Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pornonomy Reviews: Neon Nights

Neon Nights (1981)
Directed by:
Cecil Howard

Arcadia Lake
Jody Maxwell
Kandi Barbour
Linda Vale
Lysa Thatcher
Veronica Hart
Ashley Moore
Eric Edwards
Jack Teague (as Jake Teague)
Jamie Gillis
Roy Stuart

Oh, hell yes! You know, lately it seemed like every movie I was putting on seemed to be a big disappointment. I hadn't read anything about Neon Nights before watching it, so when it started up my expectations were nil. The first thing I was struck by was the quality of the transfer. Really, if it weren't for the fact that within the first few minutes Jamie Gillis is fisting Linda Vale, the quality of the picture, camera work, and music could easily convince you that you were watching a mainstream movie from the early '80s. The way the scene was cut between what was going on in the master bedroom and teenage daughter Sandy's (Lysa Thatcher) room got me more interested, and by the time the title card hit the screen, I was sold.

Giving a plot synopsis would actually be a disservice considering the way Neon Nights plays out, so I'm going to keep that part as vague as possible. Sandy is seduced (or seduces, perhaps) her mother's boyfriend Robert (Jamie Gillis). Predictably, her mother catches them in a compromising situation, so Sandy decides to escape her mothers house and run off to New York to try to find her identical twin sister who'd run away earlier. Along the way, she's given a ride by a magician (played with twisted glee by Jack Teague) who takes her to the motel room he shares with Sweet Marie (Jody Maxwell), presumably his magician's assistant. She finally gets to New York, and to the home of her sister's employer (Veronica Hart), but not before being offered a bunch of balloons in a park by Lilah (Arcadia Lake).... I was going to say that it makes more sense when you see it, but, really, it doesn't. Finally, there's a twist at the end throwing much of what happened before into question that was intriguing enough to ensure that, eventually, I'll watch Neon Nights again.

Neon Nights was absolutely bonkers in the best possible way. Like I mentioned before, the camera work was excellent, the shots were typically interesting and well-considered (there was maybe a slight over-reliance on the "reflection in a mirror" angle, but then they are very thematically appropriate), the music was spot on and contributed to the overall ominous and surreal tone of the film, and the performances were all top notch. A

Monday, August 16, 2010

Quickie Review: Urban Cowgirls

Urban Cowgirls (1980)

The problem with Urban Cowgirls is that, as a film, it can't really decide what it's about. There are four and a half storylines throughout the film, given about equal weight and all at least somewhat tied to a country western bar. (1) Amanda (Veronica Hart) beds a younger man (Eric Edwards), a valet at the bar; (2) Amanda's sister Kathy (Georgina Spelvin) is trying to reignite a spark in her marriage to Paul (Aaron Stuart); (3) Jocelyn (Lee Carroll) is having an affair with her boss (Joey Silvera); (4) a cocktail waitress, Marianne (Hillary Summers) pines for the affection of Billy (John Leslie), the bar's owner; (and a half) Jocelyn and Amanda have a friends-with-benefits relationship.

The strange thing is, with all those things going on, nothing really happens. There's no drama. At all. I didn't find myself really caring what happened to any of the characters. Kathy seemed all right, but if she and Paul didn't get out of their rut, so what? And it would be okay if Marianne and Billy got together, but again, if not, say lah vee....

I hate to do this again, because I really like the cast (well, Lee Carroll is a little terrifying...), but Urban Cowgirls was a strictly average movie. C-

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pornonomy Reviews: Triple Xposure

Triple Xposure (1986)

Directed by:
Johnathan Burroughs

Carol Titian
Honey Wilder
Mai Lin
Nikki Charm
Sharon Mitchell
Summer Rose
Billy Dee
Buck Adams
Joey Silvera
Kevin James
Paul Thomas
Scott Irish

One thing I can say for Triple Xposure: it starts with a bang. The opening credits are pretty great - the credits are projected onto oiled up, gyrating women - and then the opening shot of the film is a slow pan from Honey Wilder's feet, up her body, revealing that she's going down on Sharon Mitchell.

It's revealed that Honey Wilder's having trouble making ends meet, so Mitchell suggests throwing a party at which Wilder can sell a bunch of vintage dresses...which I guess she has for some reason. Mitchell and her husband (Paul Thomas) will arrange the party and invite a bunch of their rich friends.

Before the party, Mitchell lays out a plan with so many twists it would make a soap opera writer blush. The ultimate goal of the plan was to switch out a piece of forged artwork for an erotic drawing that Wilder had, unaware of its actually value. Why, exactly, Mitchell needed to go through all the trouble of throwing the party when she probably could have just switched it out at any time isn't really explained. Of course, it's really just an excuse for all the sex scenes. In fact, it's kind of funny because after everybody starts pairing off to get to it, there isn't actually anybody left mingling. None of the scenes are particularly noteworthy, but the film's edited to switch from one to another, so they don't get too tedious, either.

Still, after all's said and done, it was pretty pointless to introduce the scheming plot in the first place, because the film, from about 24 minutes in until about the last 10 minutes (so, almost an hour), is just people fucking, with seemingly nothing to do with advancing the plot. Then, there's a bit at the very end that has Joey Silvera examining Mai Lin's forgery, which falls short of ideal, so then Sharon Mitchell and Silvera need to "punish" Lin by blindfolding and double teaming her.

And then the movie's over.

It's too bad, really, because the cast was solid, the film looked really good, and the plot, at the beginning seemed promising, but it just never delivered on that promise. Overall, it was a pretty average movie, so I guess by definition, it deserves a C.