February 26th, 2014

LAKE PLACID: THE FINAL CHAPTER (2012) * ½

Yancy Butler (returning from Part 3) is a former sheriff trying to finish off the man-eating crocodiles for good. While on one of her excursions, she finds a mutant crocodile that’s 20 feet long. She then tries to figure out what’s turning the crocs ginormous. Meanwhile a busload of horny teens partying at the lake becomes croc bait. Of course, the daughter of the new sheriff (Elizabeth Rohm) just so happens to be on the bus and she teams up with Butler to kills off the crocs and save her.

When you close your eyes and picture in your mind what a bad SYFY Channel movie looks like, you’ll probably end up envisioning something that closely resembles Lake Placid: The Final Chapter. Directed by Don Michael (Half Past Dead) Paul, this lame sequel features the requisite bad CGI effects, annoying POV shots of the monster (we get lots of green-tinged “Croc-Cam” shots), and a formerly great horror star slumming it (in this case, Robert Englund playing a grizzled big game hunter). And if it wasn’t for the lively performance by Butler as the bitchy, foul-mouthed croc killer, the film would almost be totally without merit.

Lake Placid: The Final Chapter’s biggest flaw is that it’s dull. All of the boring scenes of the irritating teens could’ve been bearable if the crocodile attack scenes were worth a damn; but most of them are lackluster. The only scene that is remotely memorable is the scene where a school of hungry baby crocodiles feed on a hapless teen. And despite a smattering of OK gore, Lake Placid: The Final Chapter is a mostly toothless affair.

SKINAMAX-A-PALOOZA: MAINLINE RELEASING-A-PALOOZA

CARNAL AWAKENING (2013) **

Aging ‘80s porn star Steven St. Croix gets shot by a mysterious gunman after performing a decent Girl-on-Top scene with his girlfriend (Nicole Oring). He tries to get over the traumatizing incident by having even more sex with her. She then tells Steven that he needs to get over his fears by going out and having new experiences. While out jogging, he meets a sexy damsel in distress (Reena Sky) and falls in love with her. As it turns out, her skeevy ex was actually the one who shot Steven and he’s looking to finish the job.

Most of Mainline Releasing’s Skinamax films are forgettable and interchangeable. If we are measuring Carnal Awakening by those standards, then it is definitely better than their usual fare. The sex scenes have more energy than most of their other movies and benefit from performers that seem to be actually enjoying what they’re doing. Reena Sky is quite sexy and Nicole Oring has a good screen presence. Both girls are energetic in their sex scenes, which is definitely a plus.

Now that the compliments are out of the way, I do have to address the biggest shortcoming of the flick; namely the lack of variety. During the film’s 80 minutes, there are seven sex scenes, which means we get a sex scene every 11 minutes or so. That’s not a bad average, but they are all Guy on Girl scenes. And since there are only two girls in the cast, it pretty much limits our options. (We see St. Croix and Oring three times together, which is probably two times too many.) There’s also an odd Sixth Sense twist in the third act that ends things on a goofy note.

AKA: Carnal Awakenings.

OBSESSION (2013) * ½

Sophie (Kiara Diane) is a reporter doing a story on Max (Jason Sarcinelli), a successful businessman. He takes her out to dinner and seduces her. This of course makes her boyfriend Jake (Rocco Reed) jealous and they break up. Max showers Sophie with gifts and soon, they have a torrid love affair. Eventually, she grows tired of Max’s mind games and returns to the waiting arms of Jake.

Obsession has a generic title, which perfectly fits the generic material. I guess they were trying to ride the 50 Shades wave with this one (there’s a light bondage scene). But if you’re going to chronicle the ups and downs of a chick’s love affair with a kinky rich dude, you’ve got to make sure the sex scenes are hot and you actually care about the characters.

Throughout the film’s 83 minute running time there are seven sex scenes. That means we get a sex scene about every 12 minutes. However, since most of the scenes are between Diane and Reed, there are interchangeable and unmemorable. And while Diane looks fairly hot, she acts rather lifeless during her sex scenes. As a result, the scenes aren’t very sexy and represent some of the most generic bumping and grinding I’ve ever seen on late night cable. To make matters worse, they seemingly go on forever.

I don’t really get bothered too much by the performances in these kinds of movies, but it must be said that Kiara Diane gives one of the most wooden performances in Skinamax history. Her robotic monotone delivery pretty much sucks the life out of nearly every dialogue scene she’s in. She often mumbles her lines and sometimes she slurs her words together, which makes me think she either had some sort of dental procedure done shortly before filming. Her awful performance alone plummets Obsession to the lower rungs of the Skinamax ladder.

HIDDEN TREASURES (2013) **

Michelle Maylene invites some friends over to her house for a weekend getaway. Once they are all gathered together, she tells them that her dead father apparently has a fortune hidden away somewhere on the grounds. Michelle then enlists her friends to help her find the treasure, but this naturally leads to a lot of double-crossing; as well as a lot of bed-hopping.

Unlike the last two films, Hidden Treasures is really light on plot. It more or less just serves as an excuse to keep things confined to one set to keep the budget down. Like the last two films, there is very little variety to the sex scenes. We get seven sex scenes in the film’s 82 minute running time (an average of one sex scene almost every 12 minutes); all of them Guy on Girl scenes. Would it have killed them to put a couple of Girl on Girl scenes in there, just to spice things up a little bit?

The sex scenes aren’t particularly great or anything, but they’re watchable. There might not be a lot of variety in the couplings, but there is some variety in the various positions the performers get into within any given scene. Notably, Sadie Katz gets a good scene where she’s boned on a couch.

Maylene is pretty hot and is a decent actress to boot. And Katz has a raspy voice that makes her pretty sexy too. Their efforts aren’t enough to make Hidden Treasures worthwhile, but it does keep you watching.

DARK SECRETS (2012) **

Kelli McCarty stars as a psychiatrist holding group therapy sessions for three couples. They sit around in a circle and discuss their various problems while McCarty takes notes. Jayden Cole’s abrasive boyfriend Tony Marino alienates most of the group with his passive-aggressive obnoxious comments, but he is still able to worm his way into McCarty’s panties. When Cole finds out and threatens to leave him, Marino blows up at her and is arrested for assault; leaving her to pick up the pieces of her life.

The group therapy setting seems like an ideal scenario for a Skinamax flick. But notice how I said “scenario” and not “plot”. That’s because the film is mostly a sequence of dull therapy scenes with so-so sex scenes interspersed to keep you from dozing off.

During the film’s 82 minute running time, there are seven Guy on Girl scenes. Since Dark Secrets is more of a “couples’ movie” than an out-and-out Skinamax flick, it’s not nearly as fun as something from Fred Olen Ray or Jim Wynorski. And since all of the sex scenes are all limited to Guy on Girl scenes, they get a little repetitive. And the final two sex scenes are a bit weak since the editor keeps going back and forth between the couples. Because of this, neither scene is really able to gain much momentum.

The good news is that the girls in the cast are pretty hot. Kelli McCarty is especially appealing as the sexy therapist. And the leggy redhead Jayden Cole yet again proves that she’s one of the sexiest of the newest crop of Skinamax actresses. Dark Secrets maybe yet another ho-hum late night cable flick from Mainline Releasing, but if you’re a fan of either lady, you may consider wasting 82 minutes of your life on it.

HIGH VOLTAGE (1995) *** ½

The first twenty minutes of High Voltage made me think it was going to be some sort of manic classic. And I was almost proved right. It moves at a breakneck pace and features some jaw-dropping moments. Sadly, the flick eventually settles down and for the next hour or so, it becomes a conventional “Burned-Out Cop on the Edge” movie; albeit a thoroughly entertaining one.

Donnie Yen stars as the aforementioned Burned-Out Cop on the Edge. In the opening scene, he tries to save a hostage from falling off a building. He loses his grip and she falls down (not very far) to the ground. Instead of thanking him for saving her from a gunman, she says, “I’ll sue!” This isn’t the only hard luck incident that Yen has endured. For the next fifteen minutes or so, we are treated to several montages of Yen gunning down people and blowing stuff up. It almost plays like an episode of Family Guy or something. His superior will say something like, “Remember the problem you had on the south side last month?” and it’ll cut to Yen Kung Fu-ing a bunch of people. Words can’t express how awesome this sequence is.

Naturally, Yen is ordered to take a leave of absence from the police force. But before he can even walk out the office, another detective asks him to help nab a counterfeiter. Yen readily agrees, and true to his character’s form, winds up nearly exposing the operation at every turn, thanks to his Burned-Out Cop ways. This predictably causes friction with his new partner. We eventually learn that the villain killed Yen’s wife, which explains his erratic behavior. Once his partner realizes this, the duo begins working together as a proper team.

The latter half of High Voltage is more conventional than the opening scenes, but there are still some pretty nifty things in this movie. There’s a great scene in a nightclub where some patrons think Yen picked their pocket and he of course mops the floor with them. In another scene, an assassin shows up at a basketball court brandishing an exploding basketball! The shootouts are a pretty good mix of John Woo-inspired mayhem and Miami Vice slickness. They were a lot more violent and elaborate than I was expecting and feature some impressive stunts.

And what more can you say about Donnie Yen? He’s the man in this movie. His character was clearly inspired by Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon movies, but he imbues his character with a different flavor Mel Gibson had. He is a pleasure to watch in his Kung Fu scenes and gives one of his all-time best performances.

If you’re a fan of Hong Kong action films and this one has somehow slipped under your radar, then you really need to check out High Voltage.

AKA: Asian Cop: High Voltage.

THE VIRGINS OF SHERWOOD FOREST (2000) ***

Roberta (Gabriella Hall) is a sexy music video director dealing with a douchebag singer (Dave Roth). Shortly after he orders her to create a Robin Hood set for the video, she gets bumped on the noggin. When she wakes up, she’s miraculously in Sherwood Forest where Robin Hood (also played by Roth) is looking for Merry Wives for his Merry Men. Eventually, she falls in love with Little John (Jay Stewart) and they make love several times. Meanwhile, the sexy new Sheriff of Nottingham (Shannan Leigh) tricks Robin and locks him in her dungeon. It’s then up to Roberta and Little John to rescue him.

Most of these Skinamax flicks from Surrender Cinema are hit-or-miss. This is one of their hits. At first, the scenes on the set of the music video look like nothing more than pure filler, but they are actually pretty fun. Once the action switches over to Sherwood Forest, the same cheekiness carries over. The tone is akin to something like Fairy Tales. The jokes are legitimately funny jokes and most of the sex scenes are pretty decent. (I don’t think girls had silicone implants, tattoos, and belly button piercings back in the era of King Richard the Lionhearted, but hey, you’ve got to have a certain amount of suspension of disbelief when you watch these things.)

The film runs 92 minutes. In that time we get nine sex scenes. There are seven Guy on Girl scenes, one Girl on Girl scene (which includes some intense scissoring), and one Striptease scene. That works out to be about a sex scene every 10 minutes, which is a solid average.

The performances are pretty good across the board. Hall is very appealing and sexy as the director. (I liked the scene where she “directs” Little John to make love to her.) Roth is very good as the conceited Robin Hood and resembles a surfer dude version of Julian McMahon. It’s also funny seeing Ken (Borat) Davitian playing Friar Tuck.

Overall, The Virgins of Sherwood Forest is one of the best Skinamax movies I’ve watched all month. If you’re a fan of the genre, you owe it to yourself to check it out. And if you’re a fan of Sybil (Femalien) Richards, you’ll be pleased to know this is one of her better efforts as a director.