Tag Archives: Julie Newmar

Hysterical (1982)


By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: Ghostly witch haunts lighthouse.

While Casper (Bill Hudson) has had success writing racy novels he longs to author something of a serious quality and thus uproots out of New York and drives across the country to Oregon where he takes-up residence in a town called Hellview. It is there that he rents a lighthouse as he feels it’s secluded locale will give him the quiet that he needs to complete his book. However, he’s unaware that the place is haunted by Venetia (Julie Newmar) a woman who committed suicide at the lighthouse 100 years earlier. She now sees this as an opportunity to resurrect Captain Howdy (Richard Kiel) a man she was in-love with, but who she killed when he threatened to dump her and return to his wife. As Casper notices more and more bizarre occurrences happening at his place he requests the services of Dr. Paul Batton (Mark Hudson) and his assistant Fritz (Brett Hudson) to aid him in solving the supernatural mystery.

This was the one and only film to feature the Hudson Brothers, which were a famous teen idol band who rose to fame in 1974 when they were a summer replacement series for the ‘Sonny and Cher Show’ only to get enough good ratings that they were offered their own Saturday morning show ‘The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show’ during the 1974-75 season. The brothers came from humble beginnings born in Portland, Oregon and raised by a single parent mom after their father announced one day, when they were quite small, that he was ‘going out to get some cigarettes’, but then never returned. They formed their band when there were still just kids and first called themselves the My Sirs and then The New Yorkers followed by Everyday Hudson and then just Hudson. Their biggest success came during the mid-70’s where they had a couple of top 40 Billboard hits including ‘So You Are a Star’ and ‘Rendezvous’  though by the end of the decade their fame had significantly faded and their final studio album ‘Damn Those Kids’, which was released in 1980, failed to sell at all.

The fact that these guys were no longer a big act makes is surprising that they would’ve been given the funding to make this film, which was shot in the fall of 1981 as they were clearly on a career decline. The script is credited as being written by the three brothers with help from Jeffrey Ganz who got brought in as a ‘comedy consultant’. The humor derives almost exclusively  as a collection of gags that poke fun of famous scenes from popular horror movies of the day. Unfortunately none of it is funny and results in coming-off as quite cheap and cheesy. It’s also not clear what age group they were going with here as the band, during the 70’s, was quite popular with children and the film does have a lot of silly, cartoon-like bits that they would enjoy, but it’s also laced with stuff more attuned to older adolescence and even one moment that features a topless woman. The special effects are corny and having the victims of Captain Howdy turn into zombies the second they’re killed isn’t very inspired. Since they become zombies after getting axed to death you’d think they’d have obvious flesh wounds and missing limbs, but here they don’t just faces that become pale white and regurgitating the phrase ‘What difference does it make?’ and that’s it.

The film’s only cool moment is when the zombies do a rap song and dance, which is amusing, making me believe this would’ve worked better as a horror musical like Rocky Horror Picture Show. I was surprised too that the brothers never break-out into their old rock routine especially since it’s built into the script that the zombies respond well to music. The brothers don’t even do the film’s opening and closing song, which is instead sung by a female performer named Harriet Schock.

The cast is filled with a lot of familiar character actors, with some of them, like Bud Cort as a lispy mad scientist, doing okay. It’s funny seeing Murray Hamilton playing a mayor who’s reluctant to close the beaches since that’s the exact same role he played in Jaws, but this irony quickly wears thin. Robert Donner, doing a send-up of Crazy Ralph from Friday the 13th, where he proclaims “You’re doomed” to everyone he meets gets old real fast. Other actors like Keenan Wynn, who was related to the Hudson family through marriage and appeared here in a small and insignificant role as a favor, gets completely wasted.

Today this film sits in absolute obscurity and deservedly so. The Hudson Brothers themselves, though all still living, are relics of the past as well. Lead singer Bill is probably better known as being married to Goldie Hawn and the father of actors Kate and Oliver Hudson.

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: December 22, 1982

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Chris Bearde

Studio: Embassy Pictures

Available: DVD-R

Love Scenes (1984)


By Richard Winters

My Rating: 0 out of 10

4-Word Review: Aging actress does erotica.

Val (Tiffany Bolling) is an accomplished Hollywood actress who gets pressured by her husband Peter (Franc Luz) to perform the starring role in the latest movie that he’s directing. Peter’s producer Sidney (Jack Carter) wants Val to do a nude scene, which he feels will generate enough controversial attention that it will get people ‘lining-up around the block’ to see it. Val resists at first, but finally agrees. However, once the movie starts filming she finds she that she’s turned-on by her co-star Rick (Daniel Pilon) and instead of rebuffing him like the script calls for the two make-out. Peter likes the energy that the scene creates and decides to leave it in and then, much to the disappointment of screenwriter Belinda (Julie Newmar), rewrites the story to accommodate the clear attraction that the two stars have for each other. In the process it begins pushing Val and Rick more and more towards each other and the two start having an affair off-screen. By the time the self-absorbed Paul realizes this he fears it may be too late to save their marriage.

Incredibly sterile story, despite the saucy elements, that seems to be aimed at an audience from a bygone era that felt nudity onscreen was ‘shocking’ and having affairs, or even thinking of someone else besides one’s spouse in a lustful way to be ‘scandalous’. The film that they’re making, which is supposed to be ‘envelope pushing’ is benign soap opera stuff and the sex scenes, in comparison to all the raunchy teen comedies that came-out in that same decade, would barely excite or turn-on anyone.

My biggest beef was the unrealistic way it portrays the business. Instead of exposing the real ins-and-outs like it should’ve they focus on the way they think audiences presumed it works. Case-in-point is Belinda who gets offered $50,000, which would be $142,577 in today’s dollars, to write the script even though she has no experience. Later she becomes outraged when they require her to do rewrites and then irate, to the point of walking-off the set, when the actors ad-lib their lines instead of reading them verbatim despite the fact that these things are quite common during filming and since she used to be a movie actress before turning to screenwriting she would’ve known that.

While Bolling gives a  good performance I had a lot of issues with her character. She seems genuinely thrown-off when she becomes attracted to her co-star despite this happening more than you think and a great example of it would be Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, so why is this supposedly veteran actress so naive about this phenomenon? If she’d been faking orgasms for 5 years with her husband as she admits to I would’ve thought her eyes would’ve been wandering a hell of a lot sooner than it does anyways. She also gets shocked when her friend, played by Britt Ekland, confesses to being into other women even though in Hollywood gay people have always been quite prevalent and this admission wouldn’t be anything wild to hear and yet she acts like it’s a ‘weird’ concept that she needs time to adjust to almost like she’d been living in a cave.

Jack Carter gives a funny performance as a cigar chomping producer, which of course is an extreme caricature, but at least he’s amusing. Had the film tried to be a satire the concept might’ve worked and maybe even been entertaining, but going the soap opera route makes it shallow and torturous to sit through.

My Rating: 0 out of 10

Released: September 10, 1984

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

Rated R

Director: Bud Townsend

Studio: Playboy Productions

Available: DVD-R (dvdlady.com)

For Love or Money (1963)

for love or money

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: A lawyer becomes matchmaker.

Deke Gentry (Kirk Douglas) is a lawyer appointed trustee of Chloe Brasher’s (Thelma Ritter) estate and is shocked to learn the terms of her will state that any of her three daughters will be cut off from their inheritance if they marry a man that she does not approve of. After debating with her about this Deke agrees to try to match up the girls with men that Chloe has already picked for them, but finds it to be much more difficult than he expected.

This was an odd career move for Douglas who is best known for his westerns, dramas and adventure roles. In some ways seeing him do light comedy is a nice change-of-pace, but the plot is too banal and the character is dull and gets overshadowed by the supporting cast of old comic pros. His best moment is when he hoists actor Gig Young over his shoulder and carries him from the hospital to his apartment and even gives him a spanking along the way.

The three actresses who play the daughters (Julie Newmar, Leslie Parrish, Mitzi Gaynor) are all quite attractive, but in the case of Newmar and Parrish aren’t given enough screen time. Gaynor is solid in the lead in what is to date her last film appearance. I am also happy to note that all three actresses as well as Elizabeth MacRae who play’s Deke’s girlfriend are still alive and well as of this writing.

Young is a very talented character actor who manages to come into his own during the second hour. Having him end up getting stuck out at sea while clinging in the nude to a pole sticking up out of the water is funny, but the scene where he starts throwing some vintage bottles of champagne overboard had me cringing.

The story is too lightweight for a feature film and although it starts out okay ends up becoming quite stretched and tedious during the second half. The scenarios are more silly and inane than actually funny and the only time it is ever amusing is when Ritter and William Bendix are in front of the camera and otherwise it falls flat. The contrived ‘happy ending’ merely emphasizes how predictable and formulaic the whole thing is.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: August 7, 1963

Runtime: 1Hour 48Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Michael Gordon

Studio: Universal

Available: DVD (Universal Vault Series)

Streetwalkin’ (1985)


By Richard Winters

My Rating:  6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Runaway turns to prostitution.

The actress I had a crush on when I was growing up was Julie Newmar best known as Catwoman from the old ‘Batman’ TV-series. I know that there have been several other actresses that have played the part, but Julie always brought in a sensual level that the others didn’t.  She also had a perfect hour glass figure and in that skin tight costume what man young or old could resist her. The fact that she balanced her performances with a hammy side, which the producers allowed her to freely ad-lib, is what always made her appearances on the show for me as an 11-year old kid, much anticipated and special.

Her Catwoman role was by far not the only thing that she did as she also starred in her own series as Rhoda the Robot in the TV-show ‘My Living Doll’ with Bob Cummings. She was also nominated for an Emmy for her performance in two memorable episodes of the classic series ‘Route 66’. In fact her performance here as the quirky non-conformist Vicki Russell I feel is the best of her career and now that this great show is finally available on DVD it would be well worth checking out.

Her movie credits aren’t too bad either. She co-starred in the classic 50’s musical ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ and also recreated her Tony award winning role as an over-sexed Swedish woman tempting her staid American host (James Mason) into fathering her baby. She also starred in ‘For Love or Money’ with Kirk Douglas and ‘Mackenna’s Gold’ with Gregory Peck. This was probably her best film performance as she plays a volatile and aggressive Indian woman and has no dialogue, but does appear nude from the backside.

In 1977 she married for the first time and dropped out of the business in order to spend more time with her husband. However, by 1983 it had ended in divorce and when she tried to get back into the movies she found the pickings to be slim. She co-starred with Tina Louise (Ginger from ‘Gilligan’s Island) in a film called ‘Evils of the Night’ that looked like it was made on a budget that wouldn’t be enough to buy a happy meal at McDonald’s. Her other film roles from the 80’s and 90’s weren’t much better with the possible exception being this one.

Here she plays the part of Queen Bee an older prostitute who befriends Cookie (Melissa Leo) who has run away from home with her brother and just starting out as a streetwalker. When Cookie realizes that her pimp/boyfriend Duke (Dale Midkiff) has beaten up her friend Heather (Deborah Offner) she becomes afraid of him and decides to start working for a new pimp. When the vengeful Duke becomes aware of the betrayal he begins to stalk her, which forces her to go on the run.


For the most part I found this film to be redundant. Yes it is hard hitting and at times quite vulgar and graphic, but it really doesn’t show anything we haven’t seen before. The storyline is basic and predictable. The scene where Duke beats up Heather is unpleasant and a bit unsettling. If this film managed to give us some new insight into the life of a prostitute I might have given it some credit, but it doesn’t and instead becomes intent in wallowing in its own sordidness.

Of course if you’re into trashy cinema then this thing might do the trick (no pun intended). The film has a tight pace and it is never boring. The fight scenes are well choreographed and for the most part realistic looking and for whatever reason I found myself caught up in the story during the second half and seeing whether our heroine would escape the relentless psycho.

Leo is excellent and it is no surprise that she would later go on to have an impressive acting career and even win the Oscar. She shows a nice vulnerability and creates a character that is real and appealing.

Midkiff is impressive as the brutal pimp. The part where he tears up Cookie’s apartment in a psychotic rage is intense and well handled.

Newmar isn’t seen much in the first half, but comes on strong at the end. I loved seeing her shooting at Duke with a gun and when he escapes out onto the streets she gets into a car and tries running him down, which is pretty cool.  Having an older actress mixed in with a lot of younger ones creates a nice balance and hearing an actress who I grew up seeing on a kid’s show and now hearing her spew out the F-bomb is kind of funny.


Like I said personal taste will dictate whether you like this or not, but it is interesting to note that besides Leo and Midkiff a lot of other young performers got their start here, which then blossomed into successful careers. The others include: Randall Batinkoff, Greg Germann, Khandi Alexander and Leon, which is impressive and should make this a much sought after curio by fans who wish to see their favorite actor when they were just starting out.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: September 20, 1985

Runtime: 1Hour 26Minutes

Rated R

Director: Joan Freeman

Studio: Concorde Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD