E.I. Independent Cinema
Slogan: Insanity Is the Diagnosis...Revenge Is the Cure.
"I love the way they argue covered in blood," observed my friend Patty. Yes, how quintessentially dramatic, n'est-ce pas? Though I'm not convinced that this "A Pete Jacelone Film" is really concerned with truly exploring the human psyche. Psycho, yes, hence the, ahem, titular gals, who spend most of their time a-Bobbitting, a task requiring many changes of form-flattering apparel. But soon enough Patty was pleading, "Are we fast-forwarding through any of this movie? Can we, please?" Though it's only been a week since I saw it, my memory has already faded. But I recall this song: "Young children of God take my hand..." Haunting. I declare it is the best film of 1998. See it with a young child of God. EJECT.
THE DARK ANGEL: PSYCHO KICKBOXER
E.I. Independent Cinema
Curtis Bush is a reigning kickboxing champ and so is due a starring role in a movie about...kickboxing. But in choosing to make "A Film by Mardy South," the not-entirely-charismatic lad has dampened his chances of replacing any of the many other current kickboxing action stars. Basically a random series of styleless, unchoreographed fight scenes with gym buddies, the flick was shot in no light by the side of the road in various New Jersey industrial parks. It's as if they just stopped the van, hopped out, and started kicking at each other while the cameraman tried to follow and pedestrians stepped out of the way. The "Dark Angel" bit means Bush wears a modified Bazooka Joe outfit that covers his mouth, rendering his normally mush-mouthed delivery even less emphatic. And who thought that Truman Capote would be a good model for an evil Mr. Big? "Why don't they just shoot each other?" Patty asked, not unreasonably. Grant points for offering an overweight woman as the love interest, but deduct those same points for the lengthy bath scene. Still, with several excellent exploding heads, this is clearly the most important film of 1998. EJECT.
Slogan: Trained by the Navy...Hunted as a Killer...Only She Would Discover His Real Secret.
Daniel Bernhardt is one of the many interchangeable white martial arts movie stars Hollywood throws at us instead of giving the market what it wants and deserves: a black martial arts star. Which is not to insult the heavily muscled Aryan. After all, he says things like, "You think you can kill me? No one can kill me." Curtis Bush certainly couldn't. In this "A David Worth Film," Bernhardt plays a former Navy Seal who, says former supermodel Beverly Johnson, "got his priorities confused and had to go under...way under." Actually, he got set up and they keep pulling him back in! The reason he's pulled back in is because evil Asian industrialists say things like, "Control of virtual memory technology is pivotal to our organization." The fights go: my turn--my turn--my turn, your turn--your turn--your turn, my turn, I win. Over and over. But the interesting thing is that for some reason this tape arrived with a complimentary Chinese-made squirt gun. The toy had a "True Vengeance" logo sticker on it, but peeling it up revealed the gun's real name: Thunder Pet. "Thunder Pet" is a great name for a movie. I want to see Thunder Pet. I want to have a Thunder Pet. I want to be Thunder Pet! Thunder Pets are go! The most exciting movie tie-in of 1998! PAUSE.
Slogan: They Were on the Verge of a Scientific Breakthrough Until It Became a...BOMBSHELL
So if Spike Lee can affectedly call his films "A Spike Lee Joint," why can't this be "A Paul Wynne Mix"? Sure, it's obnox times two and you want to slap the guy, but there is some kind of vision at work here, at least in the art direction. It's a vision of the future, all pink hair, shiny clothes, lava lamps, and primary colors. And, hey, a justification for Orbitz. In the year 2011, nanoengineering scientists Henry Thomas and Frank Whaley are tampering in God's domain on instructions from the ubiquitous Brion James. Madchen Amick is suitably futuristic, and it's good to see Pamela (Cherry 2000) Gidley again, but what is the deal with Victoria Jackson? She's been showing up for a single scene in every other weird DTV film, as if her career is now just some crazy hobby. "You're supposed to tell the truth! You're a journalist!" a character shouts. If that's the case, I cannot lie: This is the finest film of 1998. PLAY.
RETURN TO SAVAGE BEACH
Slogan: The Big Guns Are Back!
Like all other Savage Beach movies, this is "An Andy Sidaris Film." Unlike in most other "A Somebody/Nobody Films," the Sidaris label is a mark of a certain kind of distinction. A former TV sports producer, Andy makes movies for people who think jet skis and sport utility vehicles are elegant. Who think ex-Penthouse Pets like Julie Strain are glamorous. Who think double-stretch limos are classy. All of these are Sidaris staples, along with scripts as witty as a strip-o-gram. Andy's muscle-bound actors struggle like third-graders to recite lines like "Cobra, you're amazing. Working undercover. In a nightclub. As a stripper." In short, he makes movies for pinheads. He is a wealthy man. But the ending involves a face being ripped off to reveal the real killer, several dummies blow up nicely, and any film that has a credit reading "Adventure Amphibians by Happy Smiles" is surely one of the best films of the year. FREEZE-FRAME.
Slogan: Before He Gets to Say "I Do..." You Won't Believe What They Did!
In an act-fest, men will kiss. They will sweat. They will cry. They will vomit. In an act-fest, we will hear all of their stories. They will work out their issues. They will be "in the moment." The kissing (on the cheek), sweating, crying, and vomiting is always done in a lusty, manly way, of course. This is an act-fest with a big cast, so there are many stories, many issues, and much vomiting. Mario Van Peebles, Kevin Dillon, Ben Gazzara, Jerry Stiller, Andrew McCarthy, that guy from Talk Soup, and--omigod, it is!--Taylor Dayne ("keeping her roots dyed," Patty noted) act all over what I'm guessing is the producer's country estate as a bachelor party goes terribly wrong. Surprisingly effective, Dayne should be working more (not in the music business, and not in this kind of movie, however). Playing a weasel with real bad teeth, McCarthy offers his most appealing performance in years. Still, Patty was heard to exclaim, "There has to be something going on here!" Sadly, in an act-fest nothing ever really goes on. "Can't they shoot each other in an act-fest?" she suggested. Hmmm...not a bad idea. But the Oscar always goes to an act-fest. And this is the finest act-fest of 1998. PAUSE.
Slogan: A Chase Through Time...A Race Against Death...
It's not a chase, it's not a race. It's a very slow hour until we get to the Jurassic period, where the sunny countryside is filled with stop-motion dinosaurs apparently left over from Dinosaur Valley Girls. Before then, the script is all exposition, long speeches of blather that never get around to clearly explaining why the evil, bald industrialist is searching for a prehistoric dinoman--that is, a guy in a lizard suit. That fake Bigfoot footage is more convincing. We do learn that "by digitizing mass and reassigning it in relative space-time, we're able to circumvent both time and locality." For that reason, and the double-twist Twilight Zone ending, I must conclude that this is the finest film of 1954. EJECT.
ERNEST IN THE ARMY
Slogan: America's Hero Is Finally Back in Camp!
Before the shrink-wrap was off the box, Patty said, "You know, we will be fast-forwarding." Because she had served our country in the Armed Forces, I was eager for Patty's opinion of Ernest's latest adventure. Right off the bat she spotted a casting flaw: "You can't be that fat, even in the Reserves." And Patty was also right that much fast-forwarding did occur as Ernest attempted to win some Desert Stormish war, mocking Arabs and saving orphans all the while. But after our movie marathon, Patty declared, "Ernest was the best thing we saw." Agreed. In fact, I'd call it the best film of all time. EJECT.
Next Month: Kill or be killed