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When non-X Rated filmmakers/personalities get involved in hardcore films, the results are more than often strange, if not somewhat tedious. But here, rockabilly personality and general cult icon Johnny Legend's underground hit Teenage Cruisers is a happy exception to the rule. Let's hope this DVD is as good as the film itself.
Long long ago, in a decade far away American's weren't the dreadful sarcasm and irony obsessed cynics they are now. Instead they held a wonderful, perhaps nostalgic, optimism. The mid 70s were ripe with post-hippy sentiment of having been this close to creating a truly utopian peace/love society, and so much of this sentiment became the basis for the era's art (in particular, film). Teenage Cruisers is one of those few X Rated films which really got that feeling across (two other good examples are the equally nostalgic Cruisin' 57 and Beach Blanket Bango both of which arrived two years before Cruisers).
Teenage Cruisers is a perpetually cheery look at LA youth culture just a year or two before punk really came in. Director Johnny Legend is DJ Mambo Remus of KRUZ radio who plays the hottest melodies in town and is going to host the KRUZ cookout. Meanwhile, raging nympho Babsy Bodine has just escaped from a local mental hospital and is leaving a slew of carnal victims in her wake. All the while, Serena (conveniently played by said actress!) is excitedly awaiting the return home of her long lost love Johnny who, we find out, had been living in a monastery with memory loss until one day he got a raging hardon and demanded to be returned home.
All the silliness boils down to the big concert where a number of genuine rockabilly performers play some early hits and everyone groves.
Teenage Cruisers is perhaps the most charming X Rated film ever made. It's fun in the same way 80s sex comedies like Hamburger The Motion Picture can get even the most jaded old fart to giggle. The movie is ridiculously over the top, as complex as a children's story, yet as sweet and heartwarming as fresh apple pie cooling on a windowsill c. 1955. The film is as much a celebration of American culture as it just a plain funny movie.
Clearly shot without the presence of either a script or a synch sound camera, Teenage Cruisers is still a suprisingly professional work made when anything seemed posiible, especially in X Rated films. What's more is the film offers a great tour of LA c. 1976 and the presence of great and familiar faces like the aforementioned Serena and the ever reliable Bill Margold add an even more enjoyable flavor to this minor classic. Although there isn't much deep analysis of this film that can be offered, I can't stress enough how genuinely wonderful this film is. It shows just how good low budget films can be with its fun filled heart and lots of laughs.
Although this is a "new remastered" release, the quality of the transfer is about as good as the old VCX VHS and DVD with only mild improvements. Blacks still look grey, the image is soft, and despite the fact that the film is letterboxed, it is not enhanced for widescreen TVs. The soundtrack also sounds downright awful and hisses (although this might have been an issue with the DVD as the extra features bare a similar problem). That said, the transfer from 35mm (as opposed to the usual VHS rip) looks better than most DVDs out there, a better job of presenting this great little movie on DVD could have made its viewing even nicer.
The Extras are, simply put, OUTSTANDING!
First and foremost, director Johnny Legend provides an EXCELLENT in-depth commentary track going into every last detail about the making of this film. Then Legend hosts a 35 minute featurette during which he describes his entire film career starting in 1968. The featurette is augmented by great clips from a lot of his early work, much of which is sorely unavailable. Then comes a conversation/interview about the film with its star Bill Margold. Although this segment isn't particularly informative, it's always great to here Margold talk and he and Legend have a wonderful time discussing the good old days. Then comes a much longer and more interesting interview with the film's poster designer William Stout who not only shares his memories of working on this film but discusses his own film career both as a filmmaker and poster designer. Rounding out the interview segments are two short, yet good interviews with Billy Zoom and Ronnie Weiser who both provided music for the film. Rounding out the extras are a 15 minute short in which Legend drives around LA, returning to various locations at which the film was shot. Although this doesn't really do anything for our knowledge of the film, it's still pretty neat. Finally, the film's trailer is presented.
Who should see this?
The answer: EVERYONE! This movie is wonderful in almost ever respect imaginable. Sleaze hounds may be disappointed, but who cares about them anyway? This movie, as cliched as it may sound, just plain rocks!