6/21/10

Ocean Drive Weekend (1985): Myrtle Beach Days for the First Day of Summer

If you’re like me and already sweltering under 100 degree temperatures, you probably feel like summertime is already here, but according to the calendar, today is the first official day of summer. So to celebrate I wanted to look at the film that most says summer to me, and that is 1985’s Ocean Drive Weekend. While most beach movies turn their eye to Florida or California, OD Weekend is a home grown flick that is set on the coast of South Carolina. More specifically, it is set in North Myrtle Beach where you will find the titular Ocean Drive. When I was a kid, we went down to Myrtle Beach every year, and we used to stay in the main part of the city, but when I was about 11ish we started staying up in North Myrtle for the wide beaches, the quiet nights, and all the great mom and pop hotels to choose from. While I have fond memories of the beach from when I was a little tyke, it was the years in North Myrtle that really stuck with me. Now when I want to drop everything to take off for the beach that is where I intend to go, but when I can’t, I sit down and drink in the beach through this low budget classic.


Ocean Drive Weekend was, once upon a time, distributed by Troma Entertainment, and if you take a look at the box art above, that probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise. If you were to judge the film by its cover, you might think it was some kind of mix of Revenge of the Nerds and Hardbodies, but the truth couldn’t be further from that. Instead you get something more like a Southern fried American Graffiti meets Porky's lite. The story opens sometime in the early sixties just as college is letting out for the summer. The Pepsi Pi’s of Leon University and the Sigma’s of A Great Southern University (Not the One You Think),as the film tells us, take off for a weekend of sun, fun, hooking up, and dancing the night away. Miller and Chuck also hit the road from University in Miller's crappy Dodge full of beer cans with a weekend at the beach and getting laid on their minds. As all the kids gather at the beach their are subplots about trying to get out of the draft, the impending drug culture of the late sixties, drinking a fifth of tequila in 60 seconds (which won’t kill you every time), and eating a raw steak then jumping off a pier to get out of the bill, just to name a few. The film culminates with Danny Van Wieden and the JV’s from Tech kidnapping Miller, and all the groups come together to save a fellow University man.

It may seem like Ocean Drive Weekend is just a collection of scenes, it's a pretty tightly wound plot where all the character's plots intermingle in a pretty smart way. To have a scene where the draft dodger is trying to shoot himself in the foot and misses but the sound scares off a date rapist, the evil Van Wieden, who loses his wallet that is later found by Miller to avoid getting arrested....whew.... yeah, but you see my point. The scripting of the film is one of it's strong points, and even though some of the acting is off, the natural tone and direction of the story seem to bring up the production quite a bit. Now I'm not saying that it's the cleverest film out there. This is not Momento we're dealing with, this is a beach movie, and compared to similar fare it's refreshing that Ocean Drive Weekend hits a good balance between real characters, good plot points, and maintains a light comic vibe.

Now, of course I wasn’t going to the beach on the early sixties (if it was about my years going it would be about reading Puzo's The Godfather on the beach, playing mini golf, and riding go karts at Grand Prix raceway), but my parents were. I don’t think that they ever had adventures quite like the ones detailed in Ocean Drive Weekend (if they did then they have some stories that I want to hear), but the film always reminds both of them of the time they spent down there in their teenage years. I think this speaks volumes about the film. While they both feel that other, more well known Carolina beach movie, Shag: The Movie, was a syrupy, inaccurate affair, OD Weekend hits the era where the innocence of the ‘50’s was waning, but the hippie culture hadn’t taken over yet, without making you wonder if they might have a pair of traveling pants around somewhere.

Try as I might, I can find out absolutely nothing about writer/director Brian Jones. I have long theorized that OD Weekend was made as a student film, but I‘ve got nothing to back that up. All I really know comes from the VHS tape; it was put out on Vestron Video, a Troma film with a 1984 copyright by L.A. Productions. In a way this film is a mystery all over. Most of the stars haven’t appeared in anything else with one or two exceptions. Della Cole (billed here as Konya Dee) who plays one of the Pepsi Pi’s appeared as “Stake Out Prostitute” in 1987’s Dead Aim starring Isaac Hayes as well as a few other productions, and she was probably the best actress in the film. Robert Peacock who played the film’s hero, Chuck, would later he appear in 2003’s Prison A Go Go!, a low budget women in prison film that coincidentally was also released through Troma as well as 2005’s A Texas Tale.

The last cast member with other credits was John Kohler who was so entertaining as computer geek/druggie Kurt. From his opening moments where he wakes up screaming about killer spinach to his monolog about sex, drugs, and rock and roll taking over the world, he really makes the most of what could have been a tiny and rather silly role.He has appeared in several films over the years including Freejack and Gordy, and more recently he made a couple of appearances on Important Things with Demetri Martin.

Some of the best actors in Ocean Drive Weekend never appeared in a film again. The best example of this is Charles Redmond who plays the beer swilling, ignorant, horndog Miller. Sure, he looks much older than the rest of the cast (who already look beyond college age), but it adds to the idea that Miller has been in college for quite some time. By all rights and reason, Redmond should be a character actor with a laundry list of credits, but it didn’t happen. I mean what other character could deliver a line like “Cooked… I don’t want my steak cooked, woman. Cooked steaks are for fags, I want it raw.” and still maintain an imbecilic lovability? Though I’m sure some of that is due to the fact that two scenes later Miller finds out that having steak tartare at a restaurant on a fishing pier might not have been the best plan. Needless to say, Miller is no PC character, but this is still an '80's film no matter the setting.

I can’t believe how far I am into this review, and I really feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of this film. Not only are there so many questions I have about the productions, but there are so many scenes I’d love to tell you about. I haven’t even touched on the nerds who get turned on by classical music and vector analysis, the romance between Chuck and Jeanie (P.J. Greene), or all the great music in the film. Not only do Carolina Beach music band The Rivieras appear in the film (also looking much older than they should have for the sixties), but they perform great songs like “Showdown” and “Be Young Be Foolish and Be Happy”. They also perform “Double Shot” in the film, but when it is heard on the radio it is clearly the Swinging Medallions version of the song even though it is not credited as such.

Everything about Ocean Drive Weekend makes me long for a trip to the beach, and in fact, I have one planned for the beginning of August over my birthday. While the beach in OD Weekend is not what I grew up with, it is still closer to what North Myrtle beach is becoming. I’m actually going down this year to see what is left before everything I remember is gone. While the film may be about the era of my parents’ youth, it has long been a part of my ritual of getting ready to go to the beach. For this reason, and because I hail from South Carolina, I think that I have a very different perspective on the film. I’ve seen the two or three reviews online that rate the film at a 1 or 1.5, and I have to disagree with those folks. Ocean Drive Weekend is a very original, different kind of beach film that focuses on a particularly Southern type of story that may not hit home with everyone, but for anyone who counts Myrtle Beach as part of their youth and cult films as one of their hobbies, this is a great film to sit down with and enjoy. The only bad thing is that its a bit hard to come by. I have a beloved VHS copy, and I see that Amazon has them for sale for under 3 bucks. So if I've succeeded in making Ocean Drive Weekend sound like something you might like, pick one up and you'll feel like you've still got a little sand in your shoes for sure.

Bugg Rating

Sadly no trailer exists, but here's one of the best Carolina beach music songs of all times, The Tams with "Be Young, Be Foolish, but Be Happy". A great sentiment to start off the summer.


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14 comments:

  1. I guess it's too late to be "the first drunk of the season"

    As you stated and I agree with this is the definitive "American Graffiti" of North Myrtle Beach....but then what does it have to compete with...SHAG:The Movie....gimme a break!!!!

    In 1984 the Wilmington Star News had a small article on this movie and they noted that Bryan Jones was the brother of Ben Jones, who played Cooter on "The Dukes of Hazzard"

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  2. OD Weekend is such a great movie. Every viewing reminds me of those "good old days" at Myrtle, Cherry Hill and Ocean Drive beaches. THE PLACE to go, especially after high school graduation.

    While I never knew anyone exactly like Miller, he is a perfect composite of many guys I knew in school. Also, there were several guys in my high school class who did look much older than the rest of us, making Miller an even better amalgam.

    My lips are still sealed on those stories!

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  3. they rented a house to film some scenes from my fathers realty company in cherry grove (not cherry hill) and yes it was cooter's brother who paid us the visit, but i see someone already discovered that tidbit.

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  4. I am thrilled to see such a comprehensive and complimentary review!! I am IN this movie - I was the mean bank teller who eventually cashed the bad check - small role but great day of filming. I agree it is an undiscovered gem of a movie....

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    1. Very cool! That is definitely a scene I remember "I know an honest face."

      I have a couple of VHS tapes of this movie and transferred one of them to disk a while back. Need to queue it up again having stumbled across this page and having the interest re-awakened.

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  5. I have been looking for this movie, I could not get anyone to agree that it existed.. only Shag, so I will look hard to get a copy, also, if you want to see the real thing... it is alive and well in Ocean Drive, Main St,North Myrtle Beach SC. today... just come down and go to Ducks Beach Club, Fat Harold's , Spanish Gallion, OD Pavilion, Pirates Cove...It is like time stood still, except the kids are now 50,60,70... and having the second time of their lives... Live Bands ... Tams, etc.... play all the time, SOS has several events yearly.... in two weeks, DJ Throwdown will kick off a big week end... Mel Carter (hold me , thrill me song fame) was inducted into the beach music hall of fame at what is called the Cammy Award, ( another great long week end party where you can see 10-15 live beach band in all the OD clubs) anyway... he came to one of the clubs for the closing party...sang his song again... afterwards.. he said that he had traveled the world singing.. and NO WHERE... haD he seen so many people that age,out that late, dancing and having yhat much fun... I have not found anywhere in the Carolina's , Virginia (where i am from) etc.. that has what OD offers TODAY... well.. I think you get it... The Shag is alive and well in OD,,, if you know of another place like it, please tell me,,, I will travel to see it...
    VISIT OD ....WHILE YOU CAN.. posting anonymous because I do not know how this all works, my 1st time ever posting,,, but the review got me going

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  6. Cherry Grove Beach, Sonny's Pavilion, Ocean Drive, The Pad, OD Pavilion....

    In the late '50s and early '60s these were the places to be in the summers before the condo's and high rise hotels ruined most of the oceanfront. Sonny's and the Pad are long gone. A few places still hold on and survive. You can see and hear the music when this link is active.

    http://www.grandstrandcams.com/webcameras-odpavilion.php

    "Ocean Drive Weekend" in it's own, sometimes crude, way captures a little bit of what those times were like.

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    1. New link for the Ocean Drive Pavilion webcam...

      http://www.resortcams.com/webcameras-od-pavilion.php

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  7. I know the guy who played "Wally" in this movie. He was in our 80s circle of friends who gathered to watch TV and play Trivial Pursuit. I haven't talked to him in years. I once had a VHS copy of this movie, recorded off TV. I will ask my old roommate if he has it now and if so, I will post it to a filesharing service like Rapidshare.

    _Daniel

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  8. Thanks everyone for your comments, if you know any more information about the film or happen to come on here and were in the film, please contact me at thelightningbug@charter.net I am currently at work on a definitive article about the movie for magazine publication.

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  9. Just ordered a copy of this VCR. I live in Ocean Drive and have been here for a long time...always on the l lookout for any history of the "good old days" and never heard of this. Can't wait to get it. Good or bad, we'll enjoy it!

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  10. I now have this movie on VHS and will be posting it via BitTorrent on Pirate Bay as soon as I get it ripped at AVI format.

    I will come back here and provide a link.

    All the best....

    -Daniel

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  11. http://thepiratebay.se/torrent/10398467

    I got the VHS and ripped and processed it and uploaded it via Torrent. The torrent specs detail everything about the video and audio.

    ENJOY!

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  12. I also worked on this for a few weeks as a crew member as well as acting in a small character role (Will, the computer lab geek). Glad to see it still sparks interest. I still have a few "behind the scenes" pics that I took during the production ...somewhere. Great group of people to work with... fond memories ;)

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