Pump Up the Volume (1990)

Director: Allan Moyle

Starring: Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis, Ahmet Zappa, Seth Green
Once upon a time there was no Internet. Without chat rooms, blogs, and social networks like Myspace and  Facebook, it was much more difficult for younger people to socialize, share ideas, and even just vent. The early 90’s film, Pump Up the Volume, demonstrates this perfectly through the eyes of it’s main character Mark Hunter, played by Christian Slater in his prime. Mark is a very shy high school student who recently moved to Arizona. Being a loner and an outsider, Mark decides to start a VHF pirate radio station out of his parent’s basement as a way of venting his frustrations. Taking on the persona of “Hard Harry” and “Happy Harry Hard-on,” Mark quickly gains a fan base amongst his fellow peers as well as becoming the scorn of several of the high school faculty. Eventually this leads into trouble for Mark as he becomes entangled with the FCC, the troubled lives of teenagers, and a cover up at his school.

When I first saw this film as a teenager, it hit pretty close to home. I had many of the same hang-ups Mark has when it comes to talking with others. Watching Mark overcome his debilitating shyness was therapeutic. Pump Up the Volume is more than your typical teenage movie by leaving the viewer with a message that does not come off as preachy or heavy handed. At the heart of this film is the empowerment of teenagers. Mark’s act of rebellion shows his listeners that it is ok to have a voice and to not fall prey to the hardships of being a teenager. Also of note is the excellent soundtrack with several covers and rare songs that didn’t even make it to the officially released version. If you happen to enjoy this film, check out the director’s follow up, Empire Records, and remember… Talk Hard. 

Other Notable Films by this Director: Empire Records (1995)




  1. Love this movie. I still own it.

    Is someone going to review Heathers?

  2. yup, Heathers is next on my list to post.

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