Teenage Rampage Joysticks By Rich Osmond. One of the many great things about Greydon Clark’s geeked-out filmography is the way he continually cross-pollinates two seemingly incompatible genres/cultural happenings...
One of the many great things about Greydon Clark’s geeked-out filmography is the way he continually cross-pollinates two seemingly incompatible genres/cultural happenings. Take his immortal Black Shampoo, for instance. We’d all agree that it was a mighty fine idea to do a sleazy drive-in version of Hal Ashby’s Shampoo, but who else but Greydon Clark would think of making it a blaxploitation flick as well? Or how about Satan's Cheerleaders—my favorite Clark film—in which he crossed the post-Exorcist demonic possession movie with the T&A cheerleader subgenre? Obviously, we are not dealing with the typical drive-in flake here. And his influence on a new generation of filmmakers is just now beginning to be felt... compare the opening scene of the Hughes Brothers’ Menace II Society with the beginning of Clark’s Skinheads: The Second Coming of Hate.
But an in-depth study of Greydon Clark has to wait for another day. Right now I want to talk about just one of his cultural hybrids, Joysticks. As a 13 year old back in 1983, my two big obsessions were video games and teenage sex comedies... interests shared with most guys my age. Clark didn’t have to be a genius to realize that combining the two in one movie would be like a license to print money. Joysticks is just about the perfect post-Porky's sex comedy. All the cliches/archetypes are represented: we’ve got the geeky virgin, the slobbering fat guy, the hot and horny chicks, mindless authority figures, and the cool guy hero (although, like in most of these movies, he seems to be the cool guy by default).
The plot revolves around the efforts of a local fat cat business man (Clark regular Joe Don Baker) to shut down the video arcade where his valley girl daughter hangs out. He fears it’s a corrupting influence—and he’s right! Said daughter is played by Corrine Bohrer, who you'll recognize from her endless film, TV and commercial appearances. After numerous topless scenes, fart jokes, and guys wearing dresses to disguise themselves (a teen comedy staple), the story hits its high point in a high-stakes video game contest between the arcade’s preppy manager and Joe Don’s stooge, a blue-haired punk rawker named King Vidiot. Between these teen hijinks, Clark manages to cram as much preppie fashions and valley girl slang into the film as anyone could possibly want. Not to mention the endless shots of what the theme song calls "totally awesome video games!" Video game technology may have progressed a lot since those days, but the new games sure lack the soul of the classics. Seeing such long-gone faves as Galaga, Pac-Man and Defender on display here made me a little misty-eyed, I gotta admit.
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