(a.k.a. American Raspberry
Director: Bradly R. Swirnoff
What movie inspired the loved movie genre of multiple
movies, TV shows, and advertisements? If you said Kentucky Fried
Movie, you are right - and wrong. KFM certainly
the genre unlike others before it, but the genre's origins come from
1972 movie The Groove Tube. Whatever the origin, the
has been popular enough to spawn a number of movies for over 20 years.
A few have been good, (Kentucky Fried Movie, Amazon Women on the
Moon), most have been mediocre (including Loose Shoes,
Sex O'Clock News, others), and a few have been utter bombs
Tickler and Outtakes). One really obscure movie
this kind is Prime Time, and because of the few
movies in this genre one might think that this is another
I took a chance on it, and I was surprised to find that despite some
lame material and poor production values, the movie had enough laughs
hilariously tasteless moments to be worth watching. No Kentucky
Movie, but a good rental for some tasteless fun.
Unlike other movies in this genre (except for Tunnelvision),
the sketches are wrapped around a plot. And like Tunnelvision,
this wrap-around is completely unnecessary. (Incidentally, Prime
Time was made by the same people) The premise is that across
- and in the rest of the world - regular television shows and programs
have been substituted with crude and savage parodies. No one can figure
out where the transmission is coming from. It is unknown who is behind
it. The country is mostly in an uproar, and riots have broken out over
this new programming. The president and his advisors meet to discuss
programming, and how they can possibly turn it off.
Mostly though, the movie is devoted to showing the
skits. There are
a number of clunkers; a program called "The Shitheads", a Candid-Camera-like
show about dropping something nasty on people's heads in public; the
of "Die Tough" batteries is proven by attaching a 5 year old battery to
an electric chair; a Sexual Deviation telethon; and "Trans Puerto
airlines offering the taste of their country on their airplanes (and
can guess what it's like).
But these dumb moments are outweighed by the hilarity
of other segments. A "Fire the handicapped" commercial manages to both
jab at political correctness and be funny. The "Winkles" cereal
- featuring a very inappropriate prize for kids inside - is
tasteless. Other funny moments include a news story about a Supreme
decision allowing for abortion through the fetus' fifth year, a
sperm bank run as a regular bank but with different "deposits", and an
unlucky motorist finding the hard way why Bixby CB radios are
"the trucker's friend".
That's Harry Shearer of The Simpsons as the
friend". There are a few interesting appearances in the movie,
Fred "Hunter" Dryer, comedian Kinky Friedman, TV regular David
and - surprise! - Warren Oates as a participant in The Charles
I'm recommending the movie, but as I stated earlier,
there are several
problems with the movie. First of all, the production values are
with some scenes taking place on a stage with little to no set
Second is that the movie has been ineptly transferred to video. When a
film is shot, there is usually some space above and below the picture
you never see - as long as the frame is positioned correctly on screen
or video. Someone seriously goofed here, because in many shots you can
actually see the spotlights on the ceiling.
Also, many of the commercial parodies are very out of
date. I'm old
enough to get and laugh at the hilarious parody of Rolaids' "How do you
spell 'relief'?" commercials. But there are some segments I simply
get. Is the commercial for "Stay Down" supposed to be parodying a
commercial? And what the hell is the bizarre skit about the woman with
breasts all over her body and saying, "Tits - you can't get too much of
them!" supposed to be about? I'm also sure that younger viewers who
old enough to see original commercials that were satirized here - such
as the takeoff of "Is it live or is it Memorex?" - will be scratching
heads more frequently that I was.
Looking at the credits, I made some interesting
observations. One skit
was provided courtesy of "National Lampoon" - what did N.L. use it for
originally? The copyright at the beginning of the movie is made by
Brothers, but the movie is on a long-obsolete independent video label,
and the end copyright notice is blacked-out before the credits ended. I
recall from old "Variety" magazines that Cannon got the rights to the
and kept announcing that they would release it in the late 70s/early
but never did. At least, I don't think they did. Can anyone out there
me if they remember this playing at a theater under one of its two
Or was it originally made for cable? - Since National Lampoon made some
cable productions in the early days of cable, using the clip may be a
for that fate. Anyone with information about this movie is asked to
contact the author with what they know.
UPDATE: Several months after originally
reviewing this movie, I received information about the movie from
who participated in its production. At the person's request, their name
will be withheld.
The movie was financed independently at a cost of
$50,000, with a negative
pickup deal with Warner Brothers. When it was previewed for the WB
heads, they judged it unreleasable and decided not to exhibit it in any
fashion. WB did allow the production team to sell it to Cannon
who then briefly exhibited it in the Detroit area. Subsequently, it was
sold to a cheapo video label (Paragon Video) in the early days of
along with other Cannon "classics" like New Year's Evil, Hot
Bubble Gum, and The Godsend. (Someone else I
with told me that Prime Time was also released on
The "Tits - you can't get too much of them!" sketch was
a parody of
some commercial from that era, but my informant couldn't remember what
the original commercial was about.
The National Lampoon segment seems to have been an
adaptation of some
article in the magazine itself, and the sketch was not actually made by
National Lampoon itself.
Director Bradly R. Swirnoff is still around, but is
pretty much out
of the business.
(My deepest thanks to my informant, for telling me the
UPDATE 2: William Norton revealed to me that Prime
Time wasn't just confined to the Detroit area:
"Prime Time actually had a ad in the newspaper
here in Seattle
in 1980, and played as a one time preview showing! But one
is all this film got. Cannon was a New York based company and had
releasing films in the West. Similar to West coast companies having
in New York theatres."
UPDATE 3: Chris O'Neill had this information
on the movie:
"I live in Ireland, and I thought you may be
interested in a bit
of info about Prime Time. In 1981 Prime Time was
on video in the UK as American Raspberry by Rank Video. On the
of the cassette the film was copyrighted to Cannon, so I guess they
it to some territories (the other Cannon "classics" mentioned on your
were released at the same time)."
UPDATE 4: Mike Healy identified more of the
"I wanted to point out that during the "Charles
Whitman Invitational" sketch, alongside Warren Oates is the late Robert
Ridgely, who was The Colonel in Boogie Nights, but is forever
famous as the hangman in Blazing Saddles. It took me a couple
of viewings to finally recognize him (the credits are in ABC order, not
in appearance order, which would have have been better!).
"Also, the telethon's host is Murphy Dunne, who is seen in The
Blues Brothers, or as the leader of Murph & The Magic-Tones.
There's also a Nancy Parsons in Prime Time, and that was the
name of the actress who was Miss Balbricker in the Porky's
trilogy, and the one who's in Prime Time is giving Murphy a
spanking, but that doesn't look like her at all, unless she got real
big and repulsive by the time he did Porky's. Who knows?"
UPDATE 5: Jason D. sent this along:
"I saw this film under the title American
Raspberry at an independent movie theater in Hollywood, Florida in
the early 1980s.
"I was a pre-teen and it may have been my birthday (February). My
grandmother took me to the movies and I got to pick the film. I
must have made my choice based on the movie poster. We didn't go
there planning to see any particular movie.
"The movie is very memorable because I was between ages 9 and 12 and it
was one of the first times I saw nudity in a film. During the
movie, I recall my grandmother making nervous statements that we need
to get up and leave, but I insisted (and succeeded) on staying until
the end. I'm sure that I didn't understand most of the humor, but
I was thrilled because I knew that it was naughty and 'adult.'
"At no time in my adult life has this memory of seeing American
Raspberry ever faded. Before I read your review this weekend,
I was confused when I would occasionally find references to the movie
as Prime Time.
"As a teenager, I had opportunities to see the Groove Tube and Kentucky
Fried Movie, which I liked. I absolutely loved Amazon
Women on the Moon when it first came out on video. I was
however, that I saw American Raspberry when I was younger, and
type of film is a special genre.
"As far as the statements in your review about the film playing in
limited release in Detroit and Seattle: I can assure you that the film
for at least one day, if not for a whole week, in Hollywood, Florida.
"I am fairly certain that we saw American Raspberry in the Cine
Twin theater on US-441 in Hollywood, FL. Nowadays the theater is
'Pussycat Cine Twin' and is (from outside appearances) a poorly
maintained neighborhood adult theater in a decaying strip mall plaza,
but back in the 1980s it showed 'regular' films. I now realize
that they were all exploitation films (for example, I remember seeing
Cirio Santiago's Firecracker at the Cine Twin with my Mom, and
one or two of the Friday the 13th movies).
"I have lived in Baltimore now for 10 years, but a few years ago I
visited my parents in Hollywood, and we (my grandparents and Mom) went
to a Chinese restaurant in the strip mall containing the Cine
the 'Pussycat,' it still appeared to be open for business."
UPDATE 6: "Cary" sent this in:
"Just wanted to let you know a friend of mine and me
saw Prime Time which was what is it was called in 1977. It was
at the Cascade Twin Drive-in Theater in Grand Rapids Michigan (closed
1992). One of the best memories I have of growing up in the Seventies
was going to drive-ins. My friend and I were 18 with some beer and went
to see a double feature. Primetime was the opening feature. I can’t
remember now what the main feature was but both of us really liked Prime
Time better than the main feature. We laughed so hard I remember. A
much simpler time."
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See also: Outtakes, Flicks, Movers And Shakers