Bikini Island (1991) Bikini Island (1991) -*

     Damn you, Flix! This was supposed to be The Dunwich Horror! I set my VCR up to tape that movie, which I’ve really been wanting to see ever since I noticed how hot the arguments are over whether it’s one of the best cinematic Lovecraft adaptations of all time, or just one more demonstration of why Lovecraft’s stories should never be adapted cinematically. But what do I find when I wake up the next morning and play the resulting tape? Fucking Bikini Island, that’s what! But I figure, “hey, I’m already in full movie-watching mode... I may as well just ride it out.”

     Yeah, well... some spur-of-the-moment decisions turn out better than others. About the best thing I can say for Bikini Island is that it is significantly less awful than the other direct-to-video root canal I inflicted on myself this weekend (The Journey: Absolution— feh!). But it’s still BAD BAD BAD. What we’ve got here is a turn-of-the-90’s T&A slasher flick set on an isolated Caribbean island where Swimwear Illustrated is doing the photo shoot for its 15th anniversary issue. Five models have been selected for the shoot from a pool of about two dozen (by means of a lengthy scene in which all the girls gyrate in surprisingly conservative bikinis for the magazine’s art department to the tune of the movie’s painfully bad theme song), and one lucky bimbo will be chosen to appear on the new issue’s cover, for which she will be paid a bonus of $100,000. The lineup of potential victims is as follows:

     Annie Kelly (Holly Florina of Netherworld), who we know is going to be the central character, because five of the opening ten minutes are devoted to her taking a shower. Besides, she’s blonde and innocent-looking.

     Tasha Evans (Kathleen McOsker), who can’t possibly last long, because she not only has dark hair, but also a vaguely Turkic cast to her facial features, and is thus (at least by the narrow standards of the frat-boy bozos for whom this movie was made) the least attractive of the bunch.

     Nikki (Shannon Stiles), whose last name I can’t remember— another brunette who is not long for this earth.

     Kari (Cyndi Pass, from Wishmaster and Scanner Cop), whose surname I also can’t remember. She at least has a fighting chance because she’s blonde and has the biggest breasts in the movie.

     Ursula (Alicia Anne of Digital Sex), who pointedly lacks a surname. This would be suspicious even if she didn’t spend so much time talking about the bonus money.

     As for the suspects, we’ve also got quite a crew here:

     Jack Denton (Jackson Robinson), the magazine’s art director. He’s a sleazebag who considers the chance to bed all the models to be the number-one perk of his position. Probably not axe-murderer material, but you never know— the victims tend to get it shortly after he sleeps with them.

     Anesa Cronin (Sherry Johnson), the “stylist.” She’s a frigid, argumentative prude who disapproves vehemently of Denton’s behavior, and spends most of her free time peering through the keyholes of the girls’ hotel rooms to make sure they’re not busy fucking the boss. What a person like this is doing holding a job at a cheesecake bikini magazine is anybody’s guess.

     Brian Michael (Kelly Poole), the photographer, who feeds mice named after the models to the three-foot ball python he keeps in his camera satchel.

     Pat (Gaston LeGaf), the makeup guy, a small, geeky man with poor social skills who periodically lapses into a trace-like state while ogling the girls. Pat loves his job, especially the part where he gets to rub oily sunblock on the models’ mostly naked bodies.

     Frab (Terry Miller, whom the IMDb credits as the assistant director of Terminator 2: Judgment Day— and maybe he even was), the owner of the hotel on the island. Not only is he non-specifically Middle-Eastern/Indian Subcontinent Muslim, not only does he have every square inch of vertical space in his bedroom festooned with porno pinups, his name is “barf” spelled backwards!

     Leon DeLodge (Seth Thomas), the owner of Swimwear Illustrated. He thinks Jack Denton is an incompetent dipshit, and pointedly warns him over the telephone that he’ll be dropping in unannounced to watch Denton and his shoot, presumably from some secret remote vantage point.

     Ursula, again. Like I said, she talks about the money too much.

     A good alternate title for this film would have been Red Herrings: The Movie.

     So anyway, every day of the shoot, one of the girls disappears, leaving a note on her bed purporting to explain her reasons for flaking out and going back to the mainland. We, of course, know that this is not what’s really going on, because we’ve seen each of the disappearing chicks getting suffocated with a toilet plunger or garroted with at garden hose in the scenes that precede the discovery of each note. Not only that, we have a further advantage over the surviving characters in that we are not complete fucking morons. Leaving aside the inherent suspiciousness of one girl after another running away from the island and surrendering her chance at $100,000, leaving aside also the fact that all of the notes supposedly left by the vanishing models are written in the same hand with the same red Sharpie marker, the only way anyone on the shoot could get back to the mainland is to take the company van and drive it to the airport! The van never goes anywhere! So what do you think— does the term “duh” mean anything to Bikini Island’s creators?

     Meanwhile, even the ranks of our suspects are being thinned. First, Pat “goes back to the mainland” (leaving another red Sharpie note on the bed, I might add), supposedly to jump ship to a movie gig of some sort. Then Frab gets it while he sneaks out to spy on the also-soon-to-be-murdered Kari. Finally, the filmmakers tire of the game and collect all the remaining non-murderers in one convenient spot so that the killer can mow them down Lee Harvey Oswald-style with a bow and arrow. Since there was never any real question in my mind who the culprit would be, there probably won’t be any in yours, either. Yeah, you got it— it’s good old money-grubbing, publicity-mongering, no-last-name-having Ursula wielding the bow from the roof of the hotel. She and (big surprise) Annie do the Jason-vs.-the-Final-Girl thing for a while, until bad girl Ursula ends up taking a spill off one of those shoreline cliffs the movie has been making such a big point of for the last 80 minutes. Finally, Leon DeLodge arrives in his helicopter, just in time to rescue Annie. The astounding dramatic dishonesty of the “happy ending” that follows is the only real surprise Bikini Island has to offer. It’s times like this that I say to myself, “You know, maybe I really am wasting my life...”



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