Thursday, July 6, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Summer Vacations


It's the middle of July. This is the time of year when there are only two versions of the daily weather forecast in my neck of the woods. The first is for sweltering heat. The second is for sweltering heat interrupted by thunderstorms. And it's Thursday. Our host for Thursday Movie Picks, the wise and all-knowing Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves, did the math and came up with the only logical answer to this equation. She made Summer Vacation our topic. Since I'm the twisted sort, I immediately started creating a post featuring the first three Friday the 13th movies. They're about the goings on at a summer camp, after all. Then I remembered something. I just did that post last Thursday. Hmm. My next move was to start with the fourth movie in the franchise and just keep it going. Lucky for you, I thought better of it. I have to caution you, though. If reading what I've written so far makes you think you're about to read a post about a bunch of happy-go-lucky kids on a vacay from school in a set of heartwarming coming-of-age stories, well, you are...sorta. I mean, my heart might be the only one warmed, but I'm different like that. In other words, I hope you never had a summer like any of these...


Piranha
(1978)
Maggie and Paul aren't teenagers on vacation. Maggie is an insurance investigator sent to find a couple who went missing near Lost River Lake. Paul is the local yokel she's enlisted to help. When they drain the pool we saw the lovebirds take a dip in, they unwittingly unleash a school of piranha that eats whatever is in their path. Do you know what's in their path? If you said a summer camp full of kids, you'd be correct. This Jaws knock-off is not really all that good, but it is saved by a no-holds-barred finale. I prefer the balls-to-the-wall 2010 remake, but that one is set during spring break. Hmm.


Sleepaway Camp
(1983)
Cousins Angela and Ricky are among the campers at Camp Arawak. Ricky fits in pretty well, but Angela is socially awkward and gets bullied by the other kids. If that weren't enough to worry about, there is also a homicidal maniac on the loose, picking kids and counselors off...ahem...one by one. In the wake of John Carpenter's Halloween, slasher flicks were all the rage in the early 80s. After the success of its most famous knock-off, Friday the 13th, most of these movies put their casts of expendable teenagers in the woods, or some other secluded place. Sleepaway Camp fits the bill to a tee. It sets itself apart with one of the most iconic twist endings in horror movie history.


I Know What You Did Last Summer
(1997)
Fittingly, given the timing of our topic, the set-up to this movie takes place on July 4th. A group of drunk teens are driving home from a party when they run over and kill a pedestrian. Rather than going to the police and explaining the situation, our group of rocket scientists decides to dump the body in the lake and pretend nothing happened. Everything seems to be going okay until the next summer when members of this little wolfpack all start getting mysterious notes reading "I know what you did last summer." Needless to say, they start getting killed...ahem...one by one, apparently by the Gorton Fisherman. This is one of the better movies to come out during the slasher flick resurgence of the late 90s brought on by the success of Scream. Of course, this led to...


I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
(1998)
We take the only two characters from the first movie...so I guess that makes a spoiler alert necessary...moves time ahead to the summer following the events of the first film, and gives them new friends who take them on a vacation to the Bahamas. When they get there, our friendly psychotic fisherman is back and is once again killing our cast...ahem...one by one. Dammit. I've been to the Bahamas and found it to be a pretty peaceful place, but whatever. This isn't quite as good as the first, but is still a fun DTM (dead teenager movie). I mean, you get what you expect when you sit down to watch a movie called I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.



22 comments:

  1. I've seen bits of the original Piranha which is fun and I think I saw bits of Sleepaway Camp. I have seen the IKWYDLS summer movies. The first one was OK but the second was awful. Plus, you know the movie is fucked when the characters answer the wrong answer to what is the capital of Brazil. Hint... it's not Rio de Janeiro.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I forgot about that "iconic" moment!

      Delete
  2. Yes these are campy wonders! I only saw the remake of Piranha, so I'm only assuming the original is at the same level. I have a soft spot for how bad Sleepaway Camp really is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The original Piranha is not nearly as wild and crazy as the remake, but it is fun. How can you not have a soft spot for Sleepaway Camp?

      Delete
  3. I haven't seen any of these but I've seen Scary Movie. Does it count as I Know What You Did Last Summer?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol. Scary Movie counts more as Scream, but does incorporate IKWYDLS, so I'll allow it.

      Delete
  4. LOVE I Know What You Did Last Summer... and the sequel, too. Neither are great, but they're both a lot of fun. The tanning bed!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Piranha! Oy what a hunk of junk that movie is! I've in fact seen all these low rent opuses and judging the very low bar that they set I suppose the "best" was I Know What You Did Last Summer while in no way being a really good film. This is a very Dell quartet of summer escapism though. A very harmonious set.

    My second two are teen oriented, how could I NOT have a beach party movie!, but my first offers a more mature lead and beautiful views of Greece.

    My Life in Ruins (2009)-Stranded in Athens teacher Georgia (Nia Vardalos) takes a job as a tour guide which she hates and isn’t very good at hiding it. Every group seems just like the last-a goofy couple, a frat boy, a sullen teen, a feuding couple, divorcĂ©es looking for a mate, and the funny guy who really isn’t. Mostly tourists on summer vacation and mostly Americans they’re historied out by the time she gets them and most just want to shop. Her latest group looks like it will be business as usual but as unexpected events transpire what starts out so badly slowly turns into a life changing pleasure. Genial romantic comedy filled with stunning views of Greece.

    Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)-It’s summer vacation so Frankie & Annette along with Bonehead and the whole gang hit the beach and battle Eric Von Zipper and his gearheads to save the kidnapped singing star Sugar Kane (Linda Evans) with the help of mermaid Lorelei (hey it’s a beach party movie go with it). The ultimate AIP summer flick where all the typical elements gelled into the best of the series with the catchiest theme song.

    Gidget (1959)-17 year old Frances Lawrence (Sandra Dee) goes to the beach one day on her summer vacation with her girlfriends. While they are sunning she decides to take a swim and promptly gets bumped on the head by surfboarder Moondoggie (James Darren). Intrigued by both the sport and the boy she buys a second hand board with her birthday money and is soon hitting the waves with Moondoggie and his gang of buddies lead by slightly older beach bum The Kahuna (Cliff Robertson) who dub her Gidget (a contraction of Girl and Midget). From then on it’s pretty much sun, fun and hitting the curl until the film takes a darkish turn when Kahuna, who’s been traveling around the world chasing the perfect wave, faces an existential life crisis but that doesn’t stop Gidget and Moondoggie from falling in love. Enormously successful film with a very appealing Sandra Dee followed by several sequels and a short lived TV show that introduced Sally Field to the world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "This is a very Dell quartet of summer escapism though. A very harmonious set." I'll take this as a compliment of the highest order.

      Haven't seen My Life in Ruins. It seemed generic enough for me to skip. I watched Beach Blanket Bingo when I was a kid, but that was many many moons ago. Curious to see how it holds up. I've never seen Gidget, but I did see plenty of the TV series which I liked well enough, but wasn't really a fan of.

      Delete
    2. I think Sally Field feels the same way about Gidget! Though now she looks back on it with the haze of nostalgia but it and The Flying Nun were chains around her neck back when she was trying to make the jump from fluffy leading lady to respected actress in fact when she was filming Sybil the crew nicknamed it "Gidget Goes Nuts". But it proved to be the turning point for her. The movie is similar to the show, cute but don't go out of your way.

      My Life in Ruins isn't extraordinary at all but if you happen to run across it on a rainy day it's pleasant enough and the views of Greece are spectacular.

      I love the Beach Party movies and Frankie & Annette but if you've seen one you've pretty much seen them all. But Bingo is the best and peppiest of the lot with the added bonus of the incredibly young and incredibly lovely Linda Evans as an added draw.

      A very similar film in the genre is a Tony Curtis comedy called Don't Make Waves where he's a transplanted New Yorker who finds himself entangled with the muscle beach culture of So-Cal while living in a gorgeous cliffside house and having to contend with the hot blooded Italian mistress of the house's owner. It costars two of the most beautiful women of the 60's Claudia Cardinale and Sharon Tate. Actually Sharon Tate plays a character named Malibu which served as the prototype of Malibu Barbie.

      Delete
    3. Sally Field has certainly come a long way.

      You had me at Claudia Cardinale.

      Delete
  6. Omg! Piranha is hilarious because it's so bad. I could watch it and not be affected by it which means it has to be bad. I haven't seen the others because I am not much into slasher films even though I know What You Did... is supposed to be better than the norm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Piranha is bad. And hilarious. I Know What You Did is better than the norm. Take that for whatever it's worth.

      Delete
  7. Sleepaway Camp is absolutely insane but I love that it's on this list. I've always like IKWYDLS as well.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Theme within a theme! Haven't heard of Sleepaway but I have of Piranha and I think everyone knows I know what you did last summer...beware the hook!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sleepaway Camp is nuts. And that ending!

      Delete
  9. I had wanted to include I Know What You Did Last Summer in my picks too...I've been rewatching some 90s flicks this year and this is one I would like to see again. I don't think I ever saw I Still Know What You Did Last Summer in full though...back when it was released...I don't think there was as much buzz around it as the first one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The second one was not as good as the first, but I still enjoyed it.

      Delete