I must admit that when I heard that Olive Films was putting out Roller Boogie on Blu-ray I couldn’t stop myself from getting excited. Yeah sure, I like roller skating as much as the next guy, but that wasn’t why I was down with the boogie. Sure I met my first girlfriend at a roller rink, but nostalgia didn’t drive my interest. I hadn’t seen the movie until only recently. My interest in Roller Boogie was focused on the strange and shocking combination of one Mark Lester and Linda Blair. The man who gave us Class of 1984 and the woman who made the green vomit gag a household name were working together in a completely zany plot that almost sounded heartwarming if it didn’t feel completely ridiculous. How does it all come together? Olive Films gives us a chance in their new Blu-ray release of this classic roller disco dreamer flick.
First off I truly wish that Roller Boogie could have used the original poster. It has all the hallmarks of Xanadu or some other great fantastical journey into the world of teenage dancing dreams. The collage work will have to suffice. This release comes with no extras. Sorry to the diehard fans who would have liked to have seen a choreography featurette, but this one is barebones. It has a solid menu that feels well produced and the transfer is quite nice. There’s some slight black crushing and dust, but overall the quality of this release befits the title.
Six years after The Exorcist turned Linda Blair into a star (at least in terms of the character she created) we would finally get a chance to see her skate. While the movie clearly focuses on sexualizing an older Blair now it’s also brings attention to the fact that Blair is an actress. She isn’t Regan anymore. This is lighthearted late 70’s fodder with a disco score that pulls songs straight out of the top ten to sell a fad. We recently reviewed Thrashin’ which tried to do just the same thing for the skateboard trend. The fashion for the roller queens is the statement and the movie is fun fun fun until daddy takes your skate key away (so you can practice the flute and get into Julliard). There’s plenty of hot bodies and skin in between the roller dancing though keep in mind this is a PG movie.
You can see Mark Lester’s influence clearly in the conflict between our protagonists and the bully, gangsters looking to take control of the roller disco. He loves to paint you bad guys that are truly evil and lovable, unexpected heroes. Of course this isn’t the brutal picture that Class of 1984 was (reviewed just this past year for Scream Factory). Lester made 1984 three years after Roller Boogie, right before he went into making some truly remarkable action and horror pictures that helped to define the 80’s. I suppose you could say that Roller Boogie is his segue between the TV movie Gold of the Amazon Women and 1984.
You may think of Roller Boogie as just a cheese ball pre-80’s formula flick but it truly is a fun picture. It has a good heart with heroes and villains and some damn good music (for those of you who truly believe that disco never died). You like Cheeks, Bob Esty, Cher or even Earth Wind and Fire (the same song used in Caddyshack)? Get your skates on now! The finish feels like Joysticks or Pinball Summer, so if you enjoyed wither one of those pictures (with less nudity) than Roller Boogie is for you.
And remember… socks are required at all times.
Roller Boogie is the film that asks: can a classical flautist and a roller skating dude find true love and happiness in the California sun while boogying on skates to 70’s disco tunes? Roller Boogie stars Linda Blair (The Exorcist) as Terry Barkley, a genius flautist (and Juilliard hopeful) and Jim Bray (real life roller skating phenomenon) as Bobby James, a maniac on skates with all the right moves and his sights set on becoming an Olympic Roller Skater. Starting with a traditional cinematic “meet cute” scene (Bobby saves Terry from a skating accident at the local roller rink) Roller Boogie is kicked into high gear when a ruthless mobster plans to buy Jammers, the local roller rink, for nefarious reasons. Will Terry give up on her dreams of playing classical flute at Juilliard to team up with Bobby and enter the Jammer’s roller disco contest? Will Bobby see his Olympic skating dreams come true? Will the mobster really buy Jammers? Where’s the parental supervision? For the answers to these and other burning questions watch Roller Boogie. Roller Boogie, with its amazing choreography and on-the-skate-floor acrobatics, is directed by Mark L. Lester (Class of 1984), from a screenplay by Barry Schneider, features a soundtrack stuffed with disco tunes including Hell On Wheels performed by Cher, The Roller Boogie written by Mavis & Bob Esty, Boogie Wonderland written by Jon Lind and Allee Willis and the Bob Esty & Michael Brooks song Summer Love.