September 2nd, 2010

BUTTERFLY (1982) **

Well, last month I watched a couple of terrible Bo Derek movies that earned her Razzie Awards.  So I figured what the heck; I might as well graduate to Razzie Award winning Pia Zadora movies.  Unlike Bo’s films Tarzan the Ape Man and Bolero; I don’t exactly get the Pia hate.  I think the Pia hate machine started because (as rumor had it back in ’82) her hubby bought her the Golden Globe Award for Best New Star.  That backlash later earned her the dreaded Razzie and subsequently ruined her career.  I don’t know; I can’t hate on Pia though.  I mean she’s not a bad actress really, plus she’s cute as a button and doesn’t act as overly slutty as Bo did.  Plus, she was in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, so she’s got that going for her.  I have more issues with the movie itself than with her performance.  The awful love song she sings at the end of the flick is another matter entirely. 


Butterfly tells the story of Pia returning home to a silver mine where her daddy (Stacy Keach) is the night watchman.  She thinks the world owes her a living so she convinces him that they should take some silver for themselves.  They also have a weird incestuous relationship in which Stacy ogles her while she’s changing, gives her a bath, and kisses her maybe a couple seconds longer than he should.  I know they say that incest is best, but goddamn.


All of this is pretty good for an hour or so as the sexual tension between Pia and Stacy builds to a crescendo.  However, the movie goes into the shitter once Pia’s shady past comes back to haunt her.  From then on, it’s nothing but revelation after predictable revelation, culminating in one long annoying courtroom scene.  At least the courtroom sequences have the benefit of an extremely fat Orson Welles playing the judge.


Butterfly isn’t very good but you can have some fun with it in a Mandingo-ish kind of way in that it’s funny seeing a cast of character actors parading around in a sexually deviant plot line.  Stuart Whitman has one scene as a fire and brimstone preacher, George “Buck” Flower plays a creep, and none other than June (Lassie) Lockhart and Ed Fucking McMahon play Keach’s prospective in-laws!  Now matter how melodramatic and corny the film gets, you can enjoy seeing a cast like that embarrassing themselves.


Pia is the real reason to watch the flick.  She gets naked a lot and her nude scenes aren’t as overly exploitative as Bo’s were.  Like when she takes a bath, her nipples hover around the waterline; sometimes popping up, sometimes hiding just beneath the surface.  Classy.  She also has some hilarious monologues about being a money grubbing whore that had me in stitches.  I especially liked the scene where she said, “What I did for that money was bad, but what I bought with that money was GOOD!”

LAKE PLACID (1999) ** ½

Okay well, I caught Lake Placid 2 and 3 on SyFy Channel last week, so I figured I’d complete the trilogy by reviewing Numero Uno.  This one’s all about a couple of giant (possibly prehistoric) crocodiles eating people in a lake in Maine.  Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, and Oliver Platt are called in to catch and/or kill the suckers, but not before a handful of people get turned into Croc Chow.


Director Steve (Friday the 13th Part 3-D) Miner knows a thing or two about delivering shocks (that is before he lost all his credibility with the atrocious Day of the Dead remake) but too much of the film’s goofy intentional humor gets in the way of the monster mashing.  Platt’s constant mugging in particular gets kinda annoying after awhile.  At least this movie was doing the whole Make Betty White Swear Like a Sailor thing before it became chic.  Since it was written by David E. (Ally McBeal) Kelley, all the characters seem like they just walked out of a sitcom.  The film also lacks any sort of danger as you already know that no harm is going to come to the four leads. 


The gore is probably the best thing about the flick.  We get a guy bitten in half, a couple severed heads, and a pretty cool scene where the crocodile attacks a grizzly bear.  The second best thing about the movie is Meredith Salenger looking yummy in a deputy uniform.  Man, I had a crush on her back in her A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon/Dream a Little Dream era, so it was nice to see that she’s aged like fine wine.


Max Havoc (Mickey Hardt) is a kickboxer that killed his opponent in the ring, Ivan Drago style then swore off fighting to live the life of a sports photographer.  He goes to Guam to cover a sporting event where his old trainer Richard Roundtree runs an antique shop.  Roundtree comes into possession of David Carradine’s dragon shaped paperweight so Davey Boy has him killed.  Max then goes out for revenge while simultaneously trying to protect a pair of hot sisters who are the thieves that really stole the dragon.


This movie must’ve been solely funded by the Guam tourism department because it’s filled with tons of travelogue scenes of people canoeing, swimming, checking into hotels, going clubbing, native dancing, etc. than actual plot.  Plus, people say “Guam” every other minute. Just in case you forgot where the movie takes place I suppose.  (UPDATE:  I just found out in the IMDB message boards that the flick was indeed funded by the government of Guam!  And there I was thinking I was just being smug and shit.)


The flick was directed by my pal Albert Pyun.  And as Pyun-directed kickboxing movies go, it’s definitely not up to snuff with Kickboxer 2.  Things started out OK enough but the kickboxing and Kung Fu become increasingly sporadic as the film lumbers on.  It’s as if the Guam Board of Tourism stepped in and said “Mr. Pyun, if you put too much Kung Fu in the movie, no one will come to Guam because they’ll be afraid they’ll be kickboxed to death!”


Max Havoc also has more flashbacks than a deranged Nam vet.  I can normally handle flashbacks in movies, but it gets on my nerves when they flash back to the same damn scene twenty times.  If you take a shot of your favorite alcoholic beverage every time Max has a flashback to when he killed his opponent, you’ll be sloshed long before the movie ends.


The film does offer up lots of chicks in bikinis but tragically none of them get naked.  There was this one scene where two girls started rubbing on each other, but just when you think there is going to be an outbreak of lesbianism, Pyun cuts away.  Bummer.


While it’s fun seeing Roundtree and Carradine sleepwalking through their roles, I have to admit that Hardt is pretty terrible.  He’s not too bad in the kickboxing department though.  The annoying sisters on the other hand will drive you nuts.  The scenes where they argue with each other are straight out of an episode of Sweet Valley High or something.


Online critics have made it a national pastime of making fun of Pyun, but he has a free lifetime pass from me because of The Sword and the Sorcerer.  I’m sure Pyun did what he could with the nonexistent budget and shoddy script.  Let me put it this way, I don’t think Martin Scorsese’s Max Havoc:  Curse of the Dragon would’ve turned out much better.  For some reason though, Isaac (the Undisputed sequels) Florentine was brought in for some of the fight sequences.  I don’t know why exactly.  He must’ve been a board member for the Guam tourism department or something.


Incredibly enough, a sequel followed.