Cult Film Club Episode 12: Better Off Dead

Better Off Dead

The holidays are here! Between all the last-minute shoppping, awful Christmas songs, dealing with your crazy relatives and their unwanted fruitcake advances, you may as well be Better Off Dead.

In this 1985 film directed by Savage Steve Holland, life pretty much sucks for Lane Meyer (John Cusack) whose girlfriend, the beautiful Beth, dumps him for the captain of the ski team. Meanwhile his grades are freefalling, he’s getting stalked by the paperboy, and his mom is quite possibly trying to kill him with her terrible cooking. Oh and did I mention all of this happens right around Christmas, making this a perfect albeit lesser known cult film to watch around this time of year? Lane spends most of his time and energy trying to win back Beth’s heart, but it’s the cute, French exchange student next door (Diane Franklin) who fixes his car, gives him ski lessons and teaches him the international language of love.

Grab your book on how to pick up trashy ladies, throw on your ardvarrk costume and choke down some boiled bacon as hosts Pax, Shawn and Jaime discuss all the the things they love about this underrated flick.

Listen now!


(Or right-click and save this file to download -> Cult Film Club, Episode #12: Better Off Dead)

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  • foxpenguin

    Great podcast- I was very happy y’all covered my fave cult film!

    I had the same prob finding the paperboy on IMDb- the character is credited under his name Johnny Gasparini, rather than “Paperboy.” He was played by Demian Slade

    BTW, here’s an interview with Slade:

    Also, I believe it was Pax who couldn’t place David Ogden Stiers- perhaps his biggest role was Winchester on MASH.

    Looking forward to the next one!

    • Paxton Holley

      I think I said I know DOS as Rev Purdy from USA Network’s Dead Zone series. I forgot he was from MASH. Thanks for the reminder.

      • Shawn Robare

        I am a total M*A*S*H newbie, I need to see that show (and movie…)

        • Paxton Holley

          I saw the Altman movie for the first time in 2000. I was working at 20th Century Fox Studios and they had a screening at the Zanuck theater on the lot. Pretty great. The movie was good too. I’m not and never have been a fan of the show, though.

    • Shawn Robare

      Yeah, I think it was me that was more in the dark on my Ogden Stiers, and good call on M*A*S*H. That’s a show I need to catch up on, way over my head as a kid. Also, thanks for the kind words on the podcast and helping to clear up the imd-ebacle over the Paperboy credit.. ;)

    • Paxton Holley

      Holy shit! He was also Bobby, Frankie Avalon’s son, in the awesome Back to the Beach!!! #MindBlown

      • Paxton Holley

        I mean Demian Slade. Not David Ogden Stiers.


    I haven`t checked in to CFC for some time, now a podcast on the movie Better Off Dead I will be having a listen to as I am a fan of Savage Steve Holland. Hopefully you will be doing a One Crazy Summer podcast next. Happy 2014 to Cult Film Club.

    • Shawn Robare

      Yeah, I love SSH’s stuff, whether it’s Eek the Cat, or the “holy trinity” of Better Off Dead, One Crazy Summer, and How I Got Into College…


    ” Holland earned the childhood nickname Savage after he kicked a kid in the teeth during a soccer game. ” as pasted from his IMDB page. We owned a couple of video tapes in the 80s with the cardboard sleeves and one of them was `The Sure Thing` which was on heavy rotation when we didn`t have any rentals due to our limited Home video selection.

    • Shawn Robare

      I just recently caught up with The Sure Thing and Hot Pursuit. Young John Cusack was so totally a crush of mine… :p

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  • Ammon

    I enjoyed the podcast. Thanks for putting it together. Fun, funny movie. My first Cusack movie was either The Journey of Natty Gann or One Crazy Summer. One Crazy Summer made me laugh aloud quite a few times. It’s definitely one of my favorite comedies, so when I saw this several years after it it was initially a bit of a letdown because most of the laughs in this were the subdued, internal kind for me. I’ve been meaning to see How I Got Into College for years.

    • Shawn Robare

      Thanks again Ammon! Yeah both Better Off Dead and One Crazy Summer definitely come from the same mind, but there are differences in the comedy. BOD is a bit more cerebral while OCS is heavier on the slapstick. Still though, love both!