Friday, July 18, 2014

THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN (1985)


THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN (1985) 
'Fair is Fair' Edition Blu-ray

Label: Mill Creek Entertainment
Region Code: A
Rating: PG-13
Duration: 95 Minutes
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 
Director: Matthew Robins
Cast: Helen Slater, Christian Slater, Peter Coyote, Keith Gordon, Yeardley Smith, Martha Gehman

I completely remember watching this for the first-time on VHS seated on my grandmother's floor soaking in the glow of the TV as I lusted after Helen Slater (SUPERGIRL) for ninety-five minutes. To say that this most recent viewing was not laced with warm nostalgia and and adolescent lust would be a straight-up lie.

In a small Corpus Christi neighborhood Binx (Christian Slater) stands-up for his sister Billie Jean (Helen Slater) who is being harassed by a group of popped-collar styled jerks the 80's were so full of. In retaliation they trash Binx's prized motor scooter and smash-up his face. Outraged by the incident Billie Jean approaches the father of the teen responsible who in turn forces himself on the young woman when her brother walks-in and accidentally shoots the dirt bag. Scared and not believing anyone will believe poor kids from the trailer park the teens hit the road with friends Ophelia (Martha Gehman) and Putter (Yeardley Smith, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE). While fleeing authorities the teens gain notoriety and the public sympathy as the authorities - lead by Lt. Ringwald (Peter Coyote, SOUTHERN COMFORT) -  launch a statewide manhunt. 

While on the run Billie Jean watches a Joan of Arc film and is inspired to cut her hair short. afterward make a video proclaiming her innocence which goes viral and young women across the state start cutting their hair short as show of support. Christian Slater made his feature film debut with this one before going onto teen-glory with HEATHER, GLEAMING THE CUBE an my favorite PUMP UP THE VOLUME! Fans of THE SIMPSONS will spot Yeardley Smith as the foul-mouthed Putter and I am pleased  to say her character is nowhere near as annoying as her screeching turn in Stephen King's MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE. 

While on the run the group make friends with a wealthy horror-nerd named Lloyd who ends up a very willing hostage with a sweet spot for Billie Jean and who can blame him? The scene with her on coming out the water and laying on the raft at the top of the film makes me tingly all over. Unfortunately Lloyd neglects to mention that his father (Dean Stockwell, WILD AT HEART) is running for State Attorney General which complicates matters. There's also a small cameo from TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 screamer Caroline Williams  who screams quite a bit in a very tiny role. 

The hi-def presentation from Mill Creek Entertainment is pretty decent and while there's no lossless audio option the Dolby Digital stereo supports it quite nicely with a soundtrack featuring the Divinyls, Pat Benatar, Billy Idol and even Wendy O. Williams. 

THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN is pretty ridiculous but it works for me in a nostalgic 
fist-pumping teen sort of way. It's certainly a bit silly watching it now but when I was twelve it felt like a fucking battle cry - haha. While it's no Reagan-era classic it's certainly worth a revisit and you can pick it up for just a few bucks plus there's a commentary from Helen Slater and Yeardley Smith. 

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