Christine Fall (AMC): When did you start the site and why? What motivated you to do it?
Tony Pichaloff (HTM): Site construction of Hollywood Teen Movies began in January 2001. I have always had a passion for movies, in particular, teen movies. My interest in film began when I was very young, my father was a film buff and his enthusiasm and appreciation of film had to rub off on somebody and that somebody was me. When the new millennium kicked in, I had just been through my teen years in the 1990s and I was feeling rather nostalgic again for that period in my life. I was at a point where I was starting to revisit a lot of my favorite teen movies on video and DVD. As I went on this journey I discovered that I would like to share my enjoyment of these films with other teen movie fans. I soon realized that through the advent of the internet I could reach out and shed some light on this exciting movie genre or should I say sub-genre. The reason I say sub-genre is because teen movies cross all genres; Drama (Rebel Without A Cause), Comedy (Porky’s), Romance (Pretty In Pink), Action (Never Back Down), Adventure (The Goonies), Musical (Grease), Dance (Save The Last Dance), Sports (All The Right Moves), Fantasy (Back To The Future), Horror (The Lost Boys), Comic-Book (Spider-Man), Thriller (Disturbia), Secret Agent (If Looks Could Kill), Western (Young Guns), Martial Arts (The Karate Kid) and the list goes on. I came to the conclusion that the teen movie genre was somewhat underappreciated, underrated and even overlooked in certain circles. Teen movies needed some long overdue respect and the more teen movies that I viewed, the more I felt that the genre needed to become recognized as an entity in its own right, thus the development of Hollywood Teen Movies in 2001. Now as webmaster of this site I can share my happy memories of watching these films with visitors from around the world on a daily basis. Also, when site construction began there was somewhat of a resurgence in the genre and I wanted people out there to understand that this just wasn’t a passing fad of films that were here one minute and gone the next. ‘Teen Movies’ have a history and are a real genre of film that have been around now for well over 50 years. When “American Pie” was clocking up over $100 million at the box office in 1999, almost 20 years earlier a small Canadian production called “Porky’s” (1982) had already done the same thing and according to many did it even better.
Christine Fall (AMC): What qualifies as a teen movie - is it one that is made for that audience? How do you define a "teen movie'?
Tony Pichaloff (HTM): In the most general form, any movie that is produced with the teenage market in mind could be considered a teen movie of sorts but I personally would not define a teen movie in this way. My definition of a ‘teen movie’, in the true sense of the term would simply be ‘a film where the central characters are teens’. In most cases the central characters attend some form of educational institution and live at home with their parents. Often the central focus of the story deals with the trials and tribulations of their young years, themes involving, teen angst, crushes, first love, sex, pregnancy, popularity, acceptance, bullies, friendship, loyalty and coming of age are usually some of the elements that are impactful on the outcome or resolution of the story. Other key ingredients include; the classroom, the lockers, the change room, the prom, the diner, the mall, the drive-in, the beach, the fast car, the motorbikes, the rebel, the geek, the jock, the loner, the bully, the dumb blonde, the bimbo, the virgin, the princess, the cheerleader and more than likely a fat guy that is the brunt of some jokes.
In some instances there are ‘teen movies of sorts’ that could be considered offshoots of the genre, what I like to refer to as ‘young adult films’. In these films the lead actor may have previously been in a popular teen movie and therefore this creates an overflow effect. This time, the central character is no longer a teen but could be a young 20 something adult. Teens still connect with the progression and flock to these films which still have a ‘teen movie essence’ about them. A good example of this is the popular 1980s Brat Pack classic “St. Elmo’s Fire”. In this film the brat packers have left high school or college behind them and are now embarking on adulthood. “St. Elmo’s Fire” is a transition film of sorts but not a traditional teen movie. Also, there are numerous films out there that would be considered ‘perfect entertainment’ for teen audiences because they have been marketed that way but aren’t really conducive to the term. A recent example of this would be “Iron Man”. Teens everywhere fell in love with this comic book fantasy, but the film’s central character, Tony Stark, is not a teenager so therefore in my mind the film doesn’t officially constitute as a full-blooded teen movie. On the other hand, the original “Spider-Man” is a bona-fide teen movie because Peter Parker is a teenager that attends high school and lives with his grandparents.
Christine Fall (AMC): Why do you like teen movies so much. I assume you liked them as a teen but why as you grew older did you continue to appreciate them?
Tony Pichaloff (HTM): For most people their first contact with a teen movie is when they are at an impressionable age and I was no exception. That doesn’t mean that most people first view a teen movie when they are teenagers, in fact, most people would have seen their first teen movie when they were 8 or 9 years old and at this impressionable age these films tend to stay with you pretty much forever. It is usually at a time when a young person is developing the framework in their life. Their personality is in the process of change and they are starting to develop the groundwork of who they really are and what they may become. Decisions have to be made and mistakes have to be avoided as any wrong turns could have lasting effects, often these themes are reflected in the films themselves. Also, when people leave their teen years and hit their 20s they are still young enough and can still appreciate and connect very easily with the teen movie essence. So in a sense teen movies are appealing to people in their pre-teen years, their teen years and also their post-teens, say up to 30 years of age. So we are looking at almost a 20 period where these films are having an impact on our lives and as statistics show the bulk of the cinema-going public is between 10 and 30 years of age. Finally, when audiences hit past 30, they still like to reflect on these teen films because they have left such lasting impressions during their formative years. I like to think that teen movies are a reflection of “our lives on celluloid”, in a sense they are “the films of our lives”. Everyone in the world has been a teenager at some point in their life and that age is something special because it is relatable to everybody and not just a small demographic of society.
As I have grown older, and continue to work on the site I have developed an even greater appreciation for ‘teen movies’. I consider ‘teen movies’ to be a fun, escapist genre that can make you feel “young again”. They are relatable to a nostalgic time and place in your life that can bring back happy or in some cases even sad memories. Not all teen movies are classic masterpieces, in fact, many are far from it. Nevertheless I still appreciate these films for what they are, despite their imperfections. There are many teen movies out there that are really smart, believable and intuitive to what makes a young person tick. Knowing what’s going on in a young person’s mind and seeing it play out on film still excites me, like I said before; it can make you feel young again. To see their mistakes, the obstacles that they overcome and the development of these characters through experiences, both good and bad is somewhat fascinating. Some teen movies take a rather realistic approach, while others sugarcoat the experience, whatever the case, both ends of the spectrum can still be entertaining and in some cases quite rewarding.
Christine Fall (AMC): What's the most surprising thing you've learned about a teen movie while making the site? Or just something you learned about a star?
Tony Pichaloff (HTM): There are many tidbits of information or trivia that I have picked up about movies and stars over the years whilst working on the site. However, there aren’t any that really jump out at me as being more surprising or special than any other. In Hollywood you can expect anything and everything and nothing is really surprising as such. Having said that, a few tidbits that come to mind are as follows:
• Sidney Poitier played a juvenile delinquent in what many consider the original high school flick, “Blackboard Jungle” (1955). 12 years later, in a complete reversal of roles, he played the lead role of the teacher in the classic high school drama, “To Sir, With Love” (1967). In 1996 nearly 30 years later, Sidney returned for the forgotten sequel “To Sir, With Love II”, an amazing gap between sequels if ever there was one.
• Rising teen stars Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe and Christopher Atkins were all considered for the Kevin Bacon role in “Footloose” (1984).
• The teen war drama “Red Dawn” was the first movie to be released with a PG-13 rating.
• 1960s teen star Fabian Forte posed nude in the early 1970s for “Playgirl” magazine, he later regretted it, wishing he had never done it.
• Lori Loughlin and Matt Dillon were the original stars offered the lead roles in the teen romance “The Blue Lagoon” (1980), the film went on to make household names of Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins. “Eight is Enough” TV Star Willie Aames was also considered for the Christopher Atkins role but missed out and wound up in the knock-off flick “Paradise” (1982) co-starring Phoebe Cates.
• 1980s teen queen Molly Ringwald, who made the cover of Time magazine in 1986, turned down the Julia Roberts role in “Pretty Woman” (1990) and also knocked back the Demi Moore role in the blockbuster romance “Ghost” (1990).
During the development of the site it became very clear that the decade that stood out head and shoulders above the rest was the 1980s. It was a special period for teen movies, the reason being that there was somewhat of a surge in terms of output during this period. There were more teen movies released during this decade than any other. Also, performance wise some amazing actor’s careers were launched during the 1980s with many still continuing to do quality work today, just look at the likes of John Cusack, Robert Downey Jr, Tom Cruise and Patrick Dempsey, just four 1980s teen stars that are still out there, strutting their stuff successfully in today’s very competitive market. There is no doubt that today the teen movie genre is in a healthy state and is definitely here to stay for the long term just like the website www.hollywoodteenmovies.com
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Note: If you wish to read the American Movie Classics report based on the above interview click here.
Classic Teen Movies Now Available On DVD:
Click the links below for purchasing details:
Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) [DVD]
Fourth entry in MGM's perennially popular film series has Andy (Mickey Rooney) in trouble with steady gal Ann Rutherford when he's paid to escort a buddy's date (Lana Turner). Judy Garland makes her series debut as Andy's pal Betsy; with Lewis Stone, Fay Holden. 92 min. Standard; Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital mono, French Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English, Spanish, French; radio spot; theatrical trailers.
Blackboard Jungle (1955) [DVD]
Richard Brooks' gritty look at life inside the inner-city high school stars Glenn Ford as the earnest teacher determined to reach his hood students. Great support from Sidney Poitier, Anne Francis, Vic Morrow, Louis Calhern; soundtrack includes historic film debut of "Rock Around the Clock." 100 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital mono, French Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English, Spanish, French; audio commentary; theatrical trailer; bonus short "Blackboard Jumble" (1957).
Beach Party (1963) / Bikini Beach (1964) [DVD]
The first entry in A.I.P.'s surfside slapstick series, "Beach Party" stars Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello as fun-loving teens who become the subject of anthropologist Bob Cummings' research into adolescent mating rituals. With Morey Amsterdam, Dorothy Malone, Dick Dale and The Del-Tones, and Harvey Lembeck as Eric Von Zipper. Next, Frankie plays himself and mop-topped British pop idol the Potato Bug (get it?)--and both are vying for Annette's attention--in "Bikini Beach," co-starring Don Rickles, Keenan Wynn, Little Stevie Wonder, and Boris Karloff. 198 min. total. Widescreen; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: French, Spanish; theatrical trailers.
Porky's (1982) (The One Size Fits All Edition) [DVD]
Gut-busting comedy about youthful shenanigans in 1950s Florida that follows a group of hormone-driven high school buddies to a rowdy bar named Porky's and through one wacky experience after another. Surprise box office hit stars Roger Wilson, Kim Cattrall, Scott Colomby, Dan Monahan; directed by Bob Clark. 98 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital stereo, Dolby Digital mono, Spanish Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English, Spanish; audio commentary by Clark; featurettes.
Pretty In Pink (1986) (Everything's Duckie Edition) [DVD]
Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy are star-crossed high school lovers from opposite sides of the track. Will their romance survive peer pressure in time for the prom? Seriocomedy written by John Hughes co-stars Jon Cryer as Ringwald's best friend; with Annie Potts, Harry Dean Stanton. 96 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital stereo Surround, French Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English; audio commentary; featurette; deleted scenes; photo gallery; interviews; alternate ending.
American Pie (1999) (Ultimate Edition) [DVD]
Riotous, raunchy coming-of-age romp focuses on four high school seniors who make a pact to lose their virginity by graduation. Their attempts--ranging from awkward Jason Biggs' Internet-broadcast encounter with foreign exchange student Shannon Elizabeth to jock Chris Klein's joining a singing club to impress studious Mena Suvari--teach the boys hilarious lessons about love. With Thomas Ian Nicholas, Natasha Lyonne, Alyson Hannigan, and Tara Reid. 96 min. Standard and Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1; Subtitles: English (SDH), Spanish; audio commentary; deleted scenes; music video; theatrical trailer. Includes a sneak peek at "American Pie 2." Two-disc set.
Mean Girls (2004) (Widescreen Version) [DVD]
Tina Fey scripted and co-stars in this sharp comedy, based on the book by Rosalind Wiseman. Teenager Lindsay Lohan, after being home-schooled in Africa by her zoologist parents, suddenly winds up in a suburban Illinois high school. But not even growing up in the jungle could have prepared Lohan for the struggles she now faces, especially when she starts dating the most popular girl in school's ex-boyfriend. With Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, Tim Meadows, Amy Poehler. 96 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital Surround, French Dolby Digital 5.1; Subtitles: English, Spanish; audio commentary by Fey, others; featurettes; deleted scenes; theatrical trailer.
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