January 28th, 2009

POISON IVY 2: LILY (1996) * ½

After directing Alyssa Milano in the sultry softcore horror classic, Embrace of the Vampire, Anne Goursaud put Alyssa through the paces of this direct to video sequel to the 1992 Drew Barrymore stinker, Poison Ivy.  It’s definitely better than the first movie, but that’s not saying a whole helluva lot.


Alyssa stars as Lily, a poor college girl living in a starving artist tenement.  She finds Ivy’s nude self portraits (not really Drew, but a stand-in) and slowly becomes obsessed with the photos.  Soon enough, Lily is cutting her hair, piercing her belly button, and starting to dress and act like a total slut.  She quickly seduces her married professor (Xander Berkeley) and jerks around her new boyfriend, played by Johnathon (Road House 2) Schaech a lot.  When she finally gives up her slutty ways and chooses her boyfriend over her teacher, the prof gets all kinds of jealous during Thanksgiving Dinner and tries to rape Lily.  In the end, the professor tries to kill her in a fit of jealous rage and ends up falling to his death. 


The scenes of Alyssa getting nekkid are the only things worthwhile about this crappy sequel.  Although there is plenty of softcore nudity during the scenes of tepid sex and artist models posing au natural, it wasn’t quite enough to raise my pulse.  Even though most of Alyssa’s sex scenes featured some annoying chanting monks on the soundtrack, whenever her rack was getting squished up against a glass shower door while she was getting fucked; it was okay by me.


What really sinks the movie though is the bare minimum of plot.  Sure, most of these erotic thrillers don’t really need a plot, but besides the nudity, nothing much else ever happens.  And for some reason the flick stops being a Poison Ivy movie and becomes a Lifetime Adultery Movie of the Week about ¾ of the way through.  To top that off, Goursad paces the movie in a meandering manner and lets things go on for far too long.  Seriously, this movie clocks in at a steep 107 minutes, which is about 17 minutes longer than any erotic thriller really needs to be.  Also, the costume party scene where Alyssa dons black lipstick and starts acting like a bitch is almost exactly like the one found in Embrace of the Vampire, except it’s not nearly as much fun.


Alyssa’s chest region is pretty much the whole movie but she gives a decent performance; or at least I think she did since I wasn’t really judging her performance on “acting” ability.  The rest of the cast ain’t too shabby.  Schaech is pretty good as the requisite brooding artist guy that has constant five o’clock shadow, an earring, and frosted hair (there were a lot of those guys in the 90’s) and I had fun spotting future hottie Camilla Belle in an early role as a youngster Alyssa babysits.


While Poison Ivy 2 is full of flaws, at least it features Alyssa Milano getting naked.  For some people that will be enough (If I had saw this a decade ago, it might’ve gotten ***, considering my teenage lust for Alyssa), but most viewers will be left wanting more.  Bad movie fans might be able to appreciate the lame dialogue, that includes such howlers like, “Your beauty scares me… terrifies me!”


I don’t know if you all remember me telling ya a few reviews back how I used to love watching TBS back in the day because they would play nothing but Clint Eastwood westerns.  During rainy Sunday afternoons, I’d sit in front of the tube watching the Dollars Trilogy over and over again; in awe of Clint’s badassery.  When TBS wasn’t playing the Dollars Movies, they’d occasionally toss this flick into their line-up.  Now no one will ever argue that Two Mules for Sister Sara is Clint’s best, but since I saw it about a dozen times on countless rainy Sundays as a lad, it comes with a certain cloud of nostalgia that makes it (for me at least) a top notch Eastwood flick.


Clint plays Hogan, a cowboy/mercenary who rescues a nun named Sister Sara (Shirley MacClaine) from some rapists.  She accompanies him to a French Army fort to do some reconnaissance work and along the way he has to protect her from bandits and save her from poisonous snakes.  Hogan and Sara later join forces to dynamite a bridge and team up with some Meh-hican Revolutionaries to blow up the Frenchie barracks.  Predictably, Sister Sara isn’t exactly who she claims to be, so it’s OK in the end when Hogan balls her in the bathtub.


Don Siegel directs the action sequences in an assured fashion but probably let the pacing drag once too often.  Things get kinda pokey by the time Clint and Shirley team up with the Mexicans but once Eastwood starts dynamiting the shit out of French people, its damn good times.  There’s also a gnarly scene in which Shirley has to cauterize Clint’s arrow wound that will have you squirming in your seat too.  Toss in a stirring Dollars-esque theme by none other than Ennio Morricone, and you got yourself one quality western.


Although the flick moseys along at it’s own pace, it’s able to coast on the two stars’ chemistry.  They’re simply great together and their performances are what really make the movie memorable.  Reportedly, the two fought constantly on the set, but I guess that helped enhance the bickering nature of their characters.  Plus, Shirley is a straight-up FOX in that nun outfit.  Siegel and Eastwood teamed up the next year for the immortal Dirty Harry.


Incredibly enough, Mexican monster movie maverick Rene (Night of the Bloody Apes) Cardona Jr. was the second unit director.


Clint gets the best line in the flick when he’s worrying about how the Mexican revolutionaries will pay him:  “If they try to pay me out in tortillas, I’ll shoot ‘em in the eye!”


Sonny Chiba returns to kick some more ass as Terry Tsurugi in this lukewarm sequel to the immortal Street Fighter.  It’s nowhere near the same league as the original, but the first fifteen minutes plays out like some sort of mini-classic.


This time around Terry is ordered to kill a prisoner that is in police custody.  What does he do?  He drives his motorcycle up to the gate of the police station, does a somersault over the iron fence, and begins karate chopping coppers.  Once he gets arrested, he’s taken to the jail where he rips out his target’s throat, kung fus several cops, and then leaps out of a three story window onto his getaway car.  AND HE DOES ALL OF THIS WHILE WEARING HANDCUFFS!  What a badass.


Things rapidly go downhill from there, unfortunately.  After making his escape, Terry does another assassin gig and kills a dude before eluding the police by swinging around like Tarzan.  Then when the bad guys want Terry to kill his karate buddy, he refuses.  This cheeses off the gangsters big time and they send out a bunch of men (including Terry’s arch-nemesis Jojo) to kill him.


When I first saw Return of the Street Fighter 15 years or so ago, it was a big disappointment to me because the level of violence just wasn’t up to snuff with the original.  Seeing the unrated cut for the first time bumps the movie’s rating up an extra ½ *, even though its still kinda limp.  The unrated version is much more violent than the R rated cut and includes a batshit insane scene where Terry punches a dude in the back of the head so hard that his eyeballs pop out of his skull!  That scene alone is worth the extra ½ *.


Besides that nutty scene, we get some other assorted good stuff like Terry breaking a naked bitch’s arm, a solid fight scene on a ski slope, and a pretty cool part when Terry impales a guy with a revolver and THEN shoots him.  We also get a great kung fu demonstration scene where a karate instructor flails around a particular weapon and there’s a little title card at the bottom of the screen saying what each weapon is.  (If you were a Ninja Turtle fan, you will instantly recognize the nunchucks, bos, and sais and won’t need the title cards, but it’s a cool scene nonetheless.) 


The problem with the movie is that it slows down considerably whenever it’s just the bad guys sitting in their little offices scheming to get rid of Terry.  In fact, he disappears for a good chunk of the flick and the film never recovers from his absence.  Then there are the long black and white flashbacks to the first movie that senselessly pads out the running time and get in the way of the film’s momentum.  I could’ve also done without the annoying sidekick chick who sings along in the car to her 8 Track of Japanese folk songs.  On the plus side, Chiba kicks major ass yet again and even though the flick can’t compare to the original, it’s a solid entry in the series.  Followed by Sister Street Fighter.


AKA:  Street Fighter 2.