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By Scott Phillips

MARCH 9, 1998: 

Horrors of Spider Island (aka It's Hot in Paradise) (1959)

This flick delivers the goods on pretty much all accounts, although it's a little lacking in the nudity department (like, there ain't any--it's been edited from the American version), but c'mon, you've got a "dance troupe" made up of a passel of '50s babes goin' down in a plane crash and winding up on a deserted island, so it's hard to complain too much. After going ashore, the gals make their way to a tiny cabin, where they find a mysterious (and quite dead) professor hanging in a giant spider web. Their greasy boss wanders off in the night and is attacked by a funny-looking spider with Mr. Potato Head eyes, and after being bitten, the boss turns into a horrible befanged monster. When the boss doesn't come back, the gals figure he's off doing manly save-the-girls-type stuff, so they try on the new outfits they found in the cabin and wallow around in the tide pool. Before long, two salty seamen arrive to assist the professor in his work, only to discover that their meal-ticket is dead and the island is swarming with horny women. The gals, excited by the new boys, slip into their "island costumes" and plan to "dance and raise the roof!" A whole bunch of silly romance stuff ensues against the backdrop of wildly-swinging child-bearing hips, and then all hell breaks loose when the creature-boss attacks, sending everyone into a tizzy. The unbelievably atrocious dubbing (check out the dancer with the "Southern accent") only serves to make this flick even more fun, but by far the best thing about it is Barbara Valentin as "Babs." This blousey blonde is so damn big an ordinary Joe could wear her like a suit, and she spends the entire movie draping herself across the scenery or twisting her hair while her ample charms threaten to burst from her ripped clothing. And when she showers and sprawls on the porch to sleep--watch out, baby! (Something Weird Video)


Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (aka Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre) (1994)

I think it's safe to say I wasn't expecting too much from this one, but boy, was I pleasantly surprised. Shot several years ago and starring then-unknowns Renee (Jerry Maguire) Zellweger and Matthew (Amistad) McConaughey, this fourth entry in the TCM series found itself balled up (as rumor would have it, anyway) in all sorts of legal trouble when the two headliners went ballistic career-wise, and their respective agents tried to keep the movie from being released. While I'm not sure I completely buy that story, I'm glad the flick is finally rearing its blood-spattered head, 'cause it's damnably entertaining! Written and directed by Kim Henkel (who wrote the original 'Saw), the flick follows the misadventures of a bunch of prom-going teens who find themselves lost in the woods after a backroads car-wreck. Renee is the gawky, unattractive one (yeah, right), therefore she's the only one with the sense to realize something bad is happening as the 'Saw Family begins to close in. I don't wanna give much away, because while the whole flick is basically a rehash of the first movie, Henkel puts enough of a spin on things to keep it interesting, and it's certainly one twisted piece of drive-in cheese. Renee and Matthew (who plays the alpha male of the 'Saw Family this time around) are good in their roles, but my heart belongs to Lisa Newmyer (Heather, the ditsy, self-proclaimed "bitch" prom queen), whose acting is so endearingly goofy I could hardly control myself. Tyler Cone as her lust-crazed asswipe prom date is great as well. In fact, the only character who doesn't deliver like I'd hoped is Leatherface himself, although when he dons his Liz Taylor outfit for the final dinner scene, he starts to shine. While not as cool as TCM Part 2, this one definitely tops Leatherface: TCM Part 3 (which had its moments) but still doesn't approach the original. Definitely worth renting, though--but if we're gonna dig stuff outta the closet and you really wanna see Renee at her white-trash best, also pick up Love and a .45, Cardy Talkington's Tarantino-wannabe Texas violence-fest, wherein Renee spills water all over her shirt to distract a border guard (I have it on good authority that big R wasn't wearing panties for most of the shoot, too). (Columbia Tristar)


scottp@swcp.com


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