Quartknee in San Francisco writes:
OMG! Friday night was SO AMAZING. The Castro Theater had a roller-disco triple feature, and I can still feel the endorphins flowing in an afterglow of glitter-and-satin overload.
Roller Boogie (1979) – You have to rent this movie. The cheesy nostalgia factor is off the charts! Linda Blair is so fucking hot and she’s featuring tons of revealing satin numbers, like those short-shorts with the rainbow along the butt. The eyeshadow alone is worth the cost of rental and the skate moves are equal parts cool and weak. The story is a bit tired but the script had a bunch of lines that were so bad you’ll be repeating them for weeks. I can’t recommend this film highly enough. SEE IT NOW.
Xanadu (1980) – I never realized how creepy Gene Kelly is in this film until I saw it in a theater packed with queens. The comments shouted at the screen by the audience were priceless. So too were the three rows of guys holding up lighters during the cheesy ballad number.
Skatetown USA (1979) – This movie is so bad it’s good. Most people have never heard of it because it didn’t last very long in theaters and it’s never been available on DVD or video. It’s got some big name stars like Scott Baio and Maureen McCormick (Marsha Brady!), plus Horshack in a beard as one of the tough guys. Flip Wilson plays the owner of Skatetown USA, a totally over the top version of Skate Palace. He also gets in drag to play his own wife. Billy Barty plays his son/general manager, and it’s surreal seeing a midget on rollerskates hitting on skantily clad averge-sized women. The snack bar scenes are kinda lame, but there’s a running joke through the film about the long wait for slices of pizza and I kept laughing thinking about my sister and I dealing with the same issue at Skate Palace in Lake Forrest. Also featured, but under utilized is Ruth Buzzi. Like Xanadu, there are dance numbers/music videos but also bands playing live and a stand-up bit with the Unknown Comic (remember him from The Gong Show?). The best/worst part of the film is watching Patrick Swayze in his feature-film debut as the leader of the Westside Hot Wheelers roller-skating gang. You really get to see why his career took the trajectory it did – coz it’s all in this film! Maybe someday it will be available on the internet or DVD or something.
With the re-make of Rollerball and the release of contemporary films like Roll Bounce, this truly is a sub-genre that will never die! Apparently roller disco is still alive and well and continues to flourish in San Francisco. It’s been way too long since I’ve been to Venice Beach where all these films were shot and I’d guess by now they’ve switched to inline skates down there. I’ve seen better tricks in GG park than in these films, but with the costumes and music they were still amazing.