J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Midnight Movie: Scream of the Bikini

The mid 1960’s were a golden age for Columbian-German co-productions, but the magnum opus of Fernando Fernandez, the era’s visionary auteur, remained lost to posterity until director Kiff Scholl discovered a rare surviving print. Yeah, right. It is a good back story though. For those familiar with the groovy multinational spy films of the 1960’s, Scholl’s Scream of the Bikini (trailer here) is a knowingly affectionate send-up, which is booked for special midnight (technically 11:55) screenings at the Laemmle Sunset 5 in West Hollywood this Friday and Saturday.

Bridgit and Sophia are supermodels by day and superspy-bounty hunters by night (or perhaps vice versa). They have just averted a terrorist attack on an airliner, but Sophia broke a heel in the process. At least they beat their tuxedo-clad rival Humberto to the kill (and the twenty grand). However, the dead man will keep popping up, looking for a microchip or something. Needless to say, Bikini is hardly the sort of film to get hung up on plot, though there is plenty of it, including mysterious death cults, mind-controlling accessories, and plenty of suggestive flirtation. Rather, it is style all the way for its glamorous protagonists.

Eurospy enthusiasts will appreciate Bikini’s vibe, faultlessly recreating the retro color palette and weirdly disembodied dialogue that marked the swinging sixties cult film subgenre. Bikini also features a surprisingly catchy soundtrack that is true to the period and frankly much better than it has to be. And you have to love a trippy musical interlude that includes mimes at play in an open field, right?

It seems like the entire cast also doubled as producers of Bikini, suggesting the film started as an idea concocted by a group of friends over drinks. However, as Latin American actresses Jasmine Orozco and Paola Apanapal playing Bridgit and Sophia, Kelsey Weeden and Rebecca Larsen actually pull off a nice acting feat, keeping their characters cute and likable despite their self-centered cluelessness. Co-producer, editor, and cinematographer Darrett Sanders exudes the perfect hammy flair as Gregorio Peck as man-of-the-world Humberto, while nicely deadpanning some of the film’s funniest lines. Bikini also won the Maverick Movie Awards’ “The Precious” prize for random hilarity in recognition of Walter “Ensign Chekhov” Koenig’s non sequitur cameo, and rightly so.

Saucy yet sweet-tempered (just like its heroines), Bikini is a lot of fun. Deliberately cheesy, but not annoyingly so, it is perfectly suited for midnight screenings at festivals, art-houses, and college campuses. Recommended for MST3K fans (think of the bots skewering Neil Connery in the knock-off Operation Double 007), it plays at the Laemmle Sunset 5 this Friday (2/19) and Saturday (2/20).

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