Film Review: Joysticks (1983)

Also known as: Video Madness (alternative title)
Release Date: March 4th, 1983
Directed by: Greydon Clark
Written by: Al Gomez, Mickey Epps, Curtis Burch
Music by: various
Cast: Joe Don Baker, Leif Green, Jim Greenleaf, Scott McGinnis, Jon Gries, Corinne Bohrer, John Diehl, John Voldstad, Logan Ramsey

Jensen Farley Pictures, Citadel Films, Liberation Entertainment, 88 Minutes

Review:

“If you’re half the leader I think you are…” – Joseph Rutter, “I am half the leader you think I am!” – King Vidiot

Greydon Clark has made a lot of B-movies in multiple genres. Just before this one, he did Wacko, which I wasn’t a fan of other than the Andrew Dice Clay scenes. Where that one was a teen sex comedy with a horror theme, Joysticks is a teen sex comedy that primarily takes place in and around a video arcade. Also, it’s a more amusing movie than its slasher predecessor.

Like Wacko, this one stars Joe Don Baker, which, in my book, is always a plus. But he’s a much more engaging character and really gets to ham it up in great ways here. His best bits are when he plays opposite of the always fantastic Jonathan Gries, who plays a punk rock moron named King Vidiot.

The plot is about a video arcade that is deemed troublesome by the older busybody community. Basically, take Footloose and switch out dancing for video games… and then add a lot of crude humor and boobies. Baker’s Joseph Rutter is a rich guy that wants to shut the arcade down, so he employs his dimwitted nephews and King Vidiot to help him in his quest.

Now Baker and Gries steal every scene that they’re in but Corinne Bohrer is so entertaining in this as a ditzy, rich Valley girl that it’s hard not to love her over the top performance. Her voice was great in this and she had a lot of charm and charisma that would help her carve out a decent career in the ’80s between this film, Vice VersaPolice Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol, Zapped!, some solid sitcom work and her fairly memorable role opposite of Mark Hamill’s Trickster in the 1990 Flash TV show.

Joysticks is a dumb movie but I mean that in the best way possible. As unwatchable as Clark’s Wacko was a year earlier, this really rights the ship and it worked for me. If you’re into films like Porky’s and Meatballs and also like retro video games, then I’m sure you’ll probably like this too.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other early ’80s teen sex comedies.

Film Review: Wacko (1982)

Also known as: The Last Horror Show (working title), Wacko Weekend (Sweden), Crazy Doctor in Love (Philippines)
Release Date: May 28th, 1982 (Minneapolis premiere)
Directed by: Greydon Clark
Written by: Jim Kouf, Dana Olsen, Michael Spound
Music by: Arthur Kempel
Cast: Joe Don Baker, Stella Stevens, Elizabeth Daily, George Kennedy, Julia Duffy, Scott McGinnis, Andrew Dice Clay, Charles Napier

Jersey Farley Pictures, 90 Minutes

Review:

“Death to all teenagers who fuck.” – Lawnmower Killer

Like other Greydon Clark movies, this is fucking terrible. Well, unless you want to see a young Andrew Dice Clay dressed up as Superman. But even then, that’s over pretty quickly and this film is really hard to sit through.

It also doesn’t help that Julia Duffy has a scream that is like nails on the chalkboard. What makes it even worse is that she has to scream constantly and for long durations. I wanted to throw a fastball through my television set just to shut her up. It was like a banshee fucking a turkey that’s getting fucked by a horse. Sorry, I don’t know how else to describe it.

This film is also supposed to be a comedy but it’s not funny at all. It’s just a 90 minute festival of cringe and baffling bizarreness.

I guess this is supposed to be similar to the Police Academy style of humor but it doesn’t work and the screenwriters don’t have a funny bone in their bodies and none of the actors ever felt like they cared how they delivered their funny bits.

Joe Don Baker has done some terrible shit in his career but he’s still a pretty good actor on his best days. This is the worst thing he’s ever done though, at least out of the dozens of films I’m aware of.

George Kennedy is in this too and he plays a doctor that is always trying to peek at his underage daughters when they’re sleeping in their panties. Was this funny in 1982? Because I’m pretty sure it was just fucking creepy back then too.

I don’t know. There isn’t much to say about this other than it is horrible in every way and no one should ever watch it.

Rating: 1.25/10
Pairs well with: James Gunn tweets from 2008.

Film Review: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

Release Date: June 1st, 1984
Directed by: Leonard Nimoy
Written by: Harve Bennett
Based on: Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry
Music by: James Horner
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Merritt Butrick, Robin Curtis, Christopher Lloyd, John Larroquette, Miguel Ferrer, Grace Lee Whitney, Scott McGinnis

Paramount Pictures, 105 Minutes

Review:

[Witnessing the destruction of the Enterprise] “My God, ‘Bones’… what have I done?” – Capt. James T. Kirk, “What you had to do, what you always do. Turn death into a fighting chance to live.” – Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy

This is the second part of a trilogy of Star Trek films that I refer to as The Genesis Trilogy. It isn’t officially a trilogy but all three films are linked together and happen successively. These films are Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), this film from 1984 and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986). All three films have to deal with the Genesis Project and the consequences of those events.

In this chapter in the film series, we see the beloved crew of the USS Enterprise returning home from their battle with Khan, as well as having just endured the loss of their friend and crewmate Spock. We soon learn that Dr. McCoy has Spock’s mind trapped in his head and that it is Spock’s wish to have his body and mind returned to Vulcan. The crew, lead by Kirk and McCoy, have to stage a mutiny and steal the soon-to-be decommissioned Enterprise from Spacedock. They must return to the Genesis Planet, recover Spock’s body and return him and McCoy to Vulcan. What we also soon discover, is that the Genesis Planet has resurrected Spock but without his mind he is just a living shell. All the while, the crew has to deal with a rogue Klingon commander who wants the power of the Genesis Planet for himself.

This is a film that gets a bad wrap but that is probably because it is wedged between two superior films. Still, The Search for Spock is a damn good Star Trek movie. However, it might not have the impact on a casual fan, as it does for someone who has watched the original television show and been emotionally invested in these characters for a couple decades.

What I love about this picture is that the crew truly comes together as a family like they never have before. They put themselves and their careers in jeopardy all to help a fallen friend fulfill his final wish. I almost get a little teary eyed writing about it.

This film also introduced us to the coolest ship in all of Star Trek lore, the Klingon Bird of Prey. It really is the Millennium Falcon of Star Trek. We also, get our first real look at the Klingons of the ’80s and ’90s, that would have a major impact on the two long running television series Star Trek: The Next GenerationStar Trek: Deep Space Nine and other Star Trek films before the modern J.J. Abrams era.

Christopher Lloyd is absolutely stellar as the Klingon commander Kruge. Without his incredible performance, the Klingons might not have had as prominent of a role going forward. This was my favorite era of Star Trek in films and on television and I feel that Lloyd was instrumental in the shape of it all because he helped make Klingons something different in the best way possible.

At its core, this is a film that comes with its own sense of tragedy but also carries a sweetness with it. The cost of fulfilling the mission is a huge price for the crew to pay, especially Kirk. In the end, the crew gets to see their comrade again but the future is very dark and uncertain. There is a lot of emotional weight here and maybe that’s why the fourth film would be more of a lighthearted comedy after the doom and gloom of TrekII and III.

Leonard Nimoy did a fine job directing this and man, that James Horner score is incredible.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, both nice bookends to this film and all three sort of form a trilogy.