After finishing out 2022 with Get Crazy, I decided it wasn’t time to leave the radical 80s behind quite yet.
So to kick off 2023, B-Movie Enema is going to look at a quartet of 80s David Winters movies in a theme month I’m calling David Winters Winter! We aren’t really doing this in any kind of timeline or chronological order. Nah, I don’t think we really need to do that. BUT what I did want to do is look at movies of Winters’ that came from different genres. We get things started with his teen skateboarding drama, Thrashin’!
This comes during a time in which skateboarding exploded. Skateboarding had been around as a relatively popular activity for kids at least back to the 70s when my brothers were kids. By the 80s, it became something of a lifestyle. Skater fashion would eventually kind of take over from the late 70s/early 80s punk fashion before being replaced by more hip hop fashions by the end of the decade and going into the 90s.
But, like I said, it’s really the lifestyle that kind of gives the mid 80s a unique look in fashion and hair and attitude. Between skateboarding and surfing, there was a real feel of SoCal attitudes kind of taking over. And, hey, if you were like me, and couldn’t skateboard to save your life, you could always rent T&C Surf Designs and Skate or Die at the video store and go home and play it on your Nintendo. It was a whole thing.
Speaking of video games, this movie would feature an appearance from Tony Hawk – superstar skater. By the early 2000s, his skateboarding Playstation games would become mega hits. He’s also joined by others from the skateboarding world like Tony Alva, Christian Hosoi, and Steve Caballero. Even the Red Hot Chili Peppers will show up in Thrashin’. So, yeah, lots of stuff for kids of that era to want to see in a movie.
BUT… We need to turn our focus to the man of the hour, David Winters. Winters was kind of an interesting character. He certainly excelled at one thing in particular in his performing career while having a second career later on that could maybe be compared a little bit to Roger Corman. Winters was born in London in 1939, and he relocated to the United States with his family as a teenager. Early on, he was into dance. He would shine shoes to make money to pay for dance classes. He was terrified his mother would disapprove of this interest. She did catch him, but cut him a deal – complete his bar mitzvah, and she would take him to classes. VERY shortly after that, he would be spotted by a talent agent, and his career as a dancer would pretty much pick up immediately. Winters would eventually become a Broadway dancer and actor. He showed up in the original production of West Side Story as Baby John. Then, when Robert Wise made the film version of the play, he appeared as A-Rab.
Later on, he would choreographed movies like the Elvis and Ann-Margaret vehicle Viva Las Vegas. He directed a couple episodes of one of my favorite shows, The Monkees. He was nominated for an Emmy for his choreography for a Nancy Sinatra TV special. In the 70s, he directed the concert film Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare where he hired a dancer that would eventually become Cooper’s wife. He was involved with choreography for Barbara Streisand’s version of A Star Is Born. He also choreographed the Star Wars Holiday Special. I’m not sure which segments or dances he did, but maybe he did them all and, if so, that is fucking awesome.
By the 80s, he was much more interested in making films. This is where I say Winters becomes something of a Roger Corman type. He would make all sorts of movies. Shortly after making Thrashin’, he would create Action International Pictures and he would end up making some real classics. One I’ve already talked about made at AIP was Deadly Prey. Another all-timer classic will finish this month. Stay tuned…
As for Thrashin’, this wasn’t a great experience for Winters. It probably had something to do with him creating Action International Pictures. He felt the producer Alan Sacks was a little too involved in his movie. He cast Sherilyn Fenn for this movie to play Velvet. At the time, Fenn was dating Johnny Depp who had just previously been in the first A Nightmare on Elm Street. Winters tried three times to get Depp approved to play lead Corey Webster. Ultimately, he was overruled by Sacks. This forced Winters to then cast Josh Brolin as his lead. He was pretty upset about this. Brolin, though, at least was somewhat known for appearing in The Goonies in 1985.
Interestingly, later, Josh Brolin was the first choice to play the role of Tom Hansen on 21 Jump Street. Brolin declined and Johnny Depp then got his star-making role.
The movie begins with our hero, Corey, waking up from a dream of a big downhill skateboard race. He gets up, brushes his teeth, gets dressed, and he gets the thirty bucks taped to his mirror before literally skateboarding out of his bedroom window and off the garage roof. Fuckin’ rad, bro! Anyway, he’s skateboarding through town passing all the peoples, thrashin’ it here, there, and everywhere. We eventually catch up to him on the side of the road thumbin’ it to his eventual destination.
That destination? I’m not so sure. He goes to the beach, but then he goes to another beach before he ends up at… well, another beach. Finally, he ends up at a camper parked out in the middle of nowhere. There, he connects with his friends who are building a half-pipe. These guys call themselves “The Ramp Locals” and here’s a good time to bring up a couple things while they totally thrash it up on the ramp. It’s good to know that this group calls themselves a particular name like the Ramp Locals. This is how Winters kind of got this job. This is a sort of Romeo & Juliet or West Side Story sort of story. Winters having been in both the stage production and film of West Side Story, he understands this kind of young gang genre. A credited production designer in this also is Catherine Hardwicke. She would on to later direct Lords of Dogtown which was definitely a skater/surfer movie too – and a pretty good one.
Alright, so since this is a teen gang type of movie, there is, of course, a rival group of skaters. These guys are the Daggers. They’re led by none other than Robert Rusler of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 and Shag: The Movie fame. They look mean. They dress like bikers. They have earrings (but only in one ear because they ain’t no gay dudes). They are not to be trifled with.
So, there we have it… We have our Montegues and Capulets. I don’t know which one is which. I don’t know nuthin’ about no Shakespeare. I know stuff by guys named Norman J. Warren… And David Winters.
Whichever the bad family in Romeo & Juliet is, that’s who the Daggers are. They go up to some dudes just minding their own business and breakdancing on the sidewalk. Rusler’s character, Tommy Hook, tells one of the guys that Breakin’ is the past. Looks like we might see some rumbling, but the breakdancers back down and then the Daggers just move along, but not before they knock over the dancers’ boom box like the jerks they are.
Now, the Ramp Locals are skating along and they soon realize that, uh oh Spaghettios, they are on Dagger turf. Corey thinks this is a good time to show off a little bit of his skills. So he skates right in front of the Daggers and use their half pipe to kind of thumb his nose at these dudes. This doesn’t go over well, but Corey takes off before any real trouble started…
Until he finds the real trouble.
Meet the lovely Chrissy, played by Pamela Gidley. She’s our Juliet of this piece. Thrashin’ is Gidley’s first film. After this, she’d go on to do some interesting stuff. She appears in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me as well as the Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces extended prequel movie. She followed this up with Dudes which starred Jon Cryer, Daniel Roebuck, and Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers. She was the titular character of Cherry 2000. But she also appeared in the haunting Mike Figgis thriller Liebestraum with Bill Pullman and Kevin Anderson. She’s done some interesting stuff with interesting directors and co-stars.
But here, she’s caught the eye of Corey. Chrissy is in town from Indiana for the summer. Unfortunately, she’s also the little sister of Tommy Hook! This is surely trouble!
We get some more shenanigans from the Ramp Locals as they decide to literally cut the roof off one of the guys’ brand new car. They also paint the car up almost like Dr. Teeth painted up Fozzie Bear’s uncle’s Studebaker. We also find out that the Ramp Locals and the Daggers are headed to a club that night. There’s kind of a nice scene with Robert Rusler and Pamela Gidley where they are showing off what they are going to wear to the club that night. We at least see Rusler’s Tommy be a decent brother to his little sister before he goes dickhead on Josh Brolin’s Corey.
I like this skateboard club they go to. It has dudes doing skateboard tricks in the middle of what would have been a dance floor in the 60s or something. They are all just kind of hanging out, listening to music and what have you. It doesn’t seem like it should be something underage people could go do, but also, I’m fairly sure that most of the people here are under 21. Anyway, it’s just a party place that the Red Hot Chili Peppers come to play at for probably nothing. It’s a fine reminder that the 80s were fucking sweet.
Anyway, because the Chili Peppers are rocking ass on the stage, a mosh pit forms. This worries ol’ Chrissy who’s probably never seen anything like this being that she’s from Indiana and everything. Trust me, we didn’t know anything about the Chili Peppers until, I dunno, like, “Under the Bridge” or something? While this is starting to ramp up, our Ramp Locals leader, Corey, has been trying to work his way over to her and finds her just in time as things get a little cuckoo crazy in at the party. He takes her by the hand and leads her outside to talk.
She says she’s never seen anything like what’s going on in there. You know, Indiana and all. We’re all about frat parties and homecoming dances and shit. Corey says there’s nothing to be afraid of, they’re just thrashers. She says that thrashers sounds like troubled youth. He just says it’s an aggressive style of skateboarding. This leads to both Chrissy and my next question: “What do you thrash?” To which Corey drops the mic, gives a boyish grin, and responds, “What do ya got?”
Shortly after, he asks why she hangs out with the Daggers. She says they aren’t so bad. She asks if he knows Tommy Hook. He says that yeah, he knows that guy. He’s a punk poser. She says that’s her brother. He shits his pants. After he gets himself a new pair of draws, he tells her that he’s been training every day to run the LA Massacre downhill race that her brother is also doing. They then decide to go to a nearby fair and walk along the LA Strip and make out and stuff.
First of all, good job, Thanos. Second of all, damn she’s cute.
They end up spending the entire night together. It’s a cute scene, but because she doesn’t get back until morning, Tommy is quite pissed. He went to the club with his little sister. She disappeared. He tells her to get lost if she’s not going to let him look after her. But after she apologizes and flashes a smile, he smiles back. Again, Robert Rusler is just a fucking treasure. Find a goddamn movie he’s in that he is not incredibly engaging. But uh oh… She says she met Corey and that he’s from the Valley. He says she hangs with Daggers or she goes home.
We now go to a pool competition that Corey is going to compete in (like the kind that you skateboard in an empty pool) and we get ourselves some sweet ass skateboarding montage action. People doing cool shit. People wiping out. People being 80s people. A few of the members of the Daggers show up at the competition and position themselves near the pool to fuck with Corey who was doing pretty great. They toss some jacks onto the pool bottom and cause him to mess up his shoulder.
After the competition, Corey meets the owner of Smash Skates! who happens to be the guy people say invented skateboarding. I’d believe that if he wasn’t some fat old guy. But he gets a tour of the Smash factory and he knows that, someday, he’s going to skate for them and get that sweet, sweet sponsorship. It’s more shenanigans time after that as the Ramp Locals go skating down Hollywood Boulevard. If you ever wanted to see how I skateboard, this is a pretty good representation:
Now, normally, I would say that maybe there’s a little too much shenanigans and montages, but we have to remember a couple things here. First, this is a movie made for kids who buy the ticket for Thrashin’ to see… well… thrashin’. When you buy a ticket to watch ballet, don’t you want to mostly see ballet? I’m not sure why I made that comparison, but I’m a dumb dude who grew up during this time so it makes sense to me. Anyway, the other reason is that this was 1986. I’m surprised there wasn’t an entire movie made up of entirely montages.
Oh, wait… Rocky IV is a thing. Never mind.
Alas, we have to get back to our movie. Corey tries calling Chrissy, but Tommy Hook answers and tells him that Chrissy is busy for the rest of the summer so get fucked. He then also says if he ever comes near Chrissy again, he’s dead meat. To this, Corey tells Tommy that after L.A. Massacre, the race they are doing, he will be the one that is the dead meat. I think that all went pretty well. Corey will surely convince Tommy to let him hang out with his little sis.
Corey does a dumber thing than telling Tommy to die. He goes over to the Daggers’ hangout. He tries to climb up a tree to Chrissy’s room. He almost falls out of the tree, but Chrissy comes out anyway and finds him. Chrissy has to tell Velvet (Sherilyn Fenn – who is also Tommy’s girlfriend) to not tell her brother. They sneak off and get a big ass bowl of ice cream at a place called Tiddly Winks. I… I want to go to there. If for nothing else than to say I went to a place called Tiddly Winks and ate an unusually large ice cream. They have to cheese it pretty suddenly when a couple Daggers come in. They go back to the camper the Ramp Locals hang out at so he can show her his design idea for a custom skateboard.
I don’t care if Chrissy thinks that is a little “too aggressive”. That shit is fucking metal. I want that tattooed on my asshole. Okay, maybe not my asshole, but definitely my dick. I love how kind of slutty the girl is and how overly evil the spider is. Oh my god. This drawing is amazing.
Regardless of what she thinks of his little drawing, she asks if he’d like to be held like that girl is by the spider(?). Corey’s like, “Uh… I guess? Sure.” So Chrissy decides to hold him like that. And they fuck. HARD. Seriously? That’s all it takes? Spider drawing for my non-existent custom skateboard? I need to draw one of my own. Hmmm… This sex scene is happening right now. No nudity. Fine. That means I have time to draw my own skateboard spider. Give me just a second.
There. Ladies, come and get me!
That’s some good artin’.
Like a dumb fuck, Corey walks Chrissy all the way back to the Daggers’ joint. You know what that means? That means the Daggers see and find Corey and chase him with plans to beat the literal life out of him. Corey just emptied his balls. He should be thinking WAY clearer than this. What do I know?
The Daggers chase Corey into a parking garage that is completely empty. I love movie moments like that. This is Los Angeles, right? It’s a city that has a lot of people and a lot of reputation of being an all night place. Yet, they go through a parking garage that doesn’t even have a broken down car left in it. That’s fantastic. When they get to the main street, there are still cars around driving here and there and stuff. When Corey gets in a bus to get away from the Daggers, the bus is like about 40% full too. But that parking garage? Completely empty.
The Daggers aren’t able to find Corey who, somehow, climbed on top of the bus before Tommy and crew went into the bus. One of the Daggers says he knows where their ramp is so they go and burn that mother down.
The next day, the Ramp Locals decide to go see the Daggers about the burnt down ramp. Monk, the Dagger most directly blamed for the fire, is called out and the Ramp Locals start in on exacting revenge for their burnt down ramp. After Tommy then beats the shit out of the Ramp Local, Corey comes to the rescue. Chrissy breaks the two guys up and Tommy offers Corey a challenge… Joust him at the Bronson Cave Half Pipe. He better be there or else.
Chrissy pleads with Corey to not do this joust thing. She reminds him that the downhill race is just a few days away. If he gets hurt, he can forget about the race. Corey is gonna do the joust. This is about his turf, his gang, and his manhood. Chrissy tries to talk to Tommy who won’t give her any insight on what this jousting thing is. She asks Velvet, and she’s like, “It’s just a game. And, oh, by the way, remember that this dude started a fight with your brother. Better pick a side, sweet cheeks!”
The night of the joust is here and it is fucking intense. Makeup is involved! Robert Rusler paints his eyes up like they are, I dunno, like Daryl Hannah from Blade Runner! Fucking Sherilyn Fenn looks like an 80s punk geisha. I mean… That’s kinda hot, but still! They are taking this shit seriously!
But anyway… Jousting is skateboards, a half pipe, and each skater has a morning star, but instead of a ball with spikes at the end, it’s a boxing glove. You skate toward each other and try to knock the other guy off his skateboard. You know… Like jousting! Duh!
So, Tommy is the first one to, I guess, get a point by knocking Corey off his board. When he comes flying in to start beating our hero with his little boxing glove mace, he gets knocked off. They both get back on their boards and Corey gets Tommy a couple more times before Corey gets knocked down again. So, best as I can tell, these guys just kind of knock each other down until one guy finally has enough and decides to whale on the other guy with his fists. This… This is basically what happens. But they also kind of start throttling each other. Everyone has to beat cheeks when the cops show up. Chrissy tries to get to Corey, but she’s dragged away. Corey’s in pretty bad shape. Tommy messed up his arm pretty good. In fact, it looks like he got his wrist broken.
Chrissy comes to check in with Corey to see how he’s doing. But he’s a little despondent. We’re just in time for a third act break up. She tries to apologize for what happened, but he says he’s thinking maybe it’s time for him to be alone for a while. She says she’s thinking about going back to Indiana and never coming back. She drives off after reminding him that he didn’t have to fight her brother at all. It’s kind of his fault he got his arm broken.
Chrissy goes home and tells Tommy to take her to the bus station in the morning so she can get the fuck out of there. He asks her if she can take a joke. She says she can, but she can’t take him. That’s some serious burnage going on there. Instead of taking her to the bus station himself, he sends Velvet to go talk to Chrissy. She tells Chrissy that she should go to the downhill race because maybe Corey will be there. But then, when Corey rolls up to see Chrissy, Velvet, who is outside getting a bungee cord for Chrissy’s suitcase, tells him that she’s already gone back to Indiana and that she came home saying he was screaming at her and she was crying hysterically and so on and so forth. She then smiles like an evil bitch because I guess she… is?
Anyway, Tommy takes Chrissy to the bus station so she can go home. It’s time for some more montage action! While Chrissy is about to board her bus, Corey’s practicing to see if he can do the downhill despite his broken arm. It’s pretty epic shit.
It should not be a surprise to anyone that, some miles away, that night, Chrissy decides to get off the bus and hitch a ride with a friendly old couple to hurry back to Los Angeles. Between Corey trying his hardest to overcome his injury and Chrissy trying her hardest to get back to Los Angeles in time to try to find Corey so they can maybe fuck like the good lookin’ kids that they are one more time before she finally decides to head back to Indiana, I’m not sure what’s going to happen in these final moments. One thing I do know, though, the Daggers like their odds.
It’s time for L.A. Massacre. Of course, Tommy is there to give a little shit to Corey. Seconds after the start of the race, people are already wiping out. Is it possible for people to get back up and continue on or if you wipe out, are you out out? Either way, this shit does not look safe at all. You are standing on four tiny wheels attached to a thin piece of wood and you are riding that death contraption at about 60 miles per hour. That’s insanity. These kids are insane.
So, yeah, several minutes of people wiping out, crashing and getting EMT help because they are breaking their asses on this hill. Now, with Chrissy arriving back in town just in time to see some of the end of this race, I feel it might create this insanely dangerous situation in which she’s gonna try to say something to Corey, or he’ll see her, or something, and then he’ll totally bite it face first.
He’ll eat asphalt so bad Chrissy will probably regret coming back to town because Corey’s face will be all fucked up.
I guess everyone except Corey and Tommy has eaten it because that’s apparently the only two guys the camera can find skating down this hill. I’m not sure where everyone is watching from because this is a pretty winding road and they are watching these two come down this hill for a long time and know who is gonna win. Anyway, Corey wins because Tommy took a turn too wide and maybe died.
Nah, he didn’t die. He joins in on the celebration and tells Chrissy her boyfriend is a lunatic and then they all went to Top Gun School.
Thrashin’ is exactly what you think it is. What do you think Thrashin’ is about? Yup, it’s exactly that. However you answered that question, that’s the answer.
But here’s the thing… It’s a nice slice of mid 80s camp and fun that makes total sense that it has a cult following. It’s an enjoyable watch. Pamela Gidley is incredibly cute. Robert Rusler is always a blast in a movie. Sherilyn Fenn is a punk rock geisha. What more could you ask for? Oh yeah, that Brolin kid? That guy is pretty good too.
I designed this month of David Winters movies in such a way that I was hoping we’d see some sort of degradation of what he did as a director. I certainly made sure to pick from different genres for each movie. But this movie is legitimately funded and produced and distributed by MGM. It looks like a real movie. Now, when we get to the very end of this month, you’ll wonder where some of it went wrong, but, here, David Winters shows that he had a talent for directing these kind of flicks that would appeal to younger audiences. He knew the baseline material of the star-crossed lovers and he shows it. I could have chosen one of his last movies like Dancin’: It’s On! which also has the star-crossed lovers thing, but this one is a million times better than that one.
If it’s still there, Thrashin’ should still be available to watch on Amazon Prime. Do it. You probably will enjoy it.
So, we move from a 1986 skater drama this week to a 1982 gritty slasher next week. Join me next time for The Last Horror Film which stars Caroline Munro and good ol’ Joe Spinell. I’m sure it will be another good time, so make sure you race your way down steep, winding hills on your skateboard to get back here for that!