Monday, December 16, 2013

The House that Screamed (1969) (aka La Residencia, The Finishing School)

So, thanks to Stacie Ponder over at Final Girl, I've decided to (at least temporarily) resurrect Drinkin' with the Movies. (applause, please!)

The occasion: Stacie has added one of the best horror movies I've seen in recent years to her "Final Girl Film Club." If you don't know her blog or the Film Club, you must go immediately to and check them both out. Many, many hours of hilariously written, spot-on reviews and general horror commentary and lists (LISTS!) await you.

So, Stacie has chosen,at least partially at my suggestion, Narciso Ibanez Serrador's underrated 1969 thriller The House that Screamed (aka La Residencia or The Finishing School) as this month's Final Girl Film Club pick. And here's what I've got to say about it:

As an avid horror movie buff, especially of 60s, 70s and 80s European horror, it's easy to feel like maybe I've seen the last really good thing out there. Especially before the wonders of Netflix, YouTube, DailyMotion and bittorrent sites, the hunt for the most obscure, trashy, and just plain weird giallos, Italogothics, Eurozombies and Sleaze with a capital "S" was a Holy Quest. Calling around town, trying to find the video store that carried that one bootleg copy of D'Amato's Porno Holocaust (a really terrible film, btw) or Franco's Bloody Moon (a bit better, but still not quite great) or Argento's 4 Flies on Grey Velvet (awesome!), or alternately, finding indie mail-order websites that specialized in these things was grand adventure. But after years of hunting and hunting and watching and checking these movies off your list, you start to realize how many of them are pretty much crap and deserve to stay undiscovered. Or maybe you're just older now and are naturally gravitating towards more benign pleasures like 70s TV movies of the week (but this is a discussion for another post).

So, what a rare treat it is, now in 2013, to discover one of these obscure films, and realize that it's a goddamn masterpiece!  And even better, you can watch it for free right here! The House that Screamed! (I'm going to use the original American release title here, even though the Youtube print is called The Finishing School.)

Quick plot rundown: Around the turn of the last century, young and beautiful Therese (the lovely Cristina Galbo of What Have you Done to Solange and Let Sleeping Corpses Lie) arrives at a French girls' boarding school run by Madame Fourneau (an appropriately sinister, yet restrained Lilli Palmer). This, however, is no ordinary boarding school. It's for "troubled" or "difficult" girls, and is run with a very firm hand by Madame Fourneau and her sadistic pet student Irene (Mary Maude), who has a penchant for whipping and humiliating students who displease her or Madame. Also in the mix are Fourneau's Peeping Tom teenage son (John Moulder-Brown) and other assorted creepy men, including a groundskeeper and the smarmy delivery guy from the village who takes his turn with the students in the hayloft on a rotating schedule managed by Irene (!). Oh, and there's a killer who's bumping off the students, who are then believed to have run away.

Serrador masterfully builds the tension and atmosphere of disease and repression. We know from the get-go that something is wrong in this dark and imposing building. It's not long before we witness the whipping punishment of a surly, back-talking student and the vaguely predatory kiss that Madame Fourneau gives the student's back after the deed has been done. This scene, along with another extended scene of a student's verbal humiliation later in the film serve as complement to the film's two murder scenes, which are also conducted with brio, using slow motion, freeze-frame and superimposed montage techniques to heighten the suspense and draw them out just a bit longer, long enough to engrave the image on your brain. These four setpieces are the "shock" moments of the film, and punctuate the path to the incredibly macabre and disturbing finale.

I believe this film is important for the way it straddles the divide between the older, more staid gothic horrors of 1960s Hammer films or even the more racy and perverse Italian gothics starring Barbara Steele  and the increasingly psychological horrors of the 1970s. The school is a diseased and decaying monument to repression. A scene where one student has a fleeting sexual rendez-vous in the barn is a perfect example. The scene begins in a needlepoint class. The "lucky" student is excused to check on a boiling pot in the kitchen and then  sneaks away to the barn to meet her assigned stud. After minimal flirtation, the man rips open her blouse and begins to take her. Then the film cuts back to the needlepoint class where the girls are all imagining what's going on and longing for their own turn, licking their lips as they rhythmically make their stitches. The edits are fast and furious between closeups of hands, eyes and mouths as the soundtrack lets us hear the lucky student's gasps and moans. The stitching grows frenzied, faster and faster, keeping time with the moans, until finally one girl pricks her finger, just as the student's gasps reach climax.

Another scene with Madame Fourneau and her son, where she lectures him to stop spying on the girls and thinking of them continues this theme of repression and perversion. She tells her son that none of these girls are good enough for him, that he must wait to find the right girl, a good girl worthy of replacing his mother's love. She then kisses him on the lips, just a bit too long, and we know what her issues are.

So, to recap: Beautiful period costumes; dark but luxurious set design; a lush and haunting score, especially the title theme; strong performances (in spite of the English dubbing, which isn't half bad for this kind of film); an engaging plot that takes it's time but rewards with several punctuating shock scenes and an interesting twist about 3/4 of the way in; and a final shot that will have a true horror fan jumping up and clapping for joy.  If you like your horror a bit oldey-timey but with nice notes of twisted perversion, The House that Screamed is for you. Check it out!

Drink: Cognac or red wine served from a crystal decanter.

P.S. Some have said that this film may have influenced Suspiria. I'm not sure about that, but there are definitely visual similarities in certain scenes. Keep your eye out for those connections. It also definitely influenced a much trashier Spanish horror film (and one of my fave guilty pleasures) of the 1980s, but I don't want to name it until you've seen this one. See if you can guess what I'm talking about. Cheers!

Friday, April 13, 2007

"Grindhouse" Review-not too many spoilers

Last night I got to check out "Grindhouse" over at the Vista Theater, and it did not disappoint!

I'm one of those people who always reads every review I can before checking out a film. I often end up spoiling things for myself. So any film that can stand up to that kind of treatment and win me over must be very special indeed. "Grindhouse" grabbed me from the first scratched and battered frame and didn't let go for the duration of its 3-hour-plus running time.

As most people already know, the film is really two films, an old-fashioned double feature: Planet Terror by Robert Rodriguez and Death Proof by Quentin Tarantino. It's funny how mainstream critics almost unanimously gravitated towards Death Proof, praising its characterization and writing and rather haughtily dismissed Planet Terror as being too over-the-top and a "guilty pleasure". Based on those reviews, I was prepared to be really bowled over by Planet Terror and somewhat bored by Death Proof, which sounded like eight chicks sitting around yammering for an hour-and-a half with a couple of car crashes and a few impressive stunts thrown in.

Well, although I did end up preferring Planet Terror and would probably choose to own it over Death Proof, one must never underestimate Tarantino's talent for entertainment. Although not a film I will necessarily want to see again and again (unlike Kill Bill Vol. 1 or Jackie Brown which have semi-regular screenings at my place), he builds the suspense and tension masterfully and just when things begin to lag, he throws in a subtle visual cue, a surprisingly erotic flirtation or a tension-relieving belly laugh that captures the audience's full attention. By the end of the film, I wasn't the only one hooting and hollering out loud and cheering on the heroines.

But back to the beginning, or Planet Terror. I am not going to spoil the fun but I do want to point out a few things. First off, this is the half of the double feature for true grindhouse fans. It's got pustule-faced zombies (or "infected" if you prefer), wood splinter in the eye, exploding head, castration, attempted rape, death of a child (for comic effect!), explosions out the wazoo and, of course, a one-legged Rose McGowan with a gun for a leg. It is the in-your-face violence-saturated, razzle-dazzle Kill Bill Vol. 1 whereas Death Proof is the softer, subtler, more critic-friendly Kill Bill, Vol. 2.

In addition to the splatter and action, we've got some fun performances from Freddy Rodriguez as master gunfighter El Wray, Michael Biehn as the upstanding Sheriff, Jeff Fahey as his brother J.T., who won't give away his secret barbeque recipe until he's on his deathbed, Naveen Andrews as a vicious scientist/gangster who collects the balls of his enemies, Robert Rodriguez's nieces Elise and Electra Avellan as a couple of twisted hellcat babysitters, and Josh Brolin (who seems to have aged thirty years in the past ten) as a jealous, homicidal physician. And although I'm not a huge fan of Rose McGowan as an actress, I really like the physicality she brings to her role as Cherry Darling. She starts out as a sultry, sad, graceful two-limbed go-go dancer (NOT stripper, as she clarifies), then hobbles around awkwardly and comically on a makeshift chairleg attached to her stump for most of the film. But it is in the finale, when she receives her machine-gun upgrade, that she becomes a Terminator-like killing machine, mowing down all the baddies in her path.

But standing head and shoulders above all of these performances is one that has received little mention in most of the other reviews I've read. And that is Marley Shelton's turn as Dr. Dakota Block. Shelton has quite a slew of credits to her name, but the only role prior to this one that made an impression on me was as the pregnant cheerleader in Sugar and Spice. In Planet Terror, she owns every scene she's in as wife, mother, secret lesbian lover (of Fergie!), and most importantly, anesthesiologist who's as quick and deadly with a syringe as El Wray is with a gun. Smart, resourceful and handicapable, she spends much of the film with two numb wrists and hands (the film's most ingenious visual gag) and still manages to drive a car and sling syringes at the zombies. She reminded me very much of Dee Wallace Stone in Cujo--a survivor who keeps her wits about her in crisis and finds creative ways to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. She is the character who explains the film's philosophy, which is that all of the seemingly useless tricks we learn in life serve some purpose at some point and can make us achieve greatness. Crude, gross and with a lot more subtext than the other critics would have you believe, Planet Terror rocked my world.

As for Death Proof, it's essentially a "Women Take Revenge on a Homicidal Maniac" movie a la Slumber Party Massacre, but with cars as weapons instead of knives. Although Tarantino attempts to give the female characters personalities through lots of banter, I found that the technique only worked half the time. The problem is really in the casting. While Rosario Dawson, Rose McGowan (blonde here and actually more convincing as a ditz than a hard femme fatale—see also Scream, one of her best roles to date), Tracie Thoms, Zoe Bell (Uma Thurman's stunt double from Kill Bill playing herself, more or less) and Lanna Frank (Daryl Hannah's stunt double from Kill Bill, here in a small role but with a lot of personality) pull off Tarantino's pop-culture-reference-heavy dialogue in a more or less natural manner, I have to give thumbs down to Jordan Ladd and especially Sydney Poitier.

I tried really hard to let them slide, but every time they opened their mouths, a major vacuum of suck opened up in the movie theater. Ladd has little to do but smile and smoke pot, but Tarantino gives Poitier some very lengthy (too lengthy?) speeches that she intones as if she's reading them off the page for the first time. As DJ Jungle Julia, she convinces neither as a DJ, as someone who knows anything about pop culture, or as a "regular" girl with lots of ambition and chipped nail polish trying to make it big. Rather, she comes off as the spoiled daughter of a Hollywood legend who was put in the film both for name recognition and because she is quite gorgeous. She looks great walking around in polka-dotted underwear, smoking a bong and shaking her truly lovely locks to music. But she doesn't have enough oomph to embody her character. She comes off as a prima donna, a queen bee, petulant, overly impressed with herself and just generally unlikeable. I think she was supposed to be a bad ass who doesn't give a fuck what other people think of her (which is admittedly a challenging role to play), but she just completely fails.

The best two performances in the film come from Kurt Russell (of course) as the lovable serial killer Stuntman Mike whose Dodge Charger is the "Death Proof" vehicle of the title, and perhaps more surprisingly, since she doesn't have quite the clout or name recognition, Vanessa Ferlito, whose Butterfly is sexy, seductive and slightly innocent. Her sexy flirt with Kurt Russell is the highlight of the film—even more exciting than Zoe Bell's stunts or the final car chase that brings about the Stuntman's downfall.

So, as thus far described, it sounds like I didn't like the film very much. But I guess I'm starting with the negatives and moving to a more uplifting note, which is Tarantino's flawless direction. The plot is super simple. Much of the dialogue is rather pointless, but what Tarantino does is lull you into this serene, happy place, where you're just watching beautiful young people having a good time. Maybe it's fun, or maybe it's kind of annoying, but you watch, you chuckle a bit, and you feel pretty relaxed. And then, about every ten minutes, he throws a very subtle cue at you—a shot of the Charger with a ominous chord, a flicker of recognition as Butterfly realizes that Stuntman Mike has followed them to the bar, the fact that Stuntman Mike keeps a log of all the people he meets, and he puts the girls in it, and on and on. The first part of the film builds such a sense of tension, that when the first big crash setpiece occurs, you're ready for it, you dread it, but you can't look away.

In the second half of the film, with a new set of girls/potential victims, Tarantino starts over again. These girls don't smoke dope and aren't wasted (is he making a comment on the fact that in old slasher movies kids who engage in 'bad' behavior always end up dying?) and are presented as ballsy daredevils. They want to take a 1970 Dodge Challenger (Challenging the Charger?) on a test drive so that Zoe can peform a crazy stunt, riding on the hood of the car. Mike picks this moment to launch his attack. This last half-hour is one long, long scene. First the girls are on the defensive. Then they regroup and decide to go on the offensive, reducing Mike to tears as he finally feels the pain he's inflicted on all of his previous victims. Some reviewer said they felt bad for Mike at this point, and that there was something sadistic about the girls' decision to bring him down, but I call bullshit on that. He totally deserves it, and most people totally enjoyed the end of the movie. I certainly did.

As has been widely publicized, there are several mock trailers for upcoming films which might or might not be made into future Grindhouse installments. My absolute favorite was Don't by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) which perfectly parodies a Eurotrash horror film of the 1970s down to the graphic fonts and the hairstyles and clothing of the cast. A close second was Thanksgiving by Eli Roth. I think the murky technique he employs to wash out and darken the print saved him from the MPAA. Watch the very last shot very closely. I asked a friend and he confirmed what I thought I saw going on between the serial killer and the human "turkey"—eek!

Friday, February 02, 2007

New Ploy to Make Us Even Fatter

Ok, so last night I went to the Eagle and had a lovely time watching the Wet Underwear contest (I correctly predicted that the little bear cub dude from San Francisco would beat out the clean shaven guys in spite of bigger muscles or penises--it's just that kind of bar). I also ran into a lot of fun people that I hadn't seen in a little while (and some that I see all the time). But that's not the point of this blog.

The point is that afterwards, I decided I needed some grease to soak up the booze I had imbibed, so I headed over to McDonald's, and I'm in the Drive-Thru and start to order. I order a double cheeseburger. And the girl on the speaker has a very bitchy tone and says "Is that it?" and I say, "No, I'd also like a small french fry." And then she says, very bitchily again, "Is that it?" And I say more vehemently, "NO! That's not it! I'd also like a filet-o fish." And then again, she comes back even more bitchily with "Is THAT it?" And even though I totally didn't even need that much food, I feel like I have to show her who's boss, so I say, "NO! I also want a Big Mac!" And then again, she's all: "Is that IT?" And finally, I realize that I've ordered way more food than I needed, but now all of those food items sound good to me, and I'm not going to have her take one off. So I pause, and then very calmly and drily say, "Yes, that's it."

Now, ordinarily, I would just think this was a one-off experience of a rude fast food employee who doesn't know how to nicely take an order. But...

Last Sunday I was crashed out over at Comrade Snarky and Chef Assassin's, and we woke up a bit hungover after a long evening of entertainment, including the Trinity Broadcasting Network's Christian version of American Idol hosted by cute blond ex-Backstreet Boy Brian, which they call "Gifted". For some reason that title makes me think the opposite. It would be better if they called it "Touched" like "Touched in the Head". But I digress from my digression.

Cesar and Traci and Leo came over and we played VJ and chatted and drank and drank. So Sunday I had crashed there and had a bit of a headache. I went with Miss Snarky to Wendy's for some grease, and the lady kept asking me if that was IT after each item I ordered. I was ordering for three people, so, NO it wasn't IT. They should be so happy to get our money.
But now after the McDonald's episode I realize that this is a very very clever upselling ploy.

If you are a fast food employee and are polite and say to a customer, "And what else would you like?" then the customer has an opportunity to say, "That's all, thanks." (Kind of like the "And thennnnnnn?" from "Dude, Where's My Car" totally doesn't make you want to keep ordering.) But, if you act like the customer is kind of annoying you and you just want to get the hell off your shift, then the customer (at least a customer like me) sees it as a challenge. He doesn't like your uppity attitude and will purposely keep you on the line and order more and more items just to make you work harder. Of course, you have won because you've made the customer over-order.

And then the customer takes his sundry items home and scarfs all of them, NOT refrigerating the Big Mac to eat the next day. Of course the chicken in the chicken wrap (oh, I forgot about that one) won't stay crispy and must be eaten immediately, as must the fries. But the double cheeseburger and Big mac could have been saved. Oh my god, did I really eat all that food last night? Damn you, McDonald's!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Not eating pigs (a non-movie post)

Well, it's been way too long since I've posted a piece up here, and inspired by my friends Jackhonky and Hip Gay Chemistry Teacher, I've decided to post. It's not about drinking or movies, but about something I just thought of between last night and this morning--why Muslims and Jews should get along.

The answer in a nutshell: Because they have similar eating habits. Namely, they both don't like pork, and they both pick a day each year to fast.

Simple as that.

I mentioned this to my coworker Kari this morning (as we munched on bagels with HAM and cheese) and she told me about an up-and-coming Australian comic named Tim Minchin who wrote and performed a song called "Palestine Peace Anthem", which goes like this:

You don't eat pigs
We don't eat pigs,
Seems it's been that way for ever
So if you don't eat pigs
And we don't eat pigs
Why not NOT eat pigs together?

And there's also the whole "fasting for a day" thing once a year-the Muslims call it Ramadan and the Jews call it Rosh Hashanah. Again: "Why not NOT eat together?"

If only it were that simple...

Friday, April 28, 2006

Living Dead Girl (La Morte Vivante)

This is one of those movies I've been meaning to see for years but somehow kept missing. Well, last night I was feeling very unmotivated about housework, laundry, etc., and decided to mosey down to Mondo and see what I could see. And once again The Living Dead Girl's blood-spattered face gazed out at me from the shelf, and finally, I let her have her way with me.

And boy, did she work me over! The crisp cinematography, the beautiful chateau, and the lovely French countryside lulled me into a sense of calm. Is this going to be a sweet and lyrical tone poem to love and loss? I thought to myself. As workers transport and store barrels of nuclear waste in the basement of an abandoned chateau (!) and decide to break into the family crypt to steal the jewels from the former lady of the house's body, a frisson runs down my spine. They break into the lady's coffin (remarkably, she hasn't decomposed at all), and slowly break into the one of her also-deceased 20-year-old daughter, who is a picture of unsullied purity in white lace. At that moment, an earthquake hits, causing a barrel of toxic waste to crash to the floor, break open and spill its contents through the ground into the crypt. As a nasty gas fills the space, one of our unfortunates peers closely into the young girls' coffin. But not for long as his eyes are gouged out by her well-manicured and extremely sharp fingernails. The other gentleman gets a nuclear waste facial that promptly melts off half his face. And so our lovely tone poem to love and loss begins.

More victims will become dinner for Catherine (the titular Living Dead Girl played with great sensitivity by Françoise Blanchard) along the way with lots of the red stuff spurting and staining her (invariably) white garments as she gouges her fingers into throats, torsos and other soft places. But the real story of the movie is her slow return to consciousness as she eats more people and begins to realize that she is dead. This realization is aided by the arrival of her best friend from childhood, Hélène (Marina Pierro), who follows a very interesting arc as she progresses from joy when she believes her friend was never really dead to disbelief when Catherine begins talking and assures her that she really did bite the dust to revulsion at Catherine's gruesome eating habits and finally to cold-blooded instinct as she becomes an expert killer in order to protect Catherine from a nosy photographer and provide her with fresh victims.

As Catherine feeds, more and more of her memories and personality return to her, and she becomes repulsed and depressed by who and what she is, less inclined to violence, and more resigned to dying again. At the same time, Hélène's fierce devotion to Catherine spurs her on to more extreme and nasty acts in order to protect and preserve her friend. She is determined not to lose her again. The strength of this central relationship gives the film its real dramatic weight and makes the conclusion all the more tragic.

The film might not be for all tastes as it combines serious drama with rather extreme bloodletting (even if some of the effects are a bit hokey by modern standards). But for daring viewers who don't mind a bit of gravitas with their gore (or vice versa), The Living Dead Girl can be highly rewarding.

Fast-forwardability: 10% (many of the "comic relief" scenes with the American couple of photographers could have been shortened, and you will probably clap when they meet their brutal demise)

Drink: Wine (red, of course)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Dancing Rawleses!

After watching the most entertaining Voyage of the Rock Aliens about a month back, I became intrigued about who created the fabulous choreography, which resembled the Jane Fonda workout with extra jazz fingers. It turns out it was a couple named Dennon and Sayhber Rawles. Thanks to the handy-dandy IMDB, I discovered that they actually had a few other credits to their name. And so Gidg and I decided to sit down one evening and check out two other masterpieces of the Rawles canon: Staying Alive and Jailbird Rock.

Of course, I had seen Staying Alive before, when I was about nine years old on a double-bill at a drive-in in Indiana. I had fond memories of the big climactic dance number, "Satan's Alley" and how the oiled-up Travolta makes up his own choreography and throws over that bitchy English tramp Finola Hughes for the sweet American girl next door type, Cynthia Rhodes. Well, unfortunately, while that scene and a couple of others are worth a cheap rental, "plodding" is the correct word to describe the rest of the thing. There is some entertainment value in analyzing John Travolta's possible plastic surgery between the making of Saturday Night Fever and this one, and yes, we get plenty of shirtless scenes, showing off his long lost abs, but the film needs liberal fast forwarding to be truly enjoyable. Basically, the final dance number is what makes the movie. All kinds of headbands, legwarmers, body glitter, and, of course, JAZZ FINGERS!!! And for those who don't know, Finola Hughes went on to play the decidedly non-bitchy Police Chief Anna Devane Scorpio Lavery Scorpio Hayward on General Hospital and also showed up on Charmed as the girls' mother and even the last season of Blossom as Blossom's dad's new girlfriend. Cynthia Rhodes had a slightly less steller career but was put to good use in Dirty Dancing, playing Patrick Swayze's knocked up ex-girlfriend and also in the underrated sci-fi campfest Runaway with Tom Selleck, Gene Simmons, and Kirstie Alley (uh oh, another Scientology connection...)

Far more successful was the other movie we watched that evening, Jailbird Rock. I must thank Erek at Mondo for introducing me to this one some tipsy Saturday afternoon last summer. It is a very strange hybrid (possibly the only one of its kind) of a "Let's Put On a Musical" and a Women in Prison movie. Adding to the strangeness is the fact that it was filmed in Argentina with a mostly American cast but then post-dubbed anyway. I recognized several familiar voices from Italian horror and exploitation, the most notable example being the voice of the obligatory female counselor, who has the same voice as Daria Nicolodi in Profondo Rosso and the bitchy Olga from Suspiria. I wish I knew that actress's name; she's really quite good.

Anyway, we all know the basic story: Jessie is a fun girl who just loves to dance. But one day when she comes home and finds some abusive boyfriend hitting her mother, she grabs the rifle they happen to keep in the closet and blows the bastard away. This gets her sent to juvy, and in a long sequence, we are introduced to her new friends. The frame freezes and we get titles that tell us the name, nickname, rap, and sentence of each of the other girls. Sometimes it doesn't quite make sense, because like one girl is in for 2 years for manslaughter and another gets like 4 for grand theft auto. Isn't killing someone worse? Anyway, almost immediately Jessie runs afoul of the the lamest excuse for a women's prison kingpin I've ever seen--Max--a blonde, almost pudgy thing who whines. Max and her girlfriend Echo apparently run the place, but Jessie isn't having it. Jessie gets pretty much all of the other girls on her side and decides that to raise morale they need to put on a big dance revue. If I'm not mistaken, this gets the prison a lot of positive press, and I think even some "industry" people show up for the big show. Max tries to use the show as an excuse to cover her escape, but things, predictably, go awry. While I suppose the ending is supposed to be kind of uplifting and empowering for the girls, it's not like they get released for good behavior or anything. Also, it must be mentioned that for a women in prison movie, there is surprisingly little T&A and almost no major violence to speak of. Mostly, we get psychological and thespian terrorism.

Ratings: Staying Alive--75% fastforwardability; Jailbird Rock--25% fastforwardability.
Drinks: White wine spritzers or vodka and club soda with lime--low calories to keep our dancing figures.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Shelley Winters-RIP

Just wanted to say how sad it is that Shelley has moved on from this world. She made over 125 films, and I've only seen a handful of them. Choice ones are of course The Poseidon Adventure and Cleopatra Jones (pictured at left). And she was in non-campy items like A Place in the Sun and Lolita of course. She won her two Oscars for The Diary of Anne Frank and A Patch of Blue. I also liked her on Roseanne as Roseanne's grandma. In honor of Shelley, I'm going to be watching and reviewing several of her movies in the months to come.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Voyage of the Rock Aliens

It started innocently enough, with a Russian website that streams A-MAZING '80s videos (to give credit where credit is due, I didn't find it on my own, but via the entertaining RetroCrush) ... and Pia Zadora.

The Russian site didn't work for me for some reason, but I shot the URL over to Billy, who
rubbed it in regaled me with all the fun he was having watching assorted Italian pop and '80s gems.

And then he found ...

the video for "When The Rain Begins To Fall." Billy, being the thorough sort, researched this bizarre duet and discovered that it was featured somehow in a movie called Voyage of the Rock Aliens.

Of course we had to watch it. Badly.

So badly, I bought it off

So what if I also bought the Jermaine Jackson video collection, which not only contains that video but "Dynamite" as well (Jermaine in a women's prison movie-style video? Jooooy)?

Billy and I popped the movie in on several occasions, but always at the most inopportune time; namely, when we were so drunk the ADD had kicked in hard and we couldn't watch anything for long.
Besides, the movie opens with the video. And what a video! Post-apocalyptic, yet '80s-chic ensems. Headbands. Face paint and BIM-style bindis. Goons on Vespas. Redolent of KISS' video for "All Hell's Breakin' Loose" (one of their best.) So for the longest time, we figured the movie couldn't get any better. We were so very, very wrong.
I won't go on about how I dote on Pia, as I hope to devote a post to her ouevre in the near future (my odd fascination with her is on a par with mine for the previously discussed Ms. Doherty and another eventual visitor to this blog, if I have anything to say about it: Steven Seagal.) If a picture describe a thousand words, you can sum up her "acting" "career" thusly: If you're shuddering, just you wait for Butterfly. Or The Lonely Lady.

It'll be hard to describe Voyage of the Rock Aliens because it makes almost no sense. I don't know what the budget was, but it doesn't show up onscreen so I'm guessing it all went up the creators' noses.

To (try to) sum up:
Pia is Dee Dee, a perky teen (Butterfly was shot in 1982; The Lonely Lady, 1983. In both movies, she challenges our suspension of disbelief as a "teen." Voyage was shot in 1988*) to make it big as a singer in a dullsville town. The main challenge to her career aspirations is her meany-pants boyfriend, Frankie (Craig Sheffer.) He sort of plays in and sort of manages this (absolutely C-grade Stray Cats-style) band and, for reasons known only to the screenwriters who desperately needed to manufacture some conflict, refuses to let Dee Dee sing with them.
*[Although IMDB uses 1988 as the release date, I've also seen dates as early as 1987 and even 1984 attributed to this film. Judging by Craig Sheffer's appearance, I'm leaning towards the latter--he looks a bit more nubile and slender than he did in 1987's Some Kind of Wonderful. I imagine this one sat on the shelf for a while. --Billy]

What's a girl to do? Take out her frustrations with a beach party dance number, of course! Granted, it's on the shore of the town's toxic lake, but you get the idea.

At this point, Billy and I looked at each other, mouths agoggle.
"What is this choreography?" Billy moaned.
"I'll bet ... Pia's responsible!" I whispered.

[Turns out the dubious honor goes to "Dennon and Sayhber Rawles" whose previous credit was the Travolta turkey Staying Alive and actually worked again in Bugsy and a film that will soon be treated in this blog--Jailbird Rock. --Billy]

There's a lot of the "Pony" ... a lot of Jazz Hands ... not to mention the giant fuschia-and-blue squid tentacle (no, really) that pops out of the lake and trips up at least one of the dancers ... I'm sorry, I can't go on.

So there are "rock" aliens - who are really more like DEVO aliens, but hey, semantics - whose mission - besides singing bad DEVO ripoff "songs" - is to find one intelligent being on Earth. Or something. Same thing all movie aliens do, right?
This, incidentally, is the only time the movie vaguely even nods to the Jermaine-Pia video, as the aliens also sport BIM-bindis.

They beam down to Earth in a phone booth, steal clothes so as to blend in (hijinks! especially since by the next scene they're in their stylin' pink-and-black coveralls again) and, of course, meet Pia, Frankie, and all the other peripheral characters. At a '50s malt shop.

Look, the main alien falls for Pia, despite having had his emotions "removed" and explodes. In the malt shop.
Ruth Gordon is the town's inefficient sheriff who bumbles about after the aliens, eventually hijacking a tank.
Michael Berryman is an escaped mental patient and serial chainsaw murderer who terrorizes the town (between musical numbers, of course) until Pia's wacky friend (Alison LaPlaca), who happens to be an excellent mechanic - for a girl - wins him over by fixing his chainsaw when it breaks mid-attack.
After Pia breaks up with Frankie, in part because she's intrigued by this snappy, if stilted, dresser and in part because Frankie and his band / gang keep beating people up (though, to his credit, Frankie is one of those awesome gang leaders who makes everyone else do the dirty work) - not, you'll note, because he won't let her sing in the band - Frankie gets an extended solo bemoaning his broken heart, which also cannot be tamed.
Remember that picture, thousand words analogy?

His inner beast, or whatever cannot-be-tamed bits of him ... is a mountain lion. Granted, mountain lions are fierce and are capable of mauling and killing.
But a mountain lion? They couldn't scare up a real lion? What about good old-fashioned back-projection of a cat painted up to look like a leopard or something? ANYTHING!

Oh that's right. Blow = budget blown.

[Hey, Gidg, don't forget how noticeable the mountain lion's paunch was. I think we estimated him at about 55-60 in human years. Kind of like the Ernest Borgnine of mountain lions. --Billy]

Long story short (too late), though Dee Dee swoons at the idea of joining the rock aliens', um, band (oh, and lest I forget the "cotillion" with a battle of the bands between Frankie's and the aliens' bands), she cannot live on a far-away planet where emotions are forbidden.

Yada yada yada, she takes Frankie back, the giant squid attacks and is bested ... by Michael Berryman and his chainsaw and, finally, her erstwhile alien lover decides to brighten her life before leaving her forever (sniff - those were my barely-repressed tears, not the producers) by cleaning up the lake, sending Ruth Gordon parasailing (whaa?) and turning Frankie's band / gang into Boy Scouts - literally, uniforms and all.

The end. Whew.

Billy will be adding to this. It's a doozy.

Fast forward rating: 0%, if only because you'll want to see what the hell else the producers throw into the mix
Drinks: Skip the drinking and make like Scarface

Incidentally, no, Jermaine is not in the movie. At all. In fact, Craig and Pia "sing" (I believe Craig's vocals were supplied by the hardest-working voice in showbiz) the duet at the end of the movie.

Billy's take:

I think you covered it pretty well, Gidg. Some other highlights:

--Pia's numerous costume changes in the first half, which peter out as the budget was depleted.

--Craig Sheffer's ubiquitous abs (yummy!)

--The dance number in the ladies' room that starts with close-ups of the women's feet tapping beneath the doors of the stalls complete with various types of panties around their ankles (that's realism, folks!)

--The fat chick jogging and jiggling at the beach in the first dance number. She is wearing a necklace of "emergency" candy bars around her neck. What wit!

--Ruth Gordon, phoning it in for a paycheck. Her scenes are mostly alone or with the supporting cast. They probably only got her for a couple of days.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

You Learn Something New Every Day

I've been bested. I'm floored. I can usually go head-to-head with anyone (except maybe Billy, but we probably come out even, depending on subtopic) on movie trivia. Why do I know that so-and-so was in a movie I've never seen, nor have plans to? I don't know! I guess that's what took the place of physics in my brain. Sorry, Mrs. Golcher.

Anyhow, so, I saw Rent this weekend.
Yes. Me.
Are we over that? Great.

The lead character, Adam, is ably played by the actor who originated the role on stage: Anthony Rapp.

Anthony Rapp ... also known as Daryl Coopersmith from Adventures In Babysitting.


And you know who bested me? My beloved sister. I guess now we're even for the time I beat her to the punch and told her that Fergie from the Black-Eyed Peas was once upon a time Stacy Ferguson of K.I.D.S. Incorporated and Mr. T's Be Somebody Or Be Somebody's Fool fame.

I'm man enough to admit when I've been bested.

And I'm childish enough to remind everyone of this:

Fast Forward Rating: Rent: depends on your tolerance for musical theater and / or Chris Columbus (recent Chris Columbus, not The Goonies Chris Columbus)
Adventures In Babysitting: "You've gotta be shitting me!" 0%
Mr. T's Be Somebody Or Be Somebody's Fool: You'd be crazy as Murdoch to touch that fast forward button! 0%
Drinks: AZT cocktails ... too soon?

Friday, October 07, 2005

An evening (and a morning) with Tori Spelling

Hi everyone,

First off I need to apologize for the delay in finally getting this blog out. We’ve had a bit of real life and rather serious drama around here, which has gotten in the way of the fictional and rather hokey drama we like to write about. But that’s neither here nor there, and the important thing is that “We back!”

Last Friday, Gidg and I got together for dinner. I attempted meat loaf and mac n’ cheese (mac n’ chee in our circles). Both turned out deliciously—the meat loaf was a riff on my mom’s recipe but spicier, with Tabasco and garlic and ground pork along with the ground beef. The mac n’ chee was fabulous—I made a creamy cheese sauce with butter, flour, milk, sharp cheddar, swiss, and parmesan cheese and baked it with a crust of more parmesan and breadcrumbs-mmmmmm!) To accompany our meal, we drank red wine, and then vodkas with pineapple juice. Our evening became a slumber party, and in the morning for breakfast I ended up whipping up some spaghetti with tomatoes and garlic and more parmesan. Yum! And then after noon, we had a few more vodka pineapples as we continued our Tori double feature.

Oh, right, Friday night we attempted a Tori Spelling triple feature that I had recorded off the Lifetime (“Television For Idiots”) Movie Network but only ended up making it half way through the first film before I got my Vodka ADD and started playing VJ, showing clips from half of the films in my video collection. So Saturday morning we continued, managing to finish two films (Gidg saw the third one Alibi on her own and can comment on that one).

Anyway, after all of this background exposition, let’s get to the movies:

Co-Ed Call Girl (1996). In this one Tori plays a college ding-a-ling who just sort of “falls into” being a ‘ho after attending a beach party organized by the head (the late Scott Plank) of an escort service. She quickly befriends a young and not-yet-quite-so-collagen-injected Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Deep Space 9), who encourages her to join the agency. Tori then goes on a date with a handsome older man, and at the end of the date (just a kiss, no sex) he leaves her a wad of cash. Great deal, huh? Well, quickly she learns that the guys do expect more than just her company, and that the handsome gentleman boss of the agency is really nothing more than a snazzy-dressing pimp. We know he’s really a pimp because he bitch-slaps poor Tori. Their relationship quickly deteriorates when he tries to rape her and then sends her on a “punishment trick” at a seedy motel in Hollywood for a measly $50. She confronts her pimp, demanding to be let out of her employment, and ends up accidentally shooting him. Three times. So the big finale is a courtroom drama with Tori on trial for attempted murder of the pimp, and her triumphant slow-mo march out of the courthouse wearing a slinky red dress and giving one last lascivious look to her pimp while a cheesy sax plays on the soundtrack. Priceless!

The real star of the film is Tori’s hair—middle-period 90210--super-bleached, super coiffed, ready to fall out at any minute—and her increasingly raccoon-like makeup (to let us know that yes, she really is sleeping with men for money). Scenery-chewing kudos to Scott Plank (who I just found out died in a car accident in 2002 at only 43 years of age) as her pimp. When he finds out that she has a boyfriend (Barry Watson) named Jack, he looks at her incredulously and hisses, “Jackkkkkkkk!” with a real emphasis on that hard “k” sound. Also adding a few amusing moments is Susan Blakely as Tori’s hard-working single mom (who has amazingly defined cheekbones and taut skin for a woman of her age). When she finally figures out Tori’s been supplementing her meager earnings at her mom’s bakery with an unsavory sideline, she says, “You…You’re…a….prostitute!” with gratuitous, totally unrealistic pauses for dramatic effect.

Unfortunately, the second feature, Mother, May I Sleep With Danger? (also 1996—that Tori was busy!), could not live up to neither its title nor the precedent set by Co-ed Call Girl. It’s a standard-issue, obsessive, psychotic boyfriend saga with the hot Ivan Sergei as said psychotic boyfriend and Lisa Banes as the uptight WASP mother, but not much real tension, drama, or overacting. The one highlight is when Tori goes from being a redhead (in a horribly fake K-mart wig) to her usual overbleached, ready-to-fall-out blonde helmet (but with bangs this time) at Ivan’s suggestion. Apparently, he has a definite type he likes to stalk.

Gidg will have to provide details on the third film, Alibi, which she watched later on her own, but she told me that it’s almost as good as Co-ed Call Girl.

In sum:

Co-ed Call Girl gets kudos and an awesome 0% fast forward rating, while Mother, May I Sleep With Danger? is just passable with a 33% rating.

Drinks: Vodka with pineapple juice.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Shannen Doherty Marathon

Yes, I'm fond of Shannen Doherty. No, I can't quite put a finger on why. Is it her uneven eyes? Her off-screen bad-girl antics? Her mediocre acting?

Nope. It's because she got to lose her virginity to Dylan McKay.
Stop laughing!


Gads, I'd forgotten that pre-molded bra-top look. And the plaid. Thanks a lot, grunge.

Oh, sorry. Hi.

Billy recorded not one, not two but three made-for-tv movies starring Brenda Walsh. We tried to watch them during one of our Bad Movie Nites but ... the liquor was flowing and the ADD was rampant.
That never happens.*
*note: yes it does.

Not long after, I stayed home sick one fine Tuesday. And yes, even after watching all three movies I felt well enough to return to work on Wednesday. Thanks for asking.

The Rendering (2002): a dreadful paint-by-numbers (heh) serial stalker thriller starring Shannen and no one else and made in Canada.
Shannen is Sarah, a bright (um) young (er) art student who loses track of time, so seized by artistic inspiration, that she leaves the library (huh?) quite late. But before she can get out, she's attacked by a man (Peter Outerbridge) with a knife who, of course, thinks that they're destined to be together.
When Shannen finds the sketch artist's
rendering of her attacker unsatisfactory, she draws her own and discovers her talent can be used for good, not just pedestrian paintings that grad students will overanalyze while they wait for the gallery owner to open another bottle of $2 Chuck.
She helps the cops solve her case, sees her attacker go to prison for 25-to-life ... and then freaks out and suddenly it's 10 years later, which we know not just because of the helpful interstitial card but because she wears make-up.
She gave up painting, but still gets the occasional late night call requesting her services as impromptu sketch artist. Her husband (John H. Brennan) doesn't appreciate said calls: each sketch recalls her own trauma, which dredges up her night terrors, which, you know, wakes him up. And makes her not ready to start a family yet. Or something.
Sensitive fellow.
Synopsizing this is as boring as watching it, so let me sum up: stalker gets out of prison early for good behavior. Women are attacked in a fashion similar to Shannen's. One of the victim's descriptions turns out to look just like Shannen's husband. She's immediately suspicious for no good reason. He is eventually jailed. Turns out this was all the stalker's master plan to win Shannen over.
And, as in most thrillers of this caliber, you get your false ending (two, actually) before Shannen bests the guy. Though Shannen brings a gun to the stalker's lair for the final showdown, she ends up slamming his head into a conveniently jutting nail.

Fast Forward Rating: You know what's going to happen. If you're as bad as me, you know the lines: 60%
Drinks: "Why don't you come up to the bedroom and have some wine, Sarah? It's your favorite. I took it from your house."

Satan's School For Girls (2000): this dreadful and overly CG'd remake is notable for the Six Degrees of
90210 Separation - Daniel Cosgrove played the late-season lawyer Kelly dates but throws over for Dylan in the last episode. Also, Kate Jackson comes back for seconds. At least she's playing a college administrator, not a college student. Some notes:

  • It's good to be friendly with a cop (see also The Rendering), especially when he can get you a fake ID giving your birth year as 1979 (suuure, Shannen)
  • Uh-oh, Sassy Black Girlfriend alert! Anyone else see her being an early victim (I don't make the rules, folks.)
  • A Clinton joke and a Fatboy Slim song
  • Why is a professor at a sorority-type mixer?
  • Okay, watching Kelly's boyfriend woo Brenda is half poetic justice, half tripping me out
  • Sometimes, even I am wrong. I should've remembered from The Craft that covens / Satanic cults are more PC these days, not to mention totally obvious (what? the goth chicks were red herrings and the cult is made up of the perky gals?)
  • The previously mentioned professor tries to exposition the origin mythos of "the Five"(the original coven, made up of doctors, senators, lawyers - you know, Republicans) but doesn't actually know anything. Not a very good history professor, are we? "No, just a professional pussy hound." Ah, thanks for clearing that up. Also, ew.
  • "[One of the Five] could turn into a bird. That must have come in handy for the Senator." What does that even mean?!
  • The creepy, condemned building, the Devil's Point (complete with not one, but two pentagrams), the rampant suicides ... why do people go to this school?
Fast Forward Rating: Ho hum. 70%
Drinks: Absinthe

Friends Til The End (1997): a godawful
Gypsy-cum-Josie Meets The Pussycats-cum-SWF ripoff starring Shannen and Jason London (not Jeremy, with whom Shannen starred in Mallrats.) Some notes:
  • Shannen cannot sing
  • This was filmed at Oxi (Occidental College), as was 90210 (the College Years)
Can you tell this movie is even duller than The Rendering and even more preposterous than Satan's School ...?

Fast Forward Rating: the stalker chick doesn't even ever properly freak out. Don't bother
Drinks: Watered-down beer in a Solo cup

Sorry, Shannen. You let me down. I liked you better as Brenda.
But to add to the shame, I promise I'll track down Blindfold: Acts Of Obsession, with her beau-du-jour Judd Nelson. I'm so cruel. To me.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Cleopatra Jones

In the event that you haven't noticed or read this blog before, I am definitely on a "Soul Sister" jag this summer. After seeing Jackie Brown, which put me on a Pam Grier kick, I then re-watched Foxy Brown and checked out Women in Cages for the first time. They were both a lot of fun, and when I was browsing at Mondo the other evening, I came across another classic from the era, Cleopatra Jones, which I felt would further my education.

This movie was released by Warner Brothers in 1973 and definitely has a bigger budget than those early Pam Grier vehicles. You know it right off the bat from the credits (Shelley Winters as "Mommy") and the fancier special effects (air fighter bombing a poppy field) and Cleopatra's furry cape (courtesy of Italian superstar designer of the 70s, Giorgio di Sant'Angelo).

Cleo (as everyone calls her for short) is a special agent for the U.S. Government, and her latest triumph (destroying those poppies in Turkey, which would have been worth $30 million in heroin) pisses Mommy (who owned the poppies) off to no end. So Mommy keeps sending goons to try and shut down the community rehab center and do Cleo in, but of course they fail because Cleo is, well, Cleo. (It doesn't hurt that the goons are all pretty bumbling to boot.)

The movie features an excellent star turn from the Amazonian (6'2") former model Dobson. It's a shame that her film appearances have been so few and far between. (I also recommend her as the Duchess in Chained Heat, an excellent women-in-prison movie with Linda Blair and Sybil Danning. ) Her Cleo is a skilled markswoman, expert in kung fu, and wears a headscarf with real flair. She also has a witty, smiling, almost flirty way of telling the baddies that she's going to kill them, is hip to jive lingo with her friends ("Right on!") but uses very precise syntax and diction when dealing with the establishment types or the villains.

Shelley Winters is at her scenery-chewing finest (yes, finest! you don't hire her when you want "understated") as the diabolical, butch lesbian crime boss. Yes, it's the 70's so she's an EVIL lesbian. But you can forgive her because she's such a fun caricature to watch. She wears a series of technicolor wigs that correspond with her series of beautiful ladies-in-waiting, and in the first scene puts her gnarled and dirty foot up on her desk for a footrub from a gorgeous blonde. That's realism, folks. They could have made her foot all pretty and pedicured. Or at least clean. But no, we get a dirty, stinky, corn-ridden foot that's been cramped up in a black clodhopper all day. (Ok, so in this patently unreal film, why did we need that again?)

Also enjoyable is the presence of the blaxploitation-ubiquitous Antonio Fargas--Shaft, Car Wash, and Foxy Brown (as Pam Grier's drug-dealing brother)--as Mommy's underling-turned-nemesis Doodlebug. His huge crooked smirk livens up any movie.

I can't finish without mentioning the excellent car chase sequence that features two of Mommy's thugs racing after Cleo's custom Corvette (the driver's side roof raises up on a hydraulic automatically when her door opens so as not to crush her hair) in the cement-enclosed LA River Basin, which was made even more famous in the chicken scene in Grease a few years later. The goons don't stand a chance against Cleo's Vette as they get blasted with water and end up crashing into a bunch of portapotties (eww.)

Fast-forwarding: 0%
Drinks: Cleo doesn't drink much, if at all, in the movie, but I'd go with something tall, cool, and elegant--how about a mint julep or a Pimms cup?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

How Gay Is Nacho Vidal?

Last night at Mondo, I was hanging out with Gidg and her man The Doctor and MondoErek, drinking an extra-large Tecate and shooting the breeze. I picked up "Hot Couples," which was down in the bin with the other porn magazines, and started flipping through it. The big centerfold spread was these four girls in a lockerroom (last time I checked, four girls does not a "hot couple" make). They were each made up to look sort of like a different Spice Girl cheerleader (which is soooo 1997).

In the first pics, they're just alone. Scary is munching Baby, and Posh is getting it on with Sporty in that very porn "I'm just doing it for the paycheck" way, but then when you turn the page, you see a full two-page spread of the girls staring lustily at the Quarterback, who is suddenly in front of them and wears his helmet and pads and little mesh half-shirt but instead of pants, is holding a towel open to reveal his big boner. This quarterback is portrayed by Nacho Vidal of Spain. He is one of Rocco Siffredi's former proteges and now a star in his own right. He produces and directs his own line of videos and has quite a following. But a lot of straight guys I know aren't that into him. Maybe they're jealous of his oversculpted bod or his large uncut penis. Maybe he's a bit too agressive with the girls. Or maybe it's because as macho as the Nacho is, he seems kind of gay.

Not that there's anything wrong with being gay (I'm gay), but I'm not sure that the straight male porn buyers of the world (even the so-called "Metrosexuals") are ready for a gay-seeming porn star. So, what, you ask, makes me say that Nacho is kind of gay? Well, it's all really quite stereotypical, but let's just go through it for fun.

First off, let me start by saying that it's not the videos he does with the trannies. Trannyfuckers are not gay men. Most gay men don't want to fuck trannies. They want to fuck other gay men.

It's also not because he did a "gay" video. From what I understand, he doesn't do anything gay in it. He just does a solo and lets other guys do the fucking. Nacho is merely a smart businessman and understands that he has a large gay following who will pay to watch him naked.

The most obvious but not necessarily most convincing element of what makes Nacho seem gay is his narcissism. He spends sooo much time on pumping iron and waxing and shaving and oiling himself up. You can tell he thinks he's really hot (and I have to kind of agree with him). Of course, one could argue that most modern male porn stars are into their bodies--Rocco, Lee and Evan Stone, Hakan Serbes, etc. , so maybe that argument doesn't hold up too well. Or maybe they're all secretly gay :)

Another thing is the way he makes himself the center of attention. In most modern porn, the guys are essentially living, breathing dildoes. The director wants the viewer to focus on the girl (which is what straight guys want to focus on) and usually instructs the guy to be quiet and just do his job. Of course, there have been exceptions, like John Holmes, and Jamie Gillis, and Ron Jeremy, but they actually hail from the Golden Age of porn when there was more focus on dialogue and personality. If you notice, however, porn thespianism really started to go downhill in the 80's. The models for the New Porn Stud became Marc Wallice (who, incidentally, like his cohort Peter North, got fucked by men in a couple of videos in the early 80's before he went into straight porn) and Tom Byron, who was always hard but hardly present in his scenes. That was the point! In order to complete the fantasy for the male viewers, you need a non-entity, so that the viewer can insert himself into the scene. Tom Byron's hard cock becomes the viewer's hard cock.

Of course, one could argue, "Rocco Siffredi is buff and has a personality and makes himself the center of the scene, do you think he's gay too?" And I would have to answer, regrettably, "No, I don't think he is." I mean, he might have fooled around with a guy here or there just to try it out since he seems rather adventuresome, but I don't think he's gay the way Nacho is. And my reasoning boils down to my final two points.

1st off: Nacho doesn't really love the ladies. When Rocco is laying into a girl, even when he's being rough, you can tell that he is all about the woman at that moment. He looks her in the eye intensely, he kisses her, he caresses her. He tells her how fucking' good she feels. He smiles and laughs and says "Oh my God!" with his great Italian accent. Nacho, by contrast, is almost trying to kill the woman (or in the case of John Stagliano's Face Dance Obsession get killed by suffocating on the woman's ass cheeks) . He looks very intently at her as he pounds away, but to my eye, he's not actually looking at her. He's looking through her. He is looking at his own reflection in her eyes for proof that he is the roughest, toughest stud around. The woman becomes a mirror and a receptacle.

But even if we say that Nacho is a narcissist and a bit of a misogynist, that doesn't necessarily mean he's gay, right? Sure. I mean a lot of porn performers don't really care about their partners all that much. They're in porn to stroke their own egos, make some cash, and get off. So even that in itself isn't enough to suggest that he's gay on its own.

The key piece of evidence to support the "Nacho might be kind of gay" theory lies in the aforementioned Face Dance Obsession, from which the still above was taken. In that film, he has several scenes with Hakan Serbes. Hakan is a gorgeous Turkish-German stud who started in porn in the 90s, most notably playing Anthony in Joe D'Amato's costume sudser Anthony and Cleopatra and Hercules in the film of the same name. After D'Amato, Hakan became affiliated with John Stagliano and Rocco and did films alongside Nacho.

Face Dance Obsession is essentially a series of vignettes where guys let women with nice curvy posteriors sit on their faces almost to the point of passing out. In the final scene of the film, Hakan and Nacho have a three-way with the very hot Daniella Rush. It's a very hot scene, but what is striking is the connection between Nacho and Hakan. They smile at each other, they gaze at each other as Daniella blows them both, their legs intertwined and their cocks rubbing together. Nacho looks on at dick-level as Daniella blows Hakan. He looks like he'd like a taste too. They both take Daniella from behind at the same time--I've never seen a DP done in this position because it requires the two men to actually touch. As they plow away, Nacho supports himself by grabbing Hakan's hips and his lower back, and Hakan's butt repeatedly bumps against Nacho's stomach. Finally, Hakan realizes how gay this is and says something like "Man, don' t you try to fuck me in the ass!" and then they laugh and high five. At the end of the scene, they each cum on Daniella's face and then gaze, smiling and spent, into each other's eyes once more. I was expecting them to kiss. But, then again, I watch too much gay porn. These guys have some major chemistry, and it's hard to deny it. But I suggest you go out and rent it and decide for yourself.

Shameless Self-Promotion!

Billy and Gidg at Mondo Video last night.