Tag Archives: Johnny Depp

Private Resort (1985)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Teens hit on women.

Jack (Johnny Depp) and Ben (Rob Morrow) are two teen pals staying at a luxury resort in south Forida. They enjoy all the bikini-clad women there and make every effort to hit on as many as they can. They become attracted to the middle-aged Bobbie Sue (Leslie Easterbrook) whose boyfriend is The Maestro (Hector Elizondo) a master jewel thief. When she leaves her hotel key on a beach chair the boys mistakenly think she did it on purpose in order to invite them back to her room. They sneak into the room, but come into contact with The Maestro instead who thinks Ben is the hotel barber there to give him a haircut. When Ben ruins Maestro’s perm he goes on a vengeance swearing that he will kill Ben if he ever sees him again and forcing the two boys to go into hiding.

Obviously the only reason to watch this thing is to see the early work of its two stars who have since both disowned their participation in this and reportedly swore that they would burn every negative of this movie that they could find after they first watched it. For the most part though their presence here is amiable and for the women and gay viewers you get ample views of both of their bare behinds including one brief bit where old lady Dody Goodman swats Morrow’s bare ass cheeks with her hand. I was surprised though why the two stars weren’t featured on the film’s promotional poster seen above instead of two bland, smiling male models that it does use.

The supporting cast features a bevy of hot-looking women who may look good in a swimsuits, but lack discernible personalities and play-up the bimbo act too much. Elderly actress Goodman is good for a few chuckles and even does some karate. It was also interesting seeing Phyllis Franklin, who has a small bit as the ‘Dog Lady’ who looks almost exactly like Alice Pearce, the original Mrs. Kravitz in the TV-show ‘Bewitched’ and could easily pass off as her daughter. Elizondo though should be embarrassed about being in this one and I hope he was paid well for having to play a part that was so shamelessly campy.

The scenery, which was filmed at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida, is pleasing, but the story is lacking. I admit I chuckled at it more than I thought and I suppose the ending, which features Elizondo shooting up the place with a machine gun deserves some mention, but it’s still pretty lame. Calling this an ‘adult comedy’ is an oxymoron as you take away the nudity and sexual innuendos and you’re left with a mindless plot that is sillier than a Saturday morning kiddie cartoon. I was also confused why Depp and Morrow were even at this resort in the first place. They looked like they could still be in high school and even if they were college age I couldn’t fathom how, with the income most college kids have, how they could’ve afforded a room there as the place looked pretty swanky and made for adults who were well-off.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: May 3, 1985

Runtime: 1 Hour 22 Minutes

Rated R

Director: George Bowers

Studio: TriStar Pictures

Available: DVD, Amazon Video, YouTube

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

nightmare on elm street

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Freddy’s in their dreams.

Teenager Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) starts having nightmares about a strange man (Robert Englund) with burned skin, a green and red sweater and wearing a glove with sharp finger-like blades. She finds out that her friends are having the same type of dream and that this man is a former child murderer named Fred Krueger who is reaching out from his grave to attack them.

This movie has been parodied and imitated so much over the years that one forgets what an original idea this was. Writer/director Wes Craven uses stark, shadowy lighting and a distinctive music score to build a great horror atmosphere. The name Freddy Krueger, which he named after a childhood bully of his, is inspired. The scene where he appears in a dark alley as a midget with extremely long arms is a creepy image and possibly the scariest moment in the film. The pace is good and the scenarios imaginative making this well above average when compared to a typical 80’s slasher film and a definite classic.

The special effects are also quite creative and although not completely successful still a lot of fun to watch.  I loved the whole bathtub scene as well as the segment where Glen (Johnny Depp) gets sucked inside his bed, which creates a big hole in his mattress where a giant flow of blood comes gushing out of it and covers the entire ceiling and walls of his room. It may not make complete sense, but cool to look at nonetheless. The part where Tina (Amanda Wyss) gets pushed up the wall and ceiling of her room by an invisible force while being slashed is quite scary to watch despite the fact that when a close-up is shown of her skin getting cut it looks more like it is made a of clay and her bloodied body on the floor appears like it where drenched with a bucket of red paint.

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Langenkamp is fantastic in the lead and I would nominate her as the all-time best heroine of a slasher film. Her face is beautiful, but also quite expressive and she seems to show genuine emotion and far exceeds the typical cardboard scream queen. Her presence and not that of the villainous Freddy, whose screen time here is more limited than you think, is what carries the film. There is also a fun in-joke when she looks in a mirror and states “God, I look like I am 20”, which is funny since despite playing a teen character she really was 20 at the time of the shooting.  (I realize on the DVD commentary she states that she was 18 or 19, but the truth is she was born July 17, 1964 and this was filmed between June and July of 1984, so she was either 20 or very, very close.)

It’s great seeing Johnny Depp in his film debut. He still looks boyish at 50, but here looks like he is barely 10 years old. It is amusing seeing him play a sort-of doofus and he also gets a good line when after hearing Tina and her boyfriend having sex in the other room states “Reality sucks”.

amanda wyss

I also enjoyed Wyss for her amazing piercing blue eyes, but having her willingly go to bed with Rod (Jsu Garcia) an obnoxious, crass, Fonzi wannabe makes her character seem kind of stupid.

John Saxon is competent as Nancy’s father who also works as the town’s police chief, but I couldn’t say the same for Ronee Blakley as the mother. She was unforgettable with her brilliant performance in Nashville, but seemed to be miscast in every film that she did afterwards and it should probably be no surprise that she hasn’t been in any film since 1990. I also didn’t care for her sprayed-on tan look either.

Despite being an enjoyable film there are a few logical inconsistencies that I feel should be addressed. One is that I would argue it is virtually impossible for someone to know that they are in a dream when they are dreaming even though the characters here do. It should also have been better explained how the Freddy character is able to come out of the dream and into real-life, which gets confusing.  The part where Nancy states that she hasn’t slept in seven nights, but doesn’t show any physical or psychological signs of it are too much of a stretch.  Also, I had to chuckle at the part where Nancy comes home to find that her mother has had bars placed on all the windows of the home for added security, but then doesn’t bother to lock the front door as Nancy is able to walk inside without having to use a key.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: November 16, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 31Minutes

Rated R

Director: Wes Craven

Studio: New Line Cinema

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

Cry-Baby (1990)

cry baby 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: The Greasers are cool.

Director John Waters films, which are sometimes referred to as ‘an exercise in bad taste’, are indeed an acquired taste.  Some label his films from the late 60’s and early 70’s like; Mondo-Trasho, Pink Flamingoes, and Female Trouble to be tasteless, exploitative, and trashy. Yet those films also have a very fervent following. I for one found them to be perversely brilliant.  However, when Waters decided to ‘sell-out’ and go more mainstream Hollywood, his stuff became too toned-down. The humor lost all of its edge. The original Hairspray that came out in 1988 was a particular disappointment. It seemed like nothing more than a stretched out sitcom with musical numbers.  This film, which came out two years later, does only slightly better.

The setting is a 1950’s Baltimore High School that has an intense rivalry between the leather jacket wearing, motorcycle riding ‘greasers’ and the more refined All-American clique. The lightweight story  follows a young, clean-cut girl (Amy Locane) who secretly longs to go out with the head of the greasers (played by Johnny Depp), but can’t due to her social standing.

If the film does anything right it is the fact that, in typical John Waters style, everything gets played up to the extreme.  The ‘model’ students are really snobby and annoying and the animosity between the cliques is strong. However, I couldn’t help but feel that there was a certain grain of truth to all this especially in that era where ones ‘reputation’, whether it be good or bad, was taken more seriously than it may be today. I thought the casting of Locane in the lead was perfect.  She has an appealing, girl-next-door face and her hidden feelings of wanting to venture out of her repressive social role are certainly relatable.  I also loved Depp in the male lead role. He is a gifted actor, but sometimes he seems to take himself too seriously, so it was fun seeing him ham it up. Female viewers may also like the fact that there is an extended scene where he is shown wearing nothing but his underwear.

The casting of the supporting actors is equally inspired if not incredibly quirky.  Polly Bergen gets what might by her finest role in her long, but modest career. Here she plays Locane’s very rigid, upstanding Mother that ends up loosening up a bit in amusing fashion.  Joe Dallesandro and Joey Hetherton are a hoot as an extremist religious couple.  David Nelson and Patty Hearst (yes, the same one that was kidnaped in the 70’s) are equally funny as the surbanites.  Waters veteran Mink Stole has a bit playing the most entertaining iron lung victim since Jose Ferrer played one in The Big Bus.  Kudos must also go out to Kim Holden who sports one of the most hilariously ugly faces since Cloris Leachman’s Nurse Diesel character from High Anxiety. The only mistake here is that they didn’t make the Holden character a villain, which they should’ve in order to really play it up.

Some of the comedy does have its moments.  I liked the part where parents go to an adoption agency and ‘shop’ for children who are set up like mannequins in a display window. The climactic car chase sequence in which the rival gang leaders play the infamous game of ‘chicken’ while riding on the roofs of their cars only to end up crashing into an actual chicken coop, is good. The rest of the film though is too silly and cartoonish without the outrageousness of Water’s earlier films.

The story is also too pedestrian without offering any new insight or perspective.  The characterizations are over-the-top broad and the whole thing ends up being vapid and forgettable despite a few chuckles here and there.  There are also some musical numbers in this, but the songs all sound alike.  The dance routines are dull and unimaginative, looking like they were done without a choreographer present.

Waters earlier work is still far better as it was independent film-making at its purest. Those films also starred Divine who is sorely missed here (she died a few years before). Of course any film that has Susan Tyrrell in it, arguably the most eccentric actress to ever grace the screen, gets a few more points, but not enough to save it.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: April 6, 1990

Runtime: 1Hour 25Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: John Waters

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