May 13, 2024

Totally Awesome Video Gaaaaame

Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
The first Sunday night screening this season at the Mahoning was the all time king of cheesy 80's video game comedy films, the 1983 classic Joysticks.

If you've seen this movie even once in your life, its theme song is undoubtedly now stuck in your head.  If you haven't, click play and suffer with the rest of us!

Show banner designed by Andrew Kern

The night was centered around the movie's addition to the MVD Rewind Collection.  It was released on DVD and Blu Ray recently, and it comes packaged in an Atari 2600 style slipcover with a collectible double sided mini poster.  The disc includes a faux trailer for an 80's video game movie called Coin Slots, as well as an interview and directors commentary track from Greydon Clark, and a fan commentary from Eric D. Wilkinson, Heath Holland, and Jesse Nelson.

There was an Asteroids cocktail cabinet and a traditional Ms. Pac Man cabinet set up in the concession building.  Both games were set to free play for folks to come in and immerse themselves in 80's arcade gaming culture before showtime.

Before the trailer reel, there was a series of nice video introductions that were sent to the Mahoning.  The first was from Joysticks director and producer Greydon Clark.  Next was from actress Becky LeBeau, who made her film debut in Joysticks.  She also has a small role in my favorite horror comedy of all time, Transylvania Twist.  Last, but not least, there was a very funny intro from my favorite character from Joysticks, King Vidiot, played by the absolutely brilliant comic actor Jon Gries.

King Vidiot - Joysticks (1983)                   Uncle Rico - Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Jon Gries is freakin brilliant in everything that I've ever seen him in.  In addition to his roles in Joysticks and Napoleon Dynamite, he played tunnel dwelling student Lazlo in Real Genius, and he's had roles in TerrorVision, Running Scared, The Monster Squad, Fright Night 2, Get Shorty, Men In Black, The Rundown, and the Taken trilogy.

The trailer reel that was shown before the feature included a 35mm commercial for the release of Dig Dug in arcades.  I never knew that they even had commercials for arcade games in theaters.  Dig Dug first appeared in North American arcades in Spring 1982 and it became a massive success for Namco and Atari.

I wrote about this film last March on the 40th anniversary of its release so I'm not going to write a full review here, but it is the epitome of a cheesy early 80's comedy.  It premiered in theaters when I was two years old so I obviously wasn't able to see it on the big screen during its initial run, but I'm extremely glad to have had the opportunity to see it screened from an original 35mm print at my favorite place in the world to watch movies.