Killer Barbys (1996)

While the movie is called Killer Barbys, it features the Spanish punk rock band The Killer Barbies, who are fronted by Silvia Superstar. They’ve used the alternate spelling to avoid legal action from Mattel, but at other times use the “ie” spelling.

Released along with their first album Dressed to Kiss, this movie finds the band on the road when their van breaks down. Arkan (Aldo Sambrell, who was in everything from Leone’s Italian Westerns to Yellow Hair and the Fortress of GoldSilver Saddle and Operation Condor: Armor of God 2) welcomes them to the castle of Countess Von Fledermaus (Mariangela Giordano, Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror), who is really the artist Olga Luchan, who has remained alive for decades.

Billy and Sharon elect to stay in the van — continually aardvarking throughout the movies — while Flavia, Rafa and Mario all discover the secret of the Countess. Yes, she’s remained young on a diet of semen and blood.

There are only two songs by the band on the soundtrack and you will know them both well by the time the movie is done. You’ll also be amazed that Franco had made way more than a hundred movies before this, but so much of what I love is that you never really know what kind of movie the director would bring you.

Basically, imagine if Scooby-Doo had every character having sex with one another, but pervy sex because Jess Franco wouldn’t have it any other way. What a magical lunatic. The band would also work with Mr. Franco again to make 2002’s Killer Barbys vs. Dracula.

REPOST: Scream (1996)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally ran on March 4, 2020. It fits right into the 90’s movies that I’ve tried to avoid vibe of this week, so please enjoy. It was written by wrestling announcer Jim LaMotta and originally appeared on Steel City Underground. You can follow Jim on Twitter.

After I penned an article about the Robert De Niro directed A Bronx Tale and received some positive feedback from it, I thought I’d take the opportunity to write about the horror genre, the film category that has a lot of coverage on this site. The decision for this was partially a coincidence, as for whatever reason, the Showtime channels on Comcast have shown this franchise on a semi-regular basis for the past few months, and I found myself finding different layers within the film, as random viewings accompanied recent insomnia.

However, the decision to actually write this analysis was made because the film was based upon a spoof of the cliches that littered horror films of that era. Directed by Wes Craven, Scream’s 1996 release mocked and outright defied the rules of the previous generations. While Wes Craven will always be famously linked to the Nightmare on Elm Street series, his work spanned decades, as he wrote and/or directed projects as far back as the 1970s with the original Last House on The Left and The Hill Have Eyes or something as recent as the latest installment of the Scream franchise. Point being, Craven knew the horror playbook and also knew how to manipulate the perceived cliches of the genre.

Wes Craven had his status solidified before Scream was ever green-lit for production by Dimension Films, but writer Kevin Williamson, who later went on to write for the WB’s Dawson’s Creek and more recently a TV Scream spinoff, got his break with the teen slasher production. Williamson was able to weave an unpredictable tale of suspense that hadn’t been seen in quite some time for horror films when Scream hit the big screen, and Craven’s flare to build tense moments made for a successful combination.

Despite Scream’s intention to spoof the stale cliches of horror flicks, the opening scene was key because it told the audience immediately that regardless of its ability to mock the overused tactics of previous eras, this was definitely not a comedy. As is often seen in teen slashers, the typical beginning of the film found Casey Becker, played by Drew Barrymore, watching TV as she made popcorn on a Saturday night while her parents had plans for the evening. The phone rings, a foreshadow of sorts for what becomes a red flag later and when Becker answers, an almost distorted voice seemingly tries to charm her with a series of questions, including the famous, “what’s your favorite scary movie” inquiry that becomes a theme of the film. As the unknown caller continues to prod away at the teen, who forgets the popcorn on the stove, the conversation escalates to become more aggressive. Eventually, the teen is shocked to see her boyfriend duct taped to a chair on the patio as the mysterious voice insist she play a game to save his life. When she incorrectly guesses Jason as the original killer in the Friday films instead of Mrs. Vorhees, the athlete bound on the patio is gutted. In typical horror fashion, a struggle ensues as the Ghost Face killer stalks Barrymore’s character. After Becker makes it outside, the place where the audience usually tells intended victims to run to escape, she’s stabbed and strangled before a well-placed kick gives her a final chance of survival. As Becker’s parents return home, she’s within distance of them, but can’t scream for help because of the damage to her neck. The emphasis on the brutality of her death reinforces that this movie isn’t designed to be a comedy. As the flames from the stove rise and smoke surrounds the living room, the Beckers frantically try to find their daughter in the house. When Mrs. Becker picks up the phone to call for help, she can hear the final moments of her daughter, who still clutched the cordless phone prior to her murder.

That opening scene implied that the known star, Barrymore was one of the main characters of the movie, but the death of a familiar face in the opening scene sent the message that none of the cast was guaranteed survival.

In contrast, the next scene finds Sydney Prescott, played by Canadian actress Neve Campbell, who worked on the Party of Five series both before and after Scream’s success, pecking away at the keyboard in front of a very-90s clunky computer screen as she finishes her homework. How Sydney is presented in this scene really sets the tone for her character and how it evolves throughout the narrative. She’s dressed in a white nightgown with a ponytail that almost emphasizes her innocence and naive nature. She hears a noise outside her window and background music makes it appear that she might be the next victim, but instead, her boyfriend, Billy Loomis springs up into the window to visit her. Syd’s father, who planned to take a business trip that week, nearly catches this impromptu meeting before Sydney deflects him. Loomis is a rebellious type because his mom left the family quite some time ago, and his edgy nature somewhat conflicts with Sydney’s concern for his visit. Loomis is an obsessed horror fan and mentions the lack of excitement of movies edited for television before he implies that he wants to get physical with Sydney. Loomis’ comparisons create a rather odd vibe around his character, but Syd trusts him and agrees to a kiss with a sense of enthusiasm. As the teens land on her bed surrounded with stuffed animals, another aspect of her innocence, Loomis quickly progresses from kissing to an attempt to put his hand up her nightgown before she halts the interaction. As the two kiss again, Billy plans to scale back down from the window before Syd quickly opens her top for brief flash and a short laugh, as it was her way to express intimacy.

The following day when Sydney makes her way to school, the fictional town of Woodsboro is buzzing with the news of the two slain teens. News cameras and reporters surround the school as Syd and her friends discuss the gory incident. This conversation introduces the viewers to a portion of the main cast, which automatically translates to possible victims for the killer. Loomis is there with Syd, his best friend and fellow horror enthusiast, Stu sat next to Tatum, Syd’s best friend, and finally, Randy, the film buff that works at the local video store. Remember those? Upon Stu and Randy’s speculation on the grisly details, Sydney leaves after she became uncomfortable with the situation, and Loomis looks at his pal in disgust.

When Sydney makes her way home and confirms her plans with Tatum that night, which will see her spend the night at her friend’s house so as not to be alone during her dad’s business trip, she tunes into news coverage of the murders. This scene reveals that her mom, Maureen Prescott was murdered nearly a year earlier after an affair with Cotton Weary, played by Liev Schreiber, who is known for his work in the lead role of Ray Donovan. Sydney saw someone leave her house the night of the murder and her testimony led to Weary’s conviction in what was assumed to be a closed case. When the phone rings, Syd is greeted by the same voice that called Casey Becker and the conversation lures her onto the porch, again the place the audience typical tells a possible victim to run to safety. The voice on the phone claims to know details about her mom’s death, and the infuriated teen slams the front door in a rage as she returns to the house, locking the door behind her. The irony of what transpires next is that while she was outside, she actually allowed the killer to sneak in and her only option when confronted with the knife-wielding maniac is to run upstairs to her bedroom, where she successful barricades the door and send a message for help using the previously mentioned clunky computer. The killer disappears from view and almost instantly, Billy Loomis jumps into view through her window again. There wasn’t enough time for him to ditch the costume and get up to the window, right? But, a cell phone, also a bulky device at the time, drops from his pocket, making it at least possible that he was the one on the phone a few minutes earlier.

Sydney is so shaken that she doesn’t know what to believe so she bolts to the front door and when she opens it she finds local officer, Dewey Riley startled with the evidence of the Ghost Face mask he found outside. Loomis is detained and questioned, proclaiming his innocence, as Dewey tells Syd that there’s no record of her dad checking into his hotel for the business trip. Before she and Tatum can leave the police station, “cut-throat” tabloid reporter, Gale Weathers storms Sydney for an exclusive quote. Weathers received a right hook for her troubles after an offer to send the teen a copy of her upcoming book, which doubted if Cotton Weary actually committed the murder of Maureen Prescott. Dewey is Tatum’s brother and escorts them home, where she commends Syd for her right hook. A call for Sydney takes her to the phone where the ominous voice informs her that not only was Loomis not responsible for the earlier struggle, but also that Weary was the wrong suspect. With Loomis still detained at the police station, he couldn’t have made the call so who was the voice on the phone?

Sydney was terrified with the revelation and hangs up, prompting the lovable dork, Dewey to storm into the hallway in his underwear with his gun to protect the family. After Loomis’ cell phone revealed that he didn’t make the call to Sydney, news of the attack made the rounds at her school and some students were running around the halls with the Ghost Face costume. This outraged principal Henry Winkler, who threatened to expel the students, cutting up the mask in the process of his verbal reprimand. Sadly, the same scissors were used to murder the principal when The Fonze had an encounter with the Ghost Face killer later that day.

As Courtney Cox’s Gale Weathers tries to flirt with Officer Dewey for possible information on the murders, Randy is visited at the video store by Stu and the two discuss the status of the case. Randy rants about the rules of horror and how those in Woodsboro are ignoring the patterns that have emerged in the case. Stu defends Loomis, asking why he would want to murder his own girlfriend, and suggests that Neil Prescott could be responsible since his location is unknown. Randy is confronted by Billy and the cleared suspect lists the reasons that the film buff might be the killer, creating his own scenarios based on the movies that he’s a fan of at the video store. In yet another example of foreshadowing, this scene was referenced toward the conclusion of the movie.

The unsolved murders cause the police to enforce a curfew and with the students’ earlier exit from school, Stu plans a party for his friends. The house party brings a few dozen friends together to watch Halloween, and Gale stakes outside in her news van, hoping to get a tip so that she can be the first to report the story. With Tatum there with Stu, Sydney attempts to enjoy some time with her friends and Dewey parked outside the party to guard her. During the viewing of the John Carpenter classic, Randy (Jamie Kennedy) rants again about the rules of horror, including that sex can make someone a target as it eliminates a character’s purity. In the middle of his public service announcement, the phone rings and Randy receives the news that principal Fonze was hanging from a goal post at the school stadium. Most of the party rushes from the house to witness the gory spectacle, leaving only the main group of friends still there. In the commotion of the group exit, Tatum is murdered by the killer in the garage, hanging from the dog door in the garage door. Unaware of this, Randy continues to watch the film as Stu tells his guests goodbye at the door. Almost on cue, Billy shows up at the door and asked to talked to Syd since the two haven’t spoken more than a brief conversation at school since her accusation landed him in the interrogation office at the police station. The two go upstairs to talk and Syd feels bad about wrongly accusing her boyfriend of the previous attack.

Up in the room, Loomis comforts Sydney as she expresses her frustration with the circumstances of her mom’s death. Eventually, Syd tells Billy she wants to be intimate with him and as the two undress, Sydney is wearing a white bra, a final sign of her innocence. After she sheds the bra, perhaps her only shield against becoming a target, Dewey and Gale find Neil Prescott’s car abandon down the street from the house. After Syd’s intimate encounter with Loomis, it’s almost as if her naive nature was relinquished, as she questioned who he called when he was at the police station, prompting him to claim that he called his dad, but Sydney explains that she saw the sheriff call his dad. Billy backpedals to explain that he didn’t get an answer when he called, but for the first time throughout the film, Loomis looks thrown off by the unexpected line of questioning. As the two finish getting dressed, the Ghost Face killer emerges and stabs Billy, who collapses in a heap on the floor.

Without the wall of virginity to protect her, Sydney is fair game for the killer and a chase ensues through the house and down the street. When she escapes a close call with the blade, she finds herself back in front of the house, with both Randy and Stu claiming that the other is the murderer. She slams the front door, leaving both of her friends outside as they both plead for her help. In the chaos, Dewey is injured, and Gale crashes her news van. Billy, who was thought to be dead just minutes earlier, stumbles down the stairs and takes the gun from Sydney to protect her from the possible killer outside. Loomis lets Randy in before he shoots him, sending the movie aficionado crashing through a table in the entryway. Loomis then reveals that his injuries from the earlier attack are phony and quotes a famous line, “We all go a little mad sometimes” from the Hitchcock classic, Psycho.

Stu went through the side entrance of the kitchen and as Sydney asks for help, Stu uses the voice altering device to tell her about the surprise. In the final scenes, Loomis explains that his mom left his family because Maureen Prescott had an affair with his father. As a part of a plan for revenge, Billy and Stu murdered her and framed Cotton Weary, who she also had an affair with after Mrs. Loomis left the family.

These scenes reveal just how cleaver Williamson’s writing had to be to plant enough seeds along the way for the revelation of the killers to be a surprise and this conclusion also logically ties together the events of the movie. There had to be two killers because it allowed for the Ghost Face to be in the same place as Billy, and created questions about what a motive would be for each character. In that early scene when Syd thought she heard a noise and it was Billy at the window, she was unknowingly letting danger in the house. When Stu suggested Sydney’s father as the killer at the video store, it was because that was his plan, as the pair of psychotic teens plotted to frame Neil Prescott the same way they framed Cotton Weary. While Billy was motivated by revenge, Stu simply wanted to play out the scenarios in the films he idolized, further stirring up the question, do films cause violence?

Stu brings Neil Prescott in the kitchen where he’s duct tapped and plans evidence in his pocket. Billy and Stu begin stabbing each other to stage their story of unintended survival, but they become too focused on their demented plan to realize that Gale survived the news van crash and was back to attempt to help. After her rescue was halted, another struggle takes place with Loomis trying to strangle Syd, who eliminated Stu just minutes earlier when she dropped a TV on him. With Billy as the only one left to finish his plan, he raises the knife to kill Sydney, but he’s intercepted by a bullet from Gale Weathers, as the reporter remembered to take the safety off this time. Ironically, the reporter was the one to save Sydney, who tends to her father still duct tapped and the wounded Randy on the floor. As the sun rises, Gale is back to her job, on location of another blood bath, while Dewey is wheeled to an ambulance. Sydney and the majority of the main cast survived despite a film that manipulated the perceived rules of horror.

As much as Scream mocked the stale cliches that saw the decline of the genre in the previous era, it also rejuvenated slash films as well, earning $173 million at the box office to become the most successful slasher movie at the time with just a $14 million budget. Ironically, similar to the franchises it mocked, Scream had its share of sequels, with the latest installment of Scream 4 in 2011. There’s news of an eventual Scream 5 release, and the argument could be made that the Ghost Face killer carved its own niche alongside other horror icons like Jason, Michael Meyers, etc. While ironic, it probably shouldn’t be all that surprising that Scream, the movie that was meant to point out the recycled storylines of horror, became somewhat of the things it mocked, as the franchise still plans to release a film nearly 25 years after the original. One of the most interesting things to note is that horror sequels are often panned by the critics for flimsy and unoriginal plots, but the audience still flocks to the box office. The 2018 release of Halloween didn’t offer much in furthering the story of the deranged Michael Meyers, but it raked in nearly $255 million dollars. So, the horror genre might find itself lacking the depth of a Humphrey Bogart performance, but from a business perspective, it’s still successful.

Licántropo (1996)

Following his near-fatal heart attack in 1991, Paul Naschy made this werewolf film in an attempt at a comeback, but it was poorly distributed and received bad reviews. He’s still playing the cursed Waldemar Daninsky, who is still a werewolf but growing old. Only the love of a pure woman can end his curse. Until then, he’s going to keep killing everyone he can. But now, a serial killer is competing with him for victims.

This film doesn’t score as well with lovers of these films. Perhaps because it’s talky. It doesn’t have much gore. Because it’s a morality story. Or probably because the werewolf doesn’t show up for a long time while female scientists and ghosts talk and talk and Naschy has heart issues.

However, just when I was ready to check out, there’s a scene where a crazy dubbed voice starts making evil phone calls and I was all in.

Sure, it’s a somewhat sanitzied Naschy film with strange bluesy soundtrack choices. It’s still better than watching what passes for the news.

Public Enemies (1996)

Well, we reviewed Hitman’s Run on Wednesday and Groupie on Saturday, so why not review the first collaboration between Eric Roberts and Mark L. Lester for “Mark L. Lester Week” at B&S About Movies? Yeah, Sam and I are freaking out that 1) We forgot about this movie and 2) That Mark and Eric made three movies together.

Pure unadulterated celluloid heaven.

Image courtesy of Tales from the Snik blogspot

As long as you don’t go into this expecting a history lesson about 1930’s mob figure Ma Barker — instead affectionately expecting an exploitation-redux of Roger Corman’s version of the 1930’s with his own Big Bad Mama (1974) , Crazy Mama (1975), and Guns, Sin and Bathtub Gin (1979, aka The Lady in Red) — you’ll have a fun time with this mobster romp.

By this point, Lester was out of the theatre-biz with the likes of Firestarter (1984) and Commando (1985) — a fight over editorial control with Warner Bros. regarding 1991’s Showdown in Little Tokyo was the catalyst in Lester producing and distributing his own films — but this was all over Cinemax, HBO, and Showtime in the late-’90s. Sadly, the reviews on this one aren’t good, as reviewers drop phrases like “a good cast gone to waste.”

Balderdash and 23 Skidoo, to you!

We love Lester’s take on the then-hot mobster genre sweeping ’90s Hollywood (1990’s The Godfather III, Goodfellas, Casino, etc., but 1991’s ’30s-styled Bugsy and Mobsters in particular) this one coming from the pen of C. Courtney Joyner, who wrote most of the films in the Mark L. Lester oeuvre we’ve reviewed this week. And we get a pure exploitation cast . . . what else can we expect from a director who casts the actors we care about at B&S About Movies, i.e., Stefan Arngrim from Fear No Evil, Keith Knight from Meatballs and My Bloody Valentine and Lisa Langlois from Happy Birthday to Me and Deadly Eyes, in his movies?

I mean, come one, Theresa Russell as Ma Barker? Alyssa Milano as a femme fatale? Eric Roberts (The Arrangement) as part of the Barker gang? Frank friggin’ Stallone (Terror in Beverly Hills, Ground Rules) as Alvin Karpis? What the hell? Dan Cortese (then from MTV Sports) as Melvin Purvis? And am I the only person (besides Sam) freakin’ with glee that Brian Peck — Victor from The Last American Virgin and Scuz from The Return of the Living Dead — is friggin’ thespin’ as J. Edgar Hoover in this? And the cinematographer on this: Misha Suslov, the “eye” behind Truckin’ Buddy McCoy, Smokey and the Judge, and Black Moon Rising. Suslov’s most recent work is 2020’s The Girls of Summer.

Weee-hoo-hoo! No self-respecting Eric Roberts or Frank Stallone fan should pass this exploitation-mania festival. No one.

Sorry, we were unable to unearth any online streaming freebies. You’ll have to settle for a VOD with Amazon Prime, Vudu, and You Tube Movies. But it is worth every bit ‘o coin.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

Fatal Frames (1996)

Fatal Frames feels like the most 80’s movie I’ve ever seen, yet it was made in 1996. It’s also the longer giallo I think I’ve ever seen, taking nearly two hours of meandering to get to anything worthwhile, throwing in red herring after red herring, including turns by David Warbeck as a cop, Angus Scrimm as a ghost, Linnea Quigley as a parapsychologist, Alida Valli as a Countess whose home feels like it was lit by Argento (after all, she was Miss Tanner in Suspiria) and Donald Pleasence as an FBI agent. This would be his last movie and his voice was dubbed as he wasn’t around to do any dialogue.

I’d like to say that Mr. Pleasence went out on a high note, but after a career of never saying no to anything, this would not be the movie I’d choose for my epitaph.

Alex is a music video director who has come to Rome and has perhaps brought a serial killer — The Video Killer — with him. That very same killer took out his wife and now he’s a person of interest. His only interest is getting closer to Stefania Stella, who is playing herself here. She’s a pop star — and the wife of director Al Fiesta — whose nickname is the Napoleonic Madonna.

Fiesta would also direct The Hermit and Gipsy Angel, as well as contributing music to the Claudio Fragrasso films After Death and Robowar.

This movie feels like one that has been on for weeks and not hours. It just goes on and on, looking foggy and blue lit, which are things I normally love, but this feels like when your parents caught you smoking and forced you to smoke the whole pack until you got sick.

The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)

Literally, how did this get made?

Bruce Willis was originally the lead, but allegedly dropped out in the aftermath of divorce procedures from his wife Demi Moore. He was replaced by Val Kilmer, who had limited availability and unlimited anger issues after he too got divorce papers. Then Rob Morrow quit because the script kept changing. Brando left after his daughter committed suicide and upon his return, he would refuse to learn his lines and only listen to an earpiece.

Oh yeah — Richard Stanley also had been fired days into production and replaced with John Frankeheimer, who saw this as anything but his dream project.

I mean, what could go wrong at this point?

After spending four years developing the films, Stanley had come to work with New Line, who responded by going behind his back to offer the film to Roman Polanski. Furious, Stanley got a meeting with Brando, who unexpectedly — or not, as Stanley had undergone a magick ritual to gain the actor’s trust — proved very sympathetic to Stanley’s vision. That said, Stanley was beyond familiar with the source work, as well as its connections with Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which became Apocalypse Now, which still fascinated Brando. Even better, Stanley was directly related to African explorer Henry Morton Stanley, who had been the inspiration for Conrad’s lead character — and Brando’s role — Kurtz.

That said, days into filming, Stanley was having difficulty with New Line executives and Kilmer, who was a legend of ego on this film. At one point, the former Batman burned a crew member in the face with a cigarette.

Stanley was fired, but disappeared, finally showing up in dogman costume and acting in the very movie that he was to direct. Oh yeah — the full fury of nature would also destroy much of the set.

This movie is an example of actors off the literal rails, with Brando’s wearing an ice bucket on his head with the idea that he had mutated into a dolphin and the bucket was to cover up his blowhole. He also pushed for Nelson de la Rosa, the world’s smallest man, to be his mutated twin. Brando was obviously in a much better movie than the one that we’re watching.

Meanwhile, the actors playing Doctor Moreau’s children had a better time than anyone else, pretty much using the movie’s long periods of downtime getting up to alcohol and drug-addled craziness. Again, they were in a much better film than ended up getting unspooled on the screen.

Charitably, this movie is a mess. Would it have been better if Stanley stayed on board? Well, it certainly wouldn’t have been boring.

Kingpin (1996)

When I was a kid, Beaver Valley Bowl always seemed so intimidating. How strange then that it’s the place where Roy Munson has his hand smashed and his bowling career ruined. I never had such a bad time there myself, but you always felt like something could go badly. That scene where they walk up the steps and Roys asks, “People bowl here?” They didn’t fake a single thing about that place. It has always looked that frightening.

Kingpin is filmed in and around the bowling alleys of Pittsburgh. You can see just about every major lane in the film, other than my favorite, the Hollywood Show Lanes inside Arsenal Lane with their giant photo of Telly Savalas, autographed with “Who loves you, baby?”

I’m sure that everyone has seen this movie, but you’d do well to watch it again and appreciate the magic that is Bill Murray in this movie. Every single moment he’s on screen is perfect. That scene where he bowls three strikes in a row? That’s real. He also ad libbed just about every line in the entire movie.

It’s worth remembering that before assassins began hunting down Randy Quaid, he was a pretty wonderful comedic actor. This is also probably one of the first times that many realized who Lin Shaye was.

At one point, Michael Keaton was to play Munson, with Chris Farley as Ishmael and Charles Rocket as Big Earl. Jim Carrey was another choice to play the evil bowler.

It’s also worth noting that the character Seabass from Dumb and Dumber (played by Cam Neely) is a confirmed relative of this movie’s Skidmark, who is Roger Clemens.

Many of the lanes in this movie are gone. We’ll always have this movie to remember them by.

South Beach Academy (1996)

What does it get for me to watch a movie? Sometimes, it’s the idea that “Grandpa” Al Lewis (in his final movie), Corey Feldman and James Hong would somehow all be in a beach sex comedy about a bet between rival South Beach volleyball teams.

This is the one and done for director Joe Esposito, who is harkening back to the summer evenings when Hardbodies aired seemingly non-stop on Cinemax. Well, sir, I have seen Hardbodies 900 times. I am a friend of HardbodiesSouth Beach Academy, you are no Hardbodies.

Elizabeth Kaitan, Robin from the seventh Friday the 13th and Candy in four of the six Vice Academy movies, is on hand. So is Julie Cialini, Playboy’s Miss February 1994 and 1995 Playmate of the Year.

If you watched USA Up All Night, good news. You’ve already seen this. For the rest of you that did normal things and slept and didn’t watch sex movies on basic cable, why are you reading this?

You can watch this on Tubi and Vudu.

Spy Hard (1996)

If you hate the films of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer — Scary MovieDate MovieEpic MovieMeet the SpartansDisaster MovieVampires Suck and so on — blame this movie. This was their first script and it was directed by   Jason’s dad Rick, who had met star Leslie Nielsen while directing his Bad Golf VHS series.

Sadly, this movie is The Naked Gun without any of the brains behind the stupidity. There’s a fine line between clever and stupid, after all.

The best part of it? The credits, which features Weird Al becoming Tom Jones, all while repeatedly that the name of the movie is Spy Hard. If you love James Bond openings — obviously we do, as this site is hosting an entire month of Bond movies — you’ll go nuts over this.

Tom Jones may have passed out in the studio holding that last note. Weird Al? His head explodes. Bonus points for having Bill Conti, who composed the music for the Bond film For Your Eyes Only, create this song with Mr. Yankovic.

Sadly, the movie fails to live up to the great premise of the opening.

Secret agent WD-40 Dick Steele (two jokes for the price of one; I’m of the early SNL school that silly names are the easiest form of humor) is Nielsen’s role here and he has a partner, Veronique Ukrinsky, Agent 3.14 (Nicollette Sheridan) who helps him battle the armless and wheelchair-bound General Rancor (Andy Griffith, of all people).

It’s worth noting that the Bond films had a major role in Sheridan’s life. Her mother Sally played one of Blofeld’s Angels of Death in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and fell for Telly Savalas, who became her stepfather.

This is a movie packed with great folks trying their best to make it better, like Robert Guillaume as a former agent, Charles Durning as the director, Marcia Gay Harden (who has noted how much she hated being in the movie, despite having kind words for Nielsen) as the Moneypenny of sorts, Barry Bostwick as an old rival, a Home Alone-inspired agent named McLucky (Mason Gamble, who starred in Dennis the Menace and was also in Rushmore), Talisa Soto as an assassin (beyond he Mortal Kombat roles, she was also in the Bond movie Licence to Kill) and all manner of ridiculous cameos, from Dr. Joyce Brothers, Hulk Hogan and Ray Charles as a bus driver to Fabio, Pat Morita, Mr. T, “Downtown” Julie Brown, I Spy star Robert Culp, stuntpeople Ginger and Lauren Janes playing the same roles from True Lies, Michael Berryman, Curtis “Booger” Armstrong and, of course, Taylor Negron, an actor who valiantly tried to make every role more than it was.

The credits are stupidly funny, perhaps more than the rest of the film. I don’t know — I have a weakness for Nielsen’s movies, no matter how bad they get. You may hate this. Or love it. See it for yourself.

The Rock (1996)

Is The Rock a spy movie?

SAS Captain John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery) is Bond.

He was captured in 1962 for stealing the microfilm with all of Hoover’s secrets, escaped in 1963 in time for the events of Dr. No to finish and was recaptured by the U.S. government after the events of 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever. He claims that he was trained by the best in the world and even says a Bond-like line from Diamonds: “Of course you are.”

This theory doesn’t take into account 1983’s Never Say Never Again, but you know how it goes — film theory doesn’t have to be foolproof.

Rogue U.S. Force Recon Marines, led by disenchanted Brigadier General Frank Hummel (Ed Harris) and his second-in-command Major Tom Baxter (David Morse) have stolen VX gas-armed M55 rockets and are holding San Francisco hostage unless the families of the men he commended are paid the $100 million that the government has stolen from them.

With such an opening — They make their base on Alcatraz! Nicolas Cage is a bomb expert who loves The Beatles! Sean Connery once escaped Alcatraz! — is a Michael Bay movie made. Well, if you’re going to watch a mindless action film, go with the best I always say.

The beauty of the film? Small roles played by beloved actors. William Forsythe, Michael Biehn and Tony Todd all show up here. The dialogue sparkles — Tarantino did an uncredited rewrite on the script. I wonder if the needle to the heart and Mexican standoff came from him.

I kind of love movies where the bad guys are conflicted, the good guys are unsure and the bullets fly. This one delivers all that and more.

Remember when we went to war in Iraq over chemical weapons? There have been reports that this movie is why, as an MI6 agent was using the film as the basis for his reports from the country. Yes, this really happened.

Bay had a sequel idea, where Goodspeed would be chased by the government to get the microfilm back and he must ask Mason for his help. I really wish that movie had been made.

There’s a scene where Goodspeed tells the guards to remove Mason’s handcuffs and Cage has a crazy line reading — one of many in the movie — and he claims that his way of saying the words came from an Elvis Presley story he had recently told Connery involving girls in white panties wrestling chimpanzees. “Sometimes these ideas come from strange places,” said the California Kinski.

Never change, you magnificent maniac.


And what in the hell is this about? “Nic Cage Bitch” is our Nicolas Cage blowout written by Paul Andolina of Wrestling with Film. It’s a must read for all fans of the Cage, so check it out and learn about some Cage films you may have missed, such as A Score to Settle, Between Worlds, Kill Chain, Outcast, Rage, and Seeking Justice.