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COLLECTING VHS: Hamburger: The Motion Picture (1986)

Not that long ago the video store was a mundane and sometimes obnoxious part of life; driving over to some lonesome strip mall with your friends or family to comb through the all-too-often disorganized shelves of your local shop, argue over a selection, and then be stuck with it, for good or ill. Yet, it was also sublime. And for those who lived during the true video boom, video stores also equate to another bygone commodity: VHS. When JVC’s Video Home System won the early-80’s format warthe motion picture market changed forever. The genre and B-movies that had previously filled drive-ins across the country now often went straight to VHS. Then DVD took the world by storm in the late-90’s. It was a brave new world, and sadly, many films never made the leap, trapped now on a dead format. These often aren’t “good” films, but goddammit, they were what made video stores great. For we here at CHUD are the kind of people who tended to skip over the main stream titles, our eyes settling on some bizarre, tantalizing cover for a film we’d never even heard of, entranced. These films are what VHS was all about. Some people are still keeping the VHS flame burning. People like me, whose Facebook page Collecting VHS is a showcase for the lost charms of VHS box artwork. With this column it is my intention to highlight these “lost” films and the only rule I have for myself is that they cannot be available on DVD. 

Title: Hamburger: The Motion Picture
Year: 1986
Genre: T & A sex comedy
Tagline: The comedy that serves up the laughs… and dishes out the bull!!
Released by: Media Home Entertainment
Director:
 
Mike Marvin

click to embiggen

Plot: Russell has been expelled from yet another college for lewd, crude and nude conduct. His disappointed parents cut him off, so he enrolls in the only school that will accept him – Buster Burger University.

Thoughts: Now that we’re in the middle of the summer and everyone’s got those BBQ grills a blazin’, I decided to dust off the beef ‘n’ boobs 80’s comedy – Hamburger: The Motion Picture and give it a revisit. This greasy little example of fast food film-making dares to tackle the truth about America’s obsession with grilled meat and tits. Forget Hot Dog: The Movie. That’s about fucking skiing. Don’t even bother with Fast FoodBeer or any other film based on a consumable product for that matter, because Hamburger: The Motion Picture is a movie that puts its money where its mouth is, and that mouth is chock full of hamburger meat. Check out this opening credit sequence that plays over a montage of gluttonous burger-eating imagery set to a rockin’ theme song titled, “Hamburgers for America!” Watch this now!

The film centers on a career college student named Russell (Leigh McCloskey of Fraternity Vacation) who keeps getting kicked out of every school he attends because women just can’t stop fucking him. Even Ms. Gotbottom (!) his guidance counselor tries to fuck him! Unfortunately, Dean Dewberry walks in on them and Russell is expelled from yet another higher learning institution. His parents are pissed because the foolhardy Lothario has exhausted his grandfather’s $250,000 inheritance, so after an attempted strangulation, mom and dad cut him off and kick him out.

With nowhere to turn, Russell wanders into a Buster Burger fast food restaurant and is quickly recruited by the manager to attend the franchise’s all expenses paid university in Colorado. Perfect! Now all Russell needs to do is keep his boner in his pants long enough to graduate. Easier said than done because the moment he sets foot on campus, as per usual every woman around wants to bang him.

Luckily for him, Buster Burger University is run like a prison camp and the students are treated like army recruits by a fascist, racist and homophobic instructor named Drootin (played by the ex-Chicago Bears linebacker, Dick Butkus) who informs them of the three rules at BU:

1. No leaving campus.

2. No drugs, alcohol or outside food.

3. No sex.

The other members of Russell’s class consist of almost every 80’s stereotype imaginable. First, you’ve got the gullible nerd who gets tricked by the insane Dr. Mole (Chuck McCann) into becoming a guinea pig for a variety of fast food experiments that almost turn him into a chicken (!?).

Then there’s a spicy hot Latina chick named Conchita, who wears camo fatigues, sports an Uzi, and is an immigrant from a place called Guacamole (not too racist).

Next up, the obligatory fat guy whose shtick consists solely of painfully shocking himself with electrodes to avoid overeating.

Rounding out our ethnic stereotypes are Fred Domino (Sandy Hackett), a swarthy Guido hustler who begins a tawdry affair with the hot trophy wife (Randi Brooks) of the elderly Buster Burger owner, Lyman Funk.

Also, there’s Magneto Jones (Chip McAllister), a Prince-like African-American musician, who is delivered to the campus in handcuffs by the police and is informed by Drootin that he will graduate “regardless” because of affirmative action. Boing!

Oh, yeah. I almost forgot there’s a nun who wears a specially tailored Buster Burger uniform that still maintains her holy appearance. It’s really strange.

These groups of misfits are taught everything about burgers imaginable by day. From pickle research to onionology, they learn the simple equation that beef + buns = bucks. Then at night they sleep in giant hamburger beds that are in every single dorm room.

But soon, Russell and his roommate Fred are breaking all three of BU’s rules when they sneak out to hook up with owner Lyman Funk’s horny cougar wife and equally horny daughter Mia Funk (Debra Blee from The Beach Girls) for an off campus Chinese dinner. To complicate matters, the vicious Drootin is smitten with the lovely Mia, but she could care less and desperately wants to bone Russell, who has sworn off sex till he gets his diploma. Fred and Mrs. Funk indulge themselves in a passionate series of trysts that include a little under-the-table oral and screwing inside of an out-of-control helicopter while Magneto Jones watches. The boys are punished by Drootin, who places them in torture chambers shaped like giant cartoon pickle-people. What a crazy school!

There is one soul shattering sequence when the new recruits are tested on how well they can handle a big rush of customers as an “eating club” is let loose in a Burger Buster restaurant and the obese members go completely crazy, ordering enormous amounts of food, belching and farting uncontrollably, and even attacking the customers, stealing and eating their burgers while they impatiently wait for their meals to be prepared. It is a scene that degenerates from mildly amusing to nauseatingly disgusting to oddly surreal, as the quick thinking team figures out a way to get rid of the ravenous fatties by giving them all free milk shakes made with laxatives. This bold managerial decision results in a massive explosion in the bathroom that sends the porkers packing, as well as an old Asian man who sits on the toilet mindlessly snapping photos as all this described madness ensues.

This sequence is followed by a biker gang invasion set up by the villainous Drootin, in which the hellions completely trash the place! The police are called, but when they show up, for some inexplicable reason they all join the bikers in wrecking the joint, before leaving together in mass celebration. What else could possibly go wrong, you ask? Well, Drootin decides to run two helpless Mexicans in a pick-up truck filled with chickens off the road and smack dab into the middle of their Buster Burger, totally annihilating the place in epic 80’s style. Massive insanity.

There’s also a head scratching moment where the group of students shout at a little girl to, “Put those cookies back, MOTHERFUCKER!” I had to mention that. Fuck it, here it is:

Surprisingly in the end, Drootin is defeated and demoted to campus custodian and Russell and the rest of his classmates graduate because the nun character accidently comes up with the slogan for Funk’s new fried chicken product and becomes Buster Burger’s latest spokes model, “The Frying Nun”. Yes, that shit happens. Magneto Jones is given a special lifetime achievement award and for the first time in the movie he’s un-handcuffed and handed a diploma (not kidding!). Instead of a speech, he performs an originally composed song about hamburgers with his rock group. It’s fucking amazing!

The only way you’re going to see this T & A brain-bomb is if you own a copy of it on VHS or have an old tape recorded from one of its many showings on late night cable during the 80’s. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a DVD release anytime soon. I know that some very resourceful people have attempted in vain to track down a 35mm print of this film for a revival screening, but have turned up nothing. That means that without an existing film print, no DVD can be made. For now, the analog format is the only way to include this treasure in your collection, which makes my VHS like a priceless gem that I must guard over with a sharpened meat cleaver and a loaded magnum. Until someone out there digs up a print of this amazingly silly B-movie magic and gives the world the gift of a digital mastered disc, that is where you will find me. I’m thinking about placing my copy in a time capsule in the hope that hundreds of years from now the cyborgs will unearth it and scratch the metal off their chrome skulls trying to figure this crazy shit out.

One of the things I really admire about HAMBURGER: THE MOTION PICTURE is how it joyously celebrates America’s love affair with burgers, fries, fast food and random sex. In a way, this movie is like a greasy fat chiliburger for the mind with a pair of big tits on the side… so enjoy!

Note: This film has nothing to do with Hamburger Hill, which is a gritty Vietnam tale.


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