Tag Archives: Tiffany Bolling

Love Scenes (1984)

love1

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)

Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Tarantulas take over town.

Rack (William Shatner) is a veterinarian residing in a rural Arizona town who gets a call one day from a local rancher (Woody Strode) complaining that his prize calf has come down with a mysterious illness. Rack examines the animal, but can’t come to any conclusion so he sends the animal’s blood sample off to a university lab. Diane (Tiffany Bolling) a arachnologist then arrives telling him that the animal was killed by a massive dose of spider venom. At first Rack does not believe her, but as more animals and then eventually people start to fall prey to the same aggressive spiders the two soon pair up to help try to save the rest of the town and themselves.

Over $50,000 of the film’s $500,000 budget was spent on procuring 5,000 tarantulas for the film’s shoot, but personally I didn’t think it was enough. Shots showing the spiders ‘invading’ by having them lining the town’s roadways weren’t really all that frightening because there was still ample space between the spiders that a person could easily step around them and not get bit. The spiders are also very slow, so a potential victim should have plenty of time to get out of the area once they saw them converging.

The idea that the spiders are doing this is because of the heavy use of pesticides doesn’t logically work. For one thing spiders are not like ants and do not create working colonies. They are anti-social and do things alone. They can even be cannibalistic, which is why the production crew was forced to keep each of the 5,000 tarantulas in separate containers to avoid having them eat each other. With this all in mind why then would they begin behaving in ways that’s so unnatural to their species? Being desperate for a new food source is one thing, but how could the spiders communicate with each other to get them all to work together that are completely alien to their nature? Sometimes it’s very hard to get humans to work together even when they know it’s in their best interests, so suddenly getting an anti-social species to do it is breaking astronomical odds.

Another issue is how do these spiders suddenly get so smart? For instance the spiders sneak onto a crop duster plane and kill the pilot (Whitey Hughes) who was going to spray down a pesticide that would’ve destroyed their spider hills, but how would spiders have the sophistication to know that was what he was doing? Spiders cannot speak or understand English, so it’s not like they could’ve ‘overheard’ what the people were planning to do and then went on the counter-attack though that’s ultimately what the movie tries to convey happened.

The film is too dependent on viewers being creeped out at the sight of spiders and hoping that will be enough to carry through for the entire movie as pretty much nothing else happens that’s genuinely scary. Just a lot of shots of spiders slowly moving around while the actors scream in horror and try to flick them off and that’s about it. The ultimate irony is that tarantula bites are not lethal and will cause only a minor irritation similar to that of a bee sting.

Spoiler Alert!

I did however like the film’s ending which has the spiders covering the entire town with a giant cobweb. While it’s obvious that the shot of the cobweb over the town is clearly that of a painting I still felt it was a cool concept, but this needed to come in to play during the second act. Showing how the people fought through this new dilemma would’ve given the story a more creative direction instead of just waiting to the very finish to introduce it and then abruptly ending just when it finally started to get interesting.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: August 24, 1977

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

Rated PG

Director: John ‘Bud’ Cardos

Studio: Dimension Pictures

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Video

The Wild Party (1975)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Slumming actor stages comeback.

The year is 1929 and Jolly Grimm (James Coco) the once successful silent film star now finds himself, with the advent of talking pictures, to be in low demand. Although his movies once made a killing his style of humor is now considered cliched and with no studio willing to fund his latest pic he’s forced to use his own money to get it made. He holds a lavish party in his mansion inviting many Hollywood elites who he hopes will show an interest in his movie once he screens it to everyone, but instead his guests are more into each other as the party quickly devolves into a wild sex orgy with even Jolly’s faithful girlfriend Queenie (Raquel Welch) cheating on him with a much younger and better looking actor (Perry King).

The story is loosely based on the 1926 poem of the same name by Joseph Moncure March while the Jolly character was inspired by Fatty Arbuckle a famous silent film comic who was accused and the later acquitted of the rape and manslaughter of actress Virginia Rappe in 1921. The script though by Walter Marks doesn’t seem to know what tone it wants to take as at times it seems like a trenchant drama while at other moments it comes off as a surreal comedy. The original intent was to turn it into a musical, which would’ve been a better idea as the lack of cohesion causes the pacing to be completely off and never allows the film to build any tension or momentum.

The party scenes are not interesting or provocative and in many ways it’s a poorman’s version of Day of the Locust which came out at the same time and had a similar theme, but a far stronger impact. The sex is stagy and mechanical and seeing all the guests sprawled in a symmetric way on the floor the next day throughout the mansion looks too surreal-like to be even remotely believable. The party’s only interesting moment is when Jolly has a meltdown by going on a long angry rant that reveals his ugly side to his guests, but the filmmakers botch this sequence by focusing solely on Coco instead of cutting away to show the shocked reactions of the party-goers.

Coco, in his only starring vehicle, does quite well in a role I didn’t think he was equipped for. Welch gives an equally strong performance, possibly the best of her career, but the relationship of their two characters made no sense. Director James Ivory tries to flesh them out by having the two at different moments go on long soliloquys explaining what attracted them to the other, but in both cases it rings hollow. So what if Coco treated Welch with respect and asked her ‘deep questions’ when they first meet, which is apparently why she fell for him, he’s no longer doing that now, so why stick with him? Coco’s statement, that he couldn’t ‘live without her’ comes off as equally absurd since every time he talks to her he’s abusive.

The relationship angle should’ve been scrapped as it’s Jolly’s mental deterioration that is more interesting.  A far better and more realistic scenario would’ve had Coco coming onto a young starlet such as Queenie at the party but she would reject his advances and then later when he saw her with a younger actor it would set off his already shaky ego, which would then precipitate the violence.

Spoiler Alert!

The shooting that occurs at the end isn’t effective. The film is filled with so many lulls that by the time it finally gets to it you really don’t care who dies and who doesn’t. Having it occur the next morning after the party is already over seems anti-climactic and something that should’ve been witnessed by all the guests. It’s also a bit frustrating to have it end so abruptly without any aftermath or denouncement given.

End of Spoiler Alert!

Tiffany Bolling and Perry King add some zest in support especially with their facial expressions and the sultry dance done by Chris Gilmore (who gets billed here as Annette Ferra) adds a weird sensual vibe. However, having David Dukes’ character break the fourth wall and begin speaking directly to the camera as he describes the party guests is a distraction, which only  further cements this as a misguided misfire that needed better focus.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: March 4, 1975

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes (Director’s Cut)

Director: James Ivory

Studio: American International Pictures

Available: DVD, Amazon Video

The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker (1971)

marriage of a young stockbroker

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Husband is a voyeur.

William (Richard Benjamin) seems to be living the dream having both a stable job and a beautiful wife named Lisa (Joanna Shimkus), but underneath he’s bored and as a source of escape begins to get involved in voyeuristic activities. He spends hours at an adult theater and uses any opportunity he can to spy on scantily clad women through his binoculars. Eventually Lisa, in a fit of frustration over William’s behavior, walks out on him and moves in with her sister Nan (Elizabeth Ashley) and her husband Chester (Adam West). Nan is very controlling and makes every attempt to keep Lisa away from William even as William tries to reconcile. Although her marriage seems fine on the outside it is actually as troubled as William and Lisa’s, which comes to a head when both couples get involved in a group therapy session.

The film is based on the novel of the same name written by Charles Webb, who was also the author of The Graduate, which became a hit film that was produced by Lawrence Turman who directed this one. Clearly Turman was hoping for the same success and this one begins well. The opening bit showing William bored with his job is funny as is his trip to an adult theater and the many thoughts that go through his head as he watches a nudie flick. The cinematography by Lazlo Kovacs captures the California coastline in a lush style and the overall narrative takes a refreshingly open-minded approach towards sexual fetishes as well as the institution of marriage while also questioning society’s conventional understanding of both.

Benjamin is good playing almost the exact same type of character living the same type of detached existence as the one he did in The Steagle. In fact this film could easily be considered an extension to that one and both movies were released less than a month apart. This one though fares a bit better as Benjamin gives a more well-rounded performance. In fact this may be his best work second only to the one that he did in Diary of a Mad Housewife.

The beautiful Shimkus does equally well and I enjoyed the scenes with the two of them together. Ashley makes a strong impression as the meddling sister and has a few funny moments. West, who campaigned hard for the role in an attempt to shake his Batman image, seems a bit too transparent and there needed to be more of a backstory involving both his character and his marriage to Nan.

Unfortunately all of these good things get crushed by a script that doesn’t know what direction it wishes to take. The scene with Tiffany Bolling is just one issue as she plays this really beautiful woman who for some indiscriminate reason decides to invite William, who is a complete stranger to her, into her house for sex after spotting him walking down the sidewalk. Why such a gorgeous woman would invite a schmuck like Benjamin into her place on a sexual whim makes very little sense and seems too much like a male sexual fantasy that demanded much more of an explanation to be believable. I realize this scene was part of the story arc to show William’s dissatisfaction with having sex with women who were strangers and thus propel him to try and win Lisa back, but the same point could’ve been made in a more realistic way had he done it with a hooker that he met on the street instead.

The ending is the biggest letdown as it employs too much of a feel-good, happy curve that comes out of nowhere. The two main characters suddenly turn into frolicking, youthful lovebirds that do not in any way resemble the same people that we’ve been following for the first 90 minutes. It comes off like a cop-out that is jarring to the overall tone while undermining all of the other issues that the film had previously brought up.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: August 19, 1971

Runtime: 1Hour 35Minutes

Rated R

Director: Lawrence Turman

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: http://www.modcinema.com