Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)

Mambo Kings (1992)

Sometimes very good movies never find an audience. Such was the case with Mambo Kings, a soap opera story about two Cuban brothers who hope to establish themselves as musicians in New York in the early 1950s. The older brother is a cocky, sexually aggressive tough guy with unlimited energy (Armand Assante), and the other is a sensitive, dreamy-eyed romantic (Antonio Banderas) who can't ever seem to recover from losing the love of his life back in Cuba.

The plot developments are just the usual grist for the soap opera mill. The story begins in Cuba when the older brother takes a knife from a mafioso club owner who had stolen the younger brother's dream woman, Maria. The older brother finds out a crucial secret after he gets knifed. It turns Maria was forced into Hobson's choice - marry the gangster or watch Banderas die. Maria therefore not only married the bad guy but told Banderas she did it for love, because she knew that was the only way she could keep Banderas out of Cuba, and therefore alive. Maria told Assante the truth, but made him swear an oath never to tell Banderas, an oath which would later haunt both brothers.

You get the idea.

Life in the United States centers around the trails and tribulations of making it in the music business. The boys have the talent, but they don't know how to deal with corrupt promoters and shady club owners. Before they know it, they are blackballed from the big clubs and are playing Bar Mitzvahs for pocket change. Their fortunes change when they run into Desi Arnaz (played by Desi Arnaz, Jr.), who gives them a big break by letting them perform one of their numbers on I Love Lucy. Their TV appearance is is shown in a brilliant sequence which  seamlessly intercuts our heroes with actual period footage of Lucille Ball to make it seem as if they really were having a conversation with America's favorite redhead.

While the lads maneuver through the entertainment industry, they argue frequently because they have very different goals in life. Meanwhile, their private lives get complicated. Banderas marries a schoolteacher, but never really loves her because he can't forget his beloved Maria. Assante goes through an assortment of sexy women, but can't confess the identity of his own true love because it is the schoolteacher who married his brother.

Tragedy ensues.

The melodramatic plot, although reasonably interesting, is not a reason to watch the film. There are, however, two very good reasons:

  • Brilliant characterization from Assante and Banderas, who seem to have been born to play these two roles.
    • Like this movie, Assante always seems to be underrated and forgotten, although he is an exceptionally intelligent actor who can do just about anything from serious drama to comedy. In this film he plays the drums (convincingly) alongside Tito Puente, dances well, speaks some Spanish (he's a New Yorker, and his actual ethnic mixture is Italian-Irish), and just flat-out owns the screen whenever the camera comes near him, in a performance reminiscent of Anthony Quinn's career role in Zorba the Greek. Antonio Banderas also did an excellent job as the younger brother, but he was clearly the second banana in the film, although he went on to superstardom while Assante went on to ... well, whatever the hell he's doing now. I suppose he's now using all of that intelligence and talent to play TV game shows with Shadoe Stevens and Carrot Top. OK, I'm kidding. Assante works steadily in films, but seems to be relegated to cable and video projects lately, and has never seemed to reached the stardom he seemed to deserve.
    • By the way, props to Marushka Detmers, a Dutch actress who was entirely credible as a Cuban-American.


  • A tremendously enjoyable re-creation of the Cuban-American music scene from that era.
    • Tito Puente and Celia Cruz play themselves, and other music is provided by The Mambo All-Stars, Linda Ronstadt, Duke Ellington, and Los Lobos. If this music doesn't get your shoulders moving, it ain't never gonna happen. And if the lively Latin rhythms don't turn you on, there are also beautiful romantic ballads. Los Lobos provided the voices for Banderas and Assante in the Oscar-nominated "Beautiful Maria of My Soul", and the legendary Celia Cruz sang Guantanamera with most of the cast in a wedding scene.

If you enjoy Cuban music, this is mandatory viewing. Even if you don't care for the music, it is still a slick entertainment filled with great period flavor and intense emotions ranging from joyful energy to soulful romance to mourning. It would make a good date movie, even though it bombed in its original theatrical run.

I like the movie so much that I was disappointed by the limited special features, which include only a very brief making-of featurette and one additional scene which was not seen in the theatrical version.


Marushka Detmers

Valerie McIntosh

Without You I'm Nothing (1990)

A performance piece from Sandra Bernhard. The piece is presented as if it were a documentary - kind of a concert film with a little background. In fact, it is a scripted mockumentary with the premise that Bernhard has too big a head from doing a one-woman show on Broadway, and finds out that her act just doesn't play in Peoria. She performs lavishly choreographed and orchestrated pieces in elaborate costumes, but we see that her audience consists only of a few people in a summer club, and that they aren't even remotely interested in her show business insider material.

Bernhard presents some standard comedic punchlines, but most of the show is high concept performance art - material like Bernhard performing material entirely inappropriate for her audiences, with the entire act turning into some kind of Brechtian alienation of the audience. It's brilliant stuff. She's obviously an intelligent person with a strong aesthetic sense and a wide-ranging grasp of different aesthetic and performing styles. She does solid impersonations of showbiz characters, sings well, dances well, and strips down to show off an excellent body.

Having said all those nice things, I should probably add that I was just as bored as her fictional audience. I guess it is all over my head, or just too damned "inside," or maybe just too aloof for my taste, but I basically hated it, even while admiring her far-reaching talent.

Sandra Bernhard


'Clips and comments by ICMS:

Paradise (1983)

Here are the next two clips of a naked Phoebe Cates in the surf in "Paradise". The clips are rather short, but the sunset and Phoebe make up nicely for that, don't you agree?
  • Phoebe Cates (1,2)

'Caps and comments by Hankster:

Today the Time Machine travels to 1985 for a jungle sleazefest called "Cut and Run" produced by Ruggero Deodato. Originally released in a cut version in the U.S., it now is available un-cut on DVD. Not for the squeamish as it has some very gory scenes; like a man split in half and cult favorite villain Michael Berryman ("The Hills Have Eyes", "Weird Science", "The Devil's Rejects") chopping off heads.

So we get the gore out of the way first as we have unknowns who are shown full frontal, two of them have their heads sliced off by Berryman and the other knifed to death.


We move on to Valentina Forte in a topless and not-quite-willing love scene. Then boobs and a quick flash of fuzz in the shower. Boobs falling out of her blouse in the grass. Her final cap is her demise as she has been shot with a blow dart.

Valentina Forte

Lisa Blount is grabbed , but escapes the grasp of Berryman , only to wind up as a "Babe in Bondage" suspended from a tree.

Lisa Blount

Some "Hankster Light" to wind up the day as Angelina Jolie shows a bit of boobage in "Taking Lives".

Angelina Jolie

Crimson Ghost
Today the Ghost pays tribute to Skinemax babe Gabriella Hall (she sure gets nekkid a lot, doesn't she!).

Here she is scenes from an episode of the late night series "Beverly Hills Bordello".

Gabriella Hall

The amazing Eva Green making her film nudity debut in "The Dreamers".

Here is Jennifer Garner looking fantastic in lingerie and bikinis from the Season 2 Box set of "Alias".

The Skin-man serves up some 'caps from the Canadian cable series "Bliss". This was made for Showcase, the Canadian Showtime, so you know the nudity is good :-)

Michelle Duquet in the episode "Six Days".

Veronica Hurnick in the episode "Voice".

Jenny Levine in the episode "Guys and Dolls".

Michelle Lipper in the episode "Leaper".

Gina Wilkinson in the episode "In Praise of Drunkeness and Fornication".

Movie Reviews


Here are the latest movie reviews available at


  • The yellow asterisks indicate that I wrote the review, and am deluded into thinking it includes humor.
  • If there is a white asterisk, it means that there isn't any significant humor, but I inexplicably determined there might be something else of interest.
  • A blue asterisk indicates the review is written by Tuna (or Junior or Brainscan, or somebody else besides me)
  • If there is no asterisk, I wrote it, but am too ashamed to admit it.

Other Crap
Playboy announces an internet version of the magazine

The trailer for Capote

  • Philip Seymour Hoffman stars in a Truman Capote biopic which focuses on the writing of In Cold Blood and the relationship which Capote developed with one of the killers.
  • The page linked above also includes an excellent write-up by Gerald Clarke, who wrote the book which inspired the movie.
  • This looks like it may be an excellent movie. Here's the official site

Chris Farley Gets Posthumous Walk of Fame Star

Weekly World News: "3 Foods That Make Gals Horny" - including their highly coveted recipe for Bavarian Dingle Loaf

Were the United States and the Soviet Union on the brink of nuclear war in 1983?

Would You Buy A Used Cure From This Man? Crimes and clowns: A look at pitchman Kevin Trudeau's shady past

National Lampoon Covers: 1970 - 1998

Jimmy Kimmel's Unnecessary Censorship: Aug 26th, 2005

Jimmy Kimmel plays "whose body part is it?" with Hugh Hefner

"the 1930 edition of the DeMoulin Bros. & Co. catalog titled 'Burlesque and Side Degree Specialties, Paraphernalia and Costumes.'"

URL says it all: Regrettably, not one o' them sumbitches fell into the disposal. Don't miss my own site, coming soon,

Jon Stewart discusses Iraq with fellow iconoclast Christopher Hitchens

Steve Carell will replace Jim Carrey as the star in the sequel to Bruce Almighty. Carell's minor role in the first film will be elevated to become the focal point.

Redford and Newman, together again?

Klingon Fairy Tales.

  • "Snow White and the Six Dwarves She Killed With Her Bare Hands and the Seventh Dwarf She Let Get Away as a Warning to Others"

Protoclown declares: I HATE CLOWNS

A man who allegedly walked into Jennifer Aniston's home and said he was looking for the actress was arrested Thursday for investigation of trespassing

Ben Affleck has signed a deal to be the new face of Lynx deodorant in the UK

Bush Approval Rating Sets More New Records

  • Bush's current job approval rating is the second lowest of all two term presidents in the summer after their re-election. (Nixon was lower, but his case is exceptional. The other presidents' approval ratings were 58% or higher.)

The Daily Show looks at President Bush's "counter-mom" strategy.

The Daily Show's Samantha Bee investigates local city council members who are botching other people's vacations.

The Daily Show demonstrates that Bush's simple, catchy talking points are quite frankly, easy to dance to.

Dude - it's EXTREME crochet.

Nature's Call - an exhibit of flower-shaped urinals

Jailed man locks himself up with 8 female prisoners

Water Flowed Recently on Mars, NASA Scientists Say

Hitachi Unveils World's First Terabyte DVD Recorder . The hard disk will hold about 128 hours of high def programming.

Pat Reeder
Pat's comments in yellow...

Finally!! - The New York Times reports that Hollywood studios have reached a consensus on the main reason why ticket sales are down: people have realized that the movies suck. New Line Chairman Robert Shaye said you once could "count on enough people to come whether you failed at entertaining them or not, out of habit, or boredom, or a desire to get out of the house." But Universal Vice Chairman Marc Shmuger said people are "beginning to wake up, that what used to pass as summer excitement isn't that exciting or that entertaining." Sony chairman Michael Lynton vowed that from now on, Sony will make "only movies we hope will be really good."

  • The old plan was to make movies they hoped were total crap... That was MUCH easier.
  • Starting with "Passion of the Christ II, III and IV."
  • Translation: Look for a remake of "Star Wars" with an all-penguin cast.
  • They don't understand it: the imaginary critics they created thought the summer movies were terrific.
  • People realized Hollywood was hopeless when they couldn't even make a "Deuce Bigalow" movie that was better than the first one.

    And They Tip Over A Lot - The New York Times reports that the boom in breast implants, particularly in Southern California, Texas and Florida, is causing problems for fashion designers. They make clothes that fit slender models, but women who have inflated their busts to a D or F cup find that their waists and chests now require two different sizes. The women say their clothes still fit funny, even after expensive alterations. The Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills now sells more size 12s than any other US store, because women there need a 12 to fit their breasts, while the rest of the garment has to be cut down to a size 2.

  • Size 2? In Beverly Hills, that's a cow! Make it a zero!
  • At WalMart, women buy a size 12 and let the bottom out to a size 24.
  • This is why Pam Anderson just goes around naked.
  • If you went to all that trouble and expense to look like a stripper, why wear clothes at all?

    Size 12 Bust, Size 2 I.Q. - Tara Reid, whose incongruously large breast once fell out of her gown on a red carpet and she apparently didn't even feel it enough to notice, has finally admitted her boobs are fake. After denying the rumors for years, she now said, "I mean, everyone does it. I don't know why I'm the one who gets so much attention."

  • Maybe because you're the one who's standing on the red carpet with your boob hanging out?
  • Her breast isn't the only part of her body that's completely numb.
  • She could've worn falsies, but then her boob would've fallen out ONTO the carpet.

    Or "Kind Of Useless" - The international aid agency Oxfam is holding an Internet celebrity charity auction, and the hottest item is singer Bjork's notorious Oscar dress that looks like a big swan. An Oxfam spokeswoman said they asked celebrities for items with a story behind them, so buyers would know they were getting something special. She called the swan dress "kind of priceless" and said they hope it sparks a bidding war.

  • ...Between a transvestite and a ventriloquist.
  • Bjork donated it because it's the kind of thing you can only wear once.
  • I'm betting the story behind this dress somehow involves drugs.
  • If you buy it, a mental illness charity will hold an auction for YOU.

    FAKE Jewels?! - Next month in London, a dog shelter will raise money by auctioning fiberglass dogs decorated by celebrities, including Elton John, Tom Cruise and Orlando Bloom. The dogs are decorated with everything from autographs to fake jewels. They are described as the ideal "celebrity canines": they never need walking or feeding, they just stand there and look beautiful.

  • Except for the Tom Cruise dog: it jumps all over the furniture.
  • Like real celebrities, they look beautiful, do no work and never eat.
  • The Paris Hilton fiberglass dog is a hollow bitch with one facial expression.

    Bingodulla Is VERY Angry! - Tom Cruise is denying that he gave an interview in which he claims to be a reincarnated Scientology prophet. It quotes him as saying he dated Katie Holmes in a previous life, and "I only took my present form because Bingodulla, whom all Scientologists worship as the Supreme Thetan, selected me to spread the gospel of Scientology to the glib, the uninformed masses." Cruise's spokesman called it an Internet hoax, created to ridicule his religious beliefs.

  • ...before the glib, uninformed masses.
  • Although it actually makes more sense than his real interviews.
  • If he dated Katie Holmes in a previous life, didn't she learn ANYTHING?

  • Tuna

    Currently on disability. If you'd like to get in touch with him, his email address is

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