Sunday, August 28, 2016

Hudson Hawk (Michael Lehmann, 1991)

While it's not quite Heathers 2, Hudson Hawk is, by far, the only film that I've come across that comes anywhere close to doing a half decent job of capturing Sandra Bernhard's face-melting beauty in a manner I would deem satisfactory. What's that? Why did I compare this action-adventure film to the non-existent sequel to Heathers? Oh, because it's directed by Michael Lehmann and co-written by Daniel Waters. Now, it's easy to dismiss the film's Michael Lehmann did after Heathers (40 Days and 40 Nights... ugh). But the fact that Daniel Waters (Happy Campers), the reason Heathers is remembered so fondly to this day, is involved caused me to think that their follow up might be just as magical. (You are aware that the film stars Bruce Willis and Andie MacDowell, right?) Yeah, I'm aware. However, the prospect of watching Sandra Bernhard and Richard E. Grant spew campy/mildly glib dialogue that was written by Daniel Waters piqued my interest. Sure, it took me over twenty years for my interest to get so piqued that I actually sat down and watched it from start to finish. But still, better late than never. (Are you sure it isn't "peaked"?)  Nah, I think it's "piqued." Anyway, on top of boasting Sandra Bernhard at the height of her sexiness (she lounges in a leggy manner at one point while listening to "The Power" by Snap! on a Walkman - I know, 'nuff said), the film features David Caruso in Andie MacDowell drag and...

(Stop right there. You need to back the fuck up. Did you say, David Caruso in Andie MacDowell drag?) Yep. (Call me a sexually confused armadillo, but my genitals just exploded.) Is that a good thing? (Oh, you better believe it's a good thing.) Okay. But I should warn you, David Caruso is only in Andie MacDowell drag for about ten seconds.

Personally, I would have cast David Caruso as Anna Baragli, a nun who works undercover for The Vatican, and would have cast Andie MacDowell as... well, I wouldn't have cast her in the first place... you know, because she sucks. But that's neither here nor there. I think most people will agree that David Caruso would have been amazing as this film's Andie MacDowell-esque romantic lead.

As I was saying.... On top of Sandra Bernhard at the height of sexiness and David Caruso in Andie MacDowell drag, what else does this film got going for it? Damn, that's a good question. Maybe I should have thought this through.

Oh, if you mention a song to Bruce Willis' titular character, he'll tell you its exact running time. (Huh?) Let's say someone blurts out the title of a song, like, oh, I don't know, "Rhythm Is a Dancer" by Snap!, he would say, without much hesitation, five minutes, thirty-two seconds. It's a cute character trait. And it kept things interesting while we waited for Sandra Bernhard to show up.

The same can be said for Bruce Willis' obsession with cappuccino, his beverage of choice. Which he can never seem to enjoy in peace (circumstances beyond his control always seem to interfere just as he's about to take his first sip).

What else? Um. You know what? Until I come up with some other things I liked about this film, here's a brief-ish recap of the film's plot.

All set on becoming a spatula salesmen upon being released from prison, cat burglar extraordinaire Hudson Hawk (Bruce Willis) is immediately harassed by mobsters and other underworld types who want to exploit his unique talents for they're own personal gain. Teaming up with his partner in crime, Tommy Five-Tone (Danny Aiello), Hudson's first job involves stealing Da Vinci's Sforza, a horse statue.

Oh, and instead of showing Hudson and Tommy simply steal a statue, they have them do so while singing "Swinging on a Star." Which, I'll admit, was somewhat entertaining. It definitely put a new twist on the cliched movie heist sequence.

For reasons that escape me at the moment, the action quickly moves to Rome, where Hudson Hawk is embroiled in a conspiracy to steal even more Da Vinci artifacts. Working simultaneously for the C.I.A. (lead by James Coburn) and two self-described super-villains named Darwin (Richard E. Grant) and Minerva Maryflower (Sandra Bernhard), Hudson Hawk constantly struggles to keep the two groups off his back as he tries to woo Andie MacDowell, a Vatican spy masquerading as a tour guide.

If he can't woo Andie MacDowell, he can always settle for David Caruso in Andie MacDowell drag. Playing a C.I.A. agent called "Kit Kat" (his fellow agents are all named after candy bars), David Caruso's character is a master of disguise and can be seen in multiple disguises throughout the film. My favourite, of course, being his Andie MacDowell costume.

Speaking of costumes, legendary 1980s costume designer Marilyn Vance (Some Kind of Wonderful, Streets of Fire, Fast Times, etc.) has a field day sheathing Sandra Bernhard's lithe frame in a series of killer frocks.

Wearing a total of five outfits (six, if you include the bondage get-up she can be seen wearing in a slideshow), Sandra Bernhard wears wide brimmed hats, turbans, and funky earrings. And dresses that expose her collarbone and rib cage.

(What about her legs?) Relax, I'm getting to those.

Never not the focal point of the five scenes she's in, director Michael Lehmann does an admirable job of making sure Sandra Bernhard's yummy stems are always on display. Which, according to my logic, is reason enough to recommend Hudson Hawk.

Now, I know this film was ravaged by critics and a box office flop when it hit theatres in 1991. But I can't help the masses of the early 1990s had no clue how to properly appreciate the off-kilter splendour that is Sandra Bernhard. Seriously, though, her character's sort of heterosexual relationship with Richard E. Grant is a wonder to behold. In fact, if I was a studio exec, I would have said, fuck the box office, we're green-lighting a spin-off about the wacky adventures of Darwin and Minerva Mayflower and Bunny, their ball-obsessed dog. In conclusion... (Thank God.) the movie isn't as terrible as I thought it would be. Which, I guess, is a good thing.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Cat-Women of the Moon (Arthur Hilton, 1953)

Mmmm, black leotards pressing oh-so firmly against succulent space lady crotches. Oh, the tightness. The exquisite tightness. Those succulent  space lady crotches didn't stand a chance. You know, because of the tightness. The exquisite tightness. What I wouldn't give to be a vulva-adjacent mole on the groin-adjacent loins of any of the moon women who appear in Cat-Women of the Moon. I mean, the air inside those the black leotards after a long day of seducing stupid Earth men must have been so dewy and damp. And to think, this movie was made in 1953! If ever there was a period in American history that was devoid of anything groin-related, it's the early 1950s. Of course, I'm not saying crotches didn't exist in 1953. It's just that you didn't often see them bandied about with such a reckless form of abandon as they are in this Arthur Hilton (Lassie) directed mini-masterpiece. Sure, the fact that the leotards worn by the moon women were black did obscure some of that sweet, sweet exquisite tightness I alluded to earlier. But if you use your imagination correctly (and I always do), you can savour the intense marriage of leotard and crotch this flick repeatedly conjures up without expelling too much mental effort. And isn't that a sign of great cinema? Seriously, who wants to think while watching a movie? I know I sure don't. And Cat-Women of the Moon required me to think very little.

Of course, you're going to have to endure at least thirty minutes of drab, low budget 1950s-style space travel before any leotard-ensnared space lady crotches can be relished to any extent. But trust me, it's worth the wait.

Clearly the inspiration for "Animala" from The Lost Skeleton from Cadavra (both films boast the music of Elmer Bernstein), the moon women, or, as Kip (Victor Joy) calls them near the end of the movie, "Cat-Women," all boast black leotards, funky eyebrows, and have their hair pulled back into delicious ponytails.

Living on the dark side of the moon in the valley of the shadows, the cat-like women of unknown origin manage to manipulate Helen (Marie Windsor), the navigational officer of an Earth rocketship, via feminine telepathy (all women, no matter what species they belong to, can communicate this way). The other part of the plan involves luring the Earthlings to their ancient moon city, distracting the male crew members by hypnotizing them with the swaying motions of their mouth-watering girl-crotches, and stealing their rocketship.

As you might expect, their plans go somewhat awry when a crew member named Doug (William Phipps) and a slinky cat lady named Lambda (Susan Morrow) fall in love. Since Doug is the first man she's ever seen, Lambda goes ga-ga for the nondescript space traveler. The leader of the cat-women of the moon, Alpha (Carol Brewster), had no way of predicting this... or did she? Either way, the plan to turn Earth into a feminist utopia is in danger of failing before it even gets underway.

If only the other male space travelers were as easy to manipulate as Walt (Douglas Fowley) was, then the plan would have gone off with zero hitches.

What I liked about the male space travelers is that each of them had their own distinct personality. The aforementioned Doug is a sucker for love and creamy vaginal intercourse, and the equally aforementioned Walt is a greedy opportunist who may or may not have a soft spot for creamy vaginal intercourse as well.

Then there's the aforementioned, but not as recently aforementioned as those other two aforementioned guys, Kip. He's a cynical bastard who has a thing for Helen and thinks these cat ladies are full of hooey. And last but not least is Laird, played by Johnny Carson punchline favourite, Sonny Tufts. The ship's captain, who does things strictly by the book, Laird, who also has a thing for Helen, is just as gullible as Walt, but he displays an advanced form of something I like to call "post-war swagger."

However, like I said earlier, Helen, not the men, is the key to the success of the cat-women's plan. Now, was I disappointed by the fact that Marie Windsor doesn't don a black leotard at any point during the film? Hell yeah I was. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the scenes where Marie Windsor struggles to resist the lure of the cat-woman. Sure, she's struggling against her own self-interest (her rights in the cat-women's feminist utopia version of Earth would have been greater). But then again, who wants to live on a planet filled with nothing but sexy, black leotard clad women with kooky eyebrows and more robust than usual ponytails? Wait. That didn't come out right.

Made during one of the most oppressive periods in modern American history, at least for anyone who wasn't a white heterosexual male who fought in World War II, Cat-Women of the Moon implies that anything that threatens social norms should be shot in the back of the head. Actually, it's not that bleak. Predicting the rise of the women's rights movement (the National Organization for Women would be founded a decade later) and embracing Beatnik fashion well before it was in vogue (the term "beatnik" didn't become common until the late 1950s), Cat-Women of the Moon is, in truth, full of revolutionary ideas. You just gotta look beneath the surface, daddy-o.

Speaking of Beatniks, I miss Off Beat Cinema (straight outta Buffalo, NY)... it's where I saw Night of the Living Dead for the very first time. Keep watching the skies.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Missile to the Moon (Richard E. Cunha, 1958)

According to my not even close to being exhaustive research, when the labia majora is visible through a pair of tight pants, it's called a "camel toe." Isn't that weird? I mean, how did they come up... What's that? Why am I talking about vagina-based indentations in correlation with Missile to the Moon? Oh, I don't know. I just felt like illuminating all you fine folks about what I consider to be one of the kookiest slang terms the English language has to offer before I started yakking about space and junk. Wait. Now that I think about it. Camel toes and this movie actually have a lot in common. For one thing, the movie is chock-full of cunt bulges of the bumpy kind. And, on top of that... Actually, there is no "top of that." This film, directed by Richard E. Cunha, is mucho generous when it comes to vulvic protuberances. I know, it clearly states that this movie was made during the Eisenhower administration (the height of post-war puritanism). But trust me, the movie is pretty much wall-to-wall venus mound displacement, and I couldn't be more pleased. I say, "pretty much," because there isn't much as far as crotch wedging goes in the early going. But once the titular missile lands on the titular moon, it's vedgie city, baby!

When the instances of cameltoeitis began to commence, I thought myself: Maybe I should start watching more films from the 1950s. But then it dawned on me. This is probably more of a fupa fluke than anything else. Either way, don't be surprised if you see more films reviewed on here that were made during the squarest period in modern American history.

Truth be told. Missile to the Missile, despite the plethora of smooshed lady genitals, is a hundred times sexier than most of the sci-fi, comic book drivel being made today. Sure, there are no close-up shots of thick twatrods entering snarling gashes, or hazardous/structurally unsound butt-holes, for that matter, but I'll take good old fashion legginess over crass orifice penetration any day of the motherhumpin' week. And believe you me, this film has legs.

Seriously, I ain't kidding around. There must have been at least eleven so-called "moon girls," and each of these "moon girls" owned a pair of legs. Meaning, there were times when there were close to twenty legs on screen at any given moment. And I ask you, can the latest piece of fermented horseshit produced by the white supremacist child molesters who run Hollyweird be able to say that their movie has twenty shapely female legs on-screen in a single shot? I didn't think so.

The story goes something like this: Some rocket scientist cock-muncher named Dirk (Michael Whalen) is upset that the U.S. government has decided to use his newfangled rocketship for their own purposes. When Dirk discovers two escaped convicts, Lon (Gary Clarke, who sounds like Nick from Café Flesh) and Gary (Tommy Cook), hiding in his rocketship, he hatches this zany plan to force them to help fly his rocketship to the moon. However, just as they're about to take off, a government official, Steve (Richard Travis), and his girlfriend June (Cathy Downs), stumble abroad, and end up blasting into space along with the disgruntled rocket scientist and the two escaped convicts.

You would think that being forced (at gun point, mind you) to blast into space would dampen the spirits of Steve, June, Lon and Gary. But they seem cool with the idea. It just goes show. While the people who lived in post-war America during the 1950s might have been colossal squares, they weren't a bunch of whiny crybabies.

In other words, the impromptu space mission goes off without a hitch. Well, that's not exactly true. Sadly, Dirk dies during a meteor storm. Nevertheless, the mission goes on without him and they eventually land on the moon. Woo-hoo!

Donning space suits, Steve, June, Lon and Gary, after they avoid being crushed by rock creatures, explore a network of moon caves. Once inside, they quickly discover that the air in there is fit to breathe. Hiding their space gear behind some boulders, Steve, June, Lon and Gary come face-to-face with The Lido (K.T. Stevens), the leader of a race of blue-skinned moon women.

Since Steve is wearing the medallion Dirk gave him before he dies, The Lido assumes that Steve is Dirk. I know, how does The Lido know Dirk? I have to assume Dirk's been here before. Which, I must say, is quite impressive. Either way, the reason The Lido doesn't realize that Steve isn't Dirk right away is because she has since lost her eyesight.

Skeptical when it comes to these newcomers is The Lido's wonderfully conniving second in command, Alpha (Nina Bara), who thinks Steve's story is a bunch of Earth balderdash. Anyway, on top of having the film's most pronounced camel toe, Alpha is also the film's best character. Bringing the film some much needed camp-appeal, Nina Bara's deliberately exaggerated performance is the non-camel toey/non-leggy reason this film is still remembered to this day. Rendering Missile to the Moon as first-rate sci-fi trash.

Oh, and since I've already established that Alpha is the clear winner when it comes to having largest camel toe, I guess I should go ahead and declare the stunning Sanita Pelkey (Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow) to be the clear winner when it comes to legginess. Damn, girl. Those are some fine ass legs. Mhm! Wow, who knew writing about camel toes and lady legs could be so therapeutic... I feel like a brand new woman.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Timebomb (Avi Nesher, 1991)

If you listen closely, you can still hear the crowds outside the theatres that were screening Timebomb way back in 1991 chanting: "What do we want? More Tracy Scoggins!!! When do we want her? Now!" over and over again. What's that? You say they were no crowds chanting anything of the sort outside the theatres that were screening this action-packed, early 1990s thrill ride? That's weird, I could have sworn there were crowds. But then again, my Tracy Scoggins-soaked medulla oblongata might have just conjured up these so-called crowds out of thin air out of frustration over the fact that there wasn't enough of her in this movie. Playing Ms. Blue, the lone female assassin in a group of brainwashed super-assassins with colourful code names, Miss Scoggins' icy turn as a ponytail-sporting government killer is, no pun intended, to die for. Sure, we might only get, oh, let's say, maybe half a dozen scenes that feature Tracy's slinky assassin character. But trust me, each one is worthy of a thousand ill-conceived sonnets. Despite the fact the picture I'm currently painting seems to be that of a film that lacks the horse sense to give Tracy Scoggins more screen time, Timebomb is actually a top-notch slab of filmed entertainment about, get this, a watchmaker who rides a bike to work.

Of course, there's more to it than that. But still, I like the idea of an action film that boasts a bike riding watchmaker as its central character. And it gets better. The watchmaker is played by Michael Biehn.

I know what you're thinking. And Patsy Kensit's blandly cute Dr. Anna Nolmar is thinking the exact same thing. When Dr. Anna walks into the vintage watch repair shop where Michael Biehn (Deadfall) works, you can tell right away that she wasn't expecting to find someone so youthful fixing antiquated time pieces. To be fair, Michael Biehn, whose character's name is "Eddie Kay," thinks the exact same thing about about Patsy Kensit when he finds out she's some kind of psychotherapist. Given that both "Eddie Kay" and Anna are in professions that are typically reserved for those who are a tad on the older side, you would think they would stop what they're doing and fuck... heterosexual style. But, surprisingly, they don't... fuck... heterosexual style. No, she gives him a watch to repair, and leaves. Though, she does hand him her business card. I know, it's so he can call her when the watch is ready. But deep down these two definitely have the hots for one another.

Anyway, after a long day of watch fixing, "Eddie Kay likes to unwind at Al's Diner, and... Hey, would you look at that. The waitress working behind the counter is played by none other than Julie Brown. I know it's early, but I like this movie already. I mean, Julie Brown and Tracy Scoggins? This is going to be good.

After awkwardly flirting with Julie Brown (who looks sultry as all get out in her waitress uniform), an explosion in a building across the street shakes the entire block. As the ensuing fire begins to spread, it's obvious that some people are still trapped inside. Without giving it much thought "Eddie Kay" runs into the burning building and saves a mother and her probably stupid baby.

As you might expect, Eddie Kay's heroics make the news. And that's when things get real for Eddie Kay. You see, the people who brainwashed Eddie in the 1970s are still out there. And some of them watch the news. One of these "people" turns out to be Col. Taylor (Richard Jordan), who immediately ensembles a team of assassins, including Tracy Scoggins' Ms. Blue and Mr. Brown (Billy Blanks), and starts making plans to murder Eddie's ass.

The only problem with this plan is that Eddie is also a trained assassin. The twist, however, being that Eddie is the only one who doesn't seem to know this. The scene where Billy Banks attempts to stab Eddie to death while he slept will no doubt remind some of viewers of The Bourne Identity. The look of surprise on Michael Biehn's face as he manages to stave off Billy Banks' attack is similar to the one Matt Damon sports after he subdues those Swiss cops in the park. Now, before you start accusing Doug Liman and the Bourne producers of ripping off Timebomb, you should remember that The Bourne Identity is based on a book that came out in 1980 and was also made into a TV movie in 1988 (Richard Chamberlain plays the titular Bourne).

The same goes for accusing Quentin Tarantino, and his film, Reservoir Dogs, of ripping off the idea for having characters with colour-themed code names. That idea originally came from The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3.

After each attempt to murder him goes awry, Eddie Kay slowly begins to realize that he's a bona-fide badass. The scenes that have Eddie Kay dragging Dr. Anna around L.A. will probably remind some of people of Michael Biehn's Kyle Reese from The Terminator, as both are desperate men fighting against overwhelming odds.

My favourite out of all the murder attempts that go awry has to be Michael Biehn's confrontation with Tracy Scoggins in the underground parking garage. (Why?) Oh, I'm sorry. I was just thinking about the slit on the back of Tracy Scoggins' skirt. So, yeah, I liked the way the slit enabled Tracy to move more fluidly as she tried to fuck Michael Biehn's shit up. And, of course, the multiple leg-friendly camera angles and the way her ponytail looked when it was bathed in shadowy, ponytail-enhancing darkness.

The shoot out at the most luxurious porno theatre ever (a porno theatre with stadium seating and a balcony?!?) was pretty great, too. Sure, Tracy Scoggins isn't in this scene, but I did enjoy the sight of Jim Maniaci's Mr. Grey crawling around on the sticky floors with a machine gun. In fact, I would put Mr. Grey's love of guns just behind Tracy Scoggins' Ms. Blue and Billy Banks' Mr. Brown in terms of things I loved about this movie.

Wait, did I say, "just behind"? Let's get real, people. Mr. Grey and Mr. Brown are miles behind Ms. Blue when it comes to delivering the awesome . If I had my way, I would have made Ms. Blue the focal point of the entire film. And, on top of that, I would have made her character a cyborg. (How do you know she wasn't a cyborg?) Excellent question. After all, the brainwashing process did look kinda cyborgy (it's like Tetsuo: The Iron Man meets Ghost in the Shell). As I was saying, I would have kept Billy Banks (he has great screen presence in this), but I would have given Tracy Scoggins more to do (way more).

And I definitely wouldn't have put her in a pair of jeans for her final scene. I mean, she wears skirts for the entire movie, but to then have her wears jeans all of a sudden? Outrageous! Maybe I ain't hooked up right, but the sight of Tracy Scoggins in jeans made me physically ill.

Despite the jean fiasco (Jeans?!? For God's sake. What were they thinking?), Timebomb is a slick action thriller with cyberpunk undertones that proves yet again that some the best movies from the 1980s were actually made during the early 1990s.