Ah . . . the ’90s . . . the era of the cheesy erotic thrillers inspired by the likes of Lawrence Kasdan’s far superior Body Heat (1981). And for every Paul Verhoeven noir-giallo Basic Instinct (1992) blockbuster . . . there was the great Willem Dafoe struggling to salvage Madonna in Body of Evidence (1992) . . . then there’s David Caruso bombing hard with William Friedkin’s Jade (1995). And let’s not forget Joe Eszterhas and Paul Verhoeven’s abysmal reteaming with Showgirls (1995). (Did you know there were sequels to both, Basic Instinct and Showgirls? True story. Sadly.)
And then there’s Roger Corman’s take on the genre: Saturday Night Special.
And while Corman was never one to let a set or a special effects shot go to waste (see all of his ’80s Star Wars/Alien knock offs as examples*), he never let a script go to waste either. So he made the same movie . . . three times.
First, in 1991, the script was made as Kiss Me a Killer. If you’re a fan of Robert Beltran (Commander Chakotay on Star Trek: Voyager, Paul Bartel’s Eating Raoul, or 1984’s Night of the Comet), you’ll probably want to seek that one out concerning soft-core sexual hijinks in an L.A salsa club. Then Corman took the script and placed it into an Urban Cowboy-styled honky tonk as Saturday Night Special. Then, to capitalize on the media frenzy over Showgirls, he re-tweaked the script inside a Los Angeles strip club as 1996’s The Showgirl Murders. The upside to Saturday Night Special and The Showgirls Murders: both star Quentin Tarantino’s “favorite B actress,” Maria Ford. And of those two films, the one you want to watch is, you guess it, Saturday Night Special.
Yeah, but what does this all have to do with “Rock n’ Roll Week” at B&S About Movies? Well, this Corman noir stars country rocker Billy Burnette of Fleetwood Mac (formerly with Mick Fleeetwood’s side band, The Zoo; Burnette replaced Linsday Buckingham) in his acting debut . . . along with a cameo by Mick Fleetwood himself (remember when Mick showed up alongside Dweezil Zappa in The Running Man?).
Burnette is Travis, a ne’er-do-well drifter-cum-musician who gets a gig as the house musician at a local, dusty town honky tonky. And in typical film noir fashion, along comes Darlene (Maria Ford), the local femme fatale, who seduces Travis to kill her abusive, bar owner husband. Boobs, brawls, dead bodies, and to be honest, crappy country songs by Burnette, ensues. (Keep your eyes open for requisite low-budget screen heavy Duane Whitaker from Pulp Fiction, The Devil’s Rejects, Halloween II ’09 in an early role.)
Double Indemity or Sorry, Wrong Number, this ain’t. Hell, it ain’t even Jade. Or Showgirls. But if you’re a rock n’ roll film dog, like myself and Samuel, then there’s something here for you to watch. (A few of the other classic ’40s to ’60s film noirs we’ve reviewed are A Double Life, Black Angel, Fairwell, My Lovely, My Name is Julia Ross, The Possessed, and So Dark the Night — if you’re interested in the deeper roots that birthed Saturday Night Special. Some of the recent neo-noirs we’ve reviewed include Don Okolo’s recent Eric Roberts starrer Lone Star Deception, along with the early ’90s radio romps Dead Air, Night Rhythms, and Power 98.)
In lieu of bogging this review with Billy Burnette career trivia, his Wikipedia page will give you all you need to know . . . and You Tube will give you all you need to hear. However, in short: Aerosmith fans know the music of Billy’s dad Dorsey and his Uncle Johnny from The Rock ‘n’ Roll Trio with their cover of “Train Kept-a Rollin’“; Billy had his own early ’80s new wave hit with a cover of his dad’s ’50s hit, “Honey Hush” (but you probably know that one better for its kick ass cover by Foghat). Oh, and Billy’s cousin, Rocky Burnette (son of Johnny), had his own 1980 U.S Top 10 hit with “Tired of Toein’ The Line.”
Anyway, back to the movie . . . we all know how the uploads come and go on You Tube. So we’re giving you three links to choose from to watch Saturday Night Special HERE, HERE, and HERE. Sadly, there are no VHS rips of Kiss Me a Killer or The Showgirl Murders online, but we found the trailers for each of them HERE and HERE.
* Be sure to check out our “Ten Movies that Ripped Off Alien” and “A Whole Bunch of Alien Rip Offs at Once” featurettes. Astute Cormanites will be able to pick out his films with ease.
About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.