2018 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, April 11-15

Posted by Amoebite, March 29, 2018 05:50pm | Post a Comment

Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles

Don't miss the 2018 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, the premiere showcase of groundbreaking Indian cinema, which is taking place April 11-15 at Regal LA Live. This year's lineup features exciting, award-winning new work from Indian filmmakers around the world. Gala tickets and passes, as well as regular screening tickets, are now available at Get a $2 discount on all regular screening tickets with promo code AMOEBA2018PP.

The festival will open with In The Shadows, starring Manoj Bajpayee in a tour de force performance as a In The Shadowsreclusive shopkeeper who vows to rescue his young neighbor from abuse at the hands of his father. The film premiered at the Mumbai Film Festival and features an impressive Bollywood cast that also includes Ranvir Shorey, Neeraj Kabi, Shahana Goswami, and introduces Om Singh as the young boy. The film’s award-winning Los Angeles-based director Dipesh Jain – making his feature debut – will be in attendance along with star Manoj Bajpayee.

The festival closes with the Los Angeles premiere of Village Rockstars, one of the most lauded Indian The Village Rockstarsfilms on the festival circuit in the past year. The film premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and is directed by emerging Indian filmmaker Rima Das. The film -- written, shot, edited, and directed by Das -- is a touching coming of age story of a ten-year-old girl in a remote Assamese village who dreams of buying a guitar and starting her own rock band. Purchase your IFFLA Gala ticket for this event on Sunday, April 15. The screening is preceded the Awards Ceremony featuring a prestigious jury: Reza Aslan, Saudi filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour, and Sundance breakout Aneesh Chaganty.

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End-of-Summer Cinema Binge: Crazy 80s Beach Movies!

Posted by Kells, September 21, 2017 11:20pm | Post a Comment
Summer is over, or is it? Well, it certainly doesn't have to be! For the last few weeks I've been mostly landlocked, cooped up and unable to make it to the beach or anywhere else due to some bad luck and doctor's orders, but that hasn't stopped me from chasing my stupidest end-of-Summer seaside shenanigan-filled dreams by couch-surfing a good ol' beach movie marathon. And not just any old sandy surf movies, but specifically those bitchin' beach features from the golden age of VHS rentals and late night Cable TV programming—the 1980s!

Listed below in no particular order are sixteen films that, for better or for worse, fit the bill; feel free to let me know if any crucial contenders have been omitted (I had to pull the plug before hitting the bottom of the barrel). As I mentioned in my previous Amusement Park movie binge post, a lot of these titles are likely to be found used in our stores, especially if you're seeking to own them on VHS or LaserDisc. Please check the links to our online store or give us a call to see if we've got what you're looking for and we'll do our darndest to make your crazy 80s beach movie/tangible format dreams come true the old fashioned way, dude.

Where the Boys Are '84 (1984)

In this 80s remake of a 1960 teensploitation beach comedy by basically the same name, a couple of college girlfriends (a classical music major who'd rather stay put to finish her term paper before the end of Spring Break, a sex-crazed bombshell on the prowl for hunky He-Man one-night-stands, a straight-talkin' sassy lassy looking for a break from her clingy longtime beau, and a prissy, prudish, spoiled Southern belle with a cherry red convertible) escape their snowbound New England campus life for a week of flirty beach party action in Fort Lauderdale, where, according to the tagline, "all of your dreams come true". Hmm. Maybe if you dream of lowbrow boozy nightlife, "Hot Bod" dance contests, crashing formal mansion shindigs, baroque power ballad-edged romance, and spending your days at max capacity beaches without actually getting in the water. The best bit of this film involves a shitty hotel room, lots of weed, girl talk, a couple of pizzas, full contact make-out coaching, and an ocean burial for a male blow-up doll punctured in the line of duty (RIP). 

Last Resort (1986)

Not to be confused with either Private Resort (1985), Hot Resort (1985), or with a bunch of other movies called Last Resort, this film falls into a sub-category of the bitchin' beach movie genre I like to call "mistaken vacations". Charles Grodin stars as an over-worked Dad who impulsively decides to take his wife and three kids on a family vacation to a shoddy tropical beach resort located in an unnamed foreign nation that appears to be on the edge of some kind of militant political revolution ("why are there so many soldiers?"). No worries, though! The staff at the resort (played by Gerrit Graham aka Beef from Phantom of the Paradise(!), Mario Van Peebles, and SNL alums Phil Hartman and Jon Lovitz among others) are friendly fun-bullies pushing a bounty of distractions on their innocent guests through exuberant yet dubious French/Spanish accented English. Loaded with technicolor tiki drinks, haplessly organized group activities, casual sexual encounters, and questionable compulsory nightlife entertainments, this turkey knocked me off my rocker with the scope and unpredictability of it's wackiness. It's an A++ gut-buster.

Computer Beach Party (1987)

As far as trashy teen sex comedies of the 80s go, this one's extra terrible even though it's pretty much got everything going for it. There's a beach town with a evil mayor, his kindhearted impressionable daughter, an improbable competitive sport ("kite buggy" racing), buried treasure, a giant "chicken" car, bumbling police, blockhead lifeguards, sex on the beach/in cars/in a van, a and a hunky nerd hero who uses his computer skills to miraculously plan epic beach parties. Take a moment and imagine being able to plan a beach-bound blowout using nothing but your computer in 1987. We're talkin' booking a band, ordering food and kegs, and notifying your guests (plus extra random girls) by sending out invitations 'n' things...for your beach party...using nothing but your 1987. Which, sure, okay, whatever—the title of the movie is Computer Beach Party after all. And, regarding booking a band, it should be noted that the movie also features a whopping fifteen songs and multiple live performances by hair metal band Panther (not to be confused with three other bands by the same name, especially not 80s L.A. rockers Panther whose self-titled debut features a young Jeff Scott Soto). The extent to which Panther is filmed kind of makes the movie feel like it's doubling as their demo reel, but the trade off is a bounty of definitive plot rock devices in the form of songs with lyrics about beach parties and other movie scene-relevant themes.

Beach House (1982) 

In the mood for an early 80s Jersey Shore beach movie with a Surf/Punk soundtrack and a cast comprised of the director's friends and family (probably—they interact really well)? Look no further than Beach House, the movie/series of music videos where two groups of teens (white bread kids from the greater Philly area and sassy Italian-Amerikids from Brooklyn) share neighboring units in an Ocean City duplex resulting in a beach week's worth of fight-or-fuck frivolity and other delights. Highlights include a wild "Fourth of July T & T party" (that's Turkey and Tequila), people actually running to jump into waves at the beach (like you should), colorful day and night footage of the beach boardwalk amusements action, a heated baseball game between rivals that brings everyone together, and endless antics by guys with names Baby, Googie, Nudge, Drake, and Snooky. Be warned that there is this one rape-y incel creep and a couple of shitty bros that come close to ruining the fun at times, but, overall, this is a pretty good "bad movie" with nothin' but rad tunes by the Ramones, Plastic Bertrand, Billy Bland, and ten original songs (plus covers like "When You Find Out" by The Nerves) performed by Adam Roth (he plays Googie in the film). Fun Fact: Beach House was originally called Down the Shore, but the title was changed because apparently only people from Philly say "Down the Shore". Also, if you ever clock an affordable copy of the Down The Shore (Original Soundtrack) LP by Adam Roth And His Band Of Men don't pass it up. Aside from ruling, obviously, as the movie proves, it's worth $$$. 

North Shore (1987)

Can people tell you're lame by the way you wear your shorts? Been criticized for your single fin mentality? Seen bigger waves in a toilet bowl? Are you so haole, you don't even know you're haole?  Whether you answered "yes" or "no" to the questions above, trust that North Shore is the perfect flick for kooks like you. This lovable soup of quotable "surfer" dialogue and deliciously 80s fashion set against lush Hawaiian landscapes and siiick in-the-drink footage tells the story of wanna-be big wave rider and Arizona desert surf champion(?!) Rick Kane (Matt Adler) as he travels to Oahu's North Shore to surf the "season" before jetting off to art school. Curious to see if he's got what it takes to go pro, Rick channels his inner Karate Kid in preparation for entering the BIG North Shore surf contest, with the help of his Miyagi-esque surf guru coach Chandler (Gregory Harrison) and his "hui chick" love interest Kiani (Nia Peeples). Can a "barney" like Kane soul-surf to success against territorial locals, world famous pros, and the "LA kine" current reigning North Shore surf champion Lance Burkhart (a.k.a. actual big wave surfer Laird Hamilton) without getting drilled? Only one way to find out. Go ahead, go shred.

The Beach Girls (1982)

At first glance you might think this here's nothing but another buxom bikini'd beach girl B-movie, and you'd be right (hence the title), but it's got lot more going for it. For starters, it's filmed in and around a plush California beach house magnificently appointed with lots of tropical plants, swag lamps, stained glass, wood paneling, and other sensationally 70s interior motifs done up in varying shades of brown, yellow, and orange. This setting further boasts an impressive array of state-of-the-era creature comforts (a pool, sauna, hot tub, bar, a "great stereo", and tan-felted billiards) so, naturally, the structure of the movie's premise leans heavily on the need to throw a house party that never ends. The three leading ladies are bonafide 80s babes (including former Playboy Playmate Jeana Keough), there are a ton of dopey jokes that land surprisingly well despite being anything but easy on sexual innuendo, and the unknowns filling out periphery roles like The Nerd, Pizza Boy, Redhead, Champagne Girl, Champagne Boy, Surfer, Popper, Muscles, Frisbee Girl, Muff Diver, Shower Girl, and Vette Driver deliver a lot of this film's charm. As expected, the boob count is off the charts, but even at it's wackiest The Beach Girls maintains a consistent and engaging likeability for a sex comedy short on story and long on smutty gags. The only time this flick approaches actual raunchiness is during the few bits where two ethnic minority domestic servicemen are aped, treated like shit, or are shown turning on each other for no reason.

Surf II (1984) 

High camp! Utter nonsense! Hardcore hijinks! Rad soundtrack! Nobody makes breakneck, coke-fueled spastic flicks like this anymore. Though it's billed as "the end of the trilogy", Surf II is neither a sequel or a prequel (Surf I and Surf III doesn't exist) and maybe that's all you need to know if you're on the fence about whether or not you're gonna watch this mess. The story follows local surfer space-cases Chuck (Eric Stoltz) and Bob (Jeffrey Rogers) as they attempt to fumbly deduce why their fellow surfer dudes are mutating into garbage-eating zombie punks and what that has to do with an addictive soft drink called Buzzz Cola, a coupe of bad business dads, and a nefarious teenage mad scientist Menlo Schwartzer (played with perfect brilliance by the one and only Eddie Deezen). With the fate of the big surf contest hanging in the balance, and little to no help from their hapless parents and bumbling police Chief Boyardie (Lyle Waggoner), can Chuck and Bob save their buddies from the clutches of breath-spray addicted yuppies and the revenge of a nerd hellbent on ridding the beaches of surfers forever? Surrender your mind and find out! Even if you hate it, Surf II is worth indulging for the Punk/New Wave meets Surf Rock soundtrack mashing the likes of Dick Dale, The Ventures, The Chantays, and The Beach Boys with the Circle Jerks, Split Enz, Talk Talk, Wall of Voodoo, Stray Cats, and Deserters. It even features the exclusive Oingo Boingo track "Hold Me Back" as result of Danny Elfman's brief involvement with the soundtrack production (though the soundtrack never received an official release).

Shag (1989)

Perhaps an attempt to ride the popularity wave of 1987's Dirty Dancing, Shag combines a Beach Music soundtrack with a story focused on the Carolina Shag dance craze to match, and a very Where The Boys Are formula of beach movie-making that romanticizes a specific slice of regional Americana. That is, I hope you don't mind the Confederate battle flag 'cause from the movie's title card, to wanna-be starlet Melaina (Bridget Fonda) crotch-flossin' the standard during a bodaciously bad dance routine set to a marching band version of "Dixie", and one miss Suzette (Leilani Sarelle) flauntin' her wares in a stars 'n' bars bikini for the Miss Sun Queen pageant, this film works that controversial banner in ways that, well, fit right in with the 1963 South Carolina setting. Centered around four girl friends (Phoebe Cates, Page Hannah, Annabeth Gish, and Fonda) desperate for on final Summer fling in Myrtle Beach before marriage and so forth separates them forever, Shag's will-they-or-won't-they relationship dramas weave in and out of carhops, fratty house party madness, beach boardwalk fun, silly rivalries, and hot hot Summer nights before finding resolution at the big Shag dance contest cherry atop this coming-of-age sundae. It's alright.

Surf Nazis Must Die (1987)

If the title of this film or the flavor of it's marketing materials grosses you out, prompts a full-body eye roll, or inspires a sudden craving for lukewarm garbage, then that can only mean one thing: Troma Entertainment has done it again! It's not for nothing that Troma has built a reputation for producing and distributing thousands of heinously low-budget independent horror/shock/bizarre B-movies, and Surf Nazis Must Die is definitely one of their very best worst releases. Or worst best, depending on your perspective. In the film, an earthquake has left the California coast in a state of disruption so chaotic that a local gang of Neo-Nazi surfers takes advantage of the upheaval to seize control of the beaches by attempting to fight off all the other surfer gangs (like the neon splatter gang, the tye-dye blonde boy gang, the ninja gang, etc.). However, vengeance comes for the Surf Nazis in the form of Elinor “Mama” Washington (Gail Neely) who, devastated by the murder of her beloved son at the hands of the racist beach gang, breaks out of her retirement home armed with guns, grenades, and a vow to single-handedly wipe out every last one of them. Definitely a Grade-A Troma "movie of the future".

Summer Rental (1985) 

Much like Last Resort, Summer Rental is another drop in "mistaken vacation" beach movie bucket, this time starring John Candy in the overworked Dad role (his character is a stressed out air traffic controller so the struggle feels real). With his company's blessing, he takes his family on a weeks long vacation to Florida's Atlantic coast where, upon arrival, everything falls into place in ways that seem almost too good to be true. Of course—it should come as no surprise, less than twenty-four hours and a few realty checks later their seemingly heaven-sent cream of a family getaway goes from relaxing to taxing, with physical injuries and an additional unfortunate run-in with the local "champagne villain" further hindering Dad's already damaged ability to indulge in family fun. Enter Rip Torn as the local scallywag running a sketchy seafood restaurant out of his rundown sailboat, "The Barnacle", with whom Candy's character strikes up an unlikely friendship that turns the beat around for the Joe Q. Public beach-keepers of the world. A very enjoyable screwball comedy of a family film, free of rude nudity and overt sexploitation unlike, say, Hardbodies...

Hardbodies (1984)

Comin' in hot with a tit-ular theme song backing an intro montage of half-naked beach babes in string bikinis oiling up 'n' rubbing down to lay out on the sand, roller skate the beach boardwalk, and frolic splishy-splashy topless in the breakers, Hardbodies makes no attempt to adjust any preconceived assumptions one might have post-peeping the movie poster, delivering sex action and lots of nudity (including male full frontal) within the first five minutes. The story follows cool dude/beach bum Scotty Palmer (Grant Cramer) who, after proving he can score plenty with local chicks (or, by his definition, "Hardbodies. You know, the little foxes down the beach") and keep his turf geek-free with the help of his totally radical sidekick Rag (Courtney Gains), lands a live-in gig teaching some over-the-hill, moneyed divorcés who just bought a neon-lit beachfront party pad how to pick up hardbodies of their own using his icky, catchily-named scam artist techniques. Featuring old man make-overs, all-female glam rock band Vixen, and a hotrod waterbed, Hardbodies is demoralizing, dumb fun with breasts aplenty and a side of "I don't fuck fossils for free" sick burns.

Beach Balls (1988)

Another crazy 80s beach movie about boys chasing girls, visually represented (on the left) by the album art for the movie soundtrack LP rather than the movie poster because every inch of this film is dominated by the concurrent sleaze rock/hair metal boom flourishing in L.A. when this movie was made—a music scene that is perhaps best captured by Penelope Spheeris' documentary The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. In fact, Beach Balls features some of the same real life characters as The Metal Years, namely the self-styled "Godfather of Rock 'N' Roll" and owner of the infamous Sunset Strip nightclub Gazzari's, Bill Gazzarri, and Cindy Birmisa, the reigning Miss Gazzarri Dancer of the Year 1987 in the documentary. Anyway, the Beach Balls story goes something like this: young musician and beach girl-watcher Charlie (Phillip Paley, a.k.a. Cha-Ka from Land of the Lost) dreams of becoming a rock star in order to win the heart of his band-obsessed bikini girl but "not a groupie" crush, Wendy (Heidi Helmer). When his backmasking-detective/PMRC-minded mom and dad leave town to attend a huge "rally for decency" in New York, Charlie seizes the opportunity to host a house party to hopefully win Wendy's heart, get himself in a band, and get said band a record deal. That's a tall order and, of course, it's not as simple as all that, but for a Roger Corman-produced coming-of-age teen beach boo-boo that embraces the likes of Bill Gazzarri, his stable of dancers, and the D.R. Starr band while also dumping on religious/political zealots, this low budget, late-80s L.A. rock odyssey is worth the effort if you can find it—good luck!

The Blue Lagoon (1980)

An odd inclusion on this list? Hardly. Although it's a captivating adaptation depicting a shipwrecked party of three (a young boy, a young girl, and an old, rum-swilling salty dog of a sailor) learning how to survive life on an uncharted South Seas tropical isle, seeing 80s super stars Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins act their "story of natural love" as children of paradise processing rites of passage like death and sexual maturity as they grow up together with little other than their instincts and childhood memories to guide them makes this film crazy enough to make the cut. Sure, there are no loud parties or rowdy pursuits that necessitate quick edits and reckless pacing, but there is plenty of beach-based adventure stuffed between long, lingering shots of the lovely deserted (or is it?) Fijian island location where the film was shot. Unlike most of the other movies listed here, The Blue Lagoon's nudity and sex scenes are mild rather than vulgar, save for one laughable masturbation-on-the-beach bit and other predictably awkward tender moments fueled by mysterious hormonal awakenings. All told, it's an underrated film that radiates a lot of rare beauty annnd a little ridiculousness.

Hot Moves (1985)

Literally the most boner-rific and awkward sex comedy included here, Hot Moves seems to be a movie made to pose the question, "Is there such a thing as too many boobs?", only to immediately answer said query with a resounding pubescent voice-crack of a "No!". Focusing loosely on the story of four high school losers who make a pact to help each other get laid before Summer's end so they won't have to start their senior year as virgins, this precursor to American Pie (1999) peppers it's cutesy yet timeworn gimmicks 'n' gags narrative with enough B-roll filler footage of Venice Beach and it's many radical diversions that I couldn't help but recall how it felt to grow up as a Southerner, born and raised on the East Coast, enviously consuming so many "I wish they all could be California" beach movies like this one, hoping that all these "good time" depictions, however ridiculous, were more than just a bunch of contrived Hollywood hooey. Whether I found this to be true based on my own grown up California beach experiences is another blog post altogether, but—hey!—lookout for Hot Moves' Chariots of Fire inspired sequence showcasing dozens of fully nude women inexplicably jogging down a beach in slow motion, it's a notable achievement in teen sex comedy cult film entertainment.

Weekend at Bernie's (1989)

While settling in to watch Weekend at Bernie's for the first time since seeing it in the theater a lifetime ago, I began to wonder why it is that all East Coast-situated 80s beach comedies seem to be framed by a need to break from a busy work/school schedule, while their West Coast counterparts seem to spring from locals already living a fully stoked beach life regardless of whatever rising action lies ahead (I guess that was a boner joke). Anyway, mostly filmed in and around coastal North Carolina, a part of the US near and dear to my heart, Weekend at Bernie's is a dopey, should'a would'a could'a two Coreys vehicle that kind of makes you want to, I don't know, sever your neural pathways? I mean, how is it that no one aside from Larry (Andrew McCarthy, tie-in with the Chariots of Fire mention above) and Richard (Jonathan Silverman, aka the nerdy guy from Girls Just Want to Have Fun) notices that the third man starring in this extended beach house slapstick comedy of errors, their crooked boss Bernie (Terry Kiser, who rules in this), is a (SPOILER ALERT) dead guy? Anyway, hilarity ensues. Actually, it's propped up to death! 

Back to the Beach (1987)

For the record, this is the movie that killed my crazy 80s beach movie binge. It's got a lot of playful goofiness and era-appropriate high-energy pacing, but as the movie starts cooking it begins to resemble 50s/60s beach movie revival turkey dipped in neon kitsch and drunk-drowning in it's own nostalgia drippings. The mid-to-late 80s were a weird time for pop culture rewinds, with movies like Back to the Future and Dirty Dancing making good on generating era-crossover interests in music and styles, but Back to the Beach plays like a slapdash Zinka-smeared Memphis Group homage to Frankie and Annette's former beach partying glory days, starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello themselves as grown up has-beens, or, well, as themselves. It's cute at first when their little punker kid is pointing out how stuck they are in their static mid-century time tunnel, but once they go, you know, back to the beach, the movie starts to slip around in it's own gravy. It's a fun, tacky mess, and I guess that means it works well as whole picture, but there's a nagging tediousness to it that wore me out midway through and not even Pee-wee Herman's magical "Surfin' Bird" cameo could rouse my interests back to the beach, so to speak.

Annnnd that's as far as I got! I don't know if I'm hot for another themed movie marathon or not, but I've had my fill of sex comedies for the moment. Otherwise, I'm open for suggestions. Movies are the best, yes?


Summer-centric Cinema List: Amusement Parks in the Movies!

Posted by Kells, July 1, 2017 11:17pm | Post a Comment
Greetings thrill-seekers and family fun-loving Amoeblog readers! Summer's officially here for half the planet which means it's amusement park season. Whether you get your kicks at a globally branded monolith of a theme park or bravely risk those rickety rides at your local fairgrounds, I heartily recommend everyone indulge an amusement park interlude before Summer's end. If you can't make it happen, don't let the dog days get you down—let the movies take you there! Here's a fat list* of fifteen flicks featuring amusement park themes and scenes for your Summer-centric movie marathon consideration. Feel free to let me know if you think I missed anything essential and keep in mind that some of these titles may be found in used condition in our stores, perhaps in VHS format for all you tapeheads out there. Check the links to our online store or give us a call to see if we have what you're looking for and we'll do our best to hook you up. Now, hold on to your butts and enjoy ride!

Rollercoaster (1977)

With a story that plays out like proto-Die Hard script with somewhat made-for-TV production values, Rollercoaster is a "disaster movie" era thriller that may have fallen through the cracks of time (which is completely understandable given that, box office-wise, it had the likes of Star Wars and Smokey and the Bandit to contend with), but is nevertheless worth watching for the quality and quantity of its amusement park footage. Filmed extensively at Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, CA), King's Dominion (Doswell, VA), and the now defunct Ocean View Park (Norfolk, VA), it's arguable that shot-for-shot this flick packs more visual theme park punches than any other film. What's more, the band Sparks makes a cameo appearance near the end of the movie that lasts long enough to include two songs ("Big Boy" and "Fill-er-up" off Big Beat (1976). Apparently Sparks agreed to appear after KISS turned down the gig, however, fun fact: KISS went on to film KISS Meets The Phantom of the Park at Six Flags Magic Mountain a year later (#choices). Anyway, if you've been to these parks and long for days of yore, or if you fancy suspenseful depictions of thrill ride terrorist acts, and/or Sparks, Rollercoaster is the movie for you!

Little Fugitive (1953)

This influential and critically acclaimed nugget of naturalistic cinema is a wonder in many respects, but the main attraction is Coney Island as captured in glorious grayscale by photographers/directors Ruth Orkin, Morris Engel, and Ray Ashley. Starring an unknown Richie Andrusco in the title role, the little fugitive of Little Fugitive follows the adventures of a runaway described by the film's trailer as a "sportsman, gourmet, slugger extraordinary...the kid who's got a sharp eye for the odd chance, a quick hand for a fast buck" as he wanders out to Coney Island on his own. "From the gasping heights of the Parachute Drop to the secrets that hide under the boardwalk," it's easy to lose yourself in the enchanting spontaneity and bumbling pace of this film as it delivers on it's promises of depicting "a revelation of life and love where there's more of it per square inch than anyplace else in the world" with refreshing and memorable potency. It is the stuff of vicarious, atmospheric, amusement park magic.

40 Pounds of Trouble  (1962)

This is not a Disney™ film, but the vintage Disney footage is without a doubt the main reason anyone should suffer this fluff. Roughly twenty minutes of the film’s running time plays like a dedicated full color commercial extravaganza featuring Disneyland as it existed once upon a dream...of the early 1960s. Though purists will likely be plucked by elements added for the sake of hamming up the park’s presence in the film, and feathers rightly ruffled over certain cringe-inducing aspects inherent to Disneyland attractions of yore, the footage provides a marvelous whirlwind tour of what is arguably the world’s most iconic amusement park, the way it mostly was, for the ages. Oh! Also, during this Disneyland detour there is a movie going on and, eh, it's alright. Tony Curtis and Suzanne Pleshette are looking particularly fine in the film and there are some additional fun-to-see scenes shot around Lake Tahoe and in Harrah’s Lake Club, but as soon as the Disneyland portion of the picture monorails into view be prepared to gag on a grab bag of vintage Disney-flavored visual candy enchantments while the movie’s plot desperately tries to assert its relevance. 

Breaking All the Rules (1985)

This may be a forgotten panties-over-the-fishnets Canadian teen boner comedy with hairstyle continuity issues starring unknown actors like Carolyn Dunn and Thor Bishopric, but who cares when the story is all about two guys and two girls who meet each other's desperation at an amusement park on the last day of Summer (played by La Ronde, Quebec's largest and Canada's second largest amusement park, still in operation today). The aforementioned panties serve as a bit of a plot device, and there is also this Scooby Doo-esque jewel heist subplot the four teens get mixed up in during their couple-swapping misadventures, which maybe sounds lame, but—dammit—it's fun! Plus, the lengthy day-to-night amusement park parts of the film are colorful and chock full of real Canadian mid-80s silhouettes lending the perfect backdrop for the film's mischief-making and Paul Zaza's synth-driven soundtrack and titular theme song.


Both Night Tide (1961) and Carnival of Souls (1962) possess distinct visual facets that embrace the notion of amusement parks as spellbound centers where the strange and otherworldly congregate, luring impressionable outsiders into their mysterious confines with suspicious intentions. And both films are anchored by powerfully enigmatic leading ladies—one a mythic beauty (Linda Lawson) who attracts an outsider (a smokin' hot Dennis Hopper) to enter her amusement park domain (portrayed by Ocean Park Pier and Santa Monica Pier) and the other, an haunted outsider (Candace Hilligoss) who strays into an abandoned amusement park that seems to beckon to her (actually the crumbling remnants of Saltair Pavilion in Salt Lake City, also once called the Coney Island of the West). Featuring beatnik jazz, beach bongos, church organ and plenty of screams, consider pairing these together for a reality vs. the unknown battle of dark amusement park movies.

The Even More Fun Trip (2007)

Featured in McSweeney's Wholphin No. 7 (their "DVD magazine of rare and unseen short films"), this animated documentary short directed by Bob Sabiston, the rotoscope animator behind Richard Linklater’s Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, centers around a group of friends making a return trip to Six Flags Fiesta Texas. One of the people in this group, Ryan Power–a young man with autism, is unflagging in his enthusiasm for this excursion and for the duration of the film he  compares this "even more fun trip" to Fiesta Texas with the trip they enjoyed three years prior, verbally marking each difference and similarity relentlessly. Power's focused impressions and tenacious oversharing blends all too well with the amusement park setting and the ever-shifting psychedelic animation Sabiston cloaks this home movie in, making the overall viewing experience feel not unlike a warped thrill ride in and of itself.

The Lost Boys (1987)

For a Peter Pan-inspired vampire biker gang horror-comedy with a cast featuring the Coreys and other 80s faves, The Lost Boys has aged well in accordance with its "never grow old" credo. The timelessness of the film has everything to do with the fictional, sleepy "murder capital of the world" beach town setting created for the movie, Santa Carla, CA (played by Santa Cruz, CA), it's freak magnet beach boardwalk amusement park (played by the amazing and well worth visiting Santa Cruz Boardwalk), and its local comic book store (played by Atlantis Fantasy World which is still in biz btw, ask them for a copy of Vampires Everywhere and you won't be disappointed). Without these innately cool and very real backdrops, the film might drag under the weight of its contrived situations, clunky dialogue, and other absurdities (cue beefy saxman Tim Cappello's greased-up unchained live performance of "I Still Believe" that provides a means for the pivotal boy-spots-meets scene), however, The Lost Boys would probably remain enduring classic because vampires.

My Lucky Stars (1985)

Given all the situations, settings, and support a world class stunt comedian like Jackie Chan has employed throughout his distinguished career, it seems inevitable that an amusement park movie would be among his "been there, done that" accomplishments. The second in a series of five Lucky Stars films, My Lucky Stars follows undercover cop Muscles (Chan) alongside his good buddy Kidstuff (played by director Sammo Hung) and the three others in their "Lucky Stars" gang as they travel to an amusement park in Japan (Fuji-Q Highland, still in operation) to sock it to some Yakuza thugs at the behest of the Hong Kong Police. Culminating in some acrobatic action featuring a ferris wheel and some fun fight scenes involving ninjas and ghosts within the mobster's lair, which happens to be awesomely located deep inside a haunted funhouse type of dark ride, the loose and ludicrous story gives the ensemble cast plenty of fodder for their infamous blend of martial arts and rowdy, raucous comedy which is all anyone could wish for in a Jackie and company production.

The New Kids (1985)

This horror/thriller, the third amusement park movie from 1985 to make this list, tells the tale of teenage siblings (played by Lori Loughlin and Shannon Presby) who, after enduring a family tragedy, move in with their uncle Charlie (Eddie Jones) who operates a homespun Christmas-themed roadside amusement park and gas station in central Florida called Santa's Funland. Sounds pretty great, right? Well, one thing leads to another and the two "new kids" find themselves the targets of relentless harassment by a local druggy hick (James Spader) and his shit-kickin' henchemen (John Philbin and Vince Grant, to name just two). These focused disturbances of the peace eventually involve their family and love interests (played by Eric Stoltz and Paige Lyn Price), culminating in a revenge-fueled, drawn out night fight within the confines of Funland, the lighthearted family-friendly setting thrown in sharp contrast with the "bloodbath" finale. As one of the films' taglines states, "The kids learned three things about southern hospitality, blood, sweat and terror!"


Are you team Robotic Cowboys or team Dinosaur Clones? Watching these two together may be the only way to find out. Both Westworld (1973) and Jurassic Park (1993) come from the brilliant, twisted mind of novelist (and suspected theme park junkie) Michael Critchon, and both stories focus on fantastic yet somewhat plausible amusement parks that seem too-good-to-be true in the eyes of both their guests and hosts until a series of tragic malfunctions renders each a trap zone of localized crises with no possibility of escape? No spoilers, but if you haven't seen both of these bonafide blockbusters yet what are you waiting for? 

Big (1988)

Arcades n' games have always been part and parcel of any great amusement park experience, and Big makes big use of that fact to inject an essential dose of fantasy into this Tom Hanks-driven comedy that remains as fresh and endearing as the day it hit theaters. The film begins with a young Josh Baskin (David Moscow) enjoying a night out with his family at a carnival style amusement park until he spots Cynthia Benson, an older girl he fancies, in line for a thrill ride called Ring of Fire. With a spurt of sudden desperation to ditch his folks and impress his crush, he attempts to board the same ride only to be told he isn't tall enough. Humiliated, he puts a coin into a creepy antique fortune teller game called Zoltar Speaks (the real star of the film?) and makes a wish to be "big." From there the story sets off with Hanks takes the wheel, encountering memorable performances by Robert Loggia, Elizabeth Perkins, and Jon Lovitz along the way. Games and amusements further figure into the picture by the film's resolution with pivotal scenes featuring Rye Playland Park (Rye, NY).

Adventureland (2007)

Depending on your tolerance for "cool" soundtrack comedies featuring overgrown adolescents and any connections to either Jud Apatow, SNL, or The State, Adventureland is likely one of those movies that, at first glance, is immediately embraced with interest or completely dismissed by those who consider themselves in the know, or whatever. While it falls into the "cool" soundtrack movie zone, it is hardly a comedy and, as far as the overgrown adolescents go, the heart and substance portrayed in the film's relationships are surprisingly relatable. More importantly, the film takes place at the titular amusement park (played by Kennywood of West Mifflin, PA) and enjoyably explores the sights, sounds, and social structures of such a place as a shitty but fun work environment. The decidedly 80s tint may be heavy-handed, but the music (not always for the sake of the "cool" soundtrack—folks of a certain age may recall that one Summer ruled by Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus") and the fashion (obviously hip kids getting to work the Music Express while the freaks thanklessly man the Games) works pleasantly well for the flavor of this film rendering it palatable compared to others like it.

National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)

As far as amusement park movies go this one is an essential, maybe even the quintessential, example. It’s got everything: a John Hughes script packed with memorable quotes, first-rate comedic actors serving white-bread, middle-America family realness under Harold Ramis’ direction, Lindsey Buckingham’s hit soundtrack jammer Holiday Road," and, of course, a story that anyone can relate to—the excitement and anticipation of a road trip to a mega-theme park, in this case Walley World (a Disney-inspired fictional park played by a heavily embellished Six Flags Magic Mountain).  It's a "what could go wrong?" gone so right kind of movie.

Personally speaking, there are two crystalline moments in this film that ring too real with me: the slo-mo, “Chariots of Fire” sprint to the entrance of Walley World, and Clark Griswold's (Chevy Chase) fun-bully freak out retort, “This is no longer a vacation. It's a quest. It's a quest for fun. I’m gonna have fun and you're gonna have fun. We're all gonna have so much fucking fun we're gonna need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles! You'll be whistling 'Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah' out of your assholes!” Perfection. 

*I hope you've enjoyed the ride! Please note: this post isn't a "top" or "best of" list ranking movie picks from good to greatest. Of all the Summer cinema themes that come immediately to mind, amusement park movies rate below Summer camp movies, beach movies, and party movies (pool or otherwise), and you don't have to dig very far into amusement park film fodder before things begin to get barely watchable (see: Beverly Hills Cop III. Or, don't see it). As such, I referred to my inner theme park junky and chose enjoyable films that I feel successfully capture the vibe, light, motion, and overall appeal of amusement parks showcased as a setting or story (while trying not to overthink things too much).

Amoeba Sponsors Two Screenings at Indian Film Festival

Posted by Amoebite, March 22, 2016 04:07pm | Post a Comment

island city filmIsland City

indian film festival los angelesAmoeba is proud to sponsor two films at the 14th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, which takes place April 6-10 at the ArcLight Hollywood. Tickets are $15 each, plus a service fee of $1.74. Pick them up here.

As part of our longtime support of this unique festival, Amoeba is sponsoring Ruchika Oberoi's Island City, which screens April 7 at 7 p.m. The film, which combines absurdist comedy and realist drama, explores three stories in the sprawling city of Mumbai: an office drone selected by his company for a day of “fun”; an oppressed wife and mother who finds solace in a popular soap; and a woman in a loveless arranged marriage who begins to receive love letters from an unknown source.

We’re also sponsoring IFFLA alum Kranti Kanade's CRD April 9 at 3:05 p.m. The experimental film is reminiscent of French New Wave as it tells the story of an aspiring young writer who enlists a group of misfits to act against his college’s official team.

IFFLA is a nonprofit dedicated to fostering the appreciation of Indian cinema and culture. The festival takes place each year at the ArcLight, just next to our store in Hollywood.

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12 Irish Movies to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

Posted by Billy Gil, March 14, 2016 04:55pm | Post a Comment

You don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or appreciate great Irish films. Here’s a list of 12 releases we love, in no particular order. (At Amoeba Hollywood, find our St. Patrick’s day movies and music in a special section near the stairs.)

Once (2007)

This Irish musical/romantic drama stars stars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova as struggling musicians in Dublin who bond musically and fall in love. The film became so beloved that it was adapted in a Tony Award-winning play. If you’re in L.A., you can win tickets here to the show’s closing night at the Pantages Theatre March 20.


The Secret of Roan Inish (1994)

This fantastical drama from John Sayles tells of a young girl sent to live with her grandparents in a small Irish village near the island of Roan Inish, where selkies — seals that can become human — are rumored to reside. This combination of heart and Irish folklore makes the film a family-friendly winner.


Brooklyn (2015)

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