Summer of 84

Over at Film School Rejects they asked if we are “approaching 1980s nostalgia fatigue.” We not only approached it, we settled in and signed the lease. Summer of 84 is another exercise in warm blanket era-sentimentality, a la Stranger Things, The Goldbergs and even before, on a popular Friends episode.

When it comes to our domain, horror, the 80s were something of a Golden Age so it’s not surprising filmmakers are longing for its return (Or maybe it’s all relative. The 90s ushered in a Dark Age.)

Summer of 84’s cultural touchstones include the usual suspects — Ghostbusters, MTV, and Reagan (what’s odd is that people are always time capsule-constrained to their decades. In the 80s, this site’s authors ingested a diet rich in 70s music and film, but if our lives ended up on screen, somehow it’d all be headbands, key-tars and Goonies).

Summer of 84 features four teen friends, roughly, the fatty, the nerd, the vaguely cool one, and the delinquent, and good-natured ribbing since lost to the Age of PC.

When their suburban town is rocked by a report of missing boys, a la the John Wayne Gacy case, one member of the crew casts suspicion on the local cop. The group then does some Hardy Boys inductive reasoning to dredge up clues to get their man. Their team also includes an eye-candy babysitter (too post-pubescent to run with this baby-faced crew, but providing good female energy) and their investigative reporting features nascent camcorder technology, and the even more inevitable Spielberg name-check.

With zippy dialogue and easy camaraderie, Summer of 84 whips along solely on its considerable charms, before completely unraveling in an exasperating anti-climax and embarrassingly stupid voice-over.

Merely snipping 10 minutes from the finale would’ve done this film wonders. But Summer of 84 is the work of three directors, so they were probably drawn and quartered in narrative direction.

Write (or direct) what you know is true for any era. And you could call the spate of 80s-styled horror movies by Generation Xers wistful thinking.

*** (out of 5)


What’s next, a nail-biter about air hockey? Longshot is a feature-length (!) film about…foosball.

Jesus, Bald-headed Christ. Of all the misguided, stupid, pointless, obscure, un-marketable, premises for a flick…this has to take the cake.

Leif Garrett is Paul Rodgers. He wants to be the next Lionel Messi/Cristiano Ronaldo. An actual footballer. But for his field of dreams to be realized, he needs to finance a trip to Europe to train.* This requires seed money. So he turns his attention to that ultimate cash-cow: the foosball tournament circuit.

Who knew this would be so lucrative?

When people think foosball, they think being drunk. It’s a bar parlor game at establishments, large and loud enough to accommodate such things. And you’d have to have been under the influence to conceive of, and then finance such a film.

Paul passes on a scholarship to a US college and along with pal Leroy, plans an excursion to Lake Tahoe, the apparent epicenter of the Table Football universe.

Unfortunately, Leroy injures his spinning hand (um). So Paul enlists the help of 13-year old Maxine. Because that’s what 18-year-olds do, they cross state lines with minors and stay in motel rooms with them. WTF?

That’s a proposition that beggars belief. Much like passing on a scholarship at your post-secondary education to take a chance on some dopey tournament. Unless your competition had thalidomide arms, it’d probably be anyone’s game.

We podcasted Manos: The Hands of Fate, one of the most boring films ever committed to celluloid. And this is that film’s easy rival. It’s agonizing on every level you know, and on some you don’t. It’s impossible to make a filmable movie about foosball. Trust.

* (out of 5)

[Check out our podcast discussion of Longshot!]

[*Editors’ note: being 18+ is a little late in the game to be a professional footballer. Major clubs have academies and there are youth clubs, so if you’re an American eyeballing the beautiful game…you should probably start a decade earlier than Leif does here!]