Category Archives: 1986 Films

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off-1986

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off-1986

Director John Hughes

Starring Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck

Scott’s Review #1,396

Reviewed September 7, 2023

Grade: B

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) is one of the best-known of the John Hughes collection featuring 1980s teen, coming-of-age comedies. On par with The Breakfast Club (1985) and Pretty in Pink (1986) in name recognition memory banks especially for teenagers growing up in this decade.

Iconic moments like Ben Stein’s teacher’s monotone attendance roll call the name ‘Bueller’ repeatedly, and the term ‘Save Ferris’, which became the name of an alternative rock band, are legendary.

The film has its moments of creativity and Matthew Broderick’s portrayal of the title character was charming and star-making. Watching the film, though, decades later the slapstick feels overwhelming to the drama and there isn’t much angst like other Hughes films.

There isn’t much deeper meaning besides one day to skip school and have an adventure.

This makes Ferris Bueller’s Day Off fun and lighthearted but silly in comparison to more mature Hughes efforts. The film is about being young, free, and having fun but not much more, and the hijinks between the students and the authority figures sometimes feel tired.

Ferris Bueller (Broderick) is brilliant at skipping school and getting away with it despite being an intelligent student. He causes the high school principal Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) much irritation and the ultimate pursuit to catch Ferris in the act.

The young man plans one final outing before graduation with best pal Cameron (Alan Ruck) and his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara).  They ‘borrow’ Cam’s father’s expensive Ferrari and journey through the streets of Chicago.

Ferris’s sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey) seethes with rage at her brother’s antics while their successful but dimwitted parents Katie (Cindy Pickett) and Tom (Lyman Ward) remain clueless.

The superior aspects of the film are the frequent sites of Chicago and Broderick himself which raise the film above mediocrity decades after its initial release.

Broderick followed his contemporaries like Michael J. Fox and Emilio Estevez as the cool and likable all-American boy next door. His performance makes the film better than it might have been and the fun is watching him outwit rivals like the principal and other villains he encounters.

Hughes creates a nice ‘day in the life’ style that follows the characters from early morning until evening which keeps the events contained well.

A high point of the film and where it picks up steam is when the gang gets to Chicago. We suspect the teenagers, while they skip school via fibs, merely have a case of ‘senioritis’ and otherwise are superior students. This is confirmed by the sophisticated and intellectually stimulating places they visit.

They indulge in lunch at a swanky French restaurant and visit the worldly Art Institute of Chicago for good old-fashioned culture. Not to appear too snobby they hobnob with blue-collar folks at an afternoon Cubs baseball game.

Where Ferris Bueller’s Day Off feels dated is with the ditziness of Ferris’s parents. The teen easily bamboozles his parents with his feigned illness and when his father notices Ferris in a nearby taxi cab he shrugs it off as his imagination.

The most laughable instance of the parent’s cluelessness is when mom Katie, in the passenger seat, appears not to notice her son running in front of their car when sister Jeanie slams on the brakes. She instead scolds Jeanie for driving recklessly.

These and other setups involving the over-the-top principal feel more like cliches than genuine laugh-out-loud moments. But this was common in 1980s comedies.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) feels fresh in some parts but dated in others making the experience humorous but hardly legendary. Whereas The Breakfast Club holds up very well this film doesn’t as much.

Pretty in Pink-1986

Pretty in Pink-1986

Director Howard Deutch

Starring Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy, Jon Cryer

Scott’s Review #1,376

Reviewed July 10, 2023

Grade: B+

A superior grade of ‘B+’ may surprise some who know that I’m not a big fan of generic 1980s films, romantic comedies, or dramas.

Formulaic or nostalgic doesn’t always sit well with me but I was baited hook, line, and sinker for an implausible coming of age sweet story.

Pretty in Pink (1986) and its writer John Hughes epitomizes the 1980s and teen angst films in general but looking beneath the surface the film has a lot of heart.

Star Molly Ringwald was the ‘it’ girl of the decade perfectly portraying the girl next door facing the trials and tribulations ordinary sixteen-year-olds faced.

Of course, my favorite Hughes film is The Breakfast Club (1985), also starring Ringwald but Pretty in Pink is hardly as daring as that film. It’s softer and kinder with a lovely message of individuality and romance.

The film’s secret weapon is the spectacular musical soundtrack featuring among other songs the groovy title track by Psychedelic Furs and the mega-hit ballad ‘If You Leave’ by Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark.

Andie (Ringwald) is an outcast at her Midwest USA high school. From a working-class household with an unemployed father (Harry Dean Stanton) and an absent mother she makes her clothes and has an individual fashion sense.

She’s not exactly popular with the bitchy and materialistic cheerleaders.

She works at a record store for her older boss and friend Iona (Annie Potts) and is usually seen with her best friend and fellow outcast Duckie (Jon Cryer), who has a crush on her.

When one of the rich and famous kids at school, Blane (Andrew McCarthy), asks Andie out, it seems too good to be true. As Andie starts falling for Blane, she begins to realize that dating someone from a different social class has its challenges.

Pretty in Pink has a few different angles going on including a social sphere, a romantic triangle, and conformity.

The triangle is ultimately divisive. Should Andie choose a best friend and confidante Ducky or Blane, the boy she truly is smitten with? Her choice has divided audiences since the film was released decades ago.

She has so much in common with Ducky who also has blue-collar roots but her heart belongs to Blane who could offer her so much more. Andie is headed for University and couldn’t Blane be proper sophistication for her?

I’m on team Blane.

Strangely and offputting is Ducky. Meant to be cute he all but harasses Andie, smothering her and pressuring her. His repeated phone calls would make me run the other way.

Social class is a wise topic explored and one that many audiences can relate to. The classic upper-class boy falls in love with a working-class girl and family and friend pressures develop.

Hughes doesn’t delve too much into the upper-middle-class parents but only into the students which I find interesting. The character of Steff (James Spader) is the villain antagonizing Andie because he can’t get her into bed.

Andie inspired and continues to inspire teenage girls everywhere who refuse to conform to norms and standards. The film offers a strong female character with real emotions and hopes, fears, and dreams.

Thanks to an outstanding performance by Ringwald we see all her emotions and a beautiful dynamic forms between father and daughter.

The conclusion of the film (related to the triangle) occurs at the high school prom where a jilted Andie attends alone. A quick sequence where she reconnects with a character is very rushed and the film ends quickly.

Unsurprisingly, this is the result of the finale being re-written at the last minute after the original ending didn’t go over well with test audiences.

There is something to be said for the writer and director having complete creative control but sadly this isn’t the case in Pretty in Pink and the audience can see the void.

Pretty in Pink (1986) may scream ‘1980s film’ and the tacky hairstyles and outfits that go along with the decade and the genre but the messages relayed hit their marks.

Though dated in some ways the film is timeless in others.

Back to School-1986

Back to School-1986

Director Alan Metter

Starring Rodney Dangerfield, Keith Gordon, Sally Kellerman

Scott’s Review #1,089

Reviewed December 7, 2020

Grade: B

Back to School (1986) is a formulaic, mid-1980s comedy featuring obnoxiously loud funnyman, Rodney Dangerfield, the comedian you may love to hate.

On paper, this film might have been a train wreck, but some proper pacing and good casting save it from being classified as a drivel. Let’s be clear- it’s not great filmmaking, but it serves a purpose- to amuse and delight.

A vehicle for Dangerfield with a character mirroring his real personality, the film works. With a brisk one hour and thirty-six minutes, the film sticks to the script, not wasting time getting its point across, nor pretending to be some serious film with a clever message.

No, there is little special or inventive about the film, but it’s light, entertaining fun.

The premise, a middle-aged man who returns to college and tries to persevere, is a setup rife with standard situations and comedic moments.

Director, Alan Metter, known for gag films, one of his most notable, and big studios, Orion, takes full advantage of the task at hand. They provide a mainstream, summer popcorn flick approach.

Presumably, the story was conjured up by a group tasked with crafting an appropriate story for Dangerfield, and they succeeded.

The film delivers what it sets out to.

This might be a nice, nostalgic watch for parents and soon-to-be college-bound kids to watch together.

Thornton Melon (Dangerfield) is a wealthy corporate tycoon who wants his son, Jason (Keith Gordon) to get the college education that Thornton was unable to receive. While Jason is enrolled in college, he is unhappy and ready to quit. Thornton decides to enroll in the same college, determined to achieve his respect.

Jason tries to fit in with his peers while Thornton falls in love with his literature professor, the sophisticated Dr. Diane Turner (Sally Kellerman) while feuding with the college dean, David Martin (Ned Beatty).

Predictably, Thornton is hardly the college type, so he pays others to write his papers for him, which is all the fuel that the dean needs to ruin him. He also attends parties and raucous events, preferring these to study groups. Thornton is eventually found out and forced to pass an exam to prove himself.

A more straight-ahead approach would have been to make Thornton an unsuccessful man, making his need to return to school more important, and the desire for his son to obtain a college education more powerful, but this might have made Back to School too serious a film.

We can ponder why Thornton joining Jason in college will do anything but alienate the kid, and we can ask ourselves why Jason is bullied by the swim team. He is a nice, likable kid, and students aren’t typically bullied in college- this is more a junior high or high school torture.

There’s also little reason Diane would have a romantic interest in Thornton, and clichéd characters like the dean and Thornton’s bitchy ex-wife, Vanessa (Adrienne Barbeau) surface along the way.

But, Back to School isn’t a film to be overanalyzed either.

On the positive side, the chemistry between Dangerfield and Kellerman is a nice addition, not feeling as forced as it might have. They flow through their scenes with a light-hearted innocence.

The father and son relationship is a success. Gordon’s brooding counterbalances Dangerfield’s over-the-top nature, so they possess differing personalities.

I’m not sure Back to School (1986) has the legs to be remembered very well. Too similar to other successful comedies of the late 1970s and early 1980s like Porky’s (1981) or Animal House (1978) to stand out, the film is for fans of Dangerfield only.

Perhaps served up as an opening act to the better and much funnier Caddyshack (1980), one of the best genre films of the decade.

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives-1986

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives-1986

Director Tom McLoughlin

Starring Thom Mathews, Jennifer Cooke

Scott’s Review #1,074

Reviewed October 26, 2020

Grade: B-

Due to the fan outrage that surrounded Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985), a film I thought was decent, the powers that be decided that a return to form was in order, quickly resurrecting Jason in the corniest of ways.

Re-discovering the “real Jason” is not the worst idea in the world but the execution is not there and I’m not crazy about the introduction of “superhuman” Jason.

How is anyone supposed to ever kill him?

Adding comedy and children is okay with me but both ideas largely fall flat when paired with inadequate acting and gimmicky sitcom situations with no character development. There is no time invested in getting to know any of the characters.

The heavy metal soundtrack, featuring the music of Alice Cooper, is the best part.

The film isn’t helped by a slicker 1980s visual look though this does come with better production values.

Not the greatest of all the Fridays.

The chapter gets off to a compelling start when Tommy (Thom Mathews) and his friend Allen Hawes (Ron Palillo- yes, Horshack from the Welcome Back Kotter television series) trudge through the rain and mud back to Camp Crystal Lake to finally bury Tommy’s demons.

Fans of the series will recall that Tommy did a stint in Pinehurst Halfway House and a pretend Jason went on a killing spree to avenge his son’s death.

The friends dig up the grave of Jason. The murderer is struck by lightning and magically comes back to life, killing Allen. Tommy spends the rest of the film trying to warn the town that Jason is alive and well and back on a deadly rampage.

The camp has been renamed to the more pleasant-sounding Forest Green to make people forget that numerous killings have ever taken place. This seems to have worked as a busload of kids flock to the camp for a summer of fun along with the usual batch of camp counselors in tow.

To the film’s credit, like with its predecessor, there is a black character, this time a counselor named Sissy Baker (Renee Jones), and some of the child characters offer different ethnicities.

The diversity and inclusiveness are to be admired, but unfortunately for Sissy, she is dragged through a window and savagely beheaded.

Jason kindly spares the kids.

I like how there is consistency in keeping the main character Tommy Jarvis, albeit with a different actor. We’ll probably never know why it was decided to recast John Shepherd with Thom Mathews, but the actors look enough alike to avoid too much confusion.

Like Shepherd, Mathews possesses a wounded look which makes the casting adequate.

There is a rooting quality to Tommy especially as he faces adversity with the police department. Sheriff Garris and Deputy Rick are played purely as foils and are a roadblock to capturing Jason.

Any attempt at romantic chemistry between Tommy and Megan (Jennifer Cooke) falls flat because there simply isn’t any between the actors, try as they might. Neither are the best actors in the world (not a requirement for the horror genre) but do have the right, fresh-faced look warranted to be cast.

Megan is the only person who believes Tommy as they race to the camp to stop and kill Jason.

The rest of the film is more of the same and offers no surprises except for more humor. A coked-up pair having sex in a motorhome and a group of corporate types on a paintball outing are examples of this. The four “suits” beheaded by a machete are the best part of the otherwise campy and obnoxious sequence.

The rest of the characters are killed off systematically with nothing especially interesting to add to the film.

Writer and director Tom McLoughlin attempts to revitalize the aging series and genre with more special effects and techniques and does little else to freshen his characters. It would have been nice to get to know some of them better.

By 1986 the slasher film needed rest and Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives is a dull entry in the series catalog.

There is nothing terrible about the film, nor is there anything memorable either.

Stand By Me-1986

Stand By Me-1986

Director Rob Reiner

Starring Will Wheaton, River Phoenix

Scott’s Review #752

Reviewed May 2, 2018

Grade: A

Stand By Me (1986), is a sweet, coming-of-age story that every male  (or female for that matter) who grew up in small-town America will undoubtedly relate to.

Set mostly outdoors in the remote Pacific Northwest, the film successfully shows the deep bonds of friendships over the course of a Labor Day weekend as four youths set out on an adventure of discovery.

In 1986 I was able to completely relate to the film and in present-day Stand By Me holds up quite well.

Stephen King, a tremendous author known mostly for horror novels, created a short story named The Body in 1982- Stand By Me is based on this story.

Instead of traditional horror, however, the story is more of a straight-up adventure, though in pure King style- a dead body is front and center (naturally).

Stand By Me is directed by Rob Reiner, and its success led to other mainstream achievements for Reiner (1989’s When Harry Met Sally and 1990’s Misery- also a King novel). The legendary theme song by Ben E. King plays over the closing credits and became a smash hit again in 1986.

The film starts intriguingly as the main character, Gordie, as an adult, learns that his childhood friend Chris Chambers has tragically been stabbed to death. Gordie then narrates a flashback to the summer of 1959 when he and three other boys embarked on a childhood adventure on Labor Day weekend.

Along with Gordie (Will Wheaton), we meet Chris (River Phoenix) a rebellious boy with a troubled home life, Teddy (Corey Feldman), who is scarred as a result of being burned by his mentally ill father, and Vern (Jerry O’Connell)  an overweight kid insecure about his looks.

The wonderful aspect of Stand By Me is that each of the four central characters is flawed either physically or by some other insecurity-giving depth to each character. Each character is highly empathetic to an audience member who may see him or herself in these characters.

This point carries through for the entire length of the film. Through conversational scenes with one another, each weakness is exposed and dissected- Teddy becomes vulnerable about his relationship with his father when a character refers to him as “loony”.

Vern’s weight bothers him, and Chris aspires to be so much more than people anticipate he will ever become.

Not to be weighed down by too many dramatic elements, Stand By Me incorporates much-needed humor into its story. My favorite sequence is the delightful story in which Godie regales the other boys one night as they camp outdoors.

Town legend has it that a rotund picked on a boy nicknamed “Lard-Ass” enacts the perfect revenge on the townspeople one summer as he enters a pie-eating contest resulting in a torrent of vomiting.

This scene is very well shot by Reiner and brilliantly balances the differing tones of the film all the while nestled in a connecting package.

The film belongs to the young actors each of whom is cast extremely well. Of course, Corey Feldman and River Phoenix went on to major success in the 1980s.

Phoenix who tragically died in 1993, and Feldman, who suffered through numerous problems in his short career, are forever youthful with promise and poise in this film.

In Phoenix’s case, he seemed most on course for leading man status with his dashing youthful looks and clean-cut appearance. Watching in later years it is bittersweet to watch both actors and recollect the promise of each.

Mixing both drama and comedy but at its core, a true adventure story best watched on a summer evening, Stand By Me (1985) is memorable and poignant. The setting of late summer, outdoorsy camping, and green scenery is resilient and stands the test of time.

Anyone who has embarked on a good journey as a kid or formulated everlasting memories of those from their youth (which should be all of us) can appreciate this timeless gem.

Oscar Nominations: Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: Best Feature, Best Director-Rob Reiner, Best Screenplay

A Room with a View-1986

A Room with a View-1986

Director James Ivory

Starring Helena Bonham Carter, Julian Sands

Scott’s Review #695

Reviewed November 3, 2017

Grade: B+

A Room with a View (1986) is one of four major films to be based on famed British author E.M. Forster’s novels- Howards End (1992) and A Passage to India (1986), and Maurice (1987) being the other three.

The foursome contains common elements such as the vast English countryside and class distinctions, leading to heartaches and passion.

In the case of A Room with a View, the film traverses from artistic Florence, Italy to a cozy village in England.

The film is a period drama mixed with lots of authentic, unforced, good humor and at its core is a solid romantic drama, though if compared with the aforementioned other films, is not quite on par, though is still an entertaining watch- given the dismal year of cinema circa 1986.

The film was considered one of the best releases that particular year and was awarded a handful of Oscar nominations- winning Costume Design, Adapted Screenplay, and Art Direction.

Cultured and oftentimes brooding, Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter), goes on holiday to Florence with her rigid and conventional older cousin Charlotte (Maggie Smith), who also serves as her chaperone.

While enjoying the artistry of the European city, Lucy meets and falls madly in love with free-spirited George Emerson (Julian Sands), who is also visiting Florence with his easy-going father, Mr. Emerson (Denholm Elliott).

The men seem oblivious to Lucy’s (and Charlotte’s) Victorian-era upbringing, which attracts Lucy and appalls Charlotte.

Months later, the would-be lovers reunite in England and spend time averting obstacles thwarting their love, while admitting to themselves that their love is blossoming.

As Lucy has become engaged to snobbish Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day-Lewis), a sophisticate deemed suitable by her family to marry Lucy, the pair lacks the romantic connection that she shares with George.

Day-Lewis, on the cusp of becoming a breakout star and brilliant talent, gives Cecil a somewhat comical, yet endearing persona, that makes him the main foil, but also breathes sympathy into the character. This is especially evident during the Lucy/Cecil break-up scene.

The standout performance in A Room with a View is the comic brilliance of Smith as the manipulative and witty, Charlotte Bartlett, and this is evident throughout.

Smith injects vigor and comic wit into her character, as Charlotte seemingly makes one blunder after the other in the self-deprecating way she manages to use to her advantage to humorously manipulate other characters into doing things her way.

A risqué and quite hysterical all-male frontal nudity scene occurs mid-way through the film and, while not advancing the plot in any way, steals the entire film in its homoerotic and free-spirited way.

As the Reverend, young George, and Lucy’s energetic brother, Freddy, walk along a beautiful path, they decide to skinny dip in a pond where they horseplay and wrestle with each other completely in the buff.

As they chase each other around the pond, grab each other, and lightly smack bottoms, one cannot help but wonder if this scene set the tone for 1987’s gay-themed period piece based on another E.M. Forster novel, called Maurice.

A coincidence? I think not. As the trio of rascals come upon the properly dressed girls on the path, hilarity takes over the scene.

The art direction and costumes are of major excellence to A Room with a View as the film “looks” like a 1910 period rather than seeming like it is 1986 with the actors donning early twentieth-century styles.

Every scene is a treat from this perspective as we wonder who will wear what attire in the next scene.

As with the other aforementioned E.M. Forster films, class distinctions, and expectations are a major element in A Room with a View and make Lucy and George all the more likable as a couple.

Still, from an overall standpoint, there is something slightly amiss in the story department.

I did not find Helena Bonham Carter, an actor I like, overall very compelling as Lucy, and I think this leads to the story being slightly less than it might have with another in the role.

We may root for Lucy and George, but if the pair do not wind up together it is more of a pity rather than a travesty.

To summarize A Room with a View, the story is good, not great, and other key components to the film are much better than the central love story of Lucy and George but are therefore secondary to the main action.

Given a Charlotte romance, the film’s best character, that would have catapulted this film to the exceptional grade. Imagine the possibilities.

Or more of the two Miss Alan’s and their gossipy nature, or even a story to the rugged nude horseplay among men.

Many of the aspects that could have made A Room with a View (1986) great, were too often on the sidelines.

Oscar Nominations: 3 wins-Best Picture, Best Director-James Ivory, Best Supporting Actor-Denholm Elliott, Best Supporting Actress-Maggie Smith, Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (won), Best Art Direction (won), Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design (won)

April Fool’s Day-1986

April Fool’s Day-1986

Director Fred Walton

Starring Amy Steel, Jay Baker

Scott’s Review #498


Reviewed October 24, 2016

Grade: B-

Emerging at the tail end of the late 1970s and early 1980s slasher film craze that encompassed that period in cinema (for better or worse), April Fool’s Day (1986) capitalized on the “holiday theme” marketing tool that escalated Halloween and Black Christmas to superstar ranks.

Unfortunately, for this film, it is not a traditional horror flick, in that it has plenty of comic elements, but also contains the standard slasher characteristics, thereby making it a blockbuster failure.

It does not know what its identity truly is.

From a story perspective, the film has one great twist but otherwise suffers from mediocre writing and unmemorable characters that nobody cares about.

We are treated to an ensemble of actors, most of the unknown variety, except for horror maven Amy Steel, (Friday the 13th Part 2), who portrays Kit, arguably the most relatable of the female characters.

A clever facet, weaved by director Fred Walton, is the casting of eight principals in April Fool’s Day, all with similar amounts of screen time, rather than one obvious “final girl” surrounded by minor characters, who we know will be offed.

The set-up is all too familiar in the slasher genre- the group of college-aged kids escapes mundane life for a spring break weekend getaway at their wealthy classmates, Muffy St. John’s, island estate.

Conveniently, her family is away- leaving the friends to have the run of the mansion, with a dinner party as part of the plan. Even more convenient is that the ferry the group takes does not run on weekends, so once they are dropped off at the island, they stay until Monday.

This sense of foreshadowing gets the anticipated peril and dread going.

We also sense that there is something very off with Muffy- despite being everyone’s friend. When Muffy finds a jack-in-the-box stored in her attic and has a childhood recollection, we know this is the set-up to the mystery.

Is she mentally unstable? Is someone out to get Muffy for a childhood prank or event that once occurred?

Since it is April Fool’s Day weekend, the groups spend most of the film playing pranks and amateurish jokes on each other (a whoopee cushion, an exploding cigar), mixed with a dash of intrigue- someone is leaving trails of history as part of the jokes.

One girl had an abortion, so the prankster leaves an audiotape of a baby crying. In another room, heroin paraphernalia is left for someone with a former drug habit.

Slowly, one by one, the college kids disappear, but is it just a hoax? Or is the hoax just a hoax?

The final twenty minutes or so is really the main reason to watch this film. As Kit and boyfriend Rob is the last remaining “alive” there is suddenly a startling twist that changes the entire dynamic of the film- in one moment everything the audience thinks of the story is turned upside down-this is wise writing, but comes too late in the game.

Sadly, some parts of the film are downright silly and most of the characters are of the stock variety- the flirtatious blonde, the obnoxious jocks, the stuck-up preppy, which ruins the creative twist that is aforementioned.

With glimpses of genius and striving for something more clever than the standard, run-of-the-mill 1980s horror film, April Fool’s Day (1986) has some potential but ultimately winds up with something missing.

Reform School Girls-1986

Reform School Girls-1986

Director Tom DeSimone

Starring Linda Carol, Wendy O. Williams, Pat Ast

Top 100 Films-#100

Scott’s Review #348


Reviewed January 9, 2016

Grade: A

Let’s be honest here- Reform School Girls (1986) is neither a work of cinema art nor a particularly well-acted film.

From a critic’s perspective, it is riddled with stereotypes and objectifies women.

Still, it’s one of my favorite guilty pleasures and has an offbeat charm that makes me want to watch the film over and over again. I never tire of it. I also don’t think it should be reviled, but rather, revered.

There is a perverse magnificence to the film and some similarities to another cult gem- Russ Myers’s Faster Pussycat, Kill!… Kill! (1965)

Critics be damned- not every film needs to be high art!

One of my absolute favorite cult actresses, Pat Ast, famous for another cult gem, 1972’s Heat, stars in Reform School Girls as a vicious prison guard.

Alongside punk rocker turned actress, Wendy O. Williams, they make the film a guilty masterpiece as both women bring their share of odd energy and humor to the flick.

Sybil Danning co-stars as the corrupt Warden Sutter.

The plot of the film is pretty straightforward and it screams late-night fun.

A virginal teenage girl named Jenny is sent to a reform school run by the sinister warden and her sadistic and abusive henchwoman, Edna (Ast). While there, Jenny is intimidated by Charlie (Williams), who rules the roost via bullying and threats. Jenny is accompanied by several other terrified girls, who are stripped and degraded by Edna.

This leads to an attempted escape and protest scene by the girls and others as they try to remove themselves from their tormentors.

Reform School Girls is simply great fun.

The poor acting is actually a strength of the film as one scantily clad female after another prance around the reform school.

Wendy O. Williams regularly wears skimpy panties, bra, and heels, and is laughable playing a teenager since the actress was pushing forty years old.

The culmination of the film is fantastic as a chase ends up by an enormous tower on the grounds of the prison, resulting in the deaths of Charlie and Edna in a dramatic fashion.

Edna’s charred remains are met by an uproar of cheers by the inmates- I half expected them to burst into a chorus of “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead”.

Reform School Girls (1986) is a perfect cult classic to enjoy on a late Saturday night.

Blue Velvet-1986

Blue Velvet-1986

Director David Lynch

Starring Kyle MacLachlan, Laura Dern

Top 100 Films #62

Scott’s Review #343


Reviewed January 9, 2016

Grade: A

Taken from a 1963 Bobby Vinton tune of the same name, Blue Velvet (1986) is an independent thriller noir film directed by the master of the weird and the unusual, David Lynch.

It is surreal in look and so mysterious- almost a pre-cursor to Lynch’s fantastic television series, Twin Peaks. I adore the film and find new facets to it with each passing viewing.

Though it’s not an easy or mainstream watch- the payoff can be big and you know you are watching a deep, layered, film.

The story can be tough to completely understand with only one show, but it goes something like this- Under the guise of a cheerful, suburban surface, evil is lurking somewhere. College student, Jeffrey (MacLachlan) discovers a severed human ear lying in an abandoned lot delivers it to police detective John Williams, and reconnects with the detective’s daughter, Sandy (Dern).

Sandy, being privy to secret information about the case, reveals that a mysterious woman, Dorothy Valens (Isabella Rossellini) resides in an apartment key to the case. Jeffrey and Sandy decide to investigate further and get themselves in over their heads as the mystery deepens.

The dreamlike quality of the film is very compelling and intriguing. Layers upon layers come to the forefront as the story unfolds and very few answers are ever provided- this adds to the mystery and is really the point of the film.

Many aspects are open to interpretation.

The relationship between Jeffrey and the much older Dorothy is fascinating, but what about his chemistry with the innocent Sandy? And who is the Yellowman? When the youngsters see Dorothy perform “Blue Velvet” at her nightclub, it is a great moment in the film.

The character of Frank Booth, played by Dennis Hopper, must be one of the strangest in film history as the man is maniacal and bizarre beyond measure. With his unusual sexual tastes- he enjoys inhaling gas, and sadomasochism, he is a unique character. He is also quite abusive to Dorothy.

The film is a throwback to classic film noir from the 1950s and a clear femme fatale in Dorothy is central to the film.

I find the film so compelling since its subject matter is secrets. Many secrets and dark corruption or various forms of left-of-center dealings reside in this small North Carolina town- it is the audience’s challenge to put all the pieces of this puzzle together.

Oscar Nominations: Best Director-David Lynch

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: 1 win-Best Feature, Best Director-David Lynch, Best Male Lead-Dennis Hopper, Best Female Lead-Isabella Rossellini (won), Laura Dern, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography



Director James Cameron

Starring Sigourney Weaver

Scott’s Review #80


Reviewed June 29, 2014

Grade: B+

Aliens (1986) takes away the rawness of the original Alien (1979) and infuses a glossier, slick look to the film franchise.

The film was made eight years later, but story-wise, it is set fifty-seven years into the future when Ripley, played to perfection by Sigourney Weaver, awakens.

To her horror, she discovers that the aliens have colonized and she is forced to return to prevent havoc. The militia is in tow, adding a helping of masculinity that supports the film throughout.

This scenario perfectly sets up what is to become an excellent sci-fi adventure story.

There are wonderful special effects that were quite extraordinary when the film was shot-1986. The tunnels and spacecraft are perfectly lit and designed, giving it a bright and fun setting and the audience knows that doom is lurking.

The actual aliens are visually frightening and, compared to the original, are more plentiful.

Sigourney Weaver takes center stage and leads this film successfully.

I’m not sure many other actresses could pull off her level of authentic toughness and give no sex appeal in the process and successfully get away with it.

The only detraction to the film is it seems a bit dated in a purely 1980s film way. It has an 80’s look to it and that’s not a positive.

Not on par with the excellent original Alien, but otherwise, a well-made, supernatural, thrill ride.

Oscar Nominations: 2 wins-Best Actress-Sigourney Weaver, Best Original Score, Best Sound Effects Editing (won), Best Sound, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects (won)