Tee-Hee, I'm Naked!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Savage Beach

(1989, 95 min.)

Starring Dona Speir, Hope Marie Carlton, John Apnea, Bruce Penhall, Rodrigo Obregón, Michael Mikasa, Lisa London, Teri Weigel, Michael J. Shane, Dann Seki, Al Leong, Eric Chen, Paul Cody, Patty Dufek.

Written and directed by Andy Sidaris.

Donna and Taryn (Speir and Carlton, both former Playmates as was once de rigueur with a Sidaris production) reprising their roles from Hard Ticket to Hawaii and Picasso Trigger) are slightly non-descript federal agents. They identify themselves as being from the ‘Drug Enforcement Division.’ Did Sidaris really think the DEA would object to the real name being used? Could putting forth the idea that women who look like this work for the agency do anything but increase enrollment? The opening scene has them taking down some drug runners in a surprisingly violent sequence that also involves two other agents, Pattycakes (Duffek) and Rocky (T&A staple London). As dictated by federal policy regarding incidents involving automatic weapons fire, the four women then retire to a topless Jacuzzi session.

The women all have “straight” jobs as cover. Rocky’s is running a restaurant, a fact that seems to exist primarily for a bad joke. Describing a bread-making machine, she says, “You just put the dough in and it rises automatically.” “I’ve never heard of such a thing.” “Then you didn’t know my ex-boyfriend.” Sure it doesn’t really make any sense, but you got that it was an erection joke, right? Good. That’s all the film really expects of you anyway.

Donna and Taryn’s cover job is running an aerial charter business. A call comes in from Shane Abilene (Shane, and it’s a running joke that every one of these movies has a character named Abilene) that an isolated island is badly in need of medical supplies, and the women have to take them there immediately. When they pick up the supplies, Abilene also gives them some hardware to take along. Why do they need to be so heavily armed on a little mission of mercy? Well, for starters, the ensuing plot will necessitate it, although there’s no reason they should know that at this point. Much more importantly, if there’s anything that Warren Beatty has taught me, it’s that in the movies gun=dick. And so we are subjected to a conversation between Donna and Shane entirely constructed of more bad cock jokes. Quite a bit of the dialogue between men and women in the movie is like this. It’s fun to imagine that this is the way Andy and wife/producer Arlene converse with each other.

Meanwhile, a Navy Captain Andreas (Aprea) and Martinez (Obregón), a representative of the government of the Philippines, are in the process of trying to locate some missing Filipino gold that was stolen by Japanese soldiers during the war, all of whom disappeared somewhere in the Pacific. In the first of several hints of Reagan-era politics, the Captain berates Martinez as a “bleeding heart liberal” who is putting the rest of the world in danger for his own gains. See, the Captain has diverted radar technology away from the Star Wars program, the country’s “first defense” against attack as he calls it, to try and locate the missing Japanese vessel. First of all, if the Captain doesn’t believe that Martinez holds a sincere intention to do right by the Filipino people (he doesn’t, exactly, but that actually just shores up the point), why the hell is he helping him, especially if it involves such serious security issues? The only other explanation is that he’s hoping to get a piece of the pie, which is not the most noble of reasons, and yet we’re supposed to see him as one of the good guys. Secondly, our first defense? C’mon, this was ’89, for Christ’s sake. I’m betting even ol’ Rappin’ Ronnie had begun to suspect that Star Wars was a joke by then. Regardless of all of that crap, they manage to calculate where the Japanese soldiers likely ended up, on a remote island.

Donna and Taryn, having delivered the supplies, discover that their window of opportunity for safe flight was smaller than they thought it was going to be. They become lost in a storm and end up having to make an emergency landing on the same remote island, only to eventually find themselves face to face with the treasure hunters, as well as a mysterious presence creeping through the jungle.

As I’ve made perfectly clear in other places on the site, effort counts for a lot with me. T&A films may exist primarily for titillation, but there’s really no reason why we can’t have a good story along the way as well. And while I would never accuse Sidaris of being a good writer (the sexual banter, as noted, is embarrassing, and this is the kind of movie where when one character tells another to have a blast, you know the latter will be blown to smithereens soon afterwards), he did always try to keep things lively, at least for a while. This is an early, semi-unofficial entry in his L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies series, and watching him attempt to construct a story that will hold interest of its own independent of the nudity makes it all the more depressing to consider some of the later films, such as Return to Savage Beach, by which time he seemed to have abandoned the idea of any sort of actual plot all the better to fit in more footage of Julie K. Smith wrapping her breasts around a runway pole.

Surprisingly though, we seem to have a case of the exact opposite here. If anything there’s too much story, with all sorts of double-dealings in play, and while there are plenty of breasts on display, they’re mostly shot in oddly perfunctory ways. The usual leering quality of this kind of fare is in short supply. Whether this is a good or a bad thing depends on your tastes. And it’s hard to complain in any case when two of the main sets of breasts belong to Speir and Carlton, who manage to come off not completely unbelievable as professional women (I damn them with faint, grammatically awkward praise). And, not to take anything away from Speir, Carlton is just so damn cute, possibly one of the most adorable models ever to pose for the man in the silk pajamas.

You pretty much always know what you’re going to get with a Sidaris movie: a ‘splodey, smarmy production that looks like it stepped out of a 1980s action TV series and picked up some naked babes along the way. (Or to put it in terms cultists will appreciate, they’re kind of like Cheri Caffaro movies minus the nastiness.) If you’re interested in some plot, choose his earlier work. Otherwise, Julie K. Smith and her runway pole await you.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


(1979, 96 min.)

Starring Susan Kiger, Lisa London, Pamela Jean Bryant, Kimberly Cameron (Carson), Lindsay Bloom, Angela Aames, Mary Steelsmith, K. C. Bloom, Donald Petrie, Larry Gilman, Dan Reed, Danny Bonaduce, David Gibbs, Marvin Katzoff, Ken Olfson, Richard Bakalyan, Louis Guss, Dorothy Meyer.

Directed by Gerald Seth Sindell.

I knew when I conceived of this section that I would end up writing something about this movie. It was probably the flagship film of my adolescent T&A education. But thanks to the glory that is the internet it has already gotten more thoughtful reviews than it ever truly warranted, including one by the vaunted Dr. Freex, so instead of trying to write something resembling a cohesive article, I’m just going to start riffing and see what comes of it. Any similarities in the form of this review to that of those over at Cliffie’s Notes are strictly intentional. (Howdy, Mizzzz Fish!)

To be brief, for those unfamiliar with this particular masterpiece, H.O.T.S. follows the hi-jinks of a group of young women who, having been snubbed by the snobbish PI sorority (for, among other things, poverty, imperfect facial structure, and other traits of the disenfranchised), form their own rogue house based around the idea of taking every man on campus away from their rivals. This leads to an extended volley of pranks, copious bare breastage, and an infamous game of strip football.

- As I stated on the front page of this section, I got some of my first notions of female sexual empowerment from watching movies like this. That may sound like some sort of justification for looking at boobs, but it is, nonetheless, true. The women have far more power than the men, they’re generally much smarter, and they have a much more realistic attitude towards sex, at least in as much as they know what a useful tool and/or weapon it is, while most of the guys are so busy worshipping and/or salivating over them, it’s pretty clear who’s running the show. (I know, that’s a fucking cynical attitude about fucking, but it’s the film’s attitude, not mine, and it uses its stereotypes successfully to its end.)

- While frequently compared to Animal House, I’ve always thought that the writers (including sexploitation queen Cheri Caffaro) had to have had M*A*S*H a little bit in mind as well, from the similar title to the fact that both films end with a climactic football game, though thankfully Robert Altman didn’t have Sutherland, Gould and Skerrit strip. (Although, coincidentally, Animal House did include a mercifully brief shot of Sutherland’s ass.) Additionally both films are virtually plotless and feature a group of people thumbing their noses at authority while engaged in warfare, though the H.O.T.S. girls are eager combatants, while the doctors of the 4077th are hostage-, I mean, draftees.

- How in the name of Erica Gavin did they manage to tape down the late, lovely Aames’s ample bosom during the early scenes when she’s supposed to be chestless? Her breasts must have been poking out of her back.

- When the Doc posted his review, and quite clearly voiced his disapproval of the fat jokes inserted via the character of Clutz (Steelsmith), I protested, saying that I had always felt the film was comparatively reserved in this regard. Having watched it again, I have to admit I was wrong. In the film’s weak, namby-pamby defense, most of those jokes are confined to the early scenes. In a slightly more solid defense, I’d like to point out that Clutz is firmly and warmly accepted by the other girls as one of them following the opening scenes, and not in nearly as patronizing a manner as what I just wrote might imply. Having said that, I still haven’t decided if her romance with the requisite nerdy guy (Katzoff) is condescending or kind of sweet. Also note that she participates in the wet t-shirt contest…though her shirt doesn’t get very wet. And she takes part in the big football game…though as soon as the real nudity kicks in she’s suddenly absent. Hmm. Your honor, I swear I had a point here. Maybe I left it in my other suit.

- It’s interesting to note that while the initial premise of the sorority is to accept all those who others reject, the first thing they do is “correct” the applicants “imperfections.” One girl gets a nosejob, Aames’ ‘Boom-Boom’ gets a massive set of yabos, and poor Clutz is told there’s really nothing they can do for her. Aside from, as I said before, Clutz becoming a part of the group despite her “shortcoming” (Jesus, those fucking quotes are getting a workout), turns out we’re not really talking unconditional acceptance here, are we?

- It occurred to me for the first time on this last viewing how off it is that the PI girls’ first strike at the H.O.T.S. girls is to spike the chili at their party with hot sauce. Yes, on the surface it makes sense: make their food hot so their mouths burn. But this is chili we’re talking about. It’s supposed to be hot. I see people pouring hot sauce into chili, I don’t think, “Get those bastards!” I think, “How thoughtful of them to want my food to be more flavorful.” This is clearly an example of putting far more thought into a plot point than the screenwriters ever did.

- You know, for a sorority supposedly composed of people with no money, they seem to have plenty of cash to burn on custom-made items with the sisterhood logo on them. Various banners, a parachute, not to mention myriad t-shirts, including the ones made especially for the football game, the ensemble of which also features matching peppermint-striped under-thingies. And it can’t have been cheap to buy the seal either. That kissing booth must be open twenty-four hours a day.

- Always nice to see actors from other movies I like pop up, even in small roles. In that spirit, I’d like to point out that Bunny Summers, who had small roles in the first two of Stuart Gordon’s Lovecraft adaptations, appears here as an opera singer at the Dean’s party, which is, of course, then interrupted by Aames parachuting topless into his pool. Bunny, also of course, takes a very strained pratfall into the pool herself at this point. Not that anyone with their eyes open couldn’t have seen that coming as soon as she stepped out onto the diving board to perform an aria, but it’s hard to accept it as an accident when she’s clearly inching her way towards the edge. Seems to me slightly more careful direction could have corrected this, but now I’m nitpicking.

- My greatest disappointment in this film is that it sets up a scene with topless girls having cream pies thrown at them and completely botches it. A crying shame. Does no one understand the basic tenets of slapstick any more? Had they gotten this right, it would have gone a long way towards me forgiving them for putting into my head the image of Danny Bonaduce being fellated by the afore-mentioned seal.

- There’s only one scene that really leaves a bad taste in my mouth and that’s the one where the Dean (Olfson) locks himself and Terri (Bryant) in the attic and then chases her onto the roof for the purpose of “getting some” for himself, out of equal parts horniness and revenge, which is exactly what makes the scene so icky. Once again we’re seeing a potential molestation scenario played for laughs, always a dicey proposition (there were instances of this sort in early episodes of M*A*S*H the series, and even when they managed to be funny, there was still something a little uncomfortable), all the more so because the Dean makes it quite clear that he’s tired of the girls getting their way and now he’s going to get his. It only gets worse when, a few moments later, while Terri is successfully fending off his advances, he then begins to plead with her to have sex with him. (Incidentally, this all happens so fast that most people probably won’t even notice. That I did is a clear indication of my having seen this film far more times than could ever be considered healthy.) This sudden transition from predator to pathetic sniveler is unpleasant – though only if you think about it too much, which you don’t need to do seeing as how, as I said, it all happens quite fast, and before you know it the Dean’s dangling from the roof with his ass hanging out and everything’s coming up komedy again, any unpleasantness forgotten. The final irony is that, for all its varied tastelessness, this scene is actually kind of funny, by virtue of Olfson’s performance (the look he gets on his face when he realizes he’s swinging several stories up is terrific) and Terri’s one-liner about jockey shorts.

- Whoever came up with the idea for the huddle-cam is a fucking genius.

I guess that’s enough.

Seeing this again in the wake of some of the other films I’ve watched for this section has merely emphasized how much better it is than most of its ilk, which may be akin to being a champion projectile vomiter; a dubious accomplishment, but an accomplishment nonetheless. When younger I was far too interested in the nudity to notice how listless a lot of these movies are, but that’s not a charge you can level at H.O.T.S. It’s got energy and attitude to spare, and an overall lively atmosphere, helped in part by the surprisingly large number of characters. Some characters are better drawn than others, though none of them are fully fleshed out (last pun, I promise). But remember we’re grading on a sliding scale here, and the sheer number helps sustain the feeling of campus mayhem missing from such films as School Spirit, another similarity it has to both Animal House and M*A*S*H. And, to top it off, some of the humor is actually funny (sliding scale again, people).

Naked co-eds are an essential part of any fresh-faced sex addict’s development, but you can get that from any number of sources. If you want a film that entertains while it warps, it doesn’t get any better than this. Really, it doesn’t.
Play-mate of the Apes

(2002, 92 min.)

Starring Misty Mundae, Debbie Rochon, Anoushka, Sharon Engert, Darian Caine, Shelby Taylor, Zachary W. Snygg, Dan Schwab, Terry West.

Directed by John Bacchus.

Three female astronauts crash land on a planet where apes are dominant and humans are treated as animals. But you probably could have guessed that for yourself. The major difference between this and the original, aside from the lack of NRA wonks, is that roughly half of this flick is taken up by its female co-stars making out and bumping bubbles.

While this was clearly made on the quick to capitalize on the release of Tim Burton’s remake, most of the “satire” is actually directed at the 1969 original. (Maybe they couldn’t make head or tail of Burton’s version either.) The one true nod to the remake is in having the scientist ape played by a female (eroti-DTV diva Rochon, who also co-authored the story with the director; I had never seen one of her flicks before and watched this in part to see what she looked like, only to discover she spends the whole film with an ape mask on her head). She comes to believe that humans might be more intelligent than the apes had thought because she observes them dancing. Interestingly, this is the exact opposite conclusion to the one I reach when I see people dancing.

As to some of the other women in the piece: Misty Mundae, another DTV smut queen, plays the erstwhile Heston role. She’s cute in a jailbait-hellspawn kind of way, and while she can’t act, she is spunky. (And unlike Lou Grant, I do like spunk.) There’s Anoushka, as Lt. Pushkintucushkin (yeesh), who I’m sure I’ve seen in something before, though I don’t recognize any of her other credits. And there’s Sharon Engert, as Lt. Fornication (somewhere Noel Coward is roiling in envy at such insouciant wit), who looks pretty good in the photos on her official site, though in the film, her lower lip seems to be in constant danger of sliding right off her face.

As must be thoroughly obvious by now, the humor in this movie is dippy in the extreme (how is it that at this late a date, they weren’t conscious of the fact that characters spontaneously breaking out into a rap number, no matter how anachronistic, is no longer funny, if it ever really was in the first place?). Having said that I have to admit that there are moments where the film wallows so hog deep in its own absurdity that it actually sort of passes over into the realm of absurd-ism. Small consolation, but it’s these moments, along with whatever pleasures the viewer can derive from copious close-ups of enhanced breasts being fondled, that make up any of the entertainment found here.

If there’s a stupider soft-core parody of a major studio release, I don’t want to see it. (Oh, who am I kidding? Naked pin-up girls are naked pin-up girls. Just sever my brainstem and strap a drool cup to my chin. Guess I’m a damn dirty ape after all.)

Private Resort

(1985, 82 min.)

Starring Rob Morrow, Johnny Depp, Hector Elizondo, Dody Goodman, Leslie Easterbrook, Tony Azito, Emily Longstreth, Michael Bowen, Hilary Shapiro (Shepard), Karyn O’Bryan, Lisa London, Andrew Dice Clay, Ron House.

Directed by George Bowers.

A brief foreword: I have very little use for actors as a species. I don’t mind the rampant exhibitionism so much, at least not until it reaches pathological levels. I think it has more to do with the fact that I’ve never been able to take it very seriously as a craft. Not to suggest that just anyone can do it; clearly many cannot (insert your own cheap shot at Hollywood here) and it can’t be denied that some individuals at their peak can achieve something truly remarkable. But I think it’s often taken far more seriously than is warranted. I used to act myself. I’ve sat through classes and rehearsals in which I’ve watched people spend hours trying to wring meaning out of things that don’t really have any, or, having found meaning in something that does, spend additional time desperately searching for even more, despite having already licked the cupboard clean. This behavior is particularly prevalent and egregious when it comes to Method Acting, a technique that, despite the successes it can produce, basically reaffirms the self-absorption from which many actors already suffer by taking something that is largely about something else and only circumstantially about them and reversing that ratio. Aside from the obvious ego-issues this suggests, I also think it’s just a whole lot of ado about an exercise that is essentially just an extension of the childhood pastime of ‘let’s pretend.’

However, having alienated any and all thespians who may pass this way, I do have to say that I often find myself filled with a tremendous amount of sympathy and/or admiration for what actors are willing to put themselves through in the name of a paying gig, in the name of taking any opportunity to practice their trade until something better (hopefully) comes along. The T&A comedy is one of a number of genres that make this harsh reality of the business just that much more obvious, and this film in particular…well, I’ll get back into that a little later. Suffice to say, to all the actors out there: I may not have that high an opinion of what you do, but I raise my beer mug to the tenacity you show in your desire to do it. Moving along…

This may well be the T&A equivalent of the Italian cannibal flicks: it’s gratuitously cruel, and while it’s seemingly not worthy of your time, should you find yourself watching, it may be too grotesque for you to look away.

Herein what’s passed off as a plot in this doofy exercise in forced horniness: Depp and Morrow play two guys who – get this – go to a hotel filled with girls in bathing suits, hoping to get laid. I know, it’s like the second coming of John Sayles, isn’t it?

Shortly after arriving they attempt to have a beer at the bar, only to be unfairly judged by the head of hotel security (Azito) to be scruffy gatecrashers, a puzzling assumption on his part, seeing as how most of the guests seem to be young people frolicking hither and thither anyway. Jesus, man, they’re two of the quiet ones. But don’t worry. He’ll pay. He’ll pay big time.

It’s not too long before we’ve been introduced to a number of subplots. A conman known as The Maestro (Elizondo) is there to steal a jewel from a wealthy woman (Goodman). Morrow has the hots for one of the hotel’s waitresses (Longstreth), but is thwarted by an asshole steward (Bowen) who also wants to score with her. And Depp’s character decides he needs to get with a girl (O’Bryan) who happens to be Goodman’s granddaughter, and in the process Morrow agrees to help him out on a double date, his half of the date being the whacked-out cousin (Shapiro) a little too into her Undefined Eastern Religion.

There are basically two reasons to watch this film. One involves sadism and the other masochism.

I’ll give the movie this much: they don’t skimp on the nudity. There are plenty of breasts and buns scattered about. Anyone who ever sat through one of the Police Academy movies just to be able to better fantasize what Easterbrook’s Lt. Callahan looked like out of her uniform can see her here in a completely sheer robe. There are even, for those so inclined, a number of shots of our two before-they-were-stars’ backsides. (If you have ever harbored a need to see Dody Goodman smack Rob Morrow’s ass – a singular kink if ever there was one – look no further.) On the other hand the jokes are, for the most part, terrible. So if you’re masochist who loves bare breasts, this may be for you.

If you’re a sadist who loves bare breasts, this is definitely the movie for you. But I’m not talking about fetishistic S&M, so put away your whips and clips and clamps and plugs. Also, if it matters, all of the abuse is heaped on men, two men in particular, aside from one mildly amusing scene involving Depp and Morrow trying to hide a drunken woman from her boyfriend (Clay) by repeatedly dropping her behind a hotel room bar. (Interestingly the woman is played by genre staple London and for once she actually doesn’t get naked, only appearing in her underwear, and it looks as if she may have had some reduction done since her eye-popping role as O’Hara in H.O.T.S.) But if seeing men humiliated – repeatedly – is your bag, hoo-boy, is this the film for you.

Our two whipping boys are Azito and Elizondo, and they get whipped harder than cream, which, incidentally, they end up covered in, from fire extinguishers, falling onto buffet tables, and, in Azito’s case, a completely gratuitous pie in the face. (When, oh when, will filmmakers hearken to the wisdom of Ernie Kovacs, who once said, quite correctly, that it’s far funnier to see a beautiful girl take a pie than some hapless schlub?)

What these two guys endure is a true testament to what I mentioned about actors above (in the nice paragraph), and the film benefits as a result. Azito, an accomplished stage actor who sadly passed away in 1995, does his physical schtick with a gusto that lends the film some much needed laughs, and Elizondo is one of the few actors I know who can make vulgar characters genuinely funny. It’s nice that he has since gotten respect enough in the entertainment biz that he (most likely) won’t have to subject himself to this sort of film ever again.

Nor, presumably, will its two stars. With Morrow doing solid work on the CBS crime-drama Numbers, and Depp enjoying a mainstream popularity that he can apparently take or leave, they’re both safe (for the moment) from this kind of mandatory slumming. That’s certainly a boon, and if you don’t believe me, you clearly haven’t seen the scene where Morrow, in severely unconvincing drag, finds himself being felt up by Elizondo in an elevator, the film’s penultimate comedic low point, surpassed only by the rock bottom moment a half a minute later when Clay gets in the elevator, whereupon both men begin squeezing Morrow’s ass.

An actor’s life indeed.