A CHRISTMAS STORY: Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss (1988)

This Jean Shepherd story isn’t about a holiday but is about summer vacations. But first, work. Ralphie (Jerry O’Connell), Flick (Cameron Johann) and Schwartz (Ross Eldridge) are working a horrific first career at Scott’s Used Furniture Palace — run by a character played by Shepherd — while dreaming of having a few days off. Before that, the family dog Fuzzhead (Shepherd’s real life dog Daphne) goes missing and ends up living in a mansion.

The trip to get to the trailer park of the title is described in the words of Shepherd as a journey “beset on all sides by strange creatures, the lost mariner searches and searches, in the Sargasso sea of life.”

James Sikking, who plays The Old Man, is also in The Night God Screamed, which is pretty awesome casting. Mom is played by Dorothy Lyman, who depending on when you watched TV was a pretty big deal. For those who watched soaps in the afternoon, she was on a ton of soap operas, including A World ApartThe Edge of Night, as Gwen Parrish Frame on Another World, Rebecca Whitmore on Generations, Bonnie Roberts on The Bold and the Beautiful and most importantly, she was Opal Sue Gardner on All My Children. If you watched TV at night, you knew her as Naomi, the daughter-in-law on Mama’s Family.

Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss was co-producted by Disney, public TV’s American Playhouse and Boston public TV station WGBH. While funded by Disney, they had nothing to do with production. After airing on their channel, it moved to public television.

This was the last film Shepherd made for television. He wanted to turn his stories into a series, but by 1988, he was making from the reruns and home video sales from A Christmas Story and decided to make another movie. That would be 1994’s It Runs in the Family: My Summer Story or as it is better remembered today, A Summer Story.

You can watch this on YouTube.

PITTSBURGH MADE: Flesheater (1988)

Pittsburgh — well, Coraopolis — born Bill Hinzman is probably most famous for being the first zombie that shows up to attack Johnny and Barbara in Night of the Living Dead. His film career has him show up in some other Romero films — he’s a drunk in There’s Always Vanilla, the burglar in Season of the Witch, a crazie in The Crazies, an archer in Knightriders — as well as the zombie movie Legion of the Night, John Russo’s Santa Claws and appearing in and directing the Russo-written The Majorettes.

He also worked behind the camera, serving as the director of photography for The Crazies and cinematographer for The Amusement ParkDrive-In Madness!, Santa Claws and working on the cash-in Night of the Living Dead: 30th Anniversary Edition.

Yet he’d always be that zombie, even showing up in a TV commercial for Goodfellows Brick Oven Pizza as that character. So twenty years after the first time he crawled out of a grave, Hinzman directed, wrote, produced and edited this film which as goes by the names Zombie Nosh and Revenge of the Living Zombies.

I always got the feeling that Hinzman and Russo made these movies to get out of the house, maybe make a little bit of money and maybe either see naked young women or get to bite them as a zombie, in Hinzman’s case.

Actually, what’s funny is that Bill’s wife Bonnie and his daughter Heidi didn’t just let him out of the house, they were involved in the film, appear in it and it’s still filled with this much sleaze! I mean, he even bites his own daughter and she turns into a zombie wearing an angel costume.

This is seriously even more Western Pennsylvania feeling than Romero’s films, a movie that has so much flannel, a hayride at the center of the storyline, people gathering at farms, furtive sex in the woods, big hair and bare breasts at the same time, a cast of twentysomething teenage characters who are all petty lame and die just as fast as you want them to and a farm that has a grave with a sign that literally says don’t break the seal and dumb kids drunk enough to do it and see what happens because nothing ever happens here anyway.

If you’re the kind of person that knows that the title of this comes from the original name for the 1968 classic — Night of the Flesheaters — or if you’re from Western Pennsylvania or even better, you’re excited that Vincent D. Survinski plays the same role he did in Night, this movie is for you. It’s beyond low budget, with real animal guts — Hinzman bit into a pig heart thinking it was a prop — and actual real human heart. The first time I saw it, I thought it was the dumbest movie I’d ever seen and while I probably wasn’t wrong, I have a place in my own heart for it.

You can get it from Vinegar Syndrome or watch it on Tubi.

PITTSBURGH MADE: Lightning Over Braddock: A Rustbowl Fantasy (1988)

Braddock has been in the news a lot lately, being the adopted home of John Fetterman. Yet for years, Tony Buba has been there, making documentaries about the former steeltown where he was born and continued to live, all while working in movies, doing sound for George Romero films and showing up with his brother Pasquale as drug dealers in Martin and bikers in Dawn of the Dead.

Lightning Over Braddock: A Rustbowl Fantasy takes place at the end of the eighties, a time when so much of America gave up on Pittsburgh and its surrounding mill towns. Where once Braddock was Pittsburgh’s shopping center with seven movie theaters, by the time of this movie it was falling to pieces — it would get worse — as the mills in Homestead were being closed by U.S. Steel, who said they were in the business of making money, not steel.

I grew up directly between Pittsburgh and Youngstown with a grandfather who spent his whole life in the blast furnace after liberating concentration camps. He used to tell me about getting frostbite on one side of his body and a suntan on the other as he worked at J&L in Aliquippa and would come home covered in dirt and grime in the small hours of the day, sleeping when everyone else was awake and then going back the very next day and doing it all over again.

Buba plays himself, trying to make a movie with Sal Caru, a local character who was also in one of his shorts Sweet Sal. Except that Sal thinks that just because Werner Herzog liked the movie, Tony is going to leave Braddock behind, just like the steelworkers did when they started making money. He’s ready to battle everyone in his way, leaving rambling explentative-filled answering machine messages demanding an audience.

There’s a moment before his confession that Tony looks at an animated card of Jesus and times when he thinks about how expensive Hollywood things are, how the rich men running the mills spend as much in a day as people in Braddock make in a year and how he can’t waste anything. He feels guilty about things like wanting to leave his hometown behind for Hollywood before realizing this is where he belongs.

While I’m a transplant to the greater Pittsburgh area, living in Mount Oliver, Edgewood, Allentown, Homestead, Dravosburg, West Mifflin, McKeesport and now Monongahela in my life, I feel such an emotional tug to this place. You can look at the Waterfront shopping area built on the top of the dead Carrie 6 furnace and see that even though this town is now about tech, we haven’t forgotten the past. I still miss Alexander Graham Bell’s bar on 8th, a place in Homestead where every table had a telephone and you could call table to table. I’ve hunted down where the old drive-ins were, the defunct movie theaters, the places that Pittsburgh used to be.

The struggles within this film of the steelworkers are long gone. So many of us have forgotten them, so many are gone now to be honest. My grandfather has been dead twenty years by now and I miss him and those stories every day. But Pittsburgh trudges on, even as one of the few mills still open is right down the street from my house now, the Clairton works, making the air itself the worst in the state. It smells like eggs on a foggy day, but once you couldn’t wash your clothes outside if you lived above the mills and Homestead ceremony is filled with the bodies of union men and the Pinkertons who got off boats to try and break their line, one of the largest instances of armed warfare inside our country.

I came away from this knowing why Tony Buba loves Pittsburgh because I think sure, we might complain about it, we might wish it were different, but we love everything about this town. We’re lifers. I couldn’t imagine caring about anywhere else.

You can buy this from Kino Lorber.

PITTSBURGH MADE: Monkey Shines (1988)

When Monkey Shines came out on video, I was probably 16 and had watched Dawn of the Dead hundreds of times. I was also an edgelord kid who hated everything and didn’t like this at all. I didn’t understand that directors can change and grow. I just wanted more gore.

Based on the book by Michael Stewart, this was director and writer George Romero’s first major studio feature and had — for him — a big budget of $7 million. Shooting in Pittsburgh — Carnegie Mellon and Murrysville are two of the locations — in the late summer and early fall of 1987, this had a long post-production and editing process as Romero shot more film than he ever had before, plus had to learn to work with live monkeys.

That said, there are also four Tom Savini-designed puppets. If you guessed that Frank Welker does her voice, you are correct.

After athletic law student Allan Mann (Jason Beghe) is hit by a truck, he loses control of his arms and legs and must learn to live in a wheelchair controlled by sips and puffs, which is nearly all he can do. His friend Geoffrey (John Pankow) suggests that he get a helper monkey and specialist Melanie Parker (Kate McNeil) helps him by getting Ella trained in working with him. It lifts his spirits and he finds himself growing close to Melanie.

The secret is that Geoffrey has been experimenting on these monkeys and is close to losing funding if he doesn’t get results. He has injected Ella with a special drug that boosts her intelligence. What he doesn’t know is that it causes her to share emotions with Allan, first him feeling her ability to run through the grass in his dreams, then killing a bird that drives him crazy and even setting the home of the surgeon who may have screwed up his operation — and now lives with his ex-girlfriend — on fire and killing the man and his lost lover.

Now the rage that goes through both of them begins to feed on itself and everyone in their way pays, even if Allan doesn’t want it to happen. While this has a studio-demanded happy ending — spoiler warning, he crushes the monkey with his wheelchair which doesn’t seem all that happy — Romero filmed a different way to close this, as Geoffrey’s boss Dean Harold Burbage (Stephen Root) steals the remaining drugs and injects them into all of the test monkeys. After Allan regains his ability, Burbage is assaulted by animal rights protesters who had earlier attacked Geoffrey for experimenting on monkeys. When he returns to his lab, we learn that the monkeys have completely taken him over.

Romero said of the ending, “I thought my ending played well, but I’d admit that the testing results were overwhelmingly in favor of the current version. To Orion’s credit, they said —  it’s up to you, we’ll release it either way. So I decided to go along and not fight it. But I’ll always miss it.”

I may like this more than I did when I first saw it, but it remains the first film where I noticed that I wouldn’t necessarily love every movie by every director, even George Romero. Supposedly, he had to cut half of what he shot to hit the right length of the film, but even still, it feels like there is both too much going on and too little of a story at the same time, which I realize is a juxtaposition.


Director Karen Shakhnazarov said, “In my opinion, the essence of the film Zero City is that a person mythologizes history, distorts it. And, constantly distorting history, he distorts his own life. In essence, we do not know history — it is, in principle, unknowable for us. We constantly use the past to achieve some goals in our modern life. But in this way, by distorting our past, we also distort our present. This concerns not only the USSR and not only Russia. This also applies to the United States, and France, and China, and Brazil, and in general everyone. This is common. For me, this topic is related to the very existence of man. This is the main theme of Zero City for me.”

Deaf Crocodile Films Co-Founder and Head of Distribution Dennis Bartok summed up this film so well when he called it “…a fascinating mix of genres: part mystery, part science fiction, part political satire, part surreal comedy. When the film was released in 1988, the Soviet Union was only three years away from breaking up — and it’s impossible not to look at Zerograd as a metaphor for the U.S.S.R. in its last stages, with Leonid Filatov’s brilliant, baleful performance as the Everyman engineer who gets caught in the Moebius strip of Zero City, unable to go backwards to Moscow and unable to go forwards. Just like the Soviet Union itself at that point in history.”

Craig Rogers, Deaf Crocodile Co-Founder and Head of Post-Production and Restoration, added “Zerograd comes from the same D.N.A. as Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. Surreal, wild fun. I’m so glad this film will finally be seen by a North American audience!”

An engineer named Varakin (Leonid Filatov) has come to a remote city where nothing makes sense, even if everyone acts like it does. He takes part in the investigation of the murder — or suicide — of a chef named Nikolaev, who may be his father and who shot himself after Varakin refused to eat a cake modeled after his own face.

Varalkin is soon trapped in a place where the real and unreal exist in the same plane of reality, where a receptionist does her job in the nude, prosecutors seek to commit crimes of their own and strange museums fail to tell you what is true and what is an illusion.

I’m so excited that this movie is now available in America, because it’s really something, a mix of strange bureaucracy, rock ‘n roll making its way to Russian and just plain weirdness.

Zero City is now available on blu ray. It has a new 2K restoration from the original 35mm picture and sound elements by Mosfilm, a video interview with director/co-writer Karen Shakhnazarov, moderated by Dennis Bartok of Deaf Crocodile Films, a new commentary track by film journalist Samm Deighan (Diabolique magazine, Daughters of Darkness podcast) and a new booklet essay by filmmaker, writer, punk musician and genre expert Chris D. (The Flesh Eaters; author of Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film). You can order it from Vinegar Syndrome.

SLASHER MONTH: Child’s Play (1988)

Don Mancini took his trouble relationship with his dad, his experiences of being alienated as a gay man and his worries about the impact of 80s sell sell sell on children and turned it into a series of films that still exist to this day. It’s a cauldron brimming with influences, from Trilogy of Terrror‘s evil doll — literally the POV shots in this come from that seminal made for TV movies –to the Twilight Zone episode “Living Doll” and no small bit of cultural appropriation from the Cabbage Patch Kids to make Chucky into a horror icon.

The best part of this movie is that it knows to hold back from revealing Chucky. Tom Holland is a great director and he made the most of this film, which starts with Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon) finally bringing Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) to justice. After being shot, Ray remembers the voodoo imparted to him by John “Dr. Death” Bishop (Raymond Oliver) and his soul transfers to a Good Guys doll.

Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks) is trying to raise her son Andy (Alex Vincent) all alone. She wants to get him a Good Guy doll, but they’re as expensive as they are hard to find. Yet when she gets one from a homeless man, things seem too good to be true. Well, they are, because the film continues tease the existence of Charles Lee Ray inside Chucky, but when Karen tries to burn the doll, it unleashes a torrent of expletives and begins chasing her through the apartment.

As part of the voodoo, Ray can only leave the doll to take over one body, the first person he revealed himself to. If Andy is to survive, his mother and Detective Norris must stop Chucky by taking out his heart.

For as iconic as Dourif’s voice is, he wasn’t the first choice. John Lithgow was going to play the role, but Holland had worked with Dourif on the movie Fatal Beauty. Then, they wanted Chucky to sound like an electronic toy before deciding on Jessica Walter as the voice. I mean, it worked for Pazuzu having a powerful female actress voicing those lines. Luckily, when Dourif got his schedule free, he made Chucky’s voice the one we know, love and maybe even are afraid of.


Tao da liang da xian shen wei (1988)

Magic of Spell is the sequel to Child of Peach and, if anything, it might be even weirder than that movie and that makes me happier than I can even explain to you.

Momotaro the Peach Boy is back and played by a woman named Lam Siu-Lau. Tiny Dog, Tiny Monkey and Tiny Cock are back too and their goal is to rescue the Ginseng King — a living ginseng plant — from a demon wizard who wants to use the plant person to become regain his lost vitality and youth. How would he do that? By bathing in the blood of thousands of dead boys in a hot tub as well as the pulped flesh of the ginseng royalty as well as perhaps Peach Boy’s skin. He also kills Peach Boy’s mother just so this can be even more frightening for kids and yes, this is a children’s movie.

This demon has quite the gang on his side. There’s a transgender ghost with the most perfect hair. Samurai ghosts. Evil puppet skeletons. Buddha statues with laser beams. A strong man who can become a rock lord. And oh yeah, a green fish man who shoots a bazooka.

That said, Tiny Cock can transform her body into a pecking rooster head that can peck out eyeballs.

If you’ve read this far and are wondering, “How can this be?” It can. This movie kept blowing my mind and it made me wish every movie was sped up and had wirework. Your ears will also be delighted, as this movie steals at will from the soundtracks of The Shining and Phantasm.

This movie starts with Peach Boy flying faster than an arrow to rescue a rabbit.

All movies should aspire to be this unconcerned with being strange. Watching movies like Magic of Spell will reaffirm your faith that humans have some business being on this planet.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Vampire Raiders Ninja Queen (1988)

This is the actual sales pitch for this movie: “The fate of the entire hotel industry is at stake. A group of evil black ninjas has threatened to insinuate themselves into the industry, take over, and transform the operation into something unspeakable.”

One part of this movie is 1984’s Mixed Up, which was directed by Chow Chun-Gaai, and is about three hotel switchboard operators saving the life of their rich boss. The rest is purple ninjas, hopping vampires and whatever other footage Godfrey had lying around that day.

I would say that watching this movie is like someone switching channels during a commercial and you end up missing a bunch of the movie you really wanted to watch, but that would make you think that this movie has some semblance of coherent storytelling.

This is the kind of movie where a giant pig is launched off the roof of a hotel and lands on an old man and his wife, killing them both. Then a vampire emerges from the dead hog. If you can get with that, you can get with this movie that never even tries to make sense.

Can virgin piss kill a vampire? Why do the zombies have rubbery arms? Are you ready for music cues from Mad MaxThe Road WarriorThe Addams Family and Phantasm? Do you want to watch a vampire get way too fresh with a lady ninja in a bikini?

The answers are maybe, I don’t know, totally and yes.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Severin releases the Mattei Mayhem Bundle

In case you never read the site, you may not know how much I love Bruno Mattei. Well, Severin seemingly feels the same as they’re releasing a bundle of three of the Italian maniac’s movies!

These blu rays will have the best-looking versions of these movies yet along with bonus features from Claudio Fragauso and Rossella Drudi. You can get each movie by itself or in a big fancy bundle.

Born to Fight (1989): The third time Brent Huff would work with Bruno Mattei — there’s also Strike Commando 2 and Cop Game — this time finds the actor playing Sam Wood, a survivor of a vicious Vietnamese prison camp who is talked into going back into hell with reporter Maryline Kane (Mary Stavin, the 1977 Miss World who is also in Mattei’s Born to Fight, as well as Open HouseHouseOctopussyA View to a KillCaddyshack IITop Line and Howling V: The Rebirth, proving that I have seen many of her movies), who really just wants our hero to help her free her father from the prison camp.

Things get more complicated when Wood learns that Duan Loc (Werner Pochath, Colonel Magnum from Thunder 3) is still in charge. Yet instead of being a film that explores the root causes and treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, Mattei and writer Claudio Fragasso give everyone watching what they really want: violence, glorious violence.

The beauty of this film is that Mattei references Casablanca while featuring a hero who is so bored with life that he mixes snake venom into the beer he drinks all day long to escape the pain of his past.

Made pretty much hours after pretty much the same crew finished Strike Commando 2Born to FIght has everything I look for in a Mattei Philippines war movie, which is totally a genre, thank you for asking. There’s nothing quite like a slow-motion Brent Huff unloading millions of rounds of ammunition into bamboo huts while screaming and repeatedly saying his catchphrase, “It can be done.” Maybe he was a Bud Spencer fan?

As for Ms. Stavin, she also dated Manchester United football hero George Best, who was voted the sixth for the FIFA Player of the Century and one of GQ’s fifty most stylish men of the last fifty years in 2007. One of the first celebrity football players, he was nicknamed El Beatle and owned restaurants, fashion boutiques and a nightclub called Slack Alice. Of his life, he said, “I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars – the rest I just squandered.”

Between 1982 and 1984, the fitness craze swept the UK. Lifestyle Records released a series of celebrity albums in which different somewhat famous folks sang cover songs and discussed what working out meant to them. The first two albums, which featured Felicity Kendal and Angela Rippon, sold well. Later releases, well…not so much. Beyond Isla St. Clair, Suzanne Danielle, Christina Brookes, Jay Aston, Suzanna Dando and Patti Boulaye, Stavin and Best released their album, which even had their cover of “It Takes Two” cut as a single. They also covered The Eurythmics’ “Love Is a Stranger!”

Cop Game (1988): An elite group of commando assassins — Cobra Squad! — are murdering high-ranking U.S. soldiers in the closing days of Vietnam. To stop them, Morgan (Brent Huff, GwendolineNine Deaths of the Ninja) and Hawk (Max Laurel, who played Zuma in two films and Quang in Robowar) must have one another’s back against a massive conspiracy.

Yes, Bruno Mattei — Bob Hunter! — has united with Rossella Drudi and Claudio Fragrasso, headed to the Philippines and made a movie that makes little to no sense whatsoever. I don’t say this as an insult. Few of the man’s movies have anything approaching a coherent plot. Yet every single one of them wants to entertain you to the point that you are rolling on the floor in incredulity and laughter. They are everything you want them to be.

This is the kind of movie with dialogue like “When you go home, you will forget about me. But I will still be here, drowning in a sea of shit.” and “Ah, Jesus Christ, cocksucker motherfucking sonofabitch.”  Nearly every line is screamed as loudly as possible, as if a twelve-year-old boy has just been allowed to stay home by himself while his parents go out and he takes advantage of the freedom by repeatedly saying combinations of swear words and never getting tired of using them until he’s hoarse by the time mom and dad come back.

It’s also the kind of film that says that it takes place in 1975 Vietnam but also has plenty of Miami Vice and 80’s buddy cop vibes, along with stolen footage from The Ark of the Sun God, both Strike Commando movies and Double Target. I guess since Mattei made most of those, he’s really just cutting and pasting. You can’t steal from yourself, right? This isn’t a John Fogerty getting sued because his song “The Old Man Down the Road” sounds exactly like a Creedence Clearwater Revival situation!

Cop Game also has an all-star cast and by that, I mean actors that ony I care about like Romano Puppo (Trash’s dad in Escape from the Bronx), Candice Daly (After Death), Werner Pochath (Colonel Magnum in Thunder III), Robert Marius (Mad Warrior), Massimo Vanni (Robowar), Ottaviano Dell’Acqua (who is the “We are going to eat you” undead face on the poster for Zombie), Roberto Dell’Acqua (Nightmare City), Jim Gaines (Zombies: The Beginning) and a Brett Halsey cameo.

Mattei made movies in nearly every junk film genre. I can honestly say that I have loved every single one of them and if you want to hear me ramble on about something, ask me about them.

Double Target (1987): You know, if John Rambo hadn’t gone back to Vietnam and gotten the chance to win that time, we wouldn’t be blessed with an entire video store section of films from around the world. Rambosploitation?

My mother told me that after he came home from working late in the mill, my grandfather would watch war movies at ear-shattering volumes, loudly laughing and enjoying himself while the entire family would be awakened by the cinematic combat echoing through the paper-thin walls.

Forty or so years later, I realize that I have inherited his vice.

After several American and British military personnel are killed in suicide attacks throughout southeast Asia, the U.S. government starts thinking that perhaps — just perhaps — the Vietnamese government isn’t the ally they thought they were.

There’s only one man to call when you need the truth.

Bob Ross.

No, not that Bob Ross. I’m talking Miles O’Keefe, the very same man who was Ator, now transplanted to the ninth circle of Southeast Asia, seeking the son he has never known, going up against the most sinister of all Russians and backed up by exactly no one.

Seeing as how this is a Bruno Mattei film, you just know that all manner of absolute celluloid cutting and pasting is going to happen. Well, it goes both ways, because Mr. Mattei was an early adopter of recycling, doing his part to keep his scummy cinema carbon footprint small. That shark that shows up? Yep, it’s taken directly from The Last Shark. And since he went to the trouble to lens all this jungle footage, it also shows up in Cop GameRobowar and Shocking Dark, while the musical score ends up coming back in Interzone.

This movie unites so many of my film favorites, like Donald Pleasence as the incredibly named Senator Blaster, a man who is either coughing or screaming at everyone around him. And look! There’s Bo Svenson as the nasty Russian Colonel Galckin, a man so evil that he puts a gun into Ross’ son’s hands and explains to him exactly how to blow his dad’s brains out.

Kristine Erlandson kind of made a name for herself — well, with video store weirdos — by being in movies like this, Trident ForceSaigon CommandosVengeance SquadWarriors of the Apocalypse and American Commando. She’s joined by Ottaviano Dell’Acqua*, the rotting zombie from the infamous “We are going to eat you!” Zombi poster, Massimo Vanni** from Zombi 3 and Luciano Pigozzi*** (Pag from Yor Hunter from the Future).

Man, this movie tugs at the heartstrings. Ross had a kid over in ‘Nam and never knew his wife, who was taken into a re-education camp, where she died and his kid ended up hating him. Or course, this was filmed in the Philippines, but let’s not argue.

Mattei used his Vincent Dawn name on this one and co-conspirator and potential co-director Claudio Fragasso went as Clyde Anderson in the credits. Speaking of American names for Italians, let’s answer those little footnotes:

*Richard Raymond

** Alex McBride

***Alan Collins

You know, this movie entertained me beyond belief, but I’m beyond a Mattei apologist. If he was still alive and needed a place to live, I would move him into my basement and cook every meal for him.

CANNON MONTH 2: License to Drive (1988)

EDITOR’S NOTE: License to Drive was not produced by Cannon and was theatrically distributed by 20th Century Fox in the U.S., but in the Netherland, it was distributed Cannon Releasing Corporation. I must like this movie, because I wrote an entirely new article about it despite writing about it back on June 12, 2021.

Check out the amazing trading cards created at http://www.phantomcardboard.com/2020/10/license-to-drive.html

Greg Beeman was a major creative force on the TV shows Smallville and Dark Skies. But before that, he directed License to Drive, which was written by Neil Tolkin.

It’s the most simple of teenage stories: Les Anderson (Corey Haim) wants a driver’s license to impress his dream girl Mercedes Lane (Heather Graham). She gets drunk, his grandfather’s Cadillac gets totaled, Les’ friends Dean (Corey Feldman) and Charles (Michael Manasseri) do even more damage to it. But hey if you were a teenager in 1988 — I was 16, so I was definitely the target audience — this probably spoke to you.

Big points to the filmmakers for casting Carol Kane and Richard Masur as Les’ parents. Also, between “Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car” by Billy Ocean, a cover of “Drive My Car” by Breakfast Club and “Mercedes Boy” by Pebbles, this has some of the most expected needle drops ever. Sammy Hagar must have been waiting for the call, because he had the perfect song.