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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

BIG BOOBS, BLONDE BABES, BAD BLOOD -- movie review by porfle

(NOTE: I reviewed a VHS tape of this movie by Shane Ryan of AMATEUR PORN STAR KILLER fame several  years ago for, and thought our readers might find it to be of interest as it was a pretty strange flick.  A search of the title will reveal places where it may be available online.)

If you're searching the video store shelves for the perfect exploitation flick to watch during a beer-fueled night with the guys, you can't go wrong with a title like BIG BOOBS, BLONDE BABES, BAD BLOOD (2006), right?  Wrong. 

There's plenty of bad blood, which we'll discuss later.  There's a couple of pretty big boobs for a few moments at the very beginning (covered with blood, that is--the owner of said boobs is knifing an unseen victim to shreds), which we never see again.  I kept expecting to see that particular short pop up somewhere along the way but it never showed up. 

Blonde babes?  There's a couple of ditzy blondes (Vanessa Ross, Rebecca Elizabeth Stevens) who appear intermittently as "hostesses" and wear out their welcome really fast.  Even shedding their tops and dropping their pants later on don't make Vanessa and Rebecca any less irritating, and you may find yourself fast-forwarding through the only thing resembling a "blonde babe" in the whole movie.  There are a couple of other unnecessary presenters as well (such as DAY OF THE DEAD:CONTAGIUM's April Wade) whose segments are equally unimportant.  Shane Ryan introduces most of the shorts himself anyway, so all that other fluff should've been trimmed.

It becomes pretty apparent right away that this should have been given a more descriptive title such as THE SHORT FILMS OF SHANE RYAN.  That way, less beer-fueled guys would be sitting perplexed in front of their TV sets saying "Gott in himmel, vas ist das?" and grabbing for the latest "Girls Gone Wild" DVD, and more people who appreciate watching imaginative short films by a talented indie director might actually end up watching it. 

If you're one of those people, you'll probably find a lot to appreciate in this grab-bag of shorts by Shane Ryan, who clearly loves filmmaking more than just about anything else.  There's a wide range of stuff here--some films have engaging stories, some are simply impressionistic montages of images, and some are just toss-offs where the closing credits appear about a minute after the titles and you say "huh?"  (I think Shane Ryan likes to make people say that.) 

The first one, "Lucifer's Mind", features a naked woman smearing herself with something (blood?  chocolate?) for about a minute in a frenzy of speeded-up shots intercut with clips of a rock band playing a driving tune (Boneshin provides some cool music for many of these shorts).  The titles pop in and out; when it says "Lucifer's Mind", there are a couple of shots of clouds, and then "The End."  Huh?  Okay, that was a pretty good mini-rock video. 

Next comes "Poison Cure", a high-school film which was shot in under 24 hours in order to reach a film festival deadline (it was rejected).  Ryan plays a strung-out, lovelorn teen throwing up in a bathroom while being comforted by his sympathetic gal pal.  She finally sticks him in the shower and turns on the cold water to keep him from passing out, then climbs in fully-clothed to snuggle and comfort him, and it's over.  Not much of a story--several of the films here are just brief, sometimes sensitive studies that leave you with a general impression, and it's pretty hit-and-miss--and a good example of why, despite the title, this isn't something that drunken frat guys will want to whoop it up to. 

Next up is "Sane:The Story Of The Boredom Killings", which is pretty self-descriptive, as two disaffected teens (Ryan and co-director Jeremy Williams, who call themselves "The Cousin Brothers") decide to relieve their boredom by killing people, which is seen from the POV of their video camera as they tape each other disposing of a few victims until they're caught and imprisoned (a postscript informs us of their eventual fates). 

I guess there's a message here, like "sometimes conscienceless kids horrifically kill people just for giggles", or something--Ryan claims it's about reality TV, though I didn't quite catch that--but, like many of these films, it's mainly an exercise in cinematic style (which seems to come almost effortlessly to Ryan, who can make just about anything interesting to look at) and shock value, mainly in the sequence in which the two rape and then gorily murder a young woman in her apartment.  Bad blood, indeed.

"Pinata" is one of eight short films (seven are in this collection) that Ryan salvaged from an aborted feature film project of the same name.  A shaking, drooling boy sits smoking a cigarette while a girl whacks baseballs in a batting cage, the end.  All together now--huh?

More bad blood and shock value are on hand next in another "Pinata" offshoot, "So, We Killed Our Parents", my personal favorite of the bunch.  Donnie and Denise Harris are brother and sister, and they're very close.  (Wink.)  Big Man is their big, mean, musclebound dad who looks and sounds like a cross between Popeye and a rabid bulldog, and his major joy in life is heaping all kinds of mental and physical abuse upon his kids all the time (the aptly-named Rex Cobalt is terrific, and somehow hilarious, in the role).  Their mom, "Bitch" (as in "Damn, bitch, git my belt!") wearily fetches Big Man's belt for him when he needs it to abuse the kids, complaining, "F*** you, why don't you WEAR one, a**hole?" 

That is, until one night when Donnie and Denise decide to grab a couple of baseball bats and turn the tables on Big Man and Bitch in a big way, gleefully pounding them into ground round right there on the livingroom rug as the dog looks on with a "what the hell?" expression.  Shane Ryan has a cinematic field day with sequences like this, combining regular, slow, and fast motion with quick cutting, wild camera angles, and cool music. 

Covered with blood, the newly-liberated teens celebrate by ecstatically going at each other like a couple of human ice-cream cones in an orgy of writhing, hot-blooded incest that ends up with a naked tongue-wrestling match in the shower.  Shocking!!!  (You might call the guys in for this scene, then dismiss them to return to "Where The Boys Aren't #13" or whatever.) 

Shane Ryan plays Donnie (no surprise), and Vicky Rodriguez is wonderful as Denise.  She may not be a "blonde babe", but she's more my type, anyway, and she swings a mean baseball bat, among other things.  Again, this was my favorite film in the collection, which shows you how twisted I am, I guess.  After another short or two there's a series of bloopers and outtakes from it, highlighted by Rex Cobalt in a long-hair wig and bandana, playing a guitar very badly and croaking a song in which he complains about his unattentive wife ("Dumb cow won't scratch my nuts") and boasts, "I'm gonna be me the next Elvis Presley."

Skipping over a few more toss-offs from the unfinished "Pinata", we get to the two darkest and most finely-rendered of Ryan's shorts, both shot in black-and-white, a medium in which Ryan excells.  The first, "Isolation", is a painful portrait of a lonely, introspective boy named Billy (Ryan) who stalks the dreary streets of his hometown, forever yearning for the unconditional love of his mother who died shortly after giving birth to him in an alley.  Rex Cobalt appears again as the abusive father, a role he was apparently born to play. 

This film is followed by a "making of" documentary by Jason "I've never been more miserable in my entire life" Freeman entitled "More Than 15", which illustrates the grueling and often thankless effort put forth by everyone involved in the production ("Isolation" was screened at less than ten festivals but rejected by almost 100), and also lets us in on some of the cool ideas Ryan came up with to get certain shots (an overhead close-up of him lying in bed as the camera swirls in circles was done with a stationary camera shooting down on Ryan as he lay spinning on a merry-go-round in the park).

And finally, there's "The Cold Heat", which opens with a man and woman having joyless sex in a room that could very well be right next to Henry Spencer's apartment in ERASERHEAD.  Where "So, We Killed Our Parents" is light, colorful, and fun, despite the subject matter, "The Cold Heat" is nightmarish and disturbing.  The noirish black-and-white photography here is gorgeous and surreal--some of the images are rather stunning--making it, visually, the tour de force of the collection.  Ryan turns in one of his best performances here and Michiko Jimenez (AMATEUR PORN STAR KILLER) is memorable.  I won't tell you how it ends, but it's pretty cool.  This is Shane Ryan at his best, with imagination and style to burn.

I'm docking BIG BOOBS, BLONDE BABES, BAD BLOOD a tad because of the crappy hostess segments, misleading title, and shorts that weren't all that great.  But it easily scores three-and-a-half boobs for "So, We Killed Our Parents", "Isolation", "The Cold Heat", and other flashes of brilliance scattered here and there within this collection, which clearly show an exciting and wildly-imaginative cinematic talent at work.


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