Posts Tagged ‘Paul Bartel


Hollywood Boulevard (1976)

Makin' movies

Makin’ movies

Writing about mediocre movies is an awful lot like being constipated. At least when a movie’s awful, opinions come out like… well, they come out easily, okay? Trying to figure out what the heck to write about Roger Corman’s Hollywood Boulevard makes me want to reach for the closest enema. 

When we starting watching, I thought Hollywood Boulevard was the perfect movie for the night. After all, a stupid comedy about low-budget films with plenty of T&A is more often than not just what the doctor ordered, no? Alas, these elements alone aren’t enough to make a film enjoyable. Admittedly, I should know this by now; this isn’t the first time Corman’s boobs have let me down. Yet I keep coming back for more… 

Erich Von Leppe (Paul Bartel) is the director du jour for Miracle Pictures (If it’s a good film, it’s a Miracle!),

Findin' suckers

Findin’ suckers

one of Hollywood’s many sub-par, low-budget production companies happy to capitalize on the tenacity, persistence and large breasts of Hollywood’s many aspiring starlets. Candy Wednesday is just such a wide-eyed young woman, and soon after she arrives in LA her attentive agent Walter Paisley (Dick Miller) gets her a gig in Von Leppe’s Machete Maidens of Mora Tau

While filming in the Philippines, Wednesday and the other young women have more than lascivious natives and machine guns to worry about. The “star” of the film, Mary McQueen (Mary Woronov) is jealous, vindictive and willing to do just about anything to make sure no one steals the spotlight from her! Is she to blame when Jill, one of the younger actresses, is accidentally shot during an action scene, or is there another lunatic on the loose? 



Well, the answer is, really: who cares? Hollywood Boulevard is kind of like a joke that made you chuckle the first time you heard it, maybe made you smirk the second time, and had you rolling your eyes by the third time. The first fifteen minutes aren’t bad, but then everything goes slightly downhill. It doesn’t really fail in exciting ways, it just kind of fails quietly. By the time it was over, I think I said something like: “Well, that was a… movie… and what’s with all the rape jokes?”

Hollywood Boulevard is really a disappointment more than anything else, especially given the usual dynamic duo of Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov. Though they can’t make this a good movie, they’re probably the best parts about it. The good news is, if you hate waiting for boobs, you’ll have no problem here: you see your first pair before the one-minute mark! 



Shelf Life (1993)

There are overprotective parents, and then there are overprotective, paranoid parents. Unfortunately for the kids in Paul Bartel’s Shelf Life, their parents are the latter breed, complete with underground bunker and the will to use it. The minute their drunken mother and uptight father hear the news that President Kennedy’s been shot, they usher the kids underground.

Before the fall.

Before the fall.

Fast forward a few decades, and, well, they’re still underground. Mom and dad didn’t last too long in the bunker, but luckily had stocked enough canned goods to keep their children alive for all this time. Unluckily, the entrance to the outside world is blocked, and the kids are stuck. Since they were so young when they went under, and only have blips of television to glimpse the world above every once in a while, their emotional growth is stunted, to say the least.

Shelf Life is mostly comprised of scene after scene of the games the three kids play with each-other to pass the time. They’re related to the things their parents said and the short glimpses they get of adult life on television. The “kids” make good use of all the stuff in the bunker as props for their games, and the games they play offer insight into their childlike heads.

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

Apparently, Shelf Life was first a stage play. Paul Bartel saw it, loved it, and wanted to make it into a movie. The film stars the same folks that created and acted in the stage play. Unfortunately, Shelf Life was never officially distributed, and there’s not much information I can seem to find about it lying around.

I can’t say that I loved this movie, which makes sense – I’ve never been one with much of a tolerance for stage plays, and it is very clear throughout this movie that this was originally intended for the stage. That’s not to say it’s not worthy a film adaptation, but for someone whose tastes don’t run that way, it’s just not a good fit. There’s lots of singing, dancing, and goofiness, and honestly I just wanted the movie to go somewhere. It didn’t, really. It’s worth watching if you’re into Paul Bartel, and frankly, if you’re really into Paul Bartel, you will probably dig this. Hopefully some day this movie will get a proper release.


Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989)

scenesvhscoverWhat’s that you say? Paul Bartel writes and directs a movie about Hollywood sexual dysfunction? Maybe after a few years of success with their restaurant, Paul & Mary Bland turned into the types of characters that populate Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills? Stranger things have happened, especially in California

Clare (Jacqueline Bisset) is a brand-new widow, but that’s not stopping her from trying to brighten up her fading Hollywood star! Neither are several appearances by her husband’s ghost. She’s invited her neighbor, Lisabeth (Mary Woronov) to stay over while she gets her house fumigated. And so begins a bet between Lisabeth’s chauffeur, Frank, and Clare’s houseboy, Juan (Robert Beltran). If Frank bangs Clare first, Juan owes him five grand. If Juan gets to Lisabeth first, Frank forks over the bucks. If neither are successful in a few days’ time, Frank gets to bone Juan. Because that makes sense, right?

This bet, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg: the real in(s)anity is comes from the rich folks, not their employees. Clare and Lisabeth have their issues, but things get even more interesting when Lisabeth’s ex-husband Howard (Wallace Shawn) stops by for a visit, and runs into an old flame of his (and also porn star) To-Bel, who is now married to Lisabeth’s brother, Peter (Ed Begley Jr.).

There is so much more going on, but I’ll let you discover it all for yourself. Unfortunately, this is a movie very few people have seen, it seems. It doesn’t appear to be readily available on Region 1 DVD (except for the one I saw on Amazon for $260?). I think Vincent Canby summed it up pretty succinctly when he wrote: Scenes From the Class Struggle is one long smile with an occasional belly laugh” I’d throw in a few chuckles, too. It’s goofy, silly and fun. In short: pretty good, but nowhere near as good as Eating Raoul. Few things are, though. Right?


Death Race 2000 (1975)

America's sweetheart, Frankenstein

America’s sweetheart, Frankenstein

In a lot of ways, Death Race 2000 is my ideal movie. It’s got science fiction, horror, comedy and camp. While definitely not the first cocktail of its kind, it might be one of the first to do it so perfectly. It might be one of the best examples of a movie exploiting exploitation.

I guess a little back story might be in order, so I will relay to you what my husband told me, which is something along the lines of: Roger Corman wanted a gory action science-fiction flick, and director Paul Bartel wanted something goofy, campy and self-aware.

If you ask me, Bartel wins in the end, and thank gods! The final product, apparently hacked and re-

Mary Woronov as Calamity Jane

Mary Woronov as Calamity Jane

hacked in Corman’s interests, is still most definitely heavy on the campy goofiness we’ve come to rely on Paul Bartel for, and frankly, what we’ve come to rely on Corman for, too.

Anyway, the movie is just about what you’d expect from a flick titled Death Race 2000: it’s a dystopian future, and it’s time for the annual Transcontinental Road Race, where participants are followed by camera crews as they drive race cars through the American landscape and take out innocent bystanders along the way.

What starts off as a typically bloody annual celebration of the new America’s moral nadir quickly turns into a different kind of scandal: a revolutionary group has infiltrated the race, and young Annie has been sent along to destroy America’s

And of course, Sly.

And of course, Sly.

favorite racer, Frankenstein (David Carradine, hubba hubba!). Will the resistance succeed in overthrowing the corrupt government?

This movie is just so darn wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am excited to watch it again. I mean, really, the only way to watch a race car movie is by laying on the camp pretty thick and making the blood Herschell-Gordon-Lewis red. And by having Sylvester Stallone play a really dumb guy. And Mary Woronov playing a chick called Calamity Jane! And David Carradine in a latex body suit?! So many reasons to say yes.


Get Crazy (1983)

I’ve probably never uttered the words “this is so dumb!” as many times, or as enthusiastically, as I did when I watched Get Crazy. Yes, this is one of the stupidest movies I’ve ever seen, but it is also delightfully hilarious!

Colin Beverly does NOT care about rock and roll!

Colin Beverly does NOT care about rock and roll!

Max Wolfe owns the Saturn Theater, and his first priority is to give the kids a great place to see live music. His most immediate worry: that he and his right-hand-man, Neil (Daniel Stern) put on a flawless New Year’s Eve concert.

Electric Larry has some goodies to help the crew get ready for the show in time.

Electric Larry has some goodies to help the crew get ready for the show in time.

Unfortunately, everything isn’t peaches and cream: Colin Beverly (Ed Begley, Jr.) a big-time promoter, wants to snatch the Saturn Theater from Max, preferring stadium shows to those at smaller venues. Max refuses to sell, but as soon as his health starts to present itself as an issue, his sleazy nephew Sammy joins forces with Beverly and his toadies, and together they do their best to foil the Saturn’s concert.

Malcolm McDowell actually does move like Jagger!

Malcolm McDowell actually does move like Jagger!

Amidst all the slapstick hilarity that ensues is one heck of a concert. An archetype of all your favorite bands gets a shot at entertaining the crowd. There’s the hippie groovy druggie band, King Blues the, uh, blues singer, Nada the New Wave punker and the show-stopping Reggie Wanker (Malcolm McDowell doing his best Mick Jagger impression!). And whether or not Auden (Lou Reed as the Dylanesque folk singer) makes it to the show on time is no matter, it’s Lou Reed!

I mean, come on guys, it's Lou Reed.

I mean, come on guys, it’s Lou Reed.

It is truly a shame that this movie isn’t available on DVD. Hopefully you still have your VCR. I instruct you to go out and find a copy of this on VHS and pop it in. It’s so stupid, I promise you won’t regret it.


Eating Raoul (1982)

After watching a disappointing movie, my natural response is to immediately cleanse the palate with a thematically similar good movie. So, after watching the dreadful Parents (well, in the middle of it, actually) I decided the perfect antidote would be Eating Raoul.

I first stumbled upon this movie when I was a young thing surfing the wrong cable stations late at night. I was far too naive to really understand what I was watching (had no idea what camp was, let alone S&M!), but it didn’t matter – I knew whatever it was I wanted more of it.

Eating Raoul is about Paul (Paul Bartel) & Mary (Mary Woronov) Bland, a couple struggling to make ends meet with a dream to open up a restaurant someday. The building they want to buy demands a $20,000 down payment. How will the newly unemployed Paul and his nurse wife Mary ever make it?

Paul & Mary Bland make the kill…

The straight-laced Blands, disgusted by the thieves, swingers, and sexual deviants overtaking their building (and seemingly all of Hollywood) hatch the perfect plot: lure the sexually depraved to their apartment with an S&M advertisement, claiming “we do anything. While their victims get hot on Mary, Paul jumps in and bops them on the head with a frying pan. After emptying the wallets of the dead, Paul & Mary dispose of the bodies through the garbage chute – until they meet Raoul, a thief who instead of taking them for a ride goes into business with them – offering to dispose of the bodies for money and splitting the profits with them.

I love this movie! It’s charming, goofy, campy fun. It is no wonder it’s a cult favorite. Go out and watch this right now!


Old Wave