Movie Review: Joysticks (1983) – MVD Rewind Blu-ray

April 27, 2024

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Director Greydon Clark’s (Without Warning) arcade-centric sex comedy begins the only way it could, with a rocking song about both video games and jerking off simultaneously, before introducing a cast of characters you will surely recognize; we have the nerd, Eugene (Grease 2’s Leif Green), the latest employee to begin work at River City’s only arcade managed by popular, sexed-up, wise-ass Jefferson Bailey (Scott McGinnis) and featuring clientele that includes overweight slob/Bluto from Animal House surrogate Dorfus (Jim Greenleaf) along with a Franciscan Monk, a clone of Curly from The Three Stooges, as well as punk rock psycho/video game addict King Vidiot (The Monster Squad and Fright Night Part Two’s Jon Gries) and his appropriately named gang of female followers, The Vidiots… but we’ll get back to him…

Anyway, that arcade, a true hot bed of fun and horniness, is also the favorite hang-out of Patsy Rutter (Corinne Bohrer), valley girl daughter of local tight-ass businessman Joseph Rutter (Joe Don Baker)… a tight-ass businessman that wants nothing more than to see the arcade close for good, and before you know it he, his henchmen nephews (John Diehl and Newhart’s John Voldstad), and even King Vidiot are enlisted to help make that a reality!

Will our hapless heroes have the skills to save the arcade, and will Eugene ever get laid… inquiring minds want to know!

Joysticks delivers exactly what it advertises; it’s un-apoligetically juvenile, filled with vintage video games (though current at the time… hell, Midway’s Satan’s Hollow debuted here in a move lifted wholesale for 1989’s The Wizard with it’s sneak peek at Super Mario Bros. 3), and loaded with naked breasts… and let’s be honest, that is the type of things you inserted your quarters to experience!

Fortunately for this flick; it’s as charming as it is crass, and it’s loaded with an incredibly game cast, but no one shines brighter here than Gries, who’s performance of King Vidiot is so completely over-the-top that he manages to stand-out among all the ludicrous scenarios the narrative (which comes courtesy of screenwriters Al Gomez, Mickey Epps, and Curtis Burch) slaps across our eyes (you know, like arcade challenges played out on giant screens with equally humongous joysticks, strip video game challenges, and Vidiot and the Vidiots toolin’ around on miniscule motorcycles… and that’s just scratching the surface)!

Adding to the fun are plenty of images of the games tearin’ it up in arcades of the time including the aforementioned Satan’s Hollow, along with Pac-Man, Super Pac-Man, and Gorf… which is a miracle considering how protective company’s are about their properties… but here we have Pac-Man wipes between raunchy segments, and the lil’ yellow muncher appearing splashed across a pair of flashed panties!

All of this free-wheelin’ ‘80s action is highlighted by some delightfully dated rock bangers courtesy of the band Legion and Bill Scott that match the energy, tone, and even corniness of the proceedings perfectly!

I can definitely attest to the picture quality of this Blu-ray release which unlike the DVD I first saw this flick on nearly two decades ago has a clear picture and vivid color, rather than being a murky, overly quiet mess (it doesn’t sound like it, but it’s a compliment believe you me cats n’ creeps!).

This release is a huge 1-UP in the special features department as well as we get two audio commentaries, one featuring Director Clark, and the other showcasing MVD’s Eric D. Wilkinson, Journalist Heath Holland, and Diabolik DVD’s Jesse Nelson, both of which are solid listens and cover the film’s production and it’s standing from a fan’s perspective respectively.

Also included is an interview with Clark in which he discusses his entire incredible career, a faux trailer for Coin Slots, a short film that definitely owes it’s existence to Joysticks, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

Additionally the film comes with a slipcover with artwork replicating the box to an Atari 2600 cartridge (which is totally awesome), a reversible sleeve, and a folded mini-poster!

Raunchy, raucous, and full of nostalgic charm, Joysticks may be one of the most ’80s of ’80s films ever made!


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