Howard Avedis Week: They’re Playing with Fire (1984)

Editor’s Note: This review ran on April 11, 2019. We’re bringing it back for our “Hikmet ‘Howard’ Avedis Week” of reviews.

Hikmet Avedis was the director of 1974’s The Teacher. Howard Avedis is the director of this film. They’re similar films. And the same person. So there you go.

This movie is all about Jay (Eric Brown, Private Lessons), who gets caught up in a film noir-like murder mystery. And see, you thought that this was going to be all about teen comedies and not death! Wrong! (We know! We’ve done Private Resort with Johnny Depp, and Private Parts (not the Stern one), but not Private Lessons? We’re working on it!)

What sold me on this movie were the two leads: Andrew Prine (The Town that Dreaded SundownSimon King of the Witches) and Sybil Danning (Battle Beyond the Stars). They’re a married couple who want to get his mom into a retirement home, but things go wrong and she gets killed. Jay gets way too deep into their affairs, but look: if you were a 19-year-old college kid and Sybil Danning regularly rumbusticating you, chances are you’d do anything she asked.

This movie has a lot in it, to tell the truth. It’s somewhat a sex comedy. It’s sometimes a slasher, like when a hidden Santa Claus beats a woman with a baseball bat. It’s got Dominick Brascia in it, who played the candy bar eating heavy guy in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. It’s got Alvy Moore in it, who was Hank Kimball on TV’s Green Acres. It was the best role Sybil ever thought that she acted in. And by the end of the movie, it’s become a giallo complete with a room full of horrific artwork, dead bodies and a secret sibling!

Despite the tagline, “From his French maid, he got Private Lessons. Now his English professor is giving him a REAL education,” this is not a sequel to that film. Also: I kind of hate Eric Brown, as he got to do love scenes with both Sybil and Sylvia Kristel. That’s kind of getting way too much out of your life. No one deserves that much.

Just listen to this song and remember: Eric Brown got to do three love scenes with Sybil Danning. Try not to get enraged. It gets worse: he hooks up with Sylvia Kristel in Private Lessons. You’ve just gone postal.

You can get this from Kino Lorber.

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