Saturday, January 26, 2013

Phil's Cult Classics: Phil reviews UHF (1989) from MGM-January 23, 2013

UHF DVD Cover (2002)
Starring: "Weird Al" Yankovic, Victoria Jackson, Kevin McCarthy, Michael Richards, David Bowe, Fran Drescher, Gedde Watanabe, Emo Philips, Billy Barty, Stanley Brock
Written by "Weird Al" Yankovic & Jay Levey
Cinematography by David Lewis
Produced by John W. Hyde & Gene Kirkwood
Co-produced by Kevin Breslin
Associate produced by Joe M. Aguilar & Becki Cross
Executive produced by Gray Frederickson
Directed by Jay Levey

Welcome to another installment of Phil's Cult Classics! Today's film bombed when it was first released but it's now one of the greatest cult classics from the late 80's! Starring the King of Parodies "Weird Al" Yankovic, the film UHF is as funny then as it is now!

In the film "Yankovic portrays daydreamer George Newman who becomes the new station manager of Channel U-62, a struggling UHF station that his gambling uncle Harvey Bilchik (Brock) won in a card game. He along with his best friend Bob (Bowe) begin to turn the station around with hilarious and unconventional programs such as Wheel of Fish, Town Talk, Raul's Wild Kingdom, movies such as CONAN THE LIBRARIAN and GANDHI II, and the popular Stanley Spadowski's Clubhouse, starring a pre-Seinfeld Michael Richards. However, George makes a powerful enemy in the form of R.J. Fletcher (McCarthy), the evil head honcho of the rival VHF network station Channel 8. Soon it's up to George to help save his TV station from Fletcher and also get back his girlfriend Teri (Jackson).

The movie was written by both Yankovic and his manager Jay Levey, who also directed the film. The idea was to create a platform in which "Weird Al" could do parodies of television shows, movies, videos, commercials and such. The duo were able to capture lightening in a bottle with their parodies of popular films and TV shows.

The cast were another key ingredient in making the film so lovable. Yankovic proved that he was a solid comedy actor and could carry a movie on his shoulders. The lovely Victoria Jackson was a cast member of Saturday Night Live at that time and was the perfect love interest Al's George. Kevin McCarthy was a living legend, having starring in the original INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. His performance in the film was perfect! He was evil, vicious, diabolical and just fun to hate! The big breakout star of the film was Michael Richards, whose comedic timing made him so much fun to watch. And if you look closely, you can see some of his Kramer signature moves, even though the movie was made way before Seinfeld.

Original Theatrical Poster (1989)
When film distributor Orion Pictures test screened the film to a focus group, it received some of the highest ratings ever since their 1987 film ROBOCOP. There were talks of sequels and other "Weird Al" projects. The film opened on July 21, 1989, however it was not the big hit that Orion was expecting. The summer of 1989 was one of the biggest blockbuster summers in cinematic history. That summer saw the releases of BATMAN, GHOSTUSTERS 2, DO THE RIGHT THING, HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS, LETHAL WEAPON 2, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, and WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S. The film was completely lost and after only one month of screenings, UHF was pulled from theaters.

The film was released on VHS in North America as well as in Europe, but because it made so little money at the box office, it soon fell out of print. However, because it became out of print, the film developed a huge cult following, and fans began searching desperately for a copy of it. Prices skyrocketed, ranging from fifty to a hundred dollars or more on eBay. Yours truly was able to obtain a VHS copy at my local mom and pop video store for only $10!! Years went by with fans demanding it to be re-released. Soon their demands were answered when in 2002, the film was released on DVD from MGM and in its debut week it became a top ten bestseller in Variety. The DVD contains numerous extras including the UHF music video, a commentary track featuring director Jay Levey and Yankovic himself (with surprise guest appearances by costar Michael Richards and Emo Philips and a phoned-in appearance by Victoria Jackson), and a deleted scenes reel with Yankovic's commentary.

Almost 25 years after its original release, UHF is now beloved by millions of fans worldwide. Yankovic and his friends have created a cult classic that will entertain generations to come. The film is proof that sometimes even the underdog can come out a winner. 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

UHF is available on DVD and can be purchased at your local retailer. It's also available on the Amazon website at For all you "Weird Al" Yankovic fans out there, make you check out his official website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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