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, May 22, 2013

Miracle Beach (1992)

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This is another of the Netflix Dump 8, which I chose because it stars one of my all time favorites, Dean Cameron aka Chainsaw from Summer School, aka Dave Marshak from Ski School and Ski School 2.  I love seeing this guy in anything possible, so this was a must.  It also starred Ami Dolenz, Pat Morita, Martin Mull, and Vincent Schiavelli, making it all the more sweeter.  Let's see how it went.  Also, our friends over at BMovieChicks.com did this one too, so go over there and see what they said.

Miracle Beach stars Cameron as a down and out beach bum who catches his girl in bed with his boss, meaning he's fired, and two seconds later his landlord evicts him.  At the same time, Ami Dolenz lives in a world of genies-- yep, that kind of genies-- and she's sent to Earth to be someone's genie.  She and Cameron seem like a match made in heaven, and Cameron can't wait to use her omnipotence to change his fortunes.  He opens his own beach resort, chases the local hottie, gets said local hottie a gig with major Hollywood producer played by Martin Mull, and sets his two buddies up with a sweet situation at the resort with some bikini models.  But Dolenz is falling in love with Cameron-- can you blame her?-- and she starts to sabotage his dating of the local hottie, causing friction between the two.  Will Cameron discover his love for Dolenz before the genie review board puts her away in her bottle for good for meddling in her master's affairs?

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Unfortunately this one was a disappointment for me.  I felt like Cameron was wasted.  This was not the Dave Marshak we wanted, and the genie aspect removed the best part of Cameron's characters: their resourcefulness.  It's always great watching him plan things, and then watching his elaborate plans come together.  The material also didn't give him many opportunities to be funny, which was too bad too, because we know how funny he is, and that's what we're watching an early 90s beach romp starring him in it for.  Dolenz was fun, and Morita, Mull, and Schiavelli were all great too-- as was Cameron despite how poorly his role used him--, but this suffered from the fact that the genie aspect didn't take off.  It still has some USA Up All Night nostalgia factor, so in that sense, it might work for some, it just didn't work for me.

The good romp involves a few factors.  First, charismatic characters.  We had it in Cameron, Dolenz, and Morita, but it lacked sorely in Cameron's two buddies.  They were just women chasing blah, no real personality, simply afterthoughts.  These guys make the film when they're good, and annoy the viewer when they're bad.  Second, adversity.  There need to be heels that need to be overcome.  Jerk ski instructors, asshole businessmen, etc.  Because we had the omnipotent genie aspect, heels had no pull in this.  Dean Cain has a small role as a potential heel, but he's gone immediately.  Without that tension, the script just plods along.  Finally, the lead needs room to be the lead.  He needs to be out there riffing and doing crazy stuff.  Having his genie give him things to impress a woman isn't enough.  This was a romp that lack in romp-iness.

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A Dean Cameron Ami Dolenz Romantic Comedy is something that could've really worked though in a better scenario.  They had the chemistry, just not the material.  I don't know if the better setting would be Cameron wooing Dolenz, or if she were the other woman trying to make Cameron notice her, but in a classic 80s/90s romp paradigm, it would've been so much fun.  The thing is, why can't we see that now though?  What about a remake of Back to School, with Marshak as the billionaire who buys his way back to school, and Dolenz as the professor who has a thing for him, but doesn't know if she can take him seriously enough.  Bring Dean Cain back in too as the guy she's engaged to.  Seriously, how great would this movie be?

Unfortunately, Pat Morita won't be able to star in any remake, as he's no longer with us.  I loved seeing him here though as the beach bum that Cameron befriends and gives a job to at his resort.  Schiavelli played a local mystic, who may be more of a scam artist that has bitten off more than he can chew when Cameron shows up asking him about a magic lamp.  Martin Mull as the sleazy producer/director whom Cameron has the genie make into his old friend so he can introduce the local hottie to him was a lot of fun too-- we'll have him play the dean at the college Cameron attends, the Ned Beatty role.  Dean Cain was like an almost heel that never was, and is credited only as "Volleyball Player #1".  Seriously.  Finally, I totally missed this, but Alexis Arquette played one of Cameron's buddies, only as a dude.  I missed it so much, I didn't even get an image of her in it.  That's the problem with these Netflix dump kind of things, if I miss something, I can't go back and rectify it.

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Finally, Dolenz has a scene where she's watching TV while Cameron is on a date.  Flipping through the channels, she finds a movie with DTVC favorites the Barbarian Brothers, and a basketball game featuring my Celtics and the LA Clippers.  Gary Grant himself appears on-screen, as Dolenz transports him to her living room so she can give him a pep talk, and send him back to the arena to take down my C's.  It was a great blast from the past, especially seeing my C's in better days-- though '91-'92 was when they were hoping McHale and Bird would be healthy enough for one more run, not unlike the current situation with my team.  Unlike my C's, the Clippers are finally a much better team, something that 20 years ago would've seemed impossible.

So this is a pass for me, unfortunately.  I wanted so much to like it, but ultimately the entire thing was sauteed in wrong sauce.  Hopefully that remake of Back to School with Cameron and Dolenz will be made, which will make up for what we didn't get here.  I'm not holding my breath for that though.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104879/

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