In South Beach, the heat is deadly! (And that ain't all that's deadly here, bub.)
Friends don't let friends make bad movies.
Ergo, the people who made Suicide Blonde have no friends.
Facts of the Case
A Miami nudie bar's valet parking attendant (Dale "We'll Always Have" Paris) runs into big trouble while caring for the wheels of an ill-tempered Cuban gangster (Tony "The Fight Doctor" Pacheco). Along the bumpy ride, our hapless hero picks up a mysterious, nameless woman in a brassy blonde wig (former Playboy centerfold—Miss July 1996—Angel "Monster Mash" Boris, who parlayed this sure-fire résumé-booster into a recurring role on Beverly Hills 90210) whose apparent death wish finds her playing a little too casually with dangerous toys, like guns and samurai swords. Parking Guy and Bunny Girl cruise the neon-lit mean streets of Miami trying not to get ventilated by hot lead from Havana.
The way director Eduardo Carrillo tells the tale on the audio commentary track, Suicide Blonde began as nothing more than a clever title scammed from an INXS song (which, in case you were wondering, does not surface during the movie, probably because the licensing fees would have exceeded the flick's entire budget). In the winter of 1996, Carrillo and a couple of film-school pals ran into actor/producer Steven Frankel at some social gathering for out-of-work showbiz wannabes, and pitched him a then-nonexistent script based solely on youthful chutzpah and the aforementioned catchy title. Quicker than you can say "Michael Hutchence," Carrillo and company landed a development deal, and spent the next several days scrambling to pound out a draft screenplay. This is the result.
Suicide Blonde, to be brutally frank, looks exactly like what it is: a first feature shot over the course of a couple of February weekends by a novice director and crew, on a budget totaling less than $100 grand, from a script scribbled hastily on the backs of Bacardi-stained cocktail napkins. Not a single "Look, Ma, I graduated from film school!" cliché passes unheeded. There's more ham and cheese on display here than in a picnic basket full of Monte Cristo sandwiches. The story—and I use that term more loosely than parachute pants on a runway model—is incomprehensible, the dialogue inane, the production values abysmal, the acting—and the performances here are to the dramatic arts what Gene-Gene the Dancing Machine was to choreography—rivals your local community theater production of Long Day's Journey Into Night for unintentional (I think) risibility.
On the other hand, almost everyone in Suicide Blonde seems to be having a good time, which I suppose counts for something. The one exception is leading man Dale Paris, who evidences all the emotional range and color of butterscotch pudding. Exploitation fans may find sufficient gunplay, bloodshed, and nudity to make this experience worth enduring. Then again, they may not.
Feeling compelled to liberate Suicide Blonde from its archives during a slow week at the DVD production facility, Artisan Entertainment does its level best to put forth a worthy presentation of this unheralded masterwork. Offered here in glorious hack-'n'-scan, the film suffers from its bargain-basement original stock, which seems to have been cobbled together from reel-end cutoffs discarded by high-ticket pornographers. More grain than a saucepan of Cream of Wheat with a side of All-Bran. The print reflects abundant dirt and damage, and the transfer veers from muddy to harsh—often from one scene to the next. The soundtrack is a modest improvement—an inactive Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that doesn't seem all that different from the plain-vanilla stereo separation that's also included.
Surprisingly, Artisan coughed up the cash to drag several of the film's principals (writer/director Eduardo Carrillo, producer/co-writer Joshua Friedlander, and actors Angel Boris, Tony Pacheco, and Oscar Torres) into a broom closet with a stand microphone to record a full-length commentary. Despite some inexplicable pauses in the conversation—with this many contributors, someone should be talking all the time—and the fact that the people furthest from the mic are at times difficult to hear, this track is actually rather entertaining, with some of the participants seeing the film for the first time in the seven years since it was made. There's a pleasant collegial atmosphere among the group, and many humorous anecdotes about the origins of the movie and the experience of filming it are batted around.
A bizarre production featurette entitled Behind the Blonde appears to have been lensed and edited by persons who were, shall we say, pharmaceutically enhanced at the time. As cheesy and clumsy as the movie itself is, this appalling short subject outstrips it for sheer ineptitude by a country mile. Here's the text of a testimonial graphic credited to Chris Webster, the producer of the movie Heathers: "One of the most exhilerating (sic) directorial debuts since El Mamariachi (sic)!" Egad. The documentary showcases cast interview clips shot in extreme closeup through a fisheye lens, and is scored with monotonous electronic synthesizer music dubbed in from a 1980s skin flick. You'll cost yourself fourteen irredeemable and excruciating minutes of your life if you watch straight through to the end.
The remaining extras include a storyboard gallery (like you'll really believe there was a "story" somewhere amid this chaos), a theatrical trailer, and bonus trailers from three films that make Suicide Blonde look like Schindler's List by comparison: Frost: Portrait of a Vampire, The Pool, and Menace.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Apparently, Suicide Blonde was received with polite applause (or at least with patrons not streaming for the exits) when it debuted at the 1999 Fort Lauderdale Film Festival—a venue that I suspect had pretty well exhausted the possibilities of the Porky's trilogy, Girls Gone Wild videos, and both versions of Where the Boys Are, and could probably have screened your Cousin Jeff's out-of-focus bar mitzvah footage to enthusiastic response.
Deader than Michael Hutchence himself. You'd be better served by playing the INXS video Suicide Blonde over and over again for 95 minutes than watching this mess. Unless you're a charter member of the Angel Boris Fan Club, or a shirttail relative of another member of the cast or crew, find a homeless shelter where you can volunteer for an hour and a half instead.
The Judge sentences Suicide Blonde to die—or, if you prefer, to dye—by her own hand. We're adjourned.
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Scales of Justice
• Audio Commentary Featuring Writer/Director Eduardo Carrillo, Producer/Writer Joshua Friedlander, and Actors Angel Boris, Tony Pacheco, and Oscar Torres
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