Thursday, November 15, 2012


This shallow sequel to the 1984 sex comedy classic “Hollywood Hot Tubs” only taps a few of the ingredients which made its predecessor so endearing, but it takes more than a few boobs and bubbling whirlpools to protect it from the rest of itself.

In the original film, prankster delinquent Shawn is treading on thin ice after vandalizing the landmark Hollywood sign by changing it to read “Hollyweed.” He’s given two options: repeated, random sodomy in prison, or going to work at Hollywood Plumbing with his uncle.  Naturally, he chooses the least rape-filled option and soon he is thrust into a seedy underworld of massage parlors and bath houses. Among the bevy of colorful characters we’re introduced to are mother/daughter duo Pam (Remy O'Neill) and Crystal, who run the venerable Hollywood Hot Tubs. While Crystal, a slack-jawed valley girl whose jiggles frantically under her tube top, is more of a peripheral character in the first film, she takes the central role in the sequel.

The fact that this was produced six years after the original made me a little wary to begin with. Even the unfortunate brightness and color scheme of the box screamed “don’t do this!” Coincidentally, the “Hollywood Hot Tubs 2” box actually bears striking similarities to the art for the terminally wretched “Hardbodies2” – the worst sequel of all time to one of the greatest sex comedies ever. I don't know what the fuck it is, but there are actually a bunch of past-due sequels that feature boxes with white backgrounds and aqua/yellow lettering. It's like some subliminal military warning code that something is going to eat shit.

There is an overwhelmingly good idea at the heart of this sequel: the return of Crystal, once again played by Jewel Shepard, who is easily one of the best and most memorable characters from the original film. While Shepard is primarily known as a B-actress, she was always more than just a solid rack. Shepard coupled centerfold perfection with great comedic ability. There were plenty of actresses from her period who had no trouble baring all, however Shepard easily transcends them by not only being hot, but by being a hot COMEDIAN.

Shepard is always a joy to watch, but I wasn’t sure if anyone could extract a good full-length feature based entirely on the Crystal character. While “Hollywood Hot Tubs 2: Educating Crystal” is anything but good, it’s not a failure because of Shepard. Once again, she’s wonderful here. Unfortunately, everyone that surrounds her is unlikable, and the story itself trades in the real heart and grit of the original film for cartoon laughs.

Our tale begins with Crystal in a mild panic as Hollywood Hot Tubs falls into minor disrepair, which does not bode well for her bid to take over the family business. On the side, the man responsible for the upkeep, aging guitar guru Darby (JP Bumstead), is being hounded to join a band called Brain Dead. In the midst of it all, Crystal’s mother, Pam, is being woo'd by the swarthy sheik Prince Ahmet (a waste of veteran Bart Braverman) who wants to turn Hollywood Hot Tubs into a publicly traded franchise. Crystal is desperate to prove that she has what it takes to run the place, so she enrolls in business school, where she meets the obnoxious Jason. Jason convinces Crystal to let him mold her into a respectable character, hence “Educating Crystal.” At some point, Prince Ahmet’s chauffeur, Gary, spots Crystal and falls madly in love with her at first sight. Gary is also a struggling author who’s attempting to cobble some horrible romance noir crap together, and he thinks Crystal just might be his muse. Eventually, Gary discovers that Ahmet is plotting to marry Crystal’s mother so he can snake Hollywood Hot Tubs out from under her. Seriously, it’s a boring fucking mess that alienates itself tonally from the original film. The sub-plot with Darby really drags this thing down; it’s given too much time, but not enough for Darby to feel like a real character. Aside from that, Bumstead wasn’t the right guy for the part.

Speaking of poor casting, it doesn’t get much worse than Patrick Day here, who plays the Higgins to Crystal’s Dolittle. This has rarely been said, but this is one of those instances where Corey Feldman could have really elevated this project. Rob Garrison ("The Karate Kid," "Punk Vacation") also has a small part here as Billy Dare, a cockneye British hair rocker who's out to prevent Darby from stealing his spot in Brain Dead. I couldn't even get excited about that.

I have trouble believing that those responsible for this sequel held the original film in any sort of high esteem. While the original Hot Tubs digresses into utter insanity, the bulk of the film feels very real up until its wild finale. There’s depth to the relationships, and some of the performances in the original are alarmingly strong. The sequel on the other hand is pretty much just a goofball comedy from start to finish, and it is lacking a prime ingredient: The seedy environment. In “Hollywood Hot Tubs,” we’re treated to a custodial-bird’s eye view of Sunset’s sex culture. Here, Hollywood Hot Tubs has been transformed into an innocuous health spa, complete with juice bar. The adult aura and sense of taboo are nowhere to be found. No one’s jaded or just out to get laid, and that’s the problem. None of the characters are sexual or interested in sex. It's a movie that has tits and some jokes, but that doesn't make it a sex comedy. Instead, it's a romantic farce about a day spa making its IPO. It's a movie that accepts and settles into its own cheapness, and never really bothers to get dirty. Altogether, this is a depressing lack of effort. 

I couldn’t find a trailer, but here’s some of the magic from Part 2, featuring Patrick Day as Jason coaching Crystal on how to be a better business woman.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


"The Seduction" is the curious result of director David Schmoeller ("Tourist Trap," "Crawlspace," "Puppetmaster") taking his theater studies with Alejandro Jodorowsky, work with Klaus Kinski and mentoring in film by Luis Buñuel and throwing them in a deep, dark hole only to be retrieved at an undetermined point following the completion of this film. "The Seduction" was profoundly mediocre and excellent practice for the three seasons of "Silk Stockings" Schmoeller would later go on to direct in the 90s. It begins with all the promise of a "Red Shoe Diaries"-esque late night cable movie channel softcore, Morgan Fairchild swimming nude while a mysterious onlooker is taking photographs all set to a soundtrack of breathy, delicate violins and electric piano solos scored by Lalo Schifrin ("Cool Hand Luke," "Prime Cut," "Dirty Harry"). This really sets a precedence for the remainder of the film of getting the worst possible outcome from everyone involved, unless you count the acting/facial paralysis Fairchild seems to be suffering from. I guess that's what happens when you pool your talent from television actors famous for their guest appearances on "The Love Boat." "The Seduction" was released during Morgan Fairchild's lucrative career in television embedded seamlessly between her two episode stint on "The Love Boat" and her appearance on the "Billy Crystal Comedy Hour." Playing TV newscaster Jamie Douglas's (Fairchild) boyfriend Brandon is unremarkable Canadian treasure Michael Sarrazin ("They Shoot Horses Don't They"). The slightly more unremarkable Andrew Stevens (10 to Midnight, Death Hunt), who plays Jamie's stalker Derek, road a wave of television softcore work through the mid-90s and into great films such as "Point of Seduction," "Illicit Dreams," "Subliminal Seduction" and so on. Stevens also had the esteemed honor of doing a two episode guest spot on "The Love Boat."

This film has all the suspense of an episode of the "The Andy Griffith" Show with minimal amounts of sex, violence and nudity but revolves around a vaguely interesting concept, lonely people with nothing in their lives but fantasies and the relationship between fan and celebrity. Derek falls in "love" with Jamie because she is an on air personality then begins attempting to inject himself into her life. "The Seduction" is a castrated attempt at a thriller but a step by step instructional on how to make a stranger fall in love with you. Take secret photographs of her swimming, send her flowers, call frequently and always unwantedly, rub your muscles while starring at a photo of her whispering "you can't keep your eyes off me can you", surprise her at work by lurking in her office with chocolates then lay in wait hoping your handsome chiseled face will wash away all the creepy shit you did subsequently. Lover boy doesn't really seem like much of a threat through most of the film but eventually motivates Brandon to turn to the police who can only advise "get a gun" reducing Jamie and Brandon into rifle-toting vigilantes.

"The Seduction" is a thriller falling back on it's softcore erotic qualities which barely exist outside of the music, steamy hot tub sex and peeping toms hiding and sweating in closets. The only potential for merit I can see are the brief Morgan Fairchild nude scenes... a soapy nipple or two and some slow leg caresses, my favorite.

Friday, November 9, 2012


I knew when I picked up this movie it would be good simply by judging the box.  Never mind that hunting the future is a stupid idea that is impossible.  Never mind that this is Robert Patrick's first film and his acting skills were probably not yet up to the level of his trademark role, a robot.  There's a scantily clad lady with a crossbow, T-1000 holding a scimitar, and a Nazi shooting a laser-sighted uzi in the jungle.  Boom, I'm already sold.  Then I scanned the credits.  *Double gasp* This movie was directed by Cirio Santiago, esteemed pupil of Roger Corman, and written by J. Lee Thompson, whose fingerprints are all over my two favorite Bronson flicks, "10 to Midnight" and "Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects" not to mention many more traditional film classics like "Cape Fear" and "The Guns of Navarone".  Still, I had to keep my expectations reasonable, I didn't want to set myself up for a let down.

I wasn't let down.  "Future Hunters" starts in 2025 with post-nuclear wanderer, Matthew (Richard Norton) searching for the the Spear of Longinus, which pierced Jesus' side while he was on the cross.  He hopes to harness its supernatural powers to save mankind just as evil warlord Zaar hopes to obtain it for destruction. As Matthew touches the relic, he is transported back in time to prevent the nuclear holocaust. Upon arriving in 1986, he gives the head of the spear to a young couple, imploring them to find a man named Hightower who can protect the artifact.  The man from the future dies of mortal wounds in Slade's back seat after saving the couple from would-be attackers in a biker gang.  Here is where we meet our protagonists, Michelle and Slade.  It's kind of funny, but these two lovebirds don't seem to like each other that much and seem to bicker at every opportunity. Maybe they just need a wacky super dangerous world-saving adventure to rekindle their romantic essence...?

As the gung ho Michelle and reluctant Slade attempt to learn more about the spear and look for the man named Hightower, trouble starts heading their way.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the main henchman, Bauer, is totally the guy who played Thorg in "Gymkata", Bob Schott.  He's like Dobber from TV's "Coach", but bigger and a Nazi.  Bauer works for a power hungry Fielding played by Ed Crick.  Crick's portrayal adds a certain bit of silliness to the movie since he has kind of a Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh look.  The adventure vibe is officially ramped up by about 7-8 minutes of straight kung fu action that is hilariously crammed into the beginning of the second act of the film.  I won't lay out the sequence of events, but I will say this film has Mongols, Pygmies, Amazons, Bruce Le, Jang Lee Hwang, helicopter chases, and alligator pits surrounded by fire. 'Nuff said.

Another pleasant surprise was the wonderful, if not overly ambitious, soundtrack and score.  I was moved to look up the music credits and found that Ron Jones was responsible.  His credits include Star Trek TNG, Family Guy, DuckTales, and Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers.  It's plain to see that this film was an excellent demo for him.  While the editing was uneven and silly, the music itself was great, especially the Amazon themes which reflect an acute Enter the Dragon influence (anyone who knows me knows Lalo Schifrin is one of my favorite composers).

This movie has lots of great action, killer 80s synth music and scoring, and really cool locations in South Asia.  It manages to balance the action and plot well despite the slow first act.  It gets more fun as it goes along and builds to a heroic ending.  I will definitely give this another spin sometime with friends, but will definitely look for a different copy than the SLP mode copy I happened upon. I was very pleased to find this little piece of history and would recommend it if you need a bit of fun.

In lieu of a trailer, here is a clip from the kung fu portion of the film...

Monday, November 5, 2012


Ahh, those 1950’s summer memories: The drive-in, the soda shop, the make-out point, your house invaded by a group of drunk rapists. This is a very uncomfortable comedy. Not surprising given that director Donald M. Jones prior to this made "Schoolgirls In Chains" and "The Love Butcher." 

During 4th of July weekend a group of girls make a virginity pact after growing tired of their boyfriend’s persistent advances. They each wear matching sweaters to show solidarity. Even Joella (Julie Parsons, "Hometown U.S.A."), the town tramp, is in on the deal. This course of action makes the already sexually frustrated town boys even more crazy and out of control. They try to blow off steam by having a little fun at the lake. For the first part of the film they can’t stop talking about the lake. They’re going to drink beers there and have just the best time. It’ll be such a blast that they’ll even let the nerd partake. This lake seems like it’s gonna be a cool place. Now dear reader let me tell you with no exaggeration that this is without a doubt the worst movie lake I have ever seen. It is literally a puddle in the desert. I wouldn’t even give it that much credit. It looks more like they sprayed some dirt down with a hose. It is just some wet ground in the middle of nowhere. The façade is ruined even more when they are finished partying and drive ACROSS the lake. 

The men in this film are real boneheads. Most of their screen time is filled with them wrasslin’, peeing, vomiting, and littering. All of this while they are drunk out of their minds. Not since "Leaving Las Vegas" have characters been this drunk for most of a movie. After some dangerous intoxicated drag racing the dudes finally decide to crash the first official sweater girls meeting. They storm a house by loudly stumbling through 2nd story windows and doorways. The scene is comically terrifying; "Assault On Precinct 13" by way of Foster Brooks. What’s most strange about this sequence is how not frightened the girls are. When they notice the first inebriated idiot passing by a window, one of the girls says very matter-of-factly that it’s “probably just a rapist.” This shocking casualness is continued later on when Joella has no problem ultimately with the nerd forcing himself upon her. Yes folks, this movie is supposed to be a comedy. Another questionable moment features a nude man post attempted rape, falling down a flight of stairs, ending up unconscious with a boner.

Jones later did cinematography for "Goin’ All The Way!"