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Weekly Alibi Videodrome

By Scott Phillips

JANUARY 31, 2000:  Have I mentioned my twisted secret-shame fascination with teenage culture? I've spent many a sleepless night attempting to figure out where my obsession stems from, but the answer continues to elude me. Perhaps it's a result of the fear other teenagers inspired in me when I was one myself; to this day I become wracked with insecurity (more than usual, I mean) when I stumble across a passel of pubescents at the mall or my favorite Chinese fast-food joint. The only thing more terrifying than the potential rise of the Fourth Reich is a group of teenage girls engulfed in mysterious laughter -- because every guy who was a dork in high school knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that they're laughing at him. Stupid? Yes. True? Absolutely -- ask any guy you know, provided he wasn't elbow-deep in his date's panties every Friday night during his teenage years. Those guys just won't get it.

As I write this, I'm half-watching "Roswell" (Wednesday nights on the WB), and it's not because I'm a big believer in the whole saucer-crash mythology. I'll also cop to being a regular viewer of "Felicity," "Popular," and (good Lord I can't believe I'm admitting this in print) "Total Request Live" on MTV.

Obviously, I have far too much time on my hands, or far too few brain cells at my disposal. I simply have to know the standings of the current videos by Mandy Moore, Christina Aguilera and the trailer-trash queen of bubblegum pop herself, Ms. Britney Spears. And what about the boy-bands? You need two-and-a-half hands to count all those booty-shakin' pop combos -- and you'd better hope like hell your life never depends on having to tell them apart.

Rikki O (1991)

While I'm pretty sure a lot of people would love to see the Backstreet Boys punch 'N Sync's heads completely off their bodies, the closest I've come to that sort of cheap thrill is watching Rikki O. Sadly, it doesn't involve the world's most popular teen crooners, but this Japanese/Hong Kong co-production is one hellacious chunk of splatter-filled entertainment and deserves the same kind of fanatic following that those high-steppin' hunkwads enjoy. Based on the manga (comic book) of the same name, Rikki O takes place in the far-flung future (2001) when prisons have become franchised businesses. The unfortunate Rikki is sent to the worst of these corporate correctional facilities, where he suffers endless abuse at the hands (well, hand and hook) of the one-eyed assistant Warden. The tape I have is a cheesy bootleg with half-assed subtitles, so the plot (what I could find of one, anyway) doesn't make a whole lot of sense. But who are we to be concerned with such things? We're here for the insanely over-the-top gore -- the violence in this movie is so extreme and ridiculous it'll make you feel like your own head has been punched off your shoulders. Imagine it's Justin ('N Sync -- or is it Backstreet Boys?) as the prisonyard bully who falls face-first onto a board full of nails; pretend that Howie D. (98 Degrees? Backstreet? LFO?) portrays the fat guy Rikki defeats by punching a gaping hole into; picture the vein Rikki pulls from his slashed arm to use as a tourniquet being unspooled from the meaty limbs of Lance (5ive? Boyzone?); and of course, there's that little matter of strangulation by intestine (could it be A.J. from ... well, one of those groups?). In other words, this movie is completely apeshit. It might be a little tough to find (although I believe a legitimate VHS of the flick was recently released), but it's definitely worth the trouble.

Tougher Than Leather (1988, RCA)

Also worth the trouble is Tougher Than Leather, which I understand Britney Spears is quite a fan of. I can easily imagine the just-turned-legal songstress flopped back on her couch, unloading a can of Easy Cheese straight onto her million-selling tongue as she enjoys the adventures of rappers Run-DMC in this throwback to '70s blaxploitation epics. Our funky heroes are signed for a tour by evil record exec Rick Rubin and his flunky Richard Edson (Down by Law), but things go awry when the group's retarded lackey Runny Ray stumbles into the wrong place at the wrong time and is gunned down by Rubin. Run-DMC set out on the vengeance trail, kickin' ass, bustin' up whitey and layin' down plenty of old school beats (damn! do I sound "down" or what, G?). In one great bit, the guys fix a car belonging to Rubin's girlfriend ('80s porn star Lois Ayers), who takes 'em home to thank them appropriately. After the lovin' Run-DMC deliver, Lois can't help but agree to aid them in their quest. Wearing nothing but panties and a dog collar, Lois distracts Rubin, allowing the guys to get the drop on him ("Can't you see I'm doin' something?" Rubin yelps). In my book, this flick is an absolute must-see -- and you know Britney digs on the youthful Beastie Boys performing live and slipping on spilled beer. Teenagers. Who can figure 'em?

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