I would’ve had a crush on Lane Meyer in high school. Courtesy of CBS Theatrical Films
Unstreamable is a weekly column that finds films and TV shows you can’t watch on major streaming services in the United States. This week: John Cusack is a charming slacker in Better Off Dead, Kermit hosts a variety show in The Muppet Show, two psychos fall in love in Psychos in Love, and an electric Bollywood number in Pukar.
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A smooth-faced John Cusack. Courtesy of CBS Theatrical Films
Lane Meyer, played by John Cusack, is hung up over his ex, Beth, who leaves him for a douchey ski captain. Though he feels he’d be, um, better off dead than without her love, the aloof but charming Lane eventually endeavors to win Beth back by skiing a challenging slope. The story features enough weirdo side characters, hot French exchange students, absurd gags, CLAYMATION, and zany heart to elevate it beyond teen movie cliche. It’s essential viewing.
When it was released, Better Off Dead got shit reviews and bombed at the box office. Famously, Cusack walked out of a screening of the movie, upset that the final product didn’t reflect the dark or surreal nature of the script. In an interview, director Savage Steve Holland said that the film’s regular screenings on HBO and popularity with video store dirtbags propelled it to beloved cult classic status. And in a 2013 Reddit AMA, Cusack dispelled any rumors that he still hates the film.
“No, I just thought it could have been better, but I think that about almost all my films,” he said. “I have nothing against the film… Glad people love it still.” We still do, John! JASMYNE KEIMIG
USA, 1976-1981, 30 minute episodes, Created by Jim Henson and Jack Burns
These puppets can really get you through dark times. Disney / The Muppet Show
No puppet has the right to have eyes as sultry as Miss Piggy’s, yet there they are, looking like Goldie Hawn’s, wooing a green little twink frog named Kermit. Miss Piggy and Kermit—joined by their extensive cast of friends, including Gonzo, Fozzie the bear, and Scooter—lead The Muppet Show, a late ’70s variety show draped in thick curtains, shades of groovy beige, and years of celebrity guests from both sides of the pond.
The Muppet Show is curiously unstreamable, despite Disney owning the rights and dropping much of its catalog on Disney+. I bet Disney is sitting on it, aiming to revamp the show or drop it when they need a quick hit from the press. Regardless, your best way to get clean cuts of this classic show is currently through DVD.
For whatever reason, American producers weren’t interested in the show’s pitch, so Jim Henson and Co. went overseas to England to get it made. The guests alternate between British and American celebrities and I spend most of my time watching the show wondering what the parties were like in between filming. Did the puppets attend? Has anyone ever done a line of coke with Miss Piggy? I’m sorry, but I wonder! CHASE BURNS
When you find someone who speaks your same weird language of love, you don’t let ’em go… Courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome
Psychos in Love was way less horny than I thought it would be. That is completely fine. There are still boobs and women covered in sexy lingerie, but the core of this self-aware B film is, actually, L-O-V-E. Between two psycho killers. And it’s cute. Joe and Kate (Carmine Capobianco and Debi Thibeault) both passionately hate grapes, cried when Jason died in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, and have a thirst for murdering strangers. They were truly meant to be.
This horror-comedy is light on scares but stuffed with goopy fake blood, sexy bisexual lighting, and corny (but funny) one-liners. The electronic soundtrack unnerves and diffuses a lot of the tension of the murder scenes. The sets are deliciously retro and shabby—like the seedy strip club that Joe bartends at, the perfect hunting ground for potential victims. I particularly loved Joe and Kate’s wood-walled, red-carpeted living room where they take victims and stab them to death. It’s like they perform a ritual sacrifice to their relationship—domestic bliss! This is going down as one of my Unstreamable favorites. JASMYNE KEIMIG
India, 2000, 176 minutes, Dir. Rajkumar Santoshi
Some hot military propaganda with a few really great numbers. Pukar
If you noticed the “176 minutes” right up there (☝️), you read correctly. Pukar is almost three hours long, but, like many Bollywood epics, the reason to watch is for the musical numbers. Fortunately, the DVD menu breaks up those musical numbers into their own section so you can glide through them without having to deal with the meandering plot, which mostly serves as military propaganda. (The opening title sequence is a big horny letter to service members and how they are allegedly misunderstood. Sure, why not!)
The musical number that shows the most promise—and would make Doris Day weep (either out of horror or jealousy, I can’t decide)—is the film’s first, “Kay Sera Sera.” I often describe my favorite type of entertainment as “electric,” charged with so much energy that its ideas are firing and misfiring in every direction. Nothing captures that quite like “Kay Sera Sera.” Halfway through the performance, a man with a lime tropical shirt busts through the number and wiles out. He’s got the type of energy that could generate power for an entire city. I think it’s so funny. CHASE BURNS
Unstreamable means we couldn’t find it on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, or any of the other 300+ streaming services available in the United States. We also couldn’t find it available for rent or purchase through platforms like Prime Video or iTunes. We don’t consider user-generated videos, like unauthorized YouTube uploads, to be streamable.