Ever wonder what porn stars do in their off hours. Why, they make low budget softcore sex romps. Not just the cable-ready versions of their hardcore features, but real b-movies helmed by established and wannabe filmmakers eager to tap the available (and typically cheap) talent pool for a little stunt casting production value. One such slash and burn cinemaniac is the fearless Fred Olen Ray. Responsible for such hack classics as Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Invisible Mom, and Teenage Cavegirl, Fred (under the slightly stilted nom de plume of "Nicolas Medina") has cobbled together a wonderful cast of carnal icons, including Nicole Sheridan, her half-pint hubby Voodoo (a.k.a. Alexandre Boisvert) Evan Stone, Rebecca Love, Syren, Michelle Lay, Nick Manning and Christine Nguyen. Add in Olen Ray regular Brad Bartram, a few '50s throwback songs (that's right, it's a musical) and a cornball plot about the death of a rich relative and the scramble to claim the estate, and you've got Ghost in the Teeny Bikini, an enjoyable blend of nookie and nonsense. It proves that, when all the filmic stars align properly, XXX and schlock can come together to create one sexy spoof.
Muffy Baker is filming another formulaic erotic sci-fi adventure when she gets a telegram informing her that her rich Uncle Silas has just passed away. As the only living heir, Buffy stands to inherit the entire estate. Along with her hack director boyfriend, TED Wood Jr., she makes her way up to his mysterious mansion. There she meets the rest of her late Uncle's friends and associates, including scheming lawyer Archibald Weisenheimer, his devious daughter Evilyn, Marsh, the monotone manservant, and Fushia the disgruntled maid. As part of the will's strict probate arrangements, Muffy must stay in the house and a séance must be conducted. Any violation of these requirements and Weisenheimer gets it all. Naturally, he's plotting to get Muffy out of the way, permanently. Yet what he and the other guests don't know is that a well-endowed female ghost in a teeny pink bikini is haunting the house, attempting to guarantee that Muffy takes home the cash. In between all the scheming and sex, our pulchritudinous poltergeist causes as much carnality as she does chaos. Seems the afterlife is surprisingly low on available partners, and our spirit needs some erotic exorcising ASAP.
Hilariously hokey and downright dumb at times, Ghost in the Teeny Bikini represents the near perfect convergence of old school direct to video principles and post-modern DVD technology pragmatics. It's a creative combination of pseudo-sex silliness and the continued mainstreaming of pornography. It's an Airplane! like romp loaded with lame jokes, bad puns and shameless mugging. It's also a fairly erotic softcore spectacle. It's the kind of movie that works a whole lot better if you know – in the Biblical sense – the talent being featured. Otherwise, Nicole Sheridan, Alexandre Boisvert, Evan Stone and Nick Manning can appear dopey, mannered and quite uncomfortable on camera. Once you've see them "in action" dropping trou and blou for their typical XXX fun, you realize that everything here is an act. They are purposefully putting on the goof for the sake of the comedy. In fact, all of the adult industry performers on hand have given far better turns – far funnier and more believable – in various hardcore titles. But in keeping with writer/director Fred Olen Ray's desire to bash out the cheap, quick sex farce, everyone has fun with their proposed image, resulting in a movie that's as fresh and funny as it is flippant and foolish.
It bears repeating that smut fans will probably dig this movie a whole lot more than individuals lacking a basic porn star knowledge. When you've seen an actor, completely butt naked, diddling another equally unclothed member of the flesh peddling industry, in any number of sexual situations, the bloom is off your suspension of disbelief rose, so to speak. Since hardcore forces one to accept situations that seem outlandish, impractical, and in some cases, physically impossible, one tends to tune out all other elements of the performers persona. For example, Nick Manning is known as kind of a self-centered, trash talking, egotistical jerk. He has a post pop-shot catchphrase that's as aggravating as it is embarrassing. Without knowing this particular piece of information, watching him play the lunkheaded lead in the movie within a movie seems stupid and pointless. But once he starts sneaking over into patented Manning territory, and the sex-based epithets start flowing, the familiarity is uproarious. It's the same with Evan Stone. He is typically a sunny surfer type, or on occasion a very serious, sometimes sinister presence. But in Ghost, he is purposefully trying to act all creepy and menacing, using his butler's Lurch-like elements to get his gravitas on. Of course, it comes across as absolutely hilarious, counterintuitive to what he does, typically, as a member of the meat puppet brigade.
The ladies, on the other hand, don't do spoof as well. Since only Rebecca Love and Syren are playing any kind of outright, outlandish character (Ms. Lay is a good distaff maid, however), everyone else is forced to be fetching, and that's about it. This leads to one of Ghost's most noticeable flaws – the failure to utilize Nicole Sheridan's inherent ability at humor. Even in the porno roles she has essayed (those featuring an actual SCRIPT, one should point out) Nicole is a nuanced, genial comedienne, capable of great wit and slick stupidity. Here, she is nothing more than engaging eye candy, a large breasted babe in the title swimwear. All she's asked to do is look blond, deliver corny, catchphrase like asides, and disappear on cue. It provides little leeway for a true comic performance, and leaves one wondering why she was so underused. Similarly, Christine Nguyen is good as our erotic ingénue, but she just doesn't fit one's internal image of what a "Muffy Baker" looks like. Indeed, this may be a case where Nicole got cold feet as the featured star, and stumbled over into a small supporting role to allow another to play the part. It's just too bad. With the right actress in each role, Ghost in the Teeny Bikini could have been a full blown blast.
What it is instead is a great little softcore schlockfest with enough bawdiness and brains to keep our most important organs stimulated and happy. Ray, whose becoming quite the specialist in this kind of movie, understands the fine line between camp and crap, and he never strays too far to either side. He gets a lot of help from his actors, who never try to be more than what they are given. Since the effects are limited (just random spook shots, really) and the production values high, the good natured gloss over of overall production wins us over almost immediately. There are three songs here – Stone, Syren and Nguyen each get one – and since they were recorded using the actors' real voices, we get an additional bit of outrageousness for our kooky consideration. Stone is a natural, having proven his rock god mantle in the Misty Beethoven remake. Syren and Nguyen, on the other hand, are like various incarnations of Bai Ling (sorry, ladies), but they come across as so genuine and real that we can't help but fall for their caterwaul. Thanks to Ray's professionalism with both narrative and tone, and the incredibly clever script, we end up with something that works both as sex and as satire. Ghost in the Teeny Bikini may not sound like anything other than soft focus frugging, but it is actually a very funny, very fulfilling effort.
Presented in a nice, colorful 1.33:1 full screen image, Ghost in the Teeny Bikini is one of the best digital to film offerings to come out of the new wave of technological treats. Ray keeps everything balanced – the tacky effects, the more "sensual" sequences, and never slides into anything over stylized or silly. In general, it's a good looking picture, similar to what you'd see on Cinemax After Dark.
Dolby Digital Stereo and damn proud of it, this DVD boasts a crystal clear aural presentation. Dialogue is easily discernible and the songs are captured in the true spirit of rowdy rockabilly and '50s revivalism that they represent. Even the sound cues are expertly done. A really solid sonic package, all around.
Voodoo - sorry, 'Alexandre Boisvert' - is on hand to roam the set and gather up backstage gossip for his home movies, which are presented as a Behind the Scenes featurette. It's very interesting to see these stars with their "hair down", so to speak, and as a fellow performer, our camera-touting guide knows how to direct the conversation to garner the best, most honest reactions. Toss in a collection of bloopers (interesting, but not all that involving) and information on Ray's Retromedia website and you've got a decent, if not definitive, DVD.
It is easy to dismiss a movie like this as nothing more than a chance for some adult stars to slum for another nookie novelty, and its near impossible to deny that Ghost in the Teeny Bikini has very little in the way of artistic aspiration, socially redeeming rationality or true comedic integrity. In essence, it's a loopy little lampoon that never takes itself, or its audience, seriously, and comes up Aces in its attempts to be anarchic and arousing. Easily earning a Highly Recommended rating, this is the kind of title that will make you instantly forget all the bad b-movie sex farces you've seen in the past. And, with a little additional knowledge of the performers involved, it's a film that actually turns into something ironic and ingratiating. While it should have had more Sheridan – both in the dialogue and the diddling department – this is one serving of crackpot carnality that easily earns its wanton wings. Once you've seen this specter's idea of spooking up the joint, you'll hope she haunts you for the rest of your days.
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