Also known as: Philly (working title) Release Date: May, 1981 (Japan) Directed by: Alan Myerson Written by: Dan Greenburg Based on:Philly by Dan Greenburg Music by: Willie Nile, various Cast: Sylvia Kristel, Howard Hesseman, Eric Brown, Ed Begley Jr.
Barry & Enright Productions, Jensen Farley Pictures, 87 Minutes
“Who the hell takes baths with other people, except for the Japanese, I mean. Have you heard of any?” – Sherman, “No. Nobody except the Japanese.” – Philly
Since I recently watched and reviewed Private Resort, I figured that I’d review the last film of the Private trilogy that I hadn’t covered yet. This is actually the first of the three movies, though. Also, they’re just a loose trilogy, as none of the films actually connect with one another.
This is the one I’ve seen the least and I haven’t seen it since the mid-’90s or so, when I was working at a video store and used to take home a dozen movies per week.
Private Lessons is a film that couldn’t be made today, as it actually features pedophilia. A fifteen year-old boy is crushing hard on his new housekeeper. The boy’s driver and the housekeeper devise some confusing plot for the woman to seduce the boy. Whatever, it seems so farfetched, even for being based on a book from the ’60s. But I guess they needed to have a reason to have some twentysomething foreign chick fuck a fifteen year-old, awkward kid. I’d assume that the story was inspired by The Graduate and the author just decided to do something even more extreme.
As a teen, I didn’t think the plot was that big of a deal. As an adult, I’m kind of shocked that this got to theaters but it was a very different world in 1981. While teens having sex in movies wasn’t new and sex comedies were a huge money maker in that era, seeing a minor have sex with an adult was usually just implied or the “teen” actually looked like he was twenty and not twelve.
That being said, it is what it is and it’s a product of its time. I’m fine with the film’s existence because it’s not like they were really fucking and this was made to pack teen boys into theaters, which it did fairly effectively. In fact, it made back nearly ten times its budget.
In the end, it’s not a good movie and it’s a bit of a chore to get through. But it’s also not the worst of the teen sex comedy trend… not by a longshot.
Also known as: H2 (working title) Release Date: August 28th, 2009 Directed by: Rob Zombie Written by: Rob Zombie Based on:Halloween by John Carpenter, Debra Hill Music by: Tyler Bates Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane, Sheri Moon Zombie, Brad Dourif, Danielle Harris, Chase Wright Vanek, Brea Grant, Howard Hesseman, Angela Trimbur, Bill Fagerbakke, Richard Brake, Dayton Callie, Margot Kidder, Richard Riehle, Mark Boone Junior, Caroline Williams, Octavia Spencer, Chris Hardwick, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Sean Whalen
Spectacle Entertainment Group, Trancas International Films, Dimension Films, 105 Minutes
“[yelling outside her house, drunk] Hey, world! Guess what. I’m Michael Myers’ sister! I’m so fucked!” – Laurie Strode
Yay! More white trash!
Rob Zombie really outdid the awfulness of his first Halloween movie with this fucktardedly executed turd biscuit!
So Michael Myers obviously isn’t dead but this time around, he just wears a large hooded trenchcoat and looks nothing like the character that has been burned into the public’s psyche for three decades, upon this movie’s release. In fact, he looks more like Tyler Mane’s other most famous role, Sabretooth from 2000’s X-Men. Granted, he does wear the famous Myers mask but it barely matters as the rest of his look is so drastically different.
Anyway, I remember when this came out and people were like, “Oh, yes! Now that the ‘remake’ is done, Rob Zombie can give us his vision of what Halloween should be!” Seriously, you people wanted to see Zombie’s full take on these characters after his diarrhea-brained alterations to the original film?
So here we are, dipshits, as Rob Zombie fumbles the ball harder than a drunk Browns player with the flu in a Superbowl-clinching game.
What’s the problem? Well, this is basically more of the same with a heavy emphasis on all the bad shit that wrecked the previous film. Also, Loomis is stripped down and made into a terribly shitty character.
The absolutely worst thing, though, was Rob Zombie bringing his wife back as a fucking ghost lady with a white horse and the ghost of little Michael even though big Michael is still alive. I can only imagine that this was done because god forbid Zombie doesn’t give his wife a job. In this movie, though, she solidified what I’ve always known and that’s the fact that she’s an atrocious actress. She legitimately makes Zombie’s movies worse just by being in them.
Additionally, I was kind of indifferent to Scout Taylor-Compton’s vanilla interpretation of Laurie Strode but by the end of this movie, I hated her too.
At the end of the day, fuck this movie and fuck Rob Zombie.
Also known as: Dr. Detroit (alternative spelling) Release Date: May 6th, 1983 Directed by: Michael Pressman Written by: Bruce Jay Friedman, Carl Gottlieb, Robert Boris Music by: Lalo Schifrin Cast: Dan Aykroyd, Howard Hesseman, George Furth, James Brown, T. K. Carter, Donna Dixon, Fran Drescher, Lydia Lei, Lynn Whitfield, Kate Murtagh, Peter Aykroyd, Glenne Headly
Black Rhino Productions, Brillstein Company, Universal Pictures, 89 Minutes
“Mom, I am going to rip off your head and shit down your neck.” – Doctor Detroit
This is a Dan Aykroyd movie that, for whatever reason, eluded me until I was much older. I probably would’ve loved it, as a kid, but maybe it was just buried down deep in the video stores I visited and thus, I never came across it until I worked in one as a teenager in the ’90s.
I like this movie and it has a pretty good cast. However, it is kind of sloppily thrown together and the humor is crude, even for the ’80s. That’s more of a reason why I would’ve liked it back then. But because I don’t have those fond childhood memories of watching this, I don’t have much nostalgia for it and I think that allows me to be more objective.
Aykroyd is good in this, as are most of the core people, but I can see why this went down the memory hole for most fans of ’80s comedies and why it was never a hit when it came out, despite Aykroyd’s popularity from the early days of Saturday Night Live.
The plot is goofy and you have to suspend disbelief quite a bit. The Doctor Detroit persona that Aykroyd creates is way over the top and so bizarre that it’s hard to believe that anyone would’ve taken him seriously, even in an ’80s screwball comedy. That’s not to say that the character isn’t funny and entertaining, he is.
The story is pretty wonky and poorly crafted and you kind of just have to enjoy the segments as they happen and not think too deeply about the movie. During the era in which this was made, though, this sort of stuff was the norm.
Audiences coming out of decades of civil and political strife in America just needed to breathe and enjoy life again. Many ’80s comedies are products of this societal feeling. And honestly, I think that’s why so many are still beloved today and still matter to so many people, as modern times aren’t all that great.
Doctor Detroit just isn’t one of those that can be considered a classic like Ghostbusters, Caddyshack, the Vacation movies or all those John Hughes teen dramadies. This isn’t even Revenge of the Nerds quality, it’s more like Revenge of the Nerds II or Caddyshack II.
However, like Revenge of the Nerds II and Caddyshack II, I enjoy this movie where I’d assume most people probably wouldn’t. And maybe this is actually a bit better than those, as I don’t have the nostalgia factor as part of its equation.
Release Date: November 9th, 2020 (UK) Directed by: Lisa Downs Written by: Lisa Downs Music by: Toby Dunham Cast: Joey Cramer, Veronica Cartwright, Cliff DeYoung, Howard Hesseman, Randal Kleiser, Matt Adler, Raymond Forchion, Albie Whitaker
Life After Movies, Spare Change Films, Strict Machine, 91 Minutes
A few years ago, I heard about what had happened with Joey Cramer, the former child actor that was a favorite of mine because of how good he was in The Flight of the Navigator and his few scenes in Runaway.
For those that don’t know, Cramer robbed a bank out of desperation due to his bad drug habit. Upon discovering this, I also learned about his history with prison and drugs and how his life had spiraled out of control in the years since he left acting behind.
Sadly, this isn’t a story that’s too uncommon with child actors who grow up, don’t get work and have to return to a normal life that’s never going to be truly normal due to the level of fame they once had.
I’m happy to say that Joey did turn his life around and this film chronicles that tough journey. You meet his family, friends and get to hear from those who starred alongside him in The Flight of the Navigator.
This documentary is really two things merged into one. It’s primarily about Joey, his issues and his battle to get better. However, it’s also about the Navigator film and reflects on it, all these years later, as it has become an iconic film, beloved by more than just the Gen Xers that saw it in the theater back in 1986.
All in all, this was a sad but ultimately feel good story. It was cool seeing everyone support Joey and still share their love of the film, as well. I just hope that he can now stay on the right path and keep building towards a better life than the one he lived for the last few decades.
Rating: 8/10 Pairs well with:The Flight of the Navigator, as well as the documentary Life After Flash.
Also known as: Clue: The Movie, Cluedo (France) Release Date: December 13th, 1985 Directed by: Jonathan Lynn Written by: Jonathan Lynn, John Landis Based on:Cluedo by Anthony E. Pratt Music by: John Morris Cast: Tim Curry, Eileen Brennan, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren, Colleen Camp, Lee Ving, Jane Wiedlin, Howard Hesseman
Thanks to Flashback Cinema, I got to see Clue on the big screen. I never did get to see this in theaters, as a kid, but it was one of my favorite films to watch around the time that it first hit video store shelves. Seeing this in the theater was a lot of fun and it made me remember just how much I love this movie. I own it but I haven’t actually watched it in probably a decade.
The one thing that stands out, watching it now as an adult, is how great the writing is. Jonathan Lynn and John Landis made a hilarious movie that was well thought out, well constructed and had multiple endings, all of which were great in their own way.
And that is one of the cool and unique things about this film. In the theater, you only got to see one of the multiple endings. Which ending you got was pretty much random. So if you saw this in one theater and then watched it again in a different theater, you would have seen a different conclusion. When this came out on home video, all three endings were included and the way that they edited these together was really kind of cool. The version I just saw in the theater, handled the ending like the home video release. The true and final ending is the best, by the way, even though all three scenarios were good.
This movie makes use of a great ensemble of actors. Everyone was good in their role and there wasn’t a weak link. Each actor owned the character and gave them depth and personality that even enhanced the board game experience after this film came out. Instead of randomly picking characters before the film came out, all the kids I played with that saw this movie, would base their character selection off of who they liked from the film. I was usually Professor Plum because I loved Christopher Lloyd. Although, I really wish they would have added Wadsworth to the game.
I also liked that this was a bit of an homage to House On Haunted Hill, as the film starts out the same way and the mansion is called “Hill House”, making the comparison a bit more obvious. The film was also produced by Debra Hill, most known for her collaborations with horror director John Carpenter.
Clue proved that you could make a good movie based off of a board game. Granted, that doesn’t mean that it should ever be attempted again. Years later, Battleship was adapted into a film and it was awful but I don’t know how that game could’ve been adapted into something decent.
For years, several other board games have been in development hell. I’ve read stories about movies for Monopoly, Life, Candyland and a bunch of other board games. There has even been a Clue remake that has been discussed for years and seen many incarnations come and go without actually going in front of the camera.
Clue was a perfect storm that had the right talent assembled at every level of the production. It probably isn’t something that could be successfully replicated again. Besides, Clue was initially a failure at the box office. It wasn’t until it hit home video that it really became somewhat of a cult classic.
Release Date: August 1st, 1986 Directed by: Randal Kleiser Written by: Mark H. Baker, Michael Burton, Matt MacManus Music by: Alan Silvestri Cast: Joey Cramer, Paul Reubens, Cliff DeYoung, Veronica Cartwright, Matt Adler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Howard Hesseman
Walt Disney, Producers Sales Organization, Buena Vista Pictures, 90 Minutes
“Compliance!” – Max
Everyone I knew as a kid saw Flight of the Navigator. While it wasn’t a smashing hit, it was loved by many and had its following. However, it doesn’t seem to be as well-remembered as some of the other family-friendly sci-fi flicks of the 1980s.
To start, it is a Disney movie and even though it doesn’t feel like a massive epic, it has groundbreaking special effects and was well-produced in every regard.
Joey Cramer plays twelve year-old David Freeman, a kid who wakes up eight years into his future, where his world is totally different. The role needed a lot of emotion and was probably quite challenging for a twelve year-old but Cramer did a fantastic job. Looking back, I don’t know why this didn’t lead to a lot more work for the kid. He got a few roles after this but nothing too noteworthy.
The story also features an alien ship controlled by a computer named Max. Max is voiced by Pee-wee Herman himself, Paul Reubens. The relationship between David and Max is really what makes this film work. While you root for David to be reunited with his family but ultimately want him to be able to go home to 1978, the real standout thing about this film is the camaraderie between the two main characters. David is depressed and feels lost and desperate while Max feels tremendous guilt for pulling David out of his life.
Apart from Cramer and Reubens, the film features a very young Sarah Jessica Parker, Veronica Cartwright – who I will always love for Alien, as well as WKRP‘s Dr. Johnny Fever himself, Howard Hesseman, who also lit up the screen in Head of the Class and Police Academy 2.
Flight of the Navigator used early CGI techniques to create the alien ship that took David on his journey. It was a metallic seed-shaped structure that could slightly alter its shape based off of what flight mode it was in. Also, the back of the ship would essentially melt open and provide free-floating steps for David to enter and exit the ship. The CGI animation is very similar to what James Cameron would use in 1989’s The Abyss and for the T-1000 in 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
While Flight of the Navigator is not a flawless film, the positives greatly outweigh the negatives and it is a fun and emotional journey. Its story is timeless and still effective and kids that I have seen watch it in recent years, all seemed to love it regardless of it feeling somewhat dated.
Flight of the Navigator is a much shorter film than what Disney does nowadays. That being said, it is welcomed, as it doesn’t waste a lot of time and stays on its rails. It gets to the point, packs an emotional punch and delivers a heartfelt happy ending. It doesn’t try to overdo it with razzle dazzle and massive special effects sequences. Frankly, I miss films like this.
As a kid, no comedies brought me as much replayable joy as the Police Academy films. Yes, they are cheesy and the humor is crude and low brow with slapstick thrown in but to a kid in the 1980s, that is what I liked. And it may have been the first film where I saw boobs.
Still to this day, I enjoy it. And even though this comedy method is generally used poorly in most modern films, it worked in these movies and for the time they were current.
This series spawned a new movie every spring from 1984 through 1989 and then gave us an unwatchable seventh film in 1994. Up until the end though, this was a great series. I’m not sure how new audiences would take to them today but from 1984 to 1989, the Police Academy franchise was adored by fans even if it was generally panned by critics.
Police Academy (1984):
Release Date: March 23rd, 1984 Directed by: Hugh Wilson Written by: Neal Israel, Pat Proft, Hugh Wilson Music by: Robert Folk Cast: Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall, Bubba Smith, George Gaynes, Donovan Scott, Michael Winslow, Andrew Rubin, David Graf, Bruce Mahler, Marion Ramsey, Brant von Hoffman, Scott Thomson, G.W. Bailey, Leslie Easterbrook, George R. Robertson, Debralee Scott, Doug Lennox, Georgina Spelvin, Ted Ross
The Ladd Company, Warner Bros. Pictures, 96 Minutes
“Good speech.” – Carey Mahoney
The first film in the series introduces us to many of the characters we will see over the course of several films. Most importantly, this movie gave the world the comedic talents of Steve Guttenberg. Guttenberg’s Sgt. Carey Mahoney would be the central character of these films over the first four installments.
We also got to meet Michael Winslow’s Larvell Jones, Bubba Smith’s Moses Hightower, David Graf’s Eugene Tackleberry, Leslie Easterbrook’s Sgt. Callahan, Marion Ramsey’s Sgt. Hooks, G.W. Bailey’s Lt. Harris and George Gaynes’ iconic Commandant Eric Lassard. Other major characters would come in other films but these characters lasted over most of the series and each one of them are memorable and lovable in their own way. The Police Academy series is an example of large ensemble comedies done right.
This film in the series had the most overall narrative and is considered by most to be the best film. Later films in the series were full of long-running jokes chaining back to this film, as well as being structured by a series of gags and funny bits that were only lightly threaded together by an actual plot. This one was an adult comedy, full of a large cast of kooky characters – in many ways it was similar in style to Slap Shot, Caddyshack and in some regards, MASH. The great use of this formula in Police Academy also inspired a slew of knock-off films throughout the mid 80s.
The plot is about a bunch of screw ups who join the Police Academy after the mayor declares that anyone can join the academy and be given a fair shot. It concludes with a sequence that sees these screw ups go into the field with minimal training and finding themselves in the middle of a downtown riot.
As stupid and absurd as this film can be, it does create a solid sense of camaraderie among the characters. You care about them, their relationships with one another and the crazy situations they find themselves in. This is why this movie became a hit and why this series lasted for seven pictures. You wanted to see more of these people and their antics.
Police Academy was a huge hit at the time and deservedly so. Each subsequent film dropped of a bit in success but they all still did pretty well through the 80s.
Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985):
Release Date: March 29th, 1985 Directed by: Jerry Paris Written by: Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield Music by: Robert Folk Cast: Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith, David Graf, Michael Winslow, Bruce Mahler, Colleen Camp, Art Metrano, Marion Ramsey, Howard Hesseman, George Gaynes, Lance Kinsey, George R. Robertson, Tim Kazurinsky, Bobcat Goldthwait, Rich Hall
The Ladd Company, Warner Bros. Pictures, 87 Minutes
“Don’t make me flare my nostrils!” – Zed
The first sequel quickly followed the original film.
In this one, we see our beloved officers take their first job at a precinct ran by Howard Hesseman’s Pete Lassard, younger brother to Commandant Lassard. Also, Lt. Harris is replaced as the main antagonist by Art Metrano’s Lt. Mauser. This creates a lot of debate between Police Academy fans as to who was the better series antagonist: Harris or Mauser. I will say that they are both awesome.
We are also introduced to Lance Kinsey’s Lt. Proctor, who went on to become one of the funniest and most iconic idiots in cinema history. This is also the first of three films featuring Bobcat Goldthwait as Zed and Tim Kazurinsky as Sweetchuck. Zed is the big villain of the film and he is fantastic. He is also Goldthwait’s most recognizable character and plays much better as a goofy bad guy in this film than as a cop in the later ones.
This movie is still a great continuation of the Police Academy series and expands on the characters enough to where you enjoy seeing them growing up and taking on new roles.
Also, the big finale at the abandoned zoo was really cool. It was an awesome location for the gang’s hideout.
Police Academy 3: Back In Training (1986):
Release Date: March 21st, 1986 Directed by: Jerry Paris Written by: Gene Quintano Music by: Robert Folk Cast: Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith, David Graf, Michael Winslow, Marion Ramsey, Leslie Easterbrook, Art Metrano, Tim Kazurinsky, Bobcat Goldthwait, George Gaynes, Bruce Mahler, Lance Kinsey, Scott Thomson, Brant von Hoffman, Debralee Scott, Brian Tochi, George R. Robertson, Ed Nelson
Warner Bros. Pictures, 83 Minutes
“Mahoney must think he’s as dumb as we are.” – Captain Proctor
The third film rehashes the formula of the first Police Academy but doesn’t do it as well.
Here we have a new class of cadets joining the academy but now the cadets from the original film are there to train them. It is a passing of the torch to a new generation but the new generation didn’t give us many new characters to sink our teeth into. Zed and Sweetchuck return and become cops in this one but they are the brightest spot by far of the new cast of recruits.
The film is still funny, it employs a lot of the same gags and it ends with a pretty decent water action sequence for a film that is a low budget 80s comedy.
The main plot focuses on two academies going head-to-head in a competition, as the worst of the two is going to be shutdown due to budget cuts. The evil academy is ran by Mauser from the previous film. Mauser and Proctor, when together, are comedy gold.
Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol (1987):
Release Date: April 3rd, 1987 Directed by: Jim Drake Written by: Gene Quintano Music by: Robert Folk Cast: Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith, David Graf, Michael Winslow, Marion Ramsey, Leslie Easterbrook, Sharon Stone, Colleen Camp, Tim Kazurinsky, Bobcat Goldthwait, George Gaynes, G.W. Bailey, Lance Kinsey, George R. Robertson, Brian Tochi, Scott Thomson, Billie Bird, David Spade, Brian Backer, Tab Thacker, Corinne Bohrer, Tony Hawk, Randall “Tex” Cobb
Warner Bros. Pictures, 88 Minutes
“Don’t touch those! Don’t you ever touch my balls without asking!” – Captain Harris
In an effort to not completely redo the plots of the first and third movie, this film sees Commandant Lassard start a new program that allows citizens to train at the academy with real police officers in an effort to build up a better relationship with the community. Essentially, it is a rehash of the first and third films but the little twist makes it a bit more interesting.
Billie Bird steals the show here as the elderly Mrs. Feldman. She is a tough as nails, take no shit, bad ass old lady that is the perfect compliment to the big gun-toting maniac that is Sgt. Tackleberry.
Sharon Stone is in this film too but you’ll barely notice. You can also enjoy the small roles played by a young David Spade, Brian Backer and a “blink and you’ll miss it” cameo by Tony Hawk.
Also, due to a bad back injury that Art Metrano suffered, Mauser was out of the picture and G.W. Bailey’s Capt. Harris was brought back as the antagonist of the series. Harris and Proctor together were even better than Mauser and Proctor in the two previous films.
The gags are great, the pranks are awesome and this film embodies the spirit of the installments before it. Unfortunately, it is the last film to star Steve Guttenberg and a drop off in quality over the course of the next three films was a result. We also lost Goldthwait and Kazurinsky after this chapter in the series and they were definitely missed.
The highlight of this movie is the big action sequence at the end, which featured biplanes, hot air balloons and a whole lot of mayhem.
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