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Just missed the '80s: Pump Up The Volume 'talked hard' to the next generation

In the early days of Stuck in the '80s, I had a very strict policy about not honoring working done before Jan. 1, 1980 and ignoring anything beyond Dec. 31, 1989. Ten years later, I've learned to chill.

In fact, one of my favorite just-barely-non-'80s movies just turned 25 years old this month: Pump Up The Volume. Released Aug. 22, 1990, Pump Up The Volume starred Christian Slater as a loner high school teen in a sterilized Phoenix suburb who takes out his frustrations with a pirate radio station he runs from the basement of the family house.

The radio equipment is purchased with his parents' permission, with the intention of letting their lonely kid use it to talk to his friends in the town they just moved from. Eventually, though, the teen and his station are transformed into the underground voice of an entire franchise of disillusioned kids in the 'burbs, who gain the courage to "talk hard." And who get to feast upon some incredible music offerings, including tunes from Jesus and Mary Chain, Camper Van Beethoven and the Pixies. The soundtrack is just incredible.

Is this Slater's best work? Well, it sure as heck wasn't the overplayed Broken Arrow (which, by the way, includes Slater's Pump co-star Samantha Mathis.) Slater would be nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his role, with the movie also picking up nominations for best feature, best director and best screenplay.

Still, Pump Up The Volume was a bust at the box office, grossing just under $2 million on its opening weekend on its way to $11 million total. And yet, critics took note, giving the movie a life after cineplexes. Pump Up The Volume still has a healthy 78 percent "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

The Washington Post's review was full of praise, writing: "Unlike Heathers, a satiric treatment of teen suicide, Pump Up the Volume is passionately caring. It's a howl from the heart, a relentlessly involving movie that gives a kid every reason to believe that he or she can come of age. It appreciates the pimples and pitfalls of this frightening passage, the transit commonly known as adolescence."


5. "Talk hard, I like that. It's like a dirty thought in a nice clean mind."

4. "All the great themes have been used up and turned into theme parks."

3. "Feeling screwed up at a screwed up time in a screwed up place does not necessarily make you screwed up."

2. "I'm sick of being ashamed. I don't mind being dejected and rejected, but I'm not going to be ashamed about it. At least pain is real. I mean, you look around and you see nothing is real, but at least the pain is real."

1. "We're all worried, we're all in pain. That just comes with having eyes and having ears. But just remember one thing - it can't get any worse, it can only get better. High school is the bottom, being a teenager sucks, but that's the point, surviving it is the whole point. Quitting is not going to make you stronger, living will. So just hang on and hang in there."