Category Archives: Camp

Torch Song-1953

Torch Song-1953

Director Charles Walters

Starring Joan Crawford, Michael Wilding, Gig Young

Scott’s Review #1,402

Reviewed September 25, 2023

Grade: B

Since I’m a huge fan of legendary Hollywood Actress Joan Crawford I’ll willingly watch any film of hers, both quality films and mediocre offerings.

Her style, confidence, clothes, makeup, and yes, those eyebrows capture me every time I see her. She’s also a damned good actor.

Torch Song (1953) is a film made when her career was waning despite just scoring an Oscar nomination the year before for Sudden Fear (1952). She would find more success in the 1960s with Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1963).

The film is fun to watch because it reportedly best captures her true personality in a role that is realistic to who she was. Faye Dunaway even studied the role closely before she portrayed the star in 1981’s cult classic Mommie Dearest.

The story is about a talented and demanding Broadway star named Jenny Stewart played by Crawford. She is used to snapping her fingers and having her every whim catered to without question. She rewrites scenes and fires talent for shows she stars in if she deems them beneath her.

One day she meets her blind rehearsal pianist Tye Graham (Michael Wilding) and finds herself attracted to him. At first, clashing over his refusal to put up with her bullshit she comes to realize she admires him.

The feeling is mutual and the lovebirds tenderly nurture their budding relationship.

I’m not sure if non-Crawford fans would appreciate or enjoy Torch Song as much as we die-hards would. The story is basic with few if any twists and turns and it’s not hard to imagine that Jenny and Tye will wind up together.

Torch Song was famously spoofed by comedienne Carol Burnett in the 1970s on her television show when she replicates a dress rehearsal scene from the film in a hilarious fashion.

But Crawford is devilish and fierce in the film. She prances confidently in each scene wearing getups as outlandish as a haughty yellow nightgown with high-heeled slippers and a garish scene from the production wearing  ‘black face’!

When she yanks off her wig revealing her messy red hair, black face, and wide emotion-infused eyes as she desperately watches Tye exit the auditorium it rivals any scary scene from a horror film.

Jenny is the star as much as Crawford is and one deliciously wonders if she had the same ferocious clout as the fictitious character did. We’ll have to ask the cast if any of them are still alive.

Crawford’s singing voice was dubbed by India Adams and she lip-syncs to the recording Adams originally made for Cyd Charisse in a number discarded from the 1953 film, The Band Wagon.

When she belts out emotional numbers like ‘Two-Faced Woman the comic relief is unintentional. Adams sounds nothing like Crawford which makes the dubbing glaring and nearly pitiful. Crawford had a decent voice and sang the songs only available on the home video release.

Oddly, actress Marjorie Rambeau who played Crawford’s mother received an Oscar nomination for the role. Her performance is adequate but not Academy Award-worthy.

This must have irritated Ms. Crawford who wasn’t known for being a gracious co-star. She must have felt usurped.

Crawford seamlessly carries the film from beginning to end credits like the seasoned professional she always was. She pokes and prods her co-stars and chews up the scenery like nobody’s business.

Deserving of mention is actor Michael Wilding since he equals Crawford in performance. He never appears outshined or swallowed whole during a scene instead relaying good chemistry with her.

A mediocre storyline in Torch Song (1953) is made better by the mixture of the competitive Broadway lifestyle and the star playing a ferocious and seasoned veteran.

Oscar Nominations: Best Supporting Actress-Marjorie Rambeau



Director Russ Meyer

Starring John Furlong, Stu Lancaster, Antoinette Cristiani

Scott’s Review #1,366

Reviewed June 4, 2023

Grade: B+

As with other Russ Meyer films, an open-minded mature audience is mandatory, and a late-night viewing time is suggested.  Some good, quality libations make for the ideal situation and robust enjoyment.

To set the stage for those otherwise unfamiliar with the intriguing director,  he is known primarily for writing and directing a series of successful sexploitation films that featured campy humor, witty satire, and enormously large-breasted women.

The women frequently frolic around semi-nude or completely nude with their endowments proudly bouncing around.

Gems like Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965), Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), and Supervixens (1975) are known as his definitive works.

Mudhoney (1965) is not one of his best-remembered films but it contains enough fun and boobs to highly recommend for either his staunch fans or newcomers seeking bombastic 1960s entertainment.

I’d be careful not to watch it with parents or conservative-leaning friends though.

Amid the Great Depression, Calef (John Furlong), arrives from Michigan to a backwoods Missouri town looking for work en route to greener pastures in California.

He becomes a hired hand under farmer Lute (Stu Lancaster) and takes a shine to Hannah (Antoinette Cristiani), Lute’s pretty niece and the feeling is very mutual.

Problems surface when Hannah’s abusive and frequently drunk husband Sidney (Hal Hopper) becomes aware of their attraction and it’s revealed that Calef is fresh out of prison.

With the help of an unhinged preacher, Sidney turns the locals against Calef and organizes a lynch mob to take him down.

The film is shot in black and white which only enhances the visual of a midwestern, cornfed small town. Desolate and bleak it is presumed to be summertime as most women bathe outdoors (naked of course) or swim in a nearby pond.

Besides Hannah, other blonde female characters appear. The sexy Clara Belle (Lorna Maitland) is the most adventurous and fun.

As with other Meyer films, especially Supervixens, there is one character who is evil and possibly insane. In this case, it’s Sidney who eventually sets fire to a farm and rapes and murders the preacher’s wife.

The acting is hardly up to snuff but Mudhoney is not about Oscar-caliber performances. Over the top and campy the obnoxious and loud dialogue only enhances the events.

The comical moments outweigh any dark moments and it’s hard to take the film too seriously. Laugh out loud worthy is when the preacher eyes the naked Eula as she washes on the country farm.

The visual aspects of Mudhoney impress me, especially in the opening sequence. A series of quick shots of intersecting bare feet reveal that Meyer has more to offer than sexploitation. Later, a body falling into a grave involves inventive camerawork.

Before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, while one primary female character is beaten and victimized, there is more than enough female empowerment to go around, especially Clara Belle.

She is nobody’s fool and along with the snickering and brash Maggie Marie deliciously played by Princess Livingston, they incorporate no-nonsense strong female characters.

B movies never entertain better than a Russ Meyer film and Mudhoney (1965) while not his best has entertainment value with a dour middle-of-nowhere USA setting.  This parlays perfectly with the white-bred, fresh-faced characters who appear within.

Queen Bee-1955

Queen Bee-1955

Director Ranald MacDougall

Starring Joan Crawford, Barry Sullivan, Betsy Palmer

Scott’s Review #1,288

Reviewed August 10, 2022

Grade: B+

Queen Bee (1955) is a drama served straight-up Southern style and is highly recommended only for fans of legendary screen actress Joan Crawford. Made during the downward turn in her career the character is tailor-made for the actress and her fans.

She struts across the silver screen in flashy gowns and heavy makeup, admiring herself in the mirror, and firmly ensconced in bitch mode. With matching garish eyebrows and a sassy smirk, she chews up and spits out every character that she crosses paths with.

Otherwise, audience members unfamiliar with or otherwise turned off by Crawford probably shouldn’t bother with Queen Bee. There’s not a lot of character development or anything interesting story-wise other than watching her cause havoc.

Set in the 1950s American South, the vicious and conniving Eva Phillips (Crawford) takes pleasure in making the lives of those around her miserable, especially her husband, Avery (Barry Sullivan), who is so depressed he resorts to heavy drinking and becomes an alcoholic.

Meanwhile, when Eva discovers her sister-in-law (Betsy Palmer) intends to wed her former lover Judson (John Ireland), she decides to ruin their engagement for really no other reason than being nasty.

Eva’s niece, Jennifer Stewart (Lucy Marlow), arrives in town and moves in with the family serving as Eva’s confidante. She is quickly warned by everyone not to cross paths with the scheming vixen but must learn for herself how deadly Eva is.

At some point early on Queen Bee turns from high drama into soap opera camp and becomes silly and plot-driven. It’s also quite melodramatic and stagey especially once events start to spin out of control.

Despite a talented supporting cast, Crawford is the headliner. The part is written with her in mind and intended as a comeback vehicle when her career was dusty and in need of a dash of drama.

It’s a true delight to watch Crawford as Eva, pouring her heart and soul into a role that allows her to be as vicious as she wants. I guess in some way you could say Eva’s manipulative motivation is her claim for love but that’s a stretch and hardly justifies leading one character to suicide.

In proper form, Eva gets her due at the end of the film which left me, and likely most audiences, clapping with happiness.

Speaking of the supporting cast, I practically squealed with delight at the appearance of Betsy Palmer, forever known to horror audiences as the knife-wielding maniac on Friday the 13th (1980). Jaw-dropping is to see her play a weak, vulnerable character with no bloody ax anywhere in sight.

Barry Sullivan as Avery is also noteworthy as is a small and odd cameo appearance by Fay Wray (King Kong-1933).

Director, Ranald MacDougall wrote the screenplay for Mildred Pierce (1945) which won Crawford the Academy Award and was deemed a major comeback for her. He also wrote Queen Bee clearly with the idea that she would star and perhaps lightning would strike twice.

It didn’t save for two surprising technical Academy Award nominations.

Palmer’s Carol offers the most poignant character summarization of Eva.  She tells Jennifer that she once read a book about bees and feels that Eva is like a queen bee who stings all her competitors to death.

For late-night satisfaction immersed in an hour and a half of delightful wickedness from Joan Crawford, Queen Bee (1955) is highly recommended.

Her scheming Atlanta socialite Eva is towards the top of a list of characters one loves to hate.

Oscar Nominations: Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Black-and-White

The Convent-2000

The Convent-2000

Director Mike Mendez

Starring Adrienne Barbeau, Joanna Canton, Megahn Perry

Scott’s Review #1,246

Reviewed April 16, 2022

Grade: C+

I debated whether or not to reward Adrienne Barbeau with top billing recognition for The Convent (2000). After all, she doesn’t even appear, save for a quick silhouette scene that probably wasn’t even the actress, until the final third of the film.

Since I am a fan of Barbeau’s work, mainly the television series Maude, and films like The Fog (1980), and Escape From New York (1981), I decided to throw caution to the wind and cement her star status.

The film itself is terrible and needs all the help it can get. It’s campy beyond belief, amateurish, hokey, and acted poorly, suffering from enough ridiculous one-liners for me to wonder whether director Mike Mendez was purposely trying to make a bad film.

But before I get all curmudgeonly and smack this film in the face with an ‘F’ rating I’d like to justify my more than generous ‘C+’ rating.

If The Convent had tried to take itself seriously and produced shit like this I would have gone for the jugular in my review but it knows it’s a silly film and instead embraces this fact wholeheartedly.

Still, I kept wondering if the film was some sort of nod to the slasher film genre that took over the world from the late 1970s until the late 1980s, or if it feebly tried to merge this genre with the zombie genre and produce something fresh.

If made in say 1985, The Convent would have fit snugly amongst the heaps of other similar themed films that were patterned after superior feasts like Halloween (1978) and Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

The film opens impressively enough when a young woman named Christine walks into a convent and goes batshit crazy shooting every nun she sees and burning the place to the ground.

I grinned because Christine looks exactly like Uma Thurman’s character in Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 masterpiece Pulp Fiction with bright red lipstick and dark shades. Even her outfit looks the same.

Unfortunately, that’s where any parallels end.

From this point, the plot is basic and uninspired. A coed named Clorissa (Joanna Canton) joins her best friend Mo (Megahn Perry) and a group of college students on a dare to venture into the aforementioned convent (now rebuilt) and tangle with nun and priest spirits rumored to be inhabiting the structure.

After Mo is left alone and the rest of the bunch dine at Denny’s the plot goes from standard to wacky as the returning students are bitten and become possessed by Satanists who want to beckon Satan back to earth. There is an attempt to sacrifice any virgin among the group to help with this.

Conveniently, Christine (now older) lives down the street after spending a thirty-year stint in the loony bin. The badass woman comes barreling to the rescue with her motorcycle and an arsenal of machine guns to kick Satan’s ass.

The fun begins when Barbeau finally appears. With her dangling cigarette and macho talk, the actress is in her comfort zone. The dialogue uttered by her and the rest of the characters is so bad that once again I wondered whether this was the intent. I truly hope it was.

The robotic head twitching and glowing green eyes by the now possessed students align perfectly with the gimmicky art direction and juvenile special effects. I’ve seen better on a 3 pm daytime afternoon soap opera.

The most irritating character is easily played by rapper Coolio in a ridiculous role as a loud policeman. This attempt at comedy fell completely flat and I was more entertained by the gay satanist who cleverly decides that if he and another virgin boy have sex they will be spared.

Once the credits rolled I was happy not to have to endure any more of the one-hour and twenty-minute experience. Upon my five-minute reflection, I decided to interpret the film as a comical satire over anything more.

The Convent (2000) isn’t distinct enough to get the ‘it’s so bad it’s good’ award because it lacks any sort of identity. However, for a midnight movie that is so goofy and over-the-top that there is plenty to mock the film is a fun time.

And, it’s always a joy to see Barbeau in anything she is willing to appear in.

Modesty Blaise-1966

Modesty Blaise-1966

Director Joseph Losey

Starring Monica Vitti, Terence Stamp, Dirk Bogarde

Scott’s Review #1,243

Reviewed April 9, 2022

Grade: B

Loosely based on a British comic strip of the same name, Modesty Blaise (1966) is a campy, over-the-top escapist film that features a relaxed style but a convoluted plot.

The story doesn’t matter much and the film feels based on the James Bond film series with some Dick Tracy and Brenda Starr comic elements thrown in.

Throughout the action, I chuckled at the situation comedy antics of the characters. Both heroes and villains get mixed up in one hokey situation after another and all of the actors seem well aware that they are not performing Shakespearean comedy.

They forge ahead with gusto making it as much of a zany offering as humanly possible.

I mused at how much the film was reminiscent of television, Get Smart, a foolish but sweet-natured 1960s spy-genre offering.

I challenge the odd decision to make a film of this genre a bloated one hour and fifty-seven minutes. A spry ninety or ninety-five minutes would have been more than ample time to wrap up the experience and allow audiences to head for the exits.

This might prevent some from realizing how silly a film they’d just sat through

Modesty Blaise is not a traditionally good film but grooviness and pizazz are the main attractions as characters indulge in an orgy of colorful situations, and preposterous setups.

Lavish locales like Amsterdam, London, and the roaring beaches off the coast of the Meditteranean Sea bring the film back from going too far off the rails and pepper it with some cultivation.

If one is in the right mood Modesty Blaise is a chuckle fest but if aching for high art don’t waste your time. The psychedelic and groovy art design and Mad Men-like sets won me over as I quickly forgot to try and piece together the overcomplicated plot.

I simply didn’t care who was who or who was trying to outwit who and why. And I was okay with that.

Gorgeous Italian actress Monica Vitti leads the charge followed by the dashing English actor, Terence Stamp. Together, they make a lusty and good-looking pair though Vitti gets no acting accolades from me.

Her looks are the primary reason for her casting win.

The actress plays a  beautiful former criminal named Modesty who decides to go straight and work for the Secret Service. They send her to infiltrate a ring of jewel thieves. She is not especially respected by the stuck-up older regime but she shrugs it off and offers her best services.

Soon after she joins the gang, sophisticated and dangerous head honcho Gabriel (Dirk Bogarde) grows suspicious of his new charge, and Modesty realizes that British Intelligence gave her a mission they could care less if she survives.

She then enlists her former partner in crime, Willie (Stamp), to help her out of her peril while outsmarting both sides.

Most of the action scenes are ludicrous. The likelihood of any of the stories being true is slim to none. Plenty of sequences take place on a luxury yacht or some other water transportation so that viewers can see Vitti and Stamp clad in as little as possible.

I smirked at more than one James Bond nod though I dare say some influence on the still-to-be-made Diamonds Are Forever (1971) is noticed.

If I’m making Modesty Blaise out to be a terrible film, it’s not.

The gimmicky angle of having Modesty appear with a different hairstyle in every sequence is clever and enjoyable (my preference is for her as a blonde).

When she is imprisoned in a spiraling-colored basement cell and must climb out the roof for help it’s one of the best-looking set designs I’ve ever seen. The creative team gets an A-plus for expressiveness and imagination which is the reason Modesty Blaise is so damned fun.

The cartoonish criminals Gabriel and Clara, played by Dirk Bogarde and Rossella Falk, are deliciously wicked. I was amazed at Gabriel’s towering purple cocktail and craved trying a sip of it to see exactly what he was drinking.

Satisfyingly, both main villains get their comeuppance.

The film is foolish, campy, and a silly time wrapped up in amazing artistry from a creative team who deserves more credit than they probably received.

Modesty Blaise (1966) is a messy film that I enjoyed and found endearing way more than I probably should have. It’s the guiltiest of pleasures in a chest full of sub-par spy comedy films.

Don’t Look in the Basement-1973

Don’t Look in the Basement-1973

Director S.F. Brownrigg

Starring Anne MacAdams, Rosie Holotik

Scott’s Review #954

Reviewed November 5, 2019

Grade: B

A film that is so low-budget that it strongly resembles the quality of independent master John Waters films, Don’t Look in the Basement (1973) has very low production values. It makes Waters’s films look like grandiose budget fests.

It contains a campy and cheap quality that adds to the fun of watching. With a videotaped look and marginal acting, the film is perfect for a late-night indulgence, but little more.

Director S.F. Brownrigg, with screenwriter, Tim Pope, brought this project to life. Also named The Forgotten and Death Ward #13, Don’t Look in the Basement is the title that works best and conjures up the most intrigue.

The story revolves around a collection of odd hospital inmates running the asylum while a series of mishaps occur.

Stephens Sanitarium is a secluded mental health facility in a remote area run by the quirky Dr. Stephens. The good doctor believes that the secret to curing his crazy group of loons is to allow them to express themselves, acting out their realities in hopes of solving their problems.

Stephens and an elderly nurse are both killed separately, he is accidentally hacked to bits by an ax, and she has her head crushed by a female patient who thinks her baby (a doll) is being taken from her.

Dr. Geraldine Masters (Anne MacAdams) is left to run the facility and greets a new nurse, the sexy Charlotte (Rosie Holotik) when she arrives from out of town expecting a job.

Charlotte encounters all the inmates before strange events begin to occur like an older patient having her tongue cut out, and a visiting telephone repairman being murdered.

One could speculate that Don’t Look in the Basement influenced independent treats such as Supervixens (1975), High Anxiety (1977), or the plethora of slasher films soon to be on the horizon, but this may be wishful thinking.

A few choice scenes seem like quick blueprints for these films to follow but in an amateurish way.

Despite the film being of the horror genre category, several scenes, mostly of Charlotte and Geraldine talking in an office, seemingly carved from a daytime soap opera, which was popular in those days.

The long dialogue, and almost throwaway scenes, do not further the plot much, and it’s the occasional macabre death scene that achieves the most reaction.

Don’t Look in the Basement adds a big twist that is not difficult to figure out once all the pieces are presented to the viewer. The foreboding title ultimately underwhelms as this anticipated big secret barely comes to fruition.

As the players are offed one by one the implausible conclusion reaches a climax and the viewer will ruminate that the early stages of the film are superior to the ending.

The poor pacing and meandering story made me tune out from time to time. Still, the film is fun and a good, old-fashioned camp-goofy good time.

The characters are completely over-the-top in the best possible way. A female nymphomaniac who, it is relayed, has been left by any man she has ever met and craves love and affection, is convinced that the repairman will marry her (they have only just met!) and has sex with his corpse.

A lobotomized black man only eats purple lollipops and has a heart of gold, while the ugly old woman, sans tongue, attempts to convey a secret message.

Don’t Look in the Basement (1973) is a marginal success because it does not take itself too seriously. This is both good and bad because the project takes on a juvenile quality that sometimes seems to be going for laughs more than for fright.

The acting is below par, but somehow the characters retain enough interest to warrant a recommendation, but only for those with interest in the genre.

Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein-1948

Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein-1948

Director Charles Barton

Starring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello

Scott’s Review #865

Reviewed February 9, 2019

Grade: B+

Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) was the first film of several to capitalize on the comedy duo’s popularity and merge them with several horror characters in a hybrid of the horror and comedy genres.

The zany film was enormously popular with fans leading to other subsequent pairings, but this is the best of the bunch. The ingenious idea works well, and the bumbling pair presents an entertaining film fresh with good ideas and a harmless comedy romp.

The villainous Dracula, the Wolf Man, and the title horror character only make the riches even loftier.

Working as baggage clerks at a Florida train station Chick Young (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (Lou Costello) border on incompetent and deliver two crates to a local wax museum after damaging them at the station. Little do the pair realize that the crates house Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and the Frankenstein monster (Glenn Strange).

Once Chick and Wilbur arrive at the wax museum a comedy of errors occurs as the monsters reanimate and escape while the pair are arrested for supposed theft.

Ultimately the film culminates with an exciting finale at a nearby island castle as a devious doctor (Lenore Aubert) is intent on removing Wilbur’s brain.

The film is wonderfully campy and over-the-top and a strong part of its appeal. The setup is delicious as the audience knows Chick and Wilbur will ultimately face the various creatures but do not know how this will happen.

The quick-witted comedy duo hardly needs coaching, but their banter and timing seem particularly palpable in this screen offering. This is impressive given the historical account of neither actor wanting to make the film and both being convinced the result would be a bomb teetering on career suicide.

Any accusations that their hearts were not in it can be dismissed.

A large part of the appeal is the three individual monsters with different motivations and offerings.

Dracula is the villain in cahoots with the mad scientist.

Frankenstein’s monster is the victim while the Wolf Man is the suffering hero.

Returning to roles that made them famous was crucial to the success of the film and Lon Chaney Jr. and Bela Lugosi (Wolf Man and Count Dracula, respectively) deliver their lines with gusto, careful not to make themselves too menacing nor too foolish, and both blur the horror and comedy lines with perfection.

The filmmakers must be credited for the progressive slant of casting the mad scientist as a female rather than the traditional male.

Actress Aubert as Dr. Sandra Mornay is delicious as she lustfully seduces Wilbur in comic form. She needs not his body but the brain of a simpleton to insert into the head of the monster.

The young man and the gorgeous woman make an odd pairing made comedic by their physical differences. The blend is just right for physical and lightweight comedy.

The final scene is clever and leads to a potential follow-up for the film. As Chick and Wilbur sail away from the looming castle in relief of their adventure coming to a satisfying conclusion, Chick ensures Wilbur that all the monsters are gone.

An uncredited voice appearance by Vincent Price and a dangling cigarette coming from no mouth introduce the next chapter of The Invisible Man.

Hardly a masterpiece or cinematic genius Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) does entertain.

Each player is well-cast resulting in a culmination of good comedy infused with atmospheric horror elements done with the perfect light touch. The comic timing of all members ensures that all the pieces come together in just the right mix of fun and frights with a tongue-in-cheek approach.

What could be a better choice for the escapist fare on a lazy Saturday afternoon?



Director Ken Russell

Starring Roger Daltrey, Ann-Margret

Scott’s Review #617

Reviewed February 15, 2017

Grade: B+

The film version of Tommy (1975) is a musical fantasy, rock opera based on the famous album recording by The Who in 1969.

Composed and adapted by The Who member Pete Townsend, the film tells the story of a deaf, dumb, blonde kid named Tommy.

Featuring a star-studded cast of actors and singers performing musical numbers, the film is an over-the-top treat and quite campy late-night fare. The stage version is usually a bit more serious and sedate than the film.

I enjoy the film but it pales in comparison to the stage versions- which I was fortunate enough to see at my local community theater recently.

The film is directed by Ken Russell.

Set during the 1940s and told mainly through song, we see a montage of Captain Walker (Robert Powell) and his wife Nora (Ann-Margret) on their honeymoon and Walker subsequently being sent off to war leaving a pregnant Nora behind.

When his fighter plane is shot down and he is presumed dead, the montage skips ahead five years, and Nora is now involved in a relationship with Frank (Oliver Reed).

Tommy is five years old and is visited by his father, who is very much alive. After a struggle with Frank and Nora, Powell is killed and a traumatized Tommy is unable to speak, see, or hear (except within his mind) as Frank and Nora are desperate to make sure he keeps quiet.

As Tommy grows into a young man, he becomes a “Pinball Wizard”, a prodigy at pinball, creating great wealth for Nora and Frank. Still unable to speak or see, he is first abused by his Uncle and Cousin but then championed as they are all able to get rich off of his abilities.

Through the years Nora and Frank attempt to “cure” Tommy of his ailments via a preacher (Clapton) leading a Marilyn Monroe cult and a prostitute (Turner).

The joy in Tommy (the film) is seeing the star-studded cast- Elton John, Tina Turner, and Eric Clapton, as well as Roger Daltrey, bring a sense of wonderment to the film. Who doesn’t like to see rock stars perform?

Famous actors Jack Nicholson, Ann-Margret, and Reed are featured.

The musical numbers are the splendid part of the film and one must be prepared to escape into a world of fantasy. Musical highlights for me include, “Acid Queen”, “It’s A Boy”, and “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.

My most recent viewing of the film Tommy disappointed me slightly, and this may be due to recently seeing the stage version- far superior in my mind.

Ann-Margret, while superb and believable as Tommy’s mum, is not the character that Townsend had in mind.

Sultry and sexy, she is cast to bring some sex appeal- nothing wrong with this, but the stage character is more of a working-class woman and more in line with the rest of the cast.

The film also seems a bit too over the top almost silly at times. But Tommy is an escapist film- based on the album, which is more serious.

I wonder if Russell was going for a more late-night, Rocky Horror Show or Little Shop of Horrors type of feel.

Tommy (1975) has its place, certainly, but I would first recommend the stage or the album version as a starting point and move to the film as escapist fare.

Oscar Nominations: Best Actress-Ann-Margret, Best Scoring: Original Song Score and Adaptation or Scoring: Adaptation

Desperate Living-1977

Desperate Living-1977

Director John Waters

Starring Mink Stole, Liz Renay

Scott’s Review #534


Reviewed December 4, 2016

Grade: B

Desperate Living (1977) will not be everyone’s cup of tea. It is a raunchy, late-night comedy, similar to other John Waters-directed cult classics.

This one, however, suffers from the absence of Waters staple, Divine, who did not appear due to scheduling conflicts.

For this glaring omission, Desperate Living is not the greatest of the Waters films, but it is a fun experience all the same.

The film has choruses of political satire, specifically fascism, and overthrowing the government.

Mink Stole (Peggy Gravel) takes on the lead role as a crazed, mentally unhinged, neurotic woman on the lam with her maid, Grizelda, after they accidentally cause the death of Peggy’s husband.

Peggy has been in and out of mental hospitals and is clearly off her rocker as she yells at neighbors about communism.

After an encounter with a lewd police officer, the duo is banished to Mortville, a town filled with outcasts and social deviants. They align with others in the town to overthrow the tyrannical Queen Carlotta, played by Waters fixture Edith Massey.

Carlotta plots to spread rabies throughout the community and is at war with her daughter, Princess Coo Coo.

The issue with Desperate Living is the absence of Divine, originally set to play Mole McHenry, a self-loathing female wrestler, determined to receive a sex change operation.

One imagines the Divine in this important role, which was played by Susan Lowe, a capable star, but no Divine. With Divine in the part, the hilarious possibilities are endless.

Mink Stole carries the movie well, but traditionally being a supporting player in Waters’s films, is not quite the star the film needs to be a true success.

This is not to say that the film is a dud- it is entertaining and will please most Waters fans. It contains gross-out moments and vulgarity from the very first scene- as the opening credits roll, we see a roasted rat, daintily displayed on good china, on an eloquent dinner table, presumably to be served.

Later, Carlotta meets her fate by being roasted, pig style, on a spit with an apple in her mouth. Another character is executed by being shot in the anus. The offensive moments never end!

There also exists a quite controversial scene that I am surprised made the final cut. Peggy, already in a frazzled state due to a neighbor boy accidentally shooting out her bedroom window, is shocked to find another boy playing “doctor” with a little girl in her downstairs basement.

Both children are completely naked, leaving not much to the imagination. This scene is tough to watch as one wonders what the child actors thought of all of this.

I have never viewed another scene quite like this in film.

Otherwise, Desperate Living is filled with cartoon-like characters, lots of sexually deviant leather men, grizzled men with facial hair, and other odd-looking characters, making up the community of Mortville.

Water’s set creations for the exterior scenes of the town are great using mainly cardboard and rubbish he found throughout Baltimore where the film was shot, the sets show a bleak yet colorful underworld.

Desperate Living (1977) is a raunchy good time with over-the-top acting, trash-filled moments, and laugh-out-loud fun.

The lack of any Divine makes it not the first offering to watch from the Waters collection. Pink Flamingos (1972) and Female Trouble (1974) would take that honor.



Director Ethan Maniquis, Robert Rodriguez

Starring Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba

Scott’s Review #501


Reviewed October 28, 2016

Grade: B

Machete (2010) is a clear, fun homage to exploitation films of the 1970’s movies, directed by Robert Rodriguez (a protege of Quentin Tarantino) and quite heavily influenced by his mentor.

It very much resembles a Tarantino film with the comic, over-the-top elements, and the violence, but is somewhat less compelling in the story department, and lacks the crisp, rich storytelling.

It tells the story of a Mexican ex-Federale (named Machete) involved in a plot to kill a corrupt United States Senator (played by Robert De Niro).

He attempts to flee Mexico for Texas, is shot, and spends the remainder of the film vowing revenge on his assailants.

Machete contains many celebrity cameos and is fun to watch- in a light way. The film is not intended to be looked upon earnestly.

For the interested, you also get to see Lindsay Lohan topless.

The film is a fun, violent, popcorn flick, with a nice political message, but if interested in these types of movies, rent Grindhouse: Planet Terror (2007), which is a better experience.



Director Paul Morrissey

Starring Joe Dallesandro, Sylvia Miles

Scott’s Review #479


Reviewed September 11, 2016

Grade: A-

Heat (1972) is a Paul Morrissey/Andy Warhol collaboration in 1970s sexploitation films.

The film is somewhat of a spoof of the classic film from 1950, Sunset Boulevard, and stars 1970s cult star, Joe Dallesandro.

He plays a hunky struggling actor, and former child star, who begins a relationship with a has-been actress (Sylvia Miles) and her lesbian daughter as they co-habitat in a seedy Los Angeles hotel run by plump landlady (Pat Ast).

He pays the landlady a reduced rent in exchange for sex.

Heat stars two of my favorite cult film actresses (Miles and Ast).

It is a fun, over-the-top, independent-style sex romp and pleasing experience for those in the mood for something left of center.

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!-1965

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!- 1965

Director Russ Meyer

Starring Tura Satana, Haji

Top 100 Films #85

Scott’s Review #406


Reviewed May 28, 2016

Grade: A

Shamefully, this cult masterpiece from 1965 has somehow alluded me for many years- largely due to its unavailability on Netflix- head shaking for sure.

Finally, I decided to simply buy the newly released Blu-Ray edition, and I immediately became a huge fan of this Russ Meyer work of art.

Influential and intriguing, it is no surprise it is a camp classic.

Several famous directors, most notably Quentin Tarantino, have paid homage to this film in their later works- most notably, Death Proof. Fast cars, sexy women, and murder represent this unique film.

In comparison to other famous Meyer works, specifically the gregarious yet brilliant Supervixens (1975), Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is almost understated and quiet. He also directed the well-known Beyond The Valley of the Dolls from 1970.

Shot in black and white, several notable comparisons to Supervixens must be pointed out: a hot California desert, large-breasted women, and gas stations are prevalent throughout.

Unlike Supervixens, though, there is little or no nudity.

Three go-go dancers race through the desert in their sports cars. They have murder and kidnapping on their minds. The ring leader, Varla (Tura Satana) is a vicious, sexy, Asian woman. Her two side-kicks are Billie (Lori Williams), and Rosie (Haji). While Billie and Rosie squabble and fight in a juvenile fashion, Varla is the serious one.

The trio enjoys racing their cars and engaging in the game “chicken”. When they meet the all-American couple, Tommy and Linda, out for a romantic drive, they have a dispute and end up killing Tommy- drugging and kidnapping Linda.

After stopping for gas, Varla hatches a plot to steal money from a crazy old man, his muscular yet dimwitted son (known as the Vegetable), and the old man’s seemingly normal son, Kirk.

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is a groundbreaking film as it is gender-bending. The women are hardly written as sex objects. Most films of that day were far from it. They are ferocious, specifically, Varla, as they do typically masculine things- race cars, fight, kill, yet do not sacrifice any of their femininity.

All three women are sexy, and busty, and wear stylish make-up. They are not trying to be like men, but are tough girls. This is part of what makes the film so wonderful to watch.

Usually, in Hollywood, these characters would be molls to even rougher men or supporting the men in some way. These female characters are the film.

My favorite character is Varla. Sexy, fierce, and a minority, how often is a female villain this charismatic?  Perhaps in Bond films, but then she would be a conquest of Bond and not her person.

Varla makes up her own rules. The fact that she is Asian is superb and breaks many barriers in the way Asians are portrayed in the film. Varla is more devious than the other characters- willing to kill anyone who stands in her way- even her friends.

She is a character written very well by Russ Meyer, and a pure femme fatale.

The male supporting characters are interesting. The old man, actor Stuart Lancaster, would later appear in Supervixens. He is a cripple, wacky, and as diabolical as the women. He has designs on innocent Linda and makes no bones about it. The Vegetable is hunky and fresh-faced- an innocent victim of his father’s evil ways, so he is a character we root for. I enjoyed the brief romance between him and Billie.

Lastly, Kirk is the “normal” son, also a victim of his father. When he and Linda run across the desert while being chased by Varla, we root for them to survive.

The black and white style, chosen to save money, actually adds to the unique cinematography,  with sharp edits, and gives the film a mystique.

The 1960s jazzy score adds to the film as well. In color, I wonder if the film would have had a more cartoonish quality. The black and white moves Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! into art film territory.

The debate over the film is, “Is the film exploiting women or empowering them”? To me, the film is answering the question of whether women can be tough, sexy, and complicated with a resounding yes.

All three principal characters are layered- each develops feelings for other characters, and at one point Rosie’s sexuality is questioned by Billie. Still, the female characters are not monsters nor are they caricatures. They are complex with real emotions.

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) is an influential art film/exploitation film that empowers female characters, questions gender categorizations, and takes hold of the viewer, never letting go.

A miraculous representation of the changing times in cinema during the 1960s. It is brilliant.



Director Paul Verhoeven

Starring Elizabeth Berkley, Kyle MacLachlan

Scott’s Review #372


Reviewed January 31, 2016

Grade: D

Having heard much about the infamously badly reviewed Showgirls (1995), and its ranking as one of the worst films ever made, I finally got around to watching this (twenty years after its release).

Now considered something of a camp classic, I am glad I did.

While I recognize the dubious distinction it holds and does not disagree with it, I also found something slightly entertaining about the film, and my thought process throughout was “this film is so bad that it might be good”, but in the end, it is pretty much just a bad film.

Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley) hitchhikes to Las Vegas intending to find success as a showgirl. Having her belongings stolen, she is then befriended by a kind-hearted woman named Molly, who works as a seamstress at the topless dance revue, Goddess.

Molly takes her in and introduces her to the star of the show-Cristal (Gina Gershon).

A rivalry immediately develops between the women as Cristal mocks Nomi’s job at another topless club. The main story centers on this rivalry, as Nomi attempts to climb the ranks and achieve success in the shady world of adult entertainment.

Along the way she becomes involved with various men, specifically entertainment director (and Cristal’s boyfriend), Zack, played by Kyle MacLachlan, leading to further tensions.

Let me be honest here- Showgirls is a bad film in every way. I observed three major flaws in the film- poor acting, poor writing, and the film being over-the-top on every level.

Let’s break it down.

Within minutes, I knew the acting was sub-par, and I wondered if that was the fault of the director’s (Paul Verhoeven) directing or the actors themselves- or a combination.

Known for directing Basic Instinct (a sexy, smoldering film), one wonders if he had the same success in mind for Showgirls.

Berkeley gets the brunt of the mention since she is the lead character, but, wow what a bad performance. From the over-dramatic delivery to the phony earnestness, I did not buy the performance for a minute and fantasized on more than one occasion about how a different actress might have tackled the role (Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts came to mind).

Gershon was almost worse as her sexiness and vixen-like character were fraught with an irritating brooding pout.

The writing is one-dimensional- a poor girl tries to achieve success in a bad, bad world and meets challenge after challenge. Nothing new here.

The predictability was apparent almost immediately and most of the characters were unlikable. When Nomi garners interest in a man, he turns into a player with another aspiring female star on the side, feeding her the same lines as he did Nomi.

Even the one sympathetic character (Molly), exists only to make Nomi more likable as is the case when Molly is attacked and Nomi races to her bedside.

Forced and formulaic, this scene is a prime example of poor and contrived writing.

Most scenes play over the top.

Brimming with nudity and sexual excitement, the film is bawdy and party-friendly. In one scene, dancers take a line of coke before hitting the stage and a feud between two of the dancers results in one sabotaging the production so that the other dancer will break her hip.

The larger-than-life (in more than one way) x-rated, well-endowed, mama dancer, while entertaining, is also silly and foolish.

Chaotic and pointless, each scene was hard to believe and take seriously.

You may be wondering what positives can be found in Showgirls- the answer is not many, but there is a charm I found in the film, but perhaps I am glutenous for punishment.

I think the film “feels” like it wants to have fun and a certain level of entertainment can be found in viewing it, but this is like trying to find a needle in the haystack to see any good in Showgirls.

I do not disagree with the distinction that Showgirls (1995) is one of the worst films ever made, but I found a sliver of charm, interest, and fun mixed in with the more prevalent drivel, poor quality, and painfully bad acting.

But perhaps that is because it is so bad.



Director Russ Meyer

Starring Shari Eubank

Top 100 Films #75

Scott’s Review #361


Reviewed January 9, 2016

Grade: A

I first watched Supervixens in 2008 and, if I am being completely honest, did not much care for it, or rather, was very perplexed by it. I did not know what I had just viewed and was simply caught off guard and blown away- I have since realized that this is part of my love for the film.

Is it a comedy? Is it too over-the-top and shameless? Is it trying to degrade women? Now, a mere eight years later, it lands firmly ensconced on my Top 100 Films list and it is similar to a fine wine- it just gets better and better with age.

Never before did I think I would fall in love with a sexploitation film, but I have.

Directed by Russ Meyer, noted for his series of 1970s sexploitation films, Supervixens, is set somewhere in the desert of eastern California.

Gas station attendant, Clint Ramsey, a handsome young man, is found irresistible to a series of sexy and large-breasted women, all with names beginning with “Super”.

We are introduced to his steady girlfriend, SuperAngel, a bored, horny, feisty woman played by Shari Eubank. Jealous and possessive, she commands Clint to leave his job and come home to her immediately, which leads to hilarity as they spar outside utilizing an ax as they wrestle and fight.

Their nosy neighbor looks on, both tantalized and frightened.

Others who make appearances during Clint’s journeys are SuperLorna, a horny gas station customer (strangely appearing in only one scene, but gracing the film cover packaging), who sets her sights on Clint much to SuperAngel’s chagrin.

SuperCherry is a buxom girl who picks up Clint hitchhiking, SuperSoul, an Austrian farmer’s wife, seduces Clint at the farm, SuperHaji, a bartender at the local watering hole, and finally, SuperEula, who is black, deaf, and with a white father.

Supervixens, as well as some of Russ Meyer’s films, have influenced countless other famous films to come, and I continue to note the overall influence Supervixens has had on Quentin Tarantino, specifically.

With the bloody violence mixed with cartoonish characters, as well as Nazi references (a frequent theme of Tarantino’s) and German marching music, Supervixens has a sly sense of humor- wicked almost, but never apologetic.

Tarantino uses a similarly outrageous style.

Carrie (SuperVixen bloody in the tub), The Shining (Harry breaking down the bathroom door amid a screaming SuperVixen), Friday the 13th- Part 3 (the camera angle at the top of the hayloft panning down on the approaching climber) are just a few film comparisons that I have noticed during repeated viewings.

My love of the film is its outrageousness and I find the film to be empowering to women most of all and not degrading. There is also male nudity and reference to the male anatomy numerous times so it is not a one-sided exploitation film.

Each female is a superhero, of sorts, and despite the sexploitation aspect, the film is quite romantic in spots- the tenderness between Clint and SuperEula is one of my favorites.

I also love the romance between Clint and SuperVixen (a dual role for Eubanks), as she is a reincarnation of SuperAngel. Working side by side at a roadside gas station that she owns, they pump gas and prepare burgers together, while running through the desert in a happy, lovely way.

Of course, their romance is threatened by the sinister Harry, who has returned for revenge.

Hilarious, outrageous, and in-your-face sexual, Supervixens (1975) is a camp classic that is so much more than that. Influential and creative, it simply must be seen to be believed.

I hope it is never forgotten.

Reform School Girls-1986

Reform School Girls-1986

Director Tom DeSimone

Starring Linda Carol, Wendy O. Williams, Pat Ast

Top 100 Films-#100

Scott’s Review #348


Reviewed January 9, 2016

Grade: A

Let’s be honest here- Reform School Girls (1986) is neither a work of cinema art nor a particularly well-acted film.

From a critic’s perspective, it is riddled with stereotypes and objectifies women.

Still, it’s one of my favorite guilty pleasures and has an offbeat charm that makes me want to watch the film over and over again. I never tire of it. I also don’t think it should be reviled, but rather, revered.

There is a perverse magnificence to the film and some similarities to another cult gem- Russ Myers’s Faster Pussycat, Kill!… Kill! (1965)

Critics be damned- not every film needs to be high art!

One of my absolute favorite cult actresses, Pat Ast, famous for another cult gem, 1972’s Heat, stars in Reform School Girls as a vicious prison guard.

Alongside punk rocker turned actress, Wendy O. Williams, they make the film a guilty masterpiece as both women bring their share of odd energy and humor to the flick.

Sybil Danning co-stars as the corrupt Warden Sutter.

The plot of the film is pretty straightforward and it screams late-night fun.

A virginal teenage girl named Jenny is sent to a reform school run by the sinister warden and her sadistic and abusive henchwoman, Edna (Ast). While there, Jenny is intimidated by Charlie (Williams), who rules the roost via bullying and threats. Jenny is accompanied by several other terrified girls, who are stripped and degraded by Edna.

This leads to an attempted escape and protest scene by the girls and others as they try to remove themselves from their tormentors.

Reform School Girls is simply great fun.

The poor acting is actually a strength of the film as one scantily clad female after another prance around the reform school.

Wendy O. Williams regularly wears skimpy panties, bra, and heels, and is laughable playing a teenager since the actress was pushing forty years old.

The culmination of the film is fantastic as a chase ends up by an enormous tower on the grounds of the prison, resulting in the deaths of Charlie and Edna in a dramatic fashion.

Edna’s charred remains are met by an uproar of cheers by the inmates- I half expected them to burst into a chorus of “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead”.

Reform School Girls (1986) is a perfect cult classic to enjoy on a late Saturday night.



Director Jonathan Lynn

Starring Christopher Lloyd, Eileen Brennan, Madeline Kahn

Top 100 Films #61

Scott’s Review #341


Reviewed January 9, 2016

Grade: A

Clue is a harmless, 1985 comic yarn that is not a cinematic masterpiece, nor anything more than fluff.

But since I adored the classic board game growing up and reveled in the excitement of the different characters, rooms, and murder weapons, the film version holds a very special place in my heart and memory bank, having watched it time and time again as a youngster.

The plot is immediately filled with intrigue- a successful element and the best part of the film.

Six interesting characters- with provocative aliases such as Ms. Scarlet, Colonel Mustard, and Mrs. Peacock, are all summoned to a New England mansion named Hill House.

Naturally, it is a dark, stormy night and each receives a mysterious note written by a stranger.

Among the colorful characters working at the mansion are the plump cook, the scantily dressed maid, Yvette, and the butler, Wadsworth, who is running the show and greets the confused guests.

Slowly, it is revealed that all of the guests are being blackmailed and all of them either live or have ties to Washington D.C.

After each guest is given a weapon as a gift, the lights go out and a murder occurs, launching a fun whodunit. Each guest, and the staff, strive to figure out who has committed the murder, as subsequent murders begin to occur.

The comic hi-jinks are reminiscent of funny films like High Anxiety (1977)  and even Young Frankenstein (1974).

The atmospheric qualities featured in Clue are what I love most about the film- the vast mansion, the many gorgeously decorated rooms, the secret passageways, and the driving rain all make for a great ambiance.

Clue is clever in that it features three different endings!  Upon initial theatrical release, this was a unique premise- one could see the film multiple times and not know how it was to end or who the killer might be revealed to be.

Unfortunately, the film was not a commercial success so this ploy did not work.

The famed cast delivers their parts with comic gusto, and with lesser talents, the film would simply be dumb. It seems obvious that the cast had a good old time with this romp- Eileen Brennan, Christopher Lloyd, Lesley Ann Warren, and Madeline Khan, have a comic ball with their perfect delivery of the lines.

Clue is not a message movie, it does not inspire cinematic art, but what it does, it does incredibly well- it entertains.

The writing and the political and sexual innuendos are witty. One can become lost in the interesting characters and try to guess, or even make up, the whodunit and why they did it.

I can be entertained by Clue (1985) time and time again.

Mommie Dearest-1981

Mommie Dearest-1981

Director Frank Perry

Starring Faye Dunaway

Top 100 Films #44

Scott’s Review #195


Reviewed November 20, 2014

Grade: A

Camp, camp, camp!

By this point in film history, Mommie Dearest and this description go hand in hand, but when made in 1981, it was meant to be a much more serious film than it turned out to be.

Sadly, due to a few very over-the-top lines, it is forever inducted into the halls of cult classic memory.

Based on the scandalous tell-all book written by Christina Crawford (Joan’s adopted daughter), Mommie Dearest tells the story of Joan Crawford, a Hollywood screen legend, from her heyday in the 1930s, until she died in 1977, and mostly focuses on the tumultuous relationship with Christina- played as an adult by Diana Scarwid.

Convinced a baby was missing from her life and unable to conceive after several miscarriages with a former flame, Crawford’s beau at the time, an attorney, wrangles a way for her to adopt both Christina and later, Christopher Crawford.

Dealing with her mother’s demands and abuse, Christina goes from a happy little girl to a rebellious teen sent to live in a convent and later struggling to find her way as an actress in New York City with no financial support from Mom.

The film also wonderfully describes the career of Crawford- from highs (winning the Academy Award for Mildred Pierce) to lows (being cut from MGM and reduced to screen tests). The film also recounts Joan Crawford’s continuing battles with booze and neuroses.

From start to finish the film belongs to Dunaway as she simply becomes Crawford- the eyelashes, the mannerisms, every detail is spot on.

Unfortunately for Dunaway, due to the unintentional comedic view of this film, she was robbed of an Oscar nomination, shamefully so. The film was awarded several Razzies- a derogatory honor given to the year’s worst films. Dunaway must have put her heart and soul into this performance.

During the infamous wire hanger scene, Dunaway looks frightening as her face, caked with cold cream, reveals a grotesque mask- reminiscent of Batman character The Joker- as she shrieks at her daughter in the middle of the night, during a drunken tirade, after finding beautiful clothes on wire hangers.

She then trashes her daughter’s bathroom insisting it is already filthy.

One will shriek with gales of laughter as Crawford berates her maid Helga for not scrubbing beneath a potted plant, only to insist, “I’m not mad at you Helga, I’m mad at the dirt”.

In another haunting scene, Joan throws a birthday party for Christina complete with a merry-go-round, balloons, presents, and the paparazzi. Joan’s attire is a little girl dress matching young Christina’s- a morbid foreshadowing of the competition that is to exist between them as the years go by.

The secondary characters are merely an extension of Dunaway’s character and do their best to support her- her harried live-in assistant, Carol Ann, played by Rutanya Alda, both of her love interests, lawyer, Greg Savitt, played by Steve Forrest, and later, Pepsi-Cola mogul Alfred Steele, played by Harry Goz.

The actors do their best with the material given and are neither exceptional nor flawed. None of these supporting characters have any backstory other than to react to Crawford’s drama and, if written better, may have given the film a bit more depth.

The look of the film is pleasing- Crawford’s house is beautifully decorated with lavish furniture and the colors throughout the film are both bright and vivid. The now-legendary lines of “No wire hangers ever!”, “Christina! Bring me the ax!”, and “Don’t fuck with me fellas, this ain’t my first time at the rodeo” are hysterical in their melodrama and effect.

Crawford is portrayed as an obsessive-compulsive, demanding, control freak. One may debate the authenticity of the claims Christina made against Joan Crawford until the end of time.

Not the masterpiece it was intended to be, Mommie Dearest (1981) can be enjoyed viewing after viewing for some campy silliness, with one hell of a great performance by Dunaway mixed in.

Female Trouble-1974

Female Trouble-1974

Director John Waters

Starring Divine

Scott’s Review #146


Reviewed August 4, 2014

Grade: A

Female Trouble (1974) is a deliciously naughty treat by famous Independent film legend, John Waters.

Not exactly family-friendly, it is a gem for those desiring more left-of-center fare with depravity and gross-out fun mixed in for good measure.

Water’s theme of the film is “crime is beauty” and the film is dedicated to Manson family member, Charles “Tex” Watson.

Meant for adult, late-night viewing, the film tells the story of female delinquent Dawn Davenport, who angrily leaves home one Christmas morning after not receiving her desired cha-cha heels as a Christmas present.

Her parents, religious freaks, disown her and she is left to fend for herself on the streets of Baltimore.

The film then tells of her life story of giving birth and subsequently falling into a life of crime in the 1960s.  Her friends Chicklet and Concetta are in tow as they work various jobs and embark on a career of theft.

Female Trouble stars Waters regulars Divine, Mink Stole, Edith Massey, Cookie Mueller, and others.

Interestingly, Divine plays a dual role- Dawn Davenport (in drag, of course) and also the father of her bratty child- Earl Peterson. Dawn and Earl have a less-than-romantic interlude on a dirty mattress on the side of the road when he picks her up hitchhiking, which results in the birth of Taffy.

Also featured is the hilarious feud between Dawn and her love interest’s (Gator) Aunt Ida, as the women engage in tactics such as acid throwing and chopping off of limbs as they constantly exact revenge on each other.

Favorite scenes include Dawn’s maniacal nightclub act in which she does her rendition of acrobatics and then begins firing a gun into the crowd. Another is of Dawn’s dinner party with Donald and Donna Dasher- serving a meal consisting of spaghetti and chips, Taffy’s tirade hilariously ruins the evening.

This film is not for the prudish, squeamish, or uptight crowd, but a ball for all open-minded, dirty fun-seekers. The film contains one over-the-top, hilarious scene after another.

The line “just cuz you got them big udders don’t make you somethin’ special” is a Waters classic.

Female Trouble is one of a series of outrageous, cult-classics featuring the legendary camp star, Divine.

Not meant to be overanalyzed or some might say, analyzed at all, Female Trouble (1974) is unabashedly trashy and makes no apologies for its outrageousness.



Director John Waters

Starring Ricki Lake, Divine

Scott’s Review #130


Reviewed July 23, 2014

Grade: B+

Hairspray (1988) is one of director John Water’s later and much more mainstream comedies.

Influencing the Broadway musical of the same name that was created years later and inspiring a successful remake in 2007, the film is a wonderful watch one late at night accompanied by spirits.

It is fun, fun, fun.

The film tells the story of a cute, yet insecure, overweight teenager named Tracy Turnblad, wonderfully portrayed by Rikki Lake. Tracy lives in Baltimore in the racially conflicted 1960s, and she battles to appear on a local talent show.

With Waters directing, one might expect comedic raunchiness, but Hairspray is quite tame. It is the only Waters film to be rated PG, the others are rated X.

Not to be outdone, however, Hairspray does contain its share of light naughtiness.

The film itself, while campy and over the top, is important since it does its best to break down racial barriers, including interracial relationships, and sends an important message.

Tracy and her best friend Penny Pingleton judge people for who they are, not on race, income, or anything else.

Those characters in Hairspray who are written as racist or less than welcoming to interracial cohabitation (again the film is set in the early 1960s) look like buffoons and not with the progressive social times.

The supporting cast is high caliber- Divine and Jerry Stiller are perfectly cast as Tracy’s open-minded yet cautious and concerned parents.

Famous musicians appear in cameos- most notable are Debbie Harry, Ric Ocasek, and Sonny Bono in small but zesty roles.

The musical dance numbers are plentiful and perfectly fit the time of the film.

Hairspray (1988) is entertaining, relevant, and free with a powerful message mixed in with the entertainment.

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: Best Feature, Best Director-John Waters, Best Female Lead-Ricki Lake, Best Supporting Male-Divine, Best Supporting Female-Debbie Harry, Best Screenplay

The Anniversary-1968

The Anniversary-1968

Director Roy Ward Baker

Starring Bette Davis

Scott’s Review #52


Reviewed June 21, 2014

Grade: B+

The Anniversary (1968) is a British film based on a play of the same name.

The story centers on the Taggert family reunion celebrating the anniversary of the matriarch (Bette Davis) and the deceased patriarch.

The film is set like a play and most of the action takes place inside the Taggert family mansion.

The film is all Davis and she gives a deliciously over-the-top performance as a vicious mother intent on controlling her son’s lives and terrorizing their wives or significant others with cutting remarks and insults.

Davis must have had fun with this role as her storied career was clearly on the downturn and this role allowed her to let loose. One must wonder if Davis chewed up the actors in the cast as much as the characters- rumor has it she was quite intimidating to her fellow actors and a terror to work with which adds to the macabre enjoyment.

Her physical appearance of an eye patch, wig, cigarette, and bright red lipstick all work in her favor. Her maniacal laugh is incredibly campy and wonderful to watch.

Bette Davis is one of the greats and this late-career romp is fun to watch.