Thursday, May 13, 2010

forgotten cinema - The Party Animal

hey everyone


well, like the last "forgotten cinema" piece i did on Night Hawks the term "forgotten" may be a bit excessive. as cult classics go, it's very fondly thought of and celebrated by those of us who discovered the film in the mid-80s, but it would seem there are not all that many of us to celebrate. an internet search reveals next to no information about this fine, funny film is currently online, so i feel obliged to rectify that!





i will try and keep this as spoiler-free as i can, but as i laugh as hard at it now as i did when i first saw it many years ago (probably 1985, maybe 86), it's not like knowing what goes on in it spoils seeing it in any way. for fellow fans of the film who have stumbled upon my site as a consequence of a search of this, hello, welcome and no, you are not alone in your love of this movie!

the film follows the plight of Pondo Sinatra, played by the elusive and mysterious Matthew Causey (more on him later). he's a fresh from the farm lad arriving at a college campus, and he has one major problem - as much as he wants the ladies, the ladies do not want him. the manner in which he arrived could have some bearing on that.





fate or good fortune, however, intervene, and his room-mate is the highly popular Studly (played by Tim Carhart, one of those actors you recognize but can rarely name). Studly has sympathy for the plight of Pondo, and does all that he can to teach him to be wise in the ways of women.





this includes, but is certainly not limited to, sending Pondo off to learn from the master and Studly's own guru, the voice of wisdom that is Elbow (Jerry Jones).





i guarantee you that people who know and love the film are looking at the picture above and are saying something to themselves which commences with the words "hound dog".....

...which is no bad thing, recalling the rather memorable scene in which Pondo does indeed attempt to become the hound dog!





despite the collective wisdom of such sage and noble figures, however, it seems Pondo Sinatra is jinxed and destined never to be a success with the ladies. no matter how impressive the attempts are to hook Pondo up with a lady, something always happens to ensure that Pondo's intentions of love always remain unrequited.





Studly and Elbow end up at something of a loss to explain why Pondo is such a miserable failure with the ladies, ultimately - in one of the greatest philosophical conversations ever captured on film - concluding that he must be unsuccessful now due to rampant and great success in a past life.





to somewhat break from a rundown of the film, i have to here highlight one of Pondo's attempts to impress the ladies. in one of the funniest scenes ever in the movies, Pondo takes Studly's comments about women loving drugs to heart and heads off to impress them with a barrage of blow, as it were.





if you are in the group of people who have not seen this film, take a gamble and trust me when i say the "drugs party scene" from this movie makes it well worth seeing alone!

a turning point for the fortunes of Pondo comes when he - presumably by accident - pays attention in a lecture and learns of the world of the aphrodisiac. this sets him off on a quest to create the ultimate aphrodisiac, sure that this will give him the success he craves.





he of course doesn't get it right with his first chemical creations, but it is enormous fun watching him experiment away!





does he eventually find the winning formula? does he eventually create the most powerful aphrodisiac the world has known? oh, yes....





and, in one of the scenes that impressed by good chum Spiros the most, he creates an aphrodisiac that is not, strictly speaking, limited to the rules of heterosexual attraction.....





right, i think i've given enough of the film away here! believe me, there's a good deal more to the film than i have highlighted so far!

a great deal of the charm of The Party Animal, and indeed why it's so funny, is the astonishingly high level of intellect on display in the writing. for what is essentially a "teen comedy" it makes many high-brow references that are easy to ignore for those not in the know, but wonderful and endearing for those who do.

writer/director David Beaird, someone who seems to have done only slightly more work in movies than his lead actor, clearly had Dr Faustus in mind as a premise for the structure of the story. this is never more visible than in the form of the "silent narrator" of the film, the blonde lady who never speaks and yet seems to be the only one, pre-aphrodisiac at least, to look the way of Pondo.





as for the fantastic actor who played Pondo Sinatra, Matthew Causey, well, enjoy this performance because thus far it has been his only on-screen appearance! it's incredible that someone clearly as funny and talented as him did not have a reasonable (at least) movie career, but maybe he didn't want one. no one really knows for sure; he has sort of "vanished".

there have been stories and rumours as to where Mr Causey is and what he's up to. whilst it's pretty much accepted that the Matthew Causey who is a professor of film & literature at Georgia State Tech is the one from this film, there's others who claim that he holds a similar position in Dublin, or even that he currently manages some fast food outlet in the middle of nowhere. he did, however, apparent surface and make a film in 2003 called Frank And Marie, but as far as i am aware no one has actually ever seen the film!

oh well, wherever he is, you have a legion of fans that wish you had made more than just this film. thanks at least for this one, and good luck with whatever it is you now do instead.





The Party Animal is a low budget gem. it's witty, inventive and at times flat out hysterical. i have no idea how they balanced the inclusion of so many crass and crude elements without ever really slipping into bad taste, but they did it. add to all that i have said an astonishing soundtrack, dominated by some of the best songs that The Buzzcocks ever did, and you have around 80 minutes of lightweight, fun entertainment that's not quite for everyone, but brilliant to those for who it is intended.

this film should have launched the director and star onto a healthy career making well above average movies. it didn't, for some reason, and you have to assume that it's because they chose not to take that path.

for those of you looking for this film, you should find it pretty easily enough on DVD from the USA - amazon have it at a reasonable price. it doesn't appear to be officially available anywhere else at the moment, although i could well be wrong. you may want to bear in mind that, for some reason, some countries had the film released in a heavily edited state under the name Party Time.



be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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