‘The Stuff’

Title: The Stuff (1985)
Directed by: Larry Cohen
Written by: Larry Cohen
Starring: Michael Moriarity
                Andrea Marcovicci
                Garrett Morris
                Paul Sorvino
                Danny Aiello
Tagline: Are you eating it…or is it eating you?

By: El Ron
This edition is a podcast only version of reflections and reminiscence, as El Ron and Rob reflect on a long-forgotten horror/social satire flick from 1985 starring the underrated Michael Moriarity, Garrett Morris and directed by Larry Cohen. The film features killer pudding, so why wouldn’t you want to listen?

If you prefer to have ‘The Stuff’ in your ears, download it here.

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‘Eddie and the Cruisers’

 

Eddie and the Cruisers (1983)


Directed by: Martin Davidson
Written by: Martin and Arlene Davidson
Based on the novel by P.F. Kluge
Starring: Michael Pare as Eddie Wilson
               Tom Berenger as Frank Ridgeway
               Ellen Barkin as Maggie Foley
               Joe Pantoliano as Doc Robbins

Tagline: Rebel. Rocker. Lover. Idol. Vanished

By Rob Rector

If you were a teen during the first few years of MTV (which we now forget, but the ‘M’ once stood for Music, not M-barassingly shallow youth). The release of a new video was treated like a movie premier. You would gather around a friend’s house to watch that spaceship launch as it debuted a new favorite-to-be.

You would make sure the VCR was recording the right channel so after that three-minute movie, you could immediately rewind it and watch it over and over again to perfect your air instruments.

And if you were even the most casual viewier, the name Bruce Springsteen was certainly no stranger. There are not enough gigs on my hard drive to summarize my slavish devotion to all things Bruce – from spending summers as an early teen dancing on a roof of an outdoor bar as the raucous strains of “Rosalita” played in the salty beach breeze; being old enough to attend concerts in which I could worship my idol up close; the excitement of meeting a guy who wired Bruce’s home security system (Bruce and wife Patty Scialfa have their help all over their home every year for a barbecue where he cooks for them! How cool is that?); choosing “If I Should Fall Behind… (Wait for Me)” as my wedding song and inviting Bruce to attend (astonishingly, he declined).

During all this time, there were droughts where we would get no tunes from The Boss, so we would settle for anything even remotely similar.

Enter John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, aka the voice of Eddie and the Cruisers for the film of the same name. It wasn’t Bruce, but it was about the eighth- or ninth-best thing to listening to actual Bruce tunes.

In 1983, the little film came and went to the theater (I don’t even recall it appearing on local screens), but it was one of those lightening-in-a-bottle instances in which it received a breath of new life courtesy of one Home Box Office, which I think ran it on a loop with Beastmaster for months on end.

Music aside, there is very little of the film I recall. I remember it starring the dude from another favorite “Streets of Fire,” cementing Michael Pare’s place as the coolest living actor of the time for me. I think Diane Lane was in this or the sequel, but that could be “Streets of Fire” devotion bleeding over in my brain and the fact that I wanted Diane Lane to star in every film of my youth.

What I do recall is the video phenomenon that accompanied the film. There were two videos released: one featuring Pare lip-synching the entire song, as in the movie, the other starring the song’s real vocalist Cafferty and his bandmates aping “Springsteen style,” right down to the muscle shirts, bandanas and even the larger saxophonist who bared more than a slight resemblance to one Clarence “The Big Man” Clemons. I remember how disappointed I was when the latter version was screened, for I wanted to live in the dream. At least Pare vaguely resembled the rough-and-tumble look of a hungry-hearted rocker, not the scrawny incarnation that sang through his bangs into the mic, ala Cafferty.

Even though it was all some Milquetoast copy of Bruce, for a young kid, it would do. The accompanying cassette tape of the soundtrack would ultimately meet its demise in my boom box after succumbing to exhaustion (as did its followup “Tough All Over”. I did not want the videos, nor the liner notes to remind me of the actual ridiculously named band. I just wanted to close my eyes and pretend that it was the same artist that made me climb onto the rooftops and dance in the dark on those hot summer nights.

How dark was this trip ‘on the dark side? Will it ruin Rob’s memories of his ‘tender years?’

As always, you can download it here, or just listen online:

 



‘Bachelor Party

Bachelor Party (1984)

Director: Neal Israel
Writers: Neal and Bob Israel (no pun intended… well, maybe by their parents)
Starring:        Tom Hanks – Rick Gassko
                      
Tawney Kitaen – Debbie Thompson
                     
Adrian Zmed – Jay O’Neil
                     
Robert Prescott – Cole Whittier

Tagline: Shocking, Shameless, Sinful, Wicked. And the party hasn’t even started.

By: Gurn Blanston

The original appeal of this movie to me in 1984 would be obvious to anyone who knew me then, I wanted to be one of these guys. I wanted to go to this party. I wanted access to those Hollywood style hookers. The working girls in my hometown all looked like Ernest Borgnine in drag, so I’m told. I wouldn’t know that for a fact or anything cause I never went to a hooker and paid for her services, only to have her jump out of the car at the first light and make off with money it took weeks to earn……but I digress.

I saw this film with friends at the local dollar theater, which seems to be a pattern at this stage of my life, and we all left hoping to recreate this party at home the next time someone’s parents were out of town. It never happened, Dad, so don’t worry.

Tom Hanks plays the lovable doofus Rick, who is engaged to a rich girl named Debbie, played by Tawney Kitaen, who some of you may remember doing splits on the hood of a Camaro in the band Whitesnake’s video, I miss the 80’s. This is the pre-cocaine-abusing, husband-assaulting train wreck Tawney that we know and love; in this film, she is still hot.

Rick’s friends, namely Jay played by T.J. Hooker star Adrian Zmed, decide to throw him The bachelor party to end all parties at the local 5-star hotel. Debbie’s well-to-do parents and her uptight jock ex-boyfriend Cole, played to the tee by Robert Prescott, are not pleased with the match and decide that the bachelor party is a good time to break the two up.

First Cole re-routes two call girls intended for the bachelor party to the house of Debbie’s parents, where the woman are throwing her a shower. When they arrive and see a room full of well dressed woman they nod knowingly and one say’s, “so it’s that kind of party” and they begin to put on a girl-on-girl sex show for the mortified upper-class matrons. Good fun.

I only knew Tom Hanks before this movie as the tall guy from the “Bosom Buddies” TV series, but this flick made me a fan. From what I remember, he was the funniest thing in it, and could still come off as sincere when the scene called for it. This is not a great piece of cinematic art by any means, but it sure was fun to party vicariously with this group of misfits for a couple of hours.

Is Gurn still ready to Party after all these years? You can dowload the podcast here to find out or:

‘Tango & Cash’

Tango & Cash (1989)
Rated: R
Director: Andrei Konchalovsky
Written by: Randy Feldman
Starring :          Sylvester Stallone as Ray Tango
                          
Kurt Russel as Gabe Cash
                          
Teri Hatcher as Kiki Tango
                          
Jack Palance as Yves Perret

Tagline: Two of L.A.’s top rival cops are going to work together… even if it kills them.

By Rob Rector

Pre-screening memories: It was moments before the dawn of a new decade. The crazy 80s were coming to a close, as was the career of one of the decade’s action stalwarts — Sylvester Stallone. For many growing up in the 80s, Stallone was the embodiment of manliness (however misguided that may have been). He was never as freakishly lumpy as Schwarzenegger and seemed as though he could easily be the cool older guy in the neighborhood who would let you peek at his firearm collection, pour over his stack of “Hustler’s” or perhaps let you sip a beer.

Sadly, there was no such neighbor in my little slice of suburbia. The closest thing we had was a gap-toothed guy who would watch us through his perpetually drawn blinds and smile menacingly and whose front yard was a graveyard of car parts that he would mow around until they were enveloped by vegetation.

Cinematically, Stallone was not one to go out with a whimper. He was going to go down swinging and show those new upstarts like Jeff Speakman and Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal and Brian Bosworth a thing or two about action.

And my friends and I were eager to watch. (For it was not too long after this that he would begin his trajectory downward with films like Rocky V, Oscar, Stop, or My Mom Will Shoot!, The Specialist and to the direct-to-video dustbin with films like D-Tox, Avenging Angelo and Shade.)

His latest was a pairing of him and Snake Plissken himself, Kurt Russel. They starred as two improbably named LAPD cops who “just can’t play by the rules.” Exactly the kind of cops we like on screen — just not in real life, as they usually end up on the wrong side of a video camera, bludgeoning away rights to random motorists.

While the plot itself left no actual bootprint on my brain, the script did drop some new vocabulary into our high school lexicon. Being the typical testosterone-saturated actioner, the expressions were both lewd and profane, but they were nonetheless influential. Being a male teen any new and creative euphemism or idiom or for intercourse was met with guffaws, a round of high-fives and a temporary admiration of one’s peers. (Of course, really any combination of a verb and noun could be inserted, Mad-Libs-style into the sentence “I’d like to ___________ her ___________” and, with the right emphasis on “her,” you’ve got yourself a new filth-filled expression.)

Forget the fact that none of us had really ever even performed said act.

So, when Sly refers to it as “bump uglies,” we knew we had a keeper.

The second expression we adopted was FUBAR. While new to us, it was actually one that originated during World War II as an acronym for F**ked Up Beyond All Recognition.

Other than that, I remember the two leads being oh-so-witty, able to launch a quip or a retort under the most extreme circumstances. And while the general plot escaped me (something with them being framed by someone and avenging something else). That, and the promise of manly men doing manly things with other manly, manly men in a mannish manner.

I was sure that revisiting the film would at least entertain on that level alone, right?

The answer is right here:

A Very Special Episode: ‘Sex and the City’

By Rob Rector

I know this is breaking format a bit, but I think this merits a post. Two people viewing the same film: one has a 10-year history with its characters, one going into the theater cold. I coerced my editor Jen Ellingsworth to chat with me after we screened the new “Sex and the City” film, for she was a die-hard fan and I thought Vera Wang was a social disease. So, here is our discussion, following a brief preamble:

Anticipating the anguished emails of readers who may take umbrage to any critiquing whatsoever of their beloved characters from “Sex and the City,” I opted for a different (read: cowardly) approach to this review which enlists the talents of my editor, one Jen Ellingsworth – perhaps the target audience for this show.

My theory is that if the producers wanted to make a film that catered specifically to the audience, it would have been released in the comfortable confines of its HBO home. Since it was debuting at the multiplex, however, it should be fair game for a standard critique on how it stands up as a film. (For example, if Pixar films are for children, shouldn’t they be open to adult reviewers?)

Since I was a virgin to “Sex” – I have never watched an episode, nor was I overcome with any desire in which to do so – I felt the thoughts and comments of one who had spent many an hour with our fab foursome would be of relative importance.

So below is the podcast of our post-screening conversation over a few rounds of martinis and Budweiser.

As always, you can dowload the episode right here.

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