DOUBLE FEATURE RETROSPECTIVE – The Boys Next Door (1985)/Dudes (1987)

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The Boys Next Door (1985) SUMMARY:Roy Alston (Maxwell Caulfield) and Bo Richards (Charlie Sheen) are two outcasts of their high school community. Bo receives $200 as a graduation gift from his grandparents. Facing a lifetime of working blue collar factory jobs, the boys spontaneously decide to use the money to go on a vacation to Los Angeles.

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During the drive to Los Angeles, Bo and Roy rob a gas station and beat the attendant (Joseph Michael Cala) with a crowbar. The next day, the boys go to a beach boardwalk, where Roy throws an empty beer bottle and it hits an elderly woman (Helen Brown) on the forehead. Three young women (Claudia Templeton, Mary Tiffany, and Marilou Conway) see this, and they chase Bo and Roy to a parking lot. The women yell at the boys and damage their car. Enraged, Roy starts the car and drives around in circles in the parking lot with the women still on the hood. After several loops, Roy throws the car into reverse, throwing one of the women from the hood of the car. After the incident, one of the women finds Bo and Roy’s dog, Boner the Barbarian, and reads its ID tag, which leads to speculation of where Bo and Roy are from.

During a visit to La Brea Tar Pits, Bo expresses his wish that the world could just “go caveman” for one day, abandoning all rules and order. Roy agrees, and they spend their evening on the streets of Los Angeles.

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Several additional encounters lead to more deaths, including a gay man Chris (Paul C. Dancer), a young couple (Richard Pachorek and Lesa Lee), and an older woman Angie Baker (Patti D’Arbanville) whom Roy kills while she is having sex with Bo. Eventually the duo are tracked and found by the LAPD and chased into a shopping mall. After unsuccessfully trying to steal some guns, Bo tries to talk some sense into Roy about surrendering. Roy refuses, and he orders Bo to give him the gun so he can go out in a “blaze of glory”. Bo refuses and shoots Roy when he tries to take the gun away. The police surround Bo and ask him why he killed his friend. Bo replies, “Because I had to.” Bo is then arrested and led away while reporters snap photos of him.

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The Boys Next Door (1985) Soundtrack
No Way-Great White
Hard & Cold-Great White
I Got Nothin’- Iggy Pop
The Need-Code Blue
I Ain’t Nuthin’ But A Gorehound -The Cramps
The Most Exalted Potentate Of Love-The Cramps
Spellbound-Code Blue
Let Me Rock-Chequered Past
Is That So Strange-Code Blue
Clean The Dirt-Tex and the Horseheads
Face To Face-Code Blue

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CAST/CREW
Directed Penelope Spheeris
Produced Sandy Howard/Keith Rubinstein
Written  Glen Morgan/James Wong

Charlie Sheen as Bo Richards
Maxwell Caulfield as Roy Alston
Patti D’Arbanville as Angie Baker
Christopher McDonald as Detective Mark Woods
Hank Garrett as Detective Ed Hanley
Paul C. Dancer as Chris
Richard Pachorek and Lesa Lee as couple
Kenneth Cortland as Dwayne
Moon Unit Zappa as Nancy

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Dudes (1987) SUMMARY: Grant, Biscuit, and Milo are punks living in Queens. Bored with their lives, they decide to move to Los Angeles, and set out on a cross-country drive. In Utah they assist Elvis impersonator “Daredelvis” with getting his trailer unstuck. Later, Grant sees a mirage of a cowboy on horseback. While camping in the Arizona desert they are attacked by a gang of vicious rednecks, and Milo is murdered by their leader, Missoula. Grant and Biscuit escape and collapse in the desert, where Grant again sees a vision of the cowboy.

The local sheriffs do not believe the boys’ story, having no record of Missoula or his gang and being unable to find Milo’s body as evidence of the murder. Grant resolves to track down the gang and avenge Milo’s death, despite Biscuit’s reservations. Heading back into Utah, they find one of the gang’s trucks overturned and several of the members dead. Before dying, one of them reveals that they planned to turn themselves in but were killed by Missoula, who is headed north through Wyoming to Montana. The boys also meet Jessie, a young woman who runs a gas station and towing business.

DUDESFEATURED

Catching up to Missoula’s truck, Grant and Biscuit engage in a high-speed shootout with Missoula and his buddy Blix, but swerve off the road and crash. They are rescued by Jessie, who teaches Grant how to shoot and ride a horse and strikes up a romance with him. Meanwhile, Biscuit has a dream in which he is part of a Native American tribe who are slaughtered by Union Army soldiers led by Missoula. Upon awakening, he begins to imitate a Native American warrior and insists on resuming the pursuit. Jesse outfits the pair in exaggerated western costumes and gives them use of a beat-up 1959 Buick Invicta complete with bull’s horns mounted to the hood.

In Wyoming, the boys find Daredelvis working at a rodeo and enlist his help to capture gang member Wes, from whom they recover Milo’s stolen jacket, but Wes is killed by a bull without revealing Missoula’s location. On the way to a ghost town where Missoula is rumored to be hiding, Grant once again sees the mysterious cowboy, but Biscuit dismisses it as an illusion. Finding the town empty, the pair get drunk and have a vision in which they meet the cowboy, named Witherspoon, accompanied by a trio of Native American warriors from Biscuit’s dream. Witherspoon magically transports Grant back in time to when the town was populated and raucous, while the Native Americans similarly transport Biscuit back in time to participate in a tribal gathering.

Awakening hung over, Grant finds a matchbook in Milo’s jacket that leads them to a saloon in a Montana town where they find Missoula and Blix. Trailing them into a movie theater, Grant and Biscuit open fire on the pair, but Grant hesitates and a shootout ensues; Missoula and Blix escape, while Grant and Biscuit are arrested and jailed. Missoula and Blix murder two sheriff’s department officers and invade the jail in an attempt to kill the boys, but Jessie arrives just in time to break them out. Grant manages to kill Blix and wound Missoula, and pursues him on horseback to an abandoned building, where he tackles Missoula off a high ledge. Missoula shoots Grant in the arm and Grant returns fire, killing him. Grant once again sees Witherspoon and the Native American warriors, now accompanied by Milo, who ride off into the distance and disappear in a cloud of dust just before Biscuit and Jessie arrive.
 

DEVELOPMENT
In writing Dudes, scriptwriter Randall Jahnson was partly inspired by visits to Old West locations which he felt were “frozen in time”. In the early and mid-1980s, he later reflected, the punk and art rock scenes in Los Angeles were demonstrating a certain fascination with the West, exemplified by Wall of Voodoo performing cover versions of Spaghetti Western songs, the Dead Kennedys covering “Rawhide”, and the Meat Puppets mixing punk with country music, which influenced his crossing of the two genres in his script. He settled on the film’s title based on the Old West use of the term “dude” to describe a “tenderfoot” or “fish out of water”, city-dwelling Easterners unprepared for life on the frontier, seeing his main characters as modern “dudes”.

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Jahnson pitched his script to producer Miguel Tejada-Flores of independent film company the Vista Organization as “punk rockers out in the wilds of Wyoming”, which Tejada-Flores thought was an interesting idea, though a bit “out there” conceptually. He and fellow producer Herb Jaffe sought Ridley Scott to direct, but could not agree with him on the film’s “vision”. Penelope Spheeris first read the script in March 1986 and expressed interest. Tejada-Flores had been impressed by her previous directorial work, particularly her 1985 film The Boys Next Door, and felt that she could tell an enthralling story from the mix of genres present in Jahnson’s script. He showed The Boys Next Door to Jaffe, and the two agreed that Spheeris was a good candidate to direct, a choice which was solidified when she convinced them that she could make the film within their proposed budget and get good performances out of her actors. Jahnson was a fan of Spheeris’ 1981 punk rock documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, and agreed that she had the “punk rock sensibility” for the script.

dudes-1I was hugely influenced and inspired by the punk rock and art band explosion in Los Angeles in the early 1980s. During that time a number of bands began to weave Western imagery and country music elements into their music. The Dead Kennedys recorded a hardcore version of ‘Rawhide.’ X, who’d never made any apologies for having an ear for Hank Williams and Merle Haggard, launched their rootsy side project, The Knitters. Wall of Voodoo covered Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’ and the classic theme to ‘The Good, the Bad & the Ugly’ and even released an album titled ‘Call of the West.’

Then bands like Rank and File and Blood on the Saddle – who consciously blended punk and country sensibilities – began to appear. And the Meat Puppets emerged from the Arizona heat with their distinctive brand of desert slacker psychedelia.

Somehow I wanted capture this juxtaposition in a script. The notion of fatalistic urban punkers in a showdown with the vastness, beauty, and history of the American West amused and intrigued me. I placed the start of the story in New York City, so the journey of Grant, Milo, and Biscuit would echo the westward trek of pioneers in covered wagons.

I wrote The Vandals’ classic boot-stomping thrasher ‘Urban Struggle’ into the script because it spoofed the whole punks-out-West phenomena and kicked ass at the same time. So when the time came to cast the band playing in the punk club at the movie’s start, the Vandals and ‘Urban Struggle’ were the only choice. -Randall Jahnson

PRE-PRODUCTION

Casting
Spheeris wanted Jahnson to be part of the casting process, and invited him to many of the casting sessions, which was not common practice for directors. Jon Cryer, who had recently gained attention for his role in the hit film Pretty in Pink, was attracted to the eclectic nature of Dudes’ script as well as the opportunity to play the hero, which he had not done before. Spheeris favored Cryer for the film’s lead but also considered Keanu Reeves, and chose Cryer at Jaffe’s suggestion. To prepare for the role Cryer learned how to ride a horse and fire a gun, and got his ear pierced since the script called for Grant to wear an earring; the heavy earring caused the piercing to become infected. Being young and eager to play the hero, he performed many of his own stunts. He had difficulty with the scenes that required him to drive a car; He had earned his driver’s license while performing in Torch Song Trilogy in Los Angeles several years prior, but used public transport and taxis in his native New York City and had very little experience behind the wheel.

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Catherine Mary Stewart became interested in the role of Jessie because “she was a strong female character, which is important, and also was somebody who could ride horses, shoot a gun, she owned a garage…Part of my fantasy when I was a little girl was to do exactly all that stuff, and when I came on the set I had an idea of what my character should be and what I sort of developed for myself, and Spheeris was very supportive of that.” In preparation for the role she trained with a stunt performer who specialized in gun play, learning how to twirl her revolver so it would slide right into its holster. “I was practicing that all the time,” she later recalled, “because I wanted it to be great.”

Daniel Roebuck, a character actor who had recently finished filming River’s Edge, was reading scripts in search of new roles and was struck by the uniqueness of Dudes. “It was not a John Hughes movie”, he said in 2015. “There was nothing like it. When I read it all I thought of was ‘I want to be in a Western.’ I was a little concerned about the punk rock stuff, but I really liked the Western stuff.” For his audition in front of Spheeris he wore a mohawk hairstyle, since that was what the script called for his character, Biscuit, to have. When given the part, he had to have the sides of his head shaved and his hair tied into place for the duration of filming since it was too time-consuming to take apart and re-tie the mohawk for each shoot. Roebuck was not into punk rock, however, describing himself as a “square”, and was so embarrassed to wear his hair in a mohawk every day that he convinced the crew to get him a wig to wear on days off from shooting.

Spheeris had featured Lee Ving’s band Fear in The Decline of Western Civilization (1981), and stayed in touch with him. It was through Ving that she met Flea, who had joined Fear in 1982 as the band’s bassist. Thinking he had a star quality, she cast him as one of the runaway punks in her 1984 film Suburbia. By 1986 Flea was active in the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Spheeris reached out to him to be in Dudes, later saying that he brought to the role “a certain vulnerability and a certain sweetness that actually wasn’t written into the script, and played it in such a sweet, loving way that when the moment came that his character is killed in the movie, it was more powerful, because he was so lovable before that, and people don’t expect that moment.” Flea felt honored to be cast, since Dudes was a chance to work alongside trained actors whereas in Suburbia he had been among a group of “street kids” similar to himself, all without acting experience.

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Another musician cast in Dudes, though in a minor role, was John Densmore, former drummer of the Doors. Jahnson met with the surviving members of the Doors while working on his script for The Doors (1991), a biographical film about the band; Densmore had moved into acting, knew Spheeris, and had heard about Dudes, and asked Jahnson if there might be a part for him in it. Jahnson spoke with Spheeris, and Densmore was cast as one of the Montana sheriffs who is murdered by Missoula late in the film.

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“I worked with a lot of great people on that movie who went on to do some really great work. They’re so thankful now that people are finding it and are being able to see it again. It’s so weird, because when it plays with contemporary audiences, they seem to get it,” Spheeris said.

“I don’t want to pat myself on the back and say my film was ahead of its time, but I do think it was an out-of-the-box film for its time,” Spheeris said.

Before Spheeris came on board to direct DUDES, Randall Jahnson meant it to be “a darker, more serious film than it became.” Spheeris found elements in the material that were ironic and funny, and she capitalized on them to make an enjoyably quirky movie.

“The tone was not as known then as it is now. I think it was a little difficult for Jahnson to see his film morph into something else entirely,” Spheeris said.

Spheeris saw DUDES as an opportunity to shake up the formula. To go along with the tone, Spheeris points toward Cryer’s involvement as a way to subvert expectations.

 Cinematographer Robert Richardson walked up to my door, because there was no social media back then and I don’t know why he didn’t call me, and said, ‘You’re an amazing filmmaker. I would love to work with you.’ And I thought, ‘What the hell? Really?’ He had white hair back then, too. It was freaky,” Spheeris said. “I’m looking at the door right now and it was some freaky looking young guy with white hair. So I told him, ‘Well, I’m about to do this movie. Let’s party.’”

 Spheeris and Richardson found a shooting style that mirrors the anxiety and tension of the film’s plot. Even the editing in DUDES (done by Andy Horvitch) has a calculated pace that’s full of energy and doesn’t slow down.

 “Maybe the style just says a lot about me, because I live in constant anxiety and tension. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. I’m really jealous of people who live without it,” Spheeris said. “I have that, and I think that may be the reason why I might appeal to certain audiences: They have it, too. It all feeds into the punk lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle that is very tense and anxious, and I’m a punk rocker at heart.”

 “I honestly could care less about making any sort of narrative film today. The whole landscape of moviemaking is so different than it was back then,” Spheeris said. “I’m interested in movies that talk about social change and understanding human behavior.”

I really kind of love that Jon Cryer is leading man in Dudes. I feel like we all wanted Ducky to get the girl in Pretty and Pink. And this is like the opposite of a John Hughes film.
Penelope Spheeris: I think that’s why he wanted to do it. He also says that this is where he learned comedy, on Dudes. He wasn’t comfortable with comedy before that.

Did you originally have anyone else in mind or had you wanted him?
Penelope Spheeris: We looked at quite a few people. I don’t remember them all but I do remember Keanu Reeves. He must have been just a kid, I know, just a gorgeous little boy. Just a sweetheart of a guy. But I gotta tell you everybody was pushing for Jon because of Pretty in Pink. Keanu didn’t have any credits under his belt at that point. I like Jon too, and I’m glad he did it, but it was a stretch for him. Not only with the comedy but with the punk rock too.

Yeah. I feel like Keanu could have easily been a punk rocker.
Penelope Spheeris: Oh totally. Even to this day.

Daniel Roebuck is joining you for this. Do you have a favorite memory of him on set?
Penelope Spheeris: Roebuck? Yeah. He complained really a lot. Hahahah! The mohawk. How embarrassing it was. I was like, “No dude. You kinda look cool. Don’t you get it?” He had to wear a hat when he was not shooting because he was so embarrassed of the mohawk.

What was his persona off set? What was he about? What was he into?
Penelope Spheeris: Total serious actor. It’s in his DNA. It was a push for him too to do the comedy but I think that’s what’s cool. They weren’t both natural comedians. That’s what’s great about being a good actor, they can morph into whatever they need to do and they both did it.

From the soundtrack to the cameos, I feel like Dudes has about a million Easter eggs in it. Is there something or someone people should look for when they watch it this weekend that most people miss?
Penelope Spheeris: Yes, okay. I’ll say this in due respect because she just passed away, but Pamela Gidley (Fire Walk With Me) was an actress. She never got to high stardom but she sure did hang in there in the music business. She was this gorgeous 20-year-old in the scene in the restaurant. She’s the one who kinda lures Jon over to her table. So Pamela Gidley is in there. And I love that scene when Jon goes into the bar and talks to Lee Ving and actually approaches him. And the girl sitting on Lee’s lap is Christina Beck, and she was one of the girls in Suburbia.


 
PRODUCTION/PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY
Cinematographer Robert Richardson, who had recently finished working on Platoon (1986), personally approached Spheeris and expressed interest in working with her. Tejada-Flores and Jaffe had been impressed by Richardson’s prior work, but did not think they could afford him; however, Richardson agreed to work within their cinematography budget.

Principal photography for Dudes began on August 14, 1986. The early scenes set in Queens were filmed in Hollywood, with establishing shots of the New York skyline and other buildings edited in to create the illusion of being in New York City. The opening scene, a punk rock show with the Vandals performing their song “Urban Struggle” (with its opening lyric “I want to be a cowboy”), was the first to be filmed. Cryer and Roebuck both had musical theatre backgrounds and were not very familiar with punk rock, and neither had been in a mosh pit before. Cryer later remarked that he found it to be rough, but fun and less violent than he had expected. Roebuck, however, recalled that he and Cryer were being trounced by the extras, who were actual punks, and that first assistant director Guy Louthan’s plea to the crowd to “not hurt the real actors” only caused them to be targeted more. Stunt doubles were used for some of the action, and the one standing in for Roebuck punched one of the punks squarely in the face. Flea, who had been to many punk rock shows, had no problem filming the scene: “That was very controlled in comparison to, like, a Black Flag show at the Starwood where people are getting sent out to ambulances all the time, and getting their heads really stomped in for having the wrong hair and shit…so I felt comfortable and fun in that environment”, he recalled 30 years later. A scene in which Grant, Biscuit, and Milo nearly fall off of a fire escape was shot in downtown Los Angeles with the actors at ground level, then edited together with shots of stuntmen dangling from a higher level. A scene in which Grant flirts with a woman played by Pamela Gidley and gets into a brawl with her boyfriend was filmed at popular punk hangout the Atomic Cafe.

Production then moved east, outside of Los Angeles. The redneck attack and Milo’s murder, set in Arizona, were filmed in Agua Dulce, California at the Vasquez Rocks. The rodeo scene, set in the fictional town of Peckerville, Wyoming, was filmed in Clarkdale, AZ . Some of the desert scenes were filmed in the Four Corners region, including Monument Valley on the Arizona-Utah border; filming in this region was delayed by inclement weather including dust storms and rain. Filming in Arizona lasted four weeks, with additional location filming taking place in New Mexico and Utah. For one of the driving scenes, Spheeris suggested that Cryer, Roebuck, and Flea sing “Hava Nagila” while head-banging to show that their characters were enjoying their road trip.
 
Catherine Mary Stewart joined the crew midway through filming to perform her scenes, including the jailbreak scene set in the fictional town of Crossfire, Montana, which was filmed in Cottonwood, Arizona. She had a lifelong passion for horses and was an experienced rider, so enjoyed filming the horseback riding segments, but suffered a broken ulna when she stopped her horse abruptly to avoid hitting a parked vehicle and was thrown into the vehicle herself. This occurred toward the end of filming her scenes, so it did not significantly impact the shooting schedule.

While filming the climactic showdown between Grant and Missoula, Ving heard that there was asbestos in the building being used and refused to re-enter it, so the sequence had to be rewritten and edited to show less of his character.  Spheeris liked Flea’s performance so much that he was asked to return to filming so that his character could appear in the final scene, which had not been in the original script.

27e6e2e2086f175a035b6e0313a8a9c1Bethlehem native Daniel Roebuck can still remember the disappointment he felt when “Dudes” opened 30 years ago to withering reviews and dismal box-office returns.

“We all worked so hard, and by that point [scriptwriter] Randy [Jahnson], [director] Penelope [Spheeris] and [co-stars] Jon [Cryer] and Catherine Mary [Stewart] were my friends,” Roebuck says. “So watching something you worked so hard on tank was not easy.”

But a funny thing happened to “Dudes” it became a cult classic. Time has been extremely kind to “Dudes,”.

Roebuck admits he had a hard time impersonating a punk rocker, particularly in a sequence that required him to endure the rigors of a mosh pit.

“Although my roots are in Bethlehem, I certainly have no problem dialing in the New York City attitude, which Biscuit definitely required. But I can tell you, the punk rock stuff proves what an actor I might be, since the heaviest music I listen to is usually written by Mozart or Rodgers and Hammerstein.”

One of the biggest adjustments for Roebuck was getting used to wearing his hair in an enormous mohawk.

“Let me be perfectly clear: I hated that mohawk,” he says. “Is there a word greater than hate? I don’t know. Despised it, regretted it, reviled it might all work.”

While Roebuck was squeamish about the mohawk, he was incredibly brave about doing his own stunt work, which required allowing someone to shoot an arrow four inches from his face.

“ ‘Dudes’ was without a doubt, my most physical movie, with fighting, horses, gunshots and arrows, and driving. Was I nervous with the arrow? Hell, yes I was! But I was young and stupid and had no children to worry about.”


Dudes (1987) Soundtrack
Urban Struggle-The Vandals
Jesus Came Driving Along-The Leather Nun
Number off the Bathroom Wall-Faster Pussycat
Dirty Pool-The Little Kings
Lost Highway-The Little Kings
These Boots-Megadeth
Yard Dog-The Tail Gators
“Mountain Song’-Jane’s Addiction
Rock ‘n’ Roll Till the Cows Come Home-The Tail Gators
Show No Mercy-W.A.S.P.
Vengeance Is Mine-Simon Steele & The Claw
Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw-Keel
Blue Suede Shoes-Carl Perkins
Amazing Grace-Steve Vai
Waltz Across Texas-Ernest Tubb
Time Forgot You-Lethal Weapon
Louisiana Swamp Swank-Steve Vai

CAST/CREW
Directed Penelope Spheeris
Produced Herb Jaffe/Miguel Tejada-Flores
Written Randall Jahnson

Music Charles Bernstein
Cinematography      Robert Richardson
Edited Andy Horvitch

Jon Cryer as Grant
Daniel Roebuck as Biscuit
Flea as Milo
Lee Ving as Missoula
Billy Ray Sharkey as Blix
Glenn Withrow as Wes
Michael Melvin as Logan, one of the gang members
Axxel G. Reese as Red, one of the gang members
Marc Rude as Sonny, one of the gang members
Catherine Mary Stewart as Jessie
Calvin Bartlett as Witherspoon
Pete Willcox as Daredelvis
Vance Colvig as Hezekiah, a prisoner in the Montana jail

CREDITS/REFERENCES/SOURCES/BIBLIOGRAPHY
wwwmcallcom
randalljahnson.com
dmagazine
Wikipedia

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “DOUBLE FEATURE RETROSPECTIVE – The Boys Next Door (1985)/Dudes (1987)

  1. Very nice. Yes. These two movies do go together . . . and always have in my collection. Maxwell Caufield is incredible in this and it’s a shame he didn’t break through to a Tom Cruise-like career.

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      1. Another great role for him was Oblvion 2: Blacklash. An above par Charles Band recycling job, but Caulfied brought his A-game.

        Liked by 1 person

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