Sunday, April 19, 2020

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street


SCREAM, QUEEN! MY NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
(NR, Virgil Films, 99 mins., DVD release date: March 3, 2020)

SCREAM, QUEEN! MY NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET only feels like it has taken five years to complete to those who were in the know when it was originally conceived as “There Is No Jesse” for its initial crowd-funding campaign. For me, however, it feels like it double that time, a complete beginning-to-end decade.


It all began when I bought Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy on DVD way back in 2010. I was in my mid-twenties and still posting reviews on Epinions, so the review I did write and submit to the IMDb is lost to time now. Daniel Farrands, Thommy Hutson and Andrew Kasch did such a fantastic job in providing a thorough series rundown, yet the big draw for me was hearing about the first official sequel to Wes Craven's legendary slasher film. And the best surprise of all was the participation of the lead actor of Freddy's Revenge himself:


Full disclosure: I got to meet Mark Patton in 2014 at Texas Frightmare Weekend as part of a micro-reunion including himself, Kim Myers, Robert Rusler, Marshall Bell, and Jack Sholder. And then there was Crypticon Minnesota 2016, which had just Patton & Myers, but also some real bucket list personalities, among them Jill Schoelen, Suzanne Snyder, Thom Mathews, and Chris Mulkey. That TFW shindig inspired me to write about A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge on my blog in anticipation of the movie's 30th anniversary. If only October 2016, which was when I went to Crypticon, was a time when the pure elation I felt could overpower the madness that had lasted the entire year. But it was mere weeks away from the seismic cultural change that was going to end a merciless calendar year, in which there were so many blows to the gut, with the knockout hook.

And now it's 2020. The spring of the quarantine. Ever since I got to meet Mark Patton, I imagined getting to see the documentary about his quest for peace with the role that made him both a cult hero and an undeserving pariah would coincide with my own picking up of the pieces from what I pray is the end of a four-year shitshow. And I fear the worst is not over. That for as excited as I am to watch Patton relate his real life story, 2016 could last until 2024. I am not ready for that. As much as I adore my signed copies of Jesse's Lost Journal and the Scream, Queen! poster, as deep the well of respect I have had for Patton as speaker and activist ever since Never Sleep Again, for the inspiration I have received in 2014 that I am paying back once again now...

I might be running down the tunnel chasing that light for a just a bit longer.

I hope I don't have to keep writing these anxious preambles every go 'round. We now live in a world where Never Sleep Again co-director Daniel Farrands decided films like The Haunting of Sharon Tate and The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson were what the world needs the most. Point is, though things can get worse than they are, getting to buy Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street on Vudu (alongside Fat City and Moonstruck, no less) is one of the perks of social distancing.


To get across why I was jazzed about Scream, Queen! for so long, I have to transcribe a couple of quotes from Mark Patton that were featured on the second disc of outtakes from Never Sleep Again:

Hollywood is terribly homophobic, especially the homosexuals inside of Hollywood. They're the first to make fun of, to denigrate, to try to sabotage other gay people, especially gay actors...I think I would have been decimated, and I think the things about my gayness would have come out in the press in a really horrible way.”

The first half of Scream, Queen! elaborates on these statements with biographical detail. The Missouri-born Patton had a dream at age 4 that he was to be wed to a king, growing up comfortable with his sexual orientation even as he knew the dangers of rural prejudice. When he was 17, he left for New York City with little over $100 to his name, boarding in a hotel/brothel and lucking into a couple of national commercials (Big Red, Mountain Dew) before making it to Broadway. In Robert Altman's stage and screen adaptation of Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, Mark Patton played Joe Qualley, who experiences that all-too-real brand of violent antipathy towards being seen as one of the girls. Swaying and snapping along to the McGuire Sisters' chart-topping cover of the doo-wop stalwart “Sincerely,” Joe is the male Disciple in a band of women who worship James Dean. But he soon disappears from McCarthy to escape from both bullying locals and his unrequited love, only to resurface 20 years later as the transsexual Joanne, the very name his tormentors bestowed upon him.

Emboldened by the rapturous audience reaction and welcoming professional/social environs of Manhattan, Mark Patton drove to Hollywood seeking equal opportunities. But renewing his five-year plan for the West Coast, what Patton goes through ends his acting career abruptly. In his present-day testimonials, Patton adamantly reminds straight and homosexual audiences that to be a gay performer in the mid-1980s was far from nurturing. You had to consent to a blood test in order to fully pass the audition once AIDS ballooned into a pandemic (Rock Hudson himself died a month before Freddy's Revenge premiered). Agents were telling you which clothes were acceptable with which to pass as a red-blooded American hetero. Religious fanatics and bigots spun an autoimmune virus into a stigma. Nobody was free to embrace their gayness in the public eye and gossip rags like the National Enquirer were invading many people's privacy looking to out them as such. Friends you had could turn up six months later looking like animate corpses, and if you heard nothing about them within a year, you assumed they were dead.

These were the horrors Mark Patton faced firsthand once he was cast as Jesse Walsh in the rushed-into-competion sequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street (trivia: Patton screen tested for the role of Glen Lantz, Nancy Thompson's boyfriend, which went to a first-timer named Johnny Depp). Screenwriter David Chaskin's possession-oriented concept was approved by Bob Shaye when he and Wes Craven had their falling out, but despite a two-month refinement period, Patton says Chaskin's script was still being punched-up on the set. And what the writer seized on was an allegory that was close to the bone for the gay male community.


When I reviewed A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 in 2014, I really wanted to do it with fresher eyes. But the film's reputation is inescapable, as comment threads and clickbait articles and that 2010 documentary have branded it upon my psyche. Yes, A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge appears to have been tricked out with a LOT of gay themes and codifiers. And though Robert Englund reprised his role (after some initial resistance), this sequel got swept under the rug like it was Halloween III, the source of ironic ribbing ever since it outperformed the original at the box office. We can laugh about the absurdity of it all today, but when the film came out, critics and patrons alike were noticing the exact same peculiarities. And what damaged Mark Patton was the fact that nobody wanted to accept responsibility for the gay subtext, thrusting (erm...) the burden onto the actor at the worst sociopolitical time. His handlers told him upfront that while he could carry a film, he couldn't act “straight” (like the two male leads of The Last American Virgin who basically played the same exact roles throughout the '80s and have since come out of the closet?) Chaskin pussyfooted around the intention of his gay subtext for years, and, inadvertently or not, threw Patton under the bus, claiming his acting completely heightened it. If that weren't enough, Patton's on-and-off partner, Dallas heartthrob Timothy Patrick Murphy, was a casualty of AIDS and passed away on December 6, 1988.

All I can say is that, well...”I Am Jesse.” I opened my article expressing my deepest fears for the future, and though I am now 36, I frequently feel like I am that sullen boy alone on the bus, trying to crack a window as we are heading towards the desert inferno.

Arlene Marechal & Heather Langenkamp's I Am Nancy (2011) was a slick indie documentary that documented a Final Girl as Woman, touring the convention circuit and asking intriguing questions about how we decided to make a creepy child molester in a dirty sweater and fedora an icon. Surely, Langenkamp's Nancy Thompson was the relatable hero who declared autonomy over her fate and vanquished Freddy at the end of Craven's film. We saw something similar in Lisa Wilcox's portrayal of Alice Johnson in the fourth and fifth entries. And say what you will about Freddy's Dead, but Lisa Zane as Maggie Burroughs, psychiatrist and Krueger brood herself, continued such an honorable precedent. Freddy's Revenge had that, too, in Kim Myers as Lisa Webber, but what made Lisa's survival so much more unique and urgent was the plight of Jesse Walsh. Jesse ends up killing his best male buddy, Ron Grady (Robert Rusler), before the cabana massacre and is madly trying to convince Lisa that he is powerless to stop Freddy's continued takeover of his body (“I got blood on my hands!”).

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street threads together tales of Patton's past life in Hollywood with the due resurgence of Freddy's Revenge fandom among young LGBTQ darlings who got their first glimpse of a gay bar the moment Jesse sleepwalked into the wrong place at the wrong time, beginning Freddy's rampage with the outrageous dispatching of Coach Schneider (Marshall Bell, whose bared buttocks was also an anomaly in slasher films). San Francisco drag legend Peaches Christ, fellow hostess Knate Higgins and University of Colorado Denver film studies professor Andrew Scahill provide articulated insight into the legacy of Freddy's Revenge, with Bill Nugent and Jeffrey Marcus helping to flesh out Patton's mid-1980s recollections. And the principal Freddy's Revenge cast/crew who I've mostly met in my own convention adventures, from director Jack Sholder to Robert Englund himself, are all refreshingly candid.


The beating heart of the story belongs to the criminally unsung Mark Patton, and for as generous as he is behind the booth, he is no less beautiful as he is pushing 60. Leaving the industry to become an interior decorator and live “off the grid,” Patton himself would be diagnosed as HIV-positive, and the stories of his troubled treatment (from a tuberculosis-related interference to the AZT regiment that was near fatal) keep the film further harrowing. Having controlled the virus, Patton headed down south to Puerto Vallarta to open up a Prada-esque business, met the Hispanic love of his life in Hector Morales and never looked back, until the makers of Never Sleep Again broke through to him.

The documentary builds to the meeting Patton has been long anticipating as a chance for closure, the one with David Chaskin himself, looking for straight (come on, John!) answers as to why Chaskin denied owning the gay elements he later claimed were intentional and a mea culpa for the hurtful things that were said on record about Patton. Somehow, the revival of Patton's purpose in life and desire to use his platform for the protection and instruction of the newer generation of gays feels resonant to all of us progressive genre nuts. And Chaskin himself, whom Jack Sholder believes Mark may be putting too much of an emotional premium on, does take into account Patton's perspective despite not living up to expectations. It's the ultimate feel-good ending, and it ends with a cute little nod to the famed Bob Shaye coda.

Since 2014, Patton has tipped his toes back into acting sporadically in genre fare, starting with Family Possessions (2016), where he co-starred with Sleepaway Camp cult queen Felissa Rose. Scream, Queen! does create a sense of empathy within the viewer which requires you to understand why Patton's integrity and health were once so painfully at risk. As I said before, the Mark Patton of the 2010s is a delightful, honest and sensitive soul. Credit Scream, Queen! directors Roman Chimenti & Tyler Jensen for molding the footage with emotional consistency, even if the sum of the quilt is less than the feel of the fabric. This duo's doc hits harder than both I Am Nancy and Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films combined, and if you think that's me being tickled a little too pink, understand too that we who have seen Freddy's Revenge know how Mark Patton screams. Now it's our turn.



Sunday, April 5, 2020

Dangerous Curves + Hunk


I am writing a birthday present to myself today, as opposed my Amityville Murders article which I wrote out of deference for Diane Franklin. That's not to say I didn't enjoy something special in her honor, what with the recent vogue for social distancing having reactivated my feelings about the bodacious brunette I've been championing as both an influence and friend for six years. I subscribed to Amazon Prime so that I could enjoy a rare 1990s appearance by Franklin, credited under her married name, in an episode of USA's short-lived spin-off of 1987's acclaimed The Big Easy.

"The End of the World" (s02e011) starred Diane Franklin De Laurentis as Zoey Simone, a psychic who can see not in the future but the present, whom lead detective Remy (Tony Crane) brings in to locate his kidnapped partner, played by Leslie Bibb. Turns out a young male bomber has a grudge to settle against N'awlins on behalf of his corrupted sister, and after Bibb's Janine corners the suspect in a uniform company, the hunter becomes a hostage.

There was a lot of silly dialogue involving pigs and ribs, and I can't help but think "incel" about the main antagonist. Yet I smiled upon seeing Diane Franklin in something that I missed back when I was a mere preteen. This would've been first aired around the time I discovered Monique Junet, and as someone who is deathlessly enamored with Diane even in her late 50s, she makes me feel so happy.


Ditto Kimberley Kates, for that matter, who I caught up with in a couple of seductress roles after she made her splash opposite Diane in Bill &Ted's Excellent Adventure. I think of her just as fondly as one of the most beautiful women I've ever had to great fortune to speak to. There was one movie in which Kimberley plays a tart trophy wife who lusts after Jared Leto's pool boy, Highway, and another in which she is a bordello belle who sweetly relieves Stephen Dorff of his virginity as he tracks down his main obsession, an abducted Ami Dolenz, the film called Rescue Me. “Happy birthday, Fraser.”

Coincidentally, Rescue Me was a Cannon Film, released a decade after Diane Franklin made her debut in the company's Last American Virgin and after the split between Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. It starred none other than Michael "American Ninja" Dudikoff in a central role opposite Dorff, so it could've conceivably been a relic from the 1980s dusted off for the early 1990s. Diane Franklin and Kimberley Kates both have given me so much love that I will never see them as the ingenues of their initial acting days, and I cannot give back enough gratitude to either for the pleasure. I adore them as adults, and turning 36 only replenishes the honey pot. I know they did something wonderful for me recently, but in trying to rebuild the fractured confidence that's been lying around, I need to rediscover some humility.

But I also need to stay true to my own intelligence as I try to respect those of these two women. So I have to tell myself again that when it comes to the genre of movies Diane and Kimberely will be remembered for, I have a kind of blind spot. You see, movies like Rescue Me or The Last American Virgin exist in a sort of vacuum for someone born in 1984. Before American Pie, I grew up thinking of teen comedies as programming filler for the very same USA Networks which aired that episode of The Big Easy with thirty-something wife/mother Diane Franklin De Laurentis.

I mentioned it in regards to Kimberley's Mosquito-Man, the fact that there was once an after-hours cable block called USA Up All Night that was like Cinemax with censors. And if you watched it religiously, it was like an orphanage for all the mercenary youth-oriented films that were so insanely prolific throughout the 1980s. There were Marilyn Chambers and Linnea Quigley vehicles also in circulation, to be true, but I will always associate USA with Rhonda Shear and Hardbodies and others of that ilk, many of which were objectively even worse. It also reminded me that though the teen comedy assembly line sped up in 1985 to an absurd degree, it was still functional up until the end of the decade, with brand names like Crown International and Vestron Pictures.


Which brings me to HUNK (PG, Crown International Pictures, 102 mins., theatrical release: Mar. 6, 1987) and DANGEROUS CURVES (PG, Lightning Pictures/Vestron Video, 93 mins., video release: Feb. 1, 1989), two late 1980s flicks which bore those very distributors on their wrappers. I had only the vaguest possible memory of the latter thanks to my uncle's VHS collection (it was on the same tape with John Hughes' The Breakfast Club, as aired on The Movie Channel, and I never did rewind that cassette to the beginning to watch Dangerous Curves), and the former was mentioned on a Patreon bonus episode of the now-defunct "'80s All Over" podcast by Eric D. Snider, who had written a piece on it prior. Dangerous Curves is one of those films I struggled to remember just minutes after finishing it, and Hunk already has Snide Remarks written all over it.

As someone who harbors little to no nostalgia for the midnight snacks of his childhood, and whom doesn't even love The Last American Virgin as much as Diane Franklin herself let alone the modern online critic circle, I am not the authoritative voice one wants for trashy ol' teen movies. I mourned the passing of Louisa “Carmela” Moritz, but I'll be damned if I say you should watch Hot Chili just so you could remember her by that (the same applies for Joe Rubbo once he passes). Walter Chaw admitted to wearing out a VHS copy of My Chauffeur out of youthful infatuation, but Deborah Foreman couldn't save that flick for me, at all. There are even people who found Diane Franklin suitable masturbation material based off The Last American Virgin, which only makes me question its fan base and even Diane herself (who has repeatedly used the phrase “sex education” in her remembrances) harsher.

Not every teen movie needs to be Gregory's Girl, I understand, but I do have some prevailing standards. And if I hadn't made it clear from the start, I love the players even as I loathe the game. Hunk, for instance, actually has a very good lead performance from John Allen Nelson as the titular panty-melter, and unlike Eric D. Snider, I will give Nelson credit also for helping to burn Killer Klowns from Outer Space into my memory cells (he was Officer Dave, the third in the triangle between Grant Cramer's Mike and Suzanne Snyder's Debbie). Between both Hunk and Dangerous Curves, I also have to mention several luminaries, be they Leslie Nielsen, Robert Stack, Avery Schreiber, and James Coco.

But I have to speak frankly about Dangerous Curves, which is as formulaic a teen comedy as a committee has ever conceived. It's a vessel for PG-rated cheesecake, undistinguished turns from overqualified actors (even Martha Quinn is too good for this) and as many then-contemporary teen film clich├ęs one could cram into a 90-minute run time. A mismatched pair of collegiates, one studious, the other hedonistic, both bumbling clods? Check. Road trip to meet up with a girl? Check. Cherry red Porsche and Ferrari automobiles begging to be hijacked? The former car applies to the latter box, so this check was already cashed. Parade of swimsuit-clad babes? The movie is called Dangerous Curves, after all!

There are other easy boxes to tick off, but you can connect the dots already and deduce the film's plot all too easily. The studious boy, Chuck (Tate Donovan), is entrusted with driving a Porsche down to Lake Tahoe to ensure a prosperous career at Faciano Industries. CEO Louis Faciano (Robert Stack), friend of Chuck's dad from their 'Nam days, threatens Chuck with bodily harm if his daughter doesn't get her birthday convertible on time. Chuck's horndog buddy Wally (Grant Heslov), aka Mookie, aka Homey Boy, tags along as a necessary evil. One parking ticket at a Circle K later, Chuck loses the Porsche only to find it is the grand prize in a beauty pageant. Chuck and Wally scheme to retrieve it while mingling with the sexy talent, the awkward Chuck falling particularly for a supposed tomboy named Michelle (Danielle von Zerneck). Allies include a beach bum named Bam Bam (Robert Klein) and a depressive cabbie named Hector (Robert Romanus); foes include the sailing extortionist who seized the Porsche, Krevske (Leslie Nielsen) and the dotty pageant manager herself, Miss Reed (Elizabeth Ashley).


With a title like Dangerous Curves, I expected something sexier and livelier than the non-entity I had to watch. I was hoping to come across a Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry for the crowd who only want their License to Drive. No go. Everything that happens here is slavishly beholden to the instruction manual, yet the cake that has somehow baked itself deflates upon contact with the fork.

This is One Crazy Summer without Savage Steve Holland (or anybody who could cut a single one of its cast), Spring Break without Sean S. Cunningham (faint praise, indeed) and Risky Business after it has been dismantled beyond recognition by auto pirates. It makes no demands of Tate Donovan, fresh off SpaceCamp and rehearsing his later nerd role in Love Potion #9, or Danielle von Zerneck, fresh off La Bamba and soon to end her sadly nondescript acting career on a high note with 1995's Living in Oblivion. It casts Grant Heslov, soon to be George Clooney's partner in production, as the promising Curtis Armstrong/Fisher Stevens sidekick and strands him on the surf without a board. And as for the storied Mike Damone, the legendary host of Unsolved Mysteries, the king of Second City cut-ups, and the once and future Lt. Frank Drebin? Just keep adding up those checks, because the laughs are strictly on the one hand.

The only interesting thing I can say about Dangerous Curves, directed with sunshiny vacuousness by full-time cinematographer David Lewis and written by a trio of TV hacks, is that Valerie Breiman (She's Having a Baby, Casual Sex?), who plays Michelle's best friend Blake, got the inspiration to write and direct her own low-grade resort comedy immediately after this. That film was Going Overboard, which you may know marked the screen debut of some mensch by the name of Adam Sandface. I forget his real last name, I'm sorry. Didn't he make a movie recently about selling jewels? That was one of the best of 2019, I can attest to that. Shame that I can't place him beyond the first syllable.


Thank heavens for Hunk, a real American hero and not just in the Bud Light sense. Dangerous Curves reinforced my prejudices against the teen sex comedy as being as tasteful as used bubblegum and as beneficial as shooting guns in the air to kill off the Coronavirus. I may not have toilet paper at this time (those Charmin ads breaking up the viewing process are taunting me), but Hunk was as much a relief. Here is a bad movie with personality, as well as dialogue, satire, sentimentality, and many other things Dangerous Curves didn't have. Granted, the star power isn't as electric and the camera is shier in approaching too many strategically-covered nubile bodies (both these movies are tame as hell compared to the ones I've mentioned with Princesses Diane and Kimberley). Hunk is in the gutter but laughing at the weirdly-shaped clouds, which is a true sign of unforced amiability.

Hidden somewhere in the sculpted physique of John Allen Nelson is the mind of that sexy body's previous owner, Bradley Brinkman (Steve Levitt). The movie begins with Hunk (that's his actual name, Hunk Golden) cruising to a short-notice psychiatrist appointment and confessing to one Dr. Susan “Sunny” Graves (Rebeccah Bush) that he no longer wants to be The Stud, and that “time is running out” for poor Bradley and himself. The fantastical story of Bradley/Hunk is Faust updated for the Big Eighties, as a wimpy computer programmer makes the mistake of offering his soul for success and stature. First, Bradley is a victim of that old Weird Science, as his PC prints out a manifesto called "The Yuppie Program" that saves his job with Mr. Constantopolis (Avery Schreiber). He then blows his bonus on a rundown beach house in the resort community of Sea Spray, populated by the Beautiful People he wishes to become one of, as he brainstorms a follow-up to his supernatural runaway success.

Too hopeless for Charles Atlas to reform, Bradley finally meets at his dud of an open house party the literal dream woman who's been making the scene, O'Brien (Deborah Shelton). She is the emissary of Dr. D (James Coco), and has come to complete the transformation by offering Bradley a trial period, up until midnight after Labor Day, of an irresistible alter ego. The nebbish signs his contract via hypodermic pen and wakes up the next morning as Hunk Golden, complete with new accessories and a fortune to burn. After getting his own back against the volleyball-playing snobs who humiliated him while he was Bradley, Hunk is ready for the spoils of social victory, from a 24-hour metabolism to trend-setting fashion choices and, of course, a sex drive ample enough to plow through the entire female populace of Sea Spray in a matter of weeks.

After conquering a sexy woman in a mermaid costume (Andrea Patrick), Hunk gets a rude awakening courtesy of Dr. D himself. If he doesn't want to revert back to Bradley's body, Hunk will have to agree to be the Devil's latest agent of chaos upon death and murder the entire community of Sea Spray on the way to starting the third world war. From this point on, the film plays out in linear time as Hunk and Sunny become out-of-office romantic interests. Hunk also becomes a media sensation after saving her life, although because he's still Bradley, he starts to regret and rebel against the spotlight further. It all culminates with a key to the city ceremony approaching that dreaded deadline, although it is certain that Hunk is a decent enough man to save his soul. But what will become of Sunny?


What gives Lawrence Bassoff's movie an edge over Dangerous Curves is the casting of both Bradley and Hunk. Steve Levitt has a junior Gene Wilder's visage and plays the dorky role refreshingly straight against the hyper-campy competition. The real surprise, however, is John Allen Nelson, who suggests Bruce Davison as a tanned and toned surfer dude. Here is a performer who has a little more to offer than the arch pretty boys and hangdog wisenheimers of your average teen flick, and Nelson projects a natural charisma and innate humor which never lets you forget that Bradley still exists. A dream sequence in which Bradley escapes from hell to reunite with his mortal body keeps the fantasy credible. Bassoff (Weekend Pass) is also more ambitious with his screenplay in terms of humor; references to Letterman, Geraldo Rivera and Chuck Norris are tossed off with aplomb if not consistent levels of laughter, and Nelson isn't too hunky that he can't deliver a prize line of dialogue or three:

"Sea Spray by night means the Sand Castle [bar]. The men are low on body fat. The women are high on themselves...and whatever else is going around."

"I finally meet a beautiful woman and she wants me to bomb Pearl Harbor. Talk about romantic."

"You know you've made it when your garbage is front-page news."

Game as he is, Nelson isn't allowed to upstage James Coco, who is clearly having a ball with his various mephistophelian guises in a posthumous performance (he died shortly before the film's release in March of 1987). Deborah Shelton is passable in her first role since Body Double, mainly because of the comic opportunities afforded her. Supporting performances by the actors playing the bullies and freaks of Sea Spray (i.e. Cynthia Szigeti as local busybody Chachka) are enthusiastic if not terribly memorable. The only role which I felt didn't work completely is the broad portrayal by Robert Morse of a Robin Leach caricature, a gratuitous flash of homophobia so brazen that he's actually named Gaylord.

Much like My Chauffeur, which was another Crown-brand exploitation comedy with a lead performer who deserved better (Deborah "Valley Girl" Foreman, herself), Hunk is at once engagingly high-spirited and regrettably lowbrow. Whereas David Beaird undercut the old-fashioned screwball airs of My Chauffeur with pointlessly vulgar elements, Lawrence Bassoff compromises the integrity of his own fairy tale with misjudged broad strokes. When Hunk gets down with a former candy stripe nurse named Laurel Springs (Melanie Vincz), the result isn't as titillating or as funny as it could be, a common predicament of vintage teen sex comedies. The PG rating is admirable at first because it suggests tactfulness, but the movie's limp swipes at yuppie idiosyncrasies are kid gloves poking your ribs. And your own personal tolerance for corn will ultimately determine whether you accept the time-honored morals this film reheats; unlike The Sure Thing, the journey isn't so unexpectedly charming to make up for the destination.

But there I go again, comparing wheat to chaff. Movies like Dangerous Curves and Hunk are not built for fawning retrospectives by discriminating film fans; they were meant for articles as small as the screens they eventually got the most saturation from. Letterboxd has proven that everyone's a critic nowadays, and again it reminds me just how frustrating it can be to devote your attention, serious or not, to what is essentially marshmallow spread. If I am lucky, a movie like Hunk at least has an endearing performance from an inexperienced actor and some genuine mirth; if not, I get movies like Dangerous Curves, which aren't worth an iota of your nostalgia even with so much proven talent. But just like in real life, you have to count your blessings, and at least you didn't have to read about my opinions of that truly horrible Adam Sandler movie from 1989.

Dear God, if anyone were responsible for killing off '80s nostalgia for me, it would be Shecky Moskowitz. At least Diane Franklin and Kimberley Kates will outlast all my worst memories of life and cinema.