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Image Entertainment presents
"Against this Hollywood backdrop of fantasy, yesterday's teenager, now grown up, faces tomorrow still searching for kicks, but deeply searching for meaning."
DVD ReviewImage and Something Weird attempt to generate some James Dean-induced fever with this laughably stern look at the dark side of the so-called "good old days" of the late 1950s and early 1960s. As the tagline on the back of the DVD case states: "Prison... Hollywood... Sometimes you just can't tell 'em apart!" That pretty much sums up the tone of these two forgettable—but highly watchable—entries in the troubled teen genre, with Lost, Lonely and Vicious dealing with the seamy side of the movie biz for an up and coming Dean clone, while Jacktown tackles the rigors of prison life for a similarly ducktailed youth.
Lost, Lonely and Vicious (01h:12m:25s)
Directed by Frank Myers
It's 1957 Hollywood, and Johnnie Dennis (Ken Clayton) is a hunky rebel without a clue actor, who just so happens to be obsessed with death—his own, that is. His sexy French-accented agent Tanya (Lilyan Chauvin) is struggling to keep her boy on the straight and narrow, but it just seems that the boy has a unrequited death wish. Even when he lands his first major acting gig, he is too cool to attend the premiere; instead, he lurks in an alley and falls head over heels for good girl Helen Preacher (Barbara Wilson), and romance slowly blossoms.
Myers film has the odd distinction of having been filmed in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which he just could never really make look anything like Hollywood, no matter how hard he tried. Production values are minimalistic at best, especially the coffee shop set where the aging teen actors hang out and discuss their lives. It does have some bizarrely entertaining moments, such as when Johnnie meets Helen's dad for the first time, and he kneels down to help the old-timer take off his shoes. Johnnie's foreshadowing, death-inspired self-portrait, which depicts him as half-man, half-skeleton, hangs proudly in Tanya's office, and even accompanies him on his car ride with destiny. That kind of stuff is mucho strange; hell, it's almost Lynchian.
Directed by William Martin
This time it's Michigan, and the charge is statutory rape, young man. Greasy, unemployed tough guy Frankie Stossel (Richard Meade), who spends his days "listening to rock and roll and reading scandal magazines", does the dirty deed in the backseat of his car with a gal who just happens to be 16. D'oh! Breaking the moment of lust, a cop gets to utter the best line in the entire film: "Alright, young lady, I think you better put your slacks on."
Frankie is charged with statutory rape and sent to Jacktown, a heavy-duty maximum security prison in Jackson, Michigan. He quickly learns that in prison "morals charges are against their religion", which puts him at odds with an array of tough guy cons. The kindly warden takes Frankie under his wing, and assigns him landscaping duties of his private garden at his home during the day. Of course, the warden has a sexy young daughter named Margaret, played here by giant-eyed Patty McCormack from The Bad Seed. Frankie and Margaret make a lot of goo-goo eyes at each other, but ultimately have a rather sex-free relationship—which is probably the opposite of what's happening to Frankie in prison.
Jacktown has a Dragnet sort of feel to it, with a heady dose of monotone narration, enough to boost its campy goodness to tolerable levels. There is a comically awkward level of underplayed homoeroticism in the prison scenes, which also contribute to the generally weird vibe of Martin's big house drama.
I'm a fan of Something Weird, but you have to be in the right frame of mind to appreciate any of these blandly acted slices of Americana. The good news is that the unintentional humor content is pretty high.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-
Image Transfer Review: Both black & white films sport 1.33:1 fullframe transfers, and despite their age, look pretty darn good. A few minor nicks, but overall the source prints don't have too many visible flaws. I usually expect jarring splices and edits on these old B-movies, but these two look quite presentable.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: This disc is presented in glorious mono, and it's even and well-mixed. Dialogue is clear, while hiss is minimal.
It's mono, sure, but it sounds fine. Really.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 26 cues and remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Cool And The Crazy, Cry Baby Killer, Eighteen And Anxious, Joyride, Teenage Wolfpack
Extras Review: Woo-hoo! The extras feature a trio of laugh-a-minute troubled teen black & white shorts:
Crisis in Morality (26m:06s)
If you're looking for a little old time religion, Al Sanders from the L.A. Bible Institute will tell you how corruption and morality issues are threatening the world we live in; we learn that "sin infiltrates, impregnates and pollutes!" Al preaches about "sex parades" (now that's something I would love to see) and the dangers of alcohol, divorce, narcotics and most other staples of everyday life.
Hell is a Place Called Hollywood (19m:54s)
Here's another spin on the evils of Hollywood, presented as a mockumentary about pretty young Sheila Anderson, who ventures west with dreams of stardom. What happens to the girls that don't make it? According to this, they get into bondage and swim nude a lot.
Little Miss Delinquent (27m:28s)
Ah, the highlight of the supplementals is this brilliant short about troubled teenage girls, produced in cooperation with Warrendale, a "remedial centre for adolescent girls." Fifteen-year-old Nora is dating a 23-year-old guy, which somehow lands her in a home for wayward girls. She misses her overbearing parents, and she unloads her tale of misery on her shrink, and her life is told in flashback. The young actress who plays Nora has a wonderful lop-sided smile, and she is ten times as engaging as any of the actresses in either Lost, Lonely and Vicious or Jacktown.
Teens in trouble dominate the trailers (Lost, Lonely and Vicious, Jacktown, The Cool and the Crazy, Cry Baby Killer, Eighteen and Anxious, Joyride and Teenage Wolfpack), as well as the usual Something Weird inclusion of the four-minute Gallery of Trash-O-Rama Exploitation Art with Radio-Spot Rarities.
Lost, Lonely and Vicious is split into 10 chapters, and Jacktown is divided into 16.
Extras Grade: B+
Final CommentsAnother oddly pleasing B-movie thematic compilation from Something Weird, here addressing the woes of troubled teens. Worth a purchase just for the giggle-inducing short Little Miss Delinquent!
An easy recommendation for all of you Something Weird fans out there...
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