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Hollywood After Dark/The Rotten Apple (Something Weird Video) DVD Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Hollywood After Dark/The Rotten Apple (Something Weird Video) DVD Review

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    Released by: Something Weird Video
    Released on: July 11th, 2006.
    Director: John Hayes
    Cast: Rue McClanahan, Anthony Varno,
    Year: 1961/1963
    Purchase From Amazon

    Hollywood After Dark/The Rotten Apple – Movie Reviews:

    Something Weird Video once again unearths some oddball titles that no one else would likely bother with, polishing them up nicely for DVD. Here we find two films directed by John Hayes, both of which star Rue 'Blanche Devereaux' McClanahan in prominent roles.

    Hollywood After Dark:

    Tony's (Anthony Varno) life kind of sucks. He used to be in the navy but since getting out of the service has spent his days messing around in a scrap yard eeking out a meager living by selling off spare parts. Things change for Tony when two mobsters, Nick and Tommy, come to see him one day. At first he thinks they want to buy him out, but nope, they want Tony himself. It seems that his time in the navy earned him some very specialized demolition and explosives skills that they hope to employ in their scheme to pull off a sizeable robbery. Tony says no at first, but his mind starts to wander and he asks the mobsters for some time to think on it a bit before getting back to them.

    Where does Tony go to think things over? A burlesque club, of course. After enjoying the show and having a drink or two, he meets Sandy Smith (Ms. Rue, of course), a wannabe actress who pays the bills by shaking her tail feathers, still hoping for that one big break. Although Sandy isn't the happiest or friendliest peeler in the universe, in fact she's downright cranky, Tony falls head over heels for her (it's probably got more to do with her curves than her sense of humor) and before you know it Tony's wanting to get hitched.

    Things start to hit a serious downward spiral however, as Sandy gets coerced into meeting a screenwriter at his place one night in hopes of getting that big break she wants so badly. This being an old exploitation movie, it goes to figure that she doesn't get the part but she does get felt up. To make matters worse, Tony takes the heist job with the thugs who visited him earlier in the film but finds out that he's bitten off more than he can chew when they don't turn out to be the nice guys he initially thought they were.

    Little more than a by the number crime caper with some burlesque footage added in to pad out the running time and add an exploitative element to the film, Hollywood After Dark commits the cardinal sin – it bores! Granted, seeing Rue play a burlesque dancer is interesting, especially if you grew up watching her on The Golden Girls or seeing her in other television shows from the era (she also showed up on Blue's Clues!) but despite the considerable novelty of the casting, the story just isn't very interesting. We do get some choice snippets of trash talking dialogue in a few scenes but it isn't enough to give this much replay value. It isn't particularly well shot or well edited though some of the burlesque footage is fun to look at if you're into that type of thing (personal bias – this reviewer can watch burlesque footage for hours on end and never get bored with it!). The film was originally made as Walk The Angry Beach and was meant to be seen without the naked ladies in it.

    The Rotten Apple:

    In our second feature, a bum named Harry runs yet another junkyard (it looks like the same junkyard from the first feature and it probably is!) where he runs a car theft ring with his partner where he sells off the parts and pockets the cash. The thugs who help him in this racket are paid in shares of skin – that's right, he lets them sleep with his girlfriend, a lady of the evening named Poochie (Rue once again, though her character's name automatically made this reviewer think of Homer Simpson's raping dog cartoon character ). The local fuzz knows that something is up in the scrap yard and they've got their eyes on Harry and his cronies but they aren't quite able to pull the trigger just yet.

    Meanwhile, a young couple named Ben and Edna are at their wits end when they go cruising with infant in tow only to have their car die on them. They leave it at the side of the road and Ben wanders into the junkyard that Harry runs hoping to score himself the part he needs to get his car back on the road. Not content to just give Ben the part, he sends him to see Poochie who takes a real liking to the guy. Meanwhile, Harry has told the cops that Ben isn't a customer, nope, he's a fence trying to unload stolen goods on him. The cops beat him up and one of Harry's punk thugs heads over to check out Edna and see what's going on. Thankfully for her, the cops pick him up and toss him in the slammer.

    Ben finally makes it back to Edna in one piece but rather than just get out of town he decides to get his revenge and teach that bastard Harry a lesson. It isn't going to be easy but Ben figures he can get the jump on him and maybe even save Poochie from a life of sin in the process.

    Although the opening narration from Paul Leder (who played Harry and who co-wrote the film with William W. Norton) is amusing in that it warns us of people just like the ones we're about to see in the film, the rest of the movie is pretty tedious. None of the characters are likeable, everyone hates themselves and each other, and the whole thing plays out like a poorly written soap opera. The melodrama is think to the point where it just gets to be too much and the film gets bogged down considerably because of this. It is well shot with some nice cinematography and a fair bit of atmosphere but the long, talky stretches hurt the movie too much and as such, it's unable to recover. This was originally released as Five Minutes To Love (and Alpha Video released it on DVD under that title in 2005) though it appeared under that title without the added nudity seen in this version.

    Hollywood After Dark/The Rotten Apple – DVD Review:

    Each of the two black and white movies in this set were shot fullframe and that's exactly how they're presented on this double feature DVD. While the bit rate isn't through the roof with two films crammed on here, this pairing looks pretty decent for an older standard definition presentation. Contrast levels are set nicely and the prints used for the transfer appear to have been in pretty decent shape as, although there is some mild print damage here and there, the picture is quite clean considering these were shot fast and cheap way back when. Mpeg compression artifacts are pretty much a non-issue and while there are a few instances of edge enhancement and line shimmering, there aren't a whole lot of digital conversion problems to report.

    The Dolby Digital Mono sound mix is pretty clear considering the low budget origins of the three older exploitation films presented on this DVD. While the limitations of the technology used to capture the audio shine through and the material does show its age with some mild hiss and the odd pop here and there, you aren't going to have any problems following the dialogue and some of the swanky background music used throughout the two films adds some much needed fun to the features.

    The best supplements on this release are the four short films that have been included in the extra features section, and the titles more or less give away what happens in them. First up is Model School in which we see a few girls hoping to make it big in front of the camera learning to pose for the lens. The Screen Test Of Dorothy Van Nuys clip is some nice footage of the lovely pin-up model of the title strutting her stuff and looking very fine in the process. Reel Facts is an old peepshow reel in which a girl takes it all off, plays with a camera and then chills out on her couch in nothing but her birthday suit. The last clip, another peepshow reel, is Hollywood Peep Show and it features a few peelers perfecting their art.

    As we've come to expect from Something Weird Video, there are plenty of trailers to sink your teeth into in the extra features section. Included here are promo spots for Hollywood After Dark, Calling Homicide, Female Jungle (starring the sexy as sin Jayne Mansfield), Hollywood Burlesque, Scandal Inc., Starlet, A Sweet Sickness and finally A Virgin In Hollywood.

    Rounding out the extra features is a small still gallery of promotional photos for The Rotten Apple, in addition to menus and chapter selections for each of the two features.

    Hollywood After Dark/The Rotten Apple – The Final Word:

    While the two features on this disc are nothing to write home about and aren't really anything most of us will want to go back to, as curiosity items they do have some worth, especially if you're a Golden Girls fan! Something Weird Video does their usual solid job on the presentation and the extras are fun, which makes this one worth a rental for the curious exploitation buff.


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