Sunday, December 30, 2007

For Your Protection

Recently, thieves broke into Videocrity World Headquarters and stole our TV and VCR. Quelle ironie! Thank goodness, none of the hundreds of videotapes organized in scattered piles were touched. They slowed us down, but they haven't stopped us. But it has caused a reconsideration of our entire political stance. Thus, Videocrity announces that we are throwing our full support behind former Vice President Dan Quayle in his bid to be the first chief executive of the millennium. We are certain he'll be tough on crime. Go get 'em, Danny boy.

Slogan: Fast Fingers...Short Fuse

"What was Randy Quaid thinking?" asked my friend Sean, adding, as if to answer, "although he was in Caddyshack 2." The elder Quaid shaved his head for this role as a cop who tells fallen fellow cop Mario Van Peebles, "You're back on, Jack. We need you." Van Peebles is needed to protect the moll of a slain mob boss and to get the goods on rival mob boss Ben Gazzara, here in a "special appearance." The moll is worth protecting because she knows how to play Erik Satie's "Trois Gymnopédies" on the piano, one of my favorite tunes. But there's more MTV than WGMS involved here, as Mario gets a touch of jungle fever and becomes a bit too close to his witness, leaving Rae Dawn Chong in the lurch. "Rae Dawn, she doesn't show it," lamented Sean, before quickly sputtering, "Omigod!" when she did. "Wow! Holy Jesus!" he added. "Oh, bad edit. The bra is back on." This conundrum led to repeated viewing, which seemed to indicate an expert use of a body double. Good for Rae Dawn. Still, Sean was hooked, running back in every few minutes. "I'm afraid to leave," he said. "Patience really pays off with this thing. Wait five minutes...Jesus Christ! There you go. God damn, this is all right. To think I'm still on the clock." As the "love" scene faded, Sean turned to Dan, who had wandered in, drawn by Sean's enthusiastic ejaculations. "That was pretty good, huh?" "A lot more than I bargained for," replied Dan. "This is Mario's second killer sex scene," explained Sean, somewhat breathlessly. "It's a shame that such a good sex scene is trapped in such a shitty movie," he added. True -- quick cuts, slow plot. "You can tell that's the last sex scene because they're in love," Sean astutely noted. Yep, all that was left was to unveil the "surprise" ending. FREEZE-FRAME.

New Horizons
Slogan: When the Law Fails to Protect and Serve, He Takes Over.

Having just viewed Protector, I wondered what difference the article "the" would make. The fact that this is "A Brett McCormick Film" seemed less impressive than the sight of Lee Majors on the cover. "Lee Majors?" asked my pseudonymous friend Lucy. "That's the Six Million Dollar Man!" Indeed. But the real star is Ed Marinaro. Yes, he was Sonny St. Jacques on Laverne & Shirley. He also starred as Joey Buttafuoco in a TV movie. And was always showing up in Bob Hope specials. But let's go to his college bio: "In his three seasons as Cornell's tailback (1969-70-71), Ed Marinaro (6-2', 210, from New Milford, N.J.) set rushing and scoring records wholesale and won every major honor with the exception of the Heisman Trophy, for which he placed a close second to quarterback Pat Sullivan of Auburn University." Now Ed is the Protector, a former secret operative whose wife was brutally killed, leaving him to dedicate himself to protecting other stalked women. "So he's like Batman?" my pseudonymous friend Lucy asked. "That's great." Instead of a Batcave, Ed has fancy warehouse space and "Gertrude," a super-computer capable of everything the script might conveniently need. "Gertrude, log onto the Net and scan for messages," says Ed, while his talking computer scrolls DOS directories. Please. Ed's dead ex-wife is programmed into the system and, with his virtual suit, Ed can have dinner with her. It's a kind of cyber-necrophilia, really. "Isn't she weirded out by this?" my friend Elissa wanted to know, as Ed "danced" cyberly with his invisible ex while his latest protectee watched from the guest bed. I quickly (and correctly) assessed the plot. "You are good at this," said Elissa, giving me far too much credit. "Jesus Christ, look at that!" cried Lucy. "All of a sudden we're naked!" (She was referring, I hasten to add, to the action on screen.) "This is not fair -- all her clothes are off and he still has all his on." When Majors appeared (playing evil hit man "Austin"), Lucy said, "I suppose he's still a handsome man," adding, "He's a bit fleshy." As Ed fought through the office corridors, Lucy gushed, "He is totally like Batman. I'm getting to like him." As Gertrude conjured virtual policemen, Lucy said, "This is mysterious." "This is like the X-Files," said Elissa. "I can't eat and watch this," said Lucy. "Wow -- that was creepy." But good creepy. Look for the Protector to return. And whatever happened to Pat Sullivan, anyway? PLAY.

Slogan: When Your One and Only...Isn't the Only One!

"Is this a real movie?" my pseudonymous friend Lucy wanted to know. Well, the cast includes JoBeth Williams, Penelope Ann Miller, Annabella Sciorra, Josh Charles, Joanna Going, and..."Omigod, that's Jon Bon Jovi?" asked my friend Elissa. Yes, the hair-band hero returns in another quirky indie film. Soon, Lucy was hooked. "This is really cool -- that's really San Francisco. This is a big-budget movie." The plot is certainly sprawling. All of the characters keep changing partners -- and some change sexual preferences, and change them again, until, as one of them says, "It's fucked up. It's a really fucked-up situation." "Whoa, this is a great movie," said Lucy. "There's action galore!" "Oh, man, she has issues!" noted Elissa, as another argument ensued. "He's so cute, Josh Charles. What's she doing with Jon Bon Jovi?" Elissa wanted to know. "He is cute," agreed Lucy. "I would love him if given the chance," said Elissa. "Get me into this movie!" "They have nice places to live," said Lucy. "That is insane." "She has issues," repeated Elissa, about another character and another argument. "I know they think this is empowering for women, but it's a bit misconceived." "Parts of it are kind of intelligent," countered Lucy. "It's got good lines," admitted Elissa. As the pizza ran out, we tried to figure out who would wind up with whom. "There aren't that many combinations left at this point," said Elissa. After all her Josh Charles talk, when the movie ended, Elissa asked, "Wasn't that horrible?" "The plot was kind of hard to follow," added Lucy, who had slept through much of it. For JoBeth's brave lesbo role, I say, PLAY.

Slogan: The Key to Freedom Is an Angry Woman.

My lawyer friend Jeff, editor of the influential e-newsletter Witzelsucht Memorandum (, brought some nice beer for a viewing of this "A Jim Wynorski Film." Better, he brought his lovely friend Talia, who quickly pointed out that star Carol Alt used to be "a big name in the '80s." Even after a decade and a half of making movies, often in Italian productions, Carol's acting is not quite to the level of, say, Cindy Crawford's. But, she's "still the leggy supermodel," Jeff pointed out. And she's ably supported by Kool Moe Dee and Corey Feldman as evil soldiers of fortune. Corey sports a large eye patch, perhaps imagining that he is conjuring Kurt Russell's bravura turn as Snake Plissken in Escape From New York. He's not. Carol plays an abused wife who just happens to get in the path of an escaping government-created Robo-Cyborg-Clone-Killing-Machine guy. "That part's from Terminator," Jeff astutely noted, when Robo's guts were revealed. There's a man on fire, but there are too many villains, and they keep switching sides. And one of them looks like David Letterman's red-haired announcer. "I just realized," said Jeff with dismay, "we're not going to see the naked chick cyborg again." No, but we may see Storm Trooper II. EJECT.


"I'm afraid this film might be too good for us," worried my lawyer friend Jeff. No, the first Last Seduction, which introduced sultry Linda Fiorentino, is too good for us. Since that was a success, this absurdly titled sequel was destined. And since Linda has gone on to A-list material, it is up to Joan Severance to do a Fiorentino impression. This is probably Joan's best acting: pretending to be a better actress. Picking right up where the first Last left off, Joan gets involved with a guy whose international phone-sex business is so big that his proprietary software fits on one floppy. After working her double-cross, Joan hangs around, apparently to perfect her phone-sex skills. "Oh, she's wearing a different black dress," noted Talia. "Isn't coke in movies as passé as DOS commands in movies?" asked Jeff. Yes, but the spunky gal private eye trailing Joan is a nice twist. I wanna see a whole movie with Beth Goddard. "You're transfixed," Jeff accused Talia. "No, I'm not," she insisted, and I believe her. "I think the ATF should get after her for nonstop smoking," Talia said, as Joan lit another one. "It's Europe," Jeff explained. In the end, the bitch set everyone up. And set us up for a third Last Seduction. EJECT.

Slogan: A Fugitive From a Killer. A Remote Outpost. A Fight to the Death.

Hooray! They're making Foreign Legion movies again. At least Jean-Claude Van Damme is, which rather tempers the celebration a bit. He is co-author of the story, which is crafted, as all his films are, to showcase his butt. Here, he shows his naked butt. Despite that, this is an A-production, with exotic locations, an elegant score, epic battles, and a good old-fashioned imperialist outlook that will win no friends among the Arab community. In 1925 Marseilles, pugilist Van Damme is asked to take a dive. He refuses, and during the chase scene he joins the French Foreign Legion. Fine, but why do his enemies also join -- just to track him down? The filmmakers probably saw John Wayne's The Alamo many, many times. That is a work of insane jingoistic hagiography. I saw it a child, and it haunts me still (Remember: March 6!). Van Damme and Co. blow up their desert version real good. For childish thrills, it's hard to beat. Vive la France! PLAY.

Slogan: From the Producers Who Saw Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, & Braveheart

"I guess I'm at a distinct disadvantage here, because I'm not familiar with any of the films they're talking about," said my friend Pat, the noted cinéaste. In fact, Pat adamantly avoids the multiplexes, which stubbornly present only recent movies made in color. (I believe the last film I got him to watch in a theater was Dunston Checks In.) No, Pat prefers to remain in his swanky bachelor pad (sunken living room!), where he avidly studies the works of Hollywood's golden years on his laser-disc machine. Pat recently gifted me with a copy of the 66-year-old laugh-fest Diplomaniacs, starring the vaudevillian comedy team of Wheeler & Woolsey, as well as the iconic duo's 1932 gut-buster, Hold 'Em Jail (which features a young Betty Grable). So a film that parodies Quentin Tarantino's thoroughly modern oeuvre, along with nearly every other hit movie of the last two decades, was not for Pat. Especially because this "A Gary Binkow Production of a Film by Bob Koherr" is an almost shot-for-shot takeoff and stars such L.A. comedy hipsters as Sandra Bernhard, Julie Brown, Dan Castellaneta, Judy Tenuta, and, uh, Jimmie Walker. The type of folks who wouldn't know a Wheeler from a Woolsey if it slipped on a banana peel right in front of them. My question is: Why wasn't this just a series of sketches on Mad TV? How'd they get the serious cash for a feature? 'Cause I'm working on a parody of Diplomaniacs that is dy-no-mite! PAUSE.

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