Monday, November 5, 2012

Bad Movie Monday: Vicious Lips

Vicious Lips (1986)

Free of the need to review only horror films (or films that are allegedly horror) I have turned my attention to more random Netflix goodness...or, ah, badness in this case!

Vicious Lips is the tale of a young woman's dreams realized as she becomes a glam-rock singer in an all-girl band about to go big time. Judy Jetson is a fine singer, and is on open mike night at some random dive when she is "discovered" by band agent Matty Asher, who is looking for a new singer for his band the Vicious Lips, after the late lead singer Ace Lucas (amusingly called Ape Lucas in the IMDB credits but I'm pretty sure throughout the film they were calling her Ace) gets hit by a bus or something (wipes out on her motorcycle? Not all happens off-camera). Oh, and this is all happening somewhere in Spaaaaaace. You see, it's the postmodern retropunk future, the world of the future as imagined through the grainy lens and poor quality set pieces of a 1980's adventure flick.

Where Radioactive Dreams Are Made
Here's the crazy plot of this in a nutshell. This movie is from 1986 so spoilers and all that, in case you care:

Judy Jetson's singing talent is picked up by the Vicious Lips when their cooky trouble-making, double-dealing talent agent discovers her. The rest of the band is like any other 80's era Poofy-hair glam-rock girl band from the 80's....transposed into the 2180's, that is! Or sometime in the future, anyway.

Shortly after their first gig (the music, for 80's style stuff, is pretty good and the segments where they play are done like live-filmed music videos) Matty the agent gets a call from the space-godmistress of rock, a woman who is established in the opening shot of the film to be ruthless and either so influential she can make a man shoot himself or, possibly, she's psychic and can mind control or telekinetically manipulate people. Either way we never see this parlor trick again. Anyway, she has a big event and an opening, so she calls in the Vicious Lips.

With hair like that....I'd stay away from open flames; Ironically everyone in this movie is smoking, constantly
The place for the gig is across SPACE which means a ship is needed, and Matty decides its cheaper to steal a spaceship rather than pay for one. So they do. Coincidentally it's the ship that a serial killer who was known to have "killed 5,000 women" is stowed on board. A serial killer who, as it turns out, looks like a cannibal ape man from Planet of the Apes.

Anyway, the ship is underway, the girls do their thing in classic meandering 80's style fashion (what I have come to realize is "running out the film" or something) when Matty, also a bad pilot, fails to notice his snarky computer screen warnings about an asteroid collision. Bam! Down they go, crash-landing on a desert world.

Matty goes for help....and wanders away to be found, delirious and dehydrated, by to sexy robo-women (I think this is the spot where someone realized that they needed a bit more nudity in the film or being an 80's production and all; up to this point the only nudity has been a triple-breasted alien chick, showcasing several years before Total Recall. Who knew?!?!?

Anyway, the girls hang out on the wrecked ship waiting for help until they get goofy and somehow almost let out the serial killer by accident, before coming to their senses. But too late! He's figured out an escape anyway.

The ship is resting on a dune precipice, and the merry dash to avoid being caught and killed (or eaten) leads to it sliding down the dunes and crashing into an old buried ruin....of the Pleasure Planet complex, apparently. Now the girls escape into this complex, haunted by their mysterious patron, a variety of retropunk undead guys--not retro for the time, mind you; contemporary for 1986, which says a lot about what the 80's thought would survive to the future, culturally, and how it would look; ah, how I don't miss the decade...much!

A lot of nonsense goes on involving zombie punksters, a sudden appearance of the late Ace Lucas, more ape-man serial killer madness and then finally we get to the end when it turns out that Judy Jetson had passed out during her much more normal and uneventful visit to the place where they will be performing for the big time, and a "you were there...and you were there...and even YOU were there, mister Ape Man!" moment essentially transpires. And they all live happily ever after.

It can be hard to tell how much of the plot was intended or accidental when the movie is full of no-name actors, poor quality sound, bad acting, and a muddy plot that starts off as a "girl band gets discovered" tale, quickly migrates to a "road trip in space becomes disaster film meets serial killer" adventure and then ends up being an allegorical tale of Oz. I was genuinely perplexed if they were making this all up as they went along, or if they were actually sticking to a plan.

The Vicious Lips

See this movie if you:

1. Love HUGE FRIZZY HAIR everywhere

2. Like badly rendered derivative "Oz" films

3. Have a fetishistic taste for the wacky glam-rock vs. punk scene of the mid eighties. Like me.

4. Would like to hear a couple decent songs amidst all the carnage.

5. Love watching movies with classic-era badly done shaky starships-on-strings effects.

6. Want to see a triple-breasted woman in a movie several years BEFORE Total Recall.

A perfectly good C for the 80's, although I'd rate this a D- if something like it was spewed out today. It's the kind of film that could only have been made when it came out....any attempt to make a movie like this today would be missing practically every oozing chunk of 80's culture and pseudo-movie-logic necessary for it to work.

Pleasurebots of the Desert World

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