Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cavegirl (David Oliver, 1985)

The last thing I expected to hear at the beginning of a film produced by Crown International Pictures was the synth-tastic sounds of SSQ's "Synthicide" blasting on the soundtrack. Another thing I didn't expect was the sight of a helicopter zipping across the sky. I mean, since when did films produced by Crown International be able to afford helicopters? And I'm assuming they had more than one helicopter since the helicopter in the opening scene is being filmed from what looks like another helicopter. Complicated aerial photography and the music of SSQ?!? Something does not compute. You think that doesn't compute, eh? Wait until I tell you the name of the movie I'm currently writing about. What's that? Oh, you say you already know the name of the movie I'm writing about. Well, anyway, for those who don't, it's Cavegirl. It's been a dream of mine to watch a film that features nothing but SSQ songs on the soundtrack, and it looks like Cavegirl is the film that has decided step up to the plate to fulfill that dream. I repeat, Cavegirl is the film that has made my wish to hear non-stop SSQ music in a motion picture finally come true. Cavegirl. Sure, you can hear SSQ's music in The Return of the Living Dead. You can even hear it at the end of Beyond the Black Rainbow. Yeah, but Cavegirl is not only wall-to-wall SSQ, the film's score is by Jon St. James, and even Stacey herself has a small post-prehistoric role as the enabling girlfriend of a bully/asshole.


In case you're wondering, SSQ (who started off just as "Q") was a music group who produced high-quality synth-pop in the mid-1980s. The band renamed itself Stacey Q shortly afterward, and released the worldwide smash "Two of Hearts." Of course, the focus had shifted to Stacey Swain at this point, but Jon St. James continued to write and produce her music.


In fact, Stacey Swain and Jon St. James recently collaborated on a new Stacey Q album called "Color Me Cinnamon" (an obvious allusion to the name of Stacey's character from the television show The Facts of Life). I've listened to some of the new songs, and, I must say, they're pretty good; I'm partial to "Euphoria" and "Pandora's Box."


I'm no behavioural expert, but you don't sound too pleased. What are you talking about? I was just giving you a brief refresher course on the history of Q/SSQ/Stacey Q. No, you don't seem too thrilled about the idea of watching a movie that is basically about a dork in a fedora who falls for a prehistoric blonde. I'll admit, it wasn't exactly what I was hoping for. I mean, synth-pop and prehistoric times don't really go together; they're not a natural fit.


However, any movie that kicks things off to synthy sounds of SSQ's "Synthicide" is okay in my book. Besides, I like prehistoric blondes. As Stacey is singing about her digital fix ("I gotta have my digital fix today"), we follow a helicopter flying over an arid landscape. Communicating with a nearby computer truck, the helicopter seems to be testing some sort of missile system. I don't know how this all fits into the plot a film called "Cavegirl," but I am somewhat intrigued to find out.


Meanwhile, an anthropology student named Rex (Daniel Roebuck) is clumsily making his way to school on his bike. As he's doing this, you'll notice that a slowed down instrumental version of "Synthicide" is playing in the background.


If you thought Rex's attempt to get to school was clumsy, you should see his attempt to ask Karen (Syndi King) out on a date. Let's just say, it doesn't go all that well. Instead of stammering nervously about food, Rex should have complimented Karen on the white scarf she had in her hair. Chicks dig it when you notice their accessories.


In order to meet his obligation to Crown International Pictures, writer-director-cinematographer David Oliver has Rex accidentally wander into the women's locker room. How did he mange that, you ask? One of Rex's primary tormentors removes the 'wo' from the women only sign on the door. How he got in there doesn't matter. What does matter is what he saw once he got in there. Removing her top almost immediately, Michelle Bauer and a bunch of her soon to be topless friends enter the locker room with a girlish glee. When they discover that a doofus named Rex in their midst, they proceed to chase him around the locker room; if you look closely, you'll notice that Michelle Bauer is brandishing a tennis racket during the chase.


Even though he survived the attack of the topless coeds, Rex isn't out of the woods yet. While attending his favourite class, anthropology, more pranks are pulled on him. What is this, Prank Week? I think the reason we're being inundated with scenes that feature Rex being humiliated is to show that humanity hasn't evolved much over the past 25,000 years, and to make us understand Rex's reluctance to want to go back to 1985.


The pranks continue as Rex, his fellow students, and their professor go on a field trip. Visiting a mine/cave complex, Hank (Chris Noble), doesn't waste any time as he instigates a multitude of pranks on Rex seconds after they arrive. One involves putting a stink bomb in a portable toilet (while Rex is inside, of course) and another has to do with replacing the contents of Rex's backpack with rocks.


Keep an eye out for Stacey Swain during the portable toilet mischief/backpack tampering sequence as it's the most time she spends onscreen. You mean to say that Stacey Swain isn't the cavegirl? I already said she plays the girlfriend of one of the bullies who gives Rex such a hard time. I know, I was just expressing my dissatisfaction regarding the puniness of her role. Are you good? Yep, I think my dissatisfaction has been properly expressed. So, I can continue? Yeah, go ahead.


Remember that helicopter? Yeah, well, the missile test it was conducting, and some weird crystal, cause Rex to be transported back to prehistoric times. If I sound a tad nonchalant about all this, I'm not alone, as Rex seems to take his relocation in stride. Oh, sure, he seems concerned, but not to the agree I expected. After being chased through the brush by some cave people, Rex takes some time to reflect on his unique situation. Wondering if this all a dream, Rex stares at the sky, which is gorgeous (nice work, David Oliver), before falling asleep by a rock.


The cave people during this period must have had a pretty sweat dental plan, because the cave woman, or "cavegirl," who wakes Rex up is sporting perfect teeth. You were looking at her teeth? Huh? Never mind. If you want to nitpick, I don't think cave people had perms, either. Okay, so Eba (Cynthia Thompson), a.k.a. "cavegirl," doesn't look like your average cave person. But remember, this isn't a documentary (there were apparently no humans in North America during this period as well). Though, I must say, the location of Twin Oaks, California had an authentic, prehistoric quality about it.


Stuck in prehistoric times with a leggy blonde who doesn't speak English, Rex must learn to survive in an environment that is foreign to him. Luckily, his trusty backpack is filled with everything one could possibly need to survive in the wilderness; deodorant, Animal Crackers, a Walkman, a tarp, waterproof matches, a bear-shaped bottle of honey (or, as Eba might called it, "bincha-shaped"), and a can of shaving cream.


The shaving cream actually comes in handy in a way that doesn't involve shaving. You won't believe this, but Rex uses it to bond with the other cave people; the inquisitive Argh (Jeff Chayette), the chubby Aka (Cynthia Rullo), the perpetually dumbfounded Char (Charles Mitchell), and, of course, the Patti Smith-esque Saba (Saba Moor-Doucette). It also gives David Oliver an excuse to use "Walkman On" by SSQ, as the song goes perfectly with the sight of three cave people and a socially awkward dingus in a fedora spraying shaving cream on one another in a playful manner. Giving up trying to teach Eba to say, "May I sit on your face," Rex tries to woo the cave-residing cutie using more traditional means. He might have succeeded had it not been for Dar (Darren Young), the nosy leader of this small band of cave people.


A love story for the ages, Cavegirl managed to reaffirm my belief in the healing power of love. Call me mentally unwell, but the moments when Rex and Eba are apart were some of the most agonizing scenes to watch. This, I think, is a testament to not only Daniel Roebuck and Cynthia Thompson, who give career defining performances, but to visionary writer-director David Oliver who allows their relationship to build slowly over the time. And because he used this patient approach, the scene where Rex eventually has to decide which century he wants to spend the rest of life in is so gut-wrenching. As "Anonymous" by SSQ plays over the end credits, I think most people in the audience will agree that Rex made the right decision. And the same can be said for my decision to watch this underrated exploration into the jagged nooks and crannies of the human heart.


8 comments:

  1. Nice work. I'd forgotten about this movie, it was an odd one wasn't it? I find it pretty sad that Cynthia Thompson died so young. Cancer suchs.

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  2. I found out about Cynthia's death after I watching the movie. And let's just say, the news severely bummed out.

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  3. I watched this recently and enjoyed it a lot... and your write up has linked the two films that changed my life.... Dudes (punk western with Daniel Robuck) and Return of the Living Dead which featured SSQ... nice...

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  4. I love Dudes! Penelope Spheeris tribute coming soon.

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  5. Sinead O'Connor has a song in Clan of the Cave Bear. I think there's a prehistoric babe movie out there with songs by Terri Nunn. I will let you know when I find it.

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  6. Please be Mandinka... Argh, it's something called "Heroine."

    You better let me know. ;)

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  7. if anyone knows who sings the duet that plays during the scene where rex is separated from the cavegirl in the film Cavegirl. pls email me at whiteruss@aol.com thanks

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  8. Who sang the duet in this movie pls answer at acebarron.8@gmail.com

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