The comedies started off innocently enough. Mostly John Hughes teenager/high school-type material. Then we took it back a little to Cheech & Chong and Monty Python. But we found our niche with the Zucker Brothers. Airplane, Top Secret, Kentucky Fried Movie - we found our perfect formula for knee slappers and gut busters. Similar gag-a-minute flicks like Johnny Dangerously, Amazon Women on the Moon and to a lesser extent, Rock and Roll High School and Get Crazy became our lifeblood. We affectionately dubbed these laugh riots “Dumb Comedies”. Not because they were dumb, but because the jokes came so easy, fast and frequently. However, had we seen Pandemonium back then, I think the hyuks hyuks would have ceased and the groooaaans would’ve began.
Essentially a spoof on the then ultra-popular slasher films, Pandemonium has all the watermarks of being written by a crew of stoned orangutans. The plot-- well, after the first five or ten minutes you can just toss that notion out the window. A fingerless glove-wearing killer is picking off victims at a cheerleading school. You know all the victims are going to be victims, because as their characters are introduced a bright orange subtitle pops up on screen with “Victim #1, Victim #2” and so on. The victims names are - hold on here, here we go - Bambi, Candy, Sandy, Mandy, Randy, Andy and Glenn. Glenn Dandy. And boy do the writers get some excruciating mileage with that joke. There’s something about an escaped mental patient, and maybe an escaped prisoner. There’s a guy who’s dressed as a Canadian mountie who may have an unhealthy relationship with his horse. The jokes make Mad Magazine look like Cahiers Du Cinema. National Lampoon, meet National Buffoon.
Carol Kane, the squeaky little mushmouth, is basically playing Carrie by way of Little Orphan Annie, and her cornpone accent mysteriously disappears halfway through the movie. Or maybe after the first five minutes of her being introduced, I can’t remember. A bleach blonde Judge Reinhold plays a doofus, and you wonder how the hell he was he able to be cast in Fast Times at Ridgemont High the same year. Miles Chapin and Marc McClure, two “that guys” of the weenie yuppie era, play horny doobie frat brothers lookin’ to (what else?) get laid of course. Pug-faced Debralee Scott, best known as “the female Sweathog” from Welcome Back, Kotter plays....oh, it doesn’t really matter. Tommy Smothers is slummin’ it as the Candanian Mountie wannabe. Eileen Brennan makes the best cameo doing a piss take on Piper Laurie’s Carrie character. Several of the Groundlings, the infamous Los Angeles comedy troupe, made the casting call. Paul Reubens is the proto-Pee Wee deputy. Phil Hartman makes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him cameo as a reporter. Jombi from Pee Wee’s Playhouse is a prisoner on the lam. Edie McClurg gets in here. Several Rock and Roll High School bit players make the scene. Then there’s Richard Romanus, Pat Ast, Tab Hunter, Eve Arden, David “Squiggy” Landers...my question is where was Gerrit Graham?
Let’s talk about boobs. Because there were no boobs to be had in the movie. Sure, we get a scene with Bambi taking a bath in milk while she dunks chocolate chip cookies (not making this up), but no boobage. Plenty of a bouncing and jiggling, but no full-on breasts. Actually, maybe we should be thankful -- I can go on living without ever seeing Kane or Scott in the buff. I figured maybe a shot of some extras jumping naked around in the background would eventually occur, alas no dice. And if this movie kind of looks and feels like a porno, it’s because director Alfred Sole was once a blue movie kind of guy. Deep Sleep, cashin’ in on that Deep Throat craze, was his directorial debut.
Pandemonium is somewhere in the realm of uber-goofy groaners like Zapped! or King Frat. Maybe I don’t smoke enough pot to fully appreciate it. Maybe we should have put down the RC cola as kids and peeked in our older brother’s stashes... Nah, we did just fine. Oh, did I mention Godzilla shows up as a stewardess in this? Grooooaaaaan.