Friday, November 19, 2010

Hard Candy Christmas: BURLESQUE

It's been a tough year for Xtina. She shot out of the cannon with her self titled album BIONIC and had to watch it turn into a massive pile of pop carnage. Then, following Madonna's lead, booted her hot husband to the curb, so she could get her party on. She went from "kissing all the boys and the uughhh..." to kissing all the boys and the SamRo". Then she got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and nobody cared. Now she has to suffer through a hard candy Christmas. BURLESQUE opens nationwide and it's enough to make one not believe in Santa Claus.

I have only had one experience with real live Burlesque. I am not a fan of girl parts in my face or in my surroundings, but one of my good friends had enrolled in a Burlesque class and asked me to come to her recital. I was nervous. I was actually sweating, because I found out that all the girls went topless with pasties of course, but that is at the line of too much for me. Once it was over, I felt this immense joy and pleasure. It takes a very brave and talented person to go up on stage and reveal themselves so much in front of an audience. It was empowering, respectable and most importantly entertaining. Three things that cannot be found in BURLESQUE.
From the moment the movie was announced there has been an air of "UGH" floating around it. From the cheap ass movie poster, to the lackluster preview, the movie seemed plagued by the GLITTER locust. Vanity never looks good on anyone, even if you are wearing lacy bloomers and a pearl necklace dress. I am always one to watch the movie first before forming an opinion about it and I honestly thought it would pay off regardless of how the movie ended up. It could fall into the Glitter world and be totally awful, but legendary and all the blame fall on Xtina's shoulder. Or it could go the way of SHOWGIRLS (fingers crossed!) and be a big budget camptastic mess of a movie, but the blame be pointed at everyone in the film. Sadly, BURLESQUE becomes an enigma of bad movie making. It falls somewhere in the middle.

While it is certainly vain enough, it does not even compare to the Mariah. The supporting cast made up of likable characters played by Kristen Bell (who could have stolen the movie if her scenes hadn't been cut) and Stanley Tucci. No one in GLITTER was likable, including Mariah's mom. On the other hand, the supporting cast of SHOWGIRLS including Gina Gershon and Glenn Plummer are so unlikeable that you kinda fall in love with their awfulness. At least they are interesting. Verhoeven (never scared of a run time) let the characters develop within the realm of the SHOWGIRLS universe. BURLESQUE doesn't give you that option.
Instead you are forced to sit through cookie cutter versions of movie characters you have seen a millions time and will see a million times again.

Then there is the love interest. Think Jake Shears, but not cute or hot. He is hot if you like your men with hourglass fiugres. He looks like he weighs about 4 pounds and Xtina's boobs would crush him if she tried to do the diiiirty with him. He is boring and loves black eye liner and Famous Amos cookies. Ever eat cookies that have been around someone's dick. Maybe after a shower or something, but come on! Give me Zack tossing Nomi around in a pool any day. That is sexy!

Most of the blame can be placed on Steve Antin, who wrote and directed the film. I like to think that he had an epic masterpiece about sisterhood and claiming your own sexuality, but the studio made him chop it to bits for mass consumption. I am willing to give Antin a break cuz it is his first movie, but there are things that must be spoken of. The editing is monstrous. There is literally two times were the screen just goes black for a good 5 seconds and the scene changes. I think the movie is suppose to take place within the time limits of one month, but it is like the busiest month EVER!!! Let's see what happens in 31 days.
These are all calucated averages.
Cher (we will get to her) finds out that she is going to lose her house of Burlesque: 1 day.
Xtina quits her job, packs her bags and travels from Iowa to L.A. by bus: 4 days.
Xtina gets to L.A. and gets an apartment and starts looking for work ala Dolly in STRAIGHT TALK; 7 days.
Xtina discovers an underground club where girls stick their butts up in the air and forces herself in the workplace: 2 days.
Xtina reads all the books on Burlesque that she can find: 14 days.
Nerd Girl loses a contact on stage and has to find it: 1 day.
Prego girl goes from tossing up burritos in the toilet to 8 months pregnant: roughly 200 days.
ALL WITHIN A MONTH!!! And Xtina hasn't even performed yet. Something is off. Someone wasn't paying attention. Even if Cher had four months to save her club, the time line is still way off. As that sign in the corn maze at the pumpkin patch so adequately states DON'T GET CORNFUSED.

Okay, let's dish. Cher is God. She can do no wrong. She is absolutely flawless in this movie. She seems to know what she has gotten herself into and just goes with it. She can at least get a Golden Globe out of this movie or something. If she can get a remix of her big ballad, she might find herself with a hit song. Cher will come out on top like she always does. She is graceful and giving in the film and you never ever think that she might just hate Xtina. I don't know if she does or not. We most likely will never know. A true diva.

The worst part of Burlesque are the tired (like go to bed tired) musical numbers. Everything is something we have all seen before. Two segments are just regurgitated PussyCat Dolls videos and for a musical there is a lot of sitting around and singing. If you are going to make us sit through a musical you better bring something to the table like Moulin Rouge or Chicago. AND don't even get me started on DREAMGIRLS. DGS did it right, bitches. AND one number for BURLESQUE steals from DGS! DEENA JONES TAKE THE WHEEL!

In a last ditch effort to create some buzz about the movie, the marketing team eyed their last hope. The GAYS. Thank Deena for the GAYS. For Cher we will do anything. But sadly, there is a chunk of the movie that the screen is devoid of Cher. WHERE ARE YOU? The gays screamed. She whispered back, "I am always here. I live in you. I will be with you long after this movie is long forgotten." I can rest easy.

And that is truly the worst part of BURLESQUE. It is just so forgettable. People still watch GLITTER. People STILL act out moments from DREAMGIRLS (well some of us do) and we all certainly go into SHOWGIRLS mode anytime we are around a slot machine or a swimming pool.

Life is a struggle. Cinema is suppose to be there to guide us through life and help us. Whether it is to escape reality for a fleeting moment or to change a perspective or attitude toward an idea. Film has the power to move us the way that no other art form can. And in this day and age of candy taxes, huge cell phone bills and 8 dollar cocktails, we have to be smart when it comes to picking a movie to shell out 12 bucks for. BURLESQUE feels like it was made for cattle. Just release the shit, herd the audience in, get them situated and silent (good luck with the trend of bringing babies to the movies) and start the movie. Then it is over, herd the audience out and wait for the next weekend for another piece of garbage to come out and the process starts all over again. Luck is on Xtina's side. BURLESQUE will not go down in history as the worst movie of 2010, that honor has already been awarded to SEX AND THE CITY 2: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS....and ends.

Xtina shouts at the audience in the last musical number, "SHOW ME HOW YOU BURLESQUE!" I will show you how, by taking Bionic off my Ipod.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


There are those films that just seem to slip through the cracks of time. Movies that you always think about watching, but never make it a point to get the film. Then one dark and stormy night, you decide that you will venture out and find this movie. And they always are trouble to get. Forget Netflix. Forget Roku. Fuck Blockbuster. You are gonna have to work if you want to see RHINESTONE!

I know...I know...I should have just gone straight to Scarecrow Video. But you know you have those days when you don't want to drive all the way to the University District even though you know the movie is sitting there on the shelve and you didn't even have to call ahead. Quickly released on DVD, RHINESTONE even quicker went out of print and all my resources didn't carry it. So, I made the drive to Scarecrow Video and there is was. Of Course! Scarecrow you are the best!

Being a massive Dolly Parton fan and a new fan of Sly Stallone's body of work, it seemed odd that i hadn't been down the RHINESTONE road before. You can tell there is something off about it without even watching it. The shitty vhs copies of it gave off a presence that just didn't feel right when you put it in your VCR. But low and behold the DVD release. Toss those shitty cropped VHS copies in the trash, because wide screen is the only way to see RHINESTONE if you are going to make it through it.
Also, two pieces of pumpkin pie with low fat whip cream help a lot.

The credits roll and it seems promising. Based on the song "Rhinestone Cowboy", the film set out to capture the urban cowboy feel that swept the nation in the early 80's. John Travolta and Debra Winger really already said all that needed to be said about being an urban cowboy. Sadly, Dolly and Sly took on this project, which most likely sounded great on paper, but ended up being a nightmare for both of them.

The premise is pretty simple. Dolly and the owner of the bar where she performs make a gentleman's bet. If she can turn a regular Joe (no weirdos or lepers) in a country singing star she can get paid more or something. I am not really sure what the arrangement is, but you get it. Outside on the street, she meets a WACKY cab driver played by Sly and so it begins. She has two weeks to transform a mouthy jerk off into a RHINESTONE COWBOY!! FUN!! So we are 21 minutes into the movie and I don't hate it. Stallone is being super obnoxious, but kinda hot, so I forgive him a little...just a little. Dolly looks miserable. You never see either one of them waist down, because you know Dolly is in heels and almost the same height as Sly in his lifts. SECRETS.

So out of the city Dolly and Sly venture. I was shocked when they left the city. I had never gotten this far in the film in past viewing, so this was a nice little surprise. I thought. Dolly takes him back to her home to teach him what "Country" is really about. He is a douche bag from the get go. He refers to the people TRYING to teach him about music as HEE-HAW rejects and makes Chemo jokes. A real charmer! I kinda went into a Sly hole for awhile as I tried to process what his problem was. By this point in his career he was sooooo super conceited and it shows with RHINESTONE. Dolly has stated that working on this film wasn't all butterflies and big hair and it shows. She grits her teeth, smiles and goes through the motions. And it ain't easy. Every time Sly tries to land a joke, she laughs politely and moves along. But all of us that are lucky enough to live inside the bubble that is DOLLY LOVE can look into her eyes and see past all the fake smiles and scripted HAHAS. She is trapped in hell and she is sending a message to all her fans that watch the film. "I'M SORRY. I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE BETTER!"

Let's not discuss the TUTTI FRUITTE scene, when Sly attempts to show the country folk how to sing. Nope, let's not. NEXT. FAIL.

So Dolly fidgets and tries to figure out what to do with her hands as she attempts to plow through this mess of a movie. It is hard to hate the film, because Dolly is being tortured so much by the script and Sly's acting. She just wants to have fun and make good music, but the powers that be hold her back. And like most of us, starts stress eating and the girdles get tighter and tighter. We do get a good clogging scene and A LOT of Stallone bull hoof, which normally i wouldn't mind, but he is such a dick in this movie. He should be LUCKY to be able to even speak to Dolly! But then it happens and Dolly gets her revenge. At 52 minutes in the movie (if you can get that far) you get a reward!!! Dolly is teaching Sly to walk like a cowboy and his legs seem weird. There is some strange bucking at the knees and then you realize THAT THE FUCKER IS ON FUCKING STILTS!!! HELL TO THE NO!!! I kept rewinding the part over and over and it was shocking. He almost falls a couple of times and I like to think that the filmmakers hated him so much that they didn't do any editing with the scene. Nobody cared, because by the hour mark, everyone is checked out. OH! P.S. This is suppose to be romantic comedy!! Yes! They are suppose to have romantic chemistry. I know! Don't tell me....i didn't write the screenplay.

Dolly tries Sly out at the local hick bar and he sings a Parton penned song called "Drinkenstein". It sounds exactly like you think it would. But allegedly, Dolly was contracted to write a song about Budweiser (proud sponsor of RHINESTONE) and she did just that! Score one for Dolly. This lead to an intense conversation about the soundtrack for the ICONIC film STRAIGHT TALK with a fellow viewer. Then Dolly and Sly combine forces to sing a duet called "Physical Attraction". It's yuck. Promise. But, we do get a good scene of Dolly going to bed in full wig and make-up.

Suddenly, the movie tosses us back int the city and for some reason Dolly's character becomes a raging bitch. We all know that it is hard for Dolly to EVER bitch out anyone and her comfort level is pretty low for a good 20 minutes as her story arch continues. It reminded me of the horrid THE NEXT BEST THING, when Madonna becomes a seahag for no good reason. This is around the time you officially stop caring about anything in the movie. You have only one objective and that is to get through it. Dolly does sing an amazing song called "What a heartache you turned out to be". It's beautiful. It is pure Dolly.

Then one of my favorite things in a movie happens. I love when films are shot on location and the shot goes zooming by moviehouses and you get to see the marquee of what is playing. RHINESTONE has a couple of scenes like this and it is so much fun! They are out in the street and in the background are all these old grindhouse theatres and they are playing THE POWER, YOUNG WARRIORS, TWO OF A KIND and DC CAB!! AWESOME!!!

The big finale hits and Dolly basically looks like she needs to be rescued. I wish I could land a helicopter in the middle of the movie and snatch her up and whisk her away to her Tennessee mountain home to recoup, but alas she is forced to stand by her Sly and watch him climb up on stage to sing. He proclaims, "The South will rise tonight!" Charmed. He sounds like he is dying a slow and painful death as he barks out the lyrics to the song. Everyone cheers and hugs and it's over.

Sly and Dolly were able to walk away from the film, a little worse for wear, but not destroyed. I think enough people didn't even bother seeing it, so it just kinda died and nobody talked about it. Dolly doesn't not look back fondly on the Rhinestone experience and Sly is so cocky that I am sure he thinks he did okay in it. He didn't.

Rhinestone is not for the faint of heart or the easily upset. But if you make it through, you will experience a ride unlike anything else you would dare climb on too!

I do love the trailer on the dvd, because it makes it look "fun". And they call it the KNOCK OUT COMEDY OF THE SUMMER!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

DON'T: The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires


The English born film studio Hammer Pictures did something that movie makers only wished they could have done. They totally revamped (no pun intended) the monster movie. Providing classic monsters like Dracula, The Mummy, Frankenstein and even Bette Davis a new Technicolor home. They dusted off the old horror stories, added amazing costumes and sets and amped up the gore and sex just a touch and introduced millions to the creatures of the night. But like all good things, at some point it must come to an end. The last few films that Hammer produced were clunky at best, but there is one that was unlike anything else. Hammer teamed up with the very popular Shaw Brothers and made one film together and it is movie magic! The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is a one of a kind and a must see!

The film has a big grand opening as a title card flashes 1804 Transylvania! This old Chinese man just so happens to wander into the castle of Dracula and wakes his ass up. Now, good ole Drac is usually played by Christopher Lee in almost all the Hammer Films, but I guess he couldn't be bothered because he was busy trying to not be pigeon holed as the the prince of darkness anymore. So we get John Forbes-Robertson who pops up in Hammer movies now and again. He does his best Lee impersonation in what seems to be make-up applied by Baby Jane. The old dude ask Dracula to resurrect the 7 Golden Vampires and he agrees, but only after he takes over the guys body so he can mingle into the remote Chinese village where the 7GV's hang out. In a poof of smoke and green lighting, the body transformation takes place! Les Bowie, who is an amazing special effects expert, loses some of his talent within the restrictions of the budget, but you gotta make do.

FLASH FORWARD! Chungking 1904. It is high time for the 7GV's to come out, because the 7th moon is appearing and it only happens once a year. We are then thrust into a FLASHBACK (keep up!) and some dude with a grudge goes to battle the 7GVs. After his village is ransacked and his girl is kidnapped he grabs a garden ho and goes to bust some vamp ass. The vampires descend on him, zombies rise out of the grave and he discovers a hotbed of nudity once he enters their lair. You can see the mask one each member of 7GV, coming apart and pulling away to reveal human necks and upper chest areas, but it doesn't matter. I didn't know this, but according to the movie, if you film something in slow motion it equals scary (and pad the 83 minute run time a little). In fact, if you film something in slow motion, it gives the viewer much more time to study the film. So I am cool with that. Our flashback hero, is able to destroy one of the golden vamps and steals the metal bat ornament that is around his waist. The only way to get rid of them is to snatch that treasure of their person. Easier said than done, cuz they don't give them up so easy!

FLASH FORWARD again. Professor Laurence Van Helsing, played by the impeccable Peter Cushing, is hosting vampire lectures at a college and gets laughed out of the classroom. But one student knows what he is talking about and ask Helsing to help him destroy the 7GVs. Naturally, Helsing is up for the challenge. And what I love about Cushing is that at the time of the filming he was 61 (looked about 90) and he KICKS IT! Cushing never backs down from a good run or a slightly easy stunt. He goes for it. And he has cheekbones to DIE FOR! DIVA!

Van Helsing never travels alone and he has brought along his fa-fa grandson, Leyland, and some random beauty that they call Vanessa. You would think that in all the vampire battles that Helsing has found himself caught up in, he would surround himself with people that have skills or strength one might need to fight creatures of the night, but nope. He got stuck with a mary grandson (who i instantly started crushing on) and one of the most useless ladies in China. She is spoiled, vain and slow as shit! But luckily for Doc Helsing, he has found a ton of new friends. Six brothers AND one sister!!! They want revenge against the 7GVs and are wiling to risk their lives to get Helsing to his destination so he can stop the creatures. On their journey, Vanessa starts to really get on every one's nerves with her complaining. "I get so tired of just sitting around," she exclaims as she is leisurely sitting in a horse drawn covered cart, while everyone else is hoofing it. WALK BITCH!!

Finally, 51 minutes in the the film, we get some hot kung fu as the group is attacked by monsters or bandits, it is kinda confusing. But, it is worth it to see lil' sis kick some ass. They scare off the baddies, but lose all their supplies and horses and now Vanessa is FORCED to walk, HAHA! Hottie grandson has his queer eye on lil' sister and she the same. So they get to the village where the 7GVs keep attacking once a year and set up camp. They discover that the remaining 6GVs want the metal bat back so they can reincarnate the 7th lost member and they are going to use all their powers to get it back. Well, Vanessa has other problems. "I'd like a bath" and "my aching feet" are her main concerns. I wish they would just toss her out to the vampires and be done with it. The camp gets attacked and there is a ton of kung fu, which is super fun. I like that the vampires and their zombie minions just kinda stand around waiting to get the shit beat out of them. And while all this is going on, there is time for a little romance too, as Leyland and lil' sister make out and Vanessa and the oldest brother almost do it in the bushes. But luring in the dark are more vampires and lil' sis gets kidnapped and Vanessa gets bitten and turned into a vampire and they get to stake her through the heart!!! Everyone is rejoicing.

The remaining cast all venture to the lair of the 7GVs and have a full on vampire vs kung fu battle. And it is fucking awesome! Gore, karate chops, stakes through hearts, heads chopped off and rapid kicks to the face are all on par with the final sequence. It is so insane, you can't believe you are actually getting to witness this. It is the perfect merger of hammer horror campiness and style mixed with the over the topness and awesomeness of The Shaw Brothers. It turns into a massive YUCK fest and Dracula makes another diva entrance, but Peter Cushing knows what to do and does it well!

Filmed entirely in Hong Kong and full of Hammer Horror and Dragon Thrills, this truly lives up to it's claim as a Kung Fu Horror Spectacular.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


1987 was a year of transition. There was a shift in the universe of cinema. One of the hardest hit genres was the teen comedy. Everyone was growing up. Even John Hughes had left the teens behind and moved on to more adult fare like Planes, Trains and Automobiles. A handful of films survived the fall-out. Classics like Can't Buy Me Love, The Lost Boys and Adventures In Babysitting were teen heavy, but found an audience. One film did not have as much luck. It contains all the elements that support it's case for being classified as a UGH MOVIE. It is a vanity project, it goes completely haywire and it is so utterly boring, that you start to wonder why you ever like The Bangles to begin with. THE ALLNIGHTER is a piece of cinema that challenges your endurance and stamina. It leaves you tattered and torn and asking the age old question, " Does Pam Grier age?"

First off, the movie is all over the place. You can tell in the opening credits this Susanna Hoffs vehicle is going to be a mess. It starts with Joan Cusack, who normally can save any movie she is in, holding a big ass videotape camera and documenting all of her friends. They say things that are unimportant and make goofy faces. As the credits end, Joan looks into the camera and states, "I hope someone sees this tape in the future and looks back on it like a time capsule." Be careful what you wish for. As the last credit unfolds, we discover that Tamara Scott Hoffs (Susanna's mother) directed the film. Interesting. What is weird, is that we are not even ten minutes into THE ALLNIGHTER and it is already starting to show tell tell-tale signs that we are in for a world of trouble. It is just weird. Not bad weird, just weird weird. So far.

The film takes place on the last two days of school at Pacifcia College. So everyone is graduating from college, but everyone is acting like they are in high school. I mean, I understand that maybe the first year/ year and a half, you have to get all that high school shit out of your system, but by year four, you understand that you are paying for this shit and better get your act together. Maybe it is a just a junior college or something, then the rules are vastly different. Somehow Molly Morrison (played by Susanna Hoffs) is not only the dumbest person in school, but found a way to become valedictorian. I know...I just have to let it happen. So far, Molly's only problem is trying to find just the right thing to say to the graduating class of 1987 and it seems to be causing her a lot of trouble from the things she says, but she only has one reaction to anything. And this is it:

Remember this face sans tear, because it is her reaction to everything. The movie turns into Point Break for a little while, as a bunch of boys surf and we discover that Dedee Pfeiffer gets to play Molly's best friend. The joy of Dedee is uncontrollable. I love a good little sister and she looks like Michelle so much, but just a little off. Dedee came into my life via Mary Masterson in one of the best made for TV movies ever called THE MIDNIGHT HOUR. Yeah, so what if it stars Shari Belafonta-Harper? I hate her too, but this movie is so fucking awesome. It is a total rip off of MJ's THRILLER video, but it rocks!

Anyway, Dedee plays a sunny California Gurl named Val. Hanging out at the beach, the girls start discussing the big night ahead of them. Whispers of massive funnin' circle them as background characters say things like, "ALL NIGHT LONG!" and "Tonight's the FIESTA!!" I like a good Fiesta. And if one last all night long, I am so there. Very promising. DeDe seems like Meryl Streep next to Susanna Hoffs. She is fun and full of live, unlike Molly. But I kept reminding myself that Molly has a lot on her mind cuz she has to think up a speech for the following day, so I let her non reactions to everyone and everything slide. Girl has a lot on her mind. Then it happens and my hatred for Susanna Hoffs started to burn deep inside me. The camera points out to the water and her surfer dude boyfriend emerges, played by none other than JOHN FUCKING TERLESKY!!! You need someone to save your movie, fuck Joan, call John! He will totally do it and most likely for less money. He is a total ringer. Now I was pissed because Susanna Hoffs got to be in a movie with John and this is the way she acts?! GET REAL SISTER!

The movie tosses in a scene with the entire cast eating a stew full of weed, which leads to the VERY FUNNY joke, "THERE'S POT IN THE POT!" HAR. HAR. Dedee yells, "Brad's Coming!" Who is Brad? Brad is the cute nerd/douche type and they are going to have sexy night together, so De blows off her friends and the BIG FIESTA to go get banged. Then Molly gets news that her favorite recording star is coming to town and she can't wait to meet him and hopefully get fucked by him, even though she has the dreamy and sweetest man EVER. This plot device has been used soooo many times in films. Two examples are SHAG which did it much better and EMPIRE RECORDS which did it better than THE ALL NIGHTER but not as good as SHAG. The moment she meets him she informs him that she does a dance to the song "Respect" and Dedee usually does it with her, but since Dedee is getting laid she can't and she will have to do it alone. She starts doing some swaying side to side and moving her head. It looks weird. Not weird weird. BAD WEIRD. I think there was suppose to be a connection between the digestion of a ton of pot and this dance, but I think some drug use scenes were cut out and it just seems nightmarish. I like to think she made up a new dance called "The Trot". Everybody DO THE TROT!!!

The Fiesta is in high gear and nothing is going on. The cast is acting like ST. Elmo's Friends as they talk about life, love and all that other garbage. The dance, drink, yell and eat. One of my favorite lines is, "I can't believe you ordered french fries!" Why Joan Cusack can't believe that someone would order french fries is beyond me and never explained. Please refer to the above photo of Susanna Hoffs reaction to any of the things going on. Suddenly, Hoffs is back at her house getting ready for her big date with a musician. She poses in her underwear, stretches in her underwear and makes "cute" faces in the mirror all while in her underwear. I just kept thinking, "Why would her MOTHER direct her in the this scene?" To make a boring story less boring, Hoffs gets dumped and trapped on the balcony of the jerk musicians hotel room while he bangs his girlfriend. Boy is she bored. She calls her friends with the telephone on the balcony (why not?!) but has to leave a message. She then proceeds to climb over the railing to the next hotel room and I think it is suppose to be funny, but it isn't and she looks like she hates her life. I think this is the point when Susanna Hoffs just gave up and realized that while she had to finish the film, she didn't have to enjoy it. Physical comedy is not her strongest suit. Joan Cusack finally gets the message and dashes to the rescue. The hotel is ALSO the same hotel where Dedee is getting some game and is the BIGGEST 'HO STROLL in L.A.!!! Dedee and Joan get tossed into jail because they are mistaken as hookers, but Hoffs escapes. Pam Grier pre-Jackie Brown days slums as the prison warden with a not so golden heart and treats the girls like they are in THE BIG BIRDCAGE, which is awesome. We are only an hour and ten minutes into the movie. We are reaching the final 20 minutes and things are still all over the place. Hoffs has to get her friends out of jail and still have time to write her graduation speech. Can she do it?! There is only one person who can help her!

The Allnighter turns into The Two-Dayer and we are treated to a ten minute montage of surfing, which we had already seen in the beginning of the film and then the WEIRDEST THING happens. John and his best surfing friend are drinking bud lights and looking out at the surf. John's BF tells him that he can't stay and must go and it gets sappy. Like Brokeback Beach or something. Would me dream come true of John making it with another dude? No such luck. BACK TO THE GIRLS!!!

Hoffs is STILL trying to figure out what to say to inspire the graduating class of Pacifica Jr. College and then Terlesky shows up to give her a end of the school year bang and it gets real sexy for two minutes and we get to see a lot of Terlesky flesh, then is it RIGHT to graduation. Hoffs takes the stage and grabs ahold of her cap and starts yakking, but just as soon as her BIG SPEECH starts, some late 80's throw away song starts playing and all of her dialogue is lost in the music. Most likely, a good thing, but damn i wanted to hear what she said! The movie ends with the cast all locking arms and walking and smiling and me yelling at the movie, "YOU AIN'T GREASE!!"

THE ALLNIGHTER suffers and makes you suffer, so everyone loses. Thankfully, no one saw this movie or even cared and Hoffs remains a beloved member of The Bangles. Joan went on to critical and box office acclaim. John went on to invade most of my better dreams and Dedee went on to be a working actor in tons of shit, but her biggest break was being Michelle's sister. THE ALLNIGHTER failed to become one of those classic coming of age films, but does deliver some of the best UGH moments ever!

****Of Note****
Universal thought so little of this film, that the dvd DOESN'T EVEN HAVE A MENU!!! It just starts right up!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I'll never forget that summer at the Catskills. AHH....Memories. It is forever burned into my soul. Everyday I think about that magical three months. Sorry, sometimes I slip into a Baby voice-over, but just like the movie, it will only happen once at the beginning....

You know it. You love it. And if you don't, you are kinda an asshole. Even if you don't know all the words to "YES!" by Merry Clayton or reenact the scene where Lisa is brushing Baby's hair, you cannot deny the power that is DIRTY DANCING.

Oscar winning Emile Ardlino knows something about dancing. His documentary HE MAKES ME FEEL LIKE DANCING snatched the Oscar for Best Doc in 1983. His first major project would go on to be his legacy, but he had another just as beloved film in his body of work. After CHANCES ARE failed to capture an audience, but found a small devoted following (myself included) he directed the sequel THREE MEN AND A LITTLE LADY. But it was 1992, that he found success. It's true. The man behind DIRTY DANCING also directed fucking SISTER ACT!! You know what I love about Ardlino? He knows how to have a good time. I have seen people THROW DOWN while watching SISTER ACT. Nun exploitation at its best.

Written by Eleanor Bergstein, who at the time was only known for penning the Jill Clayburgh classic IT'S MY TURN. The theme song "It's My Turn (Theme from It's My Turn)" is one of my favorite Diana Ross songs. Eleanor decided for her next project to go deep and keep it real. Always write what you know and she did. She not only wrote the script to Dirty Dancing, but she fucking lived it. She spent summers in the Catskills and was nicknamed Baby by dad. I don't know if she fucked the dance instructor, but that is where imagination comes in! I like to think that someone really did walk down a flight of steps while "Wipe Out" played.

The magic of DIRTY DANCING is in the casting. It is so perfectly cast, that you cannot even imagine another person in the role as Baby or as Johnny Castle. Or as Lisa Houseman for that matter, but we will discuss her later. Jennifer Grey, who had managed to capture my heart in RED DAWN and RECKLESS, when right into FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF And stole every scene she was in. She managed to get two of the biggest laughs in the movie. But it would be her next project that would launch her into super stardom and let her finally live her dream of becoming friends with Madonna. At 27, she was 10 years older than her character was, but nobody cared. She embodied Baby. She became Baby. And I think most people just assumed that she was an 18 and on the verge of becoming a woman. Never has a character became so interwoven in pop culture so quickly and so beloved. Baby got to live the life we wanted. She got to speak her mind, dance like crazy, make hot love to Patrick Swayze and carry a watermelon.

What can you say about Patrick Swayze that hasn't already been said? His mother Pasty Swayze (a world famous dancer) schooled her son in the ways of soft shoe and being nice to people. He already had legions of fans from his work in THE OUTSIDERS and as Orry Main from the massive mini series THE NORTH AND THE SOUTH. He was just under the radar though. When he came to DIRTY DANCING, he would explode into mega A list and did it all with a wink and nudge, that would charm the pants right off you. Which is never a bad thing. The minute we get to see Swayze, you are enraptured in his magic. Hip shaking, girl tossing, sass mouthing, finger wagging and undressing you with his eyes are all in a days work for Johnny Castle. He is dumb, but has a heart of gold. Schooled in life, he lives by the creed, Be kind and don't take any shit off of anyone. Who has the time? The scene where Baby hands over her watermelon for a lesson in dirty dancing with Johnny has so much sizzle to it, they need to turn the fire hose on those two! And just like Baby, we are left staggering around in the middle of a dance floor, dazed and confused, but excited by the prospect of what could happen next. Swayze was magic through and through. No, i take that back. Swayze IS magic through and through. And smartly enough he went right into the shockingly amazing ROADHOUSE. Where he was allowed to do two things. Kick Ass and look good while doing it.

Jennifer is able to capture a certain sense of boredom that most teens can relate too. Life seems pointless, but also infinite. It would take sometime of such great magnitude to break the spell and that is when the movie goes SWAYZE CRAZY! After the dance, the movie launches into full throttle mode to make sure you are swallowed whole by the magic. The jest of the film is that bored ugly duckling gets caught up in the drama of all the dance people and she becomes one of them. All the way! She manages to gain the respect of a group of people that have been taken advantage of their whole lives. People who's startling talents have been exploited every summer by rich fat cat resort owners. But through her actions, they all learn that people are not what you always think they are and vice versa, I'm sure. It seems that Johnny's dance partner, Penny ( the impeccable Cynthia Rhodes) has gotten knocked but that the local creep bag, Robbie and she has to get an abortion. NERDS! Baby overhears their troubles and offers them the money, which they take. Days later, Penny has returned from a back alley abortion clinic and once again Baby saves the day. This girl is runnin' all over the resort. GET IT GIRL! She has to do everything.

Well, Penny is out and the dance people need a new recruit. Guess who just happens to be around? Correct. Baby starts training and then something insane happens! THE DANCE MONTAGE! THIS SHIT IS CRAZY TIME! The minute the first notes of Eric Carmen's "HUNGRY EYES" starts, I am transported back to when I first saw this scene. I thought I was watching the sexiest thing EVER! I didn't understand sex or the concept of what to do with it, but I knew that when Patrick, Penny and Baby were dancing together it was sexy. And that is all I needed. Watch your back if you are around me and I hear that Eric Carmen song, because you will get danced with! It has happened before and it will happen again. Then we get to watch the iconic scene where Jennifer gets tickled by Patrick and laughs over and over....BUT then she nails it and everyone SCREAMS with joy!!! It is like we all learned how to do it!!

The movie is so full of Iconic moments that you always have to pick your favorites or you will go on and on forever. Two favorites are Baby spotting the old couple at the other resort! A CLUE!! Another favorite is when Johnny smashes the wooden post through the car window while it is pouring down rain! VERY HOT! When that happens you know they are going to do it. The morning after Baby awakenings to a smell of outdoorsy and man! She is loving it and wants more! But fucking between the help and guest is strictly prohibited, even though it seems everyone is doing it. They have to go back to their regular lives. The tension is so tight whenever they are in a room. They just want to dirty dance! No such luck. Johnny gets accused of stealing a bunch of shit and is fired! But remember Baby's clue?! Once again doing the right thing, Baby has to confess she spent the night with Johnny therefore he could not have stolen anything. Too Late! He is fired anyway for humping a guest! NERDS!

One of my favorite ballads, "She's Like The Wind" (Sung by Mr. Swayze, thank you very much!) begins and you are wrapped up in a bittersweet goodbye, but everything seems so up in the air....just like life....But then the movie flashes to the last night and you know something is up. The ending of DIRTY DANCING is very special for many, many people. There are a lot of emotions connected with the big finale. After the first virgin viewing and not knowing what to expect, you would think the joy and rapture of the last scene would have grown stale and kinda lukewarm. That is the magic of DIRTY DANCING. It doesn't. You can watch the entire movie over 5 times in a row (it's been done more than once) and still experience the same bliss you did as the first time you saw Johnny walk back in the motherfucking movie!! It is one of the best "OW SHIT YEAH!" moments in a movie ever. Johnny grabs Baby out of her metaphorical corner and takes her where she truly deserves to be. On stage in front of a cheering crowd of guest and workers. All awashed in her glory of self respect and humility. The man of her dreams joins her on stage and she takes her moment of glory for everyone to see! And not only is she payed tribute to for all her problem solving and running around the resort, she inspires everyone to start DANCING! Old ladies dance with other old ladies, some TOO CUTE kids dance together and even the cranky old boss dances. If Baby can do it, so can we! The finale shot is of Swayze mouthing the words to "I Had The Time OF My Life" to Baby. He points his finger in her face (more of that finger wagging!) and mouths the words, "And I owe it all to you!". Baby smiles. Dreams come true!!

So many things work so well in this movie. The cleverly placed 60's soul songs and the not so cleverly placed songs that were made in the 80's but suppose to be "60's"! Girls and gay love them. Most straight men aren't too keen on the soundtrack, but there are a few here and there. Each song moves the film into a direction of such frenzied emotions that by the time you reach the mind blowing climax, you are SPENT! UNDERSTAND?! SPENT! The choreography by the then little known Kenny Ortega is breathless and the supporting cast is full of Emmy and Tony winners.

But there is one person in the cast that I kinda goes bonkers over. I haven't written about her much in this entry, because once I start talking about her, it gets deep. I will try to contain myself. Jane Brucker's take on sibling rivalry and sisterhood is so hauntingly portrayed in her role as Lisa Houseman, that it defies explanation. Who is this woman? Where did she come from? She seems to be place smack dab in the middle of DIRTY DANCING and just like any obnoxious older sister, she thinks it is all about her! She is constantly talking about her plans, her boyfriends and what she should do with her life? She is totally out of touch with reality and doesn't seem to know what the hell is going on. All she cares about are two things: Going all the way with Robbie the lecherous ASS and her big number in the resorts talent show. Both dreams are shattered, but girl gave it her all. Can't say she didn't try. And as much of a nightmare she was, when Baby needed someone to comfort her, she was there. She didn't ask any questions and she didn't judge, she just offered to do her hair. Sometimes that is all you need. Beautiful. Sisterhood can be an amazing thing. Lisa Houseman we salute you in all your hula girl glory!

There I got it out of my system. Okay, I haven't. I will just tell you a little more. Okay. I will just tell you everything. I was so pissed when DIRTY DANCING: HOT HAVANA NIGHTS came out. They ruined my chance at screenwriting the long anticipated sequel. It was going to be a high concept involving LISA! So Johnny and Baby eventually separated and Baby went into the Peace Corp. and years later, Lisa and her family go to the Catskills, because it is the last summer before it closes forever. Her teen daughter, who sports her mother's raven black hair and eyebrows falls for the dance instructor who turns out to be Johnny's son! More dancing montages, more sexy moves and lots of eyebrows. I would have Jane Brucker come back as the mom, who finds love also and she re-creates her song for the talent show again, but gets interrupted by her daughter! Credits roll. It could have been a real charmer.

DIRTY DANCING not only holds up, but it has aged gracefully. It is fun to laugh at the okay attempt at recapturing the 60's, I wasn't there so I ain't judging. But it also is a tribute to life, old noses and the man himself, Patrick Swayze. You will be forever missed.

***** Once I was talking about dirty dancing in general and someone said, "oh you mean FUCK DANCING?" I guess that is what I meant.*******


I like my action heroes big. And I also like my action heroes stupid. Sly, Arnold and Dolph all spring to mind, but there is only one man I think is the best. That man is Reb Brown. He has a list of classic BadMovieArt films, from YOR, HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE to SPACE MUTINY to the neo realistic classic HOWLING II.....YOUR SISTER'S A WEREWOLF. But a a little seen film called ROBOWAR, which is an almost scene for scene rip off of PREDATOR is his newest classic.

The film opens with a helicopter flying over some jungle in some distant land. The pilot and co-pilot are desperately scanning the ground for something. Little do they know what they are looking for is SCANNING THEM, but for serious! Suddenly, the screen turns into a pixelated mess and we hear BEEP, BEEP, BEEP. A laser shoot from the foliage and the helicopter is blasted out of the sky! The camera reveals the shooter to be a sorta human looking robot and he is on the prowl for humans!

It seems the US Army has a major problem. A highly sophisticated piece of weaponry has gone haywire (they should have called Tom Selleck in Runaway) and there is only one task force that can bring it down. The BAMS! That is an acronym for BIG ASS MUTHAFUCKAS. Led by Reb Brown they are a mixture of, as one task force member calls them, "a bunch of drug addicts and fags!" They are the mutts of the army. It seems that they Army has sent them on a suicide mission. They are to capture the killer robot, named OMEGA 1 and then the mole in the group is suppose to kill them all. EASY PLAN! On board the vessel carrying them to the jungle, they prove just how drug addicted and faggy they are by smoking joints, sassing the boat crew and Reb Brown EVEN wears a mid-drift tee shirt. No kidding. HOT STUFF. The boat captain steals the movie though. He is a huge, bulging black dude and he is wearing a shirt that reads AFRICAN QUEEN. It seems the boat is named The African Queen II. He should have re-thought the shirt, cuz he might be sending out the wrong message or the right message. I guess it depends on what he is trying to say with his shirt. Does he just have tons of pride in his boat or want to pick up dudes? If it's the latter, he is in luck!

The cast of characters is made up of a sexy fake dark headed Chuck Norris who loses sexy points when he kicks a real bird on the screen. We also have a hot live action Race Bannon and a token Asian and Black guy. There is also a grumpy doctor who doesn't really seem to do anything but chomp on cigars and get in the way. There is a lot of shooting of machine guns and not hitting anything. Tons of bushes and trees are destroyed and OMEGA 1 can't seem to kill any of the crew. But what could make this movie even better? DEAD WEIGHT INCOMING!! How about a pretty lady! Enter Catherine Hickland who surfaced earlier this year in SWEET JUSTICE and acted along side the one and only Miss Linda Blair in WITCHERY. A group of what I thought was American tourist all of a sudden come running down the road and are being gunned down by some rogue military dudes. Everyone gets killed besides Catherine and the boys snatch her. She doesn't have any dialogue for a good 20 minutes and does a lot of method acting with her face. She finally explains why she is there and it seems she is a hospital worker from the states and all the guys who just got slaughtered where her co-workers. They had been working in a village a few miles away when it was attacked. This leads the motley crew to the village and we get a good MISSING IN ACTION interlude via Reb Brown's unclear flashback. It is a bunch on nonsense about his friend dying and he grabbing the dog tags or some shit. Then we are jolted back into the present. EXCITING!!

The jungle is starting to wan on the boys and they are starting to lose it a little bit. OMEGA 1 comes back into the picture and starts killing them off one by one. Real Life Race Bannon has one of many great lines when it comes to their situation. OMEGA 1 is shooting lasers all over the place and Race yells, "YOU BETTER DUCK SHITHEADS, CUZ WE ARE GOING TO SETTLE SOME ACCOUNTS!" A statement I wanted to scream aloud when i went into Bank of America and they tried to tack on some stupid charges when I closed my account there. Another gem from Race is "It's like collard green stew. Once you are in it, you can't get out!" I am not sure what he is really talking about and maybe it was some character development or something, but it sounds like more ROBOWAR nonsense.

So now most of the team is dead and Catherine utters, "SOMETHING WEIRD IS HAPPENING!" No shit! She comes face to face with OMEGA 1 and runs like hell.

Lucky for us, the village has a well stocked chemistry lab and Catherine just so happens to be a chemist and a bionic expert who knows how to mix stuff to make Napalm. IT IS ON!! OMEGA 1's screen time is numbered and as the last of the crew battle it out we get a brilliant scene between Reb and his BBF. After being shot full of holes (no blood, too expensive), his BBF whispers, "Finish me off." Truly brilliant screenwriting. The ending is high octane and full of bullets and man vs. machine crap. You somehow get a feeling like you have seen it all before. OH! Like PREDATOR!!! They even nickname OMEGA 1 as The Hunter.

For all you Reb Brown fans out there and I know there are many, whenever you watch a Reb Brown film you wait for one thing and one thing only. For him to scream! He has the best screaming voice of a man EVER! We were schooled on his amazing screaming voice in SPACE MUTINY and ROBOWAR does not disappoint. It is like, "OH MY PURSE!" times a thousand! He screams SHIT about every five minutes and usually in a group of three.

One of the more fascinating things about ROBOWAR is the script itself. Penned by a woman named Rossella Drudi. She has done a ton of Italian crap fest and even co-wrote the classic TROLL 2! Uncredited! Hints that it was written by a woman are all over the script, which is awesome because it is great to see buffed out men say things like, "OH DEAR!", "PEEK A BOO!" and "It reminds me of geraniums!"

And even the credits are great. I love when a movie ends and then it shows the cast with their name under a little scene with them. CHOPPING MALL does it best, but ROBOWAR is pretty close just in the fact that it spells all the names wrong. Reb Brown's character is named Major Murphy Black, but is listed as MAJ. MARPHY BLACK. Catherine Hickland's character is named Virginia, but she is listed as VIRGIN. It is that eye for detail that really sets ROBOWAR apart. And of course the high tech OMEGA 1 vision!