Category: Guilty Pleasures


“Take off your clothes … because I’m going to do a strip search – full cavity.”


I’m not entirely sure for whom Strip Search is a guilty pleasure – me, or the late, great, director Sidney Lumet. Possibly it’s both of us.

Lumet, who turned 80 the year this film was released, is responsible for classics including 12 Angry Men, Fail-Safe, Dog Day Afternoon, and Network. In his dotage, however, the movie maestro seemed to draw more inspiration from Girls Gone Wild than from social issues.




Just ask Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, whom Sidney coaxed out of her clothes for his final film, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. Or check out Strip Search star Maggie Gyllenhaal, who, after a sexy turn in Secretary, apparently had a nudity clause inserted in her film contracts; in Maggie’s case, it seems she’ll only take roles that require it.



 Maggie Gyllenhaal assumes the position for James Spader in Secretary


Strip Search, which aired once on HBO in 2004 and was then promptly pulled from the network schedule (there were complaints and controversy), is an intense examination of how governments can and do violate the civil rights of ordinary citizens. Lumet presents alternating storylines with near-identical dialogue, in one case focusing on an American named Linda (Gyllenhaal) who is brutally interrogated in China, and in the other case depicting an Arab man (Bruno Lastra) similarly abused by an FBI hard-ass played by Glenn Close.



Glenn Close to Bruno Lastra: “Is there a part of your body you’re embarrassed about, something … smaller than it ought to be?”


At about the midpoint, Strip Search goes from social commentary to sexual commentary, courtesy of Lumet’s leering camera.  It’s hard to contemplate civil liberties when you are distracted by lingering close-ups of Maggie’s bare breasts being kneaded like bread dough, or by Glenn asking her captive Arab if a body part is “smaller than it ought to be” while eyeballing his willie.    Grade: B




Director: Sidney Lumet  Cast: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ken Leung, Glenn Close, Bruno Lastra, Austin Pendleton, Jim Gaffigan  Release: 2004





“Yes, a good solid body.”



“Take off your clothes … because I’m going to do a strip search – full cavity.”



“Yes, you’ve got a good solid body.”



“If I touch you down there, what do you think your reaction will be?”


Strip Search is once again available on HBO. If you would prefer to see just the good parts, i.e., Maggie Gyllenhaal forced to strip and getting felt up by Ken Leung, watch movie outtakes by clicking the links below: 





If the above videos don’t work on your mobile device, try these:


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Share Cinderella


And now for something completely different … Cinderella


Once upon a time, Your Humble Reviewer lived in a strange kingdom called Texas. One lonely night he imbibed too much mead and found himself staring at a late-night movie on Cinemax. The movie had lots of nudity and sex, and the story was very silly. Alas, the nasty mead eventually caused Your Humble Reviewer to drift off into dreamland, until …


… the following morning, when bits and pieces of the Cinemax movie began to crop up in his foggy memory bank. The film had been called Cinderella, and indeed it featured wicked stepsisters and a fairy godmother and a carriage ride to the big ball. But it also had sex scenes. And music and dancing. Disco-flavored music. Most perplexing of all, it seemed to Your Humble Reviewer that the movie … had not sucked. Cinderella Cinderella


Many moons later, in the year 2015 and while he dwelled in a new kingdom called Minnesota, Your Humble Reviewer once again watched Cinderella, which had recently been issued on DVD. And lo and behold, it still didn’t suck. Quite the contrary; parts of this soft-core-porn-musical-comedy were actually a hoot, and the songs and choreography were, well, quite good.


The plot:  What, you don’t know the story of Cinderella? The plot in this version is the same, albeit with adults-only alterations. The fairy godmother, for example, is played by black actor Sy Richardson who, as a fun-loving thief, steals every household good in sight and every scene he appears in. The handsome prince, in his quest to find the enchanting Cinderella, slips more than a shoe onto comely maidens. Oh, and then there is the “snapping pussy” …. Cinderella Cinderella

In an inexplicable, bizarre dream sequence, this creepy geezer squeezes poor Cinderella’s breasts until they squirt milk.


Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith plays the beloved lead, which in this telling of the fairy tale requires her to be gullible (check), cute as a button (check), personable (check), and often naked (check and check again). Sadly, Smith’s real life was apparently no fairy tale. According to her Wikipedia biography, a few years after Cinderella, Smith became addicted to heroin, which eventually led to a pair of prison stints and her death from liver disease and hepatitis at age 47.

It’s not likely that NBC will be inspired to produce this version of Cinderella as one of its live musical holiday specials. Along with the voluminous sex and skin, this is a low-budget affair, with bad dubbing, cheesy sets, and dime-store special effects. On the other hand, this 1977 oddity boasts music and songs by Andrew Belling with witty lyrics, an energetic cast, amusing 1970s pop-culture references, and some numbers that are better than what you’ll find in many “legitimate” musicals. It’s all very good-natured and fun.

In the end, of course, they all fuck happily ever after. Merry Christmas.   Grade: B Cinderella

Elizabeth Halsey rides the prince while Linda Gildersleeve, also in her birthday suit, looks on.


Director: Michael Pataki   Cast: Cheryl Smith, Yana Nirvana, Marilyn Corwin, Jennifer Doyle, Sy Richardson, Brett Smiley, Kirk Scott, Brenda Fogarty, Elizabeth Halsey, Linda Gildersleeve, Mariwin Roberts, Roberta Tapley  Release: 1977 Cinderella


Watch the Trailer (click here) Cinderella Cinderella

This female extra was either the victim of budget cuts (no money for knickers!), or she was married to a producer and had an exhibitionist fetish. Cinderella

Cinderella (right) and the girls check out the prince’s family jewels. Cinderella Cinderella


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Despite what the trailer trumpets (“The most intellectually stimulating movie of the year!”), there’s no question that H.O.T.S. is a dumb movie.  But it knows that it’s a dumb movie – and it doesn’t really care.  Neither do I.

By today’s standards – hell, even by 1979 standards – H.O.T.S. is a sexist, juvenile, exploitive piece of junk.  And that’s why I like it.  It doesn’t apologize for existing; it knows that a large segment of the audience will dismiss it, but it isn’t pandering to all segments of the audience.  It’s pandering to me, damn it.  You go watch your Magic Mike; some of us prefer this.





So what, exactly, is this 1970s relic?  It’s: 1) A low-budget rip-off of the previous year’s comedy smash, Animal House2) An attempt to lure sex-crazed males by showcasing boobs, boobs, and an occasional butt;  3) The precursor to a slew of 1980s T&A crap (it predates Porky’s);  4) A good-hearted, lame-brained waste of 95 minutes;  5) An attempt to lure sex-crazed males by showcasing boobs, boobs, and an occasional butt.



                                    Danny Bonaduce, above, with Angela Aames and Lisa London.



Oddly, H.O.T.S. was penned by two women, including B-movie queen Cheri Caffaro (Ginger).  Refreshingly, the voluptuous actresses on display, including a bevy of Playboy Playmates, seem to be in on the jokes, no matter how lame they are.



                                                       K.C. Winkler demonstrates method acting.




So why should you waste time watching this nonsense, or even see it more than once like, ahem, some of us have?  1) It stars post-Partridge Family, pre-radio host Danny Bonaduce, one of the few actors in the cast who can handle the dialogue, no matter how lame it is.  2) The “plot,” some folderol about competing sororities, includes a pet seal, a drunken bear, topless parachuting, and awful 1970s fashion and music.  3) Susan Kiger’s boobs, K.C. Winkler’s ass, Lindsay Bloom’s boobs, and … first and foremost, the greatest strip-football game ever to grace the silver screen.        Grade:  B


Hots7Hots8          Hots9Hots10                              

                         Angela Aames makes a splash; Lindsay Bloom makes a pass.


DirectorGerald Seth Sindell   Cast:  Susan Kiger, Lisa London, Pamela Jean Bryant, Kimberly Cameron, Angela Aames, Lindsay Bloom, K.C. Winkler, Sandy Johnson, Danny Bonaduce, Richard Bakalyan   Release:  1979


                                                 Watch the Trailer  (click here)




  Hots14     Hots15




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It’s not easy being a “butt man” in a boobies world.  When it comes to flesh and the female form in movies, the breast has always reigned supreme and, as a result, the butt man is often left behind.

So it was with a combination of cautious optimism and scholarly interest that I watched Cheeky!, Italian director Tinto Brass’s homage to the perky posterior.  The movie was okay, but Brass’s comments in a DVD behind-the-scenes interview were heartening to all devotees of the derriere.

“I would like to propose myself to television with a  program,” said the 67-year-old auteur.  “There are some who read your palm.  I’d like to go there [television] and read your ass.  I would like to call it Not Just Vagina.  Can you just imagine the success?”




Like any connoisseur of the caboose, Brass gave a great deal of thought to the subject of his movie before the cameras rolled for Cheeky!  The director cast Ukrainian actress Yuliya Mayarchuk in the pivotal role of Carla, a young Venetian who learns that cheating on her boyfriend adds spice to their previously lackluster love life.  In Mayarchuk, Brass found a willing accomplice toward his goal of shedding light on the psychology of modern women.

“Each woman is the ass that she has,” Brass says.  “Actually, in addition, the ass is the mirror of the soul; in this specific case, it’s the mirror of that gorgeous Slavic soul, Yuliya Mayarchuk, who’s the lead actress of the movie.”


Cheeky3 Cheeky4  


Although Mayarchuk was an acting unknown when the film was released in 2000, Brass had a hunch that her moon was about to rise.  “She’s very good-natured, she has a great temperament, and she has a very cute little ass,” said the aesthetically minded filmmaker.  Brass’s intent with Cheeky! was, first and foremost, to advance the cause of feminism through the character of Carla:  “She’s a modern woman who is fully aware of her sexuality and sensuality, and of her right to enjoy it without subduing herself to a chauvinist mentality,” he said.

Just as that other cinematic giant, Alfred Hitchcock, inserted himself into his own films via cameo appearances, Brass inserted himself, and his finger, into both the movie and his young starlet.  This occurs during a scene crucial to the plot in which … well, all right, perhaps the scene isn’t crucial to the plot.  But Brass was intent on exploring bigger issues:


Cheeky5 Cheeky6


“It’s an old habit, a fixation of mine, a belief that in order to discover women’s lies, all you just have to do is look at their ass.  Because, as opposed to the face, which is a hypocrite mask capable of faking and lies, the ass doesn’t lie.”

Or, to paraphrase the Eagles, you can’t hide your lying ass.        Grade:  B




Director:  Tinto Brass  Cast:  Yuliya Mayarchuk, Jarno Berardi, Francesca Nunzi, Max Parodi, Mauro Lorenz, Leila Carli, Chiara Gobbato  Release:  2000




Above, director Brass gives star Yuliya Mayarchuk a pointer on method acting.




    Watch Trailer One  (click here)  or Trailer Two  (click here)




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Last week, I watched a ghost story called The Woman in Black.  It’s a $15 million studio production, designed as a post-Harry Potter vehicle for superstar Daniel Radcliffe.  It was pretty and polished, but I doubt if I’ll remember a thing about it in three months.

Forty-two years ago, I sat in a small, dingy cinema in rural Minnesota and watched a monster movie called Count Yorga, Vampire.  Its budget was $64,000 and it was originally conceived as a soft-core horror film.  It was el cheapo, to be sure, but Yorga made an impression on me that’s lasted four decades.




Thanks for the memories (or nightmares), Robert Quarry and Bob Kelljan.  Thank who, you ask?  Good question.  Quarry, the actor who played the title character, and Kelljan, the film’s writer-director, don’t have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  They weren’t exactly hot properties back in 1970, either.

“We had just four crew members — that was it,” said Quarry in a 2004 interview.  “There was one makeup man and a few guys with little arc lights.  You say the film was ‘dark and mysterious.’ The film was dark and mysterious because we didn’t have enough lights!”




Kelljan didn’t have much money, but he had something better, something that the makers of Woman in Black apparently lacked:  creativity and a passion for his movie.  If you can overlook Yorga’s cheesy production values — admittedly, no easy feat — the film has some genuinely scary moments.  I’m thinking of three scenes in particular:  one involving a couple stranded in a van on an isolated road; a second featuring a woman and her … well, what used to be her cat; and a third in which the suave, menacing count has a final showdown with his nemesis, a doctor played by veteran TV actor Roger Perry.

Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee be damned, Quarry’s mocking, triumphant bloodsucker in that climactic scene is as good as it gets.  Said a reviewer in the New York Times:  “Robert Quarry [is] the best chief vampire I have seen in years.”


Yorga4                     Yorga5




The acting is all-around respectable — something not common in B-movies of the period — and Kelljan’s script was even seminal in one respect:  In having Yorga take up residence in modern-day Los Angeles, the cinematic vampire was at last removed from his previous haunts in 19th-century Europe.  Fans of Twilight and True Blood can thank Kelljan for the immigration.

At times, the bare-bones production values even work in the film’s favor, because we aren’t distracted by Hollywood gloss.  Yorga’s retro scenery, jerky edits, and scratchy soundtrack are more realistic than many of today’s “found footage” productions.         Grade:  B


Yorga7                  Yorga8

Yorga9  Yorga10


Director:  Bob Kelljan   Cast:  Robert Quarry, Roger Perry, Michael Murphy, Michael Macready, Donna Anders, Judy Lang, Edward Walsh, Julie Conners, Sybil Scotford, Marsha Jordan   Release:  1970






                                                  Watch the Trailer (click here)




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Horror-film addicts will go to great lengths to get their fix, and if that means that we– er, they must travel 4,000 miles to the mountains of Norway, so be it.  Because it turns out that hidden somewhere in the icy peaks north of Oslo there is an abandoned ski lodge.  And living in that lodge is ….

The Norwegian slasher flick Cold Prey is a lot of fun, but not right away.  It begins with a slew of horror-movie clichés:  We listen to ominous news reports about missing skiers;  we meet a carload of attractive-but-vapid young people on their way to a snowboarding holiday; and, naturally, the kids’ cell phones don’t work.

But if you can make it past those too-familiar opening scenes without throwing your cell phone at the screen, the movie delivers some nifty chills once the youngsters arrive at Jotunheimen, a frigid, beautiful mountain range where Cold Prey was filmed.




After that trite opening, director Roar Uthaug makes some good decisions.  For one, he cast Ingrid Bolso Berdal as his heroine.  It’s immediately clear that if anyone can survive an upcoming bloodbath, it’s this steely-eyed brunette.  Berdal is to Scandinavian psychopaths what Sigourney Weaver is to scaly aliens.

Second, Uthaug tapped Norwegian beauty Viktoria Winge to play the other girl in the small party of stranded snowboarders.  Winge is in the movie to suffer a gruesome death — but not before she spends a fair amount of screen time prancing about in skimpy panties.  That is, admittedly, odd behavior for a woman stuck in a heatless lodge in the mountains of Norway.  But who’s complaining?




You might notice that I haven’t yet described the movie’s plot.  You might also have seen one or more of the Friday the 13th flicks, in which case you already know the plot.  Plot doesn’t really matter in a film like this; in fact, too much story can be a detriment.  What matters are goosebumps.  Uthaug sets a leisurely pace as the kids take refuge in a gloomy, 1970s-vintage lodge, exploring its dim hallways and common areas, generating a delicious sense of isolation.  The director is also smart enough not to show too much of the killer, too soon.

Cold Prey was a big hit in Scandinavia, spawning two sequels.  It’s no classic, but it’s better than most films in the much-maligned slasher genre.  And did I mention Viktoria Winge in her panties?        Grade:  B


Prey4 Prey5


Director:  Roar Uthaug   Cast:  Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Rolf Kristian Larsen, Tomas Alf Larsen, Endre Martin Midtstigen, Viktoria Winge, Rune Melby   Release:  2006




Watch Trailers  (click here)




Prey8           Prey9




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Harry Potter and his wizard pals had lots of cool gadgets, including flying broomsticks and an invisibility cloak.  One thing they didn’t have was x-ray vision.

Thank goodness we have Hollywood to give us a peek beneath all those witches’ robes:


Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter)


From Fight Club (below) and The Wings of the Dove (bottom):













Madame Rosmerta (Julie Christie)


According to author Peter Bart’s book, Infamous Players:  A Tale of Movies, the Mob (and Sex), Christie and co-star Donald Sutherland took method acting to an extreme in this scene from Don’t Look Now.  Bart, invited onto the set by director Nicolas Roeg, witnessed the filming of the scene and later wrote about it: “It was clear to me they were no longer simply acting:  they were fucking on camera.”









Fleur Delacour (Clemence Poesy)


From Welcome to the Roses:









Rita Skeeter (Miranda Richardson)


From Dance with a Stranger:







Aunt Petunia Dursley (Fiona Shaw)


From Mountains of the Moon, it’s Aunt Petunia’s bush!









Nymphadora Tonks (Natalia Tena)


From Mrs. Henderson Presents, and from Afterlife:














Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith)


From California Suite:







Sybil Trelawney (Emma Thompson)


From The Tall Guy and, in the beach shots, courtesy of local paparazzi:






.                                          Thompson5     Thompson6







Molly Weasley (Julie Walters)


From She’ll Be Wearing Pink Pyjamas.  Not in this picture, she won’t:







J. K. Rowling


Someone lends a hand to the popular author at a party.





Hermione Granger (Emma Watson)


Emma has thus far managed to keep her on-screen robes buttoned.  However, much to the paparazzi’s delight, she seems to favor unbuttoned tops and see-thru knickers at movie premieres.






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Great settings can compensate for a multitude of movie sins — bad acting, sloppy direction, ridiculous plots.  I will find myself watching a piece of junk like Anaconda, or Deep Blue Sea, a second time (or a third time) simply to soak in the cool visuals.  This is why, I suspect, they invented the mute button.

Without further ado, and to paraphrase Julie Andrews, these are a few of my favorite sets:




The spaceship in Alien.  A haunted house in outer space — what more can a movie fan ask for?









The tree house in Swiss Family Robinson.  If possible, I’d swap out the organ for an entertainment center, but otherwise we are all set.






Overlook2         Overlook1


The Overlook Hotel in The Shining.  Stephen King did not approve of Kubrick’s movie, but who needs Stephen King when you’ve got a walk-in freezer full of ice cream?






The Antarctic research center in The Thing.  I’d prefer to be stranded with six Hooters girls, rather than a bunch of unshaven scientists, but you can’t have everything.








The ramshackle boat in Anaconda.  This is a great example of a setting that looks like fun from the comfort of your Barcalounger.  In reality, I’d probably want the snake to eat me rather than spend five minutes on a boat like this.






The oceanic research lab in Deep Blue Sea.  I must have a thing for isolated research labs.  (Also pictured at top.)








The monastery in The Name of the Rose.  Why is it that places that would be hell to actually live in often look so inviting on the screen?








Hogwarts.  I don’t care how old you are — we all want to live at Hogwarts.


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The expression “so bad it’s good” is overused.  Usually, the movie in question is just plain bad.  Not this time.  Filmmaker extraordinaire Tommy Wiseau’s The Room is so magnificently rotten that it’s wonderful – bust-a-gut, pee-your-pants hilarious.

In the vain, irrepressible Wiseau, the spirit of Ed Wood lives again.  Wiseau writes, directs, produces, distributes, and stars in this labor of love, so there is no doubt about who deserves credit for this monument to schlock.  (Wiseau’s achievement is so enviable that, according to Entertainment Weekly, a script supervisor is now battling him for a directing screen credit.)

Wood, patron saint of the bad movie, would be proud of this film, because its flaws are legion:  continuity errors, drunken editing, abysmal acting, awkward love scenes, incomprehensible storytelling – it’s all here.  If Wiseau falls short of Wood’s standard, it is only because, unaccountably, the cinematography isn’t awful.  And the soundtrack isn’t bad.  But please don’t let those virtues stop you from enjoying this film.

I suppose a plot summary is in order.  Nah – there’s no point.  The story has something to do with lovable, long-haired Johnny (Wiseau), whose fiancée (Juliette Danielle) is cheating on him with his best friend.  I won’t say more, partly because it might spoil the story, and partly because the story makes absolutely no sense.        Grade:  F




Strange But True:  The deleted scenes on the DVD are much better than the actual film.  In fact, if you just saw the outtakes, you might be led to believe that The Room is a pretty decent film.


Room3    Room4


Director:  Tommy Wiseau  Cast:  Tommy Wiseau, Juliette Danielle, Greg Sestero, Philip Haldiman, Carolyn Minnott, Robyn Paris, Mike Holmes, Kyle Vogt, Greg Ellery  Release:  2003


Room5    Room6


                                           Watch the Trailer  (click here)


Room7    Room8


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Important Note:  They say that a film review is often more about the reviewer than the movie itself, so I want it “on the record” that I had nothing to do with the following review.  I didn’t write it; somebody else is responsible for the words and opinions that follow.  I didn’t write this introduction, either.  In fact, I strongly disapprove of this review, just as I disapprove of this introduction.


Anonymous Review of Love Scenes

There was a time when my pecker was perpetually primed, presumptuous, and problematic (I won’t say pretty), and it was all I could do to placate said pecker by preemptively programming the TV.  In other words, we (my penile pal and I) watched “Cinemax After Dark.”

On one such occasion, my persistent protuberance demanded that we view the 1984 movie Love Scenes.

Love Scenes is the story of film director Peter and his lovely wife, movie star Val.  Peter and Val have a boring sex life, so Peter decides to spice things up by casting Val in his latest project, a steamy potboiler co-starring the odious Rick, a preening prick who is, unaccountably, irresistible to women.

During one particularly steamy scene in Peter’s production, Val’s character is seduced by Rick’s character in the back room of an art museum.  (This scene occurs in an art museum because Love Scenes is a classy movie.)  Things get out of hand for the two actors, and they wind up having actual sex.

“I screwed Rick with everybody watching — the whole damned crew!” says Val, just in case we missed it.

Rather than get jealous, Peter gets turned on, and so did my phallic friend.  Peter pens more sex scenes into the plot for his wife.  He decides to insert a scene in which Val has sex with an old fart, a famous art collector named Count Orlando, while she lies rope-bound to a bed.

In other words, in choosing his next kinky fantasy for Val, Peter picks a pickled pecker.

Count Orlando makes his brief, wrinkled, full-frontally nude appearance, enjoys his time with Val, and exits the scene.




All of this sex and nudity is puckishly perverse, and my pesky pulchritude was plenty pleased with all of these perversions.  But at times the film’s brilliant dialogue — sparkling with wit and sophistication — intrudes upon the more important elements:  sex and nudity.

Val:  “Peter, you’re my man.  Don’t forget it.”

Peter:  “Sounds like a line from a movie.”

Peter and Val:  (smiles and giggles)

When all was said and done, my penile projection was placated, although an Internet interview with star Tiffany Bolling cast a pall on my perceptions.

“The nudity bugged me, like in Love Scenes, and I would never do a film like that again,” Bolling pouted.  “The bottom line to it was that there was a lot of nudity in it, and a lot of simulated sex scenes … I don’t want people coming in and getting a joyride off of me trying to get my work done.”

To that, my pulsing pal and I say, “poppycock!”                Grade:  A


Scenes3    Scenes4 


Director:  Bud Townsend  Cast:  Tiffany Bolling, Franc Luz, Julie Newmar, Jack Carter, Daniel Pilon, Britt Ekland, Susan Benn, Carol Ann Susi, Laura Sorrenson, Monique Gabrielle  Release:  1984



Scenes6       Sorry, No Clips Available


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