Not a bad set, but Pom Pom Girls is CUT!
Brian T | Canada | 06/05/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"For the price, this is a great way to plug a few holes in your viewing experience if you never saw these during their (often brief) theatrical runs or their (frequently more successful) lifetimes on VHS back in the day.
Couple things first, which have been hinted at in other reviews as well. The two BEST films in the bunch, with the best writing and least forced performances, are THE POM POM GIRLS and THE VAN. However, both are sourced from vastly inferior prints to those used for the double feature of these two films in THE STARLITE DRIVE-IN THEATER: POM POM GIRLS/THE VAN.
POM POM GIRLS looks like it's been through the grindhouse circuit a few hundred times, with green vertical scratches running the length of the frame for most of the film, and several jarring splices. POM POM GIRLS is presented widescreen here, which is probably how it screened in theatres (apparently using this exact print, if the horrible damage is anything to go on! ;) ), but the Starlite Version, which looks a thousand times better, is OPEN MATTE full screen, which means you don't lose any picture information and actually GAIN some at the top and bottom. Worst of all, though, it's CUT BY NEARLY FIVE MINUTES, with nearly all of the female nudity (and there's a fair bit in this film) edited out, and only some of the male nudity (all backsides) left in. Go figure. (perhaps this was a "ladies' night" version?) Best example of the snips is the prep scene for the climactic football championship. In the Starlite version, when the boys suit up for the big game, we see the girls suiting up in their cheerleader outfits at the same time, boobs, buns, bush and all. This 8-pack version of the film eliminates the girls almost entirely and jumps right to a brief scene of two of them, fully dressed, talking to each other in front of a mirror. As well, most of the van-based love scenes are bereft of those gorgeous, natural, 70's bodies.
THE VAN, on the other hand, leaves in the skin, but, like POM POM GIRLS, the print leaves a lot to be desired, especially since it's the same cut seen on the Starlite disc in nearly pristine form. For these two films, both quintessential and often heartfelt low-budget 70's summertime drive-in fixtures, the Starlite Double Feature DVD is the way to go.
The rest of the films in this set are a real mixed bag of Crown International's 80's teen sex romps (most of which you probably saw for decades on your video store shelves but probably couldn't be bothered to actually rent, despite the promise of boobies unleashed within. Most of these (including POM POM GIRLS, but not THE VAN) were produced by crown exec Marilyn J. Tenser, who seemed to have a thing for coming-of-age stories about gawky late teens, often named Bobby, stumbling through one last wild adventure before the onset of adulthood. In this set, "Bobby" is Matt Lattanzi's character in MY TUTOR.
In her 70's productions--not counting her early-70's pseudo-feminist-empowerment-but-really-just-T&A actioners like POLICEWOMEN and SUPERCHICK-- Tenser's leading men (James Daughton's "Bobby" in MALIBU BEACH, Bill Adler's "Bobby" in VAN NUYS BLVD., Robert Carradine and Michael Mullins in POM POM GIRLS, among others) had an effortless, quirky/dorky charm backed up with solid acting chops. By the 80's, her leading men were more likely to look like hairless Sears catalog models with "character" defined by hairstyles, cars and outfits. Thankfully, these bland, interchangeable leads were usually offset by strong, seasoned character actors and firm-bodied women with incredible assets. In nearly ALL of Tenser's 80's oeuvre, the professions practised by her characters (mechanic, French tutor, computer programmer, chauffer) bear virtually no resemblence to the real world, which is why her 70's slackers and "Van-actics" are so much more enjoyable.
Tenser's films in this set are:
MY TUTOR, a pleasant romantic dramedy beautifully lensed by Mac Ahlberg, about a high-school kid named Bobby (Matt Lattanzi) who falls for his french tutor (Karen Caye) during summer lessons at his wealthy father's estate. Lattanzi can act, but his bass-less voice doesn't allow him much range, while Caye does most of the heavy lifting performance-wise and handles much of the film's nudity. Notable mainly as the film debut of Crispin Glover. It's resoundingly obvious that this film landed his breakout role in BACK TO THE FUTURE a couple of years later.
MY CHAUFFER, a would-be blend of 40's screwball comedy and 80's style crass, and it largely works thanks to Deborah Foreman in the title role and a gallery of familiar faces as her disgruntled (and foul) co-workers at the conservative, all-male limo company where she mysteriously lands a job. Female nudity here is provided exclusively by a couple of no-name starlets, while Sam Jones runs naked through a public park in a surprisingly funny sequence. MY CHAUFFER is probably best known today as the film debut of comic magicians Penn & Teller, who flounder here in a self-contained, overlong and not-as-funny-as-they-probably-thought-it-was sequence in which streetwise grifter Penn takes visiting Arabian dignitary (!) Teller for a ride, a fleecing, and some wholesome American prostitute boobies, in Foreman's limo. There's flashes of the duo's future brilliance in this sketch, but you would have been digging for them if you saw this during its theatrical run.
TOMBOY is probably one of the better-remembered films in this set, and a popular VHS rental for many years, though no one would EVER mistake the beautiful (and occasionally, if seemingly grudgingly, topless) Betsy Russell for an auto mechanic based on her thoroughly unconvincing engine-tinkering herein. Jerry Dinome (aka Gerard Christopher) is, a la Marilyn Tenser's apparent tastes, suitably bland as Russell's race car driver love interest, while Eric Douglas, the far less talented of Kirk's boys, overdoes it as Dinome's corporate honcho. Plus, the "stock" cars look pretty cheap for the "national" circuit. But hey, this IS a low-budget T&A film, and thanks to Russell and "bimbo" co-star Kristi Somers, you probably won't be worried about the lack of Nascar-level realism.
WEEKEND PASS is probably the worst film in this set, a tale of four sailors out for one last L.A. fling before moving on with their lives. This plays more often like an episodic travelogue than a fully-formed feature, with far too many sequences of L.A. tourist attractions hyper-edited to the beat of whatever below-mediocre synth-pop tune happens to be playing over yet another montage of the boys driving their jeep around town. Stop-offs include a strip joint where two dancers pop their tops but the featured three-girl act does a SOLID GOLD-style dance routine in front of sailors, bikers and other assorted "strip joint types" without ever removing a piece of clothing; a dyke bar (an easy target wasted); a fitness centre (not funny); the beach (not funny); the ghetto (where the token black sailor gets into a fight with future DIE HARD Agent Johnson Grand L. Bush); a comedy club (not funny, though the pain of bombing in front of a crowd is well-observed); and finally, a party back at the fitness centre that has to be one of the gayest hetero shindigs ever seen on film, with women AND MEN (including some of the leads) in leotards, ripped T's, and leg warmers dancing choreographed routines while the leads confirm their manhood to their new lady-loves. Just . . . strange. Phil Hartman plays the comedy club MC in this, and even HE's not funny.
Not sure what audience Marilyn Tenser was courting with HUNK, but perhaps part of it was probably gay, since body-hair-free John Allen Nelson spends an inordinate amount of time running around in grape smugglers. But then again, there is a fair amount of female skin on display, though it too is strictly limited to bikinis, lingerie, one-pieces (check out Deborah Shelton's smokin' first appearance emerging from the waves) and the like. This WAS a PG film after all, and a surprisingly tolerable one thanks to a decent screenplay (for this genre), a comfortably familiar hook (computer nerd becomes hot stud thanks to a deal with the devil's emissary), and a colourful cast, including a typically campy turn from James Coco as the devil and yet another typically campy turn from Robert Morse as a poofy TV host. Rumour has it that director Laurence Bassoff, director of the horrible but profitable WEEKEND PASS (see above), was given cart blanche on this one, but it feels a bit too well-written to be that spontenous. In fact, WEEKEND PASS feels more like a film without a screenplay than this does. We may never know, since Bassoff ditched directing after this film and turned to writing books about movie posters. Mighty Movies: Movie Poster Art from Hollywood's Greatest Adventure Epics and Spectaculars. Who knew?
The final film in this set is a non-Tenser production called JOCKS, which is about a team of college misfits who trek to Vegas to win the big tennis championship and restore honor to their school. The cross-section is almost unbearably cliched: the handsome but sloppy jock (Scott Strader, who disappeared after this), the preppie (Perry Lang), the Texan charmer (Adam Mills), the "wetback" (Trinidad Silva), the shaggy-haired beast (Donald Gibb) and the Geri-Curled black smooth-talker (Stoney Jackson). No effort was taken to present even reasonably realistic tennis throughout this film (lots of shots of actors hitting the ball "for laughs" but no scenes to suggest convincing gameplay; the balls clearly fly off camera in bizarre directions while the EDITING tries to tell us the balls were ACTUALLY flying over to the opponents!). Then again, no real effort was put into making it funny. Apparently, the filmmakers thought a bunch of "types" and a few seasoned pros acting against type (Christopher Lee, Richard Roundtree, R.G. Armstrong), were all that was needed for comedy gold. A few more breasts, or even an appearance by the hot babe who adorned the film's theatrical poster, would have made this worth watching.
POM POM GIRLS, MY TUTOR, HUNK, TOMBOY, JOCKS, WEEKEND PASS are all presented widescreen in this collection (though POM POM is actually MATTED widescreen). THE VAN and MY CHAUFFER are presented FULL SCREEN. No extras or chapter stops (!!!) are provided for any of the films.
As a warning, and further to information provided by an earlier reviewer here, the discs in these 8-Movie collections are prone to coming off the hubs during shipping, resulting in the potential for a fair amount of scratches. This was the case with all four sets I ordered (this one, MAXIMUM ACTION, AFTER DARK THRILLERS and DRIVE-IN CULT CLASSICS). If you do order these, don't bet on reselling them later. Then again, for the price . . ."
Anthony J. Adam | 04/24/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of those times when the reviewer really needs to note "buyer beware." The titles collected here are pretty much Grade Z (or sometimes slightly above) teen comedies of the 70s and early 80s, but the quality of the product itself is problematic. For example, THE POM POM GIRLS looks like it was transferred directly from an old VHS copy, and MY CHAUFFEUR is missing one entire scene (the walk through the desert), with no explanation. On the plus side, many of the faces here are familiar--Sam Jones, Robert Carradine, Deborah Foreman, Penn & Teller--so if you need to waste an hour and a half some night, pop in one of these."
Great Collection of teenage fodder.
D. Wright | Cyberspace | 11/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When I purchased this set, I was looking at the titles "My Tutor", "Tomboy", and "My Chauffer" which were sorta popular in the early 80's. These titles alone made the price reasonable on this package. The film "Jocks" was great for a first screeening; however, there are two films on this package that just plain suck. "Pom-Pom Girls" and "The Van" may have their place in 70's icon fodder, but they suck on this set of films. Wished this set contained a few more USA Up All Night standards such as "H.O.T.S.", "Hollywood Hot Tubs".......however it does not. A great find if you are a fan of classic teenage B-Movies.
The 8 movies on this set are...
(7.5) My Tutor
(6.0) My Chauffeur
(???) Weekend Pass
(3.0) The Pom Pom Girls
(2.1) The Van"