Welcome back to 80s Bits, the weekly column in which we explore the best and worst of the Decade of Shame. With guest writers, hidden gems and more, it’s truly, truly, truly outrageous.
The Allnighter (1987) directed by Tamar Simon Hoffs, is a quirky college comedy that follows valedictorian Molly’s (Susanna Hoffs) journey to find one earth shattering romance before graduation. A love quadrangle is formed when both Molly and love interest C.J are too shy to make the first move beyond their innocent endless flirting. C.J (John Terlesky) defaults his affection to nearest bimbo Mary Lou while Mol discovers one night that her teen idol Mickey lead singer of rock band The Rhinos (or is it The Hippos) previously lived in her Shangri-La during his surprise trip down memory lane. As most groupies do, she follows him to his hotel only to have her dreams of a drink and something more shattered by being trapped on the balcony of his suite.
Partly filmed through the eyes of documentary film student Gina (Joan Cusack), the story captures the last night of a group of 5 besties at Pacifica College. Molly, Gina and Val (Dedee Pfeiffer) are all housemates that don’t seem to have luck on their side. Val and Gina end up in jail after being mistaken for prostitutes while trying to rescue Molly from her heartthrob’s balcony. C.J and Killer (James Shanta) the surrogate boyfriends of the group are easy going surfer dudes who supposedly have it all.
The Allnighter was somewhat of a family project co written and directed by Tamar the mother of Susanna, lead singer of 80s girl band The Bangles. The film’s release was following The Bangles hit album Different Light with the familiar classic tunes “Manic Monday” and “Walk Like an Egyptian”. Susanna’s real life rock chic stardom was mirrored in the flick by her character Molly and interaction with rocker Mickey. Joan Cusack sister to John has had a number of notable film, voice animation and T.V. roles over the past few decades including Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3, and Working Girl (1988). Dedee Pfeiffer, sister to Michelle, may be familiar to some from the 90s T.V. series Cybill.
The soundtrack is the highlight of this film made up of some classic tunes and original tracks by some relatively unknown performers. Hoffs makes a guest appearance in song “Dangerous” with act Ronnie Spector. Key scene and possibly the only one worth watching throughout the whole movie is to Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” where Molly slow dances to the mirror in her underwear and glams herself up transforming from beachy college girl into a sophisticated beauty .