"Silent Night Deadly Night"

Silent Night Deadly Night (1984) caused a furor when it was released. Parents came out of the woodwork to condemn the film makers for creating a Santa Claus villain, and making a film so violent and gory. They succeeded it getting it banned from showing during the Christmas season. Maybe I am just dense, but it is (and was) rated R, and was called Silent Night Deadly Night. What was in these parents so called brains when they took kids of the "I believe in Santa" age to this film? It is a low budget ($750k) slasher film with evil Santas, but is far from the bloodiest I have seen. It is better made than most, and gives more insight than is usual into the psyche of the slasher.

Young Billy Chapmen is on his way to visit grandpa with his parents and his baby brother, and can't stop talking about Santa coming that night. Grandpa seems in a permanent trance, but when everyone leaves Billy with him to have a conference with the doctors, Grandpa tells Billy that there is a downside to Santa. If you have been naughty, even once during the year, Santa will punish you. On the way home, a stranded Santa stops their car on the road, then shoots his father, rapes his mother (Tara Buckman), then slits his throat.

Cut to several years in the future. Billy is a little older, and living in a Catholic orphanage with his little brother. It is Christmas time, and he is upset, drawing a hideous Christmas picture. Mother Superior sees fit to punish him, especially when he peeps on two older kids (Barbara Stafford and Paul Mulder) having sex. It is here that he learns sex is naughty.

Cut to several years in the future, and Billy is a large teenager. Sister gets him a job in a toy store for the Christmas season, and he does well until it gets very near to Christmas. Things escalate when their Santa breaks a leg, and they make Billy the store Santa. After closing on Christmas eve, they have a Christmas party, and Billy (as Santa) observes his coworker Toni Nero being seduced/forced into sex by another employee. This is, of course, naughty, and Santa must punish them. This starts his murderous reign. Among his victims are Linnea Quigley, who is babysitting, and being naughty with her boyfriend.

Buckman shows breasts during the rape. Barbara Stafford is nude in the sex scene, but we only see breasts. Nero shows breasts in a lengthy sex and death scene. Quigley is wearing only a pair of panties for most of her appearance. IMDB readers have this at 4.1 of 10. The film has attained cut status, and Rotten Tomatoes reviews are fairly good, but not from the rated reviewers. I see no reason for the initial furor. This is not an especially bloody slasher film, but does sustain tension better than most, is well filmed, has lots of breast exposure, and is reasonably well acted. In case there are any real thick parents out there, don't show this to your 5 year old. The DVD is newly remastered and totally uncut. It includes an image gallery, and a phone interview with director Charles E. Sellier Jr. This is a C, a solid genre film.

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  • Barbara Stafford (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

  • Linnea Quigley (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40)

  • Tara Buckman (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

  • Toni Nero (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)

  • Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)
    More new DVD releases for the week. Each of these movies is excellent if your kind of movie.  Bend it Like Beckham is rated 7.5 at IMDb (much stronger with women), Better Luck Tomorrow is 7.7 (strongest with viewers under 18), and Nowhere in Africa is 8.0 (strong across the board, Best Picture Oscar for foreign language films). The latter two are high enough to make the Top 250 if they had enough votes. I liked all three, although Bend it Like Beckham had moments that made me cringe.

    Better Luck Tomorrow (2003)

    Better Luck Tomorrow is a high school black comedy, or maybe an almost-serious movie about something that most people can't really relate to - the closet rebellion of overachievers. The adult world always assumes that the kids who get good grades and high SATs and are polite to their elders are as empty-headed as they seem on the surface. Of course, that doesn't make sense. We adults believe it because we want to. In reality, these kids are simply smart enough to present adults with the face they want us to see. They are as good at survival skills as they are at everything else.

    So what are they really thinking about? That's the subject of this movie.

    It manages to take a reliable, overused film setting (the high school years) and look at it through a fresh set of eyes. It is neither a typical coming-of-age soap opera nor a predictable romantic comedy, but incorporates elements of both. It is a freshly imagined story about a high school criminal gang composed of the least likely elements - the best students in the school.

    Imagine, if you will, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Now imagine that Damone's low-level crime of ticket-scalping had been accompanied by the brutality and ugliness of real crime - violence when people failed to pay him, for example. Now imagine Damone as a straight A student who is also president of every club, but also packing heat.

    There you have Better Luck Tomorrow.

    Four over-achieving Asian Americans start running various scams to make extra money. They start out by selling homework and test answers, gradually expanding their business. They can get away with far more than typical students because they know how to play the adult game. They get straight A's, and shoot for 1600s on their SATs. They are national champions in the academic Olympics. They play on sports teams and participate in just about every school activity. They do volunteer work in hospitals and clean up beaches. They have jobs, and are invariably chosen as "employee of the month". All of this simply makes sure that adults stay off their backs, and that they will be quickly forgiven if they get caught doing things they should not do.

    Of course, the trouble they get into gradually expands from the usual student pranks into far more adult behavior - like armed assault and even murder (this isn't a spoiler - their problem with a dead body precedes the opening credits). And their homework-for-profit scams gradually expand to activities with far greater profit potential, like burglary and drugs.

    At first the other kids just treat them like a bunch of nerds until they start flashing the weapons which allow them to convert their newly discovered economic power into psychological power, at which point the rest of the kids start to treat them with the kind of fear and grudging respect normally reserved for the toughest guys in school - all while they retain their academic credentials. The film's author recognizes one thing that moviemakers usually don't understand, that people who are both talented and driven to perfection are good at everything - they are no less qualified to be great criminals than to be great physicists. These four guys simply use their genius and drive to succeed at racketeering.

    The four of them are affected in different ways and to different degrees. Some are almost able to keep their perspective and remain who they had been before their criminal successes, while others are seduced by the power offered by their new lives. Some eventually want out, while others want to become full-fledged criminals. So it is in life.

    What makes the film extraordinary is that it manages to take your basic high school story and run that as a surface plot, while it runs a lurid Tarantinoesque undercurrent simultaneously.

    • Adiadne Shaffer (1, 2, 3)


    Nowhere in Africa (2002)


    Skinner: We need a name that's witty at first, but that seems less funny each time you hear it.

    Apu: How about the "Be-Sharps"

    (General laughter, then silence when they think about it and simultaneously realize it isn't funny.)

    Skinner: Perfect


    My first reaction to "Nowhere in Africa" was very similar to the Be Sharps first reaction to their new name on The Simpsons. I thought the film was terrific, very honest and moving, beautifully painted. It was only upon thinking about it that I found it quite flawed. When I thought about it some more, I realized that there was a good explanation for those flaws, and that they were not really flaws at all, but part of a narrative device.

    It's a German movie (in German and Swahili) about a family of middle class German Jews who move to Africa in the late 30s to avoid the situation in Germany.

    • The father is a lawyer by trade, but he realizes that a simple agricultural life in Africa is better than the alternative, so he resigns himself to make do as best he can.
    • The mother seems to be a material-oriented woman, whose last decision before leaving for Africa is to buy a ball gown instead of the refrigerator her husband asked her to bring. She starts with a condescending attitude toward Africa and Africans, but is unable to equate her attitude toward Africans with the Germans' attitude toward Jews. She is miserable. She and her husband develop marital troubles, and her eye wanders.
    • The daughter is a little girl who does what little kids invariably do, which is to make some kind of a life in their new surroundings. She learns Swahili, makes African friends, and generally gets on with the process of living.

    When the war is over, the family members have to make a difficult decision about returning to Germany. Their Jewish friends are gone. Their life is in Africa. The daughter has never really known anything but Africa, and is happy with her life. The wife, despite a difficult adaptation, has gradually come to love her surroundings. The father, in love with Africa at first, would like to return because he has a profession in Germany, and no talent for farming or soldiering, his sole choices in Africa.

    The director uses a warm golden palette to show the simple landscapes of Kenya. This is not a Discovery Channel special. There are not many arcane tribal customs or exotic animals on display, except in the same frequency they would occur in the lives of the Germans. The cinematography is gorgeous and simple. The situations and dialogue are free from rhetorical flourishes. The two actresses who played the little girl are completely captivating. I watched it once and was touched by it.

    Then I started to think about it. How is it that all the kids in Africa were so accepting of their new playmate? Do you infer that children there are not like children in the rest of the world? They don't make fun of outsiders? How is it that all the Africans are so proud, so wise, so gentle? Are we to infer that nobody has any violent urge to overthrow the white colonials? How is it that the Africans seem to make no distinction between Germans and English and Jews? Are they so pure of heart as to be incapable of understanding the concept of warfare between tribes with different languages, and that different people worship different gods? All of the film's rosy-tinted suggestions are contradicted by actual historical events in Africa.

    Then I started to think some more? Where are the real hardships of African life for the Europeans? The film concentrated on things that are easy to adapt to. It is not that difficult to learn new languages and to eat new food. But what about constantly fighting the attacks of worms? What about the lack of medical care when somebody really needs it? Those were the sorts of things that finally persuaded me to leave the African and other undeveloped countries where I once worked cheerfully. I almost died in a poor country once from a simple attack of diarrhea, and was saved only because I worked for a big oil company, whose local officials were able to bribe me into the top hospital where they took my vitals and rushed me to the top of the priority list. In the US or Europe, the whole matter would have been nothing, but what if I had been on my own in the developing world? Those kinds of issues, the matters of difficult adaptation for outsiders, were completely ignored in the film. The author chose instead to deal with the Europeans' shallow and ultimately foolish resistance to matters which were actually simple adaptations.

    Then I realized that I was overreaching with analysis. In fact, what I observed was exactly what should have been in the movie. The story, after all, was told through the eyes of a child, narrated by the adult version of that child many years later, from her dim memories of that period. Since she was just a child at the time, her understanding of things was not profound. Their gentle cook did seem like a perfect person to her. Since her recollections occurred many years after the events portrayed, her memories were romanticized and selective. Presenting the story this way is a perfectly legitimate literary invention. Unfortunately, that type of literary device - using an adult's childhood memories to narrate a story - is generally clearer on the written page, where the POV is continually re-established.

    I guess it's best to go back to my first reaction, my gut reaction to the movie. It's an old-fashioned story that draws one into the characters, then allows those characters to grow. It hooked me. It hooked a lot of other people as well.

    • Juliane Kohler (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)


    Bend it Like Beckham (2003)

    This is actually a pretty darned good movie, but I have to give you fair warning. If you liked My Big Fat Greek Wedding, this is probably your kind of film. In fact, it might easily be called My Big Fat Indian Wedding. If you did not like the Schmaltzy Greek film, you probably won't like this one either.

    It is the story of two Indian girls growing up in England. One is preparing for a traditional wedding to an Indian guy, the younger one is hoping for  a soccer scholarship from an American university, leading to a possible professional soccer career in America . The essence of the story is the conflict between the traditional cultural values of the Indian family and the younger daughter's desire to broaden herself.

    Good movie, but a chick-flick (women score it 8.1 at IMDb). No nudity.





    • Charlie's French Cinema Nudity site is updated. Highlights: Sophie Marceau in Pour Sacha, Connie Nielsen in Demon Lover.




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    • 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 Lawdog or Junior or C2000 or Realist or ICMS or Mick Locke, or somebody else besides me)
    • If there is no asterisk, I wrote it, but am too ashamed to admit it.

    Graphic Response
    An excellent rare find!
    • Kelly Preston topless and showing some see-thru rear nudity in scenes from the 1988 movie "Spellbinder". The movie is not currently available in on home video in the USA, and these 'caps are from an Australian DVD.

    Be sure to pay Graphic Response a visit at his website.

    Victoria Smurfit
    (1, 2, 3)

    The villainess from the painfull lame "Bulletproof Monk" makes it up to us with this toplessness in sex scenes from the UK movie "The Last Great Wilderness" (2002).

    Assorted babes

    Anne-Marie Duff, Dorothy Duffy and a whole mess of other actresses going full frontal in scenes from "The Magdalene Sisters" (2002).

    Erinn Bartlett
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

    Jennifer Morrison
    (1, 2)

    From "100 Women" aka "Girl Fever" (2002). Bartlett shows wonderbra cleavage in #1, partial side breast views in #3 and is topless in the shower, but the shower door obscures the view. Morrison in a bra in #1 and showing partial bum views in #2.

    Kristen Miller
    (1, 2)

    Natasha Henstridge

    2 of the 3 ladies from my favorite guilty pleasure on syndicated TV, "She Spies", showing plenty of cleavage. If you haven't seen the show, you're really missing out on a fun, toungue-in-cheek action comedy that's smartly written and has plenty of eye candy.

    Heidi Klum I'm not exactly sure where this comes from, but here's the Über-model wearing a see-thru dress that shows off most of her breasts. Thanks to Squiddy for finding this one for us.

    Carla Gugino
    (1, 2, 3)

    The "Spy Kids" star showing off a whole lot of cleavage, and even a full side breast view in link #3 in scenes from the 1998 movie "Judas Kiss". Carla's new TV series "Karen Sisco" premiered Wednesday night on ABC. I missed it since it was on opposite the NBC rating's powerhouse "Law and Order", but so far the buzz is that it's a pretty decent show.

    "Karen Sisco" is based on the J-Lo character from the 1998 Steven Soderbergh movie "Out of Sight". So my guess is that it has some potential.

    By the way, Scoop and I love "Out of Sight", as is evident in the opening line of his review.... "Is it a good movie? No, it's only about the coolest, hippest motherfucker ever committed to celluloid. Style, performing, and sang-froid to make Pulp Fiction look like a third grade Thanksgiving pageant in a Mormon elementary school."

    Jennifer Connelly
    (1, 2)

    As we've said many times over the can never go wrong posting Connelly pics. Here she is topless and showing off her posterior at the young age of 20, in scenes from "The Hot Spot" (1990).

    Kathleen Kinmont
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

    The Skin-man highlights some of Kinmont's (aka one of the many Ex-Mrs. Lorenzo Lamas) nudity over the years. Two films and two topless scenes in this batch. Links 1-4 feature her in a soapy bath tub scene from "The Art of Dying" (1991). Links 5-8 are from "Bride of Re-Animator" (1990).

    Pat Reeder
    Pat's comments in yellow...

    More Points Than He Can Count! - Arnold Schwarzenegger released a 10-point plan for his first 100 days as California governor. It includes ending the big tax exemption on Indian casinos and repealing new laws that triple the car tax and give illegal immigrants driver's licenses.

  • Now he's done it! He's lost the illegal immigrant vote!
  • The other seven points all involve barbells.

    #2: He Does All His Own Stunts In Bed - Maria Shriver is stumping for her husband with a speech to women's groups called "10 things you should know about Arnold," and the #1 thing is that he's smart. She said the main attraction she felt for him was how smart he is, and his "capacity, ability and desire to learn."

  • The #2 thing you should know about Arnold is that he married a big liar.
  • Of course, she's comparing him to Uncle Ted.
  • Sure, she noticed his brain first, not the fact that he was Mr. Universe.

    Hey, That's A Snakeskin Shoestring! - Authorities in Brownwood, Texas, are trying to determine whether a man who claimed he was bitten by a rattlesnake at Wal-Mart is a hoaxster. He claims the small Diamondback bit him when he reached for a pair of shoes, he stomped it to death, then took it to the sporting goods section. But an employee told police it didn't look freshly-killed to her.

  • In fact, it was a belt.
  • It had gone past the "stew" phase and was halfway to "jerky."
  • Employees at Wal-Mart sporting goods sections in Texas see a LOT of dead rattlesnakes.
  • He took it to the sporting goods section because stomping rattlesnakes is the official sport of Texas.

    And Hundreds Of Sealy Posturpedics - There's a trend for naming children after parents' favorite products. According to Social Security records, in 2000, 49 kids were named Canon, and there were also Camrys, Chanels, Bentleys, Jaguars, a Xerox, a Gouda and a Bologna. The mother of a three-year-old boy named Timberland said the boots were the pride of his dad's wardrobe, and "the alternative was Reebok." She wanted to name their son Kevin. They are now divorced.

  • She gave him the boot...And she took back her old name.
  • If you want to name your kid after an athletic shoe, call him Cletus.
  • Xerox would be a good name for twins.
  • These kids were conceived in Camrys, Bentleys, Jaguars...and one on a Xerox machine.

    In other news....

  • Kylie had to cover her bum to avoid paparazzi