Film: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
"Remember, no matter where you go, there you are."
— Buckaroo Banzai
The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The Eighth Dimension (1984) is a film written by Earl Mac Rauch and directed by W.D. Richter that is one part B-Movie, one part Action Adventure, one part comedy, and one part political satire.It boasts some names that were quite famous in the 1980s and remain well known now:
Plus Cameo appearances by Jamie Lee Curtis as the late Mrs. Banzai the Elder (excised), and Billy Vera as Pinky Carruthers
Despite this rather auspicious listing of A and high B list actors, the movie was not well received in theaters. It did develop something of a cult following, though.Brilliant scientist Buckaroo Banzai is a neurosurgeon who performs rock and roll (on multiple instruments, yet!) and studies the unknown. Surrounded by his faithful team of genius rockers, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, he travels the world pleasing the fans with music, and facing off against evil wherever he may find it.In this adventure, one of many Shrouded in Myth, Buckaroo goes from surgery to the test of the dimension-hopping Jet Car, to a performance at New Brunswick NJ night spot Artie's Artery. As Buckaroo turns the mood mellow with a solo piano performance of "Since I Don't Have You", a gunshot fires. Penny Priddy was trying to commit suicide, but because Buckaroo has many enemies, a misunderstanding results in her being arrested for attempting to kill him. Meanwhile, the Black Lectroids have sent an agent to Earth to warn Buckaroo that their historic enemies the Red Lectroids will try to steal his invention the Oscillation Overthruster (which the Jet Car used to enter the 8th Dimension) and use it to release their comrades from interdimensional exile. To stop them from causing trouble back on Planet Ten, the Black Lectroids will then fire a particle beam from U.S. airspace to the USSR, which will start World War III, which will hopefully result in vaporizing the bad guys. This, needless to say, does not bode well for Earth. The U.S. Government also wants the Jet Car for military applications. Buckaroo has a lot on his plate, but will he manage to save the world, get the girl, and keep the Jet Car from being misused?Not to be confused with the likewise outrageously alliterative rock and roll action comedy: The Adventures of Ford Fairlane
Back from the Dead - Penny Priddy, thanks to John Emdall. This may not be a first for her, either — the novelization ends on the unsettling suggestion that Penny may in fact be a mindwiped Peggy — Buckaroo's first wife, supposedly Penny's twin sister, who was killed via poison by agents of Hanoi Xan long before the opening of the story.
Backup Twin - If the film was actually part of an ongoing series the way the supporting material makes it out to be, Penny would be a classic example.
Baker Street Regular - Averted. The Blue Blaze Irregulars are not all kids, they're not all urchins or orphans, and there is (according to the book, anyway) a training program, required progress in education, and other requirements.
Answer: Experiment in making fruit sturdy enough to survive air-drop into failed states but still remaining edible. Abandoned once they realized that air-droppable watermelons couldn't be cut without industrial tools. Yes, seriously.
Gadgeteer Genius - Buckaroo invented the Jet Car and (with professor Hikita) the Oscillation Overthruster, among other things.
Good Colors, Evil Colors - Red Lectroids are evil, Black Lectroids are good. This works in both their human and native appearances. Red Lectroids are disguised as "White" (i.e. of European descent) humans and Black Lectroids look, well, "Black" (i.e. of African descent). And Black Lectroids — in either guise — all speak with Jamaican accents.
It's better than that. In their human guises, Red Lectroids have bright, orangey red hair - and when Lizardo gets possessed by Lord John Whorfin, his previously black hair suddenly turns bright red.
Groin Attack - Buckaroo kicks a Red Lectroid in the groin after being discovered.
Gun Fu - In the climactic base invasion, Buckaroo shoots three Lectroids surrounding him by passing his gun behind his head twice.
Hachimaki - Buckaroo ties one around his head before the jet car speed run.
Headdesk: Perfect Tommy lightly bumps his head against the prison bars while Buckaroo is talking to Penny Priddy in jail. The expression on his face and later dialogue indicates that he's doing it out of disbelief that Buckaroo is wasting his time with a woman who tried to kill him.
Heroes R Us - the Banzai Institute, located in East Brunswick NJ is Buckaroo's headquarters and the place where the Hong Kong Cavaliers and the rest of Buckaroo's staff bunk between assignments/jobs/missions.
Hero Stole My Bike - Buckaroo takes advantage of an unattended motorcycle to pursue the Red Lectroids.
In the novelization, the motorcycle has an attached sidecar and the operator gallantly offers to drive Buckaroo in pursuit... and succeeds in doing something that no one has ever managed: scaring Buckaroo Banzai. Through the simple expedient of being highly intoxicated and driving very, very badly in heavy traffic.
Hologram: The message from John Emdall, generated by a record player-like device.
Hostage For MacGuffin - Lord John Whorfin demands the Oscillation Overthruster in return for Penny Priddy's life.
Hyperspace Is a Scary Place - The Eighth Dimension happens to be where the evil Red Lectroids were exiled as well as the dimension that vehicles using the Oscillation Overthruster to pass through solid matter wind up in. It's also apparently a combination of Jan Svenkmayer animation, electron microscopy, and nausea-inducing swerving.
I Have Your Wife - When they grab "Doctor" Penny Priddy, the first order of business is trying to get Buckaroo to submit to a hostage exchange for the overthruster. Penny puts up a brave front; Buckaroo tells her to get off the phone.
Parody Sue - Buckaroo himself is a rock-and-rolling neurosurgeon, surrounded by other genius musicians who save the world regularly from the forces of evil.
Pistol-Whipping - a Blue Blaze Irregular knocks out John Parker while he's infiltrating Buckaroo's estate.
Planet of Steves - The Lectroids all have the first name "John". The novelization states that in the Lectroid language, it's not a name but something closer to an honorific — something somewhere between "Hey, you!" and "Mister".
Psychic Powers - Buckaroo is hinted at having them. He displays a bit of empathy, determining "someone isn't having a good time."
Power Walk - averted in the end credits, though it can be thought of as an embryonic version.
Room Full of Crazy - Dr. Emilio Lizardo's room in the asylum was covered in notes for the Overthruster he'd been working on at the time of the accident that caused him to share a body with an evil Lectroid.
Spiteful Spit: Penny Priddy to Lord John Whorfin while he's interrogating her.
Stock Shout-Outs - The makers of some of the later Star Trek series liked making references to this film. The fact that a good chunk of the art department from Next Generation on through Enterprise previously worked on Buckaroo Banzai may have something to do with this.
Surprise Vehicle - Buckaroo and the ladder from the Blue Blaze Irregular helicopter.
Taking the Bullet - Rawhide, to save Buckaroo from the poisonous mini-starfish a Red Lectroid spat at him.
Tap on the Head - Red Lectroids do it to several humans, and a human does it to a Black Lectroid.
The Tape Knew You Would Say That: In a scene cut from the movie, but included in the DVD extras, while Team Banzai watch John Emdall's holographic message and Emdall threatens to fire a particle beam at Smolensk if Banzai fails to stop Whorfin:
Perfect Tommy: That's an action that the Kremlin would most certainly misinterpret as an American first strike. John Emdall: That is correct, Perfect Tommy!
Theme Naming - all the Lectroids, Red or Black, are named John when their names are translated into Earth English. Even the females. As noted above, that's because "john" in Lectroid is not a name but something akin to an honorific like "Mister".
Theme Tune Cameo - New Jersey plays part of the movie's main theme on the piano.
This Ain't Rocket Surgery - Actually it is. Buckaroo is capable of both brain surgery and rocket science. And so are most of the Hong Kong Cavaliers.
Unusual User Interface: Apparently, the Lectroids have important controls operable using their feet. This normally wouldn't sound odd, but these controls happen to be levers rather than pedals. It gives Buckaroo a bit of trouble while he's trying to figure out how to pilot a Thermopod.
The Black Lectroid with him does mention that the design is very bad.
Your Other Left - Buckaroo and John Parker are in a thermopod; John Parker is steering, and Buckaroo is navigating — while seated in a backward-facing chair: "Left! I said left! ... I meant my left, your right!"
alternative title(s): Buckaroo Banzai; The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The8th Dimension; Buckaroo Banzai Across The Eighth Dimension; The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai; The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The Eighth Dimension