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October 18, 2006

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mike.

Do the two teenaged girls escape from a hospital (or was it a reform school)? And is there a scene where everyone is throwing their TVs out the window? Holy Christ, I've been trying to remember the name of this movie for maybe ten years, ever since I saw it one night 3 AM on channel 7. Nobody to whom I've described this movie to has been able to tell me the name of it. Thanks! Now to find the DVD....

Mark Allen

Great post Clinton -

Someone has a very thorough report on the filming locations from TIMES SQUARE and how they look now, at a Trini Alvarado fan page here (scroll down), although the page was done in the late 90's so I'm sure things have changed even more now:
http://www.greatgridlock.net/Trini/tritimes.html

And someone has created an entire site about Robin Johnson, which tells you EVERYTHING you would ever need to know:
http://www.robinjohnson.net/

TIMES SQUARE was a film that I was obsessed with as a kid, and was a big pubescent influence in my decision to eventually move here one day. On one of my old shows, which I can't seem to find now, I spend almost an hour talking about how a friend and I in the 9th grade snuck out of school one day and rode our ten-speed bikes all the way along a busy expressway, a sweaty and excruciating ride that was way too far, JUST to be able to see a screening of the film at a Dallas repertory theater. And we wore trash bags and orange hair spray which melted in the Texas heat.

...by the way, per the info on that Robin Johnson page we recently rented the film SPLITZ (from 1984) from Netflix, which was one of Johnson's post disaterous-handling-career movies - the film was really terrible! Like bad, bad. It was supposed to be about an all-girl rock band that was filmed mostly at CBGB's, but it was instead a way low-rent version of "Porky's" with terrible production values, editing, etc.,- I don't think it was even released (although it does feature an aptly cast Shirley Stoler as the mean, crusty dyke school dean).

hmmmm... I'll have to check out SHAKEDOWN.

K

I've not seen either movie, but I do remember the Times Square of old. I also remember it's last stand, Rev. Billy marching on the Disney stores like the archangel Gabriel blowing his bullhorn. If you want a taste of what the real Times Square was about, check this guy.

http://www.timessquare.com/movies/gods/

He documented one important aspect of the Street, that is the many and bizarre preachers who exhorted the sinners on their way to perdition. I saw the film and director when he was shopping it around town, and he made a remark which stuck with me to this day. As so.

"Let's be honest, Times Square was an ugly and squalid affair, and some pretty bad things happened there on a regular basis. That said, it provided an outlet and place for people to go who liked to indulge themselves in this way. Now the good upstanding people want to pave it over with Walt Disney. And I ask; if you get rid of the place, where are these people going to go? They're not just going to disappear, you know. So where will they end up?"

And now we know.

I'm happy to see that the full movie is streamable over the web, do take some time and watch it. There are some remarkable things documented in it. Things which will never be in a hollywood movie. The real world is remarkable in that way, you just couldn't write/imagine it. It has to actually play out.

ResidentClinton

Mike - Yes, it was the hospital, and there was TV dropping. Rent that DVD today, it's all over the place.

Mark Allen - I totally love that story about you and your friend on the bikes! I didn't see the film until 1986 or so, but even then I had to hunt high and low to find the video (I had already bought and played the heck out of the soundtrack) - finally getting it at a tiny, dusty cult video store. I just added Splitz to my Netflix (saw it on that Robin Johnson site). Even though I know it will be absolutely terrible, I still have a compulsion to see it.

K - I played Gods of Times Square once at the Coolidge (the theatre I used to program in Boston), and the next month we played the Reverend Billy film. Neither of them really drew much of a crowd (because it was in Boston, I suppose, and they can be a little prickly about documentaries on those other cities) but I couldn't resist these films and their chronicle of the last grasp of this gorgeous and dying space. I still have copies of both films, and now I need to watch them again. Thanks for mentioning them!

Speaking of Reverend Billy, I was trying to find the site of the Poe House last week - the one that he worked so hard to save from demolition - but couldn't. Then I found this article and realized why. Is rebuilding a fascade with different materials a half a block away really saving anything?

And has anyone been inside the AMC theatre on 42nd, which uses the shell of the Empire as it's gaudy lobby? That facade is well preserved, indeed, but they took what could have been the best place in Manhattan to see a movie and turned it into the worst. Development is amazing.

And lastly, one other great New York documentary that captures the end of an era is Sara Driver's The Bowery. It's basically a stroll up the street circa 1994, and features Luc Sante and Joe Coleman. Fortunately, the Bowery is still somewhat grubby, but where did all the crazies go? The director is Jim Jarmusch's partner, so the film sometimes shows up in his programs. Definitely worth seeking out.

K.

Hey, thanks for the heads up on "The Bowery". I'll be sure to check it out. As much as we all love a good story, real docs are just so much more compelling and instructive. I'm not surprised "gods" didn't make much of an impression, when I saw him at the Cinema Classics ( when it was in fact that ) the audience was pretty thin.

Highlights for me included that fantastic scene with the "lost tribe of islam" ( whatever happened to them, huh? ) stepping on the head of that white guy, and then getting an interview with the guy afterwards. That was amazing. Also, the white rockstar wannabe guy who believed he was Jesus and was destined to marry Madonna. For some reason I found that spot very moving. Well NYC has changed for sure, and I'll soon enough be leaving as well. But I can say at least I was here for the high water mark...

caz

Time Square was a mediocre film with a good soundtrack but the performances in it by Robin Johnson and Trini Alvarado are pure gold. Robin Johnson should have been a huge star but for reasons that may, it didn't happen and the world is a much sadder place because of it.

sid bators

no one's giving it up for DAMNED DOG yet? are you with me?!
"I can lick your face, I can bite it too, I gotta taste for danger, I'm gonna give it to you, feed me, feed me, can't you hear me howl? feed me, I'm a damned dog now!"

mita

The best movie to take place in NYC is Friday The 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan! Even though the vast majority took place on a cruise ship and a soundstage in Canada, the 3 minutes of actual Times Square footage are the best ever. Jason kicking over some punk kids' boombox will be forever ingrained in my memory!

The Exterminator Part II comes in second though. Nothing beats disco dancing, random gratuitous sex scenes and Mario Van Peebles hamming it up for the camera. Not to mention all the garbage truck and flamethrower action.

Snarfyguy

Don't forget one of the essential Times Square sleaze films: Paul Morrisey's Forty Deuce (1982) with Orson Bean and pre-stardom Kevin Bacon.

Gay teenage prostitution, drugs, and more sleaze and squalor than you can shake a stick at - all in the golden age of the Duece's sleaze period.

If you lived in New York back then, this will *really* take you back.

liftmyveil

Great article - I love Times Square too but ...Sam Neil isn't in SHAKEDOWN - its that low-rent cro-Magnum ponce Sam Elliot

JD

Pardon me for being a geek, but the name of the song is "Damn Dog."

I ascribe the soundtrack's quality to Jimmy Iovine's overseeing.

And you can't really make your own from the track listing without assembling it from inferior MP3 copies from the record, because several of the tracks have never appeared anywhere else.

And, say, Cinton... where'd you get those nifty pix from "Times Square"? :)

mos eisley

the River City Tanlines also do a cover of "damn dog" that you can find on the comp. "all the 7" plus two more." although alijca trout doesn't sing the cover, one of the dudes in the band does, if my memory serves me correct.

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