Thursday, March 3, 2022


 by Patrick Bromley

A new project begins just in time for 1996 week.

A few years ago, I had the idea of watching and ranking every movie Shannon Tweed has ever made. I gave up on the idea pretty quickly after watching one or two of her movies on YouTube because, quite frankly, I was bored by them and if they represented what I could expect from her films, the prospect of watching all 60+ of them didn't set well with me. The idea, like so many other ideas I've had for FTM over the years, died a quick death.

Then several weeks ago I was revisiting Detroit Rock City for a piece about KISS movies and Shannon Tweed showed up for her cameo as a woman trying to seduce Edward Furlong and then gratefully offering him money when he blows his load seconds after touching her (this movie is science fiction). It reminded me how much I love Shannon Tweed as an actor and reignited my interest in working through her filmography. I put it out on Twitter assuming no one would care, but the response suggested otherwise: people actually seemed to give a shit and showed interest in the idea. I decided to go through with it, and a new column called Need for Tweed was born. Thank you to Adam Riske for the great name.
I know Shannon Tweed is famous in part for doing nudity, but please believe that I'm not doing this series in any kind of pervy way. Truth be told, I'm not a big softcore or erotic thriller guy. Cinematic sex scenes are, for me, a lot like cinematic car chases: I tend to check out during them because except for the few done well, they're an artless formality. No, the reason I wanted to do this Need for Tweed experiment is because I've long been a believer that Shannon Tweed is a fantastic actress who, had things maybe gone differently, could have had a more mainstream career. I say that not to judge the career she has had -- these were her choices to make -- but I can't help but that she was pigeonholed as an actor fairly early on and only presented with certain opportunities as a result. That she took those opportunities and made the most of them is a testament to her greatness, as she became not just a star but an institution. Like Jackie Chan movies, "Shannon Tweed movies" became a genre unto itself. She's the biggest star that softcore erotic thrillers ever produced, elevating everything in which she appears to something greater by sheer participation. Hail to the Queen.

So here goes. It just so happened that both of the films I watched for my first column were released in 1996, making it perfect to tie in to 1996 week at F This Movie!. I'll be assigning the movies a score from 1-10 (with some .5s thrown in to help break ties down the road), then using those scores to rank all the films when the project is ready to be completed.

A huge thank you to my friend Jonathan Becker for answering the call and helping me procure some of these movies!

Stormy Nights (1996, dir. Alberto Vidaurri)
My first foray into Need for Tweed might not have been the best place to start for a couple of reasons: first, I realized about halfway through that I've actually seen this before (on HBO in the '90s, the way it was meant to be seen), and second that Shannon Tweed is mostly a supporting player and spends the entirety of the movie confined to her house. She plays the pregnant wife of John, a successful businessman (Brett Baxter Clark, best known as Nick the Dick in Bachelor Party, begging the question: who orders a hot dog at a strip club?) who accidentally kills a man while driving drunk one night. Feeling guilty about turning a wife into a widow, John offers to help the newly-single Nicole (Julie Spaulding) by letting her move in and hiring her as his assistant. Bad news for John and Jennifer, though: Nicole is 1) a con artist and 2) desperate to seduce John and break up his marriage. Because she's crazy? Because she's evil? That John would fall for it at all proves that he doesn't realize he's married to Shannon Tweed.

Like I said, this was a weird place to start because I don't know how to really contextualize it within the larger body of Tweed's filmography. Is this kind of role commonplace for her, or is she more often cast in the role of the femme fatale? Are the performances, which, with the exception of the underused Tweed, alternate between wooden and campy, in keeping with her other movies? Julie Spaulding seems to know she's making trash and leans into it the way a soap opera villainess might, while Clark comes off like a slab of beef pretending to be human. I'd say that Shannon Tweed is good in her role, but the truth is that she's given very little to do here, particularly in comparison to the other movies of hers that I've seen. Spaulding is the one giving off fireworks in this one.
There's still a lot of entertainment to be had, in part because Alberto Vidaurri directs the movie like a crazy person. The editing is sometimes nonsensical, the camerwork pointlessly frenetic. Brett Baxter Clark's lunkheadedness is enjoyable, as is Julie Spaulding's trashtastic vamping. There's even an extended cameo by Robert Z'Dar as one of the Spaulding's lovers! It's just a little strange to watch an erotic thriller in which Shannon Tweed hardly contributes to either aspect. There's an attempt to include her in some love scenes through the use of a body double, but even that represents a shameless attempt to increase the movie's nudity quotient and has nothing to do with the story being told. It's weird to watch an erotic thriller in which Shannon Tweed sits out both the "erotic" and the "thriller" parts, but Stormy Nights is the movie that dares to go there.

Score: 4.5/10

Electra (1996, dir. Julian Grant)
This is is more like it. I don't know what I was expecting from Electra, but this sure wasn't it. Less an erotic thriller than a kinky sci-fi action movie, Electra (aka Genetic Force) casts Shannon Tweed as the stepmother of Billy (Joe Tabb), a teenager who has super powers thanks to a special serum he carries in his blood. An evil mastermind named Marcus (Sten Eirik) wants the serum for himself, so he turns Tweed into the supervillain Electra to retrieve it for him. The fact that it can only be passed through sexual intercourse isn't a problem for Shannon Tweed.

I'm still at the very beginning of this Need for Tweed journey, so I've only seen a handful of Shannon Tweed movies at this point. It's hard to believe I'm going to see one that's sillier or more out there than this one. This is the kind of movie Bill Hader's Stefon would describe as a movie that has everything: leather-clad dominatrixes, supervillains, incest, exploding heads, laser eyes, vampire teeth, a blooper reel. Everyone involved seems to know the movie they're making, whether it's Tabb's earnestness or screenwriters Lou Aguilar and Damian Lee writing lines like "I'm so glad you came" after Tweed is imbued with her stepson's powers.
No one is having more fun than Tweed, who plays concerned mom for half the movie and then goes full bugnuts loony in the second half when she becomes Electra. A friend on Twitter described the last act of Electra as going "full Wynorski," and that's a very apt description: the movie becomes pure sexualized, silly nonsense and Tweed reigns over all of it. Her hair gets bigger, her outfit smaller, her performance campier. Again, the film feels like an outlier within her filmography (based on what I've seen to this point), which makes it that much more special. It's ineptly made, but even that adds to the charm. It's trash in the way that many of Tweed's movies are "trash," but it's self-aware and willing to be weird in a way that many of her other movies, which often want desperately to be taken seriously, are not. Plus, how often do you get to see Shannon Tweed play an incestuous supervillain shouting "Feel the power of Electra!!"?

A sequel, called Electra II: The Second Coming, is teased during the end credits, because that's the kind of movie this is. Shame it never came to pass.

And so begins Need for Tweed. Twitter comments notwithstanding, I have no idea if anyone will care or read this series at all. I hope you'll give it a chance. I hope I can entertain you a little and get you to think about some forgotten movies in a new way. If nothing else, I hope to celebrate an underappreciated actor in a way I don't believe she's been celebrated before. I'm looking forward to seeing where this all goes. Hope you all will join me.

Score: 7/10


  1. The value of this project is that I now know that I don’t need to watch Stormy Nights but that I absolutely need to watch Electra. Just maybe not in the next week. The only real sin in cinema is a boring movie. It doesn’t matter if a movie is low-brow if it’s entertaining. Thank you for your public service.

  2. in this one for the long haul...its just the kind of crazy, no where near mainstream, much needed journalism that ive come to love from this site and you.

    Now...when it comes to your rating assuming 10.5 is a valid score but proooobably saved for Hot Dog: The Movie? Fair enough.