For some reason or another, I've been on an 80's movie kick lately. The latest to arrive from Netflix was 1985's "Tuff Turf", starring James Spader as a bicycle riding, break dancing version of James Dean in "Rebel Without A Cause". As the new kid in town, Spader quickly upsets the local gang of thugs (identified by their bare-chested outfits, greased hair and switchblade carrying personas). But despite this war of conformism vs. non-conformism, he does fall in love with the head bullies' girlfriend, a long haired vixen named Frankie. From the moment 'Frankie' was on-screen, I was perplexed. Where do I remember this girl? Who is she? Wow she's beautiful in that funky 80's way. I quickly ran to IMDB and discovered it was none other than Kim Richards, childhood star and the first girl in a movie I can remember being attracted to.
I probably watched "Escape To Witch Mountain" and "Return To Witch Mountain" more than any other movie as a young boy. As the star in both of those movies, Richards became a Disney icon for these roles. Then came "Meatballs Part 2", a film that I often had to watch on the sly because it was rated R. After seeing "Tuff Turf" all these years, I can proudly say my affections for her aren't shameful. Sometimes, we look back on childhood crushes with disdain and wonder what we ever saw in them. Richards was (and still is) gorgeous. And a not-too-bad actress as well. In "Tuff Turf" she holds her own as the girl divided between a taste for edginess and her middle class desire to settle down with a good person like Spader. It's an interesting performance in a movie that serves as a true time capsule to the 80's, edited and shot at times like a bad 80's video.
While Richards made only a couple films after 1990, she is listed as a credit in the upcoming The Rock remake of the Witch Mountain franchise. I don't know if that'll be enough to get me out to see the thing, but I might give it a second look on DVD. And a few facts- Richards is the aunt to Hilton girls and she was in "The Blair Witch Project"? Never dawned on me. If nothing else, seeing "Tuff Turf" was a neat experience for bringing back so many good memories of Richards. And FYI... if you find this type of stuff interesting, I implore you to check out The Moviezzz Blog and then click on his series of posts titled "Whatever Happened To?" He does this sort of thing with more passion (and intensive research) than I ever could.