Buckaroo Banzai

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The Film: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

The Guest: Robert Godinez (of Slow Attack)

Curating this podcast isn’t necessarily difficult, but it is work. I have to consider who the guest is (or my regular co-host, Jon) and what their taste may be – what their weirdness threshold is. Often the guests are game for most anything I throw their way. But sometimes I choose, as with Rob, various slightly musically-inclined films (Alien 4 & Sleepaway Camp notwithstanding). See, as an avid listener of WDWJW, you’ll recall that Rob is in various south Texas-based bands. I like to curate to this interest whenever he’s on the show. And, for this episode, I’ve chosen a real humdinger: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!

I discovered Buckaroo Banzai in the late ’80s while I was in my early teens. A really nerdy kid who lived down the street from me would seemingly only watch sci-fi, and whenever I paid a visit, something different and often strange would be on. This was one such film. I liked “fantastic” before meeting this kid. I liked “scary,” and even a little “gory” (practical FX interest, not necessarily the fact that the FX depicted bodily harm. I’m no sicko.). But “weird” beyond more common stuff like Twilight Zone or Amazing Stories I only discovered by my early teens, thanks in part to Buckaroo Banzai.

Starring Peter Weller, Ellen Barkin, and Jeff Goldblum (among an extensive ensemble cast), Buckaroo Banzai seems on paper like a simple callback to ’50s sci-fi alien invasion b-movies. But since it was made in the ’80s (released on August 10, 1984, to be exact), this simple sci-fi flick is anything but. Weller plays the titular character, a tried and true white hat good guy, but he’s never boring. He’s a brain surgeon, an engineer, a test pilot, and the frontman for a band called the Hong Kong Cavaliers. He’s seemingly good at anything he puts his mind to, and he has a mind for fringe science. In particular, driving a supercar through the actual stone of the mountain.

This attempt sets off a chain of events that had been brewing for decades, since as far back as 1938! But now, in this 1984, the events pile on, involving aliens called Red Lectroids and Black Lectroids, and the earth held at “destructo beam” point with a clock ticking to send the evil Red Lectroids packing or else! His band, The Hong Kong Cavaliers, is also his special team of highly skilled individuals, a colorful task force ripped from the pulp pages of young men’s adventure tales – but with an ’80s twist. And among the villains are character actor greats like John Lithgow, Dan Hedaya, and Christopher Lloyd.

There’s so much more to dig into, and the kicker for me here is that Rob had never seen this film before! FRESH EYES ON BUCKAROO BANZAI! This is all I can ever hope for when curating this podcast. If you haven’t yet seen Buckaroo Banzai, I implore you to find any copy you can and give it a whirl. You’re in for a very interesting and fun time. When you’re ready, press play here and listen to Rob and I discuss what makes this such an interesting and rewarding film.

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