Tag Archives: celebrities

The Young Nurses (1973)

the young nurses

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: More sex than medicine.

More amorous nurses, more stilted dialogue, more bad acting and more cheap production values in this the fourth edition of the Roger Corman produced series.

The formula is starting to become old and outside of some scenic ocean beach scenery and a bouncy opening tune there is very little to recommend. The story of one of the nurses (Jeane Manson) falling in love with a handsome young hunk and nursing him back to health only to have him go out and recklessly put his life on the line again is too reminiscent of story threads used in past editions of this series. This time it has to do with sailboating and the man’s broken shoulder not yet healed enough to go back out, but because of pressures from his father he decides to get into a sailboating race, which is picturesque to watch, but offers little else.

The second story line involving a drug ring working inside the hospital is equally contrived, but does at least involve one exciting chase sequence.

There is of course the expected nudity with this one having a bit more than the ones in the past. Unlike the first three this one shows full frontal nudity particularly with Manson who goes dancing along the beach naked and even into the ocean. The segment involving one of them hallucinating about a sex orgy at a black nightclub is somewhat provocative as is the vaginal self-examination booth.

However, unlike the past films of the series not all of the three leads are seen sans clothes. Although she comes close Angela Gibbs is never seen nude, but at least makes up for it by giving the best acting performance. Ashley Porter is seen nude and looks good, but her acting is terrible and possibly the worst performance of the entire series. She says her lines in a robotic fashion that quickly becomes irritating.

The film does offer some fun cameos by famous B-movie actors. Allan Arbus is amusing as a sarcastic doctor yelling at a nurse for handing him incorrect utensils during surgery. Jay Burton hams it up as an overzealous manager to a rock group. Mantan Moreland can be seen as an old man who is almost run over by a motorcycle. Dick Miller plays an abrasive cop and Samuel Fuller is the head of the drug ring. Sally Kirkland is one of the patients, Nan Martin plays a woman reporter and Mary Doyle, sister of actor David Doyle, is engaging as a bitchy older head nurse.

The picture quality is excellent and the ocean side views are scenic. Unlike with the transfers of the first two features this one, which is all part of the Nurses Collection by Shout Factory, does not have any annoying sound distortion.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: March 10, 1973

Runtime: 1Hour 17Minutes

Rated R

Director: Clinton Kimbrough

Studio: New World Pictures

Available: DVD (The Nurses Collection)

Heathers (1988)


By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: These girls are bitches.

Heathers (Kim Walker, Shannon Doherty, Lisanne Falk) are three beautiful teens all with the same first name of Heather who act as the bitch queens of their Ohio high school. Veronica (Wynona Ryder) strives to be accepted into their exclusive clique and eventually does, but feels guilty about having to ignore her old friends as well as not particularly liking her new ‘friends’. In comes J.D. (Christian Slater) a rebel who decides to shake up the status system by killing off all of the snotty girls and jocks and making it look like suicides. Veronica reluctantly goes along with it, but when J.D. decides to blow up the entire school in order to make ‘a statement’ she decides things have gone too far.

Daniel Water’s dark script is incisively on-target and filled with original quotable lines of dialogue. Director Michael Lehmann gives the proceedings a nicely surreal touch with just a pinch of satire with the funeral scenes of the victims being the funniest and most creative. The characters are pretty much portrayed on the negative side, but the caricatures have a lot of truth to them and it reminded me a lot of my high school days.

What really makes this stand out from other 80’s high school movies is the fact that it transcends the teen culture by showing how the adult world really isn’t much better and this high school is simply a microcosm of a cold, screwed-up world that it inhabits. In fact Veronica’s mother (Jennifer Rhodes) says it best when she states: “When teenagers complain that they want to be treated more like adults it is usually because they are being treated like one.”

Ryder is superb and I still consider this to be the best role of her career. The fact that the character is morally dubious, but still manages to stay likable makes it all the more fascinating. Christian Slater’s Jack Nicholson impersonation is irritating, but he is still a good pick for the part. The two share some particularly good exchanges including this one:

Veronica: “I just killed my best friend.”

J.D.: “And your worst enemy.”

Veronica: “Same difference.”

I must admit that I fell completely in-love with Kim Walker as Heather #1 as she possesses an amazingly beautiful face, which would be enough to make me want to watch her regardless of acting skills. I’m surprised that her career never took off and she was relegated to supporting roles in minor productions.

kim walker 1

However, she does get two great lines including:

“Fuck me gently with a chainsaw.”

And her most famous one:

“Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?”

Unfortunately she gets killed off much too quickly when she is tricked into drinking some drain cleaner supplied to her by J.D., but she still looks  beautiful even with blue teeth and a blue tongue. What is even sadder and more perplexing is that in real-life she died at the young age of 32 by believe-it-or-not a brain tumor.

kim walker 2

Falk as Heather #2 is attractive as well although not quite like Walker. Her career never skyrocketed either and her biggest claim to fame outside of this is that she was the model on the cover of Foreigner’s Head Games album. Doherty as the third Heather may be the most famous of the three, but she is not as attractive. For the first half she didn’t even seem all that effectual but comes into her bitchy best during the second part.

Despite the fact that the teens were not using cell phones, or texting, or had any of the other technological advances of today the film doesn’t seem dated, which is another plus. Only two scenes really stood out to me in this area. One is when J.D. shoots at a couple of mean jocks (who are characterized in amusingly dim-witted style) with a gun full of blanks and he doesn’t get into any trouble for it. Off course in 1988 school shootings were unheard of, but today the place would be put on lockdown and J.D. would not only be suspended but probably serve some jail time blanks or not. Another scene involves Veronica and J.D. planning to ‘humiliate’ these same jocks by making it look like they are gay lovers, which today would get Veronica and J.D. labeled as being homophobic.

Although I enjoyed the scene where J.D. gives Veronica the finger only to have it shot off I did find the second half not to be as slick and the concept itself seems to get stretched too thin. The script’s original ending called for a prom to take place in heaven and featuring the teens in different cliques than the ones they were in on earth, but unfortunately the suits at the studio in typically stupid fashion nixed that idea and went with a rather dopey and contrived one instead.

There is also ample argument to the fact that most investigators probably wouldn’t be fooled by these staged suicides and instead consider them the homicides that they were, but because it was all done in the satirical vein I’m willing to overlook it in what is otherwise one of the best high school movies ever made and one that enjoys a considerable cult following. There are also apparently rumors of turning the film into a TV-series where a grown Veronica returns to her hometown with her teen daughter who must now contend with a new generation of teen bitch queens named Ashley.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: October 1, 1988

Runtime: 1Hour 43Minutes

Rated R

Director: Michael Lehmann

Studio: New World Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

The Anniversary (1968)

anniversary 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Bette eats them up.

Since tomorrow will mark the 1st anniversary of when this blog started I wanted to choose a movie that had a similar theme in its title. The anniversary here deals with Mrs. Taggart (Bette Davis) celebrating the date of when her and her now deceased husband where married. Taggart is a bully who enjoys manipulating her grown sons and having her way. On this occasion all three of her sons carries a secret, which will all slowly come out as the evening progresses. Terry (Jack Hedley) is the oldest and is married to Karen (Sheila Hancock) their secret is that they plan on moving to Canada much to his mother’s dismay as she likes having her children close by. Henry (James Cossins) harbors a secret fetish to dress in women’s underwear. Tom (Christian Roberts) brings his fiancée Shirley (Elaine Taylor) to visit with their secret being that she is already pregnant.

If you’re a Bette Davis fan then this is required viewing as she is at her bitchy best. Although Mona Washbourne played the role when it was on stage it was revised by Jimmy Sangster for the screen with Davis’s personality very much in mind. It has all of her famous caricatures and she revels in it. Her insults are like arrows that slice through the other characters until they are mush. She gives her part just the right amount of camp and her infatuation with a statue of a little boy that is hooked up with a hose that when squeezed spurts water out of its front end like he is peeing is priceless.

Hancock makes for a good adversary and in fact out of all the other performers she is the only that seems to be able to stay toe-to-toe with Davis. Apparently Davis did not like Hancock and tried to get her replaced with Jill Bennett. Hancock was aware of this and I think that animosity comes out perfectly on the screen.

Taylor is young and gorgeous and she has one good moment when she tells off Davis, but that is about it. The three male actors are just not as effective as the females. Part of it could be the characters that they play, but on the most part they are rather blah.

Director Roy Ward Baker, who replaced Alvin Rakoff one week into the shooting at Miss Davis’s request, does his best to avoid the filmed stage play look. He opens the movie at an outdoor construction site, which is unusual. He also has a dazzling fireworks display in the middle, but my favorite is when Henry steals women’s bras and panties from an outside clothesline and replaces them with dollar bills in an attempt to ‘pay’ for what he is stealing. Yet despite all this the movie eventually gets stagy and becomes a bit draggy for it.

My biggest complaint is the fact that this type of thing has been done before. There is no new angle or perspective to any of it. Davis rants on and on with the other characters too cowardly to fight back. The little that they do is not enough. This is the type of film that screams for a big payoff, but it never happens. Taggart, as mean as she is, comes through it pretty much unscathed and for most viewers that will probably not be satisfying.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: February 7, 1968

Runtime: 1Hour 35Minutes

Rated NR (Not Rated)

Director: Roy Ward Baker

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: DVD

Can’t Stop the Music (1980)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Somebody stop this movie.

It’s an extraordinary achievement that this actually got made. It’s a relic of its time that is beyond words and is like nothing you have ever seen or will ever see again. This is one of those bad movies that you just have to see and, for a while, even enjoy in all its awfulness as it tells the story of the Village people and their rise to fame.

Unfortunately it’s not overdone enough to achieve that coveted cult status. The humor isn’t corny enough the storylines are not dumb enough and the costumes are not gaudy or the sets garish enough. They don’t even let the Village People try to act and make complete fools of themselves. They do have some speaking lines, but they are wisely brief. Eight minutes is all you need of this phenomenon before its long takes and general empty headedness become overwhelming.

Steve Guttenburg is probably the most annoying even more than he usually is. He is too clean cut and eager to please and his swift rise to success is artificial. The songs he writes are bad even for disco. Hearing lines like “he’s a genius” and “he knows what people want to hear” are probably the film’s single most insulting element.

Most youth oriented movies don’t cast too many older actresses, but this one does. Tammy Grimes, June Havoc, and Barbra Rush put a lot of energy into their parts and in the case of Grimes a lot of camp too. It’s a strange sight to see these three jump onto stage and line dance with the Village People during their last number. Paul Sand is fun in a part that goes against his persona as he plays an aggressive, no-nonsense record producer. Even Bruce Jenner, and I hate to say it, has his funny moments as an uptight lawyer. Yet it is Valerie Perrine that comes off best as her down to earth sensibilities helps to hold the whole thing together.

It is hard to tell what type of audience this film was aiming for, or even what the thinking was. The overall banality seems best suited for pre-teen girls yet the gay overtones snub that. Anyone over sixteen just isn’t going to buy into it and having the whole thing directed by 60-year-old Nancy Walker best known for play Ida Morgestern on the TV-Show ‘Rhoda’ makes it even more confounding. Even members of the Village People have stated in interviews that they dislike this movie. The only possible explanation is that it was made by people on cocaine for other people on cocaine.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: June 20, 1980

Runtime: 2Hours 4Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Nancy Walker

Studio: Associated Film Distributors

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

The Burning (1981)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Cropsy doesn’t look good.

A summer camp caretaker named Cropsy (Lou David) is badly burned during a practical joke gone horribly wrong. Five years later and disfigured he gets out of the hospital and goes on a murderous rampage using a pair of gardening shears. However, he kills young campers at a completely different campsite and who had nothing to do with his accident.

Jason Alexander, in his film debut, is great. He shows a lot of charisma and pretty much carries the movie. You not only get to see him with a full head of hair, but for the lady viewers you also see his bare behind along with Fisher Stevens’s. This is also Holly Hunter’s first film, but she is seen very little. The teen characters here look like real teenagers instead of college- aged young adults like in most of the other films in this genre. They also have a little more distinctive personalities and aren’t quite as cardboard as usual. The women are good looking and there is a gratuitous nude scene involving actress/model Carole Houlihan.

On the Blue Underground DVD version make-up artist Tom Savini hosts a bonus feature, but warns everyone at the start not to watch it until they have seen the film so as not to ‘spoil’ it for them. However, it is hard to figure out what exactly it is that he would be spoiling as the movie is routine to the extreme. There are absolutely no interesting plot twists or surprises. It is also hard to believe that anyone could get a pair of simple gardening shears to do the things this killer gets them to do. The only really scary scene in this film is at the beginning where you get to see a close-up of actor Lou David’s strangely shaped nose. The camera slowly zooms into him as he is sleeping and you feel almost like you are being driven into his extremely large nostrils that seem to get bigger and bigger.

Savini’s special effects really don’t seem all that impressive especially in this day and age. There is a scene on the infamous raft killing sequence where it is quite obvious that the neck that the shears are cutting through is plastic and not really that of the actor’s. Also during the opening sequence when Cropsy runs out of the cabin while on fire he is not wearing anything on top of his head yet when the camera cuts to an outdoor shot of him it is obvious that the stunt double has something on his head.

I found this to be as bad and as uninspired as all the other Friday the 13th rip-offs. This is good only as a curio at seeing Alexander, Stevens and Hunter in their film debuts.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: May 8, 1981

Runtime: 1Hour 31Minutes

Rated R

Director: Tony Maylam

Studio: Filmways Pictures

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video