Meatballs Part II (1984)

Yes, Meatballs Part II may have no Bill Murray, but what it does have is Ken Wiederhorn as the director. Somewhere, somehow, someone saw Eyes of a Stranger and Shock Waves and said, that’s the guy to make a teen movie. Actually, I’m being silly, because we all know — we do, right? — that Ken also made King Frat and that alone probably qualified him for this. Or punitive damages.

Richard Mulligan plays Giddy, the owner of Camp Sasquatch. He’s battling Colonel Batjack Hershy (Hamilton Camp, who played the robot in Starcrash), who owns Camp Patton and wants the entire lake for himself. They decide that an end of the summer boxing match is a great way to settle matters, so Giddy recruits an inner-city tough kid named Flash (John Mengatti, Tag: The Assassination Game) for that pugilistic task, but the kid just really wants to crash the custard truck with Cheryl (Kim Richards).

Also, of course, the kids at the camp have an alien named Meathead staying with them. He’s played by Felix Silla and voiced by Archie Hann, who was one of the Juicy Fruits/Beach Bums/Undead in Phantom of the Paradise.

This movie has some decent actors in it, like Misty Row from Hee Haw, John Larroquette, a pre-Pee-Wee Paul Ruebens, Jason Hervey, Elayne Boosler, Tammy Taylor (Don’t Go Near the Park), Blackie Dammit and Donald Gibb. Just seeing a few of those names and I knew that I had to watch this.

Joy of Sex (1984)

Did everybody’s parents have a copy of Dr. Alex Comfort’s The Joy of Sex? What a frightening book that was, what with its Chris Foss (Flash GordonGuardians of the Galaxy, Jodorowsky’s Dune) illustrations of incredibly hairy flower children engaging in all manner of marital congress.

Paramount Pictures thought that with the name of the book, they’d have a big movie, too. They spent all kinds of money to get the right and then paid Charles Grodin — who was told the movie could be about anything — to write the script. So he wrote a script about writing the script. That movie was eventually made as Movers & Shakers.

Next, John Hughes was to write a script that Penny Marshall would have directed and John Belushi would have starred in, but then Belushi died. That would have been a National Lampoon movie and the studio tried to keep their name on the film before the publisher, Matty Simmons, made a huge deal of the Lampoon having nothing to do with the film.

Finally, Paramount was running out of time and had just four months left on their option. They went to TV producer Frank Konigsberg, who said “They knew that in television you do things quickly. We threw together a script. They wanted me to use director Martha Coolidge, who’d just made Valley Girl. It was a job. We just had to get it done. I didn’t think it was a successful movie at all. It was awful. Martha hated it. I hated it.”

As for Coolidge, she would say, “Paramount insisted on topless girls running down the hall because they thought the formula demanded it and it was totally gratuitous. I hated putting them in for no reason and argued against it. But when the film was previewed the audience, particularly young women and girls, hated the nudity so Paramount then asked me to cut as much of it out as I could!”

She described that experience as miserable, telling her official site, “We were under constant pressure and scrutiny to do the impossible, we had eight days of prep, 20 days to shoot and my A.D. quit because he was so angry.”

By the end, she applied for an Alan Smithee credit for her directing. However, her name stayed on. She’d follow it up with Real Genius, which I hope was a more rewarding experience (It was — despite turning it down twice, once it was rewritten, she came around to the film and really got into it after producer Brian Grazer told her, “Making a movie should be fun!” She said that he ended up being “supportive, great to be around and knowledgeable about comedy and film production.”).

As for the movie, it’s all about high school senior Leslie Hindenberg (Judy from Revenge of the Nerds, who left acting to practice Zen Buddhism), who gets a mole looked at and learns that she only has six months to live. That leaves her with one goal in life: to lose her virginity.

There’s a good cast with Cameron Dye (Valley GirlOut of the Dark) as the love interest and Christopher Lloyd as Leslie’s gym teacher dad, plus Colleen Camp, Ernie Hudson, Darren Dalton and Canadian scream queen Lisa Langlois (Happy Birthday to MeDeadly Eyes).

But otherwise, if you were expecting something better, this isn’t it. I don’t blame Coolidge for the failure of this film.

The Malibu Bikini Shop (1984)

Even my bad movie resolve was tested by this movie, which tells the story of Alan (Michael David Wright) and Todd (Bruce Greenwood, who has had quite a film career after this), two charged up fellows who inherit the bikini shop owned by their aunt who has drunkenly jet skiied her way into the world beyond.

Alan has a mean fiancee (Debra Blee, who is in Savage Streets and Hamburger: The Motion Picture, two movies you should watch instead of this), the girls they hire to work at the shop are really cool, rich people and cops get in the way of the madcap shenanigans and there’s no nudity, but this is called The Malibu Bikini Shop, so that should give you some idea that there is not going to be a lot of bare flesh.

I know this may be someone’s favorite movie, but as you can tell, it is not mine.

Hardbodies (1984)

This movie ran all the time on cable to the point that it was a puberty rite of passage amongst the teens of my hometown, which really seems to come up in so many write-ups this week. Yes, before the internet and sexting, we were all in our rooms alone watching cable and hacking the carrot. The 80s were not an innocent time.

Grant Cramer (Killer Klowns from Outer Space) is Scotty, who gets hired by three old men — Gary Wood, Michael Rapport (Patrick from Black Christmas) and Sorrells Pickard — to teach them how to pick up young women. He has a skill called BBD (Bigger and Better Deal) that allows him to “dialogue” women into bed. Then, you know, he falls in love with a girl named Kristi and starts seeing how sad the life he led once was. Because yeah, that’s how guys are.

I mean, what do you expect about a movie that’s based on an article in the November 1983 Penthouse Magazine that was written by the film’s screenwriters Eric Alter and Steve Greene? Supposedly, this is based on a true story.

Courtney Gains — Malachi! — is in this, as is Darcy DeMoss from Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives and Vice Academy 3, Roberta Collins (Matilda the Hun from Death Race 2000), Kathleen Kinmont (Halloween 4), Kristi Somers (Valerie from Savage Streets), Marcia Carr (Stevie from Savage Streets and Nancy from Maniac Cop), Emily Longstreth (American Drive-In), Leslee Bremmer (School Spirit), Kane Hodder as a geek and the band Vixen playing Diaper Rash.

Is it good? Well, no. Not really. Is it something that I watch every once in a while to remind myself of when I was closer in age to the hero and not the men who hire him?

Yes. I can admit it.

Lovelines (1984)

Lovelines has a central conceit that I love so much. High schools are connected and informed by a telephone service run by J.D. Prescott (Michael Winslow!) that helps teens to fall in love while also sponsoring a battle of the bands, which seems like the kind of business model that I’d love to see someone explain to a loan officer.

Those two kids destined to fall in love are Piper (Mary Beth Evans, Kayla from Days of Our Lives) and Rick (Greg Bradford, who was in Zapped!Let’s Do It! and some other movies without exclamations in the title like Skatetown U.S.A.). They go to rival schools at war with one another, Malibu High School and Coldwater Canyon High, and they are the lead singers of their bands, The Firecats and Racer. Now, as teen movie fate would have it, they’re about to face off against one another in the finals and no one wants them to stay a couple.

Don Michael Paul, the guy who would direct sequels to movies you didn’t know had sequels, like Kindergarten CopJarheadThe Scorpion King, the last three Tremors movies, SniperLake Placid and non-sequel fare like Half Past Dead and Who’s Your Caddy?, shows up in this. So does Tammy Taylor, who was Bondi in Don’t Go Near the Park. And Godzilla, Piper’s maniac old brother, is Frank Zagarino, who was in everything from Where the Boys Are to Ten Zan Ultimate MissionStriker and Shadowchaser.

Lovelines was directed by Rod Amateau, who made some baffling films along the way like The Statue, one of the few movies Roger Ebert ever walked out on, as well as High School U.S.A., the movie that convinced Joel Robinson to leave Hollywood, plus Son of Hitler, a Peter Cushing movie that never played outside of Germany and The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. That track record should explain exactly what kind of movie Lovelines is.

Really, you should watch this movie to see Miguel Ferrer show up for a split second and play the drums. That’s my review right there. If this comes out on blu ray someday, that’s the quote I want on the cover art.

This is Spinal Tap (1984)

There is nothing I can say about this movie that can add or distract from it. It is a force of nature and in my opinion, the most perfect of movies. I’ve debated adding it to the site numerous times, but my worry was that it’s so ingrained in my heart that there was no way I could do it justice. So instead, let me share my favorite scene from the movie and explain why it means so much to me and then you can just watch the damn thing yourself.

As limo driver Tommy Pischedda (Bruno Kirby) drives Spinal Tap through New York City and all seems bright and the future wide open, he makes the faux pas of thinking that he can directly interact with rock gods. He looks in the back of his car and addresses one of their female admirers: “Excuse me… are you reading “Yes I Can”?”

Tommy may not understand this heavy metal, but he does know the Rat Pack. That’s the kind of celebrity culture that he understands. People that deserve to be there. People that have given blood and sweat and sacrificed. But maybe, just maybe, these longhaired kids are trying.

“You know what the title of that book should be? “Yes, I Can If Frank Sinatra Says It’s OK,”” shares Tommy. “‘Cause Frank calls the shots for all of those guys. Did you get to the part yet where uh…Sammy is coming out of the Copa…it’s about 3 o’clock in the morning and, uh, he sees Frank? Frank’s walking down Broadway by himself…”

At this point, Nigel Tufnel, the guitarist of the band, rolls up the window that separates the celebrity from the hired help. It’s a bracing and truth-packed moment, as the look on Tommy’s face shows that he should have never opened himself to such scorn.

Rockumentarian and Tap fan Marti DiBergi tries to deal with the chill in the air, offering, “Well, you know, they’re not, uh, used to that world. You know, Frank Sinatra, it’s a different world that they’re in.”

The sheer exhaustion in Tommy’s speech that follows, as well as his know-it-all feeling on the world of celebrity follows. “You know, it’s just that people like this…you know…they get all they want so they really don’t understand, you know…about a life-like Frank’s. I mean, when you’ve loved and lost the way Frank has, then you, uh, you know what life’s about.”

But what sums it all up is when he says, “Fuckin’ limeys.”

Howard Avedis Week: They’re Playing with Fire (1984)

Editor’s Note: This review ran on April 11, 2019. We’re bringing it back for our “Hikmet ‘Howard’ Avedis Week” of reviews.

Hikmet Avedis was the director of 1974’s The Teacher. Howard Avedis is the director of this film. They’re similar films. And the same person. So there you go.

This movie is all about Jay (Eric Brown, Private Lessons), who gets caught up in a film noir-like murder mystery. And see, you thought that this was going to be all about teen comedies and not death! Wrong! (We know! We’ve done Private Resort with Johnny Depp, and Private Parts (not the Stern one), but not Private Lessons? We’re working on it!)

What sold me on this movie were the two leads: Andrew Prine (The Town that Dreaded SundownSimon King of the Witches) and Sybil Danning (Battle Beyond the Stars). They’re a married couple who want to get his mom into a retirement home, but things go wrong and she gets killed. Jay gets way too deep into their affairs, but look: if you were a 19-year-old college kid and Sybil Danning regularly rumbusticating you, chances are you’d do anything she asked.

This movie has a lot in it, to tell the truth. It’s somewhat a sex comedy. It’s sometimes a slasher, like when a hidden Santa Claus beats a woman with a baseball bat. It’s got Dominick Brascia in it, who played the candy bar eating heavy guy in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. It’s got Alvy Moore in it, who was Hank Kimball on TV’s Green Acres. It was the best role Sybil ever thought that she acted in. And by the end of the movie, it’s become a giallo complete with a room full of horrific artwork, dead bodies and a secret sibling!

Despite the tagline, “From his French maid, he got Private Lessons. Now his English professor is giving him a REAL education,” this is not a sequel to that film. Also: I kind of hate Eric Brown, as he got to do love scenes with both Sybil and Sylvia Kristel. That’s kind of getting way too much out of your life. No one deserves that much.

Just listen to this song and remember: Eric Brown got to do three love scenes with Sybil Danning. Try not to get enraged. It gets worse: he hooks up with Sylvia Kristel in Private Lessons. You’ve just gone postal.

You can get this from Kino Lorber.

BRUNO MATTEI WEEK: Hanna D. – La ragazza del Vondel Park (1984)

Remember Christiane F.Hanna D. could be her Italian cousin, but one who doesn’t come from a place of true story but from a not-so-distant exploitation place. Where Christiane’s story served to warn others — and got all manner of young girls across Europe to head off to the places in the movie and do drugs — Hanna’s odyssey is one meant to titillate.

Yes, Hanna (Ann-Gisel Glass, who was also in Rats: The Night of Terror) has no issue using her body to either make old men uncomfortable or to make money. Her mother (Karin Schubert, Emanuele Around the World) mainly is in her life to argue with her and to get drunk. So is it any wonder that she descends into a world of drugs and depravity?

This was directed by Rino Di Silvestro, whose oeuvre is filled with the type of repellant stuff that I put into my eye veins, just like the frankly disturbing as fuck scene in this movie where someone injects junk directly under their eyeball, the kind of magical trash that had to make Lucio Fulci shout, “Che è un gioco!” You may know Di Silvestro from making Italy’s first women in prison movie, Women in Cell Block 7, as well as Deported Women of the SS Special Section and Werewolf Woman.

Di Silvestro didn’t finish this movie, but his editor did. That man’s name? Bruno Mattei, who knows all about making films that shock, repulse and bring great joy to people who wonder aloud, “You know, I wonder why no one has ever made a movie where someone evacuates drugs out of their rectums immediately followed by someone gobbing it down?”

If you’re that person, get help. And get Hanna D. – La ragazza del Vondel Park, which is the motion picture you’ve been looking for.

BRUNO MATTEI WEEK: Another take on Rats: Night of Terror (1984)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Herbert P. Caine is the pseudonym of a frustrated academic and genre movie fan in Pennsylvania. You can read his blog at https://imaginaryuniverseshpc.blogspot.com.

Musophobia, or the fear of rats and mice, is one of the most common phobias. This should not be surprising, as rats are legitimately frightening creatures capable of savagely attacking a human and spreading lethal diseases. One acquaintance of mine can testify to their scariness, having had several unpleasant encounters with them during his childhood, including stepping on a rat and happening upon a mob of rats devouring a dead dog in an abandoned building.

Consequently, it is only natural that rats have been a go-to subject for horror, ranging from stories such as H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Rats in the Walls” and James Herbert’s The Rats. Director Bruno Mattei’s Rats: Night of Terror may not live up to these classics, but it still manages to deliver an enjoyable hour and a half of thrills. The film follows a group of post-apocalyptic nomads who stumble into an abandoned settlement (composed of sets that had previously appeared in Once Upon a Time in America) that appears to have all the food and water they will ever need. Unfortunately, it boasts some prior inhabitants who don’t appreciate interlopers in their rodent paradise.

Rats delivers the primary thing one wants from a film like this: gore. Mattei thinks up some interesting ways for his rats to kill people that go beyond simply swarming and devouring them, in particular one scene that manages to evoke Alien while giving it a particularly queasy twist. (The scene is graphic enough that it caused Rats to encounter censorship issues in Ontario, Canada.) Although the gore effects reflect the film’s limited budget, they still manage to elicit a cringe or two. Beyond the bloodshed, Mattei manages to inject some genuine tension into certain scenes, as when some of the nomads had to tiptoe their way through a small army of rats.

The film also benefits from a reasonably decent cast for a low-budget Italian genre movie. Geretta Geretta of Demons fame appears as Chocolate, the lone black person in the troupe of nomads, bringing a certain level of charisma to the proceedings. (Geretta gave an interview to Delirium magazine reminiscing about her time working on Rats several years ago.) Fausto Lombardi (credited as Tony Lombardo) is also interesting in the role of Deus, the group’s resident mystic who goes around with a triangle drawn on his head. At times, I found myself wishing that they had concentrated more on Deus than the nomads’ leader, a rather uninspiring macho man type played by Ottaviano Dell’Acqua.

The film does have some issues, however. In particular, some of the dialogue is straight-up clunky. For instance, when one of the nomads rebels against him, the leader angrily warns that “Next time, I won’t be len-I-ent!” enunciating each syllable to comic effect. More disturbingly, in some scenes, the cast actually appear to be throwing rats around and actually hurting them, to the point that the Rifftrax version of the film has a disclaimer warning that the movie “Includes some scenes of violence against rats.” Geretta Geretta, while not directly addressing the issue of animal abuse during the filming, admits that some rats died on set and continued to be used in the background by Mattei, to the point that the set began to smell.

The film also features the horror standby of characters acting in incredibly stupid ways, to the point that viewers start to lose sympathy for them. For example, in one scene, the characters board up the entrances to the room they are holed up in to protect themselves from the rats, but fail to notice an open window. One guess what happens next.

Nevertheless, Rats: Night of Terror is well worth watching. It delivers all the thrills and fun you could reasonably expect from a film like this, and there are certainly worse entries in the killer rat genre (cough…Deadly Eyes).

Rats: Night of Terror can be viewed for free on Tubi.

BRUNO MATTEI WEEK: Rats: The Night of Terror (1984)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Oh man, this movie. I love this movie. I also realize that it is complete junk, but I love it for the same reason I love potato chips! This originally was on our site on June 26, 2018.

In the Christian year 2015, the insensitivity of man finally triumphs and hundreds of atomic bombs devastate all five continents. Terrified of the slaughter and destruction, the few survivors of the disaster seek refuge under the ground. From that moment begins the era that will come to be called “after the bomb” — the period of the second human race. A century later, several men, dissatisfied with the system imposed on them by the new humanity, choose to revolt and live on the surface of the Earth as their ancestors did. So, yet another race begins, that of the new primitives. The two communities have no contact for a long period. The humans still living below ground are sophisticated and despise the primitives, regarding them as savages. This story begins on the surface of the Earth in the year 225 A.B. (After the Bomb)

Rats the Night of Terror begins with a punk gang investigating a mysterious town. Let’s meet the folks we’re going to spend the next 105 minutes with. Kurt and Taurus (Massimo Vanni, Warriors of the Wasteland) share the leadership responsibilities, but Duke really wants to take over. Then there’s Chocolate (Geretta Geretta from Demons), a poorly named black woman who gets flour all over herself and dances around while yelling, “I’m whiter than you!” Obviously Italian directors in 1984 were not yet “woke.” Lucifer and Lilith are, of course, a couple. At least she has plenty of fashion sense, traveling through the end of days wearing a cape and fedora. Noah is the resident genius, while Video is an expert at video games. Yep, that’s why they brought him along, despite the fact that there are no video games left. Deus has a shaved head with a strange symbol, is given to mystic rantings and has on one of The Warriors’ vests. Finally, we have Diana, who wears a studded headband and is the girlfriend of Barry Gibb lookalike Kurt, and Myrna, whose scream is ready to reduce your eardrums to quivering masses of cartilage.

Surprisingly, the gang finds plenty of food in this town. Of course, they also discover plenty of mutilated bodies and lots of rats. But at least the town looks nice, maybe because it’s the same set as Once Upon a Time in America.

Why aren’t the rats eating the food? Look, this was written and directed by Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso, so you better be ready to throw logic into the cold, dead void of space. What else can you expect from the team that brought you Zombie 3, The Other Hell, Robowar and Emanuelle Escapes from Hell? And you may also know Fragasso from another film that makes perfect sense, Troll 2. Just like that film, which has nothing to do with the movie it succeeds, this was billed as the third part of Enzo G. Castellari’s Bronx Warriors series. Again — check logical storytelling at la porta.

Luckily for our heroes, they discover a hydroponic growing system that’s made the kindest bud ever known to man. Just kidding — the crops are fruit, vegetables and plants, along with purified water.

Night falls and everyone goes to sleep in the same room. Lilith and Lucifer have sex while everyone else either watches or performs their signature character move, such as polishing a guitar or meditating. Our young lovers get stuck in their sleeping bag while everyone laughs at them, using that hearty guffaw that only Italian dubbed voices can perform. Lilith ends up deciding not to have any more sex — her Southern accent is beyond reproach — and Lucifer stalks off, while she zips herself back into that troublesome sleeping bag.

That’s when our merry band discovers that while they may have dressed for a Road Warrior ripoff, they took a wrong turn at Barter Town and ended up in a slasher film.

Even after the bombs drop, you should know better than to have sex in one of these affairs. That means we can cross off our demonically named couple. He just falls into a hole of rats whereas she gets stuck in that cursed sleeping bag as rats climb in. When the rest of the crew discovers her, a rat climbs out from her mouth in a scene that’s sure to make you either laugh uncontrollably, puke out your last meal or some combination thereof.

I just had a flash — the way everyone is dressed in this film, including Kurt in his white shirt and red ascot, it’s as if the Scooby Gang tried to escape New York. The costumes in this film are fabulous! Good work, Elda Chinellato!

This film sets new standards for rats killing humans. How did they achieve such special effects? One assumes that someone was off camera, just tossing rodents at the unfortunate cast. Well, one doesn’t have to assume, because that’s pretty much exactly what happened, PETA be damned.

Meanwhile, Noah gets attacked by rats, so they decide to scare the rodents off with a flamethrower. Bad idea, unless you enjoy barbecuing your friends. Then, they discover that the rats have eaten their tires off of their motorcycles. How did they do such a thing? What do you mean they cut the power? How could they cut the power, man? They’re animals!

Myrna continues to scream at any and every opportunity while our heroes barricade themselves into the building and wonder, “Has there ever been worse dubbing in a film?” No, my friends. No, there has not. Instead of just asking you rhetorically to imagine the diseases a rat can give you, this film lists them at length.

Who is the biggest enemy? Duke or the rats? Well, Duke may be shooting at them with a machine gun, but he hasn’t eaten anyone from within yet. The good guys keep giving Duke chance after chance, even after he’s more than proved that he’s a ne’er do well. Eventually, he blows himself and Myrna up real good.

Diana just can’t take it any longer, so she slits her wrists. Then, Video learns that the building they’re hiding in was an experimental station for something called Return to Light. Not “Remain In Light.” That’s a Talking Heads record. Also, the rats are super intelligent and see this place as an affront. ”This is worse than being dead,” says Kurt, while he sashays in his little pirate costume.

Have you ever thought, “It must be really fun to be an actor?” Then you weren’t in this movie. For the entire running time, giant piles of rats are poured everywhere and anywhere and on just about everyone.

The rats finally try to break the door down to the control room and all hell breaks loose. Meanwhile, these guys in yellow hazmat suits and masks from The Crazies start walking through the streets.

Deus is killed by Myrna’s corpse and even Kurt is killed by a bunch of rats that fly at him from every angle. Video and Chocolate are then saved by the people in the hazmat suits, who have been gassing all of the rats.  

Here’s where Rats: The Night of Terror unveils its shock ending. The hazmat guys are the people from Delta 2. Chocolate then says to one of her rescuers, ““Once, someone told me they read in a book that we all lived on the Earth together, that we were all brothers. The book was called the Bible, and it said that God created man and animals.” The leader of the men takes off his mask and he’s no man at all — he’s a human rat!

It’s a twist ending that isn’t explained and doesn’t make any sense at all! It would be like Peyton Farquhar shat his pants at the end of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge instead of getting lynched!

Rats: The Night of Terror isn’t a good movie. But it’s a great movie. A movie that you can tell people about and they’ll say, “That’s not a real movie.” But it is. It totally is.

You can watch this on Tubi.

This article originally appeared in Drive-In Asylum Issue 10.