The only reason to watch “Go, Johnny, Go!” is if you want to see some of the best rock and roll artists of all time do their thing on the big screen. Other than that, “Go, Johnny, Go!” is the story of the boring, milquetoast Johnny Melody, a bright eyed, blond white boy who rose from the slums as an orphan to become a rock and roll singer. It’s surprising that a movie featuring Ritchie Valens, and Chuck Berry would only focus on the most uninteresting individual, as when the movie stops to spread its paper thin premise with performances, it ironically becomes worth sitting through.
It’s apt that John Hughes’ “The Breakfast Club” would be granted a Criterion release, as it’s still one of the most riveting character studies ever released. While it’s often imitated, Hughes’ 1985 drama stands alone as a hallmark of simplicity, grabbing a cast at the top of their game in a decade, offering up truly remarkable performances in already seasoned careers. “The Breakfast Club” was basically “The Big Chill.” Except for a drama being about people in the middle of their lives, we’re able to sit down for ninety minutes with five young people at the beginning of their lives pondering on what they could become as adults, what they don’t want to become as adults, and what they fear they will become as adults.
Director Tom De Simone’s “Hell Night” usually gets lumped in together with a lot of the other eighties slashers, but in reality his genre offering is so much more unique than a simple hack and slash. “Hell Night” is a great Halloween horror romp that feels like something pulled out of a haunted house Gothic novel. It’s the perfect fixture for the holiday delivering a relentlessly bleak tone that makes it quite an unnerving experience all the way through. Linda Blair can do these kinds of horror movies in her sleep and she plays final girl Marti quite well, doing her best to battle a deformed monster in its territory.
This is the story of Paula Parker, a petulant prepubescent princess whose depravities produced a plethora of death and deception. For shame, parents of Paula Parker, you dare not look after your teen daughter in the age of the fifties where crime was rampant. For the first time on Blu-Ray, it’s also a worthwhile title for collectors thanks to AGFA, “The Violent Years” is one of the many infamous baby boomer products of fear and hysteria that warned of a world filled with darkness, crime, debauchery, and premarital sex. Make no mistake, your teen would smoke the marijuana, and tongue kiss way before they matured in to upstanding citizens.
Widescreen and Uncut for movie buffs everywhere, “Satan’s Cheerleaders” is a wonderful piece of crap that mixes all of the seventies hallmarks in a ninety two minute piece of junk food. There’s your disco soundtrack, your scantily clad cheerleaders (Kerry Sherman is a stonecold babe), and of course what would the decade be without Satanic cults and women in the buff praising an altar of some kind? “Satan’s Cheerleaders” is a delightfully campy bit of nonsense that felt like someone had a script for a horror movie and a teen sports movie and put them together for the sake of getting a movie funded.
I’m not a subscriber to Hulu but my mom is, and she’s often on the hunt for horror series’, as someone whose own love for horror dwarfs my own. For the last year, she’s been insisting that I check out a show called “Freakish,” a show that she describes as a “great zombie show” and one I’d particularly love, since I tend to have a real weak spot for shows about zombies and the apocalypse. Hell, I am a regular viewer of “Fear the Walking Dead,” “The Walking Dead,” and even love “Dead Set,” so “Freakish” is kind of up my alley.
The story of Joss Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is about as classic a tale and about as old a tale as most other movies in development. Whedon had a vision for a new take on a horror story and Hollywood didn’t get it and kind of fucked it up. Everyone by now knows the tale of 1992’s “Buffy,” and how Joss Whedon initially wanted to make something of a darker more stern take on the vampire hunter that minced a coming of age tale with a story of a young woman coming to maturity. When Whedon was given the chance to finally bring his film in to development he kind of lost control of his creation.
Fred Dekker’s “The Monster Squad” is the assembly of many eighties tropes, even conjuring up the aesthetic of a novel series one might have found tucked beside “The Hardy Boys,” and “Babysitters Club.” It’s Amblin, Spielberg, Universal and everything else we loved about the eighties, and while it can in many ways be considered a take off on “The Goonies,” it watches so much better over time. Even better is the script by Shane Black allows for interesting and complex preteen heroes, all of whom have their spotlight, as well as their own personal struggles. Like Spielberg, Black introduces a potentially broken home with main hero Sean, while this extraordinary situation allows his family to re-unite for the fate of him and his little sister.