Toga Party at the Delta House? Been there. Party at the moon tower? Done that. What’s next? A Bachelor Party?
Listen, I’m not knocking getting blotto with Bluto or beer bonging it with Frank the Tank. Those are good times. But have you had a Pabst Blue Ribbon with Frank Booth and his crew? You’ll dig it. Frank’s a real gas. This summer take a walk on the weird side. I’ll have your back as we check out ten film fiestas never seen on any Best Movie Party list.
10. RUMBLE FISH
B&E with T&A in B&W
As local zero Rusty James, Matt Dillon is at his dim bulb best. James demonstrates just how to make your next home invasion go from simple hustle bustle to drunken teen-age group grope. Sure the party is brief, but rumor has it director Francis Ford Coppola let the actors go… ahem, “method” while he shot the scene. Which doesn’t seem that creepy until you factor within that tantalizing tangle of limbs is Coppola’s nephew, a pre-nutso Nicholas Cage making his onscreen nude debut. (Movie Party List Bonus: co-stars Matt Dillon and Vincent Spano show up for another hot spot on the list).
It’s the privilege of youth
Early in his career, Kevin Costner had so much screen charm to burn you could’ve bottled it. Exhibit A: Fandango begins in the middle of rowdy graduation party thrown by ‘the Groovers’ – five best buds from University of Texas. As the de-facto leader, Costner is front and center in almost every scene playing Gardner Barnes as if mainlining Neal Cassady. Writer/director Kevin Reynolds nails the beer soaked, bong smoked atmosphere perfectly. Costner and Reynolds became buds, teamed up years later to make Robin Hood and hated each other by the time they finished Waterworld. Maybe it really is all downhill after college.
The original Girl Squad
Part dawn of the ’80’s teen drama, part cinematic time capsule when disco was gasping its last and punk rock had reared its mohawked head. Led by Jodie Foster, the foxes are four teen-aged girls living unsupervised in the San Fernando Valley and indulging in booze, ‘ludes, and dudes. It also Scott Baio, the Justin Bieber of this time, wearing his best tuxedo shirt to the quiet dinner party the foxes try to have. It quickly turns into an out of control rager when a bad element – symbolic of the punk rock ethos emerging – crashes, then trashes the party. The teen drama genre became as dead as disco when a low budget high school comedy cast with relative unknowns scored big at the box office. That movie was Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
7. THE WILD LIFE
Totally Aw…. I mean… It’s Casual
The Wild Life was billed as a “spiritual sequel” to Fast Times Times at Ridgemont High. Only Sean Penn turned down the lead role that was to be Spicoli’s “spiritual brother.” So producers hired real brother Chris Penn, dyed his ‘do blonde, and hoped no one would notice. They did. The movie tanked, but no shame or blame on the younger Penn. He’s great as the world’s worst party boy roommate who turns an apartment soirée into an epic blast. Blame the bad box office on how the movie tries to force “It’s casual” as their catchphrase. It’s kinda like giving yourself a nickname. Totally bogus move, bro.
6. VALLEY GIRL
Romeo & Juliet for a New Wave set
Punk rocker Nicholas Cage spots the titular hottie at the beach. After brief eye contact, he decides “she’s the one” and tracks her down to a New Wave preppy party in the Valley. After getting thrown out, he climbs through the bathroom window and hides in the shower. Waiting for the hottie to enter the potty, he passes time creepily peeping on various preppy make-outs and at one point pantomimes shooting a couple dead. By the sheer hang dog good will of Cage and tone set by Martha Coolidge doing directing duties, Valley Girl manages to make the scenario not at all as creepy as it sounds, turning felony-level stalking into a romantic comedy.
5. NORTH DALLAS FORTY
That’s his sippy cup
If you don’t think North Dallas Forty is the greatest movie ever made about the NFL, I will fight you. Anytime, anywhere. Day or night. Don’t know the movie? Forfeit your fantasy football league and stay away from the tailgates until you do. After watching real deal Nick Nolte use his morally compromised compass to navigate through the behind the gridiron scene’s hedonistic waters such as this team party, you’ll finally get it when your in-the-know bros start going on about, “The weird part!”
4. BLUE VELVET
The Wolfpack would get eaten alive
With oddball auteur David Lynch in charge of this guest list, count on a Blue Velvet party to be packed with wall-to-wall weirdos. There’s Pabst Blue Ribbon, ominous middle-aged ladies, and Dean Stockwell as the bizarro host who lip-synchs Roy Orbison tunes. As world class lunatic Frank Booth. Dennis Hopper resurrected his career with a performance that’s pure sociopathic menace one moment, seething sobbing horn dog the next. That’s when he’s in a good mood. When Frank starts huffing on his happy gas it becomes a party you’ll never forget. No matter how hard you try.
3. OVER THE EDGE
Smells like teen spirit
Kurt Cobain confessed that Over The Edge “…pretty much defined my whole personality.” It definitely nailed the “latch key kid” zeitgeist of the time. Its authenticity in due part to having real teen-agers in the teen-age roles. There’s a first act house party shot with pre-indie guerilla-style that it comes across like a documentary with a killer rock soundtrack. Then there’s the big bash that happens in the finale. When the adults gather at the school to discuss their out of control kids, those same out of control kids lock the parents inside. Pesky parents put away, the kids get down to the havoc. They loot and vandalize the school, others turn the parking lot into the blow up party spot. Literally. (Movie Party List Bonus: Matt Dillon and Vincent Spano made their acting debut in OTE).
2. MAD MONSTER PARTY
Who’s who of what’s that?
In this stop-motion musical comedy monster mash, Dr. Frankenstein (voiced by the legendary Boris Karloff) invites horror’s heavy hitters to his remote island hideaway for a party to end all the rest. The VIP ghoul-list includes Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Mummy, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hide, and the Invisible Man. Now that Universal Pictures has unveiled its transparent cash grab at replicating Marvel’s “shared universe” – or as Universal is calling it, the Dark Universe – their end game already looks doomed. Their best hope would be to make their endgame a live action remake of Mad Monster Party. Done right, it could be a graveyard smash.
1. BIG WEDNESDAY
Crashers… Crashers…? CRASHERS!
John Milius wrote and directed Big Wednesday as an ode to his youthful days surfing waves in Malibu. He’s the first filmmaker to give screen time to the occupational hazard of party-throwers & party-goers alike: crashers. The slugfest that breaks out is pure Wild West barroom brawl barrel-rolled with a ’60’s era surfer twist. It just gets everything right. From the sloppy-drunk scrappers demolishing each other and the kitchen in the process, to skillfully precise knockout artist The Enforcer (the great Reb Brown) who saves the day, it’s a master class on how to shoot a fight scene. Big Wednesday is an undeniable classic. Haven’t seen it? I truly feel sorry for you.