Amanda By Night's Retro Ectero Page

Retro Ectero is a place to wax poetic about all the wonderful silly things of a past long gone by.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Modern Girls (1986)




Known primarily as a music video director/producer, (he produced the insanely awesome video “Hot for Teacher” by Van Halen), Jerry Kramer tried his hand at a feature length filmmaking in 1986. What he got was Modern Girls, a movie that loosely translates the feel of the poppy musical era to a motion picture. Modern Girls met with mediocre reviews but as time passed, it has come to be an irreplaceable time capsule.

In 1986, when Modern Girls came around, the new wave era was slowly drawing to a close even though it was opening another door for something we now refer to as clubbing. A decade famous for outrageous costume concoctions and airily bright music, the three lead females each embodies part of the musical movement. Margo (Daphne Zuniga) is the darker one. Donned in pre-goth black and with an attitude to match, she proves to be a tough girl to wrangle. CeCe (Cynthia Gibb) is the Cindi Lauper of the group. Her crazy outfits and upbeat outlook keep her happy even when she loses her job at the beginning of the film. The final girl, Kelly (Virginia Madsen) is a lot like pop music, her unassuming beauty wows all those who come into contact with her, yet she continually questions her worth and longevity. Clifford and Bruno X (both played by Clayton Rohner) are the guys who shows up and changes their lives.

Modern Girls is essentially a fairly uncomplicated love story rolled up in neon lights, the LA club life and lots of wonderful music. “No Promises” by Icehouse is a tremendous new wave ballad but it’s Depeche Mode’s beautiful and poetic “But Not Tonight” that sets the tone for a film whose theme is simply to be young and alive. Isn’t that what the 80s was all about?

The soundtrack has been long out of print, but you find the following songs on CD:

  • "But Not Tonight” by Depeche Mode is available on Black Celebration

  • “Weak in the Presence of Beauty” by Floy Joy is available on an import with the same title.

  • “Jealousy” by Club Noveau can be found on Life, Love and Pain

  • “No Promises” by Icehouse can be found on an import with the same title.

  • “Some Candy Talking” by the Jesus and Mary Chain can be found on 21 Singles

4 Comments:

Blogger A rambling wastrel, I* said...

I have not seen this film.
But, I remember when it came out... I mean, I've actually heard of this film. I remember Daphne Zuniga being in it, but I don't think I realized, or I forgot, about Virginia Madsen.
I used to work at a few video rental places in the 80s-early 90s, and I remember liking Viginia Madsen. Not that I saw a ton of her films.
But I remember renting THE HOT SPOT, which I thought was great and had a cool downbeat ending (plus Don Johnson and Jennifer Connelly (hubba, hubba)); SLAMDANCE, the Wayne Wang directed flick which starred Tom Hulce as a cartoonist (the cartoons are funny, too!, and I'm surprised this film isn't better known; I really liked it alot); and GOTHAM, with Tommy Lee Jones, which to be honest, didn't make an impression on me really, but having looked it up on IMDb just now and reading a viewer's comments about it, I feel I should give it another look.

Anyways, bla bla bla.

I mostly remember Ms. Zuniga being in this, because I always liked her in THE SURE THING (another great movie!), but strangely, I've never really followed up on her other films (I haven't even seen SPACEBALLS).
I'm not really averse to so-called "chick flicks," although I have to be more in a mood or seeing it with someone else, probably feminine. But I am a sucker for romantic sub-plots, etc.
(Two favorite romances: NOTTING HILL and the downbeat but appropriately ended BREATHLESS with Richard Gere and Valerie Kaprisky -- both damn fine specimens of pulchritude AND HOTNESS)(um... I digress...).

But the other thing that always caught my attention with this poster/VHS cover was the cartoon panel, a la Roy Lichtenstein. A totally arbitrary reason to be interested in this film.

So, courtesy of your review, I'll have to finally check this out.

Also, re: your comment of how it's a time capsule for 1986, out of curiosity: do you have any suggestions for films that would be a nice time capsule for 1981, perhaps, especially set in Manhattan?
I may or may not be involved with working on a locally produced werewolf comic (as artist), and it's set in that era and location.
I've been accumulating some photo books for references of the city and some DVDs, primarily for fashion references (although, I don't know how well AMERICAN GIGOLO and FLASHDANCE will do me. Of course, neither is set in NYC, but I was hoping for some wardrobe guidance there, and I figured a lawyer character in the book wouldn't mind being modeled after Richard Gere and his expensive tastes).
My other thought was GHOSTBUSTERS, and I hope 1984 isn't too off in terms of different fashion styles after 3 years, although Flashdance itself is set in '83. Of course, it's a freaking WEREWOLF COMIC, so I shouldn't be too anal...
Just wondering if any appropriate films come to mind...
Oh, also, there's punk music references, and all I can think of is Penelope Spheeris' documentary DECLINE OF THE WESTERN CIVILIZATION, which, actually, should be pretty good for fans and how they dress/behave/etc., if I can dig it up somewhere...

Gee, isn't it exciting to have someone read your blog who's an INCREDIBLE WINDBAG?

Thanks.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Amanda By Night said...

You're SO not a windbag. I love your responses. Thank you so much for reading my stuff! I shall return the favor soon, my friend.

If I could recommend a movie I think is kind of one of the ultimate 80s NYC flicks, I'd say see Liquid Sky. It's kind of hard to watch, but is a really fascinating look at the empty life of some New Wavers. Another great film is Smithereens. Both are different but quite awesome. Also, listen to Klaus Nomi to get a feel for the underground movement. In fact, see Nomi Song, a doc about Mr. Nomi... there is tons of rare footage of the early 80s underground New Wave scene. You can also try the doc Blank Generation, which I think was directed by Richard Hell. OK, I had a ramble. There's no lawyers but they are all AWESOME time capsules. I'll try to think of more...

Werewolves and Lawyers. Kool! :)

8:50 PM  
Blogger A rambling wastrel, I* said...

Hi!
Oh, man, am i dragging....
This week I've been working on the FRIGHT WORLD movie.
It started shooting when I was on vacation last week and I was really curious as to how it was going because going into the schedule, I could foresee all sorts of miserableness coming down during it.
However, I should also say, that for some reason, I'm incredibly pessimistic about theatrical undertakings and film projects, that misery is just part of the equation. which I think is an attitutde problem on my part! Not just me being prepared for the worst-- so I need to work on that... but that's more an outloud note to me...

ANYWAYS, I walked onto the Fright world location Monday, and i guess things have been going really well!
Go Red Scream films!
Apparently one of the main improvements from the last film, PRISON OF THE PSYCHOTIC DAMNED (which is actually two projects ago, but their last full time shoot; their last project was THE ELDRITCH, but that used all local actors and was shot on weekends), is to add a production manager.
Debi has made a huge difference in terms of facilitating communication between writer/producer/director David Williams, DP Emil Novak, and FX head David Gray, and more importantly, troubleshooting and having to act as the tough guy/bitch with any cast and etc. problems.
Meanwhile, I feel like an involved tourist. With so much in the can, I feel I'm wandering non-chalantly into a separate reality right after work: I walk in Monday, and more or less help setting up a shot in the graveyard, see all these cast members I don't know, especially this one young lady who will be discovered dead in the same graveyard scene with her guts ripped open...
Tuesday I walk in and most of the cast has been sent home. We spend the day shooting weird special FX shots for Mike B. (I think? he's from out-of town) for use in the opening credit sequence he's designing, a job he did on POTPD. I think he's also offering directorial assistance to David W.
That was lond night of waiting for the FX dept. to create each effect and then shooting it: a weird red demon trapped in her own portable head cage, a red demon in chains and barbed wire, a white horned devil with a funky foot and half long tongue (which was hysterical watching David G. manipulate a la "fishpole and thread), a thressome with all of them, and finally, a girl with her throat cut, but the effect had some initial misfunctions, so we waited around for like an hour and half before we finally got the footgae. So that day ended at midnight...
(At the end of the day I thought i was there 3 days and it had only been two...sheesh)
Yesterday, I helped build a replica set for the major bloodshed scenes that are to happen today (Chainsaw Man makes an appearance, carved up cast to immediately follow...), and at the end of the day actually was recruited to pump some blood for a CU of a Freddy Krueger-like glove tearing into a cast member's face...

Today, I actually have a day "off" (actually I work TONIGHT at 1 a.m.), so i'll be there in the morning, unfortunately, this stray cat we've befriended for about 7 years has fallen ill in the last week-- he can't seem to move his one hind leg or support himself, so we've been feeding him by hand and cleaning up after him while he lies on a rug on our back porch. I'll finally have a chance to take him to the vet this morning befoire the shoot, but i'm afraid we have to put him down, because we don't have the time to take care of him-- not to mention him lying around now is not much of a life for a cat who's been used to going outside. Which is sad, of course, but he also has a very sweet demeanor...
Long sigh.

But... I DIGRESS.
Back to your comments... (I'm laughing to myself because i think I'm just horribly indulgent with these comments and my wife would be horrified as to how verbally abusive i am-- well, from a quantity perspective-- I guess verbally VERBOSIVE is more accurate, if that were an actual word...)

And seriously, thank you so much for your comments! Thank you thank you thank you!
I'm REALLY curious to hear about FELONS some day! I find horror stories about filmmaking strangely comforting, because I think i'd be a filmmaker that causes misery, so at least I wouldn't be alone... uh...
But, thank you for the suggestions.
I actually saw LIQUID SKY when it came out. That was Ann... Carlyle? If so, i pulled that out of my butt!
That was a weird movie, but I rememebr liking it-- forgot lots of it, though.
Never saw SMITHEREENS (is that Ms. Spheeris, again? not sure...)and don't really know Klaus Nomi or those docs, but I think I have to sign up with Netflix again and search those out.
But the two movies should be doable... thanks for the advice!

FRIGHT WORLD wraps up on Saturday, so I hope to update my livejournal site next week. I think I'm going to use my blogger site as a basic diary to whine... no fun for readers, but it may be therapeutic for me! The heck!

Oh, and I forgot to mention... there's a possibility that someone from Fangoria may be there today!
Who knows? David G.'s very excited, understandably, about possibly being in the pages of their mag. I know David when I was working video rental and he was a customer, 15 years ago! At my suggestion, when we had bumped into each other a few years ago, David informed me then he had a company called Gray Effects, and I wound up suggesting his name to David Williams. I'm not sure if Gray's happy about that "good luck" now or not, lol! (holy crap! look! I used internet speak! man, am I old...)
Weird, weird world...

And SHIT-- gotta go! Have a depressing date with the vet I'm gonna be late for!

Hope you're having a good day! Later, retro cinephile! And again, thank you for YOUR response, he said, uncomfortably needy-like... but sincerely!

BTW: "Werewolves and lawyers", sounds like a movie that should have a Warren Zevon soundtrack, doesn't it?

4:36 AM  
Anonymous cattleworks said...

MODERN GIRLS video in the house!
Alright, it only took me spending about $70 worth of library late fees to finally get around to borrowing this! The heck!
Oh, yeah, me and borrowing loads of books of photo references usually winds up me paying out a lot of dough because: 1)I forget when they're due back and 2)I take forever getting around to actually using them (drawing issues, man!).
But enough about me being a financially wasteful bonehead...
Hope to watch this time capsule-esque sucker this weekend!

Oh, and have a safe trip back! Looking forward to pictures of you wearing the de rigueur coconuts and grass skirt ensemble seamlessly inserted into your blog entries and reviews..."...and here's some shots from the unreleased FRIDAY THE 13TH: CRYSTAL LAKE LUAU..."

10:49 AM  

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