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“There will always be a market for Brian Bosworth movies.” This frightening quote comes from Don Gold, senior V.P. of Vidmark, one of the big guns in direct-to-video entertainment. In fact, the DTV world is so expansive it not only embraces failed athletes but can supply constant work for the tiny Coreys, Feldman and Haim. In killing the radio star, video has unleashed opportunities for almost everyone else.
The home-video business is larger than the multiplex market, and growing. Independence Day and Fatal Attraction get all the press, but what of the horde of also-rans and blatant rip-offs they inspire? Each month, their flagrantly packaged boxes arrive on the rental shelves, having been scoffed at, scorned, and utterly dismissed by critics, who are more concerned with art and meaning than an insightful shower scene or ingenious explosion.
Since there will always be Brian Bosworth movies, there must be someone who will take such works as seriously as they take themselves. Someone who will review them, who will provide perspective on the art of the shower scene, offer analysis of the meaning of the monster-POV stalking shot. Someone to pass judgment on the obligatory parking-garage or abandoned-factory chase scene.
That person died of a massive brain hemorrhage, so I’ll have to do.
Each month, this column will dive into the cultural dumpster, where bright intentions are thwarted by lack of talent, and talentless hacks succeed by exploiting greed and lust. It’s a stinky job, but every once in a while, you come up with a rose.
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As a further aid to befuddled videophiles, we offer the following rating system: At the bottom of the bottom is BULK ERASE. Do not get this tape near your VCR. Less virulent, but not worth your time, is EJECT. PAUSE means some of it is worth some of your time. The highest accolade is PLAY, but caveat emptor alwaysthis is not necessarily synonymous with “good.”
TROMEO & JULIET
Forget that pretentious Claire Danes/Leonardo DiCaprio version in theaters, this is the definitive filmed treatment of the Shakespeare classicif only because, finally, there’s a happy ending. And Motörhead’s Lemmy provides the narration. In the rivalry between the families of “Monty Cue” and “Cappy Capulet,” Juliet is a now a vegetarian semi-lesbian and Romeo digs dirty CD-ROMs. Troma boss Lloyd Kaufman has made the Bard’s language meaningful to a modern audience by adding fart jokes and frequent use of the F-word. More clever than the usual Troma fare, this gorefest with scenes of explicit body-piercing and toe-sucking is still juvenile. But so was the audience for the original. PLAY.
THE VIKING SAGAS
New Line [CC]
Why are they still making Viking movies? Because it’s hard to fit lines like, “I will see you in Valhalla!” and “Gunnar’s gone mad! He’s killing people down by the river!” into a romantic comedy. This is certainly neither, though it is epic in landscape, if not talent. The directorial debut of a cinematographer, this is the first film I’ve seen where the voice-over only serves to confuse. Still, windy Iceland looks positively inviting, and there’s plenty of gruesome, manly combat. Who but a Viking would wrap his intestines around a rock and call that dying with dignity? Salud! PAUSE.
Republic Pictures [CC]
Max Grodènchik is Rumpelstiltskin! Actually, he’s more of a Sheckystiltskin, constantly joking and bearing more resemblance to Billy Crystal’s septuagenarian Catskill comic character, Buddy Young Jr., than any Grimm creature. But grim this is, and in bringing the fable to modern L.A. the filmmakers demonstrate only what is wrong with modern horror films: Glibness and gratuitous destruction have replaced any evocation or examination of our primal fears. Like the fear of watching the clearly intended Rumpelstiltskin II. EJECT.
Can “America’s First Lady of Fitness” Rachel McLish follow fellow world body-building champ Arnold Schwarzenegger to box-office bonanza? Even though her English is better, the sinewy author of Flex Appeal doesn’t use much of it. In fact, the star of the In Shape workout videos sparkles onscreen with the same luster as second-string lunk Chuck Norris. But the author of Perfect Parts doesn’t get much of a chance. After McLish effortlessly wreaks revenge on the evil businessmen who killed her family and put a nuclear plant on their Indian land, the producers let a man save both the day and Ravenhawk. Drop and give me 20. EJECT.
The cover art was designed to attract men, but a woman directed this utterly witless tale of a lone dude on a planet of babes. Meaning that there is equal-opportunity gratuitous nudity. And a man probably wouldn’t have bothered giving the planet an Old West setting. Stupefying, yes, but the costumeswhen wornare first-rate. Nothing makes sense, but this is targeted at couples who need a VCR to jump-start real entertainment. PAUSE.
“I thought you’d have preferred if I was a boy,” says Elizabeth Hurley to her aristocrat dad in what might have been the big emotional moment of this extra low-key film about…something. I honestly never figured it out. Surprisingly, Hurley displays her un-boyish attributes and also proves that one can be a dissolute, high-society heroin addict and still have a fabulous complexion and look smashing in evening wear. Hair model C. Thomas Howell proves that he’s got a great agent who can continue to find him work. EJECT.
“Forgive me, Father, for I am sin.” That’s a nice line. Problem is, it’s on the box, not in the script. The film boasts such sterling dialogue as, “Do you have, like, computers and Internet access?” This tale of comely coeds trying to contact “The Horned Demon” for reasons that remain unclear is really a 20-minute Night Gallery episode padded with teasing nudity and shots of weather. If you missed the similar-themed The Craft when it was in theaters, feel free to miss this at the video store. EJECT.Dave Nuttycombe