Vintage Scan #37: Variety (January 11, 1984)

What an odd bunch of pictures for Universal to be touting - I haven't heard of or seen several of them: Slayground, Crackers, Under the Volcano, Stick, Tank and Comfort and Joy?

Of course, there's a few gems in here: Sixteen Candles, a movie I never tire of, and Repo Man is a cult classic.

Check out some more pages from this entertainment trade magazine from January 1984 - it's interesting to see films and TV shows marketed towards distributors and not towards audiences as we're used to seeing.

Of all the advertising in this edition of Variety, this one seemed the most out of place.  It's the only sexploitation flick given a full page spread.  And how odd that they need to announce "Principal Photography Completed!" as if they were referring to a movie anyone cared about.  Even odder is the trademark at the bottom: Hollytubs Co. Ltd.  WTF?

The Lift was one of Holland's biggest movies of the 80s?  I've seen it; it's about a killer elevator, and it's monumentally terrible.  Plus, it's only '84; we're not even half way through the decade yet - how can you say "biggest films of the 80's" yet?

Dear Lord, the 80s were a low point in cinema.  If these are the two films New World Pictures chooses to send up the flagpole, there's a problem.

Robert Easton must be good - he's helped Todd Bridges and Tanya Roberts.  In all seriousness, a quick Google search proved he was indeed the man when it came to accent coaching.

I've no doubt VFM is gonna market the hell out of your film . I just question their choice to use "Strangers in Love" as their example.  Are they sexploitation specialists?  I did a quick Google search and came up empty.

Again, these are the films that Virgin is choosing to tout?  I've not heard of Can She Bake a Cherry Pie? or Loose Connections.  I remember seeing Electric Dreams in the theater.

The principal photography of The Company of Wolves is complete.  We can all breath a sigh of relief.

Now we're getting into the TV portion of the paper...

C.H.i.P.s had just been cancelled; but this isn't an advertisement like you'd see in TV Guide, promoting it to audiences.  This is promoting its syndicated reruns to networks.  There's quite a few ads like these in this issue.

"Call now.  You don't want them working for the competition... it may be dangerous."

I don't recall Bizarre at all.  It looks like something I would have liked, with Super Dave a regular on the show.  How did this slip under my radar?

I'll bet this was horrible.

Yep. I guess I shouldn't be too quick to slam American Idol and The Voice as I watched Puttin' on the Hits every single week.  As I recall the host had curly blond hair and contestants basically just had to karaoke to current hits.

Portfolio X sounds like a porno; instead it's just a bunch of Paramount films sold in a bundle at at clearance price to TV stations.  Urban Cowboy, Foul Play, Tenspeed & Brownshoe - everything must go!

"Benson appeals to men, women, teens and kids."

I was a bit too old to enjoy Saturday morning TV in '84, but I still vividly remember the arcade cartoons.

Quite a mixed bag of offerings for your TV lineup: "Jennifer's Journey" alongside some weird cartoon called "Rocky Joe".. and then there's the random David Bowie Low album cover.

I actually remember The Biskitts.  Allow me to be more specific - I actually remember hating The Biskitts.

Hell yes.  I'm popping and locking all the way there.

Looks like some good shows at the Sands.  Backstage passes for Cosby are free for the ladies... just sign his waiver and you're good to go.

I think this illustrates perfectly what we've seen throughout - 1984 wasn't exactly a banner year for entertainment.  No wonder we spent so much time at the arcade.


  1. AnonymousJuly 14, 2015

    Good Old Bizarre! It was a Canadian sketch comedy show with John Byner and yes Super Dave was a regular before he took off state side. Super Dave was a little more edgy in the Bizarre series, often cursing out poor Fuji for his stunts gone wrong scenarios.Bizarre was sort of like a Canadian Benny Hill with a little Laugh-In thrown in for good measure. It was a late night staple for many wide eyed youth looking to catch some bare breasts on TV once the parents headed to bed.

  2. AnonymousJuly 14, 2015

    New World Pictures did put out "Heathers." Which was a flop, but still. Please continue with these Variety posts if you ever get your hands on more of them. I used to read it in the early 90s. I just loved the lingo in the reviews. And I still remember their tepid review of 90210 when it first aired.

  3. Have you ever seen The Company of Wolves? It was one of the most visually stunning films of the 1980s, and was completely surreal.

    @Anonymous: Heathers might have been a flop at the box office, but it, like John Carpenter's The Thing, became a major hit on VHS. To this day its is the BLACKEST black comedy ever made, and one of the most quotable films of the 1980s.

    1. I rented The Company of Wolves on VHS way back in the 80s and haven't seen it since. I remember it being more a "rites of womanhood" allegory than a straightforward fairy tale - by the guy that would soon after direct The Crying Game.

    2. }}} To this day its is the BLACKEST black comedy ever made, and one of the most quotable films of the 1980s

      I grant you it's a good film. But it pales in quotability to a number of other 80s films, notably The Princess Bride, the undisputed, and totally inconceivable champ.

  4. Tank was a small film staring James Garner about a Master Sargent who owned a WW2 tank. When his boy is picked up by a local sheriff for no good reason, Garner uses the tank to get him out of jail. Co-starred (if you can say that) Shirley Jones. Low point in both careers.

    Under the Volcano was actually a first rate film staring Albert Finney as a secret alcoholic coming to terms with all sorts of things in his late life. Great acting, but the film just did not strike a cord with mid '80s audiences. This SHOULD have been an Oscar contender.

  5. I liked the movie 'Comfort and Joy', but wouldn't use "action" to describe it - directed by Bill Forsyth on the heels of 'Local Hero', it's a low-key comedy about a radio personality who gets caught in a turf war between rival Glasgow ice cream vendors.

    1. Sounds okay, but I'm just sick to death of all these shows about turf wars between Glasgow ice cream vendors. Enough already.

    2. Yeah, they should have at least moved it to Surrey, or somethin'....

      Actually, I do highly recommend Forsythe's four main pictures, of which C&J is one. The others -- That Sinking Feeling, Gregory's Girl, and Local Hero are all great, quirky talking heads pictures. If that sounds of interest, hunt one of them down -- His best is probably Local Hero.

      Madeline: Hard work being in love, eh? Especially when you don't know which girl it is.
      - Gregory's Girl -

      Mac MacIntyre: Where's the door here?
      Gordon Urquhart: There is no door. Just knock on the window.
      Mac MacIntyre: How do you do business with a man who has no door?
      Victor: The ethics are just the same.
      - Local Hero -

  6. I used to catch Bizarre every now and then. It aired on CTV out of Toronto, but were able to pull it and a few other such stations in Western New York where we lived. I doubt many folks any great distance from Canada have heard of it. I really don't recall much about the show itself, but maybe I was too young to appreciate it. Either that or it was just too Canadian.

  7. AnonymousJuly 17, 2015

    In the states, Bizarre aired on Showtime...Uncensored (censored in syndication)! After every episode, it felt like you came back from a cocktail party! I believe Amazon has a DVD box set of almost every episode. If you want to know what everyone's attitude was like in north America back in the 80's, get that box set. Unfortunately today, this show would not pass muster with any networks, even cable, because it was the epitome of political incorrectness: slightly racist, sexist, homophobic, ageist and just plain crude! But, it was all in good clean fun! People today are just too thin skinned! *sigh*

    1. I will have to definitely check this Bizarre out now. Are you familiar with "The Sex and Violence Family Hour"? - I just saw an episode with Jim Carrey (from 1983) and it sounds similar - irreverent humor with T&A.

  8. The "Sex and Violence Family Hour" just had one episode. It was a Playboy Channel feature (I believe) back when they were new and struggling for content. I do not think it was a pilot for a potential series

  9. }}} What an odd bunch of pictures for Universal to be touting - I haven't heard of or seen several of them: Slayground, Crackers, Under the Volcano, Stick, Tank and Comfort and Joy?

    Actually, in the mid-80s, these were fairly well received or notable.

    Under the Volcano was a John Huston film, with Albert Finney and Jacqueline Bisset

    Tank was a family piece with James Garner at the height of his mature popularity, and one of the replacement blondes from Threes Company

    Cloak and Dagger was Henry Thomas, the boy from ET

    Firestarter was based on a Stephen King story, and starred a young Drew Barrymore and David Keith, still "hot" off of "An Officer and a Gentleman"

    Comfort and Joy was Bill Forsythe's fourth film of note (and probably his last of any significance), following That Sinking Feeling, Gregory's Girl, and Local Hero. He wasn't widely popular but made intelligent, charming, quirky talking heads pictures that went over well with the critics. I'd particularly recommend Local Hero.

    The Last Starfighter was of note for being the first major movie to do ALL of its FX in CGI.

    Not sure all of those qualified as "action...", but they were all of significance in the time of this ad.