Released in 1987, Hunk tells the story of Hunk Golden (John Allen Nelson).
At first glance, Hunk seems to have everything. He lives in a huge house on the beach and he’s good-looking and muscular enough that he can actually pull off the rainbow speedo look. Women want to be with Hunk and men want to be Hunk. He’s rich. He can eat all the food in the world without putting on a single pound. He’s got a great smile and wonderful tan and he even knows karate! Hunk drives a red convertible that has a personalized license plate, one that reads: HUNK. If anyone else did it, it would seem narcissistic but Hunk can pull it off.
However, Hunk is deeply dissatisfied with his life. As he explains to his psychiatrist, Dr. Sunny Graves (Rebecca Bush), he wasn’t always Hunk Golden. He used to be a nerdy writer named Brady Brinkman (played by Steve Levitt). After Brady’s girlfriend left him for an aerobics instructor, he somehow managed to write a guide to how to become rich. Brady’s wasn’t sure where his inspiration came from but he was still able to make a fortune off of it. After Brady moved to the beach to work on his next project, he discovered that being wealthy didn’t mean anything unless he also had the right look.
That’s when he was approached by O’Brien (Deborah Shelton), an emissary of the devil (James Coco). O’Brien turned Brady Brinkman into Hunk Golden and taught him how to be …. well, how to be a hunk. The only condition was that, after a number of months, Hunk would have to give up his soul to the devil. Hunk agreed but now, with the deadline approaching, Hunk isn’t so sure that he wants to condemn his soul to eternal damnation. Is being the hottest guy on the beach really worth an eternity of burning in fire and being poked with those little pitchfork things?
Now, it probably won’t come as a surprise to our regular readers to discover that this film was produced and distributed by Crown International Pictures. From the 70s through the 80s, Crown International specialized in low-budget exploitation films, with a surprisingly large number of them taking place on the beach. Nowadays, of course, the Crown International filmography can be found in countless Mill Creek boxsets. Hunk can be found in several. I own enough Mill Creek boxsets that I’ve probably got a dozen copies of Hunk in my DVD and Blu-ray collections.
That said, while the film’s low budget is obvious in every frame, Hunk is actually slightly better than the typical Crown International beach film. While it seems to take forever for Brady to become Hunk, the film has got a likable cast and it actually delivers its message about self-acceptance with a surprising amount of sincerity. This is the rare Crown International Film with a heart and, for every joke that falls flat (and there’s several), there’s at least a few unexpectedly clever moments. The film takes an especially strange turn once Hunk becomes a celebrity and starts to wonder if he should accept the devil’s invitation to become a demon and help start a world war. Steve Levitt and John Allen Nelson both do a good job playing Brady and his alter ego, though all of Nelson’s dialogue appears to have been dubbed. James Coco delivers his evil lines with a properly devilish glee. Incidently, this was also Brad Pitt’s first movie. While he had no dialogue and went uncredited, he can be easily spotted as an extra in one of the beach scenes.
If you’re looking for silly and occasionally strange 80s beach movie, you could do worse than to check your Mill Creek boxsets for a copy of Hunk.