Theme Song: Stock Casio keyboard beats.
Interesting Dated References: Television actors doing PSA’s. Kids being home alone while both parents or had affairs.
Best Line: There’s really nothing special as far as dialogue goes.
Social Context: For some reason there was a huge Direct-to-Video Anti-kidnapping/anti-drug Public Service Announcement thing going on in the early 80s. These tapes capture the hope of a society that one day videotapes featuring a bunch of sitcom actors would become the new way to teach our children. Since drugs and kidnapping, instead of morals and values, were our main concern in the 80s, these tapes capture a time of national hysteria: When every white van was going to abduct your child, and every drug was going to make its way into your childs hands.
Of note here is the fact that this tape is specifically designed for kids who are home alone. As the divorce rates rose and all families had to take on two jobs, this tape is basically a precursor to the recession of the 1990’s. No one ever addresses why these kids are home alone or why they are so unprepared to deal with things like locking doors, etc. I guess the kids were so worried about drugs and getting kidnapped, they forgot to learn about such things as making toast or turning off faucets.
Summary: Malcom-Jamal Warner was a good candidate for one of these tapes. The nation was watching him grow up on television as part of The Cosby Show which was tackling such tough subjects as: When your kid gets an earring and goes to parties and says “jamming on the one.” So naturally why not throw him into some pastel home setting with a bunch of no name child actors:
The first issue they tackle is losing your house key. Warner quizzes the semi-husky kid Sonny about what he’s going to do. Sonny’s actually a pretty good actor. After establishing that you should always wear your house key around your neck, they proceed to mention that there is a hidden house key on the premises. Then the tape turns into a burglar insturctional video as Theo tries to find the key. They show you all the usual hiding spots: mailbox, plant, floormat, on top of the door frame, etc. After this, they quiz the kids on what they like to do once they get safely inside their house. These wholesome kids say things like: Watching tv, eating a sandwich, chores, and homework. The 80s were such a better time to grow up. Theo then runs them through what type of sandwiches to eat, how to avoid knives, and not using the stove.
Then Theo role-plays as some type of biker and tries to get the kids to let him in the house. He encourages them to lie and be deceitful. Hey, do you like pink and green? My sister did a lot too in 1989, so this tape is very accurate in that fact. Next up we learn how to field phone calls for your parents. Theo makes the kids role play that he’s some creepy caller. He tells them to use that old line that “your parents can’t come to the phone right now.” If I was a child rapist or burglar during the 80s, I would have known this line meant that they were home alone. It’s so obvious. One time in like 1985 my dad’s friend Kang called and my dad was in the shower. I said he couldn’t come to the phone and then I forgot to tell my dad his friend had called. Turned out Kang had tickets to a ZZ Top concert that night and my little schtick ruined my dads chance to see “The Top” again. The next day Kang called and told my dad how awesome the concert was and I got my ass chewed out for weeks. In fact I bet my dad is still a little salty about it, and rightfully so.
In this tape they seem to be particularly concerned with plumbing accidents for some reason. I guess that’s a pretty important issue, but it seems odd to dedicate an entire section to it. No wonder I grew up constantly filled with anxiety about something going wrong when I was alone. Theo tells us if someone gets injured to call “a doctor or a police.” Just one police. Interestingly enough, this is all pre-Dial 911 and when the kids show their phone list they have separate numbers for emergency, police, and the fire department. Weird. They also have “The Pizza Man” on this phone list, who apparently gets cart blanche to enter the home whenever he wants without any suspicion. There’s an awful lot of slide whistle going on in this tape.
Then Theo gets grilled by the kids to make sure he actually retained all the information he just spouted off. Then the tape ends and Theo’s high tops run halfway up his calf. I wonder if that was a way to reference Hi-Tops Video, the company that produced this tape.
Poster and Box Art: Of note though is the fact that the only girl on the box art that is actually in this movie is the oriental girl Wendy. The other three kids on the box never even make brief walk on appearances in the movie. Explain that!
Availability: ebay didn’t seem to have any.