Hi keeba and hello, movie lovers! Read any good books lately? If you are a lady person of the female gender, surely you have gotten your hands on "50 Shades of Grey".
A quasi-porn barn burner, it features a sweet young thing falling under the sway of an impossibly hot business tycoon who introduces her to the dubious delights of S&M, bondage and rough sex.
The hero even has his own S&M playroom, which he calls "The Red Room of Pain."
O-o-o-o-o-h, doesn't that sound naughty?
Of course, we Junk Cinema fans can only shakes our heads and laugh over all the commotion this tome has caused. That's because A) we know this book is just a badly written piece of C-R-A-P and B) all the supposedly naughty stuff has already been done BEFORE and BETTER in countless bad movie classics.
Because it is the stated purpose of this blog to praise, promote and preserve Junk Cinema for future generations, I can think of no better example to demonstrate its trailblazing cultural impact than a point by point demonstration of Junk Cinema's superiority over "50 Shades of Grey".
Where do I begin? How about at the beginning?
The heel/hero of "50" is a rich, handsome businessman/tycoon/control freak/bully with an unquenchable sexual appetite. It goes without saying that Christian Grey is "troubled", "struggles with demons" and "can't love"--which explains why he must hog-tie and spank his cuddlemates.
Now, all you gals who believe Mr. Grey is an updated Mr. Rochester with an S&M fetish I politely say: put down the vibrator and pay attention. Way back in 1964, the delightfully daffy trash masterpiece "The Carpetbaggers" introduced movie goers to Jonas Cord...a rich, handsome businessman/tycoon/control freak/bully with an unquenchable sexual appetite. Jonas was also "troubled", "struggled with demons" and "couldn't love".
As played by future "A-Team" stalwart George Peppard, Jonas Cord liked it just as rough as Christian Grey, much to the delight of his step-mother (and ex-fiancee!) Rina Marlow (tramp expert Carroll Baker). In fact, when Jonas charges into his step-mom's bedroom after learning his pop has dropped dead, Rina is stripped down for action in a sexy black nightie.
"Mistreat me! Make love to me!" Rina begs. "Anything! Everything! Then throw me out!"
Of course, Jonas is still so mad that Rina dumped him to marry his wizened old father (Lief Erickson) that he refuses to give into her pleas, which drives Rina even more batty.
Later, Jonas will briefly marry flapper Elizabeth Ashley. However, because she wants kids, Jonas decides to goad her into a divorce by ordering step-mom Rina up to his hotel room and--in front of the horrified Ashley, no less--rips off her dress and sinks his fangs into her neck. While his wife storms off to find a lawyer, Rina screeches, "You dirty, filthy, perverted monster! You're the meanest, cruelest, most loathsome thing I've ever met!"
And we're still not done! After Jonas makes hooker Martha Hyer a movie star, he proposes marriage. Jonas being Jonas, he has a unique take on the institution: "All I ask for is your beauty and your sex! I don't want love or children or home baked cookies!"
Like Christian, Jonas has "demons" that drive his nutty behavior and fuel his off-beat tastes. See, his twin brother died incurably insane at the age of 8. His dad treated him "like a leper". His mom was a booze hound.That's why Jonas abuses people and doesn't want kids and must have kinky sex! Doesn't everything make sense now? Next to Jonas Cord, Christian Grey is just another wimp trying to heal his inner child.
Moving right along, we have Christian Grey's "Red Room of Pain", where the virginal Anastasia Steele learns the meaning of "hurts so good."
Sorry to burst your bubble "50 Shade"rs, but Junk Cinema covered that territory way back when Mr. Grey was just a gleam in the milkman's eye.
"The Adventurers" (1970) is a hysterically over-stuffed turkey set in a fictional Latin American country where they have a revolution every 20 minutes. Among the international cast is Charles Aznavour, who plays a shifty financial whiz who keeps an S&M rumpus room on his palatial estate. He even boasts that he "negotiates some of his best deals" there.
How appropriate, then, that hero Dax (Bosnian matinee idol Bekim Fehmiu) and his loyal side kick Fat Cat (Ernest Borgnine) truss Aznavour up in his little shop of horrors after they learn he's double crossed them-- and leave him there to rot.
Of course, for a more detailed bad movie exploration of S&M hijinks, there is the would-be "adult" drama "91/2 Weeks" (1986), featuring Kim Basinger in what is surely her nuttiest career move outside of marrying Alec Baldwin.
Kimmie plays a recent divorcee who unwisely pursues a relationship with Mickey Rourke, a fellow who enjoys his off best stimulation just a little too much.
Like "50", "91/2 Weeks" demonstrates how an unsuspecting gal can fall under the sway of a whip-cracking sadist if she's not careful. It all begins so innocently, with Mickey blindfolding and force feeding his newest cuddlemate Jell-O, cough syrup and other goodies on the kitchen floor. Then they move on to dressing in drag and necking in public, all the better to pick fights with strangers and have sex on the sidewalk. Next Mickey takes Kimmie to shop for the latest S&M gear and begins purring such sweet nothings as, "Spread your legs for daddy." Slowly but surely, Kimmie begins to wonder if all this is good for her, especially when Mickey starts making her crawl on all fours to pick up money while he (yes) cracks a whip.
In the end, Kimmie is finally able to extricate herself from Mickey's increasingly dominating grasp, something that proved harder for her to do with Alec Baldwin.
Perhaps the most talked about aspect of "50 Shades" is heroine Anastasia Steele "surrendering" to the increasingly painful ministrations of Mr. Grey. Critics and social commentators have been real Gabby Gerties about this, as if this type of relationship had never been depicted before, which it has--at least in Junk Cinema. We will now consider the cheese-ball classics "Wild Orchid" (1989) and "Zandalee" (1991), where nice girls grapple with the psycho/sexual manipulations of rich men ( and its ALWAYS rich men. Nobody goes through this stuff for some p/t clerk at Wal-Mart).
The uproarious "Wild Orchid" stars--yes indeed!--Mickey Rourke as a rich, reclusive, bandanna wearin', Harley ridin' millionaire who sets his sights on naive lawyer Carre' Otis--a legal eagle so inept she makes Lionel Hutz from "The Simpson's" look like Clarence Darrow.
Dunked in Quick Tanning Syrup, possessing the biggest chipmunk cheeks this side of Pia Zadora and mumbling his lines with a mouth numbed up with Novocaine, Mickey first meets Carre' wearing a bear mask--and promptly bites her neck. This sets the tone of their relationship, which escalates to Mickey forcing Carre' to watch a bickering couple have make-up sex in their limo (egged on by Rourke). Later on, Mickey will get Carre' to vanquish her virginity to a stranger he picks out himself.
As events pick up steam, Carre' begins to wonder why Mickey likes to do all this weird stuff. See, Mickey doesn't like people to touch him. So, he manipulates people to "touch for him", thus allowing Mickey to get his kicks from a safe distance. And why does Mickey do this? Is he impotent? Afraid of germs? Worried his spray tan won't withstand the sweat generated during the heavy petting?
Uh, no. The reason Mickey must be this hands-off puppet master is because his pa deserted the family when he was a kid. This so shattered Mickey that he had to repeat the third grade...which led him to a life of manipulating people to have sex for him. You got to hand it to director Zalman King for coming up with the unusual correlation between grade retention and developing kinky sex habits later in life.( If I ever have a student who is considered for retention, I will definitely bring this up at the grade level meeting. "Are you sure repeating second grade is right for Johnny? We don't want him to end up like Mickey Rourke in "Wild Orchid").
Meanwhile, Otis, who stumbles through her movie debut as if someone had repeatedly struck her in the back of the head with a thick iron skillet, decides to help Mickey heal from his wounds. Her form of treatment is to open up her blouse, pop out her breasts and say, "Just reach out and touch me." Unconventional, but it works. The obligatory sex scene that follows has Carre' and Mickey moaning, groaning and sweating up a storm, so much so that it was rumored the co-stars were actually doin' The Nasty, something they both vigorously denied. Anyway, once the deed is done, the happy couple hop on Mickey's hog and ride off into the sunset.
Alas, Rourke and Otis, who became a couple during the shooting of this fateful flick, were not so lucky. They publicly fought and broke up, married and broke up, reconciled and broke up and filed restraining orders against each other. Eventually they learned to leave each other alone, to the relief of many. It is sad to think, though, that while Carre' and Mickey's love did not last the test of time, their movie did--just not the way the producer's intended. As they say, love fades, but bad movies never die.
Our next feature is also A Bad Movie That Won't Die, no matter how the participants may want it to. "Znadalee" (1991) features future Oscar winner Nicholas Cage as a ragin' Cajun love machine who takes it upon himself to reignite the pilot light of married gal Erika Anderson. Considering that Anderson is hitched to Judge Reinhold, who happens to be suffering through a bout of impotence, you might think that's not such a bad idea. However, once you've sampled the flick, I promise you will change your mind.
Anderson, who behaves like a model preparing for a Playboy audition, originally married Reinhold because "he was a poet." Yet when hubby starts spouting off like the most insufferable guy in your Lit 101 class, you can understand why he's working for the family business instead of head lining poetry slams. "I'm just paralyzed--a paraplegic of the soul," Judge sighs after another disappointment between the sheets.(If that's his idea of pillow talk, just think how rotten his poetry must be.)
As even the most patient of wives can only take so much, it's no wonder our heroine buckles at the knees when Cage pants, "We're inevitable. I want to shake you naked and eat you alive Zandalee!"
Before you know it, Cage and Anderson are whooping it up like there's no tomorrow, with Nicholas introducing his cuddlemate to a variety of new experiences. Perhaps the most novel involves Cage applying olive oil to Anderson's, um, lower body and then snorting coke off her. Smooth talker that he is, Cage is also never without some pithy remark to murmur in his lady love's ear, such as "When I go in my kitchen to make toast, I smell your skin."
Just like Anastasia Steele, Zandalee begins to have second thoughts about her extra marital squeeze and his increasingly bizarre behavior. Snorting coke off your body is one thing; having sex on top of the dryer while guests (including hubby) are in the next room is another. So Anderson breaks it off, hoping to repair her marriage. This leads to one of those spurned-lover-follows-couple-to-their-remote-cabin showdowns that are the staple of countless Lifetime movies and straight to video howlers like "Zandalee".
So you see, movie lovers, "50 Shades of Grey" is tiny taters compared to the glories of Junk Cinema. Just about every goofy, nutty, off the wall scenario you could possibly imagine has already been lovingly crafted into a piece of grade A cheese. Love lorn cross dressers? Watch "Glen or Glenda". Bobby soxers going bad? Catch "The Violent Years". Fear your PC might develop the hots for your spouse? Try "The Demon Seed". A musical featuring strippers and zombies? Been there and done that with "The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-up Zombies". Too scared to take an acid trip? Put "Lisztomania" in your VCR/DVD player, sit back and trip the light fantastic--it's totally legal and fun!
Accept no substitutes! The next time some over heated bestseller is bandied about as a cultural phenomenon, check with Junk Cinema first. Chances are there is an unjustly neglected bad movie classic waiting for you. To paraphrase Jonas Cord, "Junk Cinema is beautiful and no good and that makes it better!"