Sunday, May 3, 2020

[Roll Your Own Life] The Movies That Made Me (Part 7)


Prize for the longest title on the list I think! Buckaroo Banzai is a weird one. I love that film, and probably didn't see it until it came out on VHS in the UK in 1985, jumping on that "You liked Back to the Future" bandwagon. I guess the marketers were thinking - "oh, it's got a science experiment in a fast car, just like Back to the Future, we'll go with that!" (Don't worry, we'll come back, and back, and Back to the Future at a later date)...

But Buckaroo Banzai is far more than that. It's freakin' legendary in its bizarreness. Presented as a docudrama - a re-enactment of real events - it chronicles "real" scientist Buckaroo Banzai, physicist, neurosurgeon, rock star (played in the movie by Peter Weller). He creates a device called the Oscillation Overthruster that allows him to travel through solid matter - where he travels through the Eighth Dimension, and attracts the attention of Red Lectriods from Planet 10.

Just typing that plot is making me laugh. The whole plot is madness, involving stopping Red Lectroids who arrived on Earth disguised during the Orson Welles "War of the Worlds" broadcast, and Buckaroo Banzai and his team (The Hong Kong Cavaliers) team up with Black Lectroids to stop mad scientist Lectroid Lord John Whorfin (inhabiting the body of Dr Emilio Lizardo) from opening a dimensional portal.

It's just ridiculous, but I love it. It's made brilliant by the amazing cast. Joining Peter Weller is Jeff Goldblum, Clancy Brown, and Ellen Barkin, battling against disguised Lectroids (long before John Carpenter's 'They Live') played by Christopher Lloyd, Vincent Schiavelli, and John Lithgow (as Dr. Lizardo - really going to town with the acting on this one).

As if having a massive team (The Hong Kong Cavaliers) at his disposal, like The Avengers, Buckaroo Banzai has a group of fans who volunteer to help across the world - the Blue Blaze Irregulars. So much crazy detail went into this movie, and it was all dumped on you really quickly like you were supposed to know what was going on - or just run with it.

It's so crazy that it has stuck in my mind ever since. One of those movies I can still quote (beyond the classic "No matter where you go, there you are" line). Especially the amazing villains. Red Lectroids are all called John - with a randomly generated name as a surname. John Ya Ya, John Small Berries, John Many Jars, and the legendary John Bigbooté.

It has musical numbers, car chases, spaceship chases, dimensional travel, watermelons, and one of the coolest end credit sequences known. I loved that VHS, and watched it so many times. I waited and waited for the sequel that was promised at the end credits - Buckaroo Banzai Against The World Crime League. But alas, it was never going to happen. Rights are owned by various people, and it's just a nightmare by the sound of it.

We got some of it as comics, and there was a roleplaying game announced a long time ago that suffered the same fate as Kevin Smith's announced TV series. Alas, it looks like Buckaroo Banzai will stand alone as a single, crazy, brilliant movie.

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