Welcome to a bit of a course correction. I’ve done a few b-sections and I’ve started to notice a trend I don’t really like, namely that the films feel too familiar. My goal was to get weird. So after two attempted columns (one of which is on Patreon, the other of which I’ll put out in time), I’m getting weird. And that means breaking away from themes which tend to put me looking for films I know instead of finding oddities. I’m still planning a loose connection but it’ll usually be an area and time rather than subject matter.
Today we’re in Oklahoma City in the 1980s. Why? Well…um…look I said I was getting loose. But there is a good reason. Middle America is a fascinating place to troll for b-movies. Oklahoma in the 80s was an oil boom area. That brought economic growth. It brought viewers. But there were still the vestiges of what was, a small, weird area with a horrifying history. So ideal b-territory.
We begin with me reminding you a b-movie is what I say it is. I’m choosing this one because that ad just screams NOPE to me. It’s cute. It’s schmaltzy. I read reviews on it and it sounds like the dull thing I expected. It does however let me briefly discuss the great character actor Robert Pine who got a rare lead role here. Pine is one of those guys who’s been in everything ranging from bit roles in the 60s to popups on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Office, and Parks and Recreation. And yeah he’s got a son named Chris which I’m obligated to note because he inherited his dad’s energy.
OK this movie has just a great poster. And is apparently inevitably one of those films where what’s real and isn’t isn’t clear. It sounds fun actually. I’m marking it down to seek out. But…I mean that poster is everything you look for in a good b-ad. Great central image. Hell of a tagline. Good logo. Admit it, you’re curious too now.
I need to get more b-comedies in. This sounds wretched. It’s written and directed by a woman which might be a first for this column, sadly. There is perpetually this weird energy in American film where we know people are horny but would sooner die than take that seriously which results in films where sex either leads to ruin and destruction or this inane premise of a screenwriter turned male prostitute writing about his experiences. Gah. There are no adults in adult films.
Hey another b-comedy. What hath Police Academy wrought? Here we have that formula used in the National Guard with a group of Hollywood types being forced into the National Guard in the 60s and trying to keep heir cushy one weekend a month lifestyle, Oh god I hate this formula and that poster…I’m fascinated by how ugly it is. It’s meant to scream fun. It doesn’t. It tells me I would face a loud in my face hellish time. Why did the 80s go to the most agonizing slobs vs snobs bullshit? Also can someone tell me how someone in the 1980s, when the country was wrestling with Vietnam and the unfairness of a lost generation of poor youth, decided to make a film about rich draft dodgers that celebrated them?
Is it obvious Soldier of Fortune Magazine’s endorsement is why a generic 80s action film is here? Because that is batshit insane. It makes sense though. The magazine’s founder is in it. Yes in 1987, you could go see a movie endorsed by a magazine that is, well, not read by safe people. The plot is the standard hijackers vs military plot. But this legit feels bizarre to me. Also can we notice that tagline makes zero sense next to the title? What horrid composition here!
“I’m afraid of computers! I’m afraid of the world!” Sorry couldn’t resist. In the 1980s we knew computers were going to dominate the world. We didn’t know how. We were thus irrationally terrified. This is of course WarGames but so much worse. The plot involves college students accidentally carrying out real world terrorist attacks by infiltrating a real terrorist network online. I’m really not sure how but yes that is the plot. This was one of the first scripts by David Mickey Evans btw.
We close on truth in advertising. The film sells you a horror film set at Alcatraz. That’s true. You’re sold a demonic ghost story. Yup. The rock part? The film costarred Toni Basil and had 5 songs by Devo so inarguable. Is it any good? Hell if I know, especially as it seems hard to find but based on the info at hand I’ll wager this is poster is probably exactly what you’d get if you paid to see it.
So that’s one aimless random collection. Next time, well that’ll be the fun. Finding out.