You Can Be a Garbage Pail Kid!
Dir. Rod Amateau
Runtime: 97 minutes
Starring: Anthony Newley, Mackenzie Astin, Phil Fondacaro, Katie Barberi
I recently dusted off a box of VHS’s in my loft and unearthed some long forgotten treasures. For anyone that was born after the year 2000, a VHS is how mummy and daddy used to watch home movies, it’s like a big piece of plastic that… oh never mind, it’s pointless explaining that, because the next thing I am going to have to explain is this movie that I’m reviewing; Rod Amateau’s “The Garbage Pail Kids Movie”. Strap yourself in because this is a super cringe-fest, even people who lived through this haven’t got much love for it so new audiences are going to wonder WTF this hideous creation is.
Summary (full of spoilers!)
A young boy called Dodger is being bullied, one day the bullies take it to the extreme. They’ve already assaulted him and robbed him, but that’s just harmless 1980’s fun. They follow him to his work where the lead bully’s girlfriend, Tangerine, is being nice to him out of guilt. The bullies kidnap him, and then handcuff him in a sewer and pour sewage onto him – it’s the 80’s, they’re just having a laugh. Dodger is rescued by mysterious little people who go by the name of the Garbage Pail Kids. The GPK’s came to Earth in a garbage can spaceship and were released from it when one of the bullies knocked the garbage can over in the shop where Dodger works, run by Captain Manzini. He introduced Dodger to the GPK’s properly but tells Dodger that they can’t leave the shop, or the “normies” (normal people) would attack them – they also can’t go back into the garbage can without magic.
Dodger and Tangerine go to a nightclub where it turns out that Tangerine is an aspiring fashion designer and sells some clothes. At the same time, the GPK’s have leave the shop and cause 1980’s mayhem – you know, stealing trucks, wrecking cars, and eating too much around a campfire in an alleyway. It’s ok though, they sew a jacket for Dodger, which Tangerine likes. She plans to sell clothes if Dodger can get them for her, but she is repulsed when she meets the GPK’s – not to worry though, she plans on exploiting them. She locks them in a basement sweatshop, but she isn’t aware that her boyfriend the bully has arranged for the GPK’s to be rounded up and sent to the State Home of the Ugly. Dodger and Manzini break the GPK’s out, so they go to trash the fashion show that Tangerine was going to use to flog her wares. Dodger gets into a fight with the bullies, but the bullies get arrested by the police. Tangerine offers Dodger an apology, but Dodger tells her to stick it. Manzini attempts to trap the GPK’s in their garbage can spaceship prison but fails. And the movie ends with eh GPK’s driving off in on an ATV.
… or… here’s a summary in 180 characters of less…
Gross-out trading-card characters brought to life in offensive and cringy 1980’s kids (?) movie that you will want to erase from memory.
Where do I start with this? OK, so, this live-action film is based on characters in a trading card series. Basically, in the 1980’s kids could go and buy a pack of cards from toy shops and newsagents that had gross characters drawn on them. They were intended to be a parody of “Cabbage Patch Kids”, but they were offensive and often were doing something gross, had an abnormality, or where getting killed off in some way of another. Despite being considered one of the worst film’s ever made, this pile of dung actually made a $600k profit on top of its $1 million budget – all I can say there is that the 1980’s where a weird and different time where it was ‘cool’ to be rude and crude.
The actors, if you can call them that, nearly all regretted this film according to interviews I have read. The 7 Garbage Pail Kids (GPK from here on) depicted in this film were played by dwarf actors wearing animatronic costumes. Some of the prosthetic and animatronics they wore meant that some of the GPK’s needed voice actors too, so there were more than 7 actors signed on for the part of the kids – which meant more people who regretted their life choices. The film gave audiences the characters of Valeria Vomit – who threw up a lot; Foul Phil who smelled bad; Ali Gator who was… err, well, an alligator mutant child thing; it gave us Windy Winston who farted lots; Nat Nerd who was err… does it matter anymore? There was also, Greaser Greg and Messy Tessie too for the record.
This film was universally hated, it ended up being nominated for 3 Golden Raspberry’s and 1 Stinker Bad Movie award. Somehow it managed to escape winning any of them, but if you check this film out on a lot of film review websites you won’t find much love for it. People aren’t shy about their hatred of this film.
It is rude, crude, offensive, and inappropriate. It relies of sex, violence, and lots of toilet humour that is highly outdated these days. The film has bad morals and is mean spirited. It is far from just the offensive humour as there are things that are just plain wrong with it; for example – the institute for the ugly people which executes outcasts from society just for being different (what the fudge is that about)? A grown man bullying a child, stealing his money, and chaining him up in a sewer to die – all just for a laugh (that’s borderline serial killer territory, surely)? Exploiting the less fortunate and using them for personal wealthy and gain – well OK, that kind of actually still goes on in the world post 2020 – but it’s wrong!
The puppetry and masks are creepy and slightly repulsive – whoever did the masks really wasn’t at the top of their game at the time. If the faces of the GPK’s all look the same it’s because it was cheaper to use the same mold and just reuse it, adorning each replica with slightly different colouring’s or wigs. They were’t actually finished on time for shooting the film either, but the director pressed ahead anyway despite not all functionality working. This made them look lifeless and a lot creepier and weirder too though in my opinion. There was a suggestion that this was originally going to be a horror film where space slime turned dolls into horrific killers. That notion was thrown out to make the film a family friendly one. Nobody thought to make the film a nice and heartfelt film to counterbalance the depravity though.
The human characters are bland stereotypes and in most instances are pointless to the plot, but then again, so are the GPK’s – they come across more as supportive characters to Dodger rather than the stars of the film that the title suggests.
I’ve mentioned the plot and if I had to analyse it, I’d say something like “what f’ing plot?” Any plot in this film is a bit of mess. The first half of the film doesn’t have a plot at all. The second half of the film does, but it is such a contrived and convoluted plot that it makes no sense. There is absolutely loads of filler which serves no purpose to the film as a whole – but might have been a useful marketing technique to sell more trading cards to kids. There might actually more pointless filler than anything else.
The editing is bad – there is a scene where Dodger and Tangerine are in a car during the day. A question is asked which is answered in the next shot, which happens to be night-time. That is just the tip of the iceberg, it’s that messy at times that it is confusing. The set doesn’t help much either, the sewer scene looks as plastic as the fashion show at the end – oh how the 80’s got away with crimes of art, sensibility, and taste!!
I’m making it sound like there aren’t any redeeming qualities to this film, which isn’t strictly true. Some of the actors went on to better things, and there is some nice voice acting too, and… well that’s it really – sorry. Jim Cummings, one of the voice actors, also voiced Disney’s “Winnie the Pooh” and would go on to lend his voice to the 1988 “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” film – that’s something I guess.
Quite frankly this film is repulsive and offensive to adults and children – how on Earth did my mum let me watch this… actually, I can’t blame her… how on Earth didn’t somebodies mum say “No!” about actually making the film. Surely somebody must have realised that making this film wasn’t the best idea – or was it all a case of cash rules everything?
A sequel was planned but thankfully never got made. A reboot was planned but got canned. Do yourself a favour – unless you are sucker for bad 1980’s films (I hang my head in shame), do yourself a favour and don’t watch this.
I watched this film as a 7- or 8-year-old and it didn’t matter that it made no sense because it had pretty colour and gross things were ‘cool’. I remember watching this again as a drunk university student with my housemates as we tried to out-do each other with bad films – I won a few bets that night (but no friends!). As I watch this again as a 40+ year old I haven’t been able to find many good things to say about it. The only thing that has kept me from ejecting the VHS and burning it is a sense of nostalgia. Having a copy in my hands reminded me of a simpler time were I was a lot younger and carefree. As far as the film goes though – please heed my warning. I’ve watched this rubbish so you don’t have to. Read a book, make a cake, go for a walk – anything. This doesn’t deserve your time.
⭐ (1/10) which basically = 💩
P.S. Sorry of this gives you nightmares. Sorry if you had erased this from your memory and I just brought the pain back. Sorry that I showed you this. Just, sorry folks!