Monday, June 21, 2021

Junesploitation 2021 Day 21: Julie Strain!



    Before this weekend I had no idea who Julie Strain was. Of course I remembered the statuesque model showing off the Annhialator 3000 in "Beverly Hills Cop III," but that's a minor bleep in an endless sea of entertainingly-bad, beneath-Hollywood-mainstream schlock. As the recent sales success of Capcom's newest "Resident Evil" game ("VIII" or "VILLLAGE") proves, never underestimate the general public's fascination with taller-than-average attractive women. Especially ones not shy to show their boobs and use the 'F' word (not that one, THE 'F' word! :-P) indiscriminately.

    Peter Segal's NAKED GUN 33 1/3: THE FINAL INSULT (1994, DVD).

    The early 90's was the peak of Strain's mainstream visibility in tiny roles on popular (!) movies: Steven Seagal's "Out of Justice," JCVD's "Double Impact," Christian Slater's "Kuffs," the aforementioned Eddie Murphy flop and, last and certainly least, the final entry in Leslie Nielsen's spoof series. I half-remembered the dominatrix that shows up at the fertility clinic, but Julie lives up to what her role was in this flick: one of hundreds of safe 'PG-13' jokes jokes thrown at viewers hoping they'd laugh at what they see. I'm sure dads got a bigger kick from this six-second gag than their kids. :-P

    The rest of "The Final Insult" is very hit and miss, not as funny as its prequels but funnier anything the Zuckers and Jim Abrahams did in their latter spoofs. The parodies of Academy Award nominees haven't aged well, but the sequence when Frank Drebin has to fill containers with sperm never fails to make me laugh. And even 27 years later, it feels too soon to be laughing at O.J. Simpson-centered jokes in a movie released the same year you-know-what happened. 3 "STEVEN SPIELBERG'S GERIATRIC PARK" BOOTLEG VHS COPIES (out of 5).

    1. Steven Seagal's "Out FOR Justice," not "Out of Justice." Dear Lord, it's late! :'(

  2. Christian Sidaris' THE DALLAS CONNECTION (1994, VUDU) for the first time.

    What do you know? Andy Sidaris' kid inherited his old man's knack for occasionally showing boom mics (or their shadow) in frame, stitching together 90 minutes worth of narrative from 15 minutes of actual story (with endless establishing shots, stock footage, boring dialogue, etc.) and spending good money on actual, honest-to-goodness booming explosions. This is still an Andy Sidaris production, so you bet the lion's share of this tale of a female assassination squad operating out of a strip club (Thursdays is Square Dancing night!) trying to steal microchips for a government spy satellite (I/WAR) will unfold like XXX live-action cinematics in a Tecmo "Dead or Alive" fighting game. Even by Sidaris' standards some of the nudity and sex scenes in "The Dallas Connection" are borderline porno, but at least the high-def transfers on streaming sites look/sound as good as the Blu-ray Box Set. No, I don't own one! 8-)

    Despite some of the assassin chicks looking sexier (Wendy Hamilton's Scorpion and her exploding golf ball had me laughing and clapping real hard) Julie Strain (who gets an 'And' title credit) steals the movie as 'Black Widow.' She gets the best lines ('Boys. After you've finished with those guys, rape these bitches and kill them! I know I would'), has some of the flashier kills and goes out like a videogame boss. Besides "Samurai Cop's" Gerald Okamura, though, the mannequin-like beefcake that passes as male actors are one sorry lot. I honestly can't stand more than one Sidaris flick per Junesplitation! cycle, and this one filled me plenty. 3 SOUTH AFRICAN RANCH HANDS WITH SECRET CAMCORDERS (out of 5).

    1. I love Andy Sidaris movies the some ways people love ecstatic religious practices like walking on their knees until they bleed. I'm all in. Wanted to share our "10 things I learned from Andy Sidaris films" and interview with his wife Arlene.

      Julie totally is the best part of the last LETHAL films and we shoudl celebrate that fact every day!

  3. DELTA DELTA DIE! (2003, TUBI) for the first time.

    Julie plays Mother Finch, the queen bee of a Delta Delta Pi fraternity chapter that makes the most money with their delicious Delta Delta Meat Pie sales. After sending her klutzy assistant to a basement dungeon for having the temerity of "eating" raw dick in the prologue, Finch and the college dean arrange to keep their secret thing going. But the dean's personal assistant (Joe Dain's Tobias) starts getting suspicious of the reports of missing students, and gets in touch with former DDP founder Rhonda Cooper (Scream Queen legend Brinke Stevens). As the 20th anniversary of DDS approaches, Tobias and Rhonda join forces to try and end Mother Finch's reign of cannibalistic terror once and for all.

    "Delta Delta Die!" is still a Julie Strain starring role she totally owns, but Brinke Stevens comes like a train on fire in the last act to almost... almost steal the movie from Julie. The direction and zero-budget lets Brinke down, but for a handful of scenes she's a total badass. But most of "DDD" is about as cheap and 'meh' as you'd expect a shot-on-video, soft porn horror flick from the early 2000's to come across. The actor who plays Larry (one of many horny college "kids" that enter DDP house but never leaves) has his name in the titles as "Bert Reynolls." Charles Band was an executive producer, but I won't hold his involvement against this movie. :-P It's really a 2-star movie at best, but since we're in a generous Junesploitation! mood I'll settle for 3 UNFLATTERING CLOSE-UPS OF SHRIVELED QUATERBACK PENISES (out of 5... oh, I so wish I was kidding! :-O).

  4. NO PAIN, NO GAIN: THE MOVIE (2004, YouTube) for the first time.

    You guys! I wondered off the path and deep into the YouTube weed brush, and I think I found a hidden gem of sorts. This self-financed, rarely-seen flick (no user reviews on IMDB in the 17 years since it was released on DVD) is like the poor man's version of Michael Bay's "Pain and Gain" from 2013. Gus Malliarodakis, the current FitPro USA CEO and clearly not an actor (then or now), plays a version of himself that wants the sport of bodybuilding to get away from drug enhancements and rely on natural, nutritional methods to a lean, good looking body. Gus' sad-sack, loser-type meathead Mike Zorillo goes through a hellish journey that takes him to Los Angeles to hang out with the Hollywood phonies and wannabe types like Jake Steel (Dennis Newman) in order to prove his methods are the correct ones. A Jim Carrey-lookalike nerdy scientist (Joe Hursley's Zigbar, who gets a showcase of his own after the closing credits) and the granddaughter of his former landlady (Kim Travers' Crystal Rivers) help Mike along the way.

    If "The Room" had actual talent and intelligence behind its creation then it would have fallen into the same abyss of anonymity that "No Pain, No Gain" fell into. Made in the late 90's but not released on DVD until 2004, this is somebody's personal obsession captured in film form for the world to see. It's sporadically entertaining (the ANC chairwoman is hilariously bitchy and often naked), technically well made (no boom mics on camera, good lighting, etc.), and I assumed that Gus Malliarodakis being so Forrest Gump-like transparent was part of a joke I wasn't getting. Then in the final 10 minutes Gus takes off the baggy clothes his character wore through the entire movie, and it dawned on me: this dude is for real! :-D And Julie Strain appears for a few seconds (30:10 to 30:21) in an L.A. beach showing off her muscles and leopard bikini, just because. ;-) 3.25 RAGE ROID-DESTROYED CLASSIC GAMEBOYS (out of 5).

  5. Day Of The Warrior (1996) Andy Sidaris

    This feels like it could be the quintessential Sidaris movie, but maybe they all feel that way when you’re watching them. Julie Strain lives on!

  6. I am no stranger to Julie Strain, having watched the later L.E.T.H.A.L. films of Andy Sidaris. (Return to Savage Beach would be one of the better choices today.) When I saw her name appear in the Junesploitation list, I looked it up and was surprised to learn that she had passed away, apparently from dementia.

    Anyone not familiar with Strain will discover that her starring roles came in low-budget video store or late-nite cable movies. Having watched what is likely her best work with Andy Sidaris – sorry, just not ready to tackle a film made by Andy’s sons – I went with a title that has a good poster.

    BATTLE QUEEN 2020 (2001) – Watched on Tubi

    I can easily imagine this flick showing up on HBO or Cinemax late on a Friday or Saturday night in the early 2000s. There is a little bit of everything in here, a mix of fights, nudity, and softcore scenes. The plot is more developed than I expected it to be. An asteroid has destroyed human civilization, and the remnants are divided between a small elite living above ground and a large mass of people living in misery underground. The elite live off of the underground people in several ways. Julie Strain is a courtesan/prostitute who serves the elite but comes from underground. She is a strong character throughout the film and delivers her lines with conviction. Will the elite be able to hold on to their power in the face of a rebellion? The small budget gets more evident as the film goes on, which makes the conclusion feel cheaper than any other part of the film. Even so, there are far worse films of this nature I have watched. With a run-time of 80 minutes, Battle Queen 2020 goes by quickly. I was somewhat entertained.

  7. BLEED (2002)
    Ultra-cheap shot-on-video Scream ripoff. Julie Strain only cameos, as this is a Debbie Rochon vehicle. She plays a woman whose new boyfriend is part of a “murder club,” only for a white-masked killer to hunt them down one by one. There’s 30 minutes of nothing happening before this premise is even introduced. Rochon is great, but she can’t save this movie. There’s tons of nudity and I was still bored. That’s how dull this is.

    30 days of Chinese fantasy movies, day 21
    GENGHIS KHAN (2018)
    A retelling of the life of Genghis Khan, but with demons, zombies, witches, magic portals, etc. With the premise of “Genghis Khan vs. zombies” I was expecting a direct-to-video cheapie, but they’re going full LOTR with huge production value and big battles. It’s weird (and, I fear, problematic?) to see Genghis be all noble and heroic instead of how he’s normally portrayed. And I must admit I gave trying to follow the plot when the villain summoned a bunch of flying jellyfish to search for the spirit of Mother Earth. But I still enjoyed this on the level of sword-swingin’ fantasy action.

  8. Heavy Metal 2000 (2000, dir. Michael Coldewey & Michel Lemire)

    Violent cartoons with tits. Yes, they did it again in the year 2000. Except instead of a ground breaking, adults-only rock n roll animated feature with songs by the likes of Cheap Trick and Black Sabbath, this is a direct-to-video 2d/3d animation hybrid monstrosity with songs by Monster Magnet and Insane Clown Posse.

    Julie Strain (RIP) plays Julie/FAKK2 a woman whose colony was blown up by Tyler (Michael Ironsides) looking for the key to the Fountain of Youth… in space! There’s a lot of absurd scifi business involving sex robots, hyperspace gates, ancient prophecies and lizard gladiators, but who cares? I was so numb watching this movie, not just from the barely-better-than-90s-tv-animation and the seizure-inducing soundtrack but the scene transitions that dissolve to black, as if this were intended to be shown on commercial TV. Maybe French TV?

    I’m an aficionado of 2d animated features so I’m shocked I haven’t seen this before now. Heavy Metal 2000 is kissing cousins with Titan A.E. and Treasure Planet, those middling features where the major animation studios weren’t quite sure what do with CGI and where they did use it it looks cheap and blends poorly with the other animation elements. This film is a footnote in animation history, not a foundation like its predecessor.

    I’m hard pressed to pinpoint a single moment in the film that actually works. Maybe Michael Ironsides laying it real thick as the malicious, power-hungry Tyler. At one point his character growls:

    “Blind adoration makes me so horny! Bring me a wench!”

    But, his name is Tyler. Tyler sounds like someone’s 5-year-old nephew who really likes Bob the Builder, not an ax-wielding masochist bent on conquering the galaxy.

    I suppose I could recommend this as a late night stoner movie or for grown-up animated movie completionists. Everyone else should watch Rock n Rule, another musical animation about cyberpunk furries in a weird grimdark future.

    1. No offense to all Tylers, but I can't believe that they picked such an ill-fitting name.

    2. The story was based on a Kevin Eastman (TMNT co-creator) comic book, so I have to imagine the name was a holdover from that.

    3. This one for me, too. It didn't do much for me, pretty uninspired.

  9. Heavy Metal 2000 (2000, dir. Michael Coldewey & Michel Lemire)

    Julie Strain gets to play the lead role (well, protagonist at least - Michael Ironside in the villain role is first billed) in this sci-fi animation, a sequel to 1981's anthology Heavy Metal. The anthology makes way for a feature-length story, and Black Sabbath and Blue Öyster Cult on the soundtrack make way for Machine Head and Coal Chamber.

    There's a lot of boiler-plate sci-fi nonsense about ancient cultures, alien races, space stations, and a fountain of youth, and none of it is in any way interesting. The cel animation is fine, but the CGI additions stick out like a sore thumb. As in the first movie, the animators really liked naked women with large breasts. Objectifying or empowering? You decide!

    1. It would be impossible to have a Heavy Metal movie without enormous, anatomically implausible, perfectly spherical naked breasts. They're obligatory.

      Now all of the sexual assault in this movie... That's a choice.

  10. Young Blood, Fresh Meat (1995) aka Blonde Heaven

    Tubi seems to have cut this down to a lean 52 mins (down from 80) which I assume was accomplished by removing all the sex scenes. That worked out somewhat well as that really wasn't what I was looking for with today's theme.

    Now it's possible that some vital information was contained in those scenes as the story here, especially towards the end doesn't make a lot of sense. There's a lot of shifting alliances between Strain as the seemingly most powerful of a group of vampires, and they have laws that aren't really explained, and goals that aren't particularly defined. More than likely though the movie just isn't especially well written because the story is mostly just there to support softcore sex scenes. Certainly director David DeCoteau, who I know only from some of the Puppet Master films, can only devote so much time to ensuring his movies make sense given that he's apparently directed 170 movies since 1984.

    It's hard to judge Strain's acting chops here as the part requires her to speak in monotone much of the time and nobody could make the dialogue she's given sound good. She's one of the few people here really seeming to make an effort here though (and the guy that plays the vampire hunter), so I'll give her credit for that.

  11. Babes in Kongland (2002)

    Also known as Planet of the Erotic Ape and World of the Erotic Ape, this shot-in-Cincinnati ape rip is actually a rip off of (IMHO) the Richard Hatch, Kay Lenz, and John Saxon bore festival that is Prisoners of the Lost Universe (1983) — only with sex and apes added. A TV repairman, who sidelines as a mad scientist, tests his new invention (something about transporting TV signals into space) and accidentally transports himself to a planet (which sounds like the dopey, 1989 John Roarke (S.F.W) fronted sci-comedy Mutant on the Bounty) where Amazonian women banish men into “The Forbidden Zone” and bed with talking apes. The gist of the tale is that the women of this world are ruled by a brutal dominatrix and their “erotic ape” sex partner, tired of his love-slave imprisonment, escapes. And when you’re a tribe of horny women without an ape, you turn into a lesbian jungle cult — and take an interest in your world’s newest male inhabitant. Or something like that.

    Look, if you want to see a porn movie with five topless girls on an island horny for a guy in a ratty monkey suit, you’ve found your movie. If you want a lot of girl-on-girl action, you’ve found your movie. If you want a movie shot as a comedy, but without any comedy, you’ve found your movie. Hey, it’s only 60 minutes and the human babes on male ape sex arrives within the first five minutes, so what’s not to likey, here?

    Keen eyes weaned on the lowest-budget of the low-budget B-Movies (aren’t our eyes all, for B&S wouldn’t exist without them) will recognize the reason that we’re here: Julie Strain, a Penthouse “Pet of the Month” in June 1991 and “Pet of the Year” in 1993, who has graced us with the likes of Psycho Cop Returns, along with appearance in Naked Gun 33 1/3, Beverly Hills Cop II, and Battle Queen 2020, along with Monique Gabrielle of Jim Wynorski’s Transylvania Twist, as well as 976-Evil II, Munchie.

    Eric Eichelberger* (Ghoul Scout Zombie Massacre) started his career on this long-gestating Julie Strain project, but not at the same time. The future director and actress would come to work together on Blood Gnome (2004).

  12. Delta Delta Die (2003)

    On January 10, 2021, our world got a whole lot worse when Julie Strain died. In everything she did -- and look, not every movie is really all that great, but who cares -- she exuded confidence, a spirit of fun and a knowing wink that said, "Just shut up and enjoy it." So many kids my age had crushes on celebrities and I would just think, "Yeah, but she's no Julie Strain."

    This movie has Julie, Brinke Stevens and Tiffany Shepis in it, which is really more than we deserve. It's about a sorority led by Mother Fitch (Strain) called Delta Delta Pi that loves to eat human flesh because, well, who knows and who cares why. As they prepare for homecoming, a student tries to stop their evil acts, so she brings in one of their first member Rhonda Cooper (Brinke).

    Julie's half-sister Lizzy was also in this, so there's that. I mean, you also get to see Julie dance covered in blood, as well as demand that people grind a man's scrotum up. It's not the greatest movie you've ever seen, but that's totally the kind of movie that Julie would make better just by showing up. Except for the Andy Sidaris films she's in. Those are like perfect with perfect on top.

    Oh yeah -- this movie also has full frontal dong. If that upsets you, please know that there are also scenes of tallywhackers being devoured and not in the raw. Please enjoy!

  13. Fit to Kill (1993)

    Bullets, bikinis, bad dialogue and bountiful breast implants…forget it Jake, it’s Sidaristown. There’s a place for Andy Sidaris movies, and that place is Cinemax around 3am. There are 12 (!) movies in his L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies series, and it took me longer to type that acronym than it took him to write any of these goddamn things.

    This one centers around a diamond (which appears to be made of plastic that would have been deemed too unrealistic to be a jewel in a Lego set) stolen by Kane (R.J. Moore, son of Roger and parody of same), nemesis to the buxom L.E.T.H.A.L. ladies. He’s assisted by assassin Blu Steele, played by Julie Strain in her first appearance in the series (out of five, though she plays different characters in the others). There’s some fun to be had, but it’s nowhere near as next-level bonkers as Hard Ticket to Hawaii, the (plastic) jewel in the Sidaris crown.

  14. Fit to Kill (1993, dir. Andy Sidaris)

    Add me to the list of unfamiliar w/ Julie Strain, and this was my first Sidaris movie as well. I think I screwed up by not watching this with a bunch of friends and a bunch of drinks.

    1. How you watch these kind of films can make a difference.

  15. ENEMY GOLD (1993, dir. Drew Sidaris)

    Today, I guess I could not avoid the Mill Creek DVD set of Andy Sidaris's productions in my collection. Its title, GIRLS, GUNS, AND G-STRINGS, succinctly sums up the Sidaris ethos of filmmaking.

    Andy turned the directorial reins over to his son for this flick, which involves drug agents tracking down a smuggler. There is also the search for lost Civil War gold thrown in to add some variety to the viewing experience. The dialogue is terrible and more frequently than not delivered in a lethargic manner. The exception is Rodrigo Obregron, who gets close at times to making the dialogue sound natural. Julie Strain, who plays an a hired killer, is fun to watch but obviously still learning the craft of acting. Her line delivery in Battle Queen 2020 is many times better than here. Battle Queen 2020 does not have her dancing around a fire with a sword, though. Though it feels like other Sidaris productions, I believe Andy's films are more watchable than this.

  16. Heavy Metal 2000 (2000)

    Like with Scott Adkins, I didn't know who Julie Strain was before the month's line-up was announced and had to do some homework. It honestly feels like I cheated somehow by not watching any of the Sidaris stuff, but when I found out that she was in the Heavy Metal sequel, I jumped at the chance to see it.

    And when I say she was in it, she was really in it - the main character is a badass space lady named (ahem) Julie who's not only voiced by Strain but her appearance was also modeled after her. Space Julie has to fight a villain who's a complete space asshole (and also rapist) and has Michael Ironside's voice and evil eyebrows. True to the Heavy Metal brand, we get all the requisite big guns, big spaceships, big explosions and big boobs, plus a lot of swear words and puns based on swear words - you know, so no one has any doubt this is adult stuff for adult viewer. Can't say it was the greatest thing I've watched this month, but at least it made me want to revisit the superior 1981 movie, so I guess the sequel did something right. Maybe I should have gone with Sidaris after all.

  17. Battle Queen 2020(2001) Dir: Daniel D'or

    After the second ice age man is forced to live underground. Separated into two classes the elites and the undergrounders, man continues to survive. Julie is the mistress for the Elites in the new society. The elites are using the poor to extend their lives via some nefarious means that kills the victims. Julie finds out, when she has to save a child. The child is also the narrator so thats good. Jeff Wincott shows up, Cynthia Rothrick unfortunately does not. Jeff is the top elite and Julies love interest. Jeff seems like a bad guy at first but turns out to not be as bad as we thought. You know he's really a good guy when he makes the Dr. use anesthesia before murdering a test subject.

    The movie is a mix of sci-fi, action and softcore and to quote A Casual Listener "The plot is more developed than I expected it to be". You could do worse than to watch this one today.

    Its on Tubi.

  18. Young Blood, Fresh Meat (1992)
    Directed by David DeCoteau

    Watched a transfer on a Tubi with an incredibly muddied sound-mix, to the point where it’s incomprehensible at times. Or that’s just the movie.

    The thespian talents of these never-were’s are simply awe-inspiring. The monotone delivery of the dialogue gets funny after awhile. This had to have been made for Cinemax or some other soft core outlet. This was blessedly short, designed to fit into a one-hour programming block. To quote my wife in reference to Julie Strain’s endowments, “They look like robot boobs.”

  19. Fit to Kill (1993) - Went with this one after reading Patrick's Sidaris write-up. As someone who came up on 90s superhero comics I definitely got the same vibe (and based on Ms. Strain, I was wrong about the impossibility of some of the physiques in those). The plot serves its purpose, and there are some fun moments of comic relief and misdirection. Strain's Blu Steel is great and Geoffrey Moore inherited his father's looks and charm, making him an effective presence.

  20. DAY OF THE WARRIOR (1996, dir. Andy Sidaris)

    My first Andy Sidaris and I really did not like it. I should still watch Hard Ticket to Hawaii though.

  21. Return to Savage Beach (1998)

    I have never seen an Andy Sidaris movie or a Julie Strain movie before, but I think I just watched a porno with all of the sex scenes cut out.

  22. Enemy Gold (1994; dir. Drew Sidaris)

    Choices are made in this movie. Julie Strain is good, but this movie belongs to Suzi Simpson.

  23. Heavy Metal 2000

    Nothing much seemed to work out with this one.

  24. Double Impact (1991)

    Julie Strain is only in it for a brief exercise one- piece clad minute. But I was wanting to show the kids this one anyways. Probably top 5 JCVD. He does a great job playing the 2 different personalities.

  25. SORCERESS (1995, dir. Jim Wynorski)

    Usual Wynorsky soft-core supernatural drama that foolishly (spoilers) kills off Julie Strain in the first 8 minutes. She does return for several naked flashbacks. Not the worst movie I've watched this month.

    1. The two that are as one.
      The two? That are as one?
      Yes! The two that are as one!

      watched this one last June. It's memorable.

    2. wait, never mind. wrong Sorceress!