Film Reviews

Joe Bob Briggs

Maybe you've been in a bookstore or a cappuccino shoppe lately and heard a Catholic religious service going on through the Muzak. This is not a mistake. They're playing this stuff in singles bars.

It's weird. You got these monks in black hoods, chanting like automatons, as part of the Catholic mass, and you got hipsters in black leather pants sitting around Beverly Hills restaurants going, "Yeah, man, I dig Vespers and Prime, but Matins is a downer. Who gets up that early anyway?"

You've probably even got leisure-suited salesmen in Omaha hanging out at the Holiday Inn, hitting on women with: "Hey, gorgeous, wanna come up to my room and listen to the 'Gloria'? No? Well, listen, I don't usually do this on the first date, but I've also got the 'Kyrie.' Not the boring one from the seventh century, either. It's the one they started doing in the 11th century, with all the wild high notes."

How does something like this get started?
Do record company executives have meetings where they say: "Well, we've got two more Prince albums this year. Tony Bennett is selling. That Whitney Houston single went through the roof. But, now that Cobain is dead, I've been thinking we need something different.

"You know this dude, St. Gregory? He was a singin' pope. Dig the bass line on this. It's called 'Offertory.' All his stuff has Black Sabbath-type titles. I think we can move these."

Do people go to all-night dance clubs in Miami and boogie down to the "Introit"?

Do Gregorian purists listen only to the "Alleluia" because it dates to the fourth century and is therefore uncorrupted by the reforms of Charlemagne?

Do people realize that Gregorian chants have been available in Catholic book stores since the beginning of recorded music about, uh, 90 years ago?

Do you realize Benedicamus Domino could get a bullet in Billboard any day now?

This country is getting way too strange for me. Somebody write in and tell me what this is all about.

Speaking of unexplained modern trends, Shannon Tweed appears this week in her 37,000th erotic thriller. She's a sexually repressed businesswoman trying to patch up her marriage with slimeball John Laughlin in Nightfire, the latest flick about couples that have other people in the house making the sign of the four-breasted hematoma.

Laughlin has this strange habit of playing Russian roulette with a gun to his wife's head while she's sleeping, but all that changes when a couple of rough-sex swingers have car trouble and get stranded at Laughlin's ranch for the weekend.

Rochelle Swanson and Martin Hewitt, whose idea of a good time is to beat each other up while having sex with people they mug in dark alleys, put in some serious Jacuzzi time and force Shannon to watch. She's a little upset, but not nearly as upset as when her husband suggests they all get nekkid and play with a pistol.

Must be one of those California dealies.
There's a whole slew of movies out lately about bored couples who start having multiple aardvarkus sessions in an effort to feel alive. Unfortunately, most of these flicks make the audience feel like they've just been gored through the gizzards with a rusty letter opener.

As usual, Shannon knows more than she's telling. That hussy. My kinda gal.
One dead body. Twenty-two breasts. One motor vehicle chase. People tied up, dunked in the pool, roughed up. Vase throwing.

Gratuitous highway flashing. Hot-tub Fu.
Drive-In Academy Award nominations for...
Shannon Tweed, queen of the low-budget erotic thriller, for saying, "Affection is one thing--licking each other in public is another matter."

Rochelle Swanson, as the loosey-goosey femme fatale who says, "When it comes to sex, I say nothing is wrong."

Three stars.
Joe Bob says check it out.

Joe Bob's Find That Flick
This week's cortex-scrambler comes from...Anita I. Bloch of Cleveland:
"Please help me find this flick. I saw it in a 1976 or 1977 junior high science fiction class, on a reel-to-reel, in color.

"Set in the future, it was about a man whose dreams become reality the next day, but nobody else realizes things were ever any different. He falls in love with a beautiful black woman with an Afro (a telling '70s sign.)

"When a scientist (who I think played one of the alien scientists in the 'Six Million Dollar Man' episodes with the Sasquatch) discovers this man's talent, he builds a 'dream augmenter' so he can dictate this man's dreams under the premise of making the world a better place.

"The scientist tells the man to dream away racism. So the next day, everybody's gray! But nobody realizes they were ever black or white. Near the end, the man dreams the apocalypse, the scientist ends up Play-Doh in a wheelchair and everything goes back to the way it was prior to any dreaming.

"I'd like the name of the flick, the name of the actor who played the scientist, and any other dirt. Thank you!"

A video will be awarded to the correct answer. Send "Find That Flick" questions and solutions to Joe Bob Briggs, P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas 75221.

We Have a Winner!
In a previous column, Michelle McCulloch of Petaluma, Calif., asked about:
" English movie about a large frog (actually an undeveloped embryo) born of human parents.

"He lives in a pond in the middle of a typical English hedge maze. Sometimes he visits the house and leaves slop and water all over."

We received 28 correct answers, so our winner was chosen by drawing. And he is...Richard Brandt of El Paso, Texas:

"The movie is titled, appropriately enough, The Maze. Richard Carlson stars as the hero who inherits a Scottish maze and a mysterious little-seen relative who turns out to be the big croaker.

"Released in 1953 and filmed in 3-D, it was a low point in the career of director William Cameron Menzies."

Additional information came from our 27 runners-up, including...Mark Jurecki of Sunnyvale, Calif., who adds:

"Carlson is a newly married English lord who, upon assuming his inheritance, moves into the family castle with his bride. Carlson swears to keep the family secret--one of the earlier lords has lived for hundreds of years but is horribly deformed.

"In fact, he looks like a frog. Whenever the old frog has itchy skin, he has to flop down to the maze to soak in the pond. The midnight flopping and the midnight dip get the attention of Carlson's bride.

"She isn't in on the secret. In one scene, the butler and new lord shield the old boy with a drapery framework while they walk (and flop) down the candlelit hallway toward the maze. I'm not sure, but this flick might have been released in 3-D, or with some other process gimmick, maybe Toad-A-O?"

Copyright 1995 by Joe Bob Briggs. Distributed by NYT Special Features/Syndication Sales.