The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Vicious Lips (1988)
This is one I've been wanting to check out for some time. Directed by DTVC Hall of Famer Albert Pyun, it was automatically on my radar, but then I saw some images of it on the Internet that looked really cool. It went to the back burner after I did a few other Pyun flicks, Bransmasher, Sword and the Sorcerer, and Blast. Now we're here though, so let's get to it.
Vicious Lips takes place in a cyber-punk future where a band, The Vicious Lips, gets their big break playing at the Radioactive Dreams (recognize that title?) when another band dies in a spaceship crash. This comes right on the heels of the manager replacing the lead singer with a girl he finds at a high school talent show. Now they just have to get their act together and get across the galaxy and make the gig on time.
This one was a disappointment, unfortunately. The first thirty minutes or so were fantastic. Great music, great imagery, really off-beat, just a total fun time. Then the spaceship crashes, and the film grinds to a halt. We lose the music. We lose the action. We lose any of the fun. The film then resolves itself in a manner that was something of a cop out. (I will discuss in the seventh paragraph because it contains massive spoilers.) The first thirty minutes came off like a perfect cyber-punk, New Wave musical, and then it's literally no longer a musical, until we get to the final number at the very end, and that middle that wasn't a musical not only didn't make any sense, but didn't really work either.
The music in this was sweet. Very 80s. The Vicious Lips sounded like Berlin or Pat Benetar, and then there were a few background songs sung by a male that were more New Wave. It begs the question: why did such a large chunk in the middle go away from this stuff? The movie isn't that long-- 80 minutes-- so you figure it would've taken two songs, even if they were recycled from earlier in the film, placed at 15-20 minute intervals, and that would've gone a long way to break up the monotony.
The other thing was the imagery. How do you not love the classic woman with three boobs? But then you also have a vintage/futuristic concert poster on the wall. There were so many great shots like that, including the one of the Radioactive Dreams nightclub that I have above; plus, a lot of the outfits and make-up were great too. And again, as with the music, we lose a lot of this in the movie's dead zone, where we're stuck on a ship set. It would've been nice to see more of these futuristic intergalactic city sets, and the eclectic looking characters that populated them.
This didn't have any of our favorite Pyun Mainstays, so anyone playing the Pyun Mainstay Drinking Game will be a little disappointed. The star of the film, Dru-Anne Perry, looked really familiar, but according to imdb, she's only done this, a previous Pyun flick Dangerously Close (one we haven't gotten to here at the DTVC), and a Matlock episode. Maybe she's done some commercials too, and that's what I recognize her from. Is it 80s of me to think she looks really hot with her hair teased up like that? We find out later that it's a wig, which is kind of a disappointment, but I guess it saves on the Aqua Net budget.
WARNING CONTAINS SPOILERS!!! WARNING CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!
(I gotta say, writing in all caps with multiple exclamation points hurts my soul.) I wanted to separate this paragraph off just in case anyone wants to see this, because it'll ruin the ending. This movie uses the ol' "it was only a dream" device, which to me is a euphemism for "I just didn't feel like writing my characters out of this situation." It's always felt lazy to me, I don't know, and a little offensive as a viewer too. Essentially you're telling me, everything that happened didn't really happen, so in a sense, you wasted my time. I'm not saying Albert Pyun was doing that in this case-- on the contrary, I don't know of a director that has more respect for his audience than he does-- I'm sure he had his own reasons for doing it the way he did-- one that comes to mind is that the film had some MTV aspects to it, and a lot of music videos in the 80s used that "it was all a dream" device, and maybe that's what he was trying to do. The problem with that is, music videos are 3 or 4 minutes, not 80; and who knows, maybe if the middle worked more like the first 30, the dream thing might have fit better.
END SPOILERS!!! END SPOILERS!!! END SPOILERS!!!
Okay, while I'm not able to recommend this, I will say that, because you can catch it out on Watch Instantly right now, you might want to check it out on the cheap for the first 30 minutes or so, because that stuff was really good. Unfortunately we lose that in the middle, and with it, the film loses me.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0163375/