Sunday, September 13, 2015

Roller Boogie

Director - Mark L. Lester (Commando, Firestarter)
Starring - Linda Blair (The Exorcist, Hell Night), Jim Bray, and Beverly Garland (Spider-Man, Death Falls)
Release Date - 1979
Genre - Drama/Romance
Tagline - "It's love on wheels"
Format - BluRay (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Now before any of you start bitching and moaning about this not being a horror film, I fucking know this.  I know it's not an action, exploitation, sexploitation, blaxsploitation, horror porn or horror parody.  I, also, know that it is a romantic drama but that is not why I wanted to review it.  The film itself stars horror legend Linda Blair who is known the world over for her iconic role as Reagan in the now classic horror film The Exorcist.  Since then she has starred in the classics Hell Night, The Exorcist II, Repossessed, Savage Streets, Witchery, as well as, a small role in the post-80s slasher Scream.  When I get a chance to check out any of her work I jump on it so when Olive Films announced that they were releasing her 1979 roller disco flick Roller Boogie I wanted to see it out of sheer curiosity and respect for Blair.  Thanks Olive Films for sending this one my way!
     The film follows skating disco king Bobby James (Bray) who is known throughout the California boardwalk for his skating skills.  He dances up and down the boardwalk and one day crosses paths with hobby skater Terry Barkley (Blair).  Terry comes from a very wealthy family and is often ignored by her parents who go on luxurious trips without her.  Bobby tries to ask her out but she denies his advancements.  Later he runs into her again at the roller disco and tries to make his move and this time it works.  She asks him for skating tips and he agrees to help her if she goes out with him. The two start to hit it off and soon they are practicing for a contest that is coming up soon.  However, romantic bliss comes to a halt when the roller disco is about to change hands and become property of a crime boss.  Now the two have to juggle the big contest, teenage romance, and keeping the disco out of the wrong hands.
     When it comes to romance I would rather step on a Lego or stub my toe than sit through this dribble.  They tend to bore the shit out of me with their unrealistic stories, boring dialogue that does not happen between two human beings, and awkward acting.  The only real exception to this is the horror comedy Shaun of the Dead for obvious reasons.  Roller Boogie was a little different than most romantic dramas.  The film is able to almost mesmerize the viewer with the skating sequences and how the characters almost don't feel romantically involved until later in the film.  This made the film pretty enjoyable.  The acting in this one is fun to watch but it is also a little confusing which may not be the cast's fault.  The cast interacts very well with each other which is very surprising considering that Jim Bray had never acted before this film.  But I will say this, the mother fucker sure can skate!  Linda is once again phenomenal.  I have never seen a film where she did not knock it out of the park.  With all that being said, Bray's and Linda's characters are awkward to watch due to the way the story is set up.  The way the two play their love games makes the film feel awkward.  They do not act naturally in a way a man and woman does when they like each other.  It almost feels like Blair's character genuinely hates him and not doing it for show like so many other romantic films.  The story for this one has been done so many times before but never in the roller disco setting.  So many films spanning from early 70s to late 90s followed a young couple as they tried to prevent some bad person or persons from taking something they love.  A lot of films removed the couple and replaced it with kids as well because it was so effective.  Footloose would later use this along with so many others.  What set this one apart was the choreographed skate scenes and and the crime angle.  Finally, this release from Olive Films is a solid release that looks good but has not been remastered to fully take advantage of bluray quality.  The film looks good but could look better if it was properly remastered for bluray.  The release also lacks special features which is a bit of a bummer.  It would have been cool to watch an interview or listen to commentary by Blair as she talked about working on this film compared to all her horror features.  Overall, Roller Boogie from Olive Films is a fun release.  The film is entertaining and looks good but could use a little touch up and some special features to spice it up.  Fans of 70s films and Linda Blair need to own this one.  Check it out.  

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