Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Phil's B-Movie Madness: BIKINI DRIVE-IN (1996) from RetromediaEntertainment - April 8, 2016

Starring: Ashlie Rhey, Richard Gabai, Sarah Bellomo, Rob Vogl, Ross Hagen, G. Gordon Bear, Tom Shell, Nikki Fritz, David F. Friedman, Michelle Bauer, Steve Barkett, Conrad Brooks,
Becky LeBeau, Tane McClure, Deborah Dutch
Written by Steve Armogida & John N. Willey
Cinematography by Gary Graver
Edited by W. Peter Miller
Directed by Fred Olen Ray
Production Company: American Independent Productions
Originally distributed by Bullseye Video
Released by Retromedia Entertainment

Yes my friends, there's a new installment of Phil's B-Movie Madness! If there's one thing I've learned during my time here on Earth, it's that everything is linked to some cosmic event that shapes your life. For me, it always comes back to my favorite television show USA Up All Night. Because of this beloved show, I fell in love with B-Movies as well as the actors, directors and Scream Queens. One of those directors I discovered was Fred Olen Ray. Ray has directed some amazing cult classics such as THE TOMB, HAUNTING FEAR, EVIL TOONS, BEVERLY HILLS VAMP and of course HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS. For today's review, I want to talk about one of my favorite of his and all the fond memories I had watching it. After years of being out of print on VHS and the sub-par censored DVDs, we finally have an official uncut, unedited, uncensored DVD edition of my favorite Fred Olen Ray film of all time: BIKINI DRIVE-IN!

The film's official synopsis: Kim Taylor (Ashlie Rhey) inherits her late grandfather's drive-in theatre. She and her best friend Carrie (Sarah Bellomo) must raise $25,000 over the weekend, or the bank will take the property. Her plan is to enlist the services of her hot friends to attract the masses in any way possible, and to deal with the banker types directly. She also has to deal with pesky capitalist J.B. Winston (David F. Friedman) and his associates Harry (Ross Hagen) and Card (G. Gordon Bear), but help arrives in the form of J.B.'s son Brian (Richard Gabai). Together, can they save the drive-in from both the bank and Winston?

I originally found the movie on the shelf at my local mom & pop video store by the old Safeway I used to work at. The place was called Branham Video and I used to rent all my horror, B-movies and cult classics there. When I first watched it I instantly fell in love with. It was so low budget and cheesy but it was also funny, light hearted and it made me forget life for a bit. That's the power of film. It can transport you to this other world for about 90 minutes and make you feel refreshed and brand new and it makes all your worries go away. What's not to love about that? 

Fred Olen Ray sets the tone for the film right away with the opening credits. It's light, fun and filled with beautiful actresses, great actors, bad jokes, hot and steamy sex scenes, sexy women in bikinis, and a totally awesome soundtrack. Ray's your typical low budget director who knows what the public and his fans want and delivers it in spades. His set-ups and compositions are well executed, the pacing of the movie is perfect and it's just a lot of fun to watch. Ray's resume also includes other cult faves like WIZARDS OF THE DEMON SWORD, BAD GIRLS FROM MARS, HYBRID, DINOSAUR ISLAND and ATTACK OF THE 60 FOOT CENTERFOLD.

Original VHS Cover (1996)
All of the actresses are incredibly talented, breathtakingly beautiful and legendary. Lead Ashlie Rhey has appeared in several other low budget erotica and action movies in the 90's like BODY OF INFLUENCE, RING OF FIRE II: BLOOD AND STEEL, MIDNIGHT TEASE, SAVE ME, WITCHCRAFT 7: JUDGEMENT HOUR and PLAY TIME. Her on-screen best friend Carrie is played by one of my favorite crushes from the early 90's Sarah Bellomo. She had acted in the adult film business as Roxanne Blaze in the very beginning of her career before making the transition to mainstream films. She starred in Full Moon's BEACH BABES FROM BEYOND, its sequel BEACH BABES 2: CAVE GIRL ISLAND as well as FATAL PASSION and SEDUCE ME: PAMELA PRINCIPLE 2 before disappearing from the public eye forever. Nikki Fritz was another Scream Queen that acted in a bunch of B-movies like SATURDAY NIGHT SPECIAL, DINOSAUR ISLAND, BURIAL OF THE RATS, ATTACK OF THE 60 FOOT CENTERFOLD, STRIPTEASER and BEACH BABES FROM BEYOND with Bellomo. The sweet and bubbly Becky LeBeau appeared in several low budget gems like NOT OF THIS EARTH, BODY OF CHEMISTRY III: POINT OF SEDUCTION, MUNCHIE, TRANSYLVANIA TWIST and SCHOOL SPIRIT and had a bit part in BACK TO SCHOOL with legendary comedian Rodney Dangerfield. Tane McClure acted in a lot of movies like DEATH SPA, INSIDE OUT II, REVENGE OF THE CALENDAR GIRLS, MIDNIGHT TEASE II, ASSAULT OF THE PARTY NERDS 2: THE HEAVY PETTING DETECTIVE, CAGED HEARTS and VICE ACADEMY 5.

The actors were staples in the low budget world and I'd see them in other films from this time frame. Our hero Brian is played by the one and only Richard Gabai. He's acted in a ton of cult classics like NIGHTMARE SISTERS, ASSAULT OF THE PARTY NERDS, VIRGIN HIGH, HOT UNDER THE COLLAR, DINOSAUR ISLAND, ASSAULT OF THE PARTY NERDS 2: THE HEAVY PETTING DETECTIVE, THE WASP WOMAN, VICE GIRLS and KICKBOXING ACADEMY. Gabai is also an accomplished director of over 25 films! Some of those included the previously mentioned ASSAULT OF THE PARTY NERDSVIRGIN HIGHHOT UNDER THE COLLARASSAULT OF THE PARTY NERDS 2: THE HEAVY PETTING DETECTIVEVICE GIRLSKICKBOXING ACADEMY plus family films like POPSTAR, CALL OF THE WILD, THE BIKE SQUAD and MIRACLE DOGS TOO. He's gone to direct many T.V. movies like IN THE DARK, THE GOOD MOTHER, IMAGINARY FRIEND and THE WRONG WOMAN. Veteran actor Ross Hagen has been acting since the 1960's. His on-screen credits include THE MINI-SKIRT MOB, THE HELLCATS, FIVE THE HARD WAY, ANGELS' WILD WOMEN, WONDER WOMEN, ANGEL, AVENGING ANGEL, PRISON SHIP, THE PHANTOM EMPIRE, CLICK: THE CALENDAR GIRL KILLER, DINOSAUR ISLAND, MIDNIGHT TEASE II, ATTACK OF THE 60 FOOT CENTERFOLD, NIGHT SHADE, INVISIBLE DAD and SHADOWHEART. Unfortunately, Ross passed away from cancer on May 7, 2011 at the age of 72. Another legend appearing in the film was David F. Friedman, who plays J.B. Winston. Friedman was the undisputed "King of Exploitation" having produced some of the most beloved and notorious film ever made including BLOOD FEAST, TWO THOUSAND MANIACS, SHE FREAK, LOVE CAMP 7, SPACE THING and ILSA: SHE WOLF OF THE SS. Friedman passed away on February 14,  2011 at the age of 82.

Another aspect I love about this movie is the killer soundtrack. Richard Gabai provides two songs for the movie:  "Those Days are Gone" and "Big Black Caddilac" (which were used in his film VIRGIN HIGH) while Becky LeBeau contributes to the majority of the soundtrack. My favorite song is "Caught in the Middle" and it's played during the scene when Tane McClure was dancing on top of the hood of a car with a cartoon being projected on her tight, sexy body. Oh yea my friends, it's a hot scene indeed! But I love the song! Becky LeBeau has an amazing voice and the song matches the scene brilliantly! 

As I stated earlier, this the unrated, uncensored, unedited version of the film. All of the incredibly hot sex scenes has been restored for your enjoyment. I was fortunate to have been able to rent this version all those years ago. However, if you were one of the poor souls who had to rent the movie at your local Blockbuster, I feel so sorry for you. They were notorious for editing and censoring the films they rented out, so chances are you were one of those who saw the edited version. But Fred Olen Ray has corrected this travesty once and for all.

Overall BIKINI DRIVE-IN remains one of my all-time favorite B-movies from the 1990's!! If you're like me and you grew up watching these low budget B-movies on either USA Up All Night or you rented them, this will bring back those good 'ole days of staying up late, eating pizzas and checking out these classic flicks! It doesn't get any better than this! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!! 

BIKINI DRIVE-IN is currently available at your local retailer and is also available to purchase on the Amazon website. If you'd like to learn more about Fred Olen Ray, be sure to check out his official Facebook page. To learn more about Retromedia Entertainment and their films, visit their website at www.retromedia.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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