Saturday, July 08, 2017

187. Click: The Calendar Girl Killer

187. Click: The Calendar Girl Killer (1990)
Directors: Ross Hagen and John Stewart
Writers: David Reskin, Ross Hagen, David Chute, and Hoke Howell from a story by Carol Lynn and John Stewart
From: Cult Cinema
A calendar photographer who mixes extreme violence into his shoots gathers a group of models at his compound for work. However, someone’s been killing models and it seems they’re coming to the compound.
Remember how I said Devil Times Five took too long to get around to what it’s actually about? The same happens here. The story’s about a centerfold photographer and someone killing the models. So the point of the movie, as a product, is bikini babes getting cut up. Which, fine, whatever. And the movie promises to be pure Martin Skinemax fare from the opening titles which are just a series of bikini models on a cheap set posing with various weapons.

Oh, 1990, how could anyone miss you?

We cut from those titles to a crying child on a cheap set being yelled at by a fat nurse. That then cuts to a man applying lipstick in a mirror, dressing himself as the nurse, and then stabbing the mirror. This is trash, pure trash, and you know how I feel about trash.

Anyway, this is the story of “Jackhammering” Jack, an “edgy” photographer who incorporates violence into his fashion spreads. It’s the kind of stuff a teenager equates with being mature because it’s superficially shocking. The movie is playing it up as a sign of genius on Jack’s part. He goes around town handing out his card to people trying to recruit them to be models and meets a woman who’s willing to take him up on the offer. Her boyfriend, though, thinks the idea is super creepy and that she shouldn’t do it. Unfortunately, the boyfriend is an abusive, controlling creeper himself so it’s hard to read his warnings as sincere.

No, really, the boyfriend’s a creep. He’s stalking her throughout the movie, ends up at the compound with her where he tries to hook up with the other models, and constantly tears her down. Also, he’s our hero. Fabulous.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though, because nothing happens for the majority of the movie. The first kill doesn’t pop up until 50 minutes in and by that point it’s clear that there are only five characters worth noting: Jack, his assistant, the girl, her boyfriend, and a man creeping around the edges. One of these people is the killer!

So Jack has a special compound where he does big projects because he has space to set up all kinds of scenes. He invites the girl out there, but says no boyfriends. The boyfriend follows them anyway and confronts them on his shitty dirt bike while they’re driving. He’s having an argument with them while neither vehicle is slowing down when he hits a car and goes over a cliff, but doesn’t die. Imagine my disappointment.

Jack starts doing the shoots at the compound, is rude to his assistant, and keeps tearing up the pictures he’s taken because they’re not realistic enough. He photographs a caveman rape scene, a wedding in front of an exploding van, a war scene of people shooting live rounds at each other, but the energy’s never there. Meanwhile, creeper infiltrates the compound and finds Jack’s office where Jack has collaged pictures of historical violence with images of his models. No one’s dead yet and it feels like the movie is trying to spoon-feed you red herrings to convince you that Jack is the killer. My bet, at this point, was it was the assistant because he’d only been in two scenes and the logic of trash like this is the killer is the person you forgot was in the movie.

50 minutes in, the person dressed as the nurse reappears and kills a model. Then it’s on. A vanload of effects crew drive into the woods and explode, people starts noticing their fellow models are missing and end up getting killed themselves, and the girl and her boyfriend are in the woods making up and missing all of it. They finally meet the creeper who reveals he’s a PI investigating Jack because previous models of his have gone missing or turned up dead, and then Jack pops up in the nurse’s uniform and attacks.

Run run run, PI killed, boyfriend knocked out, girl tied to a cross on top of a giant bale of hay. She’s going to be burned alive a la Joan of Arc while Jack takes pictures. His reasons are jealousy/sexual repression/bad nurse yada yada, doesn’t matter. It doesn’t. It’s trash. Fill in your preferred clich├ęd reason, it’ll make as much sense. Boyfriend shows up, is pretty useless, but does ultimately knock Jack onto the hay, set it on fire, and save the girl. Jack burns to death and we cut to the opening credit sequence, this time with the closing credits. THE END.

This movie made me laugh more than most comedies. It is demonstrably awful and not nearly as fun as the deliciously-bad The Patriot, but there’s something delightful about how aspirationally trashy it is. This wants to be an edgy film—the photographer mixing sex and violence, a cross-dressing killer, a compound full of models getting into sexy situations, I just imagine a be-headgeared teenager thrusting this VHS at his friends and lisping, “Guys, here’s something that’s really hardcore!” And, on that level, I kind of recommend it.

Like I said, it’s not The Patriot, but I think it’d pair pretty nicely with Memorial Valley Massacre as a shitty slasher double-feature. They’re both genre cash-ins, but don’t feel quite as cynical or half-assed as anything from the Asylum. There is a touch of competence and investment which makes the viewing more palatable, but both films are gloriously, brutally stupid. It’s worth pulling up if you have the time and some friends to laugh along with.

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