Fish-Flavored Baseball Bat

It's a John Cleese reference.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Lunch Wagon

Well, last week I went highbrow, so today I'll take the low, low road, by remembering those bygone days of cheerful drive-in sexploitation. (Also, since I've been told that tonight's karaoke theme will be "80s Movie Night," I'll mark the occasion with a vintage '80s soundtrack.)

LUNCH WAGON (1981). Directed by Ernest Pintoff. Starring Pamela Jean Bryant, Rosanne Katon, Candy Moore, and Dale Bozzio.

Throughout the '70s and '80s (and even continuing in small doses today), one of the standby exploitation storylines went as follows: Small group of beautiful women, fed up with their financial situation and/or lecherous bosses, go into business for themselves and prove they're not just brainless bimbos. Hilarity ensues...along with gratuitous nudity to undercut the supposed message of female empowerment. Lunch Wagon is a typical example of this format, in which our intrepid trio of Marcy (Playboy Playmate Pamela Jean Bryant), Shannon (Playboy Playmate Rosanne Katon), and Diedre (non-Playmate Candy Moore) acquire a fast-food van and set up business by a construction site...much to the dismay of competitor Al Schmeckler (Rick Podell), who had planned on using his own lunch wagon as a cover for a convoluted heist. Oh, the wacky hijinks! Actually, it's not as bad as all that...the three leads are appealing, and the humor is too corny to take offense at. In the words of Douglas Adams, it's mostly harmless.
The most interesting element of the movie (apart from the dated attitude towards "health nut" Diedre...she actually thinks people will buy soyburgers, can you imagine?) is the rockin' soundtrack by few-hits-wonder band Missing Persons, who appear in the film not as themselves, but as "Teddy & the Rough Riders." Perhaps their best-known tune, "Destination Unknown," is unfortunately absent from the movie, but "Mental Hopscotch" is repeated three times throughout the picture, and "I Like Boys" gets a play as well. My sympathies go to lead singer Dale Bozzio, who (despite being given a different name) is basically called upon to play herself as a queen bitch. (Again, the female-empowerment theme is diminished by the fact that the one woman who's already successful is portrayed so unpleasantly.)
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
Poor Rose Marie (making a brief appearance as Schmeckler's mother, who takes matters into her own hands when his schemes go awry)...from The Dick Van Dyke Show to this.



At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I thought I was the only person in the world that knew about this flick. Wish I had a copy, due to my my Missing persons infatuation. Fun reveiw, thanks for the flashback!

At 11:49 PM, Blogger Erich said...

And I forgot to mention the appearance by the notorious "Gong Show" contestants The Bait Brothers (the two guys wearing a single oversized pair of overalls).


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