January 15th, 2009

LUST IN THE DUST (1985) **

A showgirl (Divine) and a gunslinger (Tab Hunter) ride into the one horse town of Chili Verde where everyone is looking for gold.  Since it’s a one horse town, they can only afford a three hooker brothel, which is run by a shady madam (Lainie Kazan).  Eventually Divine and Lainie discover that they both have the treasure map tattooed on their ass so they join forces to find the gold.


Lust in the Dust is one of those movies that start off great, with lots of laughs and some incredible sight gags.  You think to yourself, “They’ll never be able to keep this up.”  Sometimes a movie will surprise you and continue to be constantly funny; other times, the film will just get desperate and repeat the same old gags over and over until they stop being funny.  Lust in the Dust is a case of the latter.  After about a half hour, I was ready to give Lust in the Dust ****, but by the time we got our second “comical” musical number, another “hilarious” scene where Divine crushes someone with her thighs, and an additional “funny” shootout, it quickly got tiresome.  In fact, once everyone starts looking for the gold, the laughs completely dry up.  It’s almost as if director Paul (Death Race 2000) Bartel actually thought he was making a legitimate western or something.


The performances are all solid and help to make this mess watachable.  Divine is Divine.  She always had a lot of screen presence, even when she isn’t given a whole lot to do (which is the case here).  Kazan gets some good moments; the best is when she sings “Come South of My Border.”  Hunter doesn’t make much of an impression (mostly because he’s aping Clint Eastwood), but Henry Silva is a riot as a barroom ruffian.  Once his character gets killed off, the film quickly goes down the tubes.


Divine’s breathless overacting will make you wish John Waters wrote this one, but she does at least get one priceless line of dialogue while riding on a donkey:  “My ass is on its last legs!”


Any time you get a giallo that takes its title from a Freud quote, you just expect it to be a great movie.  Unfortunately, In the Folds of the Flesh is one big fucking mess.  The story is all about a smoking hot MILF (Eleonora Rossi Drago) who lives in a chateau with her smoking hot daughter (Pier Angeli) and her whiny son.  Mama’s got a secret because back in the day, she killed her husband and buried him in the garden and let some drunk take the wrap.  Thirteen years later, the drunk is out of prison and holds the family hostage.  Although the family is able to bump off the annoying blackmailer and dispose of his body, things slowly start to unravel for them once dear old dad comes back from the dead trying to make nice with everybody.


In the Folds of the Flesh has a few clever kills (my favorite was the death by cuckoo clock), a fair amount of nudity, and an abundance of severed heads, yet it leaves the viewer wanting more.  While the film delivers a handful of lurid shocks, for the most part it feels more like a boring soap opera than a down and dirty giallo.  The cardinal sin that leads to the film’s ultimate downfall is it’s over-reliance on plot “twists”.  There’s a “shocking” revelation about every ten minutes (and about five revelations during the final reel), that negate most of what’s come before and only helps to confuse things further.


At least the cast is somewhat capable and keeps you watching throughout the more sluggishly paced sections of the film.  Drago is quite good in the lead and oozes sensuality from every pore.  Angeli is also pretty hot, but wears an incredibly stupid wig throughout most the movie that doesn’t do her any favors.  Sadly, Pier (a former flame of James Dean) died the next year of a drug overdose while filming the cult classic, Octaman.

ROGUE (2008) **

A bunch of tourists take a boat out through the rivers of Australia and become menaced by a giant crocodile.  The hungry croc munches his way through the cast until he grabs a hold of the foxy tour guide (Radha Mitchell) and takes her back to his cave.  Upstanding American hero (Michael Vartan) gallantly sneaks into the croc’s hideout and does battle with the beast in order to rescue the hot slice of Aussie tang.


Every year, it gets harder and harder to make a credible animal attack movie thanks to the good folks at the Sci-Fi Channel.  Rogue was a legitimate release from The Weinstein Company and director Greg (Wolf Creek) Mclean and even though the production values are top notch, you can see just as good a killer croc movie for free on Sci-Fi without it clogging up your Netflix Queue. 


The stuff you would expect to work in Rogue doesn’t.  All of the crocodile attacks are weak and mostly happen off screen with the minimum of gore.  Also, most of the tension is muted due to the fact that the characters all basically act like idiots.  Seriously, why would you dangle yourself above a river bank when you know a killer croc is just itching to leap out of the water to gobble you up?  If Mclean didn’t manufacture all of the suspense and let the scares come naturally, Rogue might’ve been worthy of the praise that people are heaping on it.  (Then again, a lot of people loved Wolf Creek, and I didn’t like that one either.)  It also didn’t help that the heroine slept through the entire climax either.


Surprisingly enough, the scenes that you’d think would be a complete bore are actually very well done.  The 45+ minute build-up to the initial croc attack is rather effective and is much better than the second croc-centric half of the flick.  I got a DVR for Christmas that up-converts DVDs to near Blu-Ray quality and Rogue was a great way to test the player.  The wildlife footage really popped off the screen and the scenery was breathtaking.  Too bad that by the time Vartan got to the croc’s lair, things got all dark and dingy.


Vartan gets the best line of the movie when he says, “I fucking hate animals, especially ones that can kill you!”


The legendary drive-in movie critic Joe Bob Briggs hosts this awesome “Awards Ceremony” that was originally a Pay Per View Special, that is just an excuse for some of the finest 90’s scream queens to get naked.  Joe Bob interviews several B Movie actresses, shows clips from some of their films, and then they do a little striptease.  Viewers then call in and vote on their favorite babe.


First, Joe Bob talks to Julie K. Smith from The Dallas Connection about her career and being a consultant on Showgirls.  She says she’s using B Movies as a stepping stone to something else, but her career never got out of the straight-to-video market.  Next, the relatively unknown Steen talks about her one and only film credit Turnaround (Directed by Jeff Mandel from Elves fame!), which she also wrote.  Then Julie Strain shows up wearing an amazing metal brassiere and discusses her work in Andy Sidaris films.  And yes, the infamous scene from Fit to Kill where she has an orgasm on a boat and screams, “Anchors away!” is shown.  Afterwards, Michelle Bauer (who wins) appears and talks about Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers and being a body double for famous stars.  Finally, Joe Bob talks to Linnea Quigley about Return of the Living Dead and Linnea’s classic “Dance of the Double Chainsaws” is shown.  When Linnea does her striptease, she caresses a severed arm.  While the votes are being tabulated, the two Julies engage in a Sapphic hot tub dance. 


Briggs’ conversational interviews are excellent and the girls all look great.  Even though the striptease scenes are brief, they show more than enough skin to give you a chub.  There’s no real way to review this show.  If you’re a fan of Joe Bob, or any number of the gals featured on the show will definitely want to check this out.  I love both, so it’s Four Star City all the way.