Nostalgia: Crappy movies


Scott Weinberg at Cinematical drops a big bomb for those of us who had pay cable from the early 80s: The cult horror-comedy Student Bodies is getting a DVD release.

As Weinberg explains, the movie was intended to be Airplane! for horror movies, but was never as successful. It was one of the first comedies to send up horror conventions, which has been a popular and profitable venture in Hollywood for over a decade now. But in 1981, no-one knew what to make of it. I even found it really silly when I saw it as a 12-year-old, but I’d never seen anything like it — Was it a scary movie? Was it a comedy? — and I appreciated what it was trying to accomplish. Nonetheless, it’s got a following who will be pleased by Legend Films finally granting it a release.

True geekery is included in the Weinberg article when it mentions the truly schlocky Going Ape! and It Came From Hollywood, both of which are entrenched in my childhood memory. He and I must have grown up in the same era.

Going Ape! had to be a film made in the film marketing department. I can hear the pitch now:

You know that monkey from the Clint Eastwood flick Every Which Way But Loose? That was hysterical! You know that show Taxi? People love that Tony Danza and Danny DeVito! Well, according to our surveys, if we cross Taxi with orangutans, it’s SURE to be a hit!

Who cares if we write a script? Just make sure Danza falls down a lot, and that monkey knows how to blow a raspberry and throw the bird and it’ll be box office GOLD!

…and that’s why I watched it over and over on HBO.

It Came From Hollywood is a movie my parents won’t let me forget. Listen, when you turn to a 10-year-old boy and ask him what the family should see on Friday night, you shouldn’t have high expectations. This particular movie had ads running constantly on television, which featured stars like Dan Aykroyd, Cheech and Chong, John Candy and Gilda Radner reminiscing about terrible movies. I barely knew who these people were. Some of them were from SNL years before, which was on way past my bedtime, and I knew that Cheech and Chong smoked pot and had a skit about a guy named Dave. According to the ads, it was supposed to be hilarious. Again, I was 10, and hadn’t quite developed my filter of cynicism and suspicion. So Friday came and we went, and didn’t laugh a bit. And the needling about my movie choice hasn’t relented since.

On the plus side, it exposed me for the first time to people named above as well as classic bad films years before MST3K did, and bad directors like Ed Wood, years before Tim Burton and Johnny Depp did. So, I don’t regret it.

I also don’t think I’ll personally seek out any of these films on DVD, since I’ve already got enough nostalgia for them. It’s sorta like what they say: You can’t go home again, and I can’t sit through bird-flipping orangutans again.


Posted on March 24, 2008, in Film news, Nostalgia and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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