Teen Movie Hell: A Crucible of Coming-Of-Age Comedies From Animal House to Zapped! – Mike ‘McBeardo’ McPadden (Bazillion Points)


Like most folks my age, I spent an inordinate amount of time during my teenage years and early twenties mired in a glut of video nasties and what my Ma used to call “boobie movies”. The “boobie movie” or teen comedy was a staple part of just about every youngster’s visual diet during the eighties and early nineties and bar the odd discovery of an abandoned collection of soft core “dirty” magazines or the odd illicit video of the much harder stuff, were the only way that most hormone crazed male adolescents were ever going to see the naked female form.

The Teen Comedy was a genre that was constantly reinventing itself, pushing boundaries and a law unto itself, teen comedies captured the period between childhood and adulthood in all of its unfettered, and more often than not highly exaggerated, glory and created legions of fans the world over.  And Teen Movie Hell, Mike ‘McBeardo’ Mc Padden’s comprehensive trip down memory lane, reminded me just how much time I wasted watching these films and how much I loved every single second of that wasted time.

Comprised of a series of essays from a collection of hideously knowledgeable and talented film geeks (including Kat Ellinger, Katie Rife, Liz Mason, Heather Drain, Scott R. Miller and more) that strip apart and rebuild some of the more popular and enduring entries in the genre and a mind-boggling catalogue of the films that helped to shape a couple of generations of stand up citizens that takes a deep dive into ever title that made the list, Teen Movie Hell is a mind expanding crash course in the minutia of the movies that kept thousands of video rental shops in business for a decade and some spare change.  It’ll teach you more than you ever knew you wanted to know about “boobie movies” and a whole lot more besides. Don’t believe me? Okay, here’s some of the things that I learned from McBeardo’s book…

  1. There are a surprising number of Teen Sex Comedies. And by surprising, I mean a lot. And I’ve seen a surprisingly large number of them
  2. John Hughes not only wrote the screenplays for Vacation and Class Reunion ( whichfeatured Anthony Kiedis dear old dad as the cross-dressing villain of the piece and is actually great fun if you’re five beers into a six pack when you watch it) but was also the editor of National Lampoon and his initial foray into the world of films was torpedoed by Stephen Spielberg. It was all to do with a screenplay about a shark that Hughes wrote that Spielberg didn’t find funny. No sir, Steve didn’t think it was funny at all
  3. George Lucas’ sophomore film American Graffiti cost $775,000 to make and when it hit the big screen, made $171,000,000. Yeah, old George was making the big movie bucks before the Death Star was even a thing. And Fox still made his life a misery while he was filming Star Wars. The jerk offs.
  4. Evil Ed from Fright Night (the original) took a break from mainstream movies to become a gay porn star. I mean, that’s probably not exactly how it happened, but he became a legitimate porno legend. I’d say something about that being cool, but Ed got there first and Charley Brewster beat me to it.
  5. There’s a real life, honest to goodness reason that you see far fewer dongs on screen than lady gardens, and if you want to find out what it is, you’ll have to read the book. And said reason is far crazier than you think, or imagine, it is.

That’s just the stuff that immediately sprang to mind, if you want to know more, you’ll have to buy Teen Movie Hell.  Which you should, as it’s an acerbic, enlightening, laugh out loud funny exploration of a genre of film that’s, all bar the fine print, suffered the same fate as the dinosaurs. Written with genuine affection, warmth and an unparalleled passion for its subject matter, Teen Movie Hell is a must read for everyone who ever cheered Bluto, Otto and Pinto on, imagined cruising with John Milner, laughed hysterically when Lassie revealed her passion for the boys locker room, wished they could have joined Lambda Lambda Lambda and tried to copy THAT dance move from Risky Business. This is the stuff that dreams were made of… Tim Cundle

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