Modern Girls (1986)

Cece (Cynthia Gibb, Jack’s Back) just lost her job.

Margo (Daphne Zuniga, The Initiation) has a boring telemarketing job.

Kelly (Virginia Madsen, Candyman) sells lots of pets because she’s so good looking.

Over one wild night, they’re going to get dumped, meet a rock legend, face off with a criminal and maybe even fall in love. Just another Friday night, I guess.

Clayton Rohner (I, Madman; April Fool’s Day) has a dual role as the love-starved Clifford and rock star Bruno X. Also look for Josh Richman (who was Tony in River’s Edge; he also directed the videos for Guns ‘n Roses’ “Live and Let Die” and “Don’t Cry (Part 1)” as well as reciting the spoken word section on their cover of “Knocking On Heaven’s Door and managing the band Deadsy), the Boss’ sister Pamela, Mark Holton (Francis from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure) and Stuart Charno (one of the few Camp Crystal Lake counselors to escape Jason).

Director Jerry Kramer also made Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker, the video for Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher,” Styx’s “Kilroy Was Here” and Sandahl Bergman’s Body, a video where Sandahl shows how to do aerobics. If you think I’m not hunting that down, you don’t know me all that well.

This female-driven hijinks movie even had the Depeche Mode song “But Not Tonight” promote it in a movie-featuring music video, as well as a soundtrack with The Jesus and Mary Chain, Toni Basil and Icehouse on it.

Modern Girls bombed in theaters, but as often happened in the late 1980’s, it found new life on HBO. Ah, what a time to be alive, staying up too late and wishing you were old enough to try and catch Virginia Madsen’s attention.

Population: 1 (1986)

Rene Daalder made Massacre at Central High before becoming a pioneer of virtual reality and digital motion picture technologies. He started as a protege of Russ Meyer, even writing an initial script for Who Killed Bambi?, Meyer’s canceled film with the Sex Pistols (a movie that Russ explained to Roger Ebert, who wrote another script, “We can go wild on this. I’ve got a couple of big-titted London girls already in mind.”).

He also innovated what we would one day called music videos alongside Tomata du Plenty and the electropunk band The Screamers. In this film, Tomata is the last survivor of the end of the world, a defense contractor left alone to put together the history of the world.

This is a movie packed with musicians and artists, including El Duce, Carel Struycken (the giant from Twin Peaks, who was a producer and editor on this movie), production designer K.K. Barrett, Penelope Huston from The Avengers, composer and Beck’s father David Campbell, Fluxus artist and Beck’s grandfather Al Hansen, Beck and oh yeah, Maila Nurmi who we all know much better as Vampira.

It’s definitely an art project, but there are moments of real brilliance here, including the floating tools that follow Tomata and groom him for his State of the Union. It’s amazing that the tech in this was so advanced at one point, yet look quaint today. Such is the sadness of the forward progress of time.

Learn more at the official site or watch this on YouTube.

REPOST: NO FALSE METAL MOVIES WEEK: Trick or Treat (1986)

From the Publisher’s Desk with R.D Francis: We’re sadden to hear that Pete Way, the bassist for UFO, passed away this morning, August 14, at the age of 69. His death was the result of “life threatening injuries” he received in an accident earlier this summer.

Pete Way
August 7, 1951 – August 14, 2020

In addition to help found UFO, Way formed his own self-named project, Waysted, and was the bassist for his longtime friends Ozzy Osbourne and Michael Schenker. He also co-founded Fastway, which provided the music for the ulitmate “No False Metal” god, Sammy Curr, in Trick or Treat.

Way left UFO to collaborate with Fast Eddie Clarke of Motörhead; their brief union became known as Fastway, co-founded with Humble Pie (Peter Frampton’s old band) drummer Jerry Shirley. The band quickly fell apart, with Way forming his namesake, Waysted. Fastway carried on with vocalist Dave King and bassist Charlie McCraken, Shirley’s old bandmate from the Irish power trio Taste that was headed by Rory Gallagher.

Fastway’s then three-album output: Fastway (1982), All Fired Up (1984), and Waiting for the Roar (1986) comprised the soundtrack for Trick or Treat.

Spend a few moments this evening to remember Pete Way and stream some UFO, Waysted, and Fastway. Godspeed, Pete. (You guys blew Cheap Trick off the stage in 1980! Three encores!)

Sadly, this isn’t the first rock-flick veteran we lost in these several months. Be sure to remember Nigel Benjamin, who served as the “voice” of the second greatest “No False Metal God” of rock flicks, Billy Eye Harper. You can read our tribute to Nigel with our “Remembrance of Nigel Benjamin” that reflected on his career with Mott, London with Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue, and his work with the Sebastians on Rocktober Blood.

Here’s UFO at their absolute, bass ass peak in 1975. And enjoy this review of Trick or Treat from Sammy P. that originally ran on July 17, 2017, as part of our “No False Metal Movies Week.” Take it away, Samuel!

The director of A Dolphin’s Tale and A Dolphin’s Tale 2, Skippy from Family Ties and one of the stars of A Chorus Line made the most metal film ever. Let that sink in.

I grew up a fat, bespeckled child in a small town with crushing self esteem issues, a love for gore movies and a sarcastic mind that loved the way people treated me when I started dressing all in black. Every single situation that Eddie Weinbauer (Marc Price, the previously mentioned Skippy) endures in this film…I lived it. If a monster Glenn Danzig (Verotika) could take over shop class and kill my tormentors, I would have gladly welcomed such mayhem and menace.

Eddie is a big fan of Sammi Curr, a superstar who went to the same high school Eddie is in, was tormented and bullied the same way Eddie is, became a big star and then died in a mysterious fire. Radio DJ Nuke (Gene “inventor of the devil horns” Simmons, who played a great transgendered bad guy in Never Too Young to Die while wearing his girlfriend Cher’s clothes) gives Eddie the only vinyl copy of Sammi’s satanic masterwork “Songs in the Key of Death.”

Eddie does exactly what I’d do: he listens to the record and falls asleep. He has a crazy dream about the fire that killed Curr and awakens to the album playing backwards, telling him how to gain revenge on the bullies that torment him.

Eddie chickens out though — he doesn’t want to kill the jocks who have made his life so rough. Sammi takes matters into his own hands, creating an electric surge that allows him to escape the record and come back to our reality. Eddie responds by smashing his stereo. Sammi’s response is as fucking perfect as it gets: “No false metal.”

Sammi’s friend Roger gets involved and unwittingly plays a cassette — fucking metal — at the school dance, causing Sammi to leap out of a guitar amp and take the stage. The crowd goes wild before Sammi starts killing audience members, shooting lightning at them and revealing his burned face. Holy shit — I saw this scene at the drive-in this year and the exuberance of hearing Fastaway blasting from car stereos in the fog at 5 AM is an experience I recommend to every single person reading this.

Can Eddie stop Sammi from being played on the radio and attacking everyone that hears it? Of course. It’s an ’80s horror movie. But man — I’m all from more Sammi Curr (sadly, Tony Fields died of AIDS in 1995).

Oh I forgot – Ozzy is a preacher in this that Sammi attacks. It’s a small cameo, just like Gene Simmons’ role, but that doesn’t stop my DVD cover from claiming they starred in this.

If you’re an 80s metal fan (and if not, man, thanks for reading this far), there are so many band logos and posters to spot in this, from the expected like Anthrax and KISS to the out of left field like Raven, Exciter and Savatage. You’ll also be much more likely to not dismiss this film as a piece of shit.

Me? I quote from this film almost every day. “The bait is you. Let the big fish hook themselves. You’re the bait. The bait is you.”

NEVER BOW TO FALSE METAL!

Black Moon Rising (1986)

Before Quentin Tarantino*˟ inspired us to run to the movie theatre with anything featuring his name on it — even if he didn’t directed it — there was John Carpenter. For Quentin, the films that took our coin were Natural Born Killers and True Romance. For John Carpenter, we laid the money down for Black Moon Rising and The Eyes of Laura Mars. And the thing about Tarantino and Carpenter: while we love their pens, it’s just not the same without them in the director’s chair. But when you write and direct a blockbuster and you’re churned into Hollywood’s flavor of the month, you end up selling a lot of those dust bunny-collecting screenplays sitting in the drawer. (Anyone want to read some of my dust bunnies? Yeah, didn’t think so. . . .)

In fact, the Roger Corman-founded New World Pictures made sure Carpenter’s name was front and center in the promotional materials to hook fans of Halloween and Escape from New York*. And toss in Carpenter’s pre-Halloween “modern western” homage Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) that became a cult classic courtesy of its incessant HBO replays in the backwash of Escapes’ success. Did we even care — or knew — that Harley Cokliss, who worked as a second unit director under Irvin Kershner on The Empire Strikes Back and directed New Zealand’s entry in the Max Max road rallies of the ’80s, Battletruck* (1982), directed Black Moon Rising? Nope. Not according to my copies of Starlog and Famous Monsters.

For the Snake Plissken-esque anti-hero of this high-tech crime caper, embodied by Sam Quint, the job was given to the always welcomed and never-not-awesome Tommy Lee Jones, who came into his own as an A-List, major-studio leading man with memorable roles in Jackson County Jail (1976), Rolling Thunder (1977), and Carpenter’s The Eyes of Laura Mars (again; didn’t direct it, natch; the aforementioned Irvin Kershner did). And it’s important to note that, in the same year Black Moon was released, Jones also starred in one of the greatest HBO-exclusive movies of all time, the Canadian-produced Rambo-inversion, This Park Is Mine.

We all know the story behind Escape from New York as it relates to Tommy Lee Jones, right? After blowing the roof off of theatres in 1978 with his Italian Giallo homage (check out our “Exploring: Giallo” featurette) Halloween, Carpenter had the clout to get his long-gestating passion project made (that he tried to get made even before 1976’s Assault on Precinct 13) about a Clint Eastwood-esque anti-hero’s adventures in a futuristic “Wild West” New York. (If Carpenter had gotten it made in the early ’70s during Clint’s “Dirty Harry” days . . . Eastwood going “Charlton Heston” in a post-apoc flick? Damn. I’d see that movie!)

At the time, Carpenter has just worked with Kurt Russell, who starred as “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” in the 1979 TV movie, Elvis. Carpenter wanted Russell in the lead. Avco Embassy, who initially wanted the admittedly cool-for-the-role-but-too-old Charles Bronson (sorry, Charlie), dug in their collective heels with Tommy Lee Jones (who would have owned Plissken!). Carpenter won the casting war. And Jones ended up being cast as Carpenter’s Plissken-lite, Sam Quint.

In a June 2016 radio interview with Justin Beahm, Carpenter explained that he wrote Black Moon Rising around the time he made Escape from New York (which is why we “see” Snake in Mr. Quint’s squint) as a “my car is stolen and I’m going to get it back” story. And he added that he had “never seen the final film.” And if it all sounds too familiar, like Corvette Summer (1978) familiar, you know Mark Hamill’s first post-Star Wars movie, itself a “my car is stolen and I’m going to get it back” story — without the sci-fi trappings and F.B.I tomfoolery — it probably is. . . . And if the plot of Black Moon Rising sounds familiar, like The Fast and the Furious (franchise) familiar, then it probably is. . . .

Sam Quint is a reformed thief hired by the Feds to steal a computer disc (what’s that?) that holds incriminating evidence against a corrupt Las Vegas-based corporation. After the theft, Quint’s on the run from Marvin Ringer (Lee Ving of Fear; The Decline of Western Civilization), his psycho-former partner, who wants the disc back. But, alas . . . during the course of the chase, Quint stashes the disc inside The Black Moon, a prototype supercar that exceeds speeds of 300 miles per hour — on tap water. (I know, right: the ol’ water-as-fuel sci-fi trope, again. Hey, Keanu! Hey, Val!) Then steps in master car thief Nina (Linda Hamilton in her first post-The Terminator* role), who steals the oh, so The Wraith (1986) sci-fi wagon for stolen car syndicate mogul Ed Ryland (the so-awesome Robert Vaughn as Proteus IV in Demon Seed, and yes . . . we even sat through Starship Invasions, The Lucifer Complex, Hangar 18, and the terminally goofy Battle Beyond the Stars for our Vaughn fixes). Now Quint has to break into The Ryland Towers (thus, the car-busting-through-the-glass-tower artwork of the theatrical one-sheet), where its offices’ operate Ryland’s “legit” businesses — along with a high-tech and high-volume chop shop in the basement-garage bowels.

Of course, the reason we’re writing about this forgotten entry in the John Carpenter cannons — in addition to its “Fast and Furiousness,” and the fact that the fine folks at Kino Lorber reissued the film on Blu-ray (a 2K restoration from the original 35 MM interpositives) last May — is because of the 1980 Wingho Concordia II designed by Bernard Beaujardins and Clyde Kwok used in the film. Since only one was made, it was filmed for exterior stunts. Two cast cast-mold copies were made for stunts and interior shots.

The cinematographer behind Harley Cokliss’s vision of John Carpenter’s script is Russian-born Misha Suslov, who lensed the hicksploitation classics (yes, they are classics in the analog hearts of the B&S crew!) Smokey and the Judge and Truckin’ Buddy McCoy**, along with Mark L. Lester’s Public Enemies (with Eric Roberts!), and the “dark” Christmas romp, Prancer. While we lost our inner Suslov-ness over the years, we were happy to discover Suslov is still keepin’ the eye-in-the-glass with the 2020 country-romance The Girls of Summer.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.


* Be sure to check out our full list of reviews from our “Apoc Month” blowout of post-apocalyptic ditties from the ’70s and ’80s with our two-part “Atomic Dust Bin” round-ups.

** You need more redneck ragin’ hicksploitation? Then check out our homage to the genre with our “The Top 70 Good Ol’ Boys Film List: 1972 to 1986” featurette.

*˟ You can catch up with all of Quentin Tarantino’s films with our “Exploring: The 8 Films of Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder Pictures” featurette — complete with links to our July 2019 reviews of his films.

Heavy Metal Parking Lot (1986)

Jeff Krulik’s films — Mr. Blassie Goes to Washington, Led Zeppelin Played HereErnest Borgnine On the Bus — show a deep love and fear, often at the same time, for pop culture.

The film itself is simple: a group of young metal fans get inordinately wasted while waiting to get in to a Judas Priest/Dokken concert at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland on May 31, 1986. Everything captured is real and that’s what makes it pure magic.

This film was a VHS bootleg fave for years until music rights issues were cleared up. Since then, follow-ups and sequels — Heavy Metal Picnic and Neil Diamond Parking Lot — have been made.  But the fact that you can easily find this movie now does not dilute its magical power. The sad truth is that probably all of these kids, including the ones who wanted to have rough sex with Glenn Tipton, have all grown up and are afraid of the next wave of music that came in its wake, as well as still out partying without masks or social distancing.

I will say, a youth of metal shows proves to me that none of this is fake. I lived this life. I had a girlfriend who tried to bring a pound of weed inside a glass jar inside a show once. I burned my feet  because Three Rivers Stadium’s field was so hot during Monsters of Rock — yes, Rokken with Dokken. And while I’ve never been so drunk that I don’t remember a show, I used to have a roommate that would routinely piss his pants instead of leaving the front row.

You can watch this on Tubi or YouTube.

Armed and Dangerous (1986)

Mark Lester can do a buddy cop movie. But a comedy? A movie that starts with John Candy’s character sent up the river and Eugene Levy as the worst lawyer ever throwing himself on the mercy of a judge — Stacy Keach Sr.! — to keep the mob from killing him, with Candy in a Bill Murray role instead of the likable everyman?

If anyone can handle it, it’s Lester.

With no job prospects, Dooley and Kane (Candy and Levy) apply for work at Guard Dog Security, run by Captain Clarence O’Connell (Kenneth McMillan, Cat’s Eye) and supervised by Maggie Cavanaugh (an impish and delightful Meg Ryan).

Their first night on the job, some goons take advantage of them when lead guard Bruno makes our heroes take a break. He’s Tiny Lister, better known as Zeus from No Holds Barred and Deebo in the Friday movies.

This launches them on a quest to see who has set them up — again in Candy’s case — you get plenty of great casting to help the story move, a hallmark of Lester’s work. There’s Robert Loggia as corrupt union head Michael Carlino, Brion James and Johnathan Banks (both strangely with full heads of hair) as his goons, James Tolkan (Strickland from Back to the Future), Don Stroud (Stunts), Steve Railsback (Turkey Shoot) pretty much playing the same character as he did as Manson in Helter Skelter, Tony Burton (Duke from Rocky), Teagan Clive (yes, Bimbo Cop from Vice Academy 2 and The Alienator), Tito Puente, Judy Landers (Dr. Alien!), Christine Dupree (who was one of the models for the aborted video game Tattoo Assassins) and even a blink and you’ll miss him appearance by David Hess as a gunman.

You may watch this and say, “Robert Loggia has a nice, if familiar house.” That’s because Jed Clampett used to live there. The Sport Pit, the gym that gets messed up in the film, is also in the same strip mall that D-Fens shot up the phone booth in Falling Down.

By all accounts, this movie sounded like a mess to make. Originally written by Harold Ramis as a vehicle for Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, it was resurrected by producer Brian Grazer.

Candy and Tom Hanks were cast, but Hanks dropped out, and Candy recommended Eugene Levy. Of all people, John Carpenter was initially attached to direct.

Ramis disliked the final film, saying: “It was not good. I tried to take my name off it. I took my name off in one place.” That said, he’s credited as a screenwriter, despite his demands.

As for Grazer, Lester demanded that John Candy call Meg Ryan a bitch in a scene. Candy refused, Lester walks and Grazer had to finish directing for the day. Keep in mind, this is an alleged story.

It’s an alright movie that moves fast enough. It doesn’t feel like Lester’s other films, but that may be because of studio pressures. I had difficulty locating a copy and the one I did find had Russian actors speaking over the English soundtrack, even reading out loud the credits. I think it made this a much better film.

Knife Under the Throat (1986)

Catherine (Florence Guerin, FacelessToo Beautiful to Die, Demons 6: De Profundis) is an adult magazine model who is being stalked over the phone. That’s not as bad as some of the other girls she works with. After all, they’re not just getting heavy breathing. They’re getting killed.

Brigitte Lahaie is in this, pretty much a perfect fit for her background. She rose from the X-rated films of France to be recognized by Jean Rollin, who cast her in his films The Grapes of Death and Fascination. This also makes sense as to why Claude Mulot directed this, as the majority of his career was also in adult films. He’d die a few years later in a drowning accident. He also made The Blood Rose, a film so close to a Jess Franco movie that Troy Howarth would say in So Deadly, So Perverse: Giallo-Style Films from Around the World Volume 3, “wone would be forgiven for thinking that Franco had made it himself.”

This doesn’t do anything special or different than any other giallo. Both Guerin and Lahaie would make Franco’s Faceless soon after, a much better film.

La Casa del Buon Ritorno (1986)

This 1986 late model Italian giallo — with a title that translates as The House of Good Returns  — was written, directed and produced by Beppe Cino. It is the only horror movie he’s made.

Twenty years ago, a young girl died here. Now, Luca and his fiancee Margit have come back, reopening old memories and unleashing Ayesha, a mysterious woman, and a series of killings.

Yes, Luca killed that girl accidentally when she put on a mask to frighten him. But now, that very same Onibaba mask is being worn by a killer. Of course, that mask comes directly from the 1964 film Onibaba, but this a film that shows its influences for all to see, like large chunks taken from Deep Red. But hey — remixing is art, after all, and this movie looks great, feels like a dream sequence and is the only giallo I’ve ever seen with music that would fit better into a Woody Allen film.

While this was released on VHS in countries like Italy, Spain (The House of No Return) and Germany (The House of the Blue Shadows), it was never put out on DVD until its 2020 TetroVideo reissue. It still hasn’t been dubbed into English. In a strange way, it’s Japanese look reminds me of another completely off-kilter movie that makes dream logic sense, Blood Beat.

The Killer Is Still Among Us (1986)

Also known as Florence! The Killer is Still Among Us and The Killer Has Returned, you have to admire the chutzpah — or the gall — of a film to have the disclaimer “This film was made as a warning to young people and with the hope that it will be of use to law enforcement to bring these ferocious killers to justice,” after you’ve just watched 83 minutes of a killer graphically mutilating women and their most intimate of parts, as if this were some bid to outdo Giallo  In Venice or The New York Ripper.

Based on the true story of the Florence serial killer “The Monster of Florence,” this was written by Ernesto Gastaldi (The Whip and the BodyAll the Colors of the DarkMy Name Is Nobody) and Giuliano Carnimeo (who directed four of the Sartana films under the alias Anthony Ascott, as well as The Case of the Bloody Iris, Exterminators of the Year 3000 and Ratman).

Directing this movie — and helping with the script — would be Camillio Teti, who produced The Dead Are Alive and Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi’s attempt at a non-mondo, the ironically named Mondo Candideo.

Much like a scene out of Maniac, a couple on lover’s lane is blown away mid-aardvark by a gloved killer. What separates the uomini from the ragazzi is that the killer then uses a knife and a tree branch to do things that made me turn my head from the screen for an extended period of time.

Christiana Marelli has been studying the killer in criminology class to the displeasure of her boyfriend, the cops and her teachers. This leads to her being stalked via phone and in person by the killer. Of course, seeing as how Alex, that formerly mentioned boyfriend, is never around during these killings, you can see why she starts thinking he could be Il Mostro.

The film moves from the giallo into the supernatural as our heroine attends a seance where the medium has a vision of the killer decimating a camping couple, soon developing the same wound that the victims just received.

What does Christina do? Run to the theater to see if Alex is there or not, proving that while he is waiting for her, he certainly could still be the killer. If I were her professor, I’d have given her a zero out of thirty.

After all this, she just sits down to watch a movie with him and it ends up being the same film we’ve just been watching. That’s either a huge cop out or just how you expect a giallo to end.

Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986)

This is Penny Marshall’s directorial debut. She replaced Howard Zieff, the director of the two My Girl movies, and the script — originally intended for Shelley Long when people actually thought she’d be likable enough to open a movie — was rewritten as the movie was shot. You know how Hollywood works. If you can’t get Shelley Long, get Whoopi Goldberg.

Whoopi is Terry Doolittle, a computer operator at a Manhattan bank surrounded by really funny people like Carol Kane, Jon Lovitz and Phil Hartman. You also get minor parts for Tracy Ullman, Annie Potts, Jim Belushi and Michael McKean.

The story itself is a Cold War spy movie that has computers do things that they could not do in 1986. There are also more Rolling Stones references than just the title, if you’re looking for a movie with those kinds of things.

Is it sad that I know that Jonathan Pryce, who plays Jack, was also the President in two G.I. Joe movies?

Somehow, in the midst of quarantine, I was subjected to two Penny Marshall movies. This means that I have the horrifying Awakenings and Riding In Cars with Boys before COVID-19 is done.