“Greaser Greg, Valerie Vomit, Ali Gator, Windy Winston, Foul Phil… they’re all here!”
In the grand history of movies based on trading cards, The Garbage Pail Kids movie ranks second only to Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks. Granted, they are probably the only movies ever based on trading cards, but the ranking remains. Now, that’s not to say that The Garbage Pail Kids Movie is a masterpiece, because good lord it’s not. Bad puppets, confusing morals, ludicrous logic, and one incredibly creepy relationship between a preteen boy and a twentysomething girl guarantee that any viewing will be filled with cringes. However, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie is also so goddamn insane in such a specifically 80s way that it’s oddly fascinating. Time and irony have made it a cult classic of sorts. Enough so that Shout Factory have bestowed us all with a special edition Blu-ray that I’m sure even the folks behind the movie never saw coming. I certainly wouldn’t recommend the flick to everyone. But if you know what The Garbage Pail Kids were and have any interest in the movie, chances are you have the sweet tooth for 80s cheese required to laugh off these 97 deeply bizarre cornball minutes.
So, for those who don’t know, The Garbage Pail Kids was a trading card series that essentially took the Cabbage Patch Kids design and transformed them into grotesque cartoons of mutant children vomiting, farting, peeing, etc. It was made for an era when kids equated “gross” with “funny” or “cool.” Why? Who knows? But it happened. Somehow they were successful enough that a few independent producers decided that a movie was in order. So a group of disinterested adults took a pack of cards and transformed it into a story about a young boy who works in a magic junk shop featuring a magic garbage can containing the kids. Why? Don’t worry about logic. The important thing is that that kid also has a crush on a twenty-something girl in the neighbourhood who makes clothes and sells them behind clubs at night. Turns out the Garbage Pail Kids have a knack for making ridiculous 80s fashions, so the girl tricks the boy into manufacturing a fashion line to benefit her bully boyfriend. It all builds to a climax where the Garbage Pail Kids beat up the bullies and we all learn a lesson about not judging people for being ugly, even if those “people” are actually cheaply produced and inarticulate puppets.
Could you follow that plot description? Did it make any sense? Well, I assure you that the film itself is even more ridiculous and confusing. It exists purely because Spielberg and Lucas created an environment where movies featuring rubber creatures could make a mint with kids. That led to garbage like the Munchie series and The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. These aren’t particularly good movies. In fact, this one is downright awful. However, they have appeal for those who are nostalgic about every stupid movie they watched as children on VHS as well as those who enjoy laughing hysterically at the movies folks somehow took seriously in the 1980s. This one never meant much to me as a kid and certainly means nothing to me now. However, I have to admit that there’s a certain charm to the batshit insane nature of the project, which is just ridiculous enough for camp value. I’ll likely never watch it again, but I can’t pretend I don’t have my own cornballs 80s relics that I adore. I can see how The Garbage Pails Kids Movie would appeal to some viewers in the same way. It’s at least harmlessly stupid. More importantly, I applaud Shout Factory’s commitment to releasing this sort of nonsense onto Blu-ray. Literally no one else would even think of releasing this thing. Good for them.
It’s safe to say that The Garbage Pail Kids Movie has never looked or sounded as good as it does on this new Shout Factory Blu-ray. Granted, it’s a cheap and ugly movie. So don’t expect this thing to explode off your screen. That won’t happen. However, the crappy effects and cheap sets have never looked more crappy or cheap. You can see all of the filmmakers’ many mistakes perfectly and the lossless audio track ensures that you’ll never get confused and think that the Garbage Pail Kids lips actually sync up with their dialogue.
Surprisingly, Shout Factory managed to get a wealth of special features for this Blu-ray. Two of the actors who played the Garbage Pail Kids pop up for a 20-minute interview, fondly recalling getting their roles and not-so-fondly recalling the challenges of wearing the masks (they couldn’t see or hear properly in the masks, which was just as idiotically problematic as you’d imagine, especially when motorcycles were involved). The effects supervisor and assistant director pop up for brief 10-minute apologetic interviews discussing the challenges of the production as well as the fact that they can’t actually remember the plot of the film. Unsurprisingly, the guy who has the longest interview (a whopping 27 minutes) and fondest memories is star Mackenzie Astin. It was his first movie, so he clearly relished the experience that everyone else considered a paycheck. It’s delightful to hear him discuss the excitement of working on set and the inevitable disappointment when he viewed the final product. As usual, no one does special features on camp classics like Shout Factory. With no concern for protecting studios’ interests, the company’s interviews are hilariously candid and honest, sharing the type of insights and insults that no other home video company would dare release. Whether you love or loath The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, the tales of vaguely embarrassed adults recalling the time they worked on a movie based on trading cards are absolutely hysterical.
Does this deserve a spot on your Dork Shelf?
If you’re familiar with and fond of this kind of Shout Factory release, the so-bad-it’s good camp, then this is worth picking up, plus the interviews addressing what went wrong are always more interesting than the typical promotional featurettes you get on most Blu-rays.