“Valley Girl, 1983”

“It’s like I’m totally not in love with you anymore, Tommy. I mean it’s so boring!”

Valley Girl, 1983 (Nicolas Cage), Atlantic Releasing Corp.

This is one of those movies everybody has to say they love or they won’t be taken seriously. If you say you don’t like Valley Girl (God help you), you’ll get nothing but icy stares for the rest of your existence. I don’t mind saying it. I don’t care for this movie. We have four girls, friends, hanging out in the mall, scarfing down cheeseburgers and milkshakes. They don’t seem to get fat. They go shopping for clothing and run up huge credit card bills. They bitch and moan and lust after the boys and go to big parties in the Valley. The Wikipedia has a curious definition for the quintessential Valley girl: “Originally referring to upper-middle class girls from the Los Angeles commuter towns of San Fernando Valley during the 1980s, the term in later years became more broadly applied to any English-speaking female who engendered the associated affects of ditziness, airheadedness, and/or greater interest in conspicuous consumption than intellectual or personal accomplishment.” I had no idea the definition had gone that far off the rails. Running up $200 credit card bills in 1983 doesn’t strike me as upper-middle class.

Idiots and their collars.

For the purposes of story, we have to focus on Deborah Foreman. Though hirstute thespian Nicolas Cage gets top-billing, this is Foreman’s movie. Her toothy, amiable countenance drives the plot. She checks out Cage on the beach while her friends mock his awkward masculine dowdiness. Referencing the quote above, Foreman breaks it off with boring Tommy, so he looks up her best friend, Elizabeth Daily. If Foreman is a “valley girl”, what’s Cage? I would say he’s a “grody dweeb,” whatever that is. They lock eyes at said bitchin’ party. He surveys the crowd like they’re a bunch of circus freaks. I guess there’s a pecking order for weirdos. Daily feels guilty, but Tommy’s a douche who refuses to adjust the collar of his sensible polo shirt. I think I hate Tommy, and I will give the movie credit for making me feel things about the characters. Tommy winds up in fisticuffs with Nicolas Cage which, I would assume, ostracizes Cage within the local youth community, but he seems to be a misfit anyway, so it doesn’t matter. He’s considered a “punk,” even though he tends to dress and behave just like everybody else. Cage is smitten with Deborah, even though she totally looks like she’s about 35.

A frustrated Cage tells his friend, “Nobody is gonna tell me who I can score with!” All of this plays out against the star-like background of Los Angeles; a gorgeous sight at night, the glittering metropolis bordered by treacherous canyons. It’s strange. For a movie obstensibly about kids for kids of that age, there’s a lot of sex and profanity. This isn’t family friendly like a John Hughes movie, though it looks impressive for a comparatively low budget movie (reputedly, the film’s music took up half of the production budget). Weird that it feels as though Foreman’s character is going through some kind of a mid-life crisis when she decides to ditch the party to hang out with Cage, entering a world of bars and being frisked. His friend describes this as “living on the edge.” Really? Seems pretty tame to me, but I’m from New York, where “punk” was invented and people get frisked during Sunday mass. Cage and Foreman work incredibly well together, which is fortunate for director Martha Coolidge, as the whole movie depends on it while sailing a sea of boring, inexplicably disaffected youth and rebellion.

Speaking of inexplicable, there’s a ridiculous subplot involving the mother of one of the girls trying to pick up a delivery boy. If you want to introduce subplots, you should probably do it early in the movie when the audience might care. At this point (halfway through) all we care about is the budding relationship between Cage and Foreman. I wanted to see more from Foreman’s parents (Frederic Forrest and Colleen Camp), apparently ex-hippies who run a health food restaurant. The movie takes great pains to show that youth is youth, no matter the backdrop, no matter a generational divide. As Foreman’s parents express concern and worry for their daughter, they remind themselves that their youthful behavior was far more dangerous. While an interesting cultural diversion, the movie fails for me because it offers nothing. There are no characters I understand, and nothing I can relate to, even as a kid scratching my head and trying to figure it all out. Cage, for me, is a repulsive young actor with no charm and no charisma. There are a total of two movies he did that I liked: Raising Arizona and Vampire’s Kiss. Coolidge later made the superior Real Genius in 1985.

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

“Time After Time, 1979”

“Ninety years ago I was a freak. Today I’m an amateur.”

Time After Time, 1979 (Malcom McDowell), Orion Pictures

Let’s get this out of the way first. Before you can jump into Time After Time, you have to accept Nicholas Meyer’s curious (and entertaining) propensity for mixing real life and history with fiction. His novel and subsequent screenplay for The Seven-Per-Cent Solution permits us the conceit of imagining a world where Sigmund Freud co-exists with Sherlock Holmes. His follow-up, The West End Horror, also merges real people with fictitious characters as well. Once we get that out of the way, it’s easier to enjoy his clever directorial debut, Time After Time, based on an unpublished book by Karl Alexander. It isn’t enough for H.G. Wells (Malcolm McDowell resembling an owl) to be the celebrated author of The Time Machine, he must actually own such a device, which he proudly displays to colleagues and friends, among them a curious surgeon named John Leslie Stevenson (creepy David Warner).

In short order, Stevenson is revealed to be none other than Jack the Ripper when blood-soaked gloves are discovered in his medical bag, following a particularly vicious murder of a prostitute in Whitechapel. Stevenson, putting two and two together, uses Wells’ time machine to move forward into the future. The machine returns, minus one psychotic doctor, but he leaves a trail of breadcrumbs indicating where he went in time. Wells takes it upon himself to pursue Stevenson to the future, arriving in San Francisco in the year 1979. Wells considers himself a progressivist; a believer in “free love” but also eugenics. He thinks he will have no trouble adapting to what he assumes will be a new socialist utopia. He is horrified to discover quite the opposite, and interestingly, what terrifies him about this future, pleases Stevenson. When Wells confronts him, Stevenson informs him this future of violence and unrestrained sexuality is pretty much a shopping market for people like him.

Despite the rather bleak narrative, there are many moments of humor to be had in Time After Time. Wells must “barter with the natives,” so he hocks some antique jewelry. He goes to McDonald’s and is delighted to see that they serve (in addition to Big Macs and pommes frites) tea. He tracks Stevenson to a British bank where he exchanged currency with employee Amy Robbins (cute Mary Steenburgen). Amy, being a modern woman, flirts with and ultimately picks up Wells. She moves fast, and Wells is almost appalled at her advances and the gender-role switch, but he happily assents to her desires. Meanwhile, a rash of murders (similar in M.O. to Stevenson’s early Whitechapel work) are occurring in San Francisco, but are buried under the miasma of horrific violence in this future. Wells takes Amy three days into the future to convince her his time machine actually works. They discover, by way of a newspaper headline, she will be Stevenson’s next victim.

Time After Time is a fun, exciting movie–a time odyssey and a love story. McDowell and Steenburgen make for a surprisingly sexy, amiable couple. They would eventually marry, but then divorce after ten years. Meyer has an eye for unusual details. When Wells sells his jewelry, he notices the man examining the items has tattooed numbers on his arm, which he considers peculiar. While Wells would be considered a genius in 1893, he is uneducated and unprepared for what our future has in store. McDowell shows he can play against type. At the start of his film career, he specialized in portraying angry, disenfranchised young men. Warner would continue to play creepy characters. The next year, Steenburgen’s performance in the brilliant Melvin and Howard would win her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Meyer would next direct Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and the chilling made-for-TV movie, The Day After. Meyer would serve as executive producer for the short-lived 2016 television series based on the movie.

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

MBA – The Osmonds Crazy Horses LP Review

Season 2 Episode 2

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Crazy Horses LP Review
Mark and Chris discuss and play the 1972 groundbreaking album by The Osmonds – Crazy Horses!

WGC – An Interview with Charlotte Stewart

Episode 20 – An Interview with Charlotte Stewart


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Mark had the pleasure of interviewing Charlotte Stewart for Walnut GroveCast. Charlotte Stewart is of course most famous for her role as the schoolmarm ‘Miss Beadle’ on Little House on the Prairie and her mesmerizing work with director David Lynch.

To buy Charlotte’s remarkable book please pick up a copy today!
https://www.amazon.com/Little-House-Hollywood-Hills-Becoming/dp/159393906X

If you would like to hear more from Mark head over the http://www.vhsrewind.com or subscribe to his podcast by clicking here

The opening song “Albert” is written and performed by the amazing Norwegian band, Project Brundlefly and is used with permission.
Check them out at:
https://www.facebook.com/ProjectBrundlefly

“The Sword and the Sorceror, 1982”

“We’ve got kingdoms to save and women to love!”

The Sword and the Sorceror, 1982 (Lee Horsley), Group 1 International Distribution Organization Ltd.

A couple of boats settle on a rushing shore. A frustrated and somewhat evil Titus Cromwell (Richard Lynch) commands his witch to summon a crazy mud-man with glowing eyes, Xusia of Delos, (this can only be Night Court’s Richard Moll) to help him defeat his enemies. In another corner of the word, King Richard rules his empire with the dual benefits of peace and mercy. Honestly, I don’t know he does it! Cromwell’s armies begin ripping through Richard’s land. Cromwell goes back on his deal with the mud-man and chucks him off a cliff for his trouble. I think he’ll be back. Ten minutes in, and we’ve got a lot of story. Richard sends his family away, but his son, Talon, (with a bad haircut) wants to fight. Richard tells him he must carry on, fight on the seas and oceans, fight on the beaches, fight on the landing grounds, fight in the hills, never surrender, or something to that effect. The young man (with a nifty projectile-launching sword) is hunted for years by Cromwell. He grows into the stunning specimen of manhood known as Matt Houston! I mean Lee Horsley. Pirate, slave, rogue. You name it.

Meanwhile mud-boy Xusia is plotting his revenge on Cromwell. Don’t get it twisted. He is tight! There are stirrings of rebellion with Prince Mikah (Jaws 3-D’s Simon MacCorkindale), believed to be the rightful heir to King Richard’s lost empire, planning a revolt. All he needs is a few good men. The fully grown, fully coiffed manhood-oozing Talon is interested in only three things: money, food and women. God bless him! Cromwell gets the drop on Mikah due to his traitorous douche advisor. Mikah sends his sister Alana (Kathleen Beller) to warn the others, but she is waylaid by thugs who are then easily dispatched by Talon (all while eating a big cow leg no less). Alana hires Talon to rescue her brother. They haggle, but he seems more interested in sex, so she offers herself, but he expects his bounty, “perfumed and pretty.” Oh you man, you! Cromwell steals off with Alana, planning to make her his queen, regardless of whether she loves him or not. I’m glad relationships between men and women have evolved. Or have they? So now Talon has to rescue a prince and a princess.

This is a damned fun movie. It’s a story George R. R. Martin wished he had written; concise and economical like The Neverending Story and a pathetic reminder of why movies fail to entertain these days. It looks as though certain scenes and shots were lifted from this movie to make Game of Thrones, which (I don’t care how much money was spent) pales by comparison. Beautifully shot by Joseph Mangine working with director Albert Pyun for his first movie, The Sword and the Sorceror is funny, sexy, and energetic. No easy feat. Pyun’s early work indicates his love for shadows and color, and an eye for framing and detail. Horsley is charismatic, and Lynch is a great mustache-twirler. The story recalls Jason and the Argonauts, Bert I. Gordon’s The Magic Sword, a little bit of Star Wars, and Clash of the Titans. It is often compared to Conan the Barbarian, the movie that kicked off the new wave of fantasy movies for the ’80s, but I see very little resemblance. As a matter of fact, I think I prefer this movie over Conan. and unlike the similar movie, Krull, this one makes sense.

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

“The Neverending Story, 1984”

“We don’t even care whether or not we care.”

The Neverending Story, 1984 (Barret Oliver), Warner Bros.

It used to be that if you had a few bucks, you made a movie. You had a little more money in the coffers, you’d make something tantamount to extravagant. If you had a ton of money, you’d make an epic movie. “Epic” (in the old days) used to mean 3-plus hours; usually a historical narrative – a Gandhi, a Lawrence of Arabia, a Ben Hur. It was a special night to go out and see an epic movie. Nowadays (here come the old man pants!) every movie is a damned epic and for no good reason (and they’re not good at all). There’s no earthly reason the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit (not even counting the extended editions on home media) movies have to clock in at three hours a-piece. Wolfgang Petersen’s The Neverending Story is an epic fantasy adventure movie on Slimfast. It’s a lean, economical 96 minutes. It tells a great story and then quickly gets the hell off the screen so we can go home and process.

Admittedly, because we are separating literature from film, The Neverending Story relies on a conscious form of contrivance. A literal absence of matter and energy known in legend as the “Nothing” is devouring the Universe and is about to engulf the land of Fantasia. The leaders of Fantasia summon a young warrior by the name of Atreyu (Noah Hathaway) to rescue an ailing Empress (Tami Stronach) who will stop the “Nothing,” provided she is given a new name. The kicker to all of this is that the story is being read (from a book entitled The Neverending Story) by a boy named Bastian (Barret Oliver) in our present-day world. Bastian is a Spielberg-type child: smart, but lonely, from a broken home with a parent (Major Dad’s Gerald McRaney!) who doesn’t understand him and even scolds him for mourning his dead mother. Jeez.

The rubrics of the story require Bastian to be a bullied introvert so that he can exact revenge on his tormentors; in this case, three psychotic little pricks who drop him into a dumpster. I’ve never understood the bully logic. How do you build on the thrill of terrorizing children? How come wonderful stories of enchanted lands are never experienced by horrifying, spoiled little bastards? Perhaps they would learn not to be spoiled little bastards if confronted with furry luck dragons and ridiculous giant turtles. Speaking of contrivances and dragons, Atreyu, in a moment of danger, is saved by said luck dragon, Falkor (possibly my favorite character in the film). Astride the giant creature, Atreyu can reach his target before the “Nothing” devours the world, but (in a great bit) they require the help of Bastian, who they know is reading their story.

It’s like if you took all the best parts of a book, or a story, or a ballad, and put them into a movie knowing you only had a limited amount of time to get it done, to get the movie’s adaptation down, and the audience satisified. The best movies work on their own terms with cinematic language. The worst adaptations are slavishly faithful to the literary source material. This is the movie Peter Jackson wanted to make. The early ’80s were an awesome (even gnarly) time for fantasy films: Conan the Barbarian, Legend, Willow, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, etc. It also harkens back to a time when movies were made with hands, not microchips. The creatures in the movie are astonishing to behold and it’s wonderful to see players interact with them on an actual physical level. Director Petersen’s next movie (a personal favorite) would be 1985’s Enemy Mine, starring Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr.

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.