WILD RIDES (1982) A young Matt Dillon stammers his way through introducing us to several roller coasters of the 80s.

wildrides_betaboxTheme Song: There’s like seven or eight videos on this tape, see below.

Interesting Dated References: People having carefree fun outside and not constantly making fun of other people while in public. Enjoying yourself, not drinking. Matt Dillon saying “Ummm…” a lot.

Best Line: “Ummmmm…” said 45 times by Matt Dillon. I know he was still a young actor and all, but it seems like with each segment he only did a single take. There’s a few points where he totally jumbles words and the director didn’t even see fit to fix it.

Social Context: I guess it harkens back to a time when we used to try to entertain our children with actual physical activities instead of television and video games, but really no one misses it, so who cares.

Summary: I was never allowed to spend much time in the Special Interest section of the video stores back in the day. As you may well remember that section was usually reserved for nature/space shit your grandpa was always trying to rent, and softcore/swimsuit/lingirie videos your grandpa was always trying to rent. But I guess it turns out (according to the label on this Betamax box) that the Special Interest thing may have held a few interesting videos for kids. Most of them are confusing messes and it’s bewildering to consider how they even got made, or how they even got pitched. I actually was able to travel back in time and find the notes made by the producer of Wild Rides before he pitched the idea to the executives:


That seems to be the exact strategy and rationale of the producers and writers of this special. I’m almost certain of it. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that not only has Wild Rides remained relevant, but there’s an entire legion of roller coaster enthusiasts who watch the movie religiously and point to it as an example of footage of rollercoasters during the golden days of this modern era. I was going to make youtube clips of some scenes, but aside from the awesome graphic intro, and a few isolated monologue segments, every major section had already been uploaded by people with youtube handles like “rcoasterenthusiast” and “corkcscrewtom.”

The intro graphics are a good example of how to do things right in 1981. Guitar licks, swoosh sounds, flashing lights, Dave Mason, etc. These are followed by Matt Dillon’s awesome intro:

By awesome I mean confusing. Then the first segment beings and I realize what exactly this video is. It consists of several different music videos each with stupid actors doing stupid things on different rollercoasters. Follow the clip above to youtube and take a look at the related clips if you’re that interested in the actual videos.

Our first coaster is The Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain. The video is for “You” by The 80s Who. The story seems to be some chick forcing some dude to prove his masculinity by riding the thing.


The guy and chick are played by real people who act like they are having fun. They ride the coaster and cheer a lot. The dude makes the chick gets off and he rides the coaster all night and then it ends.

The next segment is The Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags Over Georgia. The video is for some terrible synthesizer song called “Nothing To Fear” by Dave Mason. The video story is some obese creepy worker guy running around scaring children at night. Then he gets on the ride and becomes everyone’s friend. This one is particularly ridiculous.

Next up we go to Circus World in Haines City Florida and ride some rollercoaster I didn’t catch the name of. Oh great, Steve Miller Band’s “Livin’ In The USA.” So once again some other couple gets on the ride and act like they are having fun.


You remember those old Wrigley’s Doublemint and Big Red commercials? That’s exactly what these segments are like, except with less twins and more Steve Miller Band. That band is the worst.

So the next segment gives a history of the rollercoaster and features that instrumental track “East St. Louis Todle-Oo” off of Pretzel Logic (by Steely Dan for those not in the know). It makes no sense. Then we’re off to The Mindbender at Six Flags over Georgia. The stupid video is for “Don’t Cha Stop” by The Cars. It features some guy acting like he’s riding some coaster in a marathon and it’s stupid.

Our last clip, for some reason features Fire by Jimi Hendrix. I guess at one time his estate was into licensing his music. It takes place at The Texas Cyclone of Astroworld in Houston Texas. I think it’s called Astroworld. Dillons dialogue is mush-mouthed and hard to make sense of.


The premise here seems to be a bunch of hessians getting married on the coaster. After it’s over, the special interest video closes with Matt Dillon telling us he’ll see us “online” which meant standing around in 1981, not on Facebook like it does now.

Poster and Box Art: It’s that standard Warner Brothers box you’ve seen a million times.

Availability: There are used VHS copies available on Amazon, but it appears that all the roller coaster enthusiasts are jacking the prices up, so you’d better act fast.


  • It’s hard to find much information on this. IMDB only lists Matt Dillon in the cast, and Amazon has it confused with two other movies of the same name (one is a roller coaster documentary, and the other is a collection of bad action movies). If you order a DVD, you won’t know which one you’re ordering until you get it.

    One thing that needs to be noted is that the Great American Scream Machine segment originally used “Paint it Black” by the Rolling Stones. That’s how I and everyone else who saw it on Nickelodeon in the 1980s remembers it. The Dave Mason song is obviously a cheap replacement for the home video release due to rights issues. There’s a version on YouTube where someone put the Rolling Stones back in.

  • I’m holding out for the special edition DVD with the long-lost deleted video featuring The Demon at Great America set to Frankie Teardrop.

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