Every other Monday I watch a movie I've never heard of before. Here's the latest:
VICIOUS LIPS (1986)
That poster is spectacular. This is a movie I've really been excited to watch. Not just because of the poster, but because Albert Pyun is writer director. Pyun made the local video store of my youth a much more interesting place. With films like: THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER, CYBORG, DOLLMAN, and my favorite RADIOACTIVE DREAMS. He's also the man behind CAPTAIN AMERICA, not the Marvel Studios one, the one where Captain America steals Ned Beatty's car. Before going into this I was wondering why I've never seen this in the video store or even on USA'S UP ALL NIGHT, which showed many of the movies in the Empire Pictures catalog. After watching it and doing a little digging I found out VICIOUS LIPS never had a home video relese in the States until 2017 when Scream Factory released it on Blu-Ray.
Sometime in the far distant future, on a planet whose name is never revealed, Matty is a whiny manager of a girl band called Vicious Lips. After the lead singer, Ace Lucas, beats the crap out of him, quits the band, then dies in an off-screen car accident, Matty is forced to find a replacement for the night's upcoming show. So he heads to a local high school talent show and offers the winner a chance to come with him and become a star. The girl's name for some reason is Judy Jetson and she has a very impressive vocal range, by that I mean everytime she lip-syncs a song it's by a different performer.
Judy meets the band as they're getting ready to go onstage. There's Mandaa, the tough chick, Wynzi who's addicted to a space drug called Martian-O and once had sex with a Fungi Dwarf during a low point in her life, and Bree, the other one. While the band plays, Matty books an important gig at a club called Radioactive Dream. In order to get there Matty rents a cargo ship to pilot them across the galaxy. Nobody bothers telling them there's a deranged killer of over five thousand women locked away in the rear cargo hold. But not to worry he's in an impenetrable titanium cell. It seemed like the flick was setting up a cool ALIEN rip-off scenario. Instead of The Xenomorph we get Milo the Venusian Man-Beast, as he's billed in the opening credits. Instead of Ripley we get JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS. But the movie has its own agenda. I'm still not exactly sure what it is.
The ship is struck by an asteroid and crash lands on a desolate, desert planet. Matty goes to look for help leaving the girls to stay with the ship. Then we get a long stretch of absolutely nothing happening in this movie. Multiple scenes of the girls wandering aimlessly around the ship. Scenes of Milo growling and banging on his cell walls. Interspersed throughout with mindless banter, and some catty in-fighting with the band. Thirty minutes of the movie's hour and a half runtime.
Finally Milo escapes his impenetrable cell by pulling up the loose flooring, the most ingenious prison escape since IDIOCRACY. The ship slides off the sand dune it's been precariously perched on and glides into a building that nobody noticed before. Apparently the planet used to be called Pleasure Planet and was filled sex-bots, Now it's overrun with punk rock cannibals. The cannibals give chase to the girls, Milo chases Judy killing every cannibal that gets in his way. This sounds fun right? It should be, but it's also has ridiculous scenes like Milo turning from a monster into a handsome tuxedoed playboy and tells Judy he wants to take her home and have her babies, and then turns back into a monster again and resumes chasing her. But none of this matters, because the infuriatingly dumb "twist" that happens close to the end renders everything that happened so far redundant.
I was really rooting for this one. I was even still on board during the tedious second act. At some point during the third act I just had to admit nothing was going to save it, the patient was dead. But it did have some positives that didn't make watching it feel like a complete waste of time. For a low budget movie it looks great. Set design, the visual effects, the overboard 80's fashions, are all well done and make the movie fun to look at. There's also a low budget ingenuity throughout the film. My favorite example of this would be the electric bug zappers on the ends of the futuristic guitars. But the special make-up effects work is the stand out here. Empire mainstay John Carl Buechler heads the effects. Multiple Academy Award winner Greg Cannom did the make-up for Milo the Venusian Man-Beast. Milo resembles demonic Angela from NIGHT OF THE DEMONS. Towards the end of the movie there's a really cool animatronic puppet designed by the Chiodo Brothers.
If the positives make it sound like something you want to watch, go for it. Don't say I didn't warn you. But I'd rather have sex with a Fungi Dwarf before watching this again.