Val’s Movie Roundup #3: Late Night Cable Edition


I remember when Fifty Shades Of Grey (2015) came out and the outcry on Twitter. Even a woman I respect was ranting about it. It seemed ridiculous to me, but I hadn’t seen it yet so I reserved judgement. I saw it on June 23rd. It’s the kind of movie I would have watched during an elementary school sleepover thinking I was seeing something naughty when I actually had seen next to nothing. I distinctly remember watching Sirens (1993) with Hugh Grant one time. I also remember a guy at school thinking he was cool because he had seen Sleeping With The Enemy (1991).

By the time I got to middle school I had a TV in my room with cable. That meant I was introduced to the wonderful world of late night cable. Sometimes this meant cheesy sex comedies from the 80’s. Other times bad monster movies. I even managed to get in on the first episode of Sex And The City by accident and other shows like Perversions of Science. It also meant the occasional film that gave Cinemax it’s nickname Skinemax. Honestly, I never watched many of them. I only remember one called The Naked Detective (1996). However, I have fond memories of them being quite funny. The sex wasn’t interesting, but I would get laughs out of the material around the sex.

I also remember in the early 2000’s when Roger Ebert introduced a movie he and Richard Roeper were going to review. It was Secret Things (2002). A decent piece of French erotica. He said that most critics ignore movies like that and don’t like to admit to being aroused. He basically was saying that is a bunch of nonsense which was why they were going to talk about the film despite the content.

I recently started using the HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax apps. They stock a few of their late night movies in them. I thought I would take another look at them being 10-15 years older than when I was just a kid. I think Ebert is right. In fact, on a side note, they have the movie he wrote the screenplay for in the Cinemax After Dark section. That being Russ Meyer’s Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls (1970). Proof that being a great film critic, doesn’t necessarily mean you should be making them. I thought I would talk briefly about a couple of them that I watched recently.

There seem to be two main directors whose films populate these three apps. Dean McKendrick and Stormy Daniels. I am going to talk about three of McKendrick’s films and one of Daniels’ films.

Sexy Warriors

Sexy Warriors (2014) – This is quintessential Dean McKendrick. A B-Movie plot with loads of corny dialogue. These are the kind of late night movies I remember watching and laughing along with. This is similar, as with many of these films, to mainstream movies like Time Barbarians (1990) and Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time (1991). Except instead of burly warriors from the past, we have Amazon women who happen to come from the “isle of Lesbos”. Of course they do. It begins with two of them trying to get to the Orb of Azoff. One of them knocks out the other and gets to the orb first. The orb sends her away to Los Angeles. Of course! But not just anywhere in Los Angeles. This time portal of sorts has it’s other end in the worst gym I have ever seen in a movie. You can see it in the picture above. That’s it. You think that’s just the locker room, but no. That’s the entire gym. The fact that they have actual conversations about the gym including that one of them doesn’t have the money to buy it is hilarious. Soon the other lady comes through the portal as well. There’s some sex. It’s the kind geared toward straight guys while trying to pick up lesbians as well with girl on girl. One thing I thought was interesting is that there is a guy in the movie played by an actor named Ted Newsom. It’s always interesting to look at the other credits for people in movies and late night cable movies are no exception. This guy acts in these types of films, but actually makes lots of documentaries about Old Hollywood. In particular, the history of horror films. Well, the two reconcile their differences and go home happy. This is a standard McKendrick film.

Lust In Space, AKA Naked In Space

Lust In Space (2015) AKA Naked In Space – This is an example of where McKendrick loses his way. The plot has something to do with people training to go and supply a space station, but there’s spies involved trying to do something nefarious. It just doesn’t work. McKendrick needs simple, and this ain’t it. Also, it’s all very recycled from his other films. In fact, there’s a shot of the moon in the credits that is exactly the same as he used in Lolita From Interstellar Space. Identical. There’s also a set that is reused from that movie. The sex is the same as usual. Like one of the porn stars in the documentary Aroused (2013) said, they’re not trying to catch smooth transitions. It’s from position A to B to C. The only thing that keeps this movie from being the worst McKendrick movie I’ve seen is that unlike Lolita From Interstellar Space, it does not have Anna Morna in it. I don’t expect great performances by any of the actors in these movies, but her’s was unbelievably awful. Her absence is a blessing, but you can still skip this one.

Invisible Centerfolds

Invisible Centerfolds (2015) – Ever thought The Invisible Man (1933) with Claude Rains or the many other invisible people movies needed girl on girl, then this is for you. Once again it has the familiar signature of Dean McKendrick, but this one is a wee bit zanier. Sure the invisible part means the standard humor that you would expect in comedy that has someone made invisible, but there’s more. The professor who creates the invisibility potion looks and is dressed like Bill Nye, The Science Guy. No joke. It took me a bit to realize it, but once you see it, you can’t unsee it. Also, at one point one of the girls drinks what she thinks is the invisibility potion, but it isn’t. It’s the turn a person into a gorilla potion. Why? Why not! Suddenly she’s a gorilla. Yep, that happens. Also, this movie kind of makes fun of it’s own genre by making the excuses to have sex so ludicrous that I think McKendrick was deliberately parodying himself. That isn’t beyond the scope these movies. The best one of these kind of movies I have seen called Emmanuelle Through Time: Emmanuelle’s Skin City (2011) is one long parody of it’s own genre and all the movies with Emmanuelle in the title. As for this movie, all I can say is, this one’s okay.

Immortal Love AKA Sex With A Vampire

Immortal Love (2012) AKA Sex With A Vampire – This is a Stormy Daniels film. Her movies are a different beast than a Dean McKendrick movie in almost every way. Both her and McKendrick borrow a familiar mainstream genre or plot, but that’s where the similarities end. First off, being a woman, these movies are clearly targeted for straight girls and straight girls only. No girl and girl whatsoever. As the title suggests, it’s Twilight. Of course it is. A girl is in danger, a vampire saves her, and the two form a kinship. Except instead of a bunch of annoying staring that Screen Junkies was able to piece together to make a nearly 30 minute video, these two actually do something about it. The sex is similar to McKendrick, but made less fun and more romantic. Neither comes across as particularly natural however. I have only encountered that in one of these movies that I have watched and I think my heart skipped a beat because I was so shocked to see sex with purpose and passion. Daniels also makes greater use of story than McKendrick. If you don’t just want a comedic clothesline on which sex scenes are hung, then Daniels is for you. She also does more interesting things cinematographically including the use of black and white in this one. I have only seen two of her movies, but this is the one to go with.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #131: Bad Blood (dir by Adam Silver)


Last night, I watched a Lifetime film that originally aired in March, Bad Blood.

Lifetime-movie-Bad-Blood-March-2015

Why Was I Watching?

The main reason that I watched it was so I could get it off of my DVR.  I recorded Bad Blood when it originally aired in March, fully planning to promptly review it.  However, for whatever reason, I never got around to writing that review and Bad Blood sat, for 4 months, on my DVR.  Last night, I decided to rewatch Bad Blood, review Bad Blood, and finally erase Bad Blood!  (I need the space for all the shark movies that are going to be SyFy this week.)

What Was It About?

Bad Blood was a typical Lifetime mix of empowerment and exploitation.  Serial killer Oscar Marcus (Brett Rickaby) is dying of leukemia so he’s kidnapping, torturing, and murdering victims all across the southwest so that he can exchange his bad blood for their good blood.  (Or something like that — Bad Blood was not exactly an easy film to follow.)  However, because Oscar had a bone marrow transplant five years earlier, he’s not leaving his DNA behind at the crime scenes.  Instead, he’s leaving behind the DNA of his donor, Lauren (Taylor Cole).

And, since this is a Lifetime film, Lauren has both a mysterious past and a boyfriend involved in law enforcement.  However, when Lauren’s DNA starts to show up at crime scenes, that boyfriend is forced to arrest her.  (That’ll kill a relationship.)

However, Oscar rescues Lauren from the cops because he wants her blood.  And then Lauren escapes Oscar and teams up with her estranged father (Jeff Kober) to prove her innocence…

What Worked?

It’s strange.  I really didn’t like Bad Blood the first time I saw it but the second time, I discovered that it wasn’t as bad as I remembered.  There were a few strikingly atmospheric scenes towards the end of the film and there was something oddly charming about the film’s refusal to make any logical sense.

Jeff Kober was good as the irresponsible father and Brett Rickaby was a chillingly believable murderer.  The second time I watched the film, I better appreciated Taylor Cole’s performance as well.

What Did Not Work?

Bad Blood was not as bad as I remembered it being but it’s still not one of my favorite Lifetime films.  The pacing was off in a few key scenes and Lauren’s romance with the sheriff was pretty dull. As well, I didn’t care much for the film’s ending.  After what those people went through, everyone should have been a lot more traumatized.  Instead, it ended in a typically upbeat Lifetime sort of way.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I related to Lauren’s relationship with her dad.  Plus, Lauren’s a runner just like me!  (Lauren was also an auto mechanic, which was a totally “Oh my God!  Definitely not like me!” moment.)

Lessons Learned

DNA is a lot trickier than I thought.

5 Heroes From Marvel’s Golden Age Who Deserve Their Own Movie


Timely-Comics-Marvel-Bucky-Captain-America-Red-Skull-Sub-Mariner

Captain America is the best remembered and most prominent hero from the Golden Age of Marvel Comics (or, as the company was known back then, Timely Comics).  One reason why Captain America: The First Avenger was so successful was because it exploited the nostalgia that audiences had for that golden age, a time when the world was united against the greatest evil known to man and there was no doubt who was fighting for good and who was fighting for evil.

However, Captain America was not the only Marvel super hero fighting gangsters and Nazis during the 1940s.  If Marvel Studios ever decides to take another trip back to World War II, these five Golden Age heroes would be worthy additions to the MCU.

The Blonde Phantom

The Blonde PhantomCreated by Stan Lee and artist Syd Shores and first introduced in 1946, The Blonde Phantom was a part of Marvel’s post-war attempt to appeal to young female readers.

Originally from Hoboken, New Jersey, Louise Grant was the secretary to private detective Mark Mason.  Bored with her job and in love with Mark, Louise would regularly grab a .45 caliber pistol, don the sultry disguise of the Blonde Phantom, and help her boss solve his cases.  While Mark barely noticed his loyal secretary, he fell in love with the Blonde Phantom.

It would be tricky to reimagine the Blonde Phantom from a modern perspective but I think it could be done.  Instead of emphasizing Louise’s unrequited crush on the sexist Mark, a modern Blonde Phantom film would focus on how becoming the Blonde Phantom allows Louise to discover her own inner strength.  As Agent Carter proved, there is an audience for a strong female character in a period setting.

Claire Voyant

Claire_Voyant_(Earth-616)Introduced in 1940 and created by George Kapitan and Harry Sahle, Claire Voyant (who was also known as The Black Widow, long before the first appearance of Natasha Ramanoff) is considered to be the first costumed female super hero and also one of the darkest.

A medium, Claire is possessed by Satan and used to put a curse on the Wagler Family.  After most of the family is killed in a car accident, the sole remaining Wagler shoots and kills Claire.  Claire immediately goes to Hell, where Satan himself gives her the power to kill by simply touching her victim’s forehead.  Satan then sends Claire back among the living, on a mission to kill evil doers so that Satan can claim their souls before they have a chance to repent and ask for forgiveness.

Along with her dark origin story and her flirtatious relationship with Satan, Claire Voyant was distinguished by both her lack of remorse when it came to killing and for having the sharpest eyebrows of almost any character from the Golden Age.  As the star of her own MCU film, she would provide an interesting contrast to the wholesomeness of Captain America.

The Destroyer

The DestroyerA journalist-turned-spy, Keen Marlow was captured behind-the-lines in Nazi Germany.  Held in a prison-of-war camp, Marlow met Prof. Eric Schmitt, an anti-Nazi German scientist who had created a serum that was similar to the one that was used to transform frail Steve Rogers into Captain America.  After taking the serum, Marlow donned a mask and a dark costume and used his new powers to battle the Nazis from within Germany.

The Destroyer was a popular character during the Golden Age, though he was never as prominent as Captain America, The Human Torch, or the Submariner.  The Destroyer became far more interesting when his origin was retconned in the 1970s and it was revealed the Keen Marlow was an alias used by British aristocrat Brian Falsworth.  Before the start of World War II, Falsworth had been a prominent supporter of appeasement.  By becoming The Destroyer, Falsworth both defended his country and sought redemption.  When Falsworth eventually took on yet another costumed identity (Union Jack), his friend Roger Aubrey took over the role of the Destroyer.

The Destroyer was one of the first super hero characters to be created by Stan Lee.  Not only is his origin similar to Captain America’s (Cap was introduced in March of 1941 and the Destroyer made his debut nine months later) but it is also a forerunner to Iron Man’s.

Namor the Submariner

SubmarinerNamorCreated by artist and writer Bill Everett, Namor was the son of human boat captain Leonard McKenzie and Fen, the daughter of the emperor of the undersea kingdom of Atlantis.  As a hybrid, Namor had the ability to live under water but, with his human appearance, he could also go above the surface and safely mix with human society as well.  While the arrogant and hot-tempered Namor had little use for humanity (with the exception of New York City policewoman Betty Dean), he did side with the Allies in the war against the Nazis.

Despite being a prominent member of the Marvel Universe for over 70 years, Namor has yet to even appear in a movie.  Not only was he one of the most popular of the Marvel Golden Age heroes but his battle with the original Human Torch has regularly been cited as being the birth of the Marvel Universe.  Unlike many Golden Age characters, Namor remains active today, sometimes fighting for humanity and sometimes trying to destroy it.

There have been efforts to make a movie about Namor but, so far, none of them have been successful.  Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has said that there are many deals and contracts that need to be sorted out before it can be definitely determined who owns the rights to the character.  It will probably be a while before the Submariner swims to a theater near you.

The Phantom Reporter

The Phantom ReporterThe Phantom Reporter is actually Dick Jones, a former all-American fullback who was also a college boxing, wrestling, and fencing champion.  As a reporter, Dick always tried to protect those who could not defend themselves.  When he couldn’t help them as a journalist, he would put on a mask, a suit, and a cape and he would battle evildoers.

The Phantom Reporter only appeared in one Golden Age comic book, 1941’s Daring Mystery Comic Books #3.  65 years later, he was brought back as one of the lead characters in The Twelve, a limited series about a group of World War II super heroes who, after spending decades in suspended animation, are revived in the 21st Century.  Returning to his career as both a costumed hero and a journalist, The Phantom Reporter also develops an unlikely relationship with Claire Voyant.

The perfect Phantom Reporter movie would be a cross between the screwball comedy of The Front Page and the heroics of Captain America.  It would be a reminder that not all heroes have super powers.  Some of them just have the desire to do the right thing.