Saturday, December 15, 2012

Satanic Panic: MIND, BODY & SOUL (1992)

I have too damn many unwatched movies.  While organizing some DVDs recently, I realized I had a cheapo Brentwood 10-movie set that I think I initially bought for David Heavener’s TWISTED JUSTICE.  That right there should tell you there is something wrong with me. Anyway, I decided I should actually watch some of the other films in the set (mistake #1).  Then I decided I would send a list of the 6 films from the set that I hadn’t seen to my friends and let them decide my fate (mistake #2). Being refined cinephiles, they all gravitated toward MIND, BODY & SOUL thanks to the casting of Wings Hauser and Ginger Lynn Allen.  Okay, I’ll do it *pops in DVD…credits start…directed by Rick Sloane* awwwww, hell.

The action abruptly starts with a shot of Brenda (Ginger Lynn Allen) and her boyfriend Carl (Jesse Hill) standing on a California hillside and staring at the camera. Apparently it is their 3 month anniversary and Carl has something special planned.  He takes her to a ritual held by the satanic cult he belongs to.  Ah, what a romantic.  Led by a masked man with a distorted voice (more on that in a bit), they stand around and chant “do-do-do-do” as the leader prepares to sacrifice a girl. Thankfully, the cops show up before the bloodletting can begin and the cult disciples plow out of the door in impressive fashion. The only person left standing is Brenda, so the cops promptly arrest her.  She is grilled by Detective McKenzie (Jay Richardson) about her involvement, but says she is innocent and will lead them to her boyfriend.  Of course, when they get there his apartment explodes in a blaze of stock footage.

Just another Friday night in L.A.

The cops decide to hold Brenda as an involuntary witness (huh?) and, wouldn’t you know it, the prison guard also happens to be a member of the cult. But luck is on her side as she is assigned lawyer John Stockton (Wings Hauser), who not only gets her bailed out but offers her a place to stay. Processing turns out to be a bitch though as the guard rapes Brenda as she is getting ready to leave (the act itself involves him apparently dry humping her leg while his pants are still on).  During the attack, she rips off his pentagram necklace and keeps it. Anyway, Brenda is released into Stockton’s custody and he wants her to write down everything she can remember about that night.  Hmmmm, why is he so damn interested in every little detail of this case?  I think you can figure this non-mystery out.  Their happy family soon becomes three as Rachael (Tami Bakke), Brenda’s old cellmate, shows up after she is released.  Brenda then does stuff like go on a talk show and starts dating a PA named Sean (Ken Hill).  But that pesky guard and the somehow-survived-the-blast Carl are still stalking around.  The film then limps along towards its obvious conclusion that you guessed the second you saw the masked satanic priest.

Viewers react to a Sloane movie
My past with director Rick Sloane is pretty dark.  While still a na├»ve teenager, I convinced my dad to buy a copy of HOBGOBLINS (1988).  It was a decision I would not soon forget. It turned out to be one of the worst movies I’d ever seen (a reputation the director now glorifies) up to that point in my life.  I made sure to put Sloane on the “do not watch” list. Yeah, I dig bad movies, but not the kind that have no redeeming value at all and make you question your existence as a human being.  So seeing his name on this film’s credits immediately sent chills down my spine.  I guess I could see if he had improved in the four years between this feature and HOBGOBLINS.  Well the answer is a resounding “no!”  The production values may have increased slightly, but the writing and directing are as inept as ever.  Seriously, did Sloane think he was pulling one over on the audience with his twist ending? I don’t think I’m spoiling anything for you when I tell you the cult leader turns out to be – GASP! – Wings Hauser.  As M. Night Shyamalan would say, “What a twist!”  The funniest thing is anyone familiar with Hauser will immediately recognize his mannerisms and vocal inflections under the mask.

So Sloane couldn’t even tell his lead, “Hey, ease up on your easily identifiable acting style.” If there was a single person who was fooled by this twist and had their jaw hit the floor during the revelation, I want to meet that person and tell them I’m Jesus.  Seriously, Sloane, you couldn’t be bothered?  Words and ideas are free – give them a chance to do something creative.

"This is just too kinky for me."
Of course, this kind of movie doesn’t really exist to challenge the audience.  It is there to provide cheap thrills (with an emphasis on the cheap as nearly every stunt in this movie is from stock footage).  Most of the thrills will come from viewers hoping to see lead Ginger Lynn Allen nude.  If only there was some other film genre that allowed audiences the chance to see her go all the way.  Yes, the main attraction here is to see the former porn queen get topless. Weird, right?  I must admit, it is kind of funny seeing her act like an old maid when her boyfriend asks her to drip wax on him. Allen was trying to make the transition from X-rated films to legit film, but this unfortunately found her in the land of Sloane.  It is a shame as she is a decent actress and should have fared better than her decade long sojourn into mainstream cinema allowed (she also got saddled with Sloane in three VICE ACADEMY features). Backing her up are Richardson and Hauser in their supporting roles.  I’ll be honest I think Wings could read the McDonald’s menu and make it sound compelling, so it is always a bummer when he ends up in subpar stuff like this.  Anyway, I can now scratch MIND, BODY & SOUL off my list of unwatched flicks.  Now only 1,000 more to go!

Ginger Lynn glimpses her pantsuit in a full length mirror:

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