Sunday, February 22, 2009

They Tried To Bury This One In The Movie Itself

Okay, let's face it. I'm a guy. Guys aren't always the smartest critters on the planet. Actually, if you ask a lot of women, they might have a lower opinion of guys, but we'll just go with the concept that guys aren't too bright sometimes.

We do things for, well, no good reason we can explain other than, "It seemed like a good idea at the time." What that often means is either "I wanted to" or "My little head was thinking for me" or somewhere between the two. We react and act on basic stimuli: hunger, competition, comfort and sex, or, ideally, something that involves all four. (Basically, making it with the pizza delivery girl on the couch after being the first person in the apartment to answer the doorbell.) Don't ask us to justify these stupid actions. Either shake your head in confusion and just keep loving us, or call a good lawyer. The former option can sometimes be easier, but not always cheaper.

Given that men will, and do, make stupid choices based on stupid impulses, we come to today's film of choice. I was with a lovely lady who loves me dearly, and we were in Big Lots. If you don't know this store, they sell stuff that other stores wanted the hell out off their shelves because it wasn't selling. Big Lots will discount the living snot out of it and hope some happy slack-jaw bozo will help out their bottom line. Well, meet a slack-jawed bozo. I bumped into a rack of $3 movies within 20 feet of the front door, and I forgot I was with anyone. I pulled a few flicks out that I felt I needed, and grabbed one that, well...I bought it based on a flashback to a sexual response to a celebrity.

Kathy Ireland was, and still is, a stunningly attractive woman. Okay, to hell with it, she is hot. She makes me whimper. I'll stop there to spare myself further embarrassment and the potential for lawsuits based on extremely crude comments and references. There I am, holding up a copy of Alien From L.A., and my companion leans her sweet head on my shoulder and asks, "Is that a good movie?" Huh? Who are you, and why is your head on my shoulder? Then I could smell the top of her head, and my senses, such as they are, came back to me. And, to my credit, I was honest. "This? Not that I've ever heard, but I've wanted to see this movie since it came out." She looked at the cover carefully, looked at me, winked and said, "I'll bet she had nothing to do with you wanting to see that." Sweet sarcasm.

Kathy Ireland had EVERYTHING to do with me wanting to see that movie. Okay, it is a fantasy film, but it has Kathy Ireland. Huh? Need I say more?

Normally, a movie that I buy will sit around for days, weeks, months and, in a few cases, years before I get around to watching them, if ever. I had this thing in my DVD player inside of 24 hours. Practically a record for me. And then Karma started in with the bitch-slapping.

Never seen Alien From L.A.? Here's the basic story. Ms. Ireland's character is a poor waif who is dumped by her hunky boyfriend because she is so timid. Her mother died years before and her father is always gone while he explores the world, looking for Atlantis. She gets a letter one day stating her father is dead, having fallen down a endless pit, and that she should travel to the far side of the world to help settle his affairs. Plucking up her courage, our lovely heroine takes the offer, and, in short order, follows her father down the same hole in the ground. Does she die? We are not so lucky. It seems the hole drops straight down to the underground world that hosts the Atlantian people. Realizing her father may not be dead, our heroine sets out to find him while being hunted down as an alien.

You know, when put like that, it sounds like a pretty good set-up for a movie. And considering you get a shot of Ms. Ireland looking rather fetching in a bikini very early on, you might be thinking you've landed a good deal for only $3. Sadly, her character opens her mouth and all hope bolts for the door as it waves a gun at you to cover its escape. Her voice is...hmmm...fingernails on a chalkboard are like Mozart in comparison. You fear your ears will bleed. What makes it worse is that the voice is affected. You can see her straining at times to speak as she does. Why? So there could be a couple of throwaway jokes about that being her "real" voice. I hoped that something would happen to the character that would make her voice normal. Don't waste your time hoping. It doesn't happen. I suggest having a dentist drill your teeth each time she speaks; it will be comforting in comparison.

Even if you put her voice aside, the movie itself is, well, just sad. You can tell the writers were going for a goofy adventure movie. Director Albert Pyun gives it a try, but he just doesn't seem to balance the comedy with the chase sequences. It looks like he wanted to make a tribute to Big Trouble In Little China, but the comedy and action pull in different directions, unlike the movie he was imitating. The whole thing is dark, drab and why the hell does everyone living underground dress like rejects from an 80s retro rave? The humor is cheap and light to the point of not being there. It isn't fun, it isn't terribly exciting, and Ms. Ireland spends way too much time wrapped up in way too many clothes. What? You thought I wanted to see this for her thespian nature?

Am I going to keep this? Yes. Will I watch it again? Wow, that's a tough one. Maybe. Perhaps I'll play a CD of jackhammers on a New York street corner instead of listening to the movie. I just figure holding on to it will be the perfect thing in case anyone EVER wants to play a bout of one-upmanship on "I can't stand so-and-so's voice." I'll never lose with this tucked away in my collection.

And Ms. Ireland will be eternally heavenly in her bikini. That's worth $3 any day.

(I have to give thanks to Andrew Borntreger and his web site, While Googling this film for good screenshots (Yes, I'm lazy.), his site had the best, and his review of this film is far more detailed than mine. God help him, he can't be right in the head after watching this film enough times to get that level of detail. Please, send contributions and letters of sympathy to his family. We can only hope he didn't expose any of them to this film.)

WARNING! This Youtube video of the trailer has a VERY LOUD VOLUME! Be warned that this trailer also contains a sample of Ms. Ireland's voice. Please wear appropriate ear protection. Thank you.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I Don't Feel So Super, Superchick

We are back to the subject of being misled. It happens. Someone makes a simple comment with one thing in mind, but the wording suggests something completely different. There is no intention to mislead you, but it happened just the same. When I was a kid, we were at my grandmother's house, and we were bored senseless. Rain outside and nowhere to go except the living room. My cousin is looking through the TV listings and he suddenly shouts, "Iron Man comes on in ten minutes!" We were giddy with anticipation. We tuned the station in and waited. The movie started. We were treated to boxing. I had no idea that Iron Man started out as a boxer. I just wanted him to turn into a superhero and start kicking some butt. After nearly 30 minutes of talking heads and boxing, we knew we had been had. Yes, the movie was called Iron Man but it had nothing to do with the comic book. What a let down.

When you find a movie called Superchick, you kinda have some expectations. But I had seen the trailer, so I wasn't utterly uninformed. She wore this tight black outfit. She knew what passed for martial arts and kicked the snot of three guys. She flashed her ample assets in bikinis and funky 70's style clothes. She has a secret identity. Okay. That pretty much sets the tone for me. I mean, really, this simply cannot as lame as Phenomenal. Right?

I must have read the messages from the trailer all wrong. No superhero. As this little film unspooled, I had no idea WHAT the hell I was watching. Okay, so I'm not the most reliable person when it comes to understanding things. I had a woman ask me back to her apartment in the middle of the day, and I told her I wanted to go to a used bookstore. D'oh!!

See what you make of this. Superchick is known as Tara B. True. I'm not kidding. As an airline stewardess, she is a mousy brunette who wouldn't mumble "Crap" if someone squirted a pile in her mouth. She leaves the plane without the slightest hint of recognition from her crew mates. Once inside the terminal, she slips into the ladies room, and seconds later, the mousy lady is gone and we have the buxom, sexually-potent, blonde bombshell we paid our money with shaking, sweaty palms to see. She is confident. Her shapely legs stride proudly as her lovingly curved hips sway from side to side. Both men and women stop and watch her pass. She is stunning. She is incredible. She IS Superchick.

Do we see her dashing about saving the world, the downtrodden, or, at least, some kittens stranded in a tree? Nope. She is met by her East Coast lover who never touches her due to a phobia, but still manages orgasms by talking himself into a frenzy. Then she is back to the plane as Ms. Mousy, jetting away to her next lover, a pop idol who is doubting himself and sees Superchick as his Muse. Then it is back into the air to her next fling with a guy who lives on a boat and is financially in debt to a shady character.

Between juggling these three bozos, she manages to hang out at a pot party, beat up Dan Haggerty and his biker buddies, helps a young Marine raise his flag pole and finds her open-minded morals tested by a dirty-minded John Carradine. All this while keeping her two identities in their own little worlds. So, yeah, that would take a super chick. Now you can sit there and analyze the implications of what you are seeing. You could suggest that it is about the development of women's sexual identity, or the real world versus empowering fantasy. I think it was just a case of the producers attempting to throw enough crap at the walls with the hope that something might stick.

The movie has potential, but it never seems to figure out what it is and so the whole thing ultimately just sort of lays there. It's appealing enough. Face it, Joyce Jillson, for all of her bleached blond hair, is rather cute, and though there isn't much nudity on her part, she does flash enough to make you keep your eyes on the screen. It is fun to watch for the direct references to the fact you are watching a movie, and no one seems to take the thing very seriously. Neither should you. Just let it play and kiss your money goodbye. You could have done worse; you could have bought a movie with Mariah Carey in it.

To save yourself money, I recommend buying the 20-movie set called "The Exploitation Cinema Collection" sold at Best Buy. No, I'm not advertising for them, but if you buy this on it's own (well, you get a double feature with "Policewomen"), you're gonna spend 10 bucks and the 20 movie set is only $20. Do the math. Even if you only watch half of the 20-movie set, you've spent less.

(I offer a humble apologies to XTC for borrowing a line from one of their songs for the title of today's review. I love your music, lads.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Debra Blee: Naked and Wet

I'm sure I speak for both sexes when I say that, at some point, all of us had a crush on someone in the movies and/or television. A certain person who, when he/she comes on screen, makes us perk up. Even when we are too young to understand sexual attraction, we know that there is something about that person that makes us feel funny, good or confused, but in a VERY pleasant way. One of mine was Goldie Hawn back on "Laugh-in". I couldn't bear to miss a second of the show in case she was dancing in a bikini with all those goofy phrases written on her skin or she might flub a line and laugh, and my god, wasn't she just wonderful!

Sometimes, things carry over into our adulthood. Like acne or baby fat. This "crush" thing continues with me to this day. It works a little differently these days. I mean, if I see someone who appeals to me in the here-and-now, I tend to have a little more detailed idea of my attraction. I'd call that "lust". Still, I find myself developing crushes, but they only exist for women in the older movies I watch. Most of these women have now either passed on, are up in their 60s and 70s, or are missing in action. I'm seeing them as they were 20, 30 or 50 years ago, their beauty and charm locked away in film. But, oh, how that attraction can still tug away at me!

I've been watching far too many movies of late, so a lot of them tend to blend and blur together. One of them has stayed at the top of the cesspool of memories. It isn't because the movie was very memorable. It isn't because the action was incredible. It was due to one person. The amazing, the lovely, the heavenly Debra Blee.

The movie? The Beach Girls. One of the seemingly endless Crown International films that kept drive-ins in business until the late 80's. They threw horror, action, drama and comedy movies in every direction, most with the exploitation factor cranked up, but never over-the-top. The object was what would horny teens and college students part with their money for. The Beach Girls is a prime example of this formula.

Take three pretty young girls. Put them in a beach house with no parental guidance and provide them with sex, booze and trash bags full of weed. Slam the clapper shut and yell, "Action!" In an attempt to provide some break from the bouncing breasts and corny drug humor, they added a Coast Guard cutter looking for some bad guys who are smuggling in the weed. But for fun, let's make the Coast Guard crew the "butt" of a lot of gay jokes. Very, very nice.

As I suggested, the film itself isn't wonderful. It is inoffensive. It hits its marks and provides enough cheap humor and attractive women to keep a person from getting bored. If you can live with the occasional inserted bit of a bikini-stealing dog lifted from Malibu Beach, which is, if you can believe it (he says with tongue in cheek), very similar, you might even find yourself glancing at the screen more than your date might like.

Given all the things this film has going for it, for me, they all pale when Debra Blee is on the screen. Is she a great actress? Not really. She doesn't come off as Oscar material, but then she basically has to look fetching and not sound like a bubble-brained bimbo. She has these big eyes that draw your attention. She moves about in such a timid fashion that you just want to protect her. She is simply wonderful to watch.

Watch carefully, though. She stayed with the film business for only five years. She made a few more films, notably Savage Streets with Linda Blair and Hamburger: The Motion Picture, and did a few TV shows. Then - POOF! - she vanished. Oh, Debra, where have you gone? You are only 50. I'm sure you are still a lovely woman. Treat us to an appearance in SOMEthing.

Okay, okay, enough praising a retired actress of films of questionable quality.

You can find The Beach Girls on BCI's "Welcome To The Grindhouse" double feature teamed up with Coach. I'd actually recommend going to Best Buy while you have the chance and buy the 20-movie "The Exploitation Cinema Collection" as it was made just for Best Buy. It's 20 bucks and so worth it if you want to relive the late 70's and early 80's theater experience with trailers and snack bar commercials. BCI has been restructuring and, as sad as it is to say, this kind of thing is being killed off due to short-sighted executives. Grab it while you can.

In the mean time, enjoy the screenshots of Ms. Blee. I know I do.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How Cheap CAN You Get?

There are times that you know you just cannot belly up the ducats for, well, anything. Okay, maybe some Ramen noodles. But if you want protein to go with that, yer screwed, dude. So there is a similar situation for those of us who love their movies cheap, in every sense of the word.

Wait, don't think that I'm referring to myself. I mean, hell yeah, send me free movies and Ramen noodles and cash. All worthy donations will be accepted, and anything offensive will either be trashed or turned over to Homeland Security. Heck, I've been buying movies like idiots buy whatever drops out of Oprah's mouth. And I eat somewhat better than Ramen noodles, thank you. (Not that I have anything against Ramen noodles.)

Having cleared up any confusion, I do understand that others aren't as fortunate. So I'm going to introduce you to a resource for the downtrodden (who can somehow afford a high-speed internet connection). Okay, it can be used by people who can't cough up $100 bucks for a VHS copy of a some obscure movie on Ebay. It can also be used by tight-ass misers.

Go to A great place to score public domain weirdness. And not the usual suspects, either. Just a word to the wise...and the cheap.

There. I've done my random act of kindness for the day. Now on to the reason for being here. Wait, you thought I was gonna pimp someone's site and be done with it? Forget that. Like I said, I've been kind. Now I heap the cruelty on with a shovel.

The references to food haven't been without reason. The main cause of food being brought up is the fact I'm hungry. How's that for honesty? But it also plays very well into the theme of today's film. Actually, the title is enough to send me into the kitchen. Of course, after watching this movie, food doesn't seem as appealing. And not for the obvious reasons.

We are gathered here to take a look at Lunchmeat. No, really, that's the name. Yeah, I thought the same thing. WTF? And if you look at the cover of the VHS, you'll get an idea of where this might be going. Also like the cover, this ain't gonna be pretty. Kinda like painfully ripping off that Band-Aid and finding a festering maggot hole. Okay, maybe not that bad.

Here's the disposable plot: City kids fall prey to a family of cannibals. Yup, that's it. Where have we seen that one? EVERYWHERE! We'll cut this one a little slack. It was from the 80s. Anything from the 80s has to be looked upon like the mentally challenged cousin everyone ignores as he messes his pants and plays with food on YOUR plate. Hey, I love the 80s, but that doesn't mean I can't look at it realistically.

The build up to the slaughter is enough to break a person. The family of cannibals actually happen to be the most interesting part of the first 30 minutes. They seem to barely tolerate each other. They scream at each other. The father whips the hell out of the brain-dead "baby" of the family who just wants to eat anything he can wrap his porky fingers around. That would be him on the cover art. Paw, Elwood and Harley are the others and they insult each other happily. Elwood just wants candy bars and should be requesting a box of Depends instead. All of them need to take long baths.

You lose all interest in the group of cute city kids the instant they hit the screen as they are offering up a jolly rendition of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat". Before they finish the first chorus, you want all of them to die horrible, painful, bloody deaths. You don't want to wait. You want it before they start on the next round of that damned song. What you want is not on the filmmaker's mind. The pain continues. Like gargling with Pop Rocks and minced sheet metal, you suffer through the development of these morons in what I can only guess is an attempt to make you care for them. It doesn't work. I was fantasizing about how they should die before they even get within a mile of the cannibals. You will do the same. You actually hope the story will switch back to the smelly, rude and incontinent cannibals.

Soon enough, the kids are ambushed by the wacky family, and everyone scatters into different directions. Okay. So the last unbearable 30 minutes of developing the struggles and character conflicts of these people are rendered pointless? Damn it, I could have been repainting the house. Worse yet, the ONLY character I halfway liked gets slaughtered two seconds after she steps out of the vehicle.

As has been pointed out in other reviews, the film then turns into an hour-long chase that is the film's highlight. Yes, it is cheesy. And, yes, the effects are cheap. Of course, you see the same bits of background when there shouldn't be repetition. Still, given the insanely pathetic budget, you kind of get sucked in, even if it is on a "Good Lord, what are they gonna throw in next?" level. Really, it is the whole last hour of the film. A chase.


The other thing that everyone seems to bring up when discussing this film is that one of the female leads went on to have a long career in the porn industry under a different name. A bit of a shame. She is the only one in the whole film who seems to understand how to act, although she has some bad moments. Her hair threatens to overtake every scene it is in, and she should be thankful there were no pyrotechnics as that hair would have went up faster than a pedophile's hand when they called for volunteers to join Big Brothers, Big Sisters.

Overall, the film looks like crap as it is most likely dubbed off a VHS tape, but the quality looks shoddy anyhow based on the fact it comes off like a video feature transferred over to film. At least the sound is decent and too good in some shots as you can hear the camera running. The direction? Kirk Alex wrote, produced and directed this. Given what he had to work with, he didn't utterly embarrass himself. Sadly, he never followed up on what has become a bit of a minor cult hit.

Hey, if I couldn't say anything else nice about this movie, I could at least be proud of the fact it didn't cost me more than the time to download the file.

P.S. Like a dog with a bone (there are those food references again), I just keep poking into this film. First thing, the image I have at top shows DVD in the bottom right corner. No legit DVD release ever that I am aware of, but I'm happy to be corrected by anyone who wants to send me one for free. Second thing, the VHS release was by...TAPEWORM VIDEO!!!! Okay, I thought it was funny.