The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)

Remember how I was talking in a previous post about getting burned? Well, this movie – The Garbage Pail Kids Movie – did just that. It is, of course, based on the popular trading cards / stickers of the mid-80’s, which featured children that were either hideously freakish or suffering from a mishap, and had a humorous name to go along with it. The artwork was usually grotesque (as was fitting) and the cards themselves were collected extensively by many children. Despite their popularity, one has to wonder what was going through someone’s mind when they felt like this would be good movie material, aside from the desire to simply cash in on a fad. I had seen the cards as a child and even had a few as I recalled, but I never knew a movie had been made until a few years back. The fact that it was live action intrigued me – the children were people in rubber suits, and from the images floating around online it looked rather nightmarish. Curiosity got the better of me, and seeing it for fairly cheap when out DVD hunting with John and David, I made the purchase.

Consider my curiosity sated. The Kids themselves, named Ali Gator, Greaser Greg, Foul Phil, Nat Nerd, Valerie Vomit, Windy Winston, and Messy Tessie, are kept in a magical garbage can by Captain Manzini (Anthony Newley), until they are accidentally released by Dodger, a 14 year-old boy (Mackenzie Astin) during a fight with a local ruffian named Juice (Ron MacLachlan). Why a guy that looks 20 years old is beating up 14 year-olds for whatever spare change they may have is beyond me, but that’s how it is. Anyway, Dodger befriends the Garbage Pail Kids, despite their… eccentricities. He eventually enlists their help in making clothes to impress Juice’s girlfriend Tangerine (Katie Barberi) whom he has fallen in love with. Dodger and Captain Manzini warn the Kids to not go outside, lest they be rounded up and put into “The State Home for the Ugly.” They of course ignore this and take a tour around town, watching the Three Stooges, eventually befriending some bikers at “The Toughest Bar in the World.”

After they return, they meet Tangerine, who, despite being disgusted by their repulsive appearance, decides to use both them and Dodger to make clothes for a fashion show where she will pass the clothes off as her designs. During the show, the Kids are captured by Juice and taken to the State Home for the Ugly. When Dodger realized what has happened, he and Captain Manzini bust out the Kids, who then proceed to trash the fashion show in their trademark style. Dodger realizes that despite being beautiful on the outside, Tangerine is ugly on the inside. Hooray for ham-fisted moral lessons.

The backing music for this train wreck is some instantly forgettable synth music, punctuated by a song sung by the Garbage Pail Kids about working together. This movie is painfully 80’s, in that everyone is wearing some of the most ridiculous things that you’ve ever seen, and the fashion show scenes only emphasize this. Honestly, the choice of attire in the film may be the only thing that’s actually funny in the movie, because none of the comedy elements are.

The main reason I wanted to see the film, that is, the Kids themselves, look suitably hideous at first blush, but the face masks are completely void of expression and barely move, even when the Kids are speaking, which, combined with terrible acting from everyone involved really makes for an unpleasant viewing experience. The special effects are simply ineffective. I was hoping for something vaguely disturbing, given the subject matter, and maybe even entertaining in an overlooked, 80’s cult-classic kind of way, but my initial interest waned fairly quickly once the yawn-worthy storyline kicked in. By the time the Kids burst into their song I was more or less done with the film, but I’m not one to quit on a movie, even if it is terrible.

There’s a reason this film used to be on the bottom 100 of IMDb, and unless your curiosity for cheesy special effects overwhelms you and you can’t stop yourself, I’m going to recommend you pass on The Garbage Pail Kids Movie.

-Adam

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