I was lucky enough to be a kid throughout the 80s and have a first-hand experience with what is now, the glory days of nostalgia. One thing from my childhood that I was completely obsessed with was The Garbage Pail Kids, even at a ridiculously young age. I was three years old when GPK first hit the scene and was a bit of an oddball at that age loving both the insanely popular Cabbage Patch Kids while being immensely intrigued by all things horror, I remember being absolutely enthralled with the cards to the point where anytime we were at the store, I would beg the parents for a pack or two.
Actual pic of my room in 1986 so you know I ain’t bullshitting you.
The Garbage Pail Kids were TOPPS middle finger to Xavier Roberts and his CPK line as the infamous trading card company had initially wanted the license to put out some wax packs like pretty much every other pop culture entity had in the 80s and 90s. However, Roberts scoffed at the idea and turned the company down, in turn launching a series of cards in 1985 from artists at TOPPS poking fun of the toy line by making them even uglier than they already were with a gross-out factor. And thus was born the Garbage Pail Kids and a phenomenon of the 80s that is carried on to this very day with collectors catching new packs faster than your parents attempting to nab a CPK doll in 1983.
The line was so popular in fact that in 1987, a movie came along that (I think) was meant for kids… but hey it’s the 80s, and all kids’ movies were pretty damn dark anyway. It was almost like a rite of passage to help put some hair on our balls and The Garbage Pail Kids Movie was in no way short of providing plenty of trauma to kids who watched it. Add in a tiny person with an alligator face who loves to eat fingers and we got ourselves a tried and true, 80s kids’ movie folks!
In all honesty, this movie is one of the worst films ever made, and as much as I love GPK and I actually did get a kick out of this movie as a kid, watching it as an adult even with those nostalgia goggles, it’s just one of the most fuck-awful films I’ve ever seen. It’s a trash spectacle of Z-grade 80s cinema. But you know what? In all the mess that it is, I believe that also might be its saving grace. A movie, so terrible, so awful that most that have seen it, have wiped it from their memory or shrugged it off as some sort of fever dream could be the very reason that when people talk about it today, they just laugh their hardy asses off. No one actually gets MAD at how bad it is; just at that, it’s just so damn weird and wild that no one would ever take this shit seriously.
If you’re someone that hasn’t witnessed this chaotic shitshow, the plot is basically the “kids” are mutant alien children that live in a trash can and befriend a bullied kid named Dodger along with his only friend, an antique shop owner who somehow knows everything about these gross ass kids from outer space. And by kids, I mean piss-poor animatronics and puppetry that would scare the shit out of the likes of Freddy Krueger. These “kids” are fucking goddamn terrifying to look at and I don’t know if that was the intention or not, but I had nightmares for weeks about Ali Gator and even more so, Messy Tessie- the booger snot-faced kid with a face that just scared the ever-loving shit out of me by her just standing still- staring. Like the monster she rightfully is.
Makeup f/x artist John Carl Buechler (director of TROLL and FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD) who was initially slated to direct wanted the GPK movie, originally pitched it to be a horror film, with people being turned into hideous Cabbage Patch-like monstrosities that terrorized a small town. Although I think that probably would have worked better for older audiences and would maybe stand the test of time for 80s kids of today, it obviously wouldn’t have worked at all for kids in 1987. And yet without even trying they made a horror movie anyway with those giant prosthetic heads. I want to believe Buechler did that on purpose to scare the shit out of the kiddies. Bravo, it worked.
The Garbage Pail Kids Movie goes balls to the wall on every single level, but I can’t help but find some sick and twisted charm in it. This is a movie nobody should ever willingly watch, but one that everyone needs to see at least once. It’s horrifying, stupid, gross, offensive and so mesmerizing that you’ll feel comatose from horrifically bad 80s cheese that would never get green-lit today.
Or hey if you really hate someone, make sure to recommend this movie to them to ensure they’re out of your life forever.
At least the opening credits were a banger, eh?