Awfully Good: The Garbage Pail Kids Movie


The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)

Director: Rod Amateau
Stars: Mackenzie Astin, Phil Fondacaro, Katie Barberi

A sweet coming-of-age story about a young boy and his group of—KILL THEM ALL! KILL THEM WITH FIRE!

Dear merciful Lord; what did I just watch?!?

For the lucky uninitiated, The Garbage Pail Kids were a trading card parody of the insanely popular Cabbage Patch Kids from the 1980s. They complimented the sweet, saccharine nature of the dolls by featuring grotesque children with hideous deformities or disgusting trademarks. (Think "Virus Iris" or "Boozin' Bruce.") As collectible cards, they were a mildly humorous if not harmless response to the Cabbage Patch craze and if it had been left at that, we could all go on with our lives. But of course, in a tradition that continues to this day—they had to make a movie out of it. And not only is THE GARBAGE PAIL KIDS MOVIE a nonsensical cash grab, it's also one of the most face-meltingly awful films in recorded history.

You know you're in trouble when this is the first title card.

If you had to make a movie based on this, there are a variety of methods you could use to bring the title characters to life—animatronics, animation, hand-controlled puppets, etc. Now imagine that you're the creators of this movie and you have no idea what you're doing. Of course, the logical answer in this scenario is to dress up adult little people to look like the Garbage Pail Kids with oversized, poorly-constructed heads. As executed, it's truly one of the scariest things I've ever seen. If I had watched this as a child, it would've scarred me worse than any gore-filled horror movie. They're disturbingly large yet look like infants. None of the Kids' mouths move properly while they're talking. And when they're not active onscreen, they have a dead-eyed, slack-jawed look that gnaws away at your soul. At best, they look like hideously deformed mutant children. At worst, they're alien creatures wearing our skin, except the person who made their human suits was mentally deficient.

And it's never explained exactly where the Garbage Pail Kids come from or what they are. They live in a magical trash bin that was seen floating in outer space at the beginning of the movie. When they first escape the pail, they're made of some kind of slime; however, they eventually look mildly human, have human bodily functions and are fluent in colloquial English with American accents. It's so weird and I hate it.

The horror. The horror.

Now that's bad enough, but how could we make it worse? Add in a completely pointless human main character to take the focus off the title ones! Instead of Shia LeBeouf, you get Mackenzie Astin (brother of Sean) as Dodger, a teenage kid who has a crush on a girl named Tangerine, but is bullied by her boyfriend Juice. (Aside from having names from a Pauly Shore movie, both Tangerine and Juice are clearly in their 30s.) And it's not your typical schoolyard hazing that Dodger is subjected to. No this, is some hardcore bullying. Juice and his gang take him in to the sewer, tie him to a pipe and dump toxic sludge all over him. Later we find out that Juice is also a major drug dealer, so its quite odd that he wastes so much time going out of his way to pick on this kid.

Then again, maybe the kid deserved to get beat up…

Dodger also works for a creepy old magician named Manzini. While Juice is dragging Dodger in to the sewers, he accidentally knocks over a garbage pail in the magic store and… you can see where this is going. Dodger is eventually saved from his stinky torture by the Garbage Pail Kids:

  • Greaser Greg: A Fonzie-wannabe who continually pulls out a switchblade and at one point sexually assaults one of the other Kids.
  • Messie Tessie: A girl who constantly has snot all over her face and hands.
  • Windy Winston: A boy who wears a Hawaiian shirt and reacts to every situation by farting loudly.
  • Foul Phil: A giant ugly baby keeps calling everyone "Daddy"
  • Nat Nerd: An overweight acne-covered geek who pees his pants constantly.
  • Valerie Vomit: You can figure this one out.
  • Ali Gator: A kid with a inexplicable crocodile head who keeps trying to eat everyone's body parts.


Nothing to see here. Just a bunch of adults and creepy alien kids watching a boy take a bath.

You may think that with a cast of characters like these, you're in for 90 minutes of bodily function humor. And you're right; that's 90% of this terrible movie. 1% is the creepy scene where they all (Manzini and the Kids) watch Dodger take a bath together. The remaining 9% is divided up between three completely ludicrous, head scratching plots:

1) The love story. The Garbage Pail Kids try to help Dodger woo Tangerine. First, they dress him up like Michael Jackson and when the "flamboyant child molester" angle works, Dodger lies and says he's a talented fashion designer and can help Tangerine launch her own clothing line. Luckily, the GPK save the day because of course they're all master seamstresses. They create a bunch of hip 80s clothes for Tangerine, only for her to double cross them and turn them in to the authorities. So to get their revenge, the GPK crash her fashion show, ruin all the garments, and fart, vomit and piss everywhere.

And it's on sale? Awesome!

2) The comedy. Dodger's boss is adamant about not letting the Garbage Pail Kids escape because they'll get in to all kinds of hilariously wacky situations. Of course that lasts about 30 seconds before they go in to the sewers and start messing with the pipes, causing toilets to overflow and everyone's hot tubs to fill with poo. Next they break in to a theater and terrorize the patrons while they try to watch The Three Stooges. Oddly enough, nobody runs away screaming when they see mutant children with oversized papier-mâché heads coming at them. There's also the classic scene where the alligator goes in to a biker bar and nobody notices until he starts eating their toes. A vicious bar fight ensues until Windy Winston farts in the bartender's face, at which point a random guy stops and says, "This kid's got guts!" and buy the children a drink. Then they drive home drunk.

So you can fart in some guy's face but you can't say "butt?"

3) The drama. Halfway through the movie, we find out that there's more Garbage Pail Kids out there but they've been taken away to the State Home for the Ugly—a prison where unattractive people are put down. (Santa is locked up for being too fat; Abraham Lincoln for being too skinny, Ghandi for being too bald, etc.) So, essentially the American government is running a concentration camp and murdering all the people they deem not pretty enough. Our heroes break in to save everybody and Manzini says in a throwaway line: "We were too late." That's right; the filmmakers killed all of the other Garbage Pail Kids and it's never brought up again.

At least they're honest.

So that's this movie in a nutshell—fashion, hijinks and genocide. They try to instill a positive moral at the end about how ugliness has less to do with your looks and more to do with being cruel to people. There's even a musical number about the benefits of working together. Which begs the question: Who is this movie for? It's too inappropriate and weird for little kids, too stupid for (most) adults, and too terrible for discerning human beings who value their precious time on this planet. All I know is that when the Garbage Pail Kids ride off in to the night at the end of the film, I am legitimately scared that they're still out there.

At least they're really honest.

Bodily functions, bad acting and a musical number.

The Kids crash a fashion show and get in to a bar fight.

The actress who plays Tangerine has a "BASIC INSTINCT moment" around the 33 minute mark.

Abort! Abort! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • There's any kind of bodily function
  • Dodger gets beat up
  • There's product placement
  • Someone asks for "mommy" or "daddy"
  • Ali Gator tries to eat toes

Double shot if:

  • You feel like it


Thanks to Ryan and Gregory for suggesting this week's movie!


Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Extra Tidbit: No joke: A sequel to this movie was announced last year. Pray for the children.
Source: JoBlo.com



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