ARGUABLY THE BEST SKATE VIDEO OF ALL TIME
Whilst thinking of new articles for the site - pondering which legends to interview and writing important theses about subjects that matter the most in skateboarding we have often talked about reviewing videos. Unfortunately with the near perpetual release of new clips, a review always seems out of date before it's even written. How to combat that? Write a review about a film that was released 27 years ago.
Leighton James Dyer reviews Thrashin'
Skateboarding videos are losing their roots of late. It’s true there’s some incredible skating in this era but something is missing. And that little something is raw, passionate, gifted acting.
We follow a dashing and handsome young amateur skater, Corey Webster (Brolin) as he attempts to leave the peace, wealth and tranquility of The Valley to start a skateboarding career in LA. He hopes to compete in the infamous LA Massacre (now known as Street League) and ultimately go pro. However, once arriving in LA, he finds himself falling in love with a beautiful blonde skate betty known as Chrissy at what looks like the best skate party ever. This gig hosted by MC Rad, with jump ramps inside and with The Red Hot Chili Peppers as the main event is quite simply the best night any true skater could imagine. Naturally, the protagonist Corey is wearing next to nothing in a club full of leather-clad dangerous looking punks, something that is considered a big no-no in these parts. Anyway, this young lady (who is stunning but is clearly trouble) just happens to be the younger sister of Hook – who is the leader of the Daggers skate gang. These damned hoodlums are every mother’s worst nightmare. They don’t take a shine to the hunk, Corey - who is a little too clean-cut for their crew. They are a tad annoyed by his advances to the love interest and Dagger's affiliate, Chrissy.
Now just to paint a picture of Chrissy, although Hook’s sister, she is not a Dagger. She is visiting LA from Indiana for summer so she doesn’t really look like the rest of the gang and the girls associated with this crew of skallywags.
Hook tells Corey straight-up early on in the film that he’s not welcome to be with Chrissy. But Corey, being the determined young Val-Jerk that he is, wants her and she wants him. Chrissy finds Corey’s tanned, athletic body irrestiable and they fall for each other despite multiple demands from her big brother. It’s a magnetic kind of love. They are meant for each other and naturally this renders Hook engraged to say the least. Corey is an irritation and must be stamped out.
One evening, after spending a few passionate hours with Chrissy, Corey is skating home when he is confronted by the Daggers gang. He knows he’s in big trouble and is chased through the city and some car-parks all to an excellent soundtrack (Wild in the Streets by The Circle Jerks). He barely escapes, and after practically killing a few members of the Daggers gang as they fall four stories off a car-park, he jumps on the roof of a bus and somehow avoids the few remaining living gang members who want his Valley blood.
This scene truly sums up skateboarding in an era – love, punk, gangs, death, downhills, squirrels and buses.
Clearly the Daggers are furious at the near loss of their gang-members and are out for revenge. So in perfect skateboarder fashion they burn down Corey’s friends’ (the Ramp Locals) half-pipe.
This is classic gang-rivalry and of course The Ramp locals are devastated by the loss of their training ground Half Pipe. So Corey being a hot-headed Valley beef-cake jock, stomps over to the Daggers HQ flanked by a few puny Ramp Locals and demands to see Hook. This leads to one of the most profound, meaningful and important moments in this love story:
Hook challenges the hero Corey to a joust at a nearby drainage ditch. Hook boldly demands, “BE THERE”. To which a very young and overly confident whippersnapper from the Ramp Locals says, “NO YOU BE THERE”. Of course Hook quickly snaps, “SHUT UP YOU LITTLE PUNK” to the valiant young scamp.
The following evening The Ramp locals apprehensively accept their fate and head to the Joust. The joust is something we as skateboarders experience daily, but to the layman this spectacle must have been terrifying. A haunting picture of eerie mist coupled with flames, glowsticks and the faces of a hundred gothic skaters armed with what can only be described as clubs, going head to head in a terribly dangerous display of masculinity. Bear witness as Christian Hosoi and Steve Olson cheer on Hook as he ridicules the clearly out-classed Corey. Tragically, our hero is injured in this battle and has his arm is broken as the police arrive to move on the delinquents. He is traumatised that the LA Massacre is now looking more and more unlikely with only a few days to prepare :'( Tears.
A depressed Corey pushes away his love. He blames her for his injury and tells her to jog on to Indiana. But Corey is not one to give up - He’s lost his love, but he’s NOT going to lose the LA Massacre. He takes to the streets, strapping up his arm and relearns how to skate. Somehow the broken arm has totally ruined his balance. In the distance we see a Greyhound bus take Chrissy off back to Indiana as she passes a struggling, yet determined Corey.
Half way through her journey home Chrissy jumps off the bus and decides to hitch-hike back to LA. She’s had a change of heart. Showing a bit of leg gets her back in no time.
The Ramp Locals are amped for the LA Massacre but there is no sign of Corey. Will he show?! With just minutes to go, he shows up with one mission - to take on Hook! The mountain is a daunting old beast. The riders prepare for speeds of over 60 miles per hour as they gather together at the summit. Corey dressed in a slimming red speed-suit gives Hook the middle finger at the start line as the race begins. A hundred competitors are quickly thinned down to 50 on the first few corners as the boys are weeded out from the men. Hook and Corey are going strong. Hosoi is popping ollies on the way down, and more and more downhill skaters spin out for various reasons. One skater seems to fly full force off an entire mountain which seems a little harsh even for this tragic tale. Half dead skaters litter the road-side as Corey and Hook battle head to head. Both skaters are deadly as they push and pull one another at ungodly speeds. One skater lands in a tree as Corey and his foe zoom past.
Looking as gorgeous as ever, we see Chrissy making her way to the finish line as Corey climbs further and further towards the front of the pack. Only Hook is in his way now as the two men tackle each corner with precision and grace. They inch past one another at almost equal speeds as they near the finish line. Hook, with one last dastardly and unsportsmanlike attempt, tries to push Corey off - but instead flies off the side of the mountain in despair. Simultaneously and victoriously Corey hits a giant jump ramp and tweaks a frontside early grab at 63 miles per hour to win the race. It’s a truly a beautiful sight as he crosses the finish line into his Ramp Locals impromptu crowd surf and is instantly offered a pro sponsorship on Smash Skates. He literally wins Chrissy back and finally gains respect from Hook who shakes his hand and offers his sister up to him like a piece of meat. The end.
Anton Glass reviews Thrashin'
Lets be real. Skateboarding is a pile of fucking shit and has been for ages.. FACT. It's so shit that this very website had to, when trying to find something positive to say after realising their most recent interview was basically an advert for cocaine, applaud a load of dribbling mongs on crutches with no reason to fear injury (aka they are completely fucked already) doing feebles down rails. Some were even BRAZILIAN.
The question is, when did it get shit and whose fault is it, the obvious and to a degree correct answer, is either 1992 and Rick Howard or 1998 and Jamie Thomas. However I’d like to suggest that an even more correct answer is the 29th of August 1986 and Thrashin’.
Thrashin, with a plot that is often compared to Romeo and Juliet, although only by idiots that haven't read Romeo and Juliet, basically killed the infant skateboarding before it was even born. In much the same way that positioning a battery of sharpened coat hangers with a bucket of quick release Gin above them inches away from a woman's Vagina as she gives birth would a real human infant.
As well as making skating look rubbish it also introduced the understandably resilient idea that being a gay and a skateboarder was essentially the same thing. Which sounds great but this is not the cool, sucking cocks, boshing loads of drugs, having a great body kind of gay but the GAY, liking girls, crying and just trying to have fun on your skateboard because that’s all that matters kind of gay.
The daggers are the bad guys, essentially for no reasons other than their refusal to hide their sexuality and their love of leather, their hair and flexing at the beach. They live in a typical skate house with a community vibe that seems to be based upon the Manson family, except instead of killing minor celebrities their group activity of choice is busting ballet based contorted airs off of day-glo launch ramps.
The leader of this crew of dangerously multi racial, rough trade, communists is Hook, a Nietzschean superman with his oft repeated catchphrase “it's just a game”. As the character we are supposed to hate Hook is a big miss, he acts tough but underneath this facade is just a cutey that loves skating, his sister and picking just the right earring to match up with his “fit”.
The only bad thing the daggers do is burn a shitty vert ramp, which serves to demonstrate this films complete misunderstanding of skate culture and where it was headed. Years later,
Rocco metaphorically burnt all of the vert ramps in the world and everyone loved him for it. A while after this the Anti-hero team burnt a fun box (the vert ramp of fake street obstacles) and everyone (except a few europeans, germans at that AKA the embarrassment of Europe) loved them too.
Incidentally this gang of coked up gaylords is aptly played by the Alva team, in the course of my research for this piece I discovered that shockingly Alva is still “a thing”, if anyone reading this knows Rocco could you ask him to come back for 10 minutes just to take care of the unfinished business of putting this always shit company down.
But anyway, thats the set up. Daggers are Bad.
And Corey is good.
If, in this essentially anti-skateboarding film, we accept that the Daggers (badly) represent the dangerous non conformist, individualistic side of early californian skateboarding Corey basically represents the religious american right WOOH TEAMSPORTS side because he’s A/ a closet case trans person B/ he’s a fucking cock and C/ he’s a fat-faced, vain, crybaby.
We hear about him before we see him, the almost monastic chanting of his name that opens the film is clearly trying to evoke comparisons between him and many of the other great messiahs of history E.G Tom Cruise, Mickey mouse and Hitler.
The boys want to be him and the girls want to fuck him, some kids want to fuck him too.. but he’s more into fucking the kids that don’t (like most of the people that like this film all of Corey's friends are twinky little boys half his age), this is all subtext that only the experienced viewer will spot but it is definitely real, not just in my head at all.
The following scene shows Corey checking his hair out in the mirror as the camera pans ominously across a series of post it notes left by his mum, “be careful at the LA downhill” in particular setting a mood of dread that i haven't felt the like of since I watched the shining on ketamine..
From the opening you’d be forgiven for thinking the film is going to be an attempt at marrying the epic road trip movie, the classic Bildungsroman tale and the new and exciting method of transportation that is the skating board and detail the trials and tribulations of Corey’s journey to LA to became a man by testing himself in his chosen arena of manly competition - incredibly mellow downhills and skating bowls like they’re 6 foot wide mini ramps.
I’m pretty sure this was what the film was originally supposed to be and if only they’d stuck to this plan they may have actually ended up with an ok film but for whatever reason the director fucks this idea off and despite giving the audience the idea it will be tricky for Corey to get to LA his journey there is then covered by a three minute sequence where he rolls slowly down one mellow hill, does 3 powerslides, 2 bomb drops and pats the same girl in a different outfit on the arse twice.
Corey is then shown hooking up with his crew - curly-mongol, fedora mcspoonface and snoop fliddy flid. He skates their new ramp, goes to the beach, flirts with the daggers for a bit, gets a bit of group bum fun semi-lined up but then gets carried away and tries to seal the deal by dropping a wallride to shifty bomb drop to full face beam. The daggers (rightly) aren’t feeling this jock shit and are over Corey so he decides to get into chicks instead and falls in love at first sight watching the freestyle stylings of Per Welinder.
More flirting, stick based foreplay in a ditch, some kind of a race, I asked her her name she said blah, blah, blah etc.
So the characters are a fucking joke and the plot is a burning bag of shit, maybe the cinematography and directorial style of the film is its redeeming feature and the reason why it is so revered by a bunch of 40 years olds that skate once a month and self film skatepark crooked grinds?
Nope. The director completely dispenses with the occasionally tiresome but somewhat necessary devices of exposition and story telling, replacing them with either minor members of the cast repeatedly shouting what is happening or about to happen or neon graffiti quite literally spelling it out.
As with every other eighties irony-classic Thrashin' contains a musical montage - not the standard trying on of hats at some kind of annoyingly kooky market but bouncing on a bouncy castle. This film is basically an 80’s porno with worse dialogue and less weird sex.
Oh, the skating is piss poor too, there is only ONE nbd, a fs half cab up a curb.
I have now proved that every aspect of this film is of a low quality and an insult to every skateboarder, the guy that discovered the camera and whichever cavemen respectively invented walking and talking. But hey, maybe its still worthwhile because it has a great message that we all need to hear to make sense of our existence in these complex and confusing times? The message of Thrashin’ is if you're not happy with the corporate takeover of skating, support your local shop and the companies that are run by skaters for skater.. oh wait..My bad. That isn’t the message of Thrashin', it's the message of every fucking article thats been written about skating for the last 3 years.
The actual message of Thrashin’ is that skateboarders are much like the gangs of adolescent chimpanzees that take on rival groups by fighting their leaders, stealing their women, ufkcing their babies and chucking shit around, oh no, that isn't the message of Thrashin’ either, thats what i realise every time I go on any major skateboard internet forum.
Much like the Kabbalah, the Bible or the Koran the actual message of Thrashin' is too complex and frankly too fucking stupid to be condensed into one throwaway line but if it could be i strongly feel that that line would be “That wild indian look... is stylin’”.
TLDR summary. It’s shit. Do not see.
Oh, one more thing...