Somewhere underneath the never-ending music and dance numbers is a story about keeping Shabba-Doo’s community center for inner city youth (named “Miracles”) from falling into the hands of a slimy developer who wants to bulldoze it to erect a shopping center in the middle of the community. This would leave the kids nowhere else to go, so obviously they choose to fight the city council’s decision to shut it down, but a window of opportunity exists, which calls for $200,000 in necessary repairs.
Former “Solid Gold” dancer Lucinda Dickey stars as Kelly, a waitress by day, aspiring jazz dancer in her spare time. She has the looks and talent to go far, at least according to her dance instructor, but this move seems to come at a price, as he wants a little action on the side to help her career. She makes friends with a couple of local street dancers, aka break-dancers, Ozone and Turbo, and she becomes enamored of the mannerisms and moves of the street dancers. They agree to teach her some steps in order to gain street rep, while she has a crazy idea to make break-dancing more mainstream in the form of a staged musical about it. Alas, the conservative art crowd scoffs at the idea, as do the rival street-dancing crews who want to be prove they are the best of the bunch.
Style Wars is a documentary look at the street art among the youth of New York in the early 1980s, especially in the South Bronx, particularly in graffiti art and break-dancing. The film takes a balanced look at the youth culture, showing the artistry and thought involved in young people trying to make a name and impact by creating art for people all over the city to see on the side (or the interior) of a subway train, but also shows the frustration on the part of then-mayor Ed Koch, as well as law enforcement, in trying to keep the city from the blight of illegal art that often looks like gibberish to most people.
Producer and activist Harry Belafonte’s commercialized slice-of-life drama stars Guy Davis as Kenny ‘Double K’ Kirkland, a South Bronx hip-hop DJ with big dreams, and Jon Chardiet as Ramon, a Puerto Rican graffiti artist who would rather tag trains than get a real job. Rae Dawn Chong is Tracy, an upper-class music student from a college in Manhattan who sees something in Kenny’s proficiency with turntablism to want him to assist with her presentation on break-dancing.
The seminal hip-hop film looks at underground Bronx art culture, including rap, graffiti art, break-dancing (aka b-boying) and DJing (aka turntablism), as we follow the exploits of a graffiti artist named Zoro and his quest to take his art and make it a living. Charlie Ahearn and Fab 5 Freddy created this film to expose to the world the genuine artistry and talent going on in the South Bronx, with lost of scenes of the authentic underground artists and their phenomenal talents. Imitated, but never duplicated, WILD STYLE is the grand daddy of all films covering hip-hop.
The loose story of how Def Jam came to be, featuring the hottest hip-hop artists of the mid-1980s, Run-DMC, Kurtis Blow, The Fat Boys, LL Cool J, The Beastie Boys, and many more. Blair Underwood plays Russell, whose management company is coming up with some hot musical acts, including Run-DMC, featuring his brother Joe, who he ends up losing to some rivals offering more money. He gets into a financial pickle, while also romancing a hot funk-pop talent named Sheila, whom Joe also has a thing for. Michael Schultz directs this fan-favorite kitsch on hip-hop’s early days.
Taimak stars as a young African-American Harlemite who is a devout student of martial arts. He lives kung fu, breathes kung fu and is so entrenched in the ways of the kung fu warrior, he stands out in his predominantly Black community for his lack of hipness and Asian-tinged wardrobe (he even eats his movie popcorn with chopsticks). He is sent out into the world from his master teacher to reach the final level of his training to become a true kung fu master, involving a golden amulet and a master named Som Dom Goy. Meanwhile, his quest is detoured by constant disruptions by a neighborhood bully, Sho’Nuff. who, along with his gang of thugs, are terrorizing the neighborhood. Leroy also gets embroiled with an even bigger bad guy, amoral record producer Eddie Arkadian, whose quest to get his girlfriend’s video played on the hottest music show on TV hosted by singer/VJ Laura Charles causes them to get physical. Leroy becomes Laura’s reluctant bodyguards, and the sparks between them suggest that they might have something more going on.
Sarah Jessica Parker stars as a Chicago teenager who works her tail off for a spot as a dance on her favorite dance show on television, but spats with her dance partner and a potentially rigged contest makes for a great challenge to success, not to mention her father will not approve if he finds out about her pursuit. Helen Hunt, Shannon Doherty, Jonathan Silverman, and Lee Montgomery get supporting roles in this film that takes its title from the Cyndi Lauper song.
John Waters writes and directs this most accessible of his films, his only one to be rated PG, with HAIRSPRAY, the film that made Ricki Lake a prominent star to be. Set in 1962, HAIRSPRAY explores race and class in a mostly divided Baltimore, where teens of different races weren’t allowed to dance on the same show at the same time. Tracy Turnblad doesn’t see why they can’t all be one happy group, vowing to turn the local variety show to reflect the diversity of the town itself. Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono, and Divine also appear.
The sixth and final in the original Freddy Krueger arc finds us ten years in the future, where the psycho demon has killed off all but one of the original Elm Street children. Needing new souls to maintain his power, Freddy plans to use the last teen to get him out of Springwood to new towns and new teens to murder. However, his past comes back to haunt him in a big way, leading Freddy to have to battle for his life beyond the dream realm. Rachel Talalay takes over the directorial chores in this lighter entry in the series.
The fifth entry in the A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series sees the return of Lisa Wilcox as the heroine, Alice, taking on Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) yet again, who has come back to haunt her nightmares through her unborn child. Freddy wants to be reincarnated by feeding the fetus the soul of Alice’s friends, and with the baby asleep most of the time, the terrifying dreams seem non-stop. Stephen Hopkins directs this darker and gloomier installment.
Future action movie maestro Renny Harlin came to Hollywood from Finland to take over the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchise for one entry with THE DREAM MASTER, in which Freddy Krueger gets resurrected in order to get revenge on those who put him in his grave, and to hopefully take a few more teenage souls along the way. Brian Helgeland co-scripts this effort that brings together Robert Englund, Tuesday Knight, Lisa Wilcox, Rodney Eastman, Ken Sagoes, and Danny Hassel. The result would prove to be the biggest box-office success for the series to that point, and a killer soundtrack to boot.
The third time was certainly the charm in the Nightmare on Elm Street” series with DREAM WARRIORS, which put together a team of adept but troubled teenagers in taking on the fiercely powerful (and growing more so by the day, Freddy Krueger, who is out to kill these kids in their nightmares. Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) is back to show them how to defeat the evil rascal, but they need to work as a team to do it. The debut role for Patricia Arquette, plus an early appearance from Laurence Fishburne, make it a highlight, along with, of course, Robert Englund in his most iconic of roles. Chuck Russell directs from a screenplay whose talent includes Frank Darabont and Wes Craven himself.
A very speedy follow-up to A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET replaces Wes Craven as the creative force, taking the series in a new and unexpected direction under the guiding influence of Jack Sholder. Screenwriter David Chaskin supplies the subversive screenplay that caused it to become a cult hit in the gay horror-loving community for its homoerotic subtext that adds one more layer to this story of a confused teenage boy struggling to control his impulses driving him to commit heinous acts, with only the love of his gal pal to perhaps curb him from doing Freddy’s bidding. While derided at the time of its release, the film has its champions, even if it deviates the most from Craven’s vision among the sequels. Mark Patton, Kim Myers and Robert Englund star.
Wes Craven refreshed the struggling slasher film genre with this more surreal and intense take, saving New Line Cinema with one of the big surprise hits of 1984: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Heather Langenkamp stars as Nancy Thompson, who finds out that she is not alone in having a recurring dream about a badly burnt and scarred man named Freddy Krueger who terrorizes her with horrific acts of terror (Craven says that the character’s name was based on a school mate who bullied him as a child). What’s even more scary is that her friends are starting to die mysteriously, and Nancy is sure that if she were to fall asleep and dream, she will be next in line to be a victim. Her parents think here is something wrong with her, and the local police can’t believe a word of it, so she must fend for herself. But surely she can’t stay awake forever! John Saxon, Johnny Depp and Robert Englund also co-star in this first of many films in the long-running and beloved horror series.