6 March 2015 | lazarillo
The REAL 80's
As someone one who actually grew up in the 1980's. it occurs to me that some day no one will remember what the 80's were REALLY like, but instead will only remember the movies about it, which like all movies are very romanticized and not exactly accurate. Moreover, a whole lot of "80's movies" were actually set in the 1950's or early 1960's and were already coated by a heavy sheen of nostalgia that didn't necessarily even really represent that earlier era very accurately. And even the 80's movies actually set in the 1980's did not represent the experiences of EVERYONE back then. Not everyone grew up in the upper-middle class white suburbs of a John Hughes movie.
That is why this incredibly obscure independent film made in 1984 and written and directed by a woman is kind of interesting. It largely takes place in a small town in Appalachia where a somewhat jaded but still innocent city girl (Laura Hunt) is sent to live with her grandparents. The story is so incredibly random it almost has to be somewhat autobiographical. The protagonist discovers that her beloved grandfather is very troubled, after he tries to make out with her(!) and after she finds out he may be connected to a local murder and arson. She also reunites with a local friend (Catherine Williams), who is being sexually harassed/molested by her mother's new boyfriend. Through her friend she meets a local boy to whom she will eventually lose her virginity (not a spoiler since that is something that happens in pretty much ALL teen movies of this era). But it is interesting that the 80's movies like this about GIRLS losing their virginity always seem far more realistic than movies about boys losing their virginity (even if, like me, you happen to be male). The summer and movie eventually take a tragic turn.
This is not a GREAT movie. There are too many characters and loose narrative threads (kind of like an abridged Appalachian soap opera). The acting is uniformly bad with only the actor playing the grandfather displaying much glimmer of talent. The two lead actresses look to be at least 25 and are not very believable as teenage girls (on the plus side though, they both show their boobs, which would never happen in a teen movie today, and the Williams spends the entire movie wearing various pairs of 80's style butt-hugging short-shorts). The movie is often as serious as a heart attack though, and anybody expecting a typical "losing it" summer sex comedy is probably going to be bitterly disappointed. Still, it's always refreshing to see that someone once managed to make something so far out of the mainstream. I'm not going to tell you it's technically better than "Back to the Future" or "The Breakfast Club", and it does involve some pretty out-there plot twists, but it actually is more representative of the REAL 80's as I remember them than most of the Hollywood films of that time.