The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
Synopsis of Movie
“John Valuk is dead. He fell on his head.”
Most cult classics didn’t start out trying to be that way. We’re fairly confident the people behind The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Death Race 2000 and maybe even Santa Claus Conquers the Martians thought they had some pretty good movies on their hands. But every once in a while, some brave soul actually tries to make a campy, loopy, outrageously born-to-be-cult-classic film. Today’s case study: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.
The over-the-topness isn’t long in coming. Buckaroo Banzai is introduced as a man of many talents—among them, particle physics, brain surgery, and rock n’ roll. During a test of his latest invention, the Oscillation Overthruster, Buckaroo revs his Jet Car up and drives right through a solid rock face, crossing over into the 8th dimension. Unfortunately, it isn’t uninhabited. The evil Red Lectroids from Planet 10 have been banished to the 8th dimension, and now that Buckaroo has broken the dimensional barrier, they want out.
Meanwhile, Buckaroo rocks out with his East Texas bar band, the Hong Kong Cavaliers. But good-hearted Buckaroo stops the show when he spots someone who isn’t having a good time. The glum one is Penny Priddy, a suicidal lass with a thing for Buckaroo and a face just like that of Buckaroo's dead wife. Despite what looks like an assassination attempt (Penny was really trying to shoot herself), Buckaroo takes the lady under his wing.
Once the Lectroid assault gets fully underway—with the help of Dr. Emilio Lizardo, a dimension-breaker himself, now possessed by Lectoid spirit Lord John Whorfin—the fun really starts. The Lectroids, all named “John” something (“John Ya-Ya… John Smallberries…”), are after the Overthruster, which they hope to use to go fight the Black Lectroids back on Planet 10. We should point out here, by the way, that the Black Lectroids are also good guys, and that they all have Jamaican accents. But the Black Lectroids also take no Red Lectroid crap, and they're prepared to spark a nuclear war to stop the Red menace—unless Buckaroo Banzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers can do something about it.
The movie definitely had its weird factor amped up, but that was kind of the point. A solid cast of movie pros, including Peter Weller (the original Robocop), Jeff Goldblum, Ellen Barkin, and the Red Lectroid army of John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd, Dan Hedaya and others, kept things from getting so nutty that your head exploded. Buckaroo Banzai filled its cult classic role well—it may never be confused with Citizen Kane or The Godfather, but it’s definitely the best movie ever made about a rock and roll particle physicist brain surgeon (so far).
“Wherever you go, there you are.”
Movie Release History1984 - The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
Movie Sub Categorieslive-action
Movie Studio20th Century Fox
CastBuckaroo Banzai Peter Weller Doctor Emilio Lizardo / Lord John Whorfin John Lithgow
Penny Priddy Ellen Barkin New Jersey Jeff Goldblum
John Bigboote Christopher Lloyd Perfect Tommy Lewis Smith
John Emdall Rosalind Cash Professor Hikita Robert Ito
Reno Nevada Pepe Serna President Widmark Ronald Lacey
Secretary of Defense McKinley Matt Clark Rawhide Clancy Brown
General Catburd William Traylor John Parker Carl Lumbly
John O'Connor Vincent Schiavelli John Gomez Dan Hedaya
Senator Cunningham Mariclare Costello Casper Lindley Bill Henderson
Scooter Lindley Damon Hines Pinky Carruthers, Blue Blazer Regular Billy Vera
Mrs. Johnson Laura Harrington Billy Travers Michael Santoro
Lizardo Hospital Guard Jonathan Banks Radar Blaze Robert Gray
Radar Blaze Gary Bisig Mission Control Kent Perkins
Highway Patrolman John David Ashton Duck Hunter Burt Kenneth Magee
Duck Hunter Bubba James Keane National Security Advisor Yakov Smirnoff
Artie Duncan Leonard Gaines TV Anchorwoman Francine Lembi
Star Surgeon John Walter Davis Exhibitor Reed Morgan
John Yaya James Rosin Reporter Raye Birk
Reporter Jane Marla Robbins John Gant Kevin Sullivan
Black Lectroid Commander Jessie Lawrence Ferguson Marine Lieutenant Radford Polinsky
Kolodny Brother Sam Minsky Kolodny Brother Robert Hummer
Rug Sucker Gerald Peterson