Timeless Tail Slides
I can't say that I have ever watched a skate video and not had the following three outcomes: a refreshed desire to go skate, right then and there, no matter what state of work or inebriation I'm in; a pitiful realization of what a wuss I am; and lastly, a longing to man-up and try new tricks. Is that the primary purpose of skateboard films? I suppose it is for me, the viewer, but what about the skateboarders? Cameras intensify any situation, but in skateboarding, cameras mean this time's for real.
A market of a thousand skate videos is a testament to just how real it is, even if half those videos rely on bodily fluids, booze, pissed off rent-a slash real cops and other standard debauchery as their driving force. Some of these videos changed skateboarding for good. Others blew up secret spots and created new idols. But it's a guarantee that all of them made you want to go skate, or at least push to the store for another cold one.
Here are our picks, in chronological order, of six skate videos you should see for enlightenment's sake. We realize there are other choice candidates under the "all-time something" umbrella, but these videos changed the way we play skateboards. For the most complete list of skate videos ever published, or if you can't remember that one dude who skates to Moby in that one vid, check out Skim The Fat, and check back with us tomorrow to submit your own personal faves.
1987The Search for Won Ton Animal Chin (Powell/Peralta)
An obvious first choice for anybody that has or hasn't ever stepped foot on a board, Animal Chin has everything going for itplot, a soundtrack fit for a seventies porn or episode of Miami Vice, wardrobe (Lance Mountain's headbands, Steve Caballero's modified flat top and unbuttoned Hawaiian shirts, Mike McGill's pink muscle tanks, Hawk's entire get-up), sound effects (lasers firing for launch ramp hits, kung fu smacks for tail bashes) and castnot just Johnny Rad, but the Bones Brigade, a team that would change skateboarding forever. Not to mention hoho's on the beach at sunset, prophecies from the Slash Skates' CEO who makes $300 million a year outsourcing decks, morning hotel bed trick-aerobics session ("one and two and three and rocket air and comb your hair") and the dualing U's that were the Chin ramp. Chin set the stage for what was to come.
1989Hokus Pokus (H-Street)
The new school is now in session, class, indeed. Pant leg diameters had not yet reached JNCO proportions, but changes were definitely afloat. A 15-year-old Danny Way doing huge method transfers between ramps and saying, "It's fun to make up new tricks," attests to that.
Just as heavy on the Matt Hensley no-complies and curb slappy grinds as it is on the stationary, below-the-knees camera angles and home video-style editing, the boys on H-Street were street-wise beyond their years (and 10-inch boards). Complete with voice over wisecracks and segment breaks, it still being okay to skate marble ledges downtown, makeshift pvc rails and the two-sheet wide H-Street warehouse ramp, Tony Magnusson and team, refined since Shackle Me Not, cemented their spots in skate history with their rail combos, finger flips, high tops and Radio Birdman references in this one.
1991Video Days (Blind)
There are certain ingredients that, when mixed together, can only be better than they are apart. Lime and cilantro, for instance. Scotch and rocks. Mark Gonzales and Spike Jonze. Possibly one of my favorite 25 minute-segments in all of movie making history, the Gonz's original and short-lived Blind team was nothing short of amazing. These partsfrom a 16-year-old, barely 5-foot-tall Guy Mariano spinning switch 3s to the sounds of the Jackson 5, to a pre-Earl Jason Lee to the Gonz (Willy Wonka himself)could still pass for very legit today, and some of them were filmed in a single day.
1998The End (Birdhouse)
Fast forward through skateboarding's Dark Ages and you'll stop at The End. Though it's a safe bet that beer-drinking monkeys and cleavage will never get old, when you add a budget suitable for Hollywood, 35 mm film and Tony Hawk skating the loop-dee-doop, success is inevitable. Am talent in this flick is worthy, too. Brian Sumner (who's still on Birdhouse a decade later) and Jeff Lenoce show why they didn't last as ams, and Bucky shows how vert skating landed him on MTV Cribs, with a burrito franchise.
Hey wait. They don't speak American in this one. WTF? Last time I checked, I wasn't a Finn, but like Arto, I too hate traffic in L.A. Skateboarding's raw emotion is one of those things that translates universally, and Menikmati views it through a series of worldviews. Rodrigo Tx and Bob discuss growing up in Brazil, McCrank finds ways to circumvent the weather in Vancouver, Koston bribes Thai cops with beer and smokes and Penny, well ... the allure of being an enigma is that you need no explanation. The half speed playback, subtitles and natural sound add to the tangibility of this flick, and there are no distractions from the skating other than the title. Menik who? Maybe I need to go back to school, or just watch this one again.
2003Yeah Right (Girl)
Two Spike Jonze mentions in a 300-word span. Oh, snap. Dude's deserving, though, for sure. Where the Wild Things Are is going to be the shit.
From the opening credits, with the mega-close up flip shots, you know this flick's special. An hour ten later, it's like walking out of the theater and into the sun after seeing Army of Darkness for the first time. Jonze and Ty Evans have a bag of camera tricks to match the overflowing bag of this dream teams' tricks. Biebel, Froston, McCrank, Howard, Carroll, P Rod, Rogers and Owen Wilson slinging skate jock pep talks and pretend front noseblunts? Yeah, right.
Post-2000 Honorable Mentions
2001Label Kills (Black Label)
2001Art Bars (Foundation)
2002Dying to Live (Zero)
2003The DC Video (DC Shoes)
2005Beer Helmet (Thrasher)
2006Bag of Suck (Enjoi)