Thursday, December 17, 2009

And Now For The Naughty Bits...And Pieces

You really have to hand it to the 80s. It was a time for radical and swift change in pop culture. Fads and clothing styles stole from the past, looked to the future and came and went so fast that even fashion freaks and tread-hounds could not keep up. We were treated to an endless flow of cheap comedies, zombie-fests and, more than anything else, slasher flicks. Other than everyone being upset about something and snorting way too much coke while reading the Art Of War in business school, things were pretty darn good.

But all things go sour at some point. It usually happens like the poor sod in Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises going broke: Gradually, and then suddenly. Posed For Murder is the perfect example of how things had started swirling the toilet bowl for the 80s culture, fashion and the slasher genre just before that final suck down into the sewer.

The film stars Charlotte Helmkamp in her only lead role. A lovely woman to be sure, but her claim to beauty fame, at least here in the USA, was being a Playboy Playmate in 1982. Worthwhile spread. She seems to have decided to cash in on her fame before things started turning sour and she came back from traveling abroad to attempt a film career in the States. Sadly, she started out with a starring role in this direct-to-video film, and, from there, received only supporting roles for her next few films.

Her character is Laura, a woman who has hit it big as a Thrill Magazine girl. She wants to be an actress and move on to better things. Hmmmm, this sounds like Charlotte Helm...nah, there couldn't be a connection. Never mind. Her life is good except for an ailing mother (who makes only one appearance in the film and that is on the phone and the actress doing the voice sounds like she can hardly stay awake to read the lines off the script she was no doubt holding in front of her). She is taking acting classes, getting in touch with her inner being, wearing pretty things and working out at the local spa while wearing Spandex and leg warmers.

Somewhere along this time, we are treated to a scruffy type of guy being released from prison. First, we are shown Laura's centerfold from Thrill Magazine hanging on the guy's cell wall. Oddly enough, for a centerfold, there are no creases in the poster. He must be an expert at ironing. Perhaps this is foreshadowing. Ooh, there's also a poster of Sid Vicious and his punching-bag girlfriend, Nancy. Nah, no foreshadowing there; we'll stick with this guy's uncanny ironing skills. That, and he seems to have issues with our heroine as he slowly rips her perfectly ironed centerfold from his wall just as he is set free. More foreshadowing? Couldn't be; I'm giving this film too much credit. Probably means nothing.

At the spa (after one of the cheesiest workout montages ever set to overworked 80s music), our poor heroine is hit on by a muscle-bound half-pint. His plan would be perfect, for if he slow-danced with her, he could faceplant in Breastville. Before his macho, woman-hating approach can reach the point of questioning her lack of taste in men, a big, beefy nice guy steps in and scares away the twerp. Apparently no one cares that in the background a particularly LARGE man is faking a workout on equipment with no weights in place, but you should as it keeps this scene from making you cringe at the poor dialogue and Ms. Helmkamp's squinting, which is meant to be her style of emoting.

The nice guy is Rick. He is played by the co-producer Carl Fury. When you take the whole picture of his character to heart, you will understand why Rick being played by someone named Fury is more appropriate that having Paris Hilton play a rich girl. As it is, he is the typically beefed-up guy with a hint of mullet that makes you wonder where evolution went wrong. But I'm a guy, so women may be looking for other things, like a low and thick brow and goofy teeth that do not fit in his mouth well.

Just as our leading lady gets the feeling she can put the stigma of the Thrill Magazine behind her, the sleazy (and who isn't in this film?) man in charge of Thrill Magazine wants to make her Thrill Of The Year. She isn't having any of it and after some vague threats by the editor in chief about how she owes so much to him and Thrill Magazine, she offers to think about it. Naturally, this is when Mom chimes in with a desperate cry for cash and the dutiful daughter recants and agrees to the photo shoot.

Then we go to another lovely montage of hardbodies working out as our unidentified stalker rips her car cables loose. Note: this wouldn't really work now as Laura would Google from her 3G networked cell phone and most likely figure out the issue, but 80's chicks are apparently incapable of opening the hood of their cars. We even see the short twerp from earlier in the film seeing our heroine sitting in front of him and getting excited, but, oddly enough, she is wearing completely different workout clothes and is working out in a different location. But that doesn't stop the janitor perv from pulling his tattered, creased copy of Laura's centerfold from his pocket and drooling over it as he watches her working out. yet when he tapes it to his workroom wall, it only has one crease. There must be an ironing subtext to this film that has yet to reveal itself.

Laura squints her way through a conversation with Rick who appears at just her moment of need to offer a ride to her photo shoot on his handy motorcycle, and off we go another montage with 80s music fueling the...excitement? You just want them to get where they are going so the music stops and Sleazy Rider gets off your screen. Get there, they do, and as the obviously smitten couple say their goodbyes, we get some really incredible shots of Rick's apparent overbite. Maybe it's just bad false teeth. We are not told how this will affect the story, but if anyone is bitten to death in the film, the dental impressions would either convict or exonerate Rick in seconds.

The shoot gives more glimpses of Laura's assets as we bounce through--wait for it!--another montage. Like I have said before, this is an 80s film. It lauds all the excesses of that era by giving you an excess of montages. You could almost wonder if there is a theme here, but it is just obvious the filmmakers are just padding their film to hit the recommended running time. Well, that, and it allows us to see that the top guy at Thrill Magazine has more on his mind than sales when it comes to our lovely leading lady. He talks her into a dinner (Oh heavens, nothing more to be sure!) and she agrees, but she first has to go to an audition.

Enter sleazy, 4? 7? Doesn't matter. This one is the director casting for his next opus, Meat Cleavers From Mars. He needs a leading lady with looks and the ability to scream. Laura has the looks, and she splits your ears with a scream. But the director likes to play games. Does he know who Laura is? Does he care? Does it matter? Not so much as it is just another suspect and another way to kill time.

Ah, but it is finally time to kill. As Laura makes her way back to Thrill offices for her dinner date, someone has made it there ahead of her and punctures the lustful editor in chief, leaving Laura to find the body.

Which leads us to the other major character. Yes, nearly 30 minutes into the film and we meet another major character. Can this thing stretch its run time or what? Introducing Detective Barnes. Does he look familiar? Why, isn't that Sgt. Kabukiman? Yup, Rick Gianasi shows up and is in charge of the investigation of the editor's death. While it would certainly help this film if he turned into his Troma character, he does no such thing, so just get that idea outta your head right now.

Now the stage is set and we know the story is really gonna get underway any minute now. Right after a threatening phone call that Laura forgets 10 seconds later when she is called and asked to come back for a second meeting about the movie. A starring role in a crappy movie certainly trumps a murder and psycho ringing you up to threaten your life.

Yup, it gonna start...right after a WAY too long bit of exposition and romantic looks as Rick and Laura go out to dinner at a restaurant that overlooks 42nd Street in New York. And they dance. This IS a thriller, right? Did I miss something? More bits with her being cast in the film. Shots of her swimming at the spa.

Before you and I both go to sleep, the janitor gets his throat slit while spying on Laura. Rick and Detective Barnes don't like each other after issues when Rick was on the police force. Rick and Laura have wicked, dirty sex.

Oh, and that guy from the beginning of the film? He gets the short end of the stick. In bits and pieces, we find out he is Laura's old flame who robbed a liquor store and she didn't try to save him from prison so he's a bit upset with her. But he only shows up in the distance, until we get close to the end. Even then, he has less than 5 minutes screen time. No wonder that the actor never made another film.

Now, of the people who get offed in this film, I can understand the thread involved and how they are all linked, like the sleazy editor, the sleazy janitor and the creepy acting teacher. But her rather plain and sweet female friend ends up with her throat slashed and her face buried in a plate of pasta salad. I just don't get that one, but what the heck? It kept me awake for another couple of minutes.

At this point, even though I have tried to be fair and neutral about this whole thing, I think it is pretty obvious who is doing all the killing. I won't say who the killer is. I will say that if you get this on DVD from Media Blasters, DO NOT watch the "trailer". It shows you who the killer is. Of course, you have to be pretty slow not to catch on as soon as the hand pulls the cables loose in Laura's car.

I will also say that the film is not completely awful, but it is rather...bland. Yet, the director. Brian Thomas Jones, felt good enough about it to put in an appearance at the end of the film as the cameraman for Meat Cleavers From Mars. I've included a picture of him in case you doze off and forget to look.

The DVD release of this film, found on the Rareflix Triple Feature Volume One, has a commentary by three guys who work at Media Blasters. You can hear them drinking beers and going off on tangents that have nothing to do with the movie. The saddest thing you'll hear comes about two thirds of the way through the film. One guy, who has been suffering from allergies, whispers to another guy, "I don't like this film" in the most pitiful voice, and you have to agree with him. Worth it just to ogle the leading lady but fast forward to the ridiculous ending. You'll be thanking me later.

Oh, and they never resolve the whole ironing subtext they created. Bastards.

For those who care, here is a shot of our lovely lead emoting.

In case you can't get enough, have another.