“They don’t make ’em like they used to!”
That phrase is especially fitting when it comes to teen comedies from the ’80s. Raunchy, outrageous and most definitely politically incorrect, Better Off Dead… is a perfect example of one of one such comedies. Beyond Fest kicked off on October 1 with a special showing of the Tom Hardy-led Legend and resumed the following night with a 30th anniversary screening of Savage Steve Holland’s teen classic complete with the writer/director himself and almost all of the cast for a heartfelt reunion.
Presented by Jonah Ray and Emily V. Gordon of The Meltdown, the post-screening conversation was filled with laughs, love, and lots of behind-the-scenes stories. Even discussing classic moments like Dan Schneider chasing after the balloon or Kim Darby saying “Peru” were given new context, hearing they were improvised by the actors and that basically all of the cast campaigned to get their roles based on the script making them laugh out loud. Holland was joined by cast members Curtis Armstrong, Kim Darby, Diane Franklin, Elizabeth Daily, Aaron Dozier, and Demian Slade who recounted memories of their time making the cult-classic.
Curtis Armstrong expressed his admiration for writer/ director Savage Steve Holland to a sold out crowd at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, saying, “It’s been years—decades—that I’ve been trying to get him to admit the fact that not only was it a really funny script but he made this amazing environment in which we could all play with that stuff and we could come up with things like that. Directors don’t always know how to do that and he knew how to do that instinctively on his first feature film. It was amazing for all of us, I think, to have that experience. But just stop trashing yourself, for Gods sake!”
There were moments of sincere appreciation for the audience turning out thirty years later, one of which came from Kim Darby, who played Lane’s batty mother. “Thank you for loving this movie. I love it too. I was so thrilled to have something I didn’t have to cry in – and then I got to wear that reindeer outfit!” Darby, 68, even appeared to get choked up remembering the making of the movie but she bounced back and quickly began cracking the audience up. When asked how she got involved with the movie, Darby replied, “I wanted this part so f*cking bad. I had to audition – twice!”
While using different language to express her enthusiasm, Diane Franklin who donned Monique’s signature trench coat and hat for the Q&A, echoed the sentiment, saying, “This script – again, none of us has feedback. It wasn’t like the word around town was, Oh my gosh, this is a great film, we all read it and went this is hilarious, we want to be in this. And that’s why I think the movie is here today, why we’re watching it, because it’s still funny!”
Beyond Fest continues through Sunday, October 12 at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. You can find tickets, information and more at their website.
Image Credit: CBS/Fox; Clarke Wolfe