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Before there were podcasts, there was Christian Slater in Pump Up The Volume (1990)—a real sleeper at the box office but a movie much better than its predecessor, Heathers (1988).

The film stars Christian Slater in what in my opinion is one of his better roles.  He is transplanted from New York to milk toast Arizona because his father gets a promotion.  Frankly he is miserable, lonely and his only out to vent and express his frustrations with his new surroundings is to start an FM pirate radio station that broadcasts from the basement of his parents’ house.  Mark (Slater) is a loner, an outsider, whose only outlet for his teenage angst and aggression is his unauthorized radio station.  His pirate station’s theme song is “Everybody Knows” by Leonard Cohen and there are glimpses of cassettes by such alternative musicians as The Jesus and Mary Chain, Camper Van Beethoven, Primal Scream, Soundgarden, Ice-T, Bad Brains, Concrete Blonde, Henry Rollins, and The Pixies.

 

By day, Mark is seen as a loner, hardly talking to anyone around him, not even looking people in the eye; by night, he expresses his outsider views about what is wrong with American society. And more importantly what is going on at his school.  When he speaks his mind about what is going on at his school and in the community, more and more of his fellow students tune in to hear his show.

 

Nobody knows the true identity of “Hard Harry” or “Happy Harry Hard-on,” as Mark refers to himself, until Nora Diniro (Mathis), a fellow student, tracks him down and confronts him the day after a student named Malcolm commits suicide after Harry attempts to reason with him.  The radio show becomes increasingly popular and influential after Harry confronts the suicide head-on, exhorting his listeners to do something about their problems instead of surrendering to them through suicide—at the crescendo of his yelled speech an overachieving student Paige Woodward (who has been a constant listener) jams her various medals and accolades into a microwave and turns it on. She then sits, watching the awards cook until the microwave explodes, injuring her. While this is happening, other students act out in cathartic release.

 

Eventually, the radio show causes so much trouble in the community that the FCC is called in to investigate. During the fracas, it is revealed that the school’s principal (Annie Ross) has been expelling “problem students,” namely, students with below-average SAT scores, in an effort to boost the district’s test scores while still keeping their names on the rolls (a criminal offense) in order to keep the government money.

 

Mark’s show becomes so popular that despite FCC trackers he rigs up his mom’s jeep to delay their ability to track him down.  As the police close in on him his voice disguiser breaks and on the verge of being caught, Mark tells the students that the world belongs to them and that they should make their own future.  The police step in and arrest Mark and Nora. As they are taken away, Mark reminds the students to “talk hard.” As the film ends, the voices of other students (and even one of the teachers) speak as intros for their own independent stations, which can be heard broadcasting across the country.

In my opinion working within the confines of the teen-age genre film, Pump Up the Volume succeeds in sounding a surprising number of honest, heartfelt notes. The movie is also entertaining to adults probably because it takes them back to their days of pseudo rebellion.  Watch it, Slater matures significantly from Heathers to Pump Up The Volume.  Pump Up the Volume is the best of the “fuck the establishment if they can’t take a joke” genre.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2015 in Movie Reviews

 

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Heathers: One of the Only 1980’s Non-John Hughes Teen Movies.

Heathers is one of only a handful of 1980’s teen movies that was in some way not written, directed, produced or in some way connected to John Hughes (creator of the “Brat Pack”).  Instead, Heathers was directed by Michael Lehmann, also the director of Hudson Hawk, 40 days and 40 nights and the Truth About Cats and Dogs.  Heathers stars a young (pre-shoplifting) Winona Ryder, Christian Slater and Shannen Doherty.

The film portrays four girls in an elite clique at a fictional Ohio high school. The girls — three of whom are named Heather — rule the school through coercion, contempt, and sex appeal.  Seventeen year old Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder), is one of the more popular girls at a fictional Ohio high school.  In addition to Veronica, the Heathers are wealthy and beautiful (but deeply unhappy) girls: the cruel leader of the trio, Heather Chandler (Kim Walker); the timid Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty); and the spineless cheerleader Heather McNamara (Lisanne Falk).  The three wicked girls rule the school through brutality and emotional sadism.  Although they are the most “popular” students, they are feared and hated rather than adored, and Veronica has had enough of their shallow, vicious behavior and longs to return to her old life, where she was happy with her former friends.

Enter new student J.D. (Christian Slater), a rebellious and self-styled outsider who opens with  pulling a gun on two school bullies Kurt and Ram and fires blanks at them.  Naturally, Veronica finds herself captivated with him.  In an act of revenge for a slight at a frat party, Veronica and J.D. break into Heather Chandler’s mansion and facetiously prepare a cup full of drain cleaner to bring Heather as her morning wake-up drink.  Veronica decides on milk and orange juice as a suitable form of revenge, as the combination can induce vomiting, but  J.D. distracts her with a kiss and she takes the wrong cup to Heather.   Though J.D. notices the mistake, he does not inform Veronica and Heather Chandler drinks the drain cleaner and dies.  J.D. reminds Veronica that she has the ability to forge handwriting and protect herself from suspicion and forge a suicide note in the deceased handwriting.  The school takes Heather Chandler’s “suicide” as a dramatic, but cool, decision made by the popular yet troubled teen.  Another one of the Heathers soon steps into the lead and begins wearing the red scrunchie that had belonged to Chandler.

The two “jocks” that J.D. shocked by firing blanks at them become the next targets because they have spread false rumors about Veronica.  J.D. devises a plan to kill the two jerks and he will then plant “gay” materials on them, including a candy dish, mascara, a postcard of Joan Crawford, gay porn, mineral water, and a suicide note stating the two were lovers participating in a suicide pact.  At their funeral, a one of the fathers is seen crying, “My son’s a homosexual, and I love him. I love my dead gay son!”, and the boys become martyrs against homophobia.

The body count continues to rise as the movie unfolds.  In the end Ryder not only stops J.D. from blowing up the school but also stops Heather from continuing her unrelenting stranglehold on the students.

The movie lost money at the box office, but is now on many “Top Lists” as a “Cult Classic.” I am on the fence with this one.  There are just as many good scenes are there are bad clichés.  To be sure, the Heathers are diabolical, cruel creatures who get what’s coming to them.  J.D. seems to embody what many high school students would like to do (and have done) to some of their classmates and the whole high school culture.  All in all Heathers is not a bad movie, having some great qualities, but also some irritating parts as well.  Take a look at it — you won’t want your two hours back.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 

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The Confessor–I can’t believe I am confessing that I watched this movie.

The Confessor staring Christian Slater is flat out Crap.

It is clear to me that the cast and crew were suffering from dementia before they made this piece of work.  I didn’t think the film would ever end.  This movie had a decent cast that was totally wasted.  Frankly I expect more from Christian Slater.  He has made some great movies: Pump Up The Volume, Heathers, Wind Talkers, Broken Arrow (a John Woo Flick) and Murder in the First.  Why Christian, oh why would you make such crap?  I can understand if you needed the money, but that is about the only excuse I’ll accept.

Slater plays a worldly and urbane priest who can raise money like a demon.  That said, there is no way the viewer for even a second believes that Slater is a priest.  What ever his other talents are they don’t involve him playing a holy man.  Another priest is involved in a murder and accused of the crime.  Slater’s character is asked by the church’s big cheese to find out what went on and minimize the damage to the church.  Slater even gets the help from his former journalist girl friend, Madeline Finney, (Molly Parker) who works at a TV station.  Naturally there has to be some sexual tension when a priest and a woman are involved so Slater has to stay at her apartment overnight where he “accidentally” sees her in her birthday suit while she is taking a shower.  Oh the drama–a chimp chained to a typewriter could write this stuff.

To anyone with half a brain, this movie is solved when the co-star is late for dinner as there was no doubt where he was and that he had just murdered someone.  After that there was no suspense and it takes about 85 minutes of your life away that you will never get back before the “mystery” is solved.  Speaking of confessions, I must confess that the weaknesses in the plot makes me wonder just how dumb the screenwriters, the director, Christian Slater, Molly Parker, and Stephen Rea were when putting this abortion together.  Perhaps it was a comedy and I forgot to laugh.

The film is a load of muddled and pointless Crap.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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