The Unofficial Oral History of ‘Hot Dog… The Movie’

When it was released in 1984, Hot Dog… The Movie, was a sophomoric mess. The plot features a cliché underdog story. A young, naive wunderkind named Harkin Banks (Patrick Houser) comes to Lake Tahoe to compete in a freestyle competition at Squaw Valley, the real-life home of the 1960 Olympics. There, he meets a fun-loving gang of competitors called the Rat Pack; their German nemesis, Rudi Zink (John Reger), and his Euro band of Rudettes; and a pair of love interests: Sunny, a free-spirited hitchhiker (Tracy Smith), and Sylvia, a very aggressive cougar (Shannon Tweed, the 1982 Playboy Playmate of the Year). Hi jinks ensue, including a wet T-shirt contest, a gondola hookup involving too much zinc oxide, and a climactic mass-start ski race that spawned the film’s most oft-repeated line: “What the fuck is a Chinese downhill?”

If it all sounds a little like Porky’s on skis, you’re not far off. Like so many other sex comedies from the ’80s, Hot Dog today seems shockingly dated and tone-deaf, full of blatant cultural stereotypes, sexism, and worse—one scene seems to glorify date rape. What does hold up decades later? Surprisingly, the skiing. The stunt doubles were all freestyle veterans, several of whom went on to star in Warren Miller and Greg Stump flicks. “The skiing in Hot Dog was legit,” says Scott Gaffney, Matchstick Productions producer and Tahoe-area resident, citing an epic huck shot near the end of the film. (The ski ballet sequences, on the other hand…) Some of the absurd dialog, much of which was improvised, also remains hysterical. Read more >

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