In my previous "Alternate Takes" article, I was criticized for picking obscure and eclectic topics. I hope that I can repair some of the damage with this next list.
To begin with, I'm making this list because of one topic: The hole in the ozone layer. This doesn't strike me as a uniquely 80s thing. We've been hearing people on all sides of the political spectrum ranting about this for over 2 decades now. When I think of the 80s, I think of pop-culture...for the most part.
With that, here are 10 more topics they could've (and should've) covered on the 1985 episode of "I Love The 80s 3-D".
1.) "Desperately Seeking Susan" and "Vision Quest". I grouped these 2 together because of one common link: Madonna. Many people have criticized her acting over the course of the years, but she was good at it a long time ago.
"Vision Quest" stars Matthe Modine as a young high-school wrestler who learns about life and love from an older woman played by Linda Fiorentino. Madonna's role in this movie is that of a bar singer. She performs the sterling ballad "Crazy For You", one of my personal favorites and also a favorite of soft-rock stations. The song was so popular that this movie was called "Crazy For You" in Europe. I've never seen the movie, but I probably should.
Side note: Matthew Modine plays the younger man and Linda Fiorentino the older woman. Interestingly, though, Modine is older than Fiorentino by a year. He was born in 1959 while she was born in 1960. Hey, you two, act your age!
We now come to "Desperately Seeking Susan". The movie is about a New Jersey woman named Roberta Glass (Rosanna Arquette). The wife of a hot tub and spa super-salesman, the only joy in her life comes from reading the classifieds and following the adventures of a woman named Susan, who always meets her boyfriend in New York City. Roberta spies on one such meeting and, through a bump on the head and, to quote Wikipedia, "mistaken identity", ends up walking among the cool people and places of mid-80s New York City. It's been a while since I've seen the movie, so that's really all that I can remember on my own.
Anyway, I chose this movie because it captures a sense of style and time, as well as one of Madonna's only good performances. From what I remember, there was several very self-referential moments, especially in one scene where Susan is dancing in a club while Madonna's hit "Into The Groove" is playing. The movie is her showcase, although it technically has Rosanna Arquette in the lead. Both of them look swell, and there's even a little nudity from Arquette, who had one of the hottest bodies in the 80s.
What could they talk about? Madonna's acting ability, the fashions, and the pyramid jackets all come immediately to mind.
2.) Richard Ramirez and his 1985 killing spree.
They talked about Bernie Goetz in the 1985 episode, but he was small-time compared to Richard Ramirez. Although he committed his first murder in 1984, 1985 saw him go big-time with a whopping 12 murders (13, if you count the woman he beat who later died of her injuries). Now, before you think that I'm coming to this man's defense, I think that he's a fucking psycho...But a cool fucking psycho. He would be great to talk about, firstly because he's into heavy metal legends like AC/DC and Judas Priest, and secondly for this reason...Women love him. The guy killed women for the most part, but he just has this animal magnetism about him that draws women to him. Maybe it's because he's Hispanic, but either way, if a lunatic like him can be a babe magnet, then you definitely have a lot to talk about.
3.) "To Live And Die In L.A"
Speaking of psychos, here's a tremendously underrated action thriller. The movie is about a federal agent named Richard Chance (William Petersen). A real walk-around-the-edges type, his partner is murdered by a counterfeiter/painter named Rick/Eric Masters (Willem Dafoe). Partnered with a relatively younger Fed named John Vukovich (John Pankow), Chance makes it his mission to track down Masters, eventually flirting with the criminal element himself.
It may seem like your average action movie, but it has a different feel about it. These are brutal characters we're dealing with. Chance may seem like the hero, but what kind of a hero would tell his girlfriend/snitch this line:
"Uncle Sam doesn't give a shit about your problems. You want bread? Go fuck a baker!"
That's some pretty rough dialogue and there's much more like it in the movie.
It isn't really Petersen's show, though.
Dafoe cuts a vile portrait as Masters. The character has no hesitation about shooting people in the face (which we see several times), a self-loathing streak (he's a great painter, but he burns his works), and an androgynous, bi-sexual girlfriend named Bianca (Debra Feuer, pictured with Dafoe in the above photo). As Masters and Chance orbit into each other's circles, it's hard to tell who's good and who's bad.
What could they talk about? Well, there's a killer car chase against traffic. It'll have you on the edge of your seat when you see it. There's the aforementioned scenes of people having their faces blown off. Finally, there's the score by Wang Chung. Many people associate this group with the annoying song "Everybody Have Fun Tonight", but there's more to them than that, and this score is a perfect example. It captures L.A's frenzy and sleaze, but makes it seem attractive at the same time.
Also, the name Wang Chung could make for some great dick jokes.
Let's lighten the mood a little. Before he was known as an action hero and a cuckold, Bruce Willis played wise-cracking detective David Addison on the show "Moonlighting". It debuted in 1985 and became one of the most well-known shows of the 80s. The plot was set up in a pilot movie:
Maddie Hayes (Cybill Sheppard [sp?]) was a famous model (much like Sheppard herself in real life). Things were going good for her until financial turmoil stripped her of practically all her assets. The lone business she had left was the Blue Moon Detective Agency. Her business manager cut her in on this business in the midst of her career. She came to take charge of the company, which was doing really bad business. The man currently in charge was David Addison (Willis), a one-man-show who always was making jokes and singing old R&B songs. The first case Maddie became involved with was a murder case with several valuables involved, including a wristwatch and diamonds. When the case was solved, the business truly began.
This led to the series, which was well-known for sexual tension and jokes of both self-referential and fourth-wall-breaking natures. David and Maddie would often talk to the camera or complain about how the network was treating the show. It really heated up in the second season, but I decided to put in 1985 because the primary cast was already in place.
What could be talked about? The sexual tension, the self-awareness and, most importantly, the character of Agnes DiPesto.
DiPesto, played by Allyce Beasley, was the agency's receptionist. Her main characteristic was a great sense of rhyme. Every time someone would dial the agency, she had a quick poem on tap to tell what the agency did, or what they were good at doing at the moment. I've often wondered what it would sound like if you set the rhythm track of Chic's "Good Times" to DiPesto's poems. That's something they could talk about.
5.) "Krush Groove"
Speaking of rhymes, let's talk a bit about "Krush Groove". The plot is simple: It's a fictionalized account of the rise of Def Jam Records. Blair Underwood plays Russell Walker, a fictionalized version of Russell Simmons, and all the following people play themselves:
-The Fat Boys
-LL Cool J
-The Beastie Boys
A litany of 80s rap and R&B talent together in one movie. There are totally 80s hairstyles and fashions, but more importantly, there are many great performances. "King Of Rock", "Hollyrock", "If I Ruled The World", "All You Can Eat", "I Can't Live Without My Radio" and many others make this movie a living time capsule of great old-school rap. They have talked about a few of the talents in this movie individually on previous "I Love The 80s" programs, but I think that they could talk about getting all these talents together in one movie. They could also riff on Sheila E.'s fashion, although I think that she looks good in it.
I think that Sheila E. is a good rapper, even though R&B is her main thing. I wish that there could have been more rap from her. Either way, this movie is a great look at a vision of rap music far removed from the styles of today.
6.) "Return Of The Living Dead"
Let's switch music and genres. We now come to "Return Of The Living Dead", the movie that turned the zombie film on its' ear. It's been a while since I've seen it, but from what I remember, the chemical that created the zombies in the first "Night Of The Living Dead" is unleashed once more in a graveyard, and a group of partying punk-rockers have to deal with the consequences.
This movie is a divisive piece. There are many who think it's scary, and many who think that comedy and horror shouldn't mix it. Speaking for myself, I found the humor dry and the soundtrack great. Any soundtrack with both The Cramps and Stacey Q's band SSQ has to be interesting.
What could they talk about? The soundtrack, the naked tombstone dance performed by Trash (Linnea Quigley), and, of course, the constant use of the word "BRAINS!".
7.) Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill"
Let's jump genres. I'm a Kate Bush fan, and in 1985 she released the song "Running Up That Hill". It was a brilliant evocation of the troubled relationship between a woman and a man and the tense emotions contained therein. I chose this topic partly because of the song and party because of the video. In it, Bush and a male dancer engage in a brilliant ballet, using their entire bodies to illustrate both the rhyme and rhythm of the song. There's a particularly wonderful scene where the male dancer tries to find Kate, but he has to battle through a rush of people with photocopies of her face covering their's.
This topic doesn't necessarily lend itself to humor, but I definitely think that Kate Bush is worth a mention in any 80s program.
8.) David Lee Roth's "Just A Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody"
Let's lighten up the mood, shall we? 1985 saw David Lee Roth release the album "Crazy From The Heat". One of the biggest singles from that EP was his combination of two old songs retrofitted into a jazzy medley. I think the main item here is the music video. In it, Diamond Dave plays an VJ who, after being harassed by his crew and agent, imagines that he's the star of his own video. After a trip backstage with a great variety of strange people hanging around the corridors, we launch into a series of music video spoofs with David wreaking havoc in each one. Among the artists parodied are Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson, Billy Idol, Boy George and Willie Nelson. There are also shots at network censors, Richard Simmons and even his bandmates in Van Halen, whom he was having problems with at the time.
It shows off Roth's great sense of humor...Too bad he wasn't able to make it bigger as a solo artist. He's seen mostly as a joke and a joker today, but he knew how to make great music videos and this was his best!
9.) The Mary Jane Girls' "In My House"
Prince had Vanity 6 (and later Appolonia 6), so it's obvious that the late, great Rick James, his rival for the crown of "king of punk-funk", would come out with an all-girl group of his own. Just one catch...Prince's groups were the women themselves, with no gimmicks or anything. James came up with the gimmick that The Mary Jane Girls were hookers. The photo is rather small, but as you can see, the group truly did look like women that you would find on the corners of New York City or Detroit at 2:30 AM. That image was reflected in their biggest hit "In My House". The lyrics were obviously about a whorehouse and all the action going on in there and that's especially reflected in the video. All four of the women sprawled and stretch on beds and motorcycles in a big mansion. Very sexy and perfect video fodder. Not that many people would pick up on such references, but luckily for you, I'm not like many people.
I would write my feelings on this movie, but geoffreydean explained it more than I ever could. Suffice to say that there are enough quotes and situations that could be talked about. I would link to geoffreydean's article, but HTML isn't allowed.
Well, there you go. 10 totally awesome topics that haven't seen discussion on an "I Love The 80s" program yet.
Hey, VH1: If and when you do a fourth "I Love The 80s", come to this site. The RetroJunkers know the drill.
"How's that, rock video fans?"