Summer Camp: The Campy Movies of My 80’s Youth, Installment #3

It’s installment #3 of Summer Camp! Before we get to today’s movies, I wanted to mention a couple of honorable mentions that didn’t make the list but are totally worth your time: Time Bandits (Netflix) and The Ice Pirates (rentable on Youtube).

One of today’s movies, The Wraith, wasn’t on my original list. However, this past Sunday evening I was telling some friends about my series this week and one of them brought up the movie and that it should be on the list. So I added it to the list (it actually replaced The Ice Pirates) then found a place to watch it before writing this entry. Was it a good choice? Or a bad one? Continue on, dear reader, and find out!

#5 – The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)

Synopsis: Adventurer, brain surgeon, rock musician Buckaroo Banzai and his crime-fighting team, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, must stop evil alien invaders from the eighth dimension who are planning to conquer Earth.

Biggest Star(s): Too many to list.

My Take: While I did see this when I was high school, I didn’t really appreciate it and find it completely hilarious until my freshman year of college (1988) when I watched it a couple of dozen times. There are so many great interactions and one liners in this movie (I still quote it). In my opinion, it’s the most underrated movie from the 80’s. It’s quirky and really makes no sense whatsoever but it’s a fun watch. I would say it needs a reboot but I highly doubt another cast could pull it off as well. Personal note: Buckaroo’s band in the movie is called The Hong Kong Cavaliers. I was in a cover band one time and I almost had them convinced to use that as our name.

High Point: All the aliens named “John” especially John BigBoote (pronounced “Big Bootay”).

Low Point: The sequel advertised at the end of the movie that never happened.

#6 – The Wraith (1984)

Synopsis: After a young man is murdered by a road-racing gang of motor-heads, a mysterious fast-driving spirit descends from the sky to take revenge.

Biggest star: Charlie Sheen, Randy Quaid.

My Take: Before re-watching it, I recalled liking this movie when I was kid. I think as a fourteen year old, the car and the girl (Sherilyn Fenn, pre-Twin Peaks) glossed over a lot of the shortcomings in the movie because I also remember watching it more than once. Trust me, though…watching it at age fifty was a chore. I’ll be nice and say it’s a decent story idea but it’s not executed well at all. The movie tries to use flashbacks to explain some of the back story and it doesn’t work well. The wraith and Charlie Sheen’s character both appear out of nowhere and nobody knows who either of them are or where they came from but then all of a sudden at the end of the movie everyone knows who both of them are. All the characters in the “bad guy” gang are completely overdone and cheesy especially the psychotic leader. The dialog is horrible.

High Point: The Dodge M4S Turbo Interceptor that the wraith character drives. And the soundtrack wasn’t half bad.

Low Point: Just about everything else.

About Eric Vardeman 115 Articles
80's lover. Screenwriter. Cohost of The Greatest Lists podcast. Christmas enthusiast. Tulsa Curling Club founder. Cherokee. Guitar player. Boomer Sooner. Curator of 80's playlists (

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