I accept a job that entails crafting a Washington, D.C. travel guide for a Scandinavian tourism company. They assure me they can pay in U.S. dollars but I still fear receiving coupons for shrimp redeemable only in Stockholm. My birthday is spent in the company of good friends, delicious cake, and my roommate’s demon bitch cat who communicates not with its eyes or mouth but with its razor-sharp hell claws.
The Phantom Menace is released in 3-D and I come dangerously close to trying to interview Jake Lloyd about it; at the last minute I decide to wait until Jingle All The Way gets the 3-D treatment so we have a little more to talk about. I sign the contracts for my book deal with my Lego Darth Vader pen (I will fight adulthood until my goddamn dying breath).
An attempt to make enchiladas goes horribly awry and becomes the year’s one food-related incident I refuse to ever speak of in detail again. ScyFy airs a Leprechaun marathon that proves the beloved series peaked with Leprechaun 4: Lep In Space.
I immerse myself in Canada for the first time and discover Montreal can serve up a serious plate of nachos (the cheese, it covered all the chips!). Titanic is released in 3-D; although the temptation to shell out twelve bucks to watch Billy Zane’s big stupid head pop out at me is great, I avoid it just the same.
The travel guide job finally ends. I am not paid in fish or coupons for fish. I rejoice. “Desperate Housewives” goes off the air, reminding me that Marcia Cross exists.
Rodney King dies, suspiciously around the same time tortured chanteuse Fiona Apple reappears on the music scene. Conspiracy freaks have a hard time connecting the dots on this one, probably because they were too busy arguing about Prometheus’s status as an Alien prequel.
A visit is paid to my parents in Florida. We watch the Olympics together, during which my father reveals his lust for the people’s princess Kate Middleton. I am so disgusted by the sight of Mr. Bean during the open ceremonies I eat an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food in one sitting.
The button breaks on my only pair of shorts but I refuse to purchase a new pair because I am a big stupid man. I watch a bunch of Scott Baio movies and realize this bozo’s probably got more money than me.
The Great Billie Joe Armstrong Meltdown of 2012 occurs, but it seems a bit rehearsed, so no one really buys into it. I buy The Baddest of George Thorogood, not ironically, the same day I buy the second Old Skull record. I am wearing a tuxedo suit at the time.
I turn in my completed book manuscript. Hurricane Sandy makes a media darling out of Chris Christie, much to the chagrin of Cory Booker fans. Disney buys the rights to Star Wars and finally gives us Max Rebo die-hards something to talk about. For Halloween, I am the Alternative Lifestyle Lone Ranger (i.e. a dork in a cowboy shirt with a pink bandana around his neck).
The guitarist from Gluecifer gives me a copy of their second album on blue vinyl, bringing my colored vinyl collection up to one. I visit Connecticut and am reminded it is illegal on FM airwaves in that state to go more than five minutes without playing a Rolling Stones song.
I finish proofreading my book manuscript and decide to interview cartoon voice legend Joe Alaskey for shits and giggles. A Christmas miracle occurs when my family decides to get barbecue for Jesus Day dinner. I spend New Year’s Eve in airports, fending off screechy children and looking for a bottle of soda under three dollars. I end the year with a $2.49 Mello Yello.
As you may have gathered, I recently watched the 1982 sci-fi teen sex comedy Zapped! and it really messed with my head. I just can’t stop thinking about the damn thing, mainly because the movie leaves so many unanswered questions. Here now, six of the biggies:
1. Who is Scott Baio growing all that weed for? The son of a gun’s got this epic stash in his science lab, but we never really learn the identity of the intended recipient. The principal? The baseball coach? Himself?
2. What happens to that kid from “Square Pegs?” They make a big deal about introducing him and his posse at the top of the movie and then he just disappears. Was that who Scott Baio was growing the weed for?
3. How do the principal and that teacher not get thrown out of the restaurant for screwing under the table?
4. What the hell is going on in that scene where Heather Thomas farts? Does Willie Aames not care that she farted, or was he the one who farted? If so, he doesn’t seem too concerned with it. Neither does Heather Thomas. Was farting cool in 1982?
5.[SPOILER ALERT] If Scott Baio didn’t actually lose his powers in the end, why the fuck didn’t he come back for the sequel? Admittedly, this is more a question Zapped Again! fails to answer.
There once was a teenager named Barney
who got caught up in some brain power blarney
he knocked off some bras
which soon gave him pause
’cause people treated him like fuckin’ Art Carney!
or “Never Mind Johnny Castle, Rest In Peace Ace Johnson!”
Currently there is a poll on CNN.com asking, “What’s your favorite Patrick Swayze movie?” (in honor of the recently deceased goofball hunk). There are only four choices; unsurprisingly, most votes are split between Dirty Dancing (36%) and Ghost (34%). What struck me as odd is the fact Point Break, the greatest and most x-treme surfer bank robbery film ever made, is dead last in the poll (13%), trumped by Red Dawn (17%).
Really, America? Red Dawn? Would anyone even remember that movie if it weren’t for VH-1’s “I Still Love The Friggin’ 80s (No Matter What You Say)!” or obscure references here and there on “Family Guy?” I was alive and very aware of movies in 1984 and I don’t remember Red Dawn at all. On the other hand, there was a lot of crazy crap going on in 1984. Ghostbusters, Temple of Doom. the Olympics, Cabbage Patch Kids…perhaps my attention was focused elsewhere the week Swayze and his corn-fed crew lead the charge against Soviet Russia.
Anywho, I was looking at Patrick’s filmography earlier to see if he was in anything else I consider better or more important than Red Dawn. Lo and behold, I completely forgot Swayze first hit the screen in 1979’s Skatetown, U.S.A., a film I took up a small crusade for a few years ago. Skatetown, U.S.A. is the roller disco explosion that not only boasted a fresh and graceful Swayze, it also threw Scott Baio, Ron Palillo, Flip Wilson, Maureen McCormick, and Billy Barty in our unsuspecting faces! All on roller skates! Check out the trailer:
The plot of Skatetown, U.S.A. is as follows: Scott Baio goes to the roller rink one afternoon and ends up tangling with Swayze’s Ace Johnson, who, if I remember correctly, sets things off by flirting with Scott’s little sister. This, naturally, leads to a no-holds-barred homo-erotic skate-off between the two men, but not before we can meet tons of wacky ancillary characters. There’s the overwhelmed snack bar attendants, the Christ-like DJ character, the bumbling rink doctor, and an incredibly swarthy/bearded/coked-out Horseshack from “Welcome Back, Kotter.” This was actually Ron Palillo’s first post-“Kotter” role, and he really took a risk by playing an annoying creep.
Skatetown, U.S.A. is s huge steaming pile of cheese-tastic disco camp, one of the last great feel-good Carter-era musical epics notable for doing absolutely nothing for the careers of anyone involved. That’s probably why the film hasn’t been available in any format for decades. I tried to change that back in, oh, I don’t know, 2005? I launched an online campaign to bring Skatetown, U.S.A. back to the American people, hoping at least for a bare bones DVD or one-week midnight run in theaters. Crazier things, I feel, have happened (Dirty Dancing re-release, Dirty Dancing sequel, Lambada movie, etc).
Frustratingly, the world turned a deaf ear to a potential Skatetown renaissance, and the film remained buried in the grave of kitschy crap time forgot. This country just didn’t want to remember Scott Baio’s cut-rate Xanadu. As legendary film critic Joe Bob Briggs put it when I e-mailed him about “the cause” (and I think he was speaking on behalf of every movie fan from Boston to Sacremento), Skatetown, U.S.A. was so bad they probably couldn’t get it to stick to video tape. It just slid off like a hot turd.
Of course, now that Patrick Swayze is gone, the tables have turned. We have to cherish every performance he gave us. Certain films, like Road House and Donnie Darko, will forever remain on the public’s hot, greasy lips. Others, like Skatetown, we must fight for. I can’t pretend to understand why the Hollywood elite would suppress the only film that paired Swayze with Murray Langston and Ruth Buzzi, but it’s happening. Please, if you care about classic cinema at all, I urge you to write Sony Pictures and demand they do the right thing. Demand the DVD/Blu-Ray release of Skatetown, U.S.A., or it might be lost to history forever. Their address is below.
10202 W. Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232-3195
If you aren’t that skilled a writer, don’t worry. You can always just show up there and plead our case in person. Companies love it when crazy people show up to scream at them about some stuff they did a million years ago! Or hell, just call them: 310-244-4000. Tell ’em a crazy buns-hole in Brooklyn sent ya!
Starring: Scott Baio, Jodie Foster, a bunch of kids who never did anything else
Directed by Alan Parker
Two years before helming the Turkish prison drama Midnight Express, Alan Parker turned in this wacky all-kid salute to the gangster flicks of yesteryear. There’s singing! There’s dancing! There’s no one over the age of sixteen! There’s ample amounts of Scott Baio, too, whose turn as the title character is just as average as anything he ever did on “Happy Days.” Luckily, every other kid in Bugsy Malone sucks so bad they make Baio look like Brando – every one, that is, except Jodie Foster, who steamrolls Scott as sarcastic showgirl Tallulah. They really should have called this picture Watch Jodie Foster Blow Chachi And All His Stupid Friends Off Screen Because She’s Been Acting Since She Came Out Of The Womb And She’s AWESOME At It.
The plot of Bugsy Malone (which, despite the photo above, is in color) revolves around two rival gangs fighting over control of a new weapon – the “Splurge” gun, a confectionery-based weapon that fires heavy doses of whip cream right into its victim’s faces. It’s like some kind of shit the Joker might have used on the old “Batman” TV series. Nothing in this movie is funnier than watching so many unassuming tots get nailed in the face with Splurge guns; to signify these poor kids have “died,” the camera will suddenly freeze for a moment on their startled, cream-encrusted faces before quickly cutting to the next shot. It’s pretty jarring and goofy at first, but you get used to it. This is, after all, a movie about gangsters in which none of the cast members have pubic hair.
Caught somewhere in the middle of this prepubescent gangland war is Scott Baio, who spends most of Bugsy Malone desperately trying to romance a timid young singer named Blousey Brown. He starts by taking her out for a large meal at a diner. When the check comes, Scotty locks the only waitress on duty in a nearby phone booth to avoid paying the bill. Okay, now say it with me: twenty years later, Baio would pull the same exact stunt in real life at a San Diego Denny’s. He didn’t know the Grand Slam Breakfast was so expensive! But I kid the washed-up star of Zapped! and Zapped Again! I’m sure he’s paid for every meal he’s ever eaten at Denny’s in his entire life.
Bugsy Malone‘s Oscar-nominated score(!), composed by 1970s superstar / Dr. Zaius lookalike Paul Williams, holds together the parts of this movie where cutesy kiddie charm just isn’t adhesive enough. The only weird part is all the songs in the film are sung by adults, and watching these little ruffians lip-synch isn’t convincing in the least. A few of the tykes are clearly aware of this and don’t even try to match their grown-up counterparts (Foster in particular). Still, the tunes are good, almost good enough to make me consider hunting down the 1996 UK CD release of the soundtrack. The cover art is pretty hot, too.
Bugsy Malone has yet to be released on DVD in the U.S.—the copy I Netflixed was an Asian import with surprisingly good subtitles. If you have a Blu-Ray, though, you’re in luck—a “region free” version was recently released on that format in the U.K., complete with director’s commentary and special features. So go hit up some Brit website if you have a burning desire to own the greatest mobster musical starring “Charles in Charge” and a child named Michael Jackson who is most certainly NOT the famous Michael Jackson (nor is he the Michael Jackson I went to middle school with).
Final Score: Two and a half Splurge guns out of four.