It’s been over 30 years and I still don’t understand why a film like The Garbage Pail Kids Movie exists. I remember wanting to see it during its brief run at the Pinehaven Cinema 6 and finally seeing it a year later on VHS. I enjoyed it somewhat I guess. It had its gross moments and weirdness but it was never memorable enough to make me want to revisit it. Yet, revisit it I did. The other day, Comet TV, a network channel devoted to cult classics that I’ve become enamored with, showed the film in between ads for JG Wentworth and Sock Sliders.
I couldn’t help but watch the film with a morbid fascination at all the ill-advised ideas that fill the movie. Essentially The Garbage Pail Kids is aimed … at kids. If the intent was to give kids bad dreams, then I’m betting the mission was accomplished. Holy God, the kids themselves look like they were brought to life with nightmare fuel. I guess that’s what happens when you hire John Buechler, the man behind the troll in Troll and the ghoulies in Ghoulies, to help create the kids — Valerie Vomit (who retches often), Windy Winston (who flatuates often), Nat Nerd (who urinates often), Foul Phil (who stinks often), Messy Tessie (who blows snot often), Greaser Greg (a switchblade wielding tough guy) and Ali Gator (a human-gator that loves eating eyeballs and toes). I assume these trading card characters that I’ve always liked for their sheer repellence are supposed to be fun and magical. Why?
I guess I should at least run down the plot. Apparently in space there is a garbage can that holds seven little monsters. Said space garbage crashes and winds up in the hands of a local shopkeeper, Captain Manzini (Anthony Newley), who, for some reason, decides to let them live in the can among all the wares of his magic curio shop. His helper boy, Dodger (MacKenzie Astin) almost tips over the garbage can. Manzini, ever the wise one, haphazardly puts the can halfway onto a nearby shelf while telling the story of Pandora’s Box. Five minutes later the can tips over and our little non-adventure begins. It turns out the kids are looking for their friends. It’s possible that they’re housed at the State Home For The Ugly.
Dodger has an eternal boner for local bully arm candy and wannabe fashion designer Tangerine (Katie Barberi). She, being a few years older than the 14-year old, cons him into helping her make clothes for her own fashion show. In between it all the kids steal a Pepsi truck, sing and get drunk with bikers, route sewage into a hot tub, and sew clothes. They even take in a movie at a theater.
Eventually ugly people are rescued and a fashion show that devolves into farts, snot, urine, and most holy shit-worthy, the kids yanking clothes off the horrified fashion models. All this is done to insincerely prove that beauty is skin deep and “normies” are horrible. It ends with the kids riding off into the darkness while the Jim Scarlett and The Dimensions semi-rocker “You Can Be A Garbage Pail Kid” plays. It’s fun for the whole family if the family is made up of 12 year olds.
I won’t even attempt to say I’m above the lowbrow fray. I’ve always been a fan of the GPK. Seeing Windy Winston fart on a bunch of uppity ’80s a-holes, hearing a real kid tell an adult to “suck a rope,” and the numerous closeups of Messy Tessie’s gooey visage made me chuckle like Beavis and Butthead hearing a double entendre. There were two particular scenes that stuck out for me though.
The curious thing is that in the movie, The Garbage Pail Kids are watching a Three Stooges movie. I’m pretty sure it’s just your average Three Stooges short. Did all the people in this tiny audience pay to see a Three Stooges short? Was it a marathon? Was it just something showing before the feature presentation? I like Larry, Moe, and Curly but I don’t know if I’d pay to see them since they’re on TV all the time. Also, the movie foolishly cross-cuts between the Stooges short and the grotesque action in the theater as if to suggest they could sit in the same ballpark.
Also, when the kids sing their own cheerful version of the seven dwarves’ “Heigh-Ho” called “Working With Each Other.” I think it’s supposed to be entertaining. It’s not. Watching these kids with bloated, emotionless faces tilt their heads, open their mouths and dart their eyes while singing like lifeless Smurfs is something to behold. Not necessarily a good something but it’s something.
I would never tell a friend they should watch this. If anything I’d suggest they maybe gawk at it in disbelief while gulping down too many beers at your favorite local dive … or at home while baked. Unless it’s a weirdo horror movie like John Buechler once suggested making, I’m completely fine with the kids staying on the cards.