TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: VALLEY GIRL (1983)

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VALLEY GIRL (1983)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Valley Girl is basically an 80s Romeo and Juliet about sweet valley girl Julie (Deborah Foreman), who meets Hollywood punk rocker Randy (Nicholas Cage) and falls in love. Depite being from two different worlds, the two are inseparable, until Julie’s friends (including Pee Wee’s Big Adventure’s E.G. Daily) start to show their disapproval of Randy and her ex-boyfriend (Forbidden World’s Michael Bowen) makes moves to try to get her back. Will the love between these two last, or will they be separated forever by the agendas of those around them?

Flick is a quirky, fun romantic comedy/drama directed by Martha Coolidge (Real Genius) from a script by actor/writer Wayne Crawford (Barracuda) and Andrew Lane. It’s become a bit of a cult classic and with it being just so 80s, with a great soundtrack of 80s music, one can see why. It’s filled with nostalgic charm and that only adds to the entertainment the film delivers. As a movie itself, it’s not a masterpiece. Coolidge’s style is a bit stiff and the script is not the strongest, but all things considered, it’s still an offbeat and amusing star-crossed romance and a charming and colorful little movie all the same. The characters are not as stereotypical as you might think, even if Cage’s punk is far more Hollywood’s idea of one than an actual representation. There is some depth to Foreman’s Julie and Cage’s rebellious Randy that makes them a bit more realistic and oddly more engaging than the type of teens that normally inhabit this kind of high school romance, especially an 80s one.

As for our leads…This was Cage’s second flick after playing a minor character in Fast Times At Ridgemont High (which would make a nice double feature with this) and you can see the same kind of offbeat performance that he is now famous for. He is not as over-the-top as he has been seen playing and that touch of restraint makes his Randy a likable yet odd sort that does contrast perfectly Foreman’s Julie. Foreman is certainly sweet and charming and far less of a Vally Girl than her friends who later try to end her relationship with Randy. She’s smart, pretty and portrays well a teen who is both fascinated and confused by her current beau being far different than she’s used to dating. Opposites attract and here it is well portrayed by our actors.

Overall, this is not a great flick in the basic sense, but is still very charming and fun. The added nostalgia of all the hair, fashions and music elevate it very high on the nostalgia scale, especially if you were a teen in those days. The cast are all endearing and charming and help give this little film a bit of an offbeat edge, thus making it less stereotypical than it could have been. A cult classic and deservedly so.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 pink pumps, for sure!

valley girl rating

 

 

 

 

 

Track Listing from the Soundtrack CD

1. “A Million Miles Away” – The Plimsouls

2. “Johnny, Are You Queer?” – Josie Cotton

3. “Eyes Of A Stranger” – Payolas

4. “Angst In My Pants” – Sparks

5. “Who Can It Be Now?” – Men At Work

6.”Everywhere At Once” – The Plimsouls

7.” I La La La Love You” – Pat Travers’ Black Pearl

8. “He Could Be The One” – Josie Cotton

9. “Love My Way” – Psychedelic Furs

10. “Jukebox (Don’t Put Another Dime)” – The Flirts

11. “The Fanatic” – Felony

12. “She Talks In Stereo” – Gary Myrick & The Figures

13. “Oldest Story In The World” – The Plimsouls

14. “School Is In” – Josie Cotton

15. “I Melt With You” – Modern English

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: APRIL FOOL’S DAY (1986)

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APRIL FOOL’S DAY (1986)

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This is an OK horror that, like it’s inspiration Halloween, takes a popular holiday and builds a slasher flick around it. A group of friends gather at the remote island home of Muffy St. John (80s fixture Deborah Foreman) on the weekend of April Fools Day. Obviously pranks and jokes are the name of the game, but the games turn deadly and the laughter turns to screams, when someone starts killing off the guests, one by one. Who wants this group of yuppie college friends dead?

Directed by When A Stranger Calls’ Fred Walton from a script by Danilo Bach, this flick could have used the whole April Fool’s Day theme a lot more cleverly. The flick only really gets creative with it in the last act and that’s mostly when we get our big reveal. Leading up to that, it’s pretty much a generic 80s slasher and one that really doesn’t elicit much in the way of scares or suspense. Again, it’s not till the last act that we start to get some chases and a bit of the type of thrills that we came for, but then it’s over rather quickly. There is some decent gore and the cast of familiar 80s faces like Foreman, Clayton Rohner and Friday The 13th Part 2 final girl Amy Steel, are appealing and likable enough, but the film never really comes alive and delivers the goods to more than an adequate degree. It’s basically a routine slasher that could have used it’s holiday of choice to much better effect, last act reveal not withstanding. There is some definite 80s nostalgia, but only because the film is now 30 years old.

Overall this is an OK flick that follows the formula fairly well, though never really takes the April Fool’s Day prank plot device as far as it could have or as inventively as it might have. It’s one of the more fondly remembered slasher’s of this era and while it’s far from the best, it’s certainly not one of the worst. It was a moderate success back in the day and there was apparently a direct to DVD remake back in 2008, though that is news to me.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 knives…or are they???

sorority house rating

 

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: WAXWORK (1988)

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WAXWORK (1988)

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Waxwork is a fun horror flick written and directed by Anthony Hickox that imbues the lighter toned, more colorful style of horror flicks that were made in the second half of the 80s like Fright Night and some of the later Elm Street sequels.

The story has a group of college kids including Mark (Zach Galligan), his ex, China (Michelle Johnson), Sarah (Deborah Foreman) and Tony (Dana Ashbrook) being invited to a special midnight viewing at a new waxwork that has opened, oddly, in the middle of a suburban neighborhood. The invitation is extended by it’s mysterious owner Mr. Lincoln (David Warner) himself. All the fiends of fiction and fact are represented, such as Dracula (Miles O’Keeffe), The Wolfman (John Rhys-Davies) and the Marquis de Sade (J.Kenneth Campbell). But, what our young visitors don’t know, is that through the darkest magic, each display must claim a living victim and once they all do, the represented horrors will take real form and enter our world to commit their evils upon mankind. Can these youths escape and save our world from it’s worst nightmares come true?

Hickox crafts a fun horror that certainly doesn’t skimp on the blood and gore. His plot enables the intended victims to enter a portal into the world of the subject it’s display represents so, his co-eds and characters can come face to face with Dracula, The Mummy and the cruel and lustful Marquis. The results can be deviously gruesome until our leads figure out what is going on and then try to stop the diabolical Lincoln and his plan, which then culminates in a fun free-for-all between the fiends of lore and a group of armed monster fighters led by our remaining students and the Van Helsing-like Sir Wilfred (Patrick Macnee), who knew Mark’s grandfather. The only thing that takes this entertaining monster movie down a few pegs… and some of Hickox’s other films… is that the writer/director can be heavy handed with the humor. For the most part there is an even mix of gruesome, scary and campy fun but, occasionally things get silly right in the middle of a scene that should be a bit more intense. There are some delightfully gory sequences and the gore and make-up is well done but, then we get something more of a slapstick nature that neuters the effect of the more intense moments, especially during the last act brawl. For the most part things are evenly mixed and this rates as Hickox best and probably most renown of his flicks. Some of the director’s later films, including the sub-par Waxwork sequel, get very heavy handed with the humor and it out weighs the horror elements quite a bit. At least here, it is only occasional. There is some nice suspense too, especially in the first half when we are finding out the true sinister purpose of the wax museum and it is all very colorful under Gerry Lively’s lens. And the sequences inside the various worlds of the monsters that dwell in them are the best parts.

The cast are fine though I felt the younger members could have been a bit livelier, especially in the earlier scenes. Galligan plays the rich playboy Mark who finds the hero inside himself when he discovers there is a personal involvement for him in stopping Lincoln’s sinister plan. Deborah Foreman is cute and feisty as the girl next door who secretly crushes on Mark and shows an interesting hidden side when thrust into the Marquis de Sade’s world. Johnson is sexy and snooty as China and she shows some real fire when she finds herself at a dinner party at Dracula’s castle, the film’s most gruesome segment. And Ashbrook is fine as the stereotypical wiseass Tony. David Warner is top notch, as always, as the villainous Lincoln and Patrick Macnee is a pleasure, also, as always, as the paranormal expert and monster hunter Sir Wilfred. As for our legendary fiends, O’Keeffe, Rhys-Davies and Campbell and the rest all represent their monsters well in their sequences. A good enough cast who rise to the occasion when things get interesting.

I like Waxwork. It’s fun and gruesome at the same time and get’s things right more than it stumbles. Some of the humor gets a bit heavy handed and silly at times but, for the most part, the mix of humor and horror is fine. The veterans of the cast shine and while there could have been a bit more spark in our college co-eds, they do come through when their characters find themselves in situations from their worst nightmares… or desires. A fun flick and sadly a stride Hickox would never really hit again except for the entertaining Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth. There was a sadly inferior direct to DVD sequel Waxwork II: Lost In Time 4 years later.

3 surprisingly pro-de Sade heroines.

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