Andy Sidaris' SAVAGE BEACH (1989, TUBI, 92 min.) and L.E.T.H.A.L. LADIES: RETURN TO SAVAGE BEACH (1998, TUBI, 98 min.), both for the first time.There are individual moments/scenes during "Savage Beach" (the opening credits with a character silhouetted against beach waves crashing against rocks at the peak of 'magic hour') and "Return to Savage Beach" (sea-doo crafts racing underneath a bridge with the bridge support columns in perfect synchronicity) where I paused the film and said to nobody in my empty apartment in genuine shock 'This is cinema!' Because it might follow the rhythms of a porno movie (gratuitous nudity and/or an explicit sex scene every 15 minutes or so between a hunk and a Penthouse/Playboy model, regardless whether the plot warrants it or not) and feature grown men and women acting no better than some high school plays I participated in. But the basic template in an Andy Sidaris movie is set in stone for a reason: knowing what you're going to get frees the viewer and filmmaker from expectations not being met. A Sidaris film would have to truly suck to score any less than 3 out of 5 by sticking to the formula. If anything the "Savage Beach" movies feature something rarely seen in Andy's filmography: emphasis on backstory and character development... small and ultimately disposable, bot both deemed worthy enough to keep both flicks going 15 minutes past where they should have ended just to tie the loose ends. "Savage Beach" is actually two movies for two thirds of its running time that finally come together in the finale. Two undercover agents (Dona Speir and Hope Marie Carlton) fly medicine to a hospital in need to a remote island during a storm, then crash-land in an unknown remote isle on their way back. Simultaneously some treasure hunters posing as representatives of the Philippines government infiltrate the U.S. Navy computers (floppy disk switcheroo!) to find the hidden location where the Japanese Army during World War II hid the looted gold reserves. And even though his old-man make-up is terrible, Michael Mikasa steals the movie as the Japanese soldier stuck in the place all sides converge at that performs his duty and ends up paying a price for robbing one of the leading ladies of a family member many years prior. It has the requisite three B's in an A.S. flick (bullets, bombs and boobs) but also an extra dose of 'M' (melancholy) I wasn't expecting. 3.75 "DIE HARD" HENCHMEN (AL LEONG!) MOONLIGHTING AS A BACKSTABBING TREASURE ROBBER (out of 5)."Savage Beach" must have meant a lot to old Andy, as he made the direct sequel to the '89 original his final directorial effort. Somehow Martinez (Rodrigo Obregón) survived being blown away by one of the arrows with explosive tips the L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies are so fond of, and he masterminds a plan to get his hired goons and enemies back to Savage Beach island a decade later to search for a new hidden... McGuffin. Unlike OG "S.B." "Return to S.B." wastes its convoluted 15 min. exposition dump with a reveal that feels like Sidaris saw Tom Cruise's first "Mission: Impossible" the night before and re-wrote the ending. It stills earns the classic group shot ending with everyone wearing their evening best (and ready to take it off ASAP) because a great cast of 'B' movie performers (Julie Strain R.I.P., wrestler Marcus 'Warrior' Bagwell, Paul Logan, "Samurai Cop's" Gerald Okamura, etc.) is a terrible B-roll footage shot to waste for the closing credits. 3.25 HAWAII RADIO SEXTOLOGISTS SENDING COVERT MESSAGES TO TEXAS AND BEVERLY HILLS (out of 5).
Andy Sidaris did love his L.E.T.H.A.L ladies, J.M. Day of the Warrior is also a sequel to Savage Beach. Though Savage Beach is not one I have watched, your description intrigues enough to dig it out of the Sidaris Girls, Guns, and G-Strings DVD from a box in my room. I still have not seen Hard Ticket to Hawaii, either.
Hard Ticket to Hawaii is definitely the best of the Sidaris movies, Casual. Highly recommended.
For as porn-leaning as Andy's movies are, you learn more about the women and they have more agency than 90% of anything made today. Andy Sidaris taught me so much: https://bandsaboutmovies.com/2019/05/17/ten-things-i-learned-from-andy-sidaris-films/
Quite the acting chops on Buff THE STUFF Bagwell.
CHERRY 2000 (1988, dir. Steve de Jarnatt) Not your average sci-fi post-apocalyptic western. Though the flaws in the film are not hard to find, I did have a good time with Cherry 2000. The clash of tones and genres is interesting, and Melanie Griffith is a fun lethal lady. The cast is the main element that makes the film worthwhile. Moreover, the strange decoration of the locations added to my enjoyment. (Loved the toaster ovens.) There is no denying the 1980s kitsch vibe to the visuals. Overall, this a pleasant way to pass 90 minutes of your life.When Sam Treadwell’s beloved “love” robot gets destroyed by water, he goes to some extreme measures to replace the rare machine. His grief is simultaneously touching and comical. This means having to take the risk of traveling in a lawless wasteland with a guide to get to an abandoned warehouse where a new robot just might me available. E. Johnson (Melanie Griffith) is that guide. She has a lovely souped-up Mustang, which would make this film a great choice for Cars! day. Many action-filled adventures happen in the wasteland as E. Johnson and Sam try to evade the comically sadistic warlord Lester (Tim Thomerson).
Elektra (2005 – Rob Bowman)My choosing for this day was out of curiosity for superhero movies before the MCU formula kicked in. You can clearly see a certain style running through these pre-MCU movies, yet they still figured out how and who to portray their heroines. The outcome was panned by the critics and at the box office alike, and I can see why. While some scenes (like the fights) aren’t bad at all, there is a pretty uninspired story, bad CGI effects, and a lead actress that is not able to elevate this movie (I don’t want to criticize Jennifer Garners abilities, but I’ve seen her way better with other material). I still think this is better than most people probably remembered it, yet surely not a good film overall.
JULIE DARLING (1982, dir. Paul Nicholas) Wow…. Wow. This is exploitation. Julie loves her father. I mean, she really loves her father. When any woman gets in the way of that, Julie, despite her young age, is ready to take action. This is the type of film best experienced knowing nothing about it. The story takes some very surprisingly turns, building up to a memorable conclusion. Being in my collection for probably four years now, Julie Darling was one of the titles I wanted to get to most this Junesploitation. And it was well worth the wait. The interview on the Code Red blu-ray with actress Isabelle Mejias, who played Julie, is interesting. She certainly does not count this as one of the films she is proud of; making trashy films was not the goal of her acting career. Mejias states in her introduction to the film that if there is a better way to spend two hours, do that instead.
This was the first blu ray I ever bought! I adore this utterly whacky piece of trash.
A blast to watch and a favorite of the month. The way the story builds up to the conclusion completely sucked me in. I did gasp a couple of times as things got crazier than expected.
They Caller Her One Eye aka Thriller: A Cruel PictureEn grim fylm indeed. Despite some very nice visual touches and an eye-trauma sequence that would make Fulci squirm, this movie is just waaaay too contrived for me to take seriously. After being kidnapped and used as a sex slave, our kidnapper allows One-Eye to come and go as she pleases unsupervised one day a week! Instead of using this to, I don't know, GET SOME DAMN HELP, she uses this time learning Taekwondo, how to shoot a gun and how to drive a car through a field - all skills she will need to get revenge the slow way. Meanwhile, she is subjected to rape from countless johns and these scenes are interspersed with closer-than-close-up shots of graphic penetrative sex. After seeing the protagonists anus fill my 100 inch projector screen 6 or 7 times (in 4K HDR no less!) she finally begins to get revenge. This is where the movie shines but this is also where ALL rape revenge movies shine... Given this movies reputation I had hoped for something more engaging for the first 80 minutes. A spiritual sister to Ms. 45 this is not.
It sounds like you bought the Vinegar Syndrome release. Or was it the Synapse version when that was briefly available? I have the Synapse DVD of Thriller sitting in a box. It will probably stay there till consideration for next Junesploitation. I am in no rush to see it.
VinSyn... And god bless them and the weirdass shit they put out, especially their weirdass 4K releases. But this was (mostly) not for me, as is the case with so many of their releases.I can see why and how this influenced Tarantino, but its flaws are distracting... they're not the product of budget but of bad writing.
Over the past couple of years, I have found the partner label releases more interesting than the VS releases. If I get anything from the company now, it tends to be the partner labels (Fun City, AGFA) or the earlier VS releases.
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Baise Moi (2000) dir. Virginie Despentes, Coralie Trinh As brutal and uncompromising as its reputation suggests, but, contrary to a lot of less than enthusiastic reviewers, there’s a lot more here than infamy (if you need proof of the movie’s effectiveness two decades and some change later, peep the straight up livid Letterboxd half-stars from Dudes Who Love Cinema™ like Manu out here forcing them to watch at gunpoint) Despentes and Trinh infuse provocation with poignancy, and dare I even say a fair amount of defiant charm radiating from Manu and Nadine’s bond at the bloody center of it all. I’m so thrilled that this has a really nice, easily accessible release- it’s not always been an easy one to track down, and has long deserved better than it’s video shop backroom status. All About Evil (2010) dir. Joshua Grannell Straight up John Waters worship (with a bucket of Herschell Gordon Lewis for good measure), but I ‘aint complaining- especially when everyone is having this much fun with it. Also side note on this one- I usually don’t care at all about behind the scenes drama of a movie but I am for some reason am kind of fascinated by how much attention this new disc and streaming release is getting, yet the fact that Natasha Lyonne is totally absent from any of the promotional stuff or even on social media doesn’t seem to acknowledge it at all, despite usually being a big booster of small stuff she did in the past. Intrigue!! I think I need to get out of the house more lol.
Switchblade Sisters aka The Jezebels (1975, dir. Jack Hill)I had a little trouble getting into this movie. There's some fun stuff here, but not one character I liked or wanted to root for, so I didn't really care what happened to them.
Hey, we watched the same thing! I totally see your point about no one to relate to, but overall I think I liked it more than you did.
Yeah, most people like it more than I did. Maybe I just wasn't in the right frame of mind, I'll have to give it another try sometime.
Death Game (1977)Daisies meets Funny Games, made 11 years after one and 20 years before the other and damn near as good as both. Pure madness, pure cinema.
Wicked Stepmother (1989, dir. Larry Cohen)A skeletal Bette Davis (in her final role) is the Wicked Stepmother who terrorizes a suburban family. This movie is a total mess, but after reading about it I can understand why. Bette Davis left the movie unexpectedly and everything had to be re-worked. Bonus Points for a Death Game reunion (shout out Marcus Killerby for watching this today) with Colleen Camp and Seymour Cassell sharing scenes in this movie. I would only recommend it for Larry Cohen completionists or those seeking the novelty that Divs brings. Otherwise, skip it.
All the ADR for Bette Davis' reshoots was done by Michael Greer from Messiah of Evil.
Personal Vendetta (1995)I’ve become kind of fascinated by the movies that Mimi Lesseos made, as she didn’t just act in them, she wrote and produced them, so they have the air of a vanity project but I can’t fault that because they’re all entertaining and wonderfully strange. Start with Pushed to the Limit and then come here.Bonnie Blackwell (Lesseos) has been abused for years by her husband Zach (a scenery chewing and frothing at the mouth Timothy Bottoms) when she’s saved by the police and decides to train to be a cop instead of remaining a victim.Sgt. Bill Starr, one of the cops that saved her — a harrowing scene where her husband repeatedly slams her face into a steering wheel until her forehead splits open and sprays blood — gets her into the police academy, a moment that has a jaunty song on the soundtrack that’s nearly a full spinning turn away from the dark tone that’s been the majority of this movie. It’s in no way an easy experience, as she’s put through a whole new level of hell as no one takes it easy on her, including hand to hand instructor Geno LeBell (Frank “The Tank” Trejo, a first generation student of American kenpo karate founder Ed Parker) whose name betrays Lesseos’ pro wrestling origins, as he’s named after “Judo” Gene LeBelle, a man who shows up in nearly every pro wrestling scene in every pre-WWE era movie.Things move fast — Bonnie gets paired with a veteran cop named John Beaudet, they fall in love, she visits prison to tell her husband he’s going to be her ex-husband, he breaks out, her mentor is killed — and our heroine faces off with her husband, who we suddenly learn is involved in human trafficking, selling off Vietnamese/American teens as mail order brides.Director Stephen Lieb also made L.A. Task Force (L.A’s most beautiful women are being killed by a maniac), Deadly Eyes (phone sex workers are being killed by a Jack the Ripper copycat) and Blind Vengeance (martial arts teacher falls for a student who is the ex-girlfriend of another fight master). You may read that list of movies and say, “What junk!” and you can’t find me to answer, as I’m hunting them down to watch them in my magical movie basement.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022, dir. Sam Raimi)A rewatch because it was added to Disney+ today (and it fits today's theme).It's not peak MCU and it's not peak Raimi, but it's still MCU and Raimi, so I had fun with it.Strange's name is in the title, but Elizabeth Olsen totally steals this movie as the lethal lady Wanda.
PRINCESS WARRIOR (1989) On the planet Vulkaria, an evil warlord attacks just as the queen dies. The queen's daughter flees to a primitive planet called Earth, pursued by deadly female assassins. This is a lot of sci-fi plot for what ends up being a jiggly bikini comedy. The filmmakers come up with every excuse they can think of to get the actresses into revealing outfits. There are a few fights, a car chase, and some ripoff lightsabers, but the ladies are more cheeky than they are lethal. I'll admit I enjoyed this on a camp level, but there's not a lot of movie here. Bonus Lloyd Kaufman-sploitation, day 22: MAKE YOUR OWN D*MN MOVIE (2005) IMDb tells me this is a 90-minute feature documentary, but on Troma Now, it's a series of SIX full-length docs! I only watched the first one. We follow Kaufman as he films a cameo for an indie short film, remarking how polished their production is compared to his movies. Then Kaufman interviews filmmakers James Gunn, Larry Cohen, and John Avildsen. Gunn is uncomfortably hyper, Cohen is his usual down-to-Earth self, but Avildsen is the MVP here. He speaks plainly yet frankly about both the artistic and business sides of filmmaking, and he's pleasant company. Maybe someday I'll watch the rest of this series, but not today.
Romeo and Juliet Killers (2022)This Tubi Original follows two star-crossed teenagers (the movie is quite purposeful in telling us that she's underage, while also showing her nude a thousand times) as they kill her overbearing mother in an attempt to be together forever. It was dumb, but not nearly as bad as everyone says. Think Lifetime Original but better.
BAD GIRLS (2021)D: Christopher Bickel
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996, dir. Renny Harlin)This movie is awesome. Geena David kicks butt. Samuel Jackson oozes kick ass too, but without overshadowing the lead. There are plenty of scenes that are ridiculous, but more fun because of them (she sure laced up those skates fast). Full of Shane Black witticism. My rating literally got bumped up a point from those explosions at the end.
This was a watch for Junesploitation 2020. The funny part about the movie is that I live in the area in Pennsylvania (The Poconos) where the film is set. I read that the film was shot in Canada, however. Honesdale is north of where I live, and I frequently find myself in Stroudsburg. By the way, Honesdale is notable in popular culture for being the inspiration for the Christmas song Winter Wonderland.
"Movie magic" allows them to film elsewhere but make it seem like Pennsylvania. My childhood home had a "pioneer village" only 200m down the road from us. It was used occasionally for filming period movies/TV, and could be used for most villages in the Northeast Canada/US in the 1800's. The TV show "Road to Avonlea" (where Sarah Polley got her start) was the show that filmed there regularly. I'm not sure if it had much/any viewership in the US, but was a popular show in Canada in the early 90's.
Kill Bill (vol 1&2)Decided to watch these back to back. I wanted my lethal lady revolving around a revenge plot...and for me, there's just no beating this.
Switchblade Sisters (1975)Lethal ladies is one of my favorite Junesploitation categories!An all-female street gang proves they're more than a match for the boys, but eventually the crew gets torn apart by jealousy and betrayal. The movie is a very sordid and violent affair by the director of Coffy and Foxy Brown that is nowhere near the level of his strongest work but still highly watchable. Despite having no discernible acting skills everyone is acting their hearts out, and I think it just adds to the movie's rugged charm. The story is pretty weak for the most part (and suffers for not having a clearly defined protagonist), but it's saved by an intensely emotional finale which feels downright Shakespearean (I know it sounds silly but it's true!).
ANGELS' BRIGADE (aka SEVEN FROM HEAVEN, 1979)D: Greydon ClarkScorpion DVD
Also a MST3K classic episode. 🙃🙂