S – “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” to “Swinging Cheerleaders”

SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS (1964)

SATAN’S SCHOOL FOR LUST

SAW (2004)

SCARY MOVIE 3 (2004)

SCOOBY-DOO (2002)
In what may very well be the missed opportunity of the century, the inevitable live-action Scoob moov is (save a few obvious PG stoner jokes: Shaggy falls in love with a girl named Mary Jane.) designed for the kiddies. It’s not the fault of the game cast though. Matthew Lillard and Linda Cardelini seem to be channeling Shaggy and Velma, respectively. Sara Michelle Gellar and Freddy Prinze Jr. are passable as Daphne and Fred. The CGI Scooby is about as good as you could expect from filmmakers faced with the unenviable task of creating a live-action movie based on a cartoon about a talking dog. In some ways the movie succeeds at being as lame as its source material but silly me, expecting a movie to maybe transcend a seventies Hanna-Barbara cartoon. Most of the action takes place on an island theme park where teen patrons are being turned into “body snatcher” like doubles. Rowan Atkinson is horribly misused as the park’s proprietor. What might have been a cool retro adventure for all ages turns out to be a hyper, junky distraction for eight-year olds. The last reel’s villain reveal was supposed to be a surprise and the movie’s biggest joke. It’s a groaner. I can’t resist: Scooby-dooby-DON’T. A sequel followed offering more of the same.
* ½

SCREAMING SKULL, THE ()

SHOOT ‘EM UP (2007)

SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2003)

SHERLOCK HOLMES (2009)

SHOCK TREATMENT ( 1981 )

SILVER BULLET (1985)

SIN CITY (2005)

SISTER STREET FIGHTER

SLC PUNK ( )

SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983)
The fact that this is still considered a Friday the 13th knockoff gets me riled. It might not exist without the success of that franchise, but it’s got far more to offer than any entry of that tired series. Little Angela is sent off to summer camp with her cousin and people start dying. Most of the kills have it coming, but there’s no masked stalker to be found here. This killer is left to the last truly terrifying few moments before the credits. A guy is killed by bees on the crapper. A bitch counselor is assaulted with her curling iron. (Eesh. Don’t ask.) There’s a pretty nifty bow and arrow effect. There’s even more to love when you consider the authentic 80’s camp-movie feel, the outrageously dated wardrobe and the sublime performance of young Felissa Rose as Angela. But the climax is the real attraction. As a twist ending, it may set a precedent of sorts. As a shocking image, it’s a doozy. As an 80’s horror film, Sleepaway Camp is a classic. Or it should be.
***

SLEEPAWAY CAMP 2 (1988)
Where Sleepaway Camp played it campy but relatively straight, it’s sequels decided to go for lame comedy and cheap-looking gore (but plenty of it, to be fair). The story of the first film is alluded to and Angela is back – but it’s not OUR Angela. It’s Pamela Springsteen (yes, Bruce’s sister) and her shrill performance as the camp counselor from hell is lame and a disgrace as a follow-up to the first film. Regardless, this (along with 1989’s Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland) has a fair share of fans. There’s more nudity in addition to the extra blood, but it’s wrapped around a whole lot of nothing. Sleepaway Camp IV was never finished but unused footage of it is available in the Sleepaway Camp Survival Kit box set put out in 2003, sold exclusively by Best Buy (?!). Return to Sleepaway Camp from the original’s director was announced in 2004.
*

A SMELL OF HONEY, A SWALLOW OF BRINE (1966)
This David Friedman-penned roughie is about as sleazy as they get. Woah-oh, here she comes; Sharon is a man-eater. A sadistic and deliberate cock-tease, Sharon goes from man to man, seducing, undressing and then screaming rape. She even makes time to torment her crushed-out lesbian roommate. There’s an out-of-this-world S&M dream sequence and some pretty priceless dialogue but it’s not for the squeamish. Sharon’s comeuppance arrives in the form of a backstage rape and beating at the hands of a really awful nightclub singer who minutes earlier sings “gonna’ get me a woman” to a club full of people. Luckily it’s all too goofy to be disturbing. Boatloads of lovely nudity abound. A classic example of sixties sleaze that worked hard to earn: **1/2

SMILEY FACE (2007)

SOUTHLAND TALES (2007)

SPEED RACER – THE MOVIE
Not really a movie, but a collection of three Speed stories (most episodes were one half of a complete adventure). The ever-popular Mammoth Car is here. Depending on how much you enjoy the clumsily dubbed Japanese action cartoon its stories hold up surprisingly well, even if the animation doesn’t. An attempt to upgrade the look and feel of the Speed Racer franchise failed miserably in the 90s. Without the big anime eyes, the racecar prodigy isn’t the same.

SPIDER BABY (1968)

SPIDER-MAN 2 (2004)
Wisely functioning as a direct continuation of the first film, part two cranks up the drama significantly. Under the popcorn movie surface, there’s a good story here. Peter Parker is conflicted about being a superhero. It’s hard to resist Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane. Alfred Molina makes a sympathetic and complicated Doctor Octaveous (Doc Ock) – a worthy successor to Willem DeFoe’s Green Goblin. (Marvel always had the best villains.) Aunt May steals her share of scenes. The dialogue is true to a Marvel comic book and the actors’ sincerity sells it when it counts most. The first half-hour seems kind of talky but when the action kicks in it rarely lets up. The effects are better than in part one – ditto the story, the action and the character development. This would make a good double feature with Superman II which also explores the consequence of a hero laying his gig on the line for a piece of ass. The end sets up a third installment. Kirsten Dunst gets wet again but it’s not as delicious as what we get from her last drenched-top display. The marketing blitz that blew into town with this movie was impossible to escape. ***

STARMAN (1984)
John Carpenter’s deft attempt at romantic sci-fi comedy casts Jeff Bridges as a man from space who assumes the identity of Karen Allen’s dead husband. Bridges is funny as the blinky lovable outsider and Allen deserves more genre work. A TV series starring Robert Hays in the alien role enjoyed a brief critically-praised run.
** ½

STAR WARS: EPISODE I – THE PHANTOM MENACE

STAR WARS: EPISODE II – ATTACK OF THE CLONES

STAR WARS: EPISODE III – REVENGE OF THE SITH

THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL (1978)

THE STRANGERS (2008)

STREET CORNER

STREET FIGHTER

STREET OF A THOUSAND PLEASURES (1972)
Another Harry Novak-produced soft-core nudie. An American geologist saves the life of a rich Sheik and is treated to a buffet of naked of women in a Middle Eastern marketplace for beautiful young sex slaves(!) Almost the entire running time consists of close-up shots of female flesh being groped, prodded and squeezed. To be fair, the girls don’t seem to be mind that much. Lots of mismatched shots of our lead ogling girls are used over and over again. There are a handful of laughably staged soft sex scenes and almost all of the dialogue appears to have been rerecorded in postproduction. Most of the models playing slaves are very pretty and busty. There is the surprising appearance of on-screen penis as well. Racy but repetitive. **

STRIKE OF THE TORTURED ANGELS (1982)

STRIPORAMA ()

SUPERMAN AND THE MOLE-MEN
(1951)

SUPERMAN III (1983)
Christopher Reeves brings sincerity and heart to a movie that doesn’t deserve it. Richard Lester, who directed the ill-fitting segments of Supe II after the Salkinds made the mistake of canning Richard Donner, takes full control here and tries to squeeze slapstick humor into a series that had, up to that point, taken its mythology relatively seriously. A bold risk and an embarrassing mistake. A shame because there was some stuff to work with here – primarily the evil Superman that emerges when the last son of Krypton is exposed to synthetic red kryptonite. The junkyard showdown between Clark Kent and the bad Superman is pretty cool. But then there’s the whole matter of Richard Pryor as a nebbish computer genius of all things. Robert Vaughn and jazz singer, Annie Ross attempt to retain dignity as the evil brother and sister millionaires looking to control the world’s oil supply. Kent returning to Smallville and his high school sweetheart Lana Lang provide some nice moments. Margot Kidder only makes bookend appearances as Lois Lane because of money disputes. Overall, however, the movie is undone by Lester’s British penchant for Benny-Hill style slapstick. The Man of Steel deserves reverence – not this shoddy, unfunny disaster with its dated, supercomputer plot. A good thing is driven further into the ground by a third sequel that ends up being even worse. **

SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE (1987)
The title pretty much says it all. I try to forget that Chris Reeves is partially responsible for the hands-across-America anti-nukes plot. The incoherent story has Supes taking it upon himself to rid the world of all nuclear weapons after he receives a letter from a schoolboy who wants Superman to help the world give peace a chance. (There’s an unintentionally funny bit where Superman speaks to the UN!) Mariel Hemingway shows up as a foil for Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane. In what I can only guess was the writer’s attempt to be timely, a corporate take-over threatens to turn the Daily Planet into a tabloid. Gene Hackman shows up for a paycheck as Lex Luthor and looks absolutely horrified to be involved. Luthor has created a –are you ready for this?- Nuclear Man, the most generic-looking super villain to ever don gold lame’. Jon Cryer only makes things worse as Luthor’s valley boy (?) nephew. Everything about this is wrong, wrong, wrong. Aren’t special effects supposed to get better with the passing of time? Wide shots of Superman flying are embarrassing as the color of his costume changes between blue and aqua. Superman flies Hemmingway into space without any oxygen and she’s so unfazed that her hair barely moves. Too depressing to be good for a laugh. The director, Sidney J. Furie, directed Lady Sings the Blues, but is also responsible for the Rodney Dangerfield cross-dressing soccer “comedy,” Ladybugs.
*

SWINGING CHEERLEADERS, THE (1974)


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