff and Jane the Ripper. Honestly, the quick worldbuilding scene in the beginning of the film is the best part, as all of these characters could be in several films.

Unfortunately for Mike, he’s been set up by Milton (David Paymer), the person who sets up their kills, by an amateur killer who he easily dispatches. That was just to distract him as Mic and Mac were hired to kill his ex-girl, who got too close to exposing the seamy side of the oil industry.

Now, Mike wants revenge. And he has plenty of targets, because everyone at the Oasis has been hired to kill him.

I’ve never seen any of director Jesse V. Johnson’s films before, but now I’m going to track them down. This was an absolute thrill of a movie and I enjoyed every second. That means that I have to start checking out Adkins work as well. Thanks Junesploitation for introducing me to a whole new bunch of movies!

You can watch this on Tubi.

Computer Beach Party (1987)

“Toss around the floppy disc, open a bag of micro chips, and interface with a sexy comedy that will light up your terminal.”

I discovered this movie thanks to the guys from Found Footage Festival and man, this movie is one that does not understand parties or computers and even beaches. Andy and Dennis, our heroes, also play a sport that no other human before or since has ever tried called skurfing, which is what happens when you put together a surfboard, a soapbox derby car and a sail. If it seems dumb reading it, imagine how completely inane it will be in practice.

I have also learned that if you want to plan a computer beach party, all you have to do is type it into your computer. If I did not hate beaches and parties, guess what I would be doing right now?

There’s also a band called Panther in this. Their songs “Angel In Disguise,” “Breakout,” “Can’t Get Enough,” “Do You Wanna Dance,” “Drag-A-Racing,” “Loverboy’s Request,” “Love Theme,” Midnight Blue,” “Hot Rockin’ Beach Party,” “Left Me Blue,” “Roger’s Reggae,” “Smokin’,” “Stranger to Danger,” “Spikes of Love” and “Volaria” are in the movie and they also do a few of them live.

This is the kind of movie that will make you despise love, happiness, hair metal, breaking the fourth wall, beach parties, MS DOS and so much more. If you are dealing with any depression, I would avoid this movie, as well as being around any pills or sharp implements while you watch it. Much like how “Gloomy Sunday” leads to people committing suicide, I fear Computer Beach Party could have the same infernal ability.

Hunting Ground (1983)

Even being prepared for this movie by others who’ve seen it, I was not ready for the sheer onslaught that the last five minutes of this movie makes you endure. There’s brutal and then there’s this, a film that literally had me jumping around the room worried as to who would survive the final moments.

Adele is a female lawyer who believes that everyone deserves mercy. Unfortunately, several criminals steal her car, take her keys and rob her country home. Circumstances have led her and her husband there at the same time and he’s shot and killed. Three of the four get away and despite the tragedy, Adele attempts to stay true to her values. Her mother-in-law continually reminds her that she’s lost a son and that Adele’s son and daughter now have no father.

The thugs who remain on the streets keep calling and taunting her, telling her to lie so that they can all escape justice. But when the one left on the inside is seen as a snitch and killed, they decide to get their revenge on her, leading to a scene so horrifying that I worry that my words won’t do it justice. Seriously, this movie goes beyond Last House on the Left with old women brutalized, children punched in the fact and excessive use of fire. I was so sure that the daughter would be burned alive that I nearly watched this scene from the other room.

Directed by Jorge Grau (The Living Dead at Manchester MorgueBlood Ceremony), this is a movie packed with fear and menace from the very start of the movie. Something bad seems like it’s going to happen, something bad does happen and something bad has to happen to those who deserve it. Grau really takes you on a journey in this one.

You can buy this Mondo Macabro release from Diabolik DVD.

 

A Night in Heaven (1983)

John G. Avildsen had an interesting career. There are movies like Rocky and three Karate Kid films, along with Save the TigerW.W. and the Dixie DancekingsLean on MeNeighbors and this 1983 kind sorta coming of age film.

Rick Malone (Christopher Atkins) is one of the more popular students at his college and used to getting away with just about everything. However, when he makes a joke of his speech professor Faye Hanlon’s (Lesley Ann Warren) final, she fails him and forces him to take the class again.

Faye and her husband Whitney are going through a rough patch after he gets laid off, so when her sister suggests that they go to a strip club, she jumps at the opportunity. There, she watches Ricky the Rocket perform and realizes that he’s her student. Of course, she’s soon going to be cattle-prodding the oyster ditch with the lap rocket, as they say, with Ricky so that he can get his grades up.

Of course, this is going to end with Faye’s husband shooting at Ricky on a boat dock while demanding that he strip. So, there’s that.

The movie itself may not be much, but the soundtrack has all sorts of great stuff on it, like Jan Hammer composing much of the music, along with Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” and “Obsession” by Holly Knight and Michael Des Barres. That song would be covered a year later by Animotion and become a much bigger song.

Deney Terrio, the man who taught Travolta to dance in Saturday Night Fever, the man who hosted Dance Fever, the man who sued Merv Griffith for sexual harassment, the man who sued Hasbro for making a Littlest Pet Shop gecko disco character named Vinnie Terrio is also the man who appears in this film.

Also, for those who care about these kinds of things — you know who you are — Atkins has no underwear on for his love scenes.

Meatballs 4 (1992)

Bob Logan made a movie called Up Your Alley that dared to pair Murray Langsdon, the Unknown Comic, with Linda Blair. That is reason enough to allow him to direct the fourth Meatballs movie and in true form, this has nothing to do with any of the other films in the series. It was originally going to be called Happy Campers.

Ricky Wade (Corey Feldman) is the best waterskiing teacher around, but he’d rather chase girls. There’s a waterskiing competition coming up to determine which of the two summer camps in this movie will survive and just when I was thinking how trope-heavy this movie is, Jack Nance, the star of Eraserhead, shows up.

This is the movie Nance was making when his wife Kelly Jean Van Dyke committed suicide. She called him to tell him she was going to do it and he was attempting to talk her down over the phone when lightning took out the phone lines. By the time the LAPD got to their apartment, she had hung herself.

Christy Thom (Playboy Playmate of the Year 1992), Monique Noel (Playboy Playmate of the Month May 1989) and Neriah Davis, who was in both The Bikini Carwash Company movies before being selected as the March 1994 Playboy Playmate of the Month appear in this. These things are, of course, important to these types of films. Perhaps more interesting is that Sarah Douglas, the villainous Ursa from the 70s Superman movies, is in this too.

It’s hard to say that this dosn’t really live up to the Meatballs legacy, when said legacy includes a great first movie, a film about an alien and a street boxer trying to aardvark the girl from the Witch Mountain movies and another installment where God demands that a porn star help Patrick Dempsey lose his virginity.