What Are Friends For? (1980)

Where do I even begin with this one?

Last year we happened upon a goldmine of Martin Tahse’s After School Specials DVDs at a Goodwill. Each set was about $4 and has since become one of my most treasured thrift store finds, especially as far as DVDs are concerned. We made our way through them one by one, whenever we were bored and didn't feel like committing to an entire movie. One day I came home to see that my husband was watching one. I had missed most of it but what I did see had me completely captivated for the remainder of the episode. It was so amazing I had to start it over to see everything that I had missed. I was completely blown away by its creepiness. I thought about reviewing it for a long time but it never happened amidst the business of last year. Only recently when I re-discovered the sets in a box of my most treasured cult movies did I decide to finally dust it off and give it a second look.

“What Are Friends For?” is about a 12 year old girl named Amy whose parents are divorced and has recently moved away with her mother. In their new apartment she meets a bizarre little girl named “Michelle Mudd”. Both having divorced parents, Michelle feels a connection to Amy  and recruits the naive girl to be her new best friend. Despite the warnings from the other girls in the building. You can tell right away that Michelle Mudd isn't the kind of girl you want to get mixed up with.

As we get to know the characters we discover that Amy is a sensible young lady who collects antique dolls. Michelle is shop lifting, incantation chanting, magick practicing lunatic. She convinces Amy to make an unbreakable pact of friendship while reciting a Tibetan mantra in a smoke filled room with red candles. Amy doesn't seem to mind, she finds her to be a bit peculiar but harmless. Truth be told I wouldn't have minded either, everyone knows pre-teen girls love witchcraft.

…That is until your psychotic wiccan friend starts painting her face up like some kind Clan of the Cave bear KISS fan and bathing your antique dolls in blood.

Michelle is WHACK!

Amy is not NEARLY as put-off by this as she should be. She’s hurt that Michelle ruined the doll she gave her but she gives no mention to the Aleister Crowley symbols on the wall, her ghastly appearance, or “omfg, is that animal or human blood?!”

Even after this, Amy gives her another chance when she comes to her crying that she’s just upset that her father is marrying his bimbo girlfriend “Call Me Diane”as she’s coined her. Amy, being from divorced parents, understands and forgives her. They go about their normal routine. It’s not long before Michelle starts in on her craziness again. Shoplifting and slipping the items in Amy’s back pocket.

What a douche.

Naturally, there’s a moral to this story. Michelle has "a problem". Yes "A" as in singular. That’s how they tie together anyway. Because of her inability to cope with her parents divorce, she steals earrings and dolls. I thought it was kind of weak to brush off all the lunacy with that kind of ending, but hey, it’s an After School Special. 

 I’m semi-obsessed with Dana Hill who plays Michelle Mudd now. I looked her up to discover that she became a voice actor for Rugrats, Duckman, Goof Troop, Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Sonic the Hedgehog, Darkwing Duck, Jetsons: the Movie, Tom and Jerry: the Movie, and Rover Dangerfield. The list goes ON and ON! She practically narrated my childhood. You may also recognize her as Audrey Griswold from National Lampoon’s European Vacation. I always had a soft spot for a truly talented and borderline sinister child actor and Dana Hill is definitely up there.

This is easily the best After School Special I've ever seen. Although not nearly as perverse, at times it reminds me of Bad Ronald. Possibly just because it’s campy, tasteless, features a mentally unstable young person and was made for TV. There’s a look and feel of this era that’s just priceless. I mean, take a look at some of the supporting cast…

"Call Me Diane"

Mr. Mudd

...Screech Powers

You couldn't make something this entertaining now. After school specials are like these little time capsules. You open them, you revel in them and they’re inevitably shelved once again. “What are Friends For?” probably didn't serve it’s purpose helping kids cope with divorce or how to handle crazy friends, but it does serve as a twisted little teledrama that you won’t soon forget.


Multiple Maniacs (1970)

The decision to review a John Waters movie was a little daunting. I’m reminded of something I saw in the special features for the Hitchcock film Topaz. There’s a segment hosted by Leonard Maltin where he goes on to to say that “it’s almost an insult to try and critique a Hitchcock film, even one that’s not considered his best, because there’s no such thing as a bad Hitchcock movie, and who are we to question it?”. That’s sort of paraphrased but I understood what he was saying completely.  How can I, a mere fan, begin to dissect the work of a master? And that’s what John Waters is. Truly a master of his trade.  He can hardly be compared to anyone else before his time, occasionally Ed Wood or Russ Meyer but in the end he really did make something new and in turn became the one you would later compare trash filmographers to. That being said, I decided to start with one of his earliest films that’s still in existence. Multiple Maniacs.

A traveling group of criminals disguise themselves as “the Cavalcade of Perversions”,  a sideshow where on-lookers can see “the Puker Eater”,  a woman licking a bicycle seat and “real queers kissing”. Lead by Lady Divine, the freak show is actually a front for these outlaws to rob and often kill the audience. You can be sure to see John Waters’ cast of usual suspects in Multiple Maniacs. We have David Lochary as the announcer and boyfriend of Divine, his mistress Bonnie played by the lovely Mary Vivian Pierce, Cookie Mueller as Divine’s daughter Cookie. Edith Massey as a barmaid and Mink Stole in two roles, one being the unforgettable “Mink”, who frequents Catholic churches looking for a good time. And of course there’s Divine who needs no introduction.

The movie is really about Divine’s decent into madness. After being tipped off by Edie, the barmaid, that Divine’s boyfriend David is philandering with another woman, she makes the decision to hunt him down and kill him. Meanwhile, David and Bonnie have decided to do the same to Divine so they can be free.


Amidst this love triangle many unrelated perversions occur. Divine in all of her sexiness, gets rapes by a drug addict and a bearded cross dresser. In a moment of desolation she’s lead to a church by the image of the Infant of Prague so she can pray. Knowing full well that she herself has committed unthinkable crimes she excuses it by inserting “I always did it with a clear conscience” in her prayer. In this church she meets an unusual woman. Now, I've seen a lot of John Waters movies, and I thought I’d been shocked before but seeing Mink Stole perform a “rosary job” on Divine just may take the cake on that one. Just seeing Mink and Divine making out made me blush. Mink goes on to tell the story of the Crucifixion as she, um…pleasures Divine using a rosary as anal beads. Truly one of the most lurid sites I've ever to behold! You’ll need a shower after that scene.

After her wild trip into lesbian blasphemy she and Mink team up to kill David and Bonnie. They head over the Edie’s bar but David and Bonnie have already left for Divine’s with the intention to do the same. From that point things get really out of hand. Once they've all met up there’s shootings, stabbings, disembowelments, cannibalism,  until there’s one (wo)man left standing. Divine of course! Alone and deranged she slips into pure psychosis. Experiencing fits of laughter and ferocity, foaming at the mouth, praising her own image in the mirror, she’s real gone! The high light of her madness, and perhaps the whole movie is when a giant lobster emerges from the floor of her living room and rapes her on the couch!

As always the cast is just phenomenal. I adore the Dreamlanders.  David Lochary has always been a personal favorite of mine. He’s swarthy and obviously highly intelligent. He has a wonderful speaking voice and it’s always a treat seeing him in the early works of John Waters.  It’s really tragic that he died from a PCP overdose in 1977. Something tells me he would have branched out as a cult actor as Mink Stole did, becoming more than just a household name. There’s also Mary Vivian Pearce, Waters’ best friend since childhood. She and Mink are the only two Dreamlanders to appear in every single Waters film! What I love about her is what a contrast she is to all of the unattractiveness you’re used to seeing in a Waters film. She’s soft and fair like a 1920’s actress, even when she plays a harlot or a creep, she plays it like a little girl pretending to do grown-up things. 

And then of course there’s Divine. John Water’s muse, who he often referred to as “His Liz Taylor”.There’s something admirable about Divine’s confidence. I would dare to say that no one could ever do what she has done on screen with such class! She  carries herself with an air of dignity, whether she’s  raping herself or eating dog shit. She has great style and an take no bullshit attitude we could all learn from. She’s always been one of my heroes and I’m not afraid to shout it from the fucking rooftops.

Multiple Maniacs must be the most salacious film in Waters entire body of work. Granted, haven’t seen Mondo Trasho or the Diane Linkletter Story and will probably never see Roman Candles, Eat Your Make Up and Hag in a Black Leather Jacket in their entirety. It’s a great companion piece to Pink Flamingos, bearing many similarities. The black and white is a little fuzzy and rough around the edges but it’s still a remarkable achievement. It’s a necessary piece of the puzzle for any diligent fan of the Pope of Trash and a staple for lovers of cult cinema. It’s never been commercially released but there are many copies floating around the web if you know where to look. I give it my utmost recommendation! 


Everything is Terrible 2: Tokyo Drift (2010)

In lieu of losing that massive ‘get reacquainted’ blog I’d been working on for half the week, I’ll probably be keeping my next few blogs brief. I’ll also be typing them out in Microsoft Word like I should have been the whole time.

I wanted to mention a heart warming video compilation that has sky rocketed to favorite-among-favorites. Everything is Terrible 2: Tokyo Drift.

I bought the original, Everything is Terrible: the Movie , on my first visit to Amoeba after the move. I've always loved Video Mixtape comps such as is this, and there are so many if you know where to look! One of the most popular (and BEST) is 5 Minutes to Live’s Lost and Found Video Night. They've been doing it for a long time and I are up to volume 10. I've seen about half, some are better than others but over all it’s a noble feet and will be sure to keep your friends entertained at any gathering. There’s also TV Carnage, which happens to be my least favorite. Despite their misleading magical cover art, the tone is much more serious. Parts of it could fall under reality death video, and that’s not what I’m into at all. I want pop culture, flashiness and camp. Bad movies, bad commercials bad haircuts. I want what Tim and Eric satirize.There are still quite a few I haven’t seen yet. The video mixtape genre is timeless and limitless. Check out Not Coming to a Theater Near You’s blog on the subject to read up on a few others.

Then there’s Everything is Terrible. The first one is a wonderfully entertaining video mixtape. They make their own little creative embellishments in the editing room which I think really adds to the spirit of the parody. I laughed all the way through and immediately wanted to show it to my friends: Mission Accomplished! I of course had to go back for the second one, I had no idea that it could possibly be better. BUT IT WAS! I fell in love with 2 Terrible. Not only does follow a narrative (Jesus vs. the Anti-Christ AKA Duane vs. Baby Hitler) but it has a philosophy. Their slogan “If Everything is Terrible then nothing is” says it all. It’s a way of life I adapted a long time ago, before Everything is Terrible entered my life. Hunting for oddities has become a normal part of my shopping routine. Unlabeled video tapes at thrift stores are potential gold mines. Everything is Terrible knows this and has obviously put a lot of effort into making it an art.

I also can’t help but be reminded of one of my favorite dvds of all time. Sort of a video mixtape, sort of  it’s own thing. Paper Rad’s Trash Talking. Half of the dvd is their own abrasive neon midi saturated video toaster edited animation, but the other half is a sensory overload of pop cultural mishaps. 80’s commercials, Moonbeam movie clips, strange fantasies about Garfield. All woven together in fluorescent package, tied with a radioactive bow that you’re almost afraid to touch because it could blow your face off and burn your shadow.

That was MY take on it anyway. I've met a lot of people who dislike it for the music or animation style, but even to those I might suggest Everything is Terrible 2. It’s more straight forward and features the same Video Mixtape elements and only slight embellishments on the curiosities themselves.

They also add something called ”Three Minute Movies”. Where they sum up a bad movie into three minutes of awesomeness. This lead me to one of the greatest cinematic discoveries of the year to date.

Hawk Jones.
Hawk Jones
Hawk Jones.

The best movie ever starring a cast entirely of children. He’s a tough 8 year old cop and he doesn't want any broads gettin’ in his way. This movie is actually pretty funny,and even somewhat intentionally which is rare for this kind of pursuit. Just one of the many treasure to behold on Everything is Terrible 2: Tokyo Drift.

So I guess that’s it for now. What’s your favorite Video Mixtape? Have you ever made one of your own? Or found something absurd that should make it to one of these tapes? Let me know!

Until next time, give it up for our Lord and Savior...DUANE...


well fuck me running...

Hi. I just lost a really REALLY fucking long five movie review/reacquaintance blog. Now I'm borderline suicidal and resisting the urge to throw my laptop out the window.

So lets summarize if you please.

1. Ice Cream Man (1995) is a piece of shit, but Clint Howard is still awesome.

2. Uninvited (1988) is mutant killer cat movie with Clu Gulager, and I like it.

3. Leonard Part 6 (1987) (not to be confused with Pluto Nash) is one of the greatest things that's ever happened to me.
4. Pretty Poison (1968) is predictable but pleasant neo-noir with Anthony Perkins lookin' pretty foxy.

5. BOOM! (1968) starring the late Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton is a misunderstood art film that never found it's audience.

I'm apart of a film related podcast now. More on that later...

Now I have to go jump off a bridge. Just kidding...see you in six months...kidding again. I'm really going to start updating this thing more.

But for tonight, I'm fucking done.