Trifecta #08: William Zabka – The Ultimate 80’s Bad Guy


by: Nathan Swank

You can’t go out and party every weekend, so on those nights you want to take it easy, has put together a bi-weekly column to help you with your movie selection. The Trifecta is a recommendation of three movies that set a mood, that showcase an actor or director, that acquaint the viewer with a geographic location, or maybe even have some obscure link like a Best Boy or Key Grip.

You may not recognize the name William Zabka but when I explain who he is you will all know exactly whom I am speaking of. William made a career in the 80’s playing the bully. In almost every movie he was the lead bully, who picked on and ridiculed our hero while dating the girl our hero wanted. He thankfully always got his come-up-ins. I want to pay a little trifecta tribute to him and his feathery blonde hair for making me believe that the jerks of the world will ultimately fail. So well done William Zabka, I’m sure you have had a sometimes-painful life being recognized as the guy who is a jerk. These are a few of his best. Cue music, “You’re the Best Around” by Joe Esposito featured in an awesome fighting montage from my first pick.

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I’m gonna Crane kick this off with THE KARATE KID (1984). This is the one William is probably most remembered for as Johnny, Daniel Larusso’s arch nemesis. He leads his own gang of karate kids that love to torment and pick on the new kid. These guys are abnormally mean, finding so much glee in providing pain, as proven by the line, “Yeah, Johnny Yeah, Get him a body bag! (Maniacal laugh).” After a Halloween party, all dressed as skeletons, they tag team poor Daniel to a bloody pulp. Little did they know that a funny little Japanese man, Mr. Miyagi, with an affinity for old cars, trimming banzai trees and catching flies with chopsticks would come along to kick their butts and teach Daniel-san to do the same. Ultimately, Johnny loses the fight, loses the girl and loses his dignity.

Zabka 2

The second film may not be as identifiable called JUST ONE OF THE GUYS (1985). An aspiring female journalist, Terry, poses as a high school boy and helps turn the super geek guy, Rick, into the super sheik stud. Why no one recognizes the new boy as an actual female hottie with a smoking body, I will never understand. She even picks up a chick. This time William is Greg Tolan, the nemesis of our lovable dork turn cool kid. He makes a point of regularly bench pressing nerds, lifting cafeteria tables so food falls all over his victims and wearing weight lifting gloves, even in his prom tux. Ultimately, he loses a fight, loses the girl and loses his dignity.

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I’ll “dive” right into our third film with BACK TO SCHOOL (1986). Rodney Dangerfield is Thornton Melon, a super rich party animal that heads back to college to encourage his son to stay in school. He helps his son to loosen up, make the diving team and ward off the college bully, enter William as Chaz. His big moment comes when he gets a wicked cramp and has to forfeit his turn. Leaving Rodney Dangerfield to step in and perform the Triple Lindy, which in case you didn’t know is one of the best dives in history only performed by him, bouncing off nearly every board on the way down. Ultimately, Chaz does not get to dive, gets verbally beat down by young Robert Downey Jr., loses a fight, loses the girl and loses his dignity.

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