Paul Fuzz Reviews "Pump Up The Volume," the 80s Gen X movie with Christian Slater that isn't 'Heathers' But Still Kicks Ass
"All the great themes have been used up - and turned into theme parks
- Christian Slater, 'Pump Up The Volume'
You ever seen 'Pump Up The Volume'? Oh, man. It's the greatest. You gotta see it. It's all about this ex-New York kid played by Christian Slater whose been forced to move with his folks to some middle of nowhere middle-America 'burb and he's all twisted up 'bout how he can't hang at CBGBs and watch Black Flag no more and Nowheresville USA sucks total ass 'cos he can't speak to the chicks there and nobody understands him anyway and his parents are a coupla dopey ineffectual hippy sell-outs with Grateful Dead posters in their study, so he racks up a CB Radio in his basement (his basement is awesome-cool, natch, piled high with of all sorta righteous records and mountains of discarded Gen X junk, like Marty McFly's garage decorated by a deranged dope-fiend) so he can get in touch with his punk bruvvas back on the Bowery, but soon realises he can't transmit over that distance, and instead starts broadcastin' his shlock-jock freakoid rants into the local ether across whatever jerkwater burg he's meant to be dumped in just to get some anonymous kicks and make some sense of the unknowable teenage jock ruled universe at 9 in the PM daily, which if you or me tried to do would almost certainly blow like John Coltrane, 'cos we'd be all self concious on the mic and "ohmygod!Myvoicedoesn'tsoundlikethat, doesit?" and after about 5 minutes we'd run outta crap to shoot and flick the OFF switch, hang up our headphones and fergeddaboudit, but 'course when Christan Slater does it he's an all-smokin', all ravin', all Beastie Boys playin', all parent baitin' teenage Bill Hicks of Suburbia, The Voice Of Dissafected Youth, a straight-up bad-ass punk who spits serious, scary ugly TRUTH in society's bewildered face, polluting the air-waves with goof-ball pranks and wise-acre anti-authoritarian stand-up raps he spins straight off the top of his dome, dropping killa slacker slogans like 'Sometimes being young is less fun than being dead' and ' Rise up in the cafeteria and stab them with your plastic forks' and 'Do you ever get the feeling that everything in America is completely fucked up?' and, oh boy, maybe the greatest of 'em all, the ultimate bummed-out Gen X-ism: 'I feel like killing myself, but luckily I'm too depressed to bother,'
and the IRONY of the whole thing is that while on the radio he's a motor-mouth jerk off who won't shut the hell up for nobody no-how, in REAL LIFE he's - get this- RENDERED ALMOST COMPLETELY MUTE
BY HIS CRIPPLING SHYNESS
!!! Yeah!! And nobody at his High School (which is total drag-city, and - like - A Microcosm Of American Society) knows who this Secret DJ is, and nobody suspects Slater 'cos nobody notices him anyway, like I said, the cat don't talk to nobody, and kids start passing 'round tapes of his show and playin' them crazy-loud on ghetto-blasters in the yard and spraying his slogans on the school walls, and everybody digs what he's saying, the jocks are gettin' off on the toilet humour and the weirdo punkoids are gettin' off on the fuck-everything angle and the nerds are hip to the lonely outsider bit and even the cheerleaders are blowing up microwaves 'cos they get where Slater's at and their lives are so shallow and false and They're Mad As Hell And Won't Take It Anymore, it's all gettin' outta control and it's like Slater's opened up a Pandora's rucksack of mondo teen apocolypso and the teachers of Nazi High and various Federal Agents Of The Man are goin' nuts trying to track this sick Enemy Of All That Is Good And Pure In Amerikkka down so they can haul his ass off to juve hall and make an example of him yadda yadda yadda, and Slater's gettin' all freaked 'cos he's inadvertantly inspired all this REVOLUTION IN THE STREETS and SUBURBAN INSANITY, and he didn't wanna be a leader or nothin', he never asked to be Abby Hoffman fercryinoutloud, he's got problems of his own without any of this shit, so he just pulls the plug on the whole thang, right, and all the real hardcore freaks are out in this sports field with their car radios all tuned in ready for Slater's latest Message From The Edge, the great prophet's next instruction, like, 'Tell Us, Christian Slater, Tell Us What To Do Next!,' and they're all pissed 'cos he's let 'em down in their hour of greatest need, he's led 'em this far and now he's welched on the deal, maybe he's a phoney like everybody else, right, but then this gothy proto-gunge chick who Slater secretly digs WORKS OUT that Slater is the mystery DJ, and she convinces him to FINISH WHAT HE STARTED and GO OUT WITH A BANG, and the Feds are closin' in so they grab all his equipment and jack his parent's car or somebody's car I don't remember whose, and they take his broadcast out into the streets, transmitting from the road, sirens wailing behind 'em, cop car lights flashing in their rear view mirrors, and you've got this whole Bonnie & Clyde / Thelma & Louise thing with Slater and Goth Girl as Outlaw-Lovers-On-The-Run, and the whole thing is reaching boiling point in some awesome orgy violent teenage mania and lust and PUNK ROCK GO-TO-HELL HIGH SCHOOL MELTDOWN...
...oh, man, anyway, it' s pretty cool, I guess it's sort of cheap sorta exploitation affair in lottsa ways, and it sure hasn't made the alt. cinema canon like the similarly themed Slater- starring Heathers
has, but as a slice of cultish 80s slacker cinema and an alternative to John Hughes's vision of era's high school experience, 'Pump Up The Volume' is a gas.
So, 2007. How's that workin' out for ya?
JAMES BROWN 1933-2006
Labels: Cult Cinema