Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lovedolls Superstar (David Markey, 1986)

How do you go about making a sequel to an underground classic when most of the principal characters from the original were murdered? Well, according to David Markey, the writer-director-producer-editor of Lovedolls Superstar, his epic follow up to Desperate Teenage Lovedolls, all you need is a long lost hippie twin brother, a Ritz-cracker eating socialite bent on revenge, a demented Lovedolls super-fan, a brunette ghost, and you should be good to go. When I use to word "epic" to describe this film, I ain't kidding around. Sure, it contains all the drug use, violence, gore, music, and, not to mention, the multiple shots of Jennifer Schwartz's surprisingly shapely legs sheathed in colourful tights we've come to expect from The Lovedolls franchise. But this chapter seems determined to outdo its predecessor. First things first, they definitely had more money to work with this time around. Granted, it's still not a lot, especially when compared to other low budget movies. But that being said, all you have to do is take one look at the artists who contribute songs to the soundtrack (Sonic Youth, Meat Puppets, Dead Kennedys) to realize there's something different in the air. Mocking the music industry (a record company executive is brutally murdered by a mob in a scene straight out of an Italian cannibal movie), crazy religious cults, Bruce Springsteen/Rick Springfield, flower children, feminist television hosts, and celebrity culture, the film, while retaining the campy tone that made part one so enjoyable, has a developed a bit of a satirical edge since we last tuned in.
While all those topics and subjects are ridiculed to maximum effect, it's crazy religious cults that get skewered the most in the early going. You won't believe this, but Patch Kelly (Janet Housden) is now "Patch Christ," the not-so charismatic leader of a group of mindless followers. I know, you're asking yourself, who's this Patch Kelly/Patch Christ person? If you recall, she was the drummer of The Lovedolls who killed Kitty Carryall's mother; Kitty Carryall (the sexy Jennifer Schwartz) is, of course, the charismatic leader of The Lovedolls who fell on hard times at the end of Desperate Teenage Lovedolls. Anyway, most people will agree that Patch Kelly wasn't much a factor in the first film; okay, to be blunt, she was barely in it.
She might not have been memorable in the first flick, but Patch Kelly/Patch Christ is the reason Kitty Carryall is able to extricate herself from the Venice day spa she is currently wallowing in. And, no, being in a "Venice day spa" isn't as nice as it sounds; Kitty Carryall was ankle deep in sewer water when Patch and her gang of thieving juvenile delinquents happen upon her (she was giving herself an e. coli mud facial).
Made up of ex-fans of The Lovedolls, the cult steal, and sometimes kill, for Patch Kelly, who can pretty much make them do anything her heart desires. After hearing The Lovedolls on the radio, Kitty, who has since taken a shower (I dug the pink ribbon she wore in her hair to signify her newfound cleanliness), and Patch decide to put the band back together. Only problem being, they don't have a guitar player. If you recall, Bunny Tremelo (Hilary Rubens) met with an "unfortunate accident" at the end of Desperate Teenage Lovedolls.
While wandering the streets of Hollywood, Kitty and Patch bump into Alexandria (Kim Pilkington), the blonde junkie whose heroin habit hampered her attempt to become a rock star in the first film; remember kids, if you're going to develop a trendy heroin habit, wait until your rich and famous first. Working as a hooker with her red beret-wearing friend Shabu (Cheri Land), under the watchful eye of their pimp, Slick (Jordan Schwartz), Kitty and Patch convince Alexandria to drop the "trashy whore" routine and join the band as their guitar player.
Just because Johnny Tremaine (their former manager) and Tanya Hearst (leader of the She-Devils) aren't around anymore to hassle The Lovedolls, doesn't mean that outside forces are not conspiring against them. You wouldn't think it by looking at him, but Johnny Tremaine's twin brother Rainbow (Steve McDonald) is about to become The Lovedolls' primary nemesis. Living on a New Mexico commune called "The Freedom School" with a bunch of hippies (including Vickie Peterson from The Bangles), Rainbow decides to visit L.A. to see what his brother is up to (he has no idea he's dead).
Actually, Rainbow Tremaine is pretty harmless compared to what Patricia Anne Cloverfield (Tracy Marshak-Nash, a.k.a. Tracy Lea) has in store for The Lovedolls. Landing at LAX, Patricia, we soon find out, is Tanya Heart's mother. And if you're wondering why Patricia, who is sitting crossed-legged, suddenly stops eating her Ritz crackers, it's because she just found out her daughter was killed by The Lovedolls.
If that wasn't enough trouble for The Lovedolls, we're introduced to Carl Celery (Jeffrey McDonald), an obsessed fan of the group. If he's so into The Lovedolls, he should join their cult. Why should he? When Kitty Carryall visits him and instructs him to murder Bruce Springsteen. Don't worry, Kitty Carryall is not really making appearances in his squalid hellhole masquerading as a home, Carl is delusional.
Let's recap: The upstart band have not one, not two, but three antagonists to deal with in this chapter of The Lovedolls saga. And it would seem that Bruce Springsteen has an antagonist as well.  
It's a good thing The Lovedolls have a cult to back them up this time around. And they come in handy almost immediately when The Lovedolls go up against a sleazy (which should go without saying) record exec named Slim Crowley (Bob Moss). Instead of simply leaving his office after being rejected (he basically calls them has-beens), The Lovedolls sick their cult on him. That doesn't sound so bad. He was roughed up in the parking lot to the music of Sonic Youth, big deal. Roughed up? They stomp his guts out and drink his blood. So, yeah. You better cancel his ten o'clock with Madonna, he ain't gonna make it.
After only being in L.A. five seconds, Rainbow Tremaine (he should get together with Rainbow Harvest from Mirror Mirror fame - you know, because they have the same first name) is already feeling the effects of the city's corrupting influence (the flowers in this town are soaked in pesticide and the granola is chock-full of  artificial flavours). And not only that, a newspaper boy (Robert Wecker) informs Rainbow that his brother is dead, and tells him that The Lovedolls were the one's responsible. Meanwhile, Patricia Anne Cloverfield has bought herself a gun and has formed an alliance with Matt (Mike Glass), Tanya's boyfriend, and Switchblade Suzy (Annette Zilinskas), a disgruntled She-Devil.
Possessed by the spirit of Gene Simmons, Carl Celery, wearing the appropriate makeup, shows up at a Bruce Springsteen concert carrying the gun given to him by Kitty Carryall. Hey, check out the Courtney Cox (Modi Frank) wannabe in the front row (she sort of looks like Bunny Tremelo). At any rate, as Bruce (Jordan Schwartz) is finishing up an lyrically altered version of "Dancing in the Dark," Carl rushes the stage.
Speaking of people who sort of look like Bunny Tremelo, the ghost of Bunny Tremelo (complete with Linda Blair from The Exorcist sleepwear) appears in Kitty Carryall's bedroom. Warning her about the dark forces that are out to get her, the ghost of Bunny Tremelo gives Kitty the skinny on all the threats that are currently manifesting themselves against her.
Whether she takes heed or not is anyone's guess. In the meantime, Kitty and Patch appear on Women On Women, a feminist talk show hosted by Gloria Biaz (Carmel Moran). The great thing about this sequence, besides the fact that Kitty and Patch fail to live up to Gloria's idea of what a feminist should look like, was Kitty Carryall's crossed legs sheathed in red tights. In addition to looking fabulous on her, the red tights are good indication that The Lovedolls are well on their way. Remember what I said in my review of Desperate Teenage Lovedolls? You don't? Well, let me repeat it: Colourful tights = success. You could also add: Crimped hair = success to the equation, as the more successful The Lovedolls become, the more crimps seem to appear in Kitty Carryall's hair.
In the coming scenes, Jennifer Schwartz can be seen in blue, footless tights (she wears them during her confrontation with Mrs. Cloverfield), a one piece bathing suit with Argentine theme (it reminded me of the flag of Argentina) with matching blue shades (she wears both during her pool side confrontation with Carl Celery), and a purple feather boa (which she wears during The Lovedolls show at the forum).  
You'll notice I didn't mention Kitty Carryall's confrontation with Rainbow Tremaine during my Kitty Carryall fashion round up. Well, let me just say two words: Suicidal Tendencies. Oh, and my favourite Rainbow-ism uttered during this period was: "I have become semi-rebellious!" And it's no wonder, the city of Los Angeles. is no place for wide-eyed idealists, it warps your soul.
Just like the first film, Lovedolls Superstar was shot on super-8. However, the sequel has a more polished sheen to it. Yet, the film has somehow managed to retain its gritty aesthetic. Depicting Hollywood as the cesspool that it probably is, Dave Markey (best known for, I guess, directing 1991: The Year Punk Broke) has made farcical romp that ridicules the city, while, at same time, celebrates its many quirks. My only complaint would be that Kitty Carryall doesn't get a love interest in either film. Call me a romantic sap, but I wanna see Kitty's luscious thigh's gingerly groped by a tattooed gentlemen caller whilst in the throes of consensual, Patti Smith-approved passion.

video uploaded by Dave Markey


  1. I definitely need to see these now.

    I've always loved the way Super-8 and 16mm looks. Especially black and white.

  2. Billy Jack revolves around a school called "The Freedom School" as well. Basically, LDS is half of parody of Billy Jack. After all, it's part of the punk credo to make fun of hippies.

  3. @ido: I just realized that Fingered, Desperate Teenage Lovedolls and Lovedolls Superstar were all shot on Super-8.

    @Thoas Duke: My Billy Jack knowledge is severely lacking in the knowing anything about it department. :(

    For awhile there I thought Tom Laughlin was the director of The Babysitter and its action-packed sequel, Weekend with the Babysitter.

    "Our mutual distrust and hatred of hippies has united us in a common cause!" - Mr. Show


    The producers of The View have just announced their new lineup of hosts: Iman, Bai Ling, Traci Lords, Lydia Lunch, Sandra Bernhard, Julie Brown, Mink Stole, and Ann Magnuson.

  4. I just wanted to say that you are awesome. :) Have a great day!

  5. You longstanding dedication to my awesomeness is greatly appreciated. ;)

    Have you seen Killer Joe? Thomas Haden Church totally plays Emile Hirsch's dad.

  6. @Yum-Yum: Thus the textual and tactile grainy lustiness their visuals inspire in my brain. Especially "Fingered." Black and white Super-8 has a power drug-like effect on me. I think it comes from staring at the cover of "Evol" while listening to "Secret Girls", while staring out into the rain at the same time, while all those teen-age hormones where racing around downstairs.

    Now you need to watch "Submit To Me" and "The Right Side of My Brain." Oh, and "Submit To Me Now" has some serious footage of Lung Leg, but completely wastes her talents. Kern should have just focused on her in that one.

    As an aside, whenever I go to LA, I always expect weird cult people to come drag me away, or riots to break out. I think I have a distorted view of the city from creepy low-budget movies and listening to Rozz Williams-era Christian Death all the time.

  7. I watched all the Ricard Kern movies on the Hardcore Collection. And yes, the Submit to Me series should have focused more on Lung Leg. I loved the music that plays during her bit in the second chapter.