Thursday, 11 September 2014

Bikini Bandits Experience

Title: Bikini Bandits Experience
Director: Steve Grasse
Released: 2002
Starring: Maynard James Keenan, Dee Dee Ramone, Jello Biafra, Corey Feldman, Peter Grasse, Larry McGearty, Bret Reilly, Heather-Victoria Ray, Heather McDonnell, Betty San Luis, Cynthia Diaz, Robyn Bird, Clark O’Donnel

Plot: Following the Bikini Bandits a four strong gang of bikini loving, muscle car driving and machine gun welding bad asses, as they embark on a series of ever more random adventures, which see them being sent to hell and even traveling though time.

Okay I couldn't find a trailer, but this is pretty much what the whole film is like

Review: Honestly I originally had zero plans to review this film, happy to write it off as another zero which failed to turn out more. However since that original viewing something strange happened as I found myself still thinking about the film and frequently finding myself talking about it to other cult cinema fans, about this film which is honestly largely a horrible mess, yet at the same time projects an aura that somewhere in this hour long jumble of ideas and random plots there was something special lurking under the titillating and confused surface.

Originally the Bikini Bandits were launched as a series of short films via the now defunct and would be there that the series slowly gained a cult following of sorts as the girls embarked on a series of increasingly random adventures the majority of which have now been edited into this film. At the same time they have also been padded out with new shorts which see director Grasse taking stabs at American consumerism via home shopping commericals for the fictional conglomerate Gmart, aswell as going off on further random tangents with the beyond creepy “Morning Yoga” and the seemingly shot on the cuff “Zembo” segments were a fez wearing Zembo basically harasses unsuspecting members of the public about if they know who the Bikini Bandits are. Needless to say with the exception of the Gmart segments which also features a John Waters Alike who along with his fellow host stop them from seeing like yet more filler thanks to their tone perfect performances.

Due to the film essentially being a best of collection of those original shorts loosely tied together with increasingly random filler, the film is unquestionably disjoined to say the least and makes for an experience similar to watching TV while your ADD suffering friend frequently flicks through the channels. At the same time the various misadventures the bandits find themselves on haven’t been developed beyond their original shorts so hence most of the adventures revolve around the girls finding themselves in an interesting situation before Grasse turns it into yet another excuse for cheap thrills as the stories are often suddenly ended with the girls engaging in some form of Andy Sidaris inspired slap and tickle or tormenting whatever male character happens to be nearby. Of course such antics are not only kept to the Bandit segments as they also make up a series of mock adverts for muscle cars, which generally consist of bikini clad ladies welding guns and draping themselves over the car. Still if this wasn’t enough titillation for you already, we also get the “Imports Suck” segement which consists solely of bikini clad ladies taking sledgehammers to a car….still whatever floats your boat right. How much of the film was inspired by the films of Andy Sidaris who essentially pioneered the Girls and guns film with the likes of “Return to Savage Beach” and “Hard Ticket To Hawai” its hard to say especially when it also seems to be a questionable homage to as well as grindhouse cinema, if perhaps with none of the style that Rodriguez and Tarantino brought with their own homages which kick-started the Neo-grindhouse genre.

The only developed story we do get being “Bikini Bandits Go To Hell” thanks to its original multipart structure which sees the girls being the girls being tasked by Giant penis codpiece wearing Satan (Keenan) to deflower the Virgin Mary or face being forced to watch 80’s favourite Corey Feldman dance for all eternity. It is probably around this point were most people will choose if they stick with this film or not, especially when Grasse doesn’t seem to give much a damn about who he offends, as he frequently it would seem is aiming to offend whenever possible. This in turns leads me to my main peeve with the this film in its frequent use of the word retard, with the apparent thinking that the mental handicapped make for the best source of amusement, especially with two of the stories revolving around such characters. The film though is always at its strongest when playing things straight and not aiming for such crude stabs at comedy, while these misfire attempts at comedy can't help but bring to mind "The Underground Comedy Movie" which was yet another underground series turned into a feature with equally questionable results.

Surprisingly for such a T&A focused film the performances aren't overly bad, even if the girls are hardly being forced to do anything overly challenging performance wise, which can’t be said for most of the male cast, who often end up coming off like crude and overplayed but then the majority are played by Grasse’s brother Peter so chances are that Grasse was saving budget by having him play so many roles. Rounding out the cast though we do also get a number of interesting musical cameos with Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan really giving a standout performance as Satan, while Dee Dee Ramone makes for an interesting choice to play the pope, especially as he doesn’t exactly seem to know where he is as he bumbles from through his lines. Elsewhere we also get Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra appearing as a sleazy porn producer which sadly sees him majorly underused.

The most interesting casting choice here though is Corey Feldman appearing here as, well err…himself. What makes his appearance here so interesting is just how clear it is that he had no clue what he was signing up for, which is only made the clearer when Grasse includes what appears to be footage of an unsuspecting Feldman slagging off the film and making comments about what a piece of trash it is and how he’s been made to look like a joke. True it’s hard to fault his reasoning especially when his contributions are so random and range from him busting some Michael Jackson style movies to having a drag race with an overweight Mexican masked wrestler. However when combined with the rest of the film it hardly seems out of place especially with the logic that this film runs on. On the whole though it is hard to tell if his casting was out of an obsession with his 80's glory days and that having cast him realised that they had nothing for him to do, of if it was to truly see what they could get away making his current career stalled self do.

Despite running for a mere 60 minutes the experience does feel a lot longer, yet it is hard to fault that there is still something about this film, in much the same way that there is with films like “The Room” and “Boardinghouse”. True it might seem like it is intentionally trying to emulate the so bad its good style of those films, but this film has enough weird ideas and general titillation to make it the sort of film that’s fun to dig out and maybe freak out your friends with.

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