Movie of the Week: Skatetown USA

Unfamiliar to all but hardcore roller disco aficionados, 1979's Skatetown USA has never been released on DVD or VHS. The last time it was legally shown to the public was on cable TV in 1982. This is a digital rip from a 16mm film, so the quality isn't so hot, but you probably won't ever see it anywhere else.

Just like the other two roller disco movies of the trinity, Xanadu and Roller Boogie, Skatetown USA is set in Venice Beach. Unlike those two movies, the writing and direction is crud, little more than a series of disconnected, coke-fueled schticks with bad acting, indifferent framing and muffled sound recording interspersed with a lot of skating footage. It makes for a very, very long 93 minutes. As an additional word of warning, let it be known that the director's best-known movie is Blackenstein.

But if you take it in short doses, perhaps in ten-minute increments over the course of a week, it's very entertaining as an oddball time capsule. You get Patrick Swayze, Flip Wilson, Maureen McCormick (who spends the movie in a bikini top and hotpants, which sounds cool, but turns out to be incestuously uncomfortable for this viewer), Scott Baio (of Zapped), Greg Bradford (also of Zapped), Ruth Buzzi, Billy Barty, Joe E. Ross, Sydney Lassik (the only actor who has worked alongside both Jack Nicholson and Vanilla Ice, albeit for different films), Dorothy Stratten, Judy Landers, and a very special appearance by the Unknown Comic. It's a 70's all-star bonanza rivaling an entire season of the Love Boat!

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