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TAILS YOU LIVE, HEADS YOU’RE DEAD

Paramount [CC]

“I go wherever my fancy takes me.” So says Corbin Bernsen, here playing a capricious serial killer. Fancy has taken the close-cropped actor from major-league TV to the Major League film series to the DTV minors. But Bernsen’s a solid team player, and the setup for this nearly tense thriller is fairly intriguing: Nutcase chooses victims randomly, informs them they are next, and slowly toys with them. Who hasn’t thought of doing that? But there is the constrained feel of a TV movie about this product. Animal House hero Tim Matheson directed, with no special flair, though he proves his seriousness by playing a supporting role in a highly unflattering hairstyle. PAUSE.

BLOODHOUNDS

Paramount [CC]

“You know, in a strange way this has all the promise of a better ending.” So says Corbin Bernsen, here playing a true-crime author chasing down a capricious serial killer. The promise is largely unfulfilled, though co-star Christine Harnos has a pretty good kung-fu kick. There are so many well-timed coincidences that you stop caring after a while, but I did have this epiphany: I say thank God we’ve changed over to a service economy—now that all of our factories are rusting into funky dishevelment, they make perfect movie backdrops for grimy fight scenes. EJECT.

KOUNTERFEIT

Live Entertainment

“Hey, what am I doing in this hateful movie?” So doesn’t say Corbin Bernsen, but his apology would be appreciated. In his defense, Bernsen appears in so few scenes it’s never clear what his role is. But the utterly reprehensible moral is sickeningly clear: It is better to be a murderous thief than a crooked cop. OK, maybe it’s a close call, but are we really supposed to root for the double-crossing thug because he didn’t shoot first? And what of the heroine? A guy kills her brother so she applies for a job in his nudie bar? That’s a plan? The misspelled title remains unexplained, but the opening does show a guy making money using PhotoShop and a bubblejet printer. That’s an upgrade I’m waiting for. EJECT.

CADILLAC RANCH

BMG [CC]

Yes, that Cadillac Ranch. This film was “inspired by” the famous Ant Farm installation with all the planted autos, but the greater inspiration was Thelma and Louise, though I don’t recall those two spending so much time in tight cutoffs. In neither case did the inspiration strike very deep. Three sisters wrestle with the legacy of an absent father while trying hard to be colorful. Christopher Lloyd plays a sadistic creep with his usual enthusiasm, but I’m really starting to worry about Suzy Amis. What’s with the pole dance? The important lesson is that someone should take better care of those Caddies. PAUSE.

CHANGING HABITS

A-Pix

More Daddy issues, more inspirational art, and more Christopher Lloyd. Also Teri Garr, Shelly Duvall, Eileen Brennan, and Moira Kelly, who stars as Lloyd’s alienated, shoplifting artist daughter, who moves into a convent to save money so that she can devote her full attention to hating Dad. This is less a story than a bunch of quirky characters working stuff out, speaking in wise aphorisms, and telling many life stories that no one really wants to hear. But actors love roles where they get to laugh and cry in the same scene. With so much meaning being dispensed, why does it take 92 minutes for the bleeding obvious to be revealed? EJECT.

BEN VAUGHN: RAMBLER 65

Rhino Home Video

You gotta admire a guy who, after coming up with a wacky but impractical idea, follows it through to the bitter end, even though the stupidity of the endeavor must have been apparent from the start. Roots-rock singer/songwriter/soundtrack composer Ben Vaughn decided to record an entire album inside his 1965 Rambler. For those unfamiliar, the Rambler was one of the first “compact” cars. The music turned out far better than you might expect, catchy even—especially “7 Days.” This 24-minute video is a semi “making of,” with most of the tunes worked into the story. Oldies DJ Jerry Blavat and a local Rambler fanatic gamely play along. While Vaughn doesn’t quite pull off his Chris Isaak impression, there’s still some charm at work. And, man, those cars. PLAY.

BIKINI HOTEL

Pulp Pix

Oh, Stella, Stella, Stella! In her cameo role, ’60s blond bombshell Stella Stevens looks very good for 61. But this is a movie even her son Andrew, king of the cable erotic thrillers, wouldn’t touch. Boasting two Penthouse Pets (one Australian, one Pet of the Year), one International Swimsuit Model, and nearly unintelligible sound, this nude-a-thon offers the single-entendre “comedy” of pornography, with acting as plastic as the body parts. Real pornographers know enough to keep the, uh, gags to a minimum. EJECT.

—Dave Nuttycombe

Next month: The Plan’s the thing.