Tuesday, May 1, 2018

80'S OVERDRIVE - 6 FILM COLLECTION (Blu-ray Review)

80'S OVERDRIVE - 6 FILM COLLECTION

THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN (1985) / LITTLE NIKITA (1988) / HARDBODIES (1984) / SPRING BREAK (1983) / PERFECT (1985)/ PRIVATE RESORT (1985) 

Synopsis: 6 Totally Awesome ‘80s films with the stars that defined a decade! Everything ‘80s in a movie collection with the biggest stars and films from the iconic decade. Enjoy comedy, drama and action in classic ‘80s fashion.

LITTLE NIKITA (1988) 
Rating: PG
Duration: 97 Minutes
Audio: English LPCM Stereo 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1)
Director: Richard Benjamin
Cast: Sidney Poitier, River Phoenix, Richard Jenkins, Caroline Kava, Richard Bradford, Richard Lynch

Little Nikita (1988) stars the late River Phoenix as Jeff, a typical San Diego suburban teen who becomes a pawn in cold-war thrills when it is revealed that his parents are sleeper agents implanted by the Russian government, a fact brought to light when FBI agent played by Sidney Poitier performs a routine Air Force Academy background  check on the teen. I'm always happy to revisit anything starring Phoenix, he turns in a good performance here alongside Potier - the two would also later team-up for the caper film Sneakers (1992). 

We also get very good performances from Richard Jenkins (Let Me In)
Caroline Kava (Born on the 4th of July) as his conflicted parents, who come off as sympathetic considering they're spies, reluctant to be called back into active spy-game by their handler played by venerable character actor Richard Bradford (Goin' South) whose extensive filmography is more or less made up of dozens of military men, judges and cops - the guy just had one of those faces that read authority figure. Speaking of familiar faces, we get Richard Lynch (Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge) as rogue Soviet spy "Scuba" who is going around murdering sleeper agents, one scene had me laughing, he's out on the driving a ski boat, when the woman skiing behind the boat falls into the water he cuts her line, and as she's in the way of a large ship careening towards he she is killed, I wanted to know more, how did he convince her to go water skiing, did he know her beforehand, it was just a weird place to pick-up that part of the story. Anyway, when Jeff's parents are the last sleepers on Scuba's kill-list FBI man Roy moves into the neighborhood to keep an eye on the sleepers, hoping to nab Scuba who murdered his partner twenty years earlier.

A damn decent 80's thriller that has some unevenness and plot contrivances but the cast is solid and the film is well-made. I remember when I first saw it at 15 years old I would ponder who in my neighborhood could be a potential sleeper agent, I grew up just down the road from a major military munitions depot in Upstate New York and thought for sure the Soviet's must have implanted some locals to keep an eye on the place, I miss being a paranoid teen, those were good times, I was never bored, always worrying about some slasher stalking the nearby boy scout camp or foreign spies surveying the area. 


THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN (1985)
Special "Fair Is Fair" Edition  
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, Heathers) 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 Gleaming the Cube an my favorite Pump Up the Volume! Fans of TV's The Simpsons will likely 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.  

This 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. 

SUN, SAND AND SWEAT 4-FILM COLLECTION

PRIVATE RESORT (1985) / HARDBODIES (1985) / SPRING BREAK (1983) / PERFECT (1985) 

PRIVATE RESORT (1985)
Rating: R
Duration: 82 Minutes 
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 
Video: 1080P HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: George Bowers 
Cast: Johnny Depp, Ron Morrow, Emily Longstreth

Private Resort stars Johnny Depp (Sleepy Hollow) and Rob Morrow (TV's Northern Exposure) as teen dudes who prowl a local resort looking for sex, a movie littered with scene after scene of topless women. It was everything a teen could hope for from an '80s boner-comedy, plus it mixed in a goody subplot involving a inept jewel thief called The Maestro, played by Hector Elizondo (Leviathan), and a near nude scene from Leslie Easterbrook  (The Devil's Rejects, Police Academy), which might be worth the price of admission alone. I am sure Johnny Depp is ashamed of this one, coming right on the heels of A Nightmare on Elm Street and a few years before his star-making turn in Oliver Stone's Platoon. Private resort is a standard teen sex comedy, perfectly throwaway and delightfully cheesy. 


HARDBODIES (1984)
Rating: R
Duration:87 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 
Video: 1080P HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Mark Griffiths 
Cast: Grant Cramer, Teal Roberts, Gary Wood, Michael Rappaport, Roberta Collins

Hardbodies always seemed to me to be the flagship boner-jam movie, with a sort of creepy set-up of three middle-aged divorced men who enlist teen surfer dude Scotty Palmer (Grant Cramer, New Year's Evil, Killer Klowns from Outer Space), the movie paints him as a sort of teen con man who has a way with the ladies, which the three divorced men exploit to their creepy advantage. However, when Scotty begins to develop real feelings for a new girl in his life he tries to change his ways, but in a movie loaded with breasts and buns it will not be easy for him. 

The movie also co-stars one Courtney Gains of Children of the Corn and The 'Burbs fame as Scotty's best mate Rags, a righteous '80s dude and one goofy looking sumbitch. Watching it again the movie has not aged well, but does well as a tawdry piece of '80s trash cinema, with an endless parade of topless young women, which is sort of what this set is all about. 


SPRING BREAK (1983)
Rating: R
Duration: 102 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 
Video: 1080P HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Sean S. Cunningham
Cast: David Knell, Perry Lang, Paul Land

Spring Break (1983) comes by way of director Sean S. Cunningham who most will know brought us the Friday the 13th, this teen-sex comedy is sandwiched in-between Friday the 13th (1980) and the teen-thriller New Kids (1985), the movie is about a pair of teen-dweebs named Nelson (David Nell) and Adam (Perry Lang, The Hearse) who arrive in Fort Lauderale to reap the horny rewards of spring break. They find that they have to share their small hotel room with a pair of party-animals named Stu (Steve Bassette) and O.T. (Paul Land), two skilled pussy-hounds who take the nerds under their wings, learning them in the ways of bedding strange women.

Along the way the four find themselves involved in an effort to save the hotel from a buy-out scheme by the crooked brother-in-law of the owner, a plot involving the step-father of Nelson and a shady building inspector. This one is tame in the nudity department compared to Private resort and Hardbodies, dare I say even nuanced to a degree with a story with an an actual arc, it's not quite American Graffitti, but it is not too far removed from The Last American Virgin. It also features the best soundtrack of the set, with tunes from NRBQ, .38 Special and a bonafide theme song from Cheap Trick, which is obviously not on par with their best stuff. The movie is fun, there's a sweetness to it, a vibe that reminded me a bit of Caddyshack, with a sweet love interest, and of course the prerequisite amount of boobage.


PERFECT (1985)
Rating: R
Duration: 120 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 
Video: 1080P HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: James Bridges 
Cast: John Travolta, Jamie Lee Curtis, Anne De Salvo, Marilu Henner, Laraine Newman

Perfect is based on true-life story about a Rolling Stone journalist (John Tavolta, Pulp Fiction) who is writing an article on how 80's L.A. fitness clubs are the new singles spot, when he falls for a aerobic instructor played by Jaime Lee Curtis (John Carpenter's Halloween). There is no nudity and no horny teens anywhere to be found, but I will say that the short-coiffed Curtis rocked the spandex and has some nice moves, with both her and Travolta turning is decent performances, but the movie just did nothing for me - this was the dud of the bunch, and it did not belong on this teen-lust collection. 

The 80's Overdrive 6-film collection is a re-package of titles previously available on Blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment, all three releases presented as originally released on separate editions (as pictured in this review) all housed in a fairly flimsy slipcover. You can pick it up for about $20 which is a pretty good deal for six 80's films that run the gamut from cold war thriller to teen rebellion and sexed-up summer fluff. 

 

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