Archives for posts with tag: Rick Sloane

Bikini Drive-In

Bikini Drive-In (1995) ****1/2  One of the quintessential Fred Olen Ray classics, Bikini Drive-In features all of the traits his fans have come to expect over the years: campy acting from a mix of has-beens and shapely young performers, genuine American trash culture nostalgia, a man in a monster suit, broad humor, and heaping helpings of big, bare breasts!  Or the world’s cheapest special effect, as Ray might put it.  The plot, a variation on the old motley-crew-of-underdogs-bands-together-to-raise-money-to-save-the-[insert school, summer camp, or recreation venue] Roller Boogie or Screwball Hotel type, finds beach babe Ashlie Rhey inheriting a decrepit drive-in theater and having to fight to save it from real estate gangster David Friedman.

Thousands of dollars have to be raised in one weekend – what to do?  Fortunately, the mogul’s son, the adorably dorky Richard Gabai, has the hots for Ashlie and comes to her rescue with the idea of turning the family-friendly but deadsville drive-in into a bacchanalian gonzo bikini-infested party headquarters and showing exploitation films like Ray’s own Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers.  All of this, of course, is a fine excuse to show scantily clad floozies cleaning up the drive-in montage-style in preparation for the gala opening (and turning the hoses on each other, naturally).  What then follows during the film’s final act is one of the greatest party/riot/saturnalia sequences in memory – maybe not quite as happening as Animal House or Bachelor Party, but pretty mightily crazy and loose.

The cast is a real bonanza for fans of the Wynorski-Ray-DeCoteau-Sloane heyday of low-budget L.A. cinema.  Michelle Bauer appears to sizzling effect as a sultry scream queen duped into appearing at the gala re-opening; seedy Ross Hagen is one of Friedman’s henchmen; Tane McClure, renowned stripper Nikki Fritz, and porn actress Sarah Bellomo (aka Roxanne Blaze) are among the film’s many bimbos; and Becky LeBeau (so memorable as the nearsighted stripper in Not of This Earth), in addition to performing some of Bikini Drive-In‘s pleasantly cheesy soft rock songs, plays a stripper recruited to seduce cocky disc jockey Fred Olen Ray.  Other cameos include Gordon Mitchell, Forrest Ackerman, Jim Wynorski, and (posthumously, via photograph) even John Carradine.  Bikini Drive-In is essential viewing for any fan of Ray, Gabai, big breasts, or drive-in movies, and the interior sets are a treasure trove of posters for vintage exploitation films like Death Curse of Tartu, Sting of Death, Cannibal Girls, and Wild, Free, and Hungry.  4.5 of 5 possible stars.  Recommended.

Assault Nerds 2

Assault of the Party Nerds II: The Heavy Petting Detective (1995) ****  First of all, any nerd movie or cheap trash aficionado who is not yet an admirer of the redoubtable Richard Gabai and has not yet watched the incomparable Assault of the Party Nerds needs to do so immediately.  Gabai, an actor who better than any other strikes a captivating balance between accessibly handsome and hopelessly if charmingly dweeby and made a semi-star of sorts of himself in that 1989 Revenge of the Nerds-inspired opus, returns as writer-director-star of its sequel, The Heavy Petting Detective, which, clearly designed with the intention of pleasing fans of the original, has also reunited several members of its cast, including Christopher Dempsey and Robert Dorfmann as secretly gay jocks Bud and Chip; scream queens Michelle Bauer and Linnea Quigley as airheads Muffin and Bambi; and even, in a cameo, hairy Richard Rifkin as the World’s Oldest Living Active.  New and welcome additions to the Party Nerds coterie include Laugh-In‘s Arte Johnson; Batman‘s Burt Ward; USA Up All Night‘s Rhonda Shear (sporting some outrageous hair and kooky outfits that have to be seen); Tane McClure as Dempsey’s seductive secretary; and Tony Scaduto, Spridle Esponda, and Steve Rosenbaum as a trio of next-generation party nerds.

Long since having graduated, Gabai’s alter ego Ritchie Spencer is currently working as a private detective and finds himself mixed up in a wacky imbroglio involving his old greek life acquaintances and rivals when Burt Ward hires him to investigate his son-in-law, who just happens to be the narcissistic and villainous Bud, now married to Muffin and working as an executive at her father’s company.  Bud, having discovered that Muffin has actually inherited the business, concocts a fiendish scheme to sow discord between his wife and her family and so get her to sign the company over to him.  In the course of his investigation, which has to compete for Spencer’s time with a concurrent case involving an elusive potato chip truck driver, Spencer also catches up with Bambi, who, while still somewhat ditzy, has become a cynical, sexually jaded golddigger.  Also complicating matters is the fact that the nerds’ fraternity has fallen on hard times and that the jocks, it turns out, own the deed on the property and are threatening to evict the brothers.  Can the nerds save their frat house?  Will Muffin ever win her husband’s affection again?  Will Spencer ever grow up?  Will the new generation of party nerds rise to the occasion like their forebears and manage to lose their virginity before they graduate?  Naturally, and in the venerable Party Nerds tradition, everything comes to a head at a zany fraternity party.

Though not quite as classic as Assault of the Party Nerds, The Heavy Petting Detective is in some ways superior and offers a lot to recommend it.  In addition to the over-the-top commitment of its entirely colorful cast, the film is fast-paced and never slows down long enough to be boring, even when the humor is occasionally (or usually) lame.  Gabai’s pop ‘n’ roll band, the Checks, provides several upbeat songs (some also featured in Bikini Drive-In) that contribute to the movie’s tempo and harmless, friendly feeling for the viewer.  A few gags are repeated from Assault of the Party Nerds, which, depending on individual taste and affection for the original, could be a plus or a minus.  In the end, however, what probably matters most for partisans of independent VHS glory days, is that The Heavy Petting Detective brings Michelle Bauer, Richard Gabai, and Linnea Quigley together again to do their things, and what, in all honesty, could be better than that?  4 of 5 possible checks.

DoggieB

Pat Buchanan has said, “If you want to see what the future of America is going to look like, I think you ought to look at California.”  San Francisco – or, as Michael Savage would have it, San Fransicko – is one of the most progressive cities in the Golden State; and if the cinematic acid trip Doggie B, aka Doggie Boogie: Get Your Grrr On!, serves as any kind of mental health forecast for the country as a whole, then these Disunited States are definitely nightmare-bound.

Doggie B introduces children to Peter Wolfe (Scott Cox), a gay San Francisco man who, apparently having despaired of finding love in the AIDS capital of California, has devoted his life to dancing with dogs, even going so far as to make it his life’s calling and dancing with his dog professionally in competitions with other dog dance teams.  His dream of interspecies Astaire-and-Rogers-dom is cruelly dashed to pieces when evil competitor Gertrude Spinner (Bettina Devin) causes him to have an accident with his dog, which drives Peter into a downward spiral of junk food obsession and gloom.  Fortunately for everyone (excepting the viewer, that is), his niece Cassie Barbizon (Jesse Draper) has a more optimistic outlook and hopes to pick up where her uncle left off, with puppy Pijo as her partner.  Complicating her blueprint for self-actualization is Cassie’s mother, ambulance-chasing attorney Karen Barbizon (Barbara Tintori), who expects her daughter to follow in her footsteps by studying law.

Doggie B plays a bit like a Rick Sloane film sans the nasty humor (minus the good parts, in other words), with Gertrude recalling cartoonish villainesses Queen Bee and Malathion from auteur Sloane’s Vice Academy series. That a film about dog dancing proves to be less than spectacular can hardly come as any surprise, but the autistic canines in Doggie B have little to do and evince an unusually low level of animal charisma.

Doggie B does, however, have two major strengths in its favor. The first is its amazing visual flair, with no inch of footage escaping without generous splashes of color and zaniness, whether in the art direction or the actresses’ coifs and costumes that at times make the film appear to be peopled entirely by auxiliary members of the B-52s.  The second thing this film has going for it is its cast of colorful, perky character actresses.  Men hoodwinked into renting Doggie B for their children can be consoled at least that, while they are certainly in for a long and grueling haul, there are several attractive actresses in the film, with tall, shapely Jesse Draper quite the knockout, other kooky San Francisco ditzes looking very edible, and scary Bettina Devin perhaps appealing to fetishists of the mature.

A star and a half.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Doggie B is:

9. Anti-Christian.  This film’s good book is the “Dog Dance Bible”.

8. Anti-drug.  Gertrude has secretly been injecting her dance partner with “doggeroids” from a glowing green Re-Animator syringe.  Though there appear to be no adverse effects for the dog, the doggeroids, it turns out, are extremely damaging to a woman’s complexion.

7. Multiculturalist/pro-immigration.  A nice Caribbean (?) doctor introduces Cassie to holistic dog therapy after an old white doctor proves ineffective at treating Pijo’s malaise.

6. Pro-gay.  Though his orientation is never made explicit, Peter’s choice of costumes (beginning with the sweater tied around his shoulders and ending with his climactic John Travolta leisure suit) and make-up for his performances leave little room for doubt.  He wipes his mouth in disgust after a cute fag hag plants a big juicy one on him.  The whole film is a fabulous high camp fever dream.

5. Racist!  Doggie B perpetuates the Magical Negro stereotype with a kinky-afroed black yogi-priestess who can communicate with dogs.  Jews are mercenary, neurotic, and cynical, with personal injury chiseler Karen getting excited at hearing about a terrible car pile-up.  Her practice’s slogan is, “Get hit, get rich quick.”

4. Pro-miscegenation, breaking down prejudiced species barriers.  Doggie B blazes trails by proving that canines are suitable dance partners for Jews.

3. Individualist.  “Mom, this is not about you,” Cassie tells her mother prefatory to her intention of going for the gold with Pijo.  “Believe it or not, I’m growing up.  I’ve changed.  I’m creating my perfect life.”

2. Pro-family.  Despite disagreements, relatives maintain ties, share affection, and help each other.  Parents concerned about adult content are, however, alerted to the off-color inclusion of a sexual slap on the butt.  Also, Cassie’s love interest Roman (Patrick Alan Davis) says to her at one point, “You look hot – I mean, it’ll stand out on the dance floor” [italics added].

1. New Age.  “This stuff really works!” Cassie exults after taking Pijo to Shangrrrla, a clinic for dogs where their spirituality finds alignment.  At Shangrrrla, too, the viewer learns that, “In rare cases, when our souls are wounded, certain quite special dogs become spiritual healers.”  Peter wears an ankh during his climactic routine, which begins with his emergence from a giant disco ball in the shape of a dog’s head, the lowering of which occasions a kind of religious experience in the crowd.  San Francisco’s hippie drum beaters also put in a cameo.

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