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Backlash: Oblivion 2 (1996)

I was a big fan of Charles Band‘s direct-to-video studio Full Moon Entertainment [aka Full Moon Features] back in the early ’90s. I loved his Puppet Master [1989-2012] and Demonic Toys [1992-2010] franchises, as well as the stand-alone films Dollman (1991) and Bad Channels (1992). I really loved the VideoZone segments that played at the end of the videos and were often hosted by lovely actress Charlie Spradling. Other films from Charles Band‘s B-movie studio that I enjoyed include the Subspecies (1991-98) and Trancers (1985-2002) franchises, Crash and Burn (1990), and Robot Wars (1993).

Two of Full Moon‘s films that I overlooked are Oblivion (1994) and its sequel Backlash: Oblivion 2 (1996). I didn’t think, then, that I’d be interested in those movies’ mix of science fiction and western elements. I didn’t even care to see the overblown Cowboys & Aliens in 2011. However, the other day, I stumbled upon a YouTube channel called Shanahan – The Bad Girl Channel which showcases clips of bad girls from various movies, TV shows, etc. I found clips of lovely South African actress Musetta Vander as the seductive, leather-clad outlaw Lash from the Oblivion movies. I couldn’t believe I overlooked her! So, I quickly remedied the situation by ordering both DVDs from Amazon Prime and, two days later, I watched a Musetta-Vander-as-Lash-in-the-Oblivion-movies” double feature. Bad girls always win me over, and Vander is a good bad girl in these movies!

Oblivion and Backlash: Oblivion 2 are wonderfully entertaining B-movies that take a fistful of western clichés and mix them with a few sci-fi clichés more. See what I did there? I’ll do it again, too. The retro futuristic fun is delivered by a colorful cast of characters played (mostly) with over-the-top gusto by more than a few familiar faces. So, let’s meet the good, the bad and the beautiful. I told you I’d do it again!

First, the good …

Richard Joseph Paul [Knight Rider 2010 (1994), Vampirella (1996)] plays Zach Stone, the prospecting son of Marshal Stone (Mike Genovese) and Oblivion‘s reluctant hero. He is an empath and avoids violence so he doesn’t have to feel others’ pain. Jimmie F Skaggs plays Buteo, a native who becomes Zach’s Tonto-esque sidekick after Zach saves his life. He offers sage advice. George Takei [Sulu in the original Star Trek series (1966-69) and movies (1979-1991), "Oh my!"] plays Doc Valentine, a drunk. Dentistry, haircuts, inventions, robotics, etc, are his skills. Carel Struycken [Lurch in The Addams Family movies (1991-98)] plays Gaunt, the eerie caretaker whom the town fears because he’s always around when people die. In Backlash: Oblivion 2, Maxwell Caulfield [Rex Manning in Empire Records (1995)] plays Sweeney, a notorious but charming (and dapper) bounty hunter.

Next, the bad …

Andrew Divoff [the evil Djinn in the first two Wishmaster films (1997-99)] plays villain Redeye, a reptilian outlaw who can regenerate limbs. In Backlash: Oblivion 2, Divoff plays warlord Jagger, Redeye’s brother. Irwin Keyes plays Bork, Redeye’s dimwitted hentchman. Musetta Vander, obviously, plays Lash, the leather-clad seductress who wields an electronic bull whip. However, more on Vander later.

Finally, the beautiful (all good) …

Jackie Swanson [Kelly Gaines-Boyd, Woody's girfriend/wife, in Cheers (1989-93)] plays Mattie Chase, owner of the general store and Zach’s love interest. Meg Foster plays Stell Barr, Oblivion’s tough-as-nails cyborg deputy whose movement’s are accented with the sound of hydraulics. Foster‘s pale, icy blue eyes are hypnotizing. You can’t look away. Julie Newmar plays Miss Kitty, owner of the local saloon and cathouse. The joke is that Newmar played Catwoman in the first two seasons of the campy 60s TV series Batman (with Adam West and Burt Ward). Lash is beautiful, too; but, she’s a bad girl.

Now, Oblivion (1994) …

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Oblivion (1994)

“In the Year 3031… It’s Cowboys and Aliens.”

Reptilian-like alien Redeye arrives  on a planet light-years from Earth and heads toward Oblivion, a frontier town that resembles the American Old West. He challenges Marshal Stone to a duel outside of Miss Kitty’s saloon. Redeye kills the human Marshal and short-circuits his cyborg deputy Stell Barr in a plan to take over the troubled town with bad girl Lash and mine its hidden derconium, the most valuable mineral in the galaxy. The Marshal’s long-lost son Zack, who left Oblivion to avoid following in his father’s footsteps as a lawman, and his native friend Buteo return for the funeral, but, are soon forced to take a stand against Redeye and his gang. Zack and Buteo eventually team up with Stell and Gaunt to rescue Mattie who was kidnapped by Lash for Redeye. They confront Redeye in the Badlands where he meets his demise against two giant scorpions. Lash, however, escapes to be bad another day.

Watch the trailer here …

Oblivion is a very satisfying B-movie that offers thrills, laughs and some awesome stop-motion monsters! The giant scorpions are courtesy of David Allen Productions. Stop-motion animator David Allen provided the creatures for great B-movies like Equinox (1970), When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970), Flesh Gordon (1974), The Crater Lake Monster (1977), Caveman (1981), and many others. He also provided stop-motion effects for several other Full Moon features, like the Subspecies films, Doctor Mordrid (1992), and more. I grew up adoring the master stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen‘s movies, but, David Allen‘s were the next best. Oh, and George Takei’s Star Trek references [some of which you can hear in the trailer] are hysterical. Anyway …

Sexy outlaw Lash was the catalyst for this post, and Musetta Vander did not disappoint! Vander, with her jet black bangs and killer looks, resembles 50s pin-up model Bettie Page [see HBO's biopic The Notorious Bettie Page (2005) for reference] or 60s exploitation starlet Tura Satana [circa Russ Meyer's Faster, Pussycat, Kill! Kill! (1965)]; and, she plays villainous Lash as a Catwoman-esque dominatrix who chews up every scene she’s in with wicked glee, then spits it back in your face, making you want more. Vander‘s panache as Lash even makes Julie Newmar hiss. Well, she hisses at Redeye, but, whatever. Here, now [before I move on to Backlash: Oblivion 2], are my favorite Lash moments from Oblivion (1994) …

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Lash makes her first appearance in Oblivion (1994).

(1) Marshal Stone steps outside Miss Kitty’s to face Redeye. An elegantly-dressed woman, sitting at the bar, turns. She is Lash. She raises one eyebrow. After Redeye kills the Marshal, Lash steps outside. “Not so fast, Half-breed!” she snarls at Stell Barr, whipping her as she reaches for her gun. Lash steps into the middle of the street. “Boys!” she calls, snapping her finger. Spanner (Jeff Moldovan) and Wormhole (Frank Roman) tear her dress away revealing her leather outfit; and, she tosses her hat to Bork, letting her black hair fall. “Much better,” she grins, snapping her whip around her waist.

(2) After barking orders in his hotel room, Redeye dismisses the gang so he and Lash can be alone. He kisses her neck as they move across the floor, then he spins her around quickly. “Aren’t you going to ask me to be gentle?” he wonders. “You’ve got to be kidding!” she retorts, laughing as he throws her on the bed.

Watch these first two scenes above strung together here.

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Lash teases Mattie in Oblivion (1994).

(3) Redeye, Lash, Bork and Spanner trash Mattie’s general store, forcing her to draw a gun. They exit. “He likes you, Mattie,” Lash, with a checkered scarf draped around her, says, as she walks out, stopping. “Get out,” Mattie sobs. “And you know what?” Lash continues, ignoring her. “I like you, too. We could have a great time together,” she adds, then blows on the barrel of the gun Mattie has aimed at her. “Instead, all you’ve got is a totally thrashed store,” she continues, turning her back to Mattie. “Now, if you ask me,” she adds, as she removes the scarf. “You might want to do some thinking about what you want out of life,” she grins, tossing the scarf to Mattie, and winks.

(4) Spanner grabs Lash as she exits the store. “I’m ten time the man that lizard could ever be,” he says, then, attempts to kiss her, but, she pushes him away. “Prove it,” she demands. He tells her that he found the stash of derconium for Redeye. She chuckles. “You’ve got to do more than jump claims before you can jump me, Spanner,” she quips. “Besides, a real man would’ve kept it for himself instead of turning it over to Redeye. But, then you wouldn’t know anything about that. Now, would you?” she grins, then flicks his hat.

Watch the scene above and Lash whipping Buteo strung together here.

(5) Redeye confronts Zack at his father’s funeral. “So, you’re the Marshall’s boy? I’m the Marshal’s killer. What are you gonna do about it?” he says. Lash laughs, and Stell draws her gun, but Lash quickly extends her hand, touching her finger to Stell’s nose. Stell begins to weaken, noticing a derconium ring on Lash’s finger. “Who says diamond’s are a girl’s best friend?” she quips, then gently taps Stell’s chin as Stell drops back in her seat. “Robo-bitch,” Lash grins, raising her eyebrow.

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Lash licks Mattie in Oblivion (1994).

(6) After Zach draws a gun and chases Redeye out of town, Mattie returns to her store. Lash grabs her from behind, and chuckles. “We couldn’t bear to leave you behind, Princess,” she says, dipping her. “We like you too much,” she adds, then licks the side of her face. “Delicious!” she declares, then drags Mattie away.

Watch the scene above and Lash’s final scenes strung together here.

Next, Backlash: Oblivion 2 (1996) …

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Backlash: Oblivion 2 (1996)

“It’s High Noon at the End of the Universe…”

Notoriously deadly bounty hunter Sweeney arrives in Oblivion to apprehend a cunning female outlaw. Zack, Oblivion’s new marshal, hands over Lash. However, Miss Kitty is the outlaw that Sweeney is after. She challenges Sweeney to catch her based on the code of the League of Bounty Hunters. Meanwhile, Lash has acquired a derconium mine at the Native Wall and Redeye’s warlord brother Jagger, who also arrives on Oblivion, wants to make a deal with her for rights to the valuable mineral. Sweeney, accompanied by Zach, track Miss Kitty to the Native Wall and inadvertently awakens an enormous tortoise buried in the rock. The gigantic monster goes after Lash, Jagger and Bork; while Zack and Sweeney escape, believing that Miss Kitty has perished.

Watch the trailer here …

Backlash: Oblivion 2 is a very satisfying B-movie, too, that offers more thrills, more laughs, more Lash, and another monster courtesy of David Allen Productions. The giant tortoise, which is literally as big as a mountain, is not brought to life with stop-motion, but, is very cool regardless. I think this movie is as good as the first, despite many reviews that say otherwise. Maxwell Caulfield as Sweeney is an excellent addition to the ensemble cast. He plays debonair well. My favorite Sweeney lines: “I like a man after my own heart. Well, actually, not always. Once there was a man after my own heart, and I had to strangle him with his own intestines.”

Oblivion 2 plays out more like an extended episode of a TV series than a movie, but, it works. I have to assume that a third film was planned because two interesting plot lines are hinted at, but, not taken any further. First, Miss Kitty, when challenging Sweeney, says: “Now the people of this town have been real good to me. And the young man I am proud to call my s…” she says, stopping herself. “My sincere friend,” she adds, glancing at Zach, adoringly. Zack never knew who his mother was, and this issue needs to be resolved! Second, see (7) below. So here, now, are my favorite Lash moments from Backlash: Oblivion 2 (1996) …

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Lash hates smokers in Backlash: Oblivion 2 (1996).

(1) Two outlaws walk into the Last Stop Cantina on the edge of the Badlands. One lights up a cigarello against the warning of Buster (Isaac Hayes). A gunshot rings out, and outlaw drops, revealing Lash, the new owner, holding the smoking gun. “Those things’ll kill ya,” she quips, then returns to her poker game.

(2) Lash loses a poker wager with Crowley (Jeff Weston) for a derconium mine, and, must sleep with him. In her room, Crowley shows Lash the map to the mine which he tattooed on his junk. “Isn’t that a little … difficult to read?” she quips. “Nothin’ a little romance couldn’t enlarge,” he tells her. “Oh, aren’t you clever?” she retorts, as she removes her jacket, then thrusts a blade into his belly, letting his body drop on her bed. “Bork!” she calls, and he appears from under her bed. She flips Crowley’s body over. “I’d like you to photocopy …” she demands, pointing down at Crowley’s junk, “… this.”

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Lash hates gamblers in Backlash: Oblivion 2 (1996).

Watch these first two scenes above strung together here.

(3) Lash and Bork go to the derconium mine, followed by Zack, Buteo and Sweeney. Lash gets trapped inside, and Sweeney frees her while Zack and Buteo deal with Bork. “You’ve got me all wrong, Sweeney. This whole thing is terribly shocking,” she smirks, as her electrified whip, in his hands, shocks him. “Now how did that get on?” she quips, with glee.

Watch the full scene above here.

(4) Zack throws Lash in jail. “I didn’t do it – I’m innocent!” she declares. “Didn’t do what, Lash?” Zack retorts. “Name it,” she demands. She denies all his charges. “Try espionage and sabotage,” Sweeney adds. “Huh?” she wonders, miffed. “Now, wait a minute. Those I really didn’t do,” she tells him. “You didn’t commit those crimes?” he asks. “I can’t even spell those crimes for Heaven’s sake,” she replies.

(5) Lash lies on her back in her jail cell, pulling petals from a flower: “I hate him. I really hate him. I really really hate him. I hate his guts. I’d like to… squeeze his head until his brain oozed out through his nostrils.”

(6) Zack informs Sweeney that he can’t have Lash. “You don’t like it – I’m afraid we can step outside and settle this like men,” he tells him, boldy. “Oh. Wonderful,” Lash grins, with anticipation.

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Lash hates Zack in Backlash: Oblivion 2 (1996).

(7) Zack releases Lash into Jagger’s custody after Miss Kitty reveals herself to Sweeney. Lash goes on an angry tirade. “I just want you to know that I’m not going to forget any of this. And when the time comes to settle the score between you and me – I promise you …” she says, walking seductively toward him, “… it’s going to be pretty… damned… personal,” she grins, then kisses him passionately. She wipes her mouth, and spits. “Have a nice day!” she adds, grabs her whip and walks out with Jagger.

(8) Lash takes Jagger back to her room. “I was going to kill you after you showed me the mine,” Jagger tells her, as Lash begins to tease him. “And, I was going to kill after I got the money,” she admits, seductively, and laughs. Then, she pulls him down onto her bed, and wraps her legs around him.

Watch these last two scenes above in their entirety here.

Now, about that lovely actress who plays bad girl Lash so wonderfully …

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The very lovey Musetta Vander

Musetta Vander was born Musetta van der Merwe in 1963 in South Africa. She began her career in the U.S. by appearing in more than 20 music videos by artists such as  Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Elton John, Chris Isaak and Amy Grant. Her other roles include: Sindel, evil Emperor Shao Kahn’s wife, in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997); a She-Mantis in the “Teacher’s Pet” episode (1997) of The WB/UPN‘s Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Munitia, evil Dr. Loveless’ assistant, in Barry Sonnenfeld‘s very dumb Wild Wild West (1999) [I loved the original TV series!]; a seductive siren in the Coen Brothers‘ critically-acclaimed O Brother, Where Art Thou?; Teodora van Sloan, a sultry vampire, in Transylmania (2009); and more. Vander is also “certified as a Master of Medical Qigong Therapy and Medical Qigong Oncology.” I think qigong is like Chinese yoga.

But, I’ll always remember Musetta Vander as bad girl Lash! Thanks, Full Moon Entertainment!

Did you know that Charles Band‘s son is Alex Band of the rock band The CallingAlex Band‘s band scored hits with songs like Wherever You Will Go (2001) andOur Lives (2004), and Band provided the vocals for Santana‘s top 10 hit Why Don’t You & I (2003). Oh, and in case you didn’t get it – the title of this post is a play on the title of the Stevie Nicks and Don Henley duet “Leather and Lace” (1981). Maybe you’re too young, but, that song was the shit when I was in 10th grade.

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Manic Pixi

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Manic Pixi‘s frontwoman Kat Hamilton

Manic Pixi is a “pop-grunge” band from Brooklyn, NY, formed in 2012 by Kat Hamilton (vocals) and Emmett Ceglia (drums). The rest of the band is Marshall Beiver (guitar) and Drew Bastian (bass). Manic Pixi has been described as Hole mixed with Green Day, No Doubt, Letters to Cleo and Paramore.” They cite as influences “Riot Grrrl!, Katy Perry, Paramore, The Distillers, and Pinup Girls.” Manic Pixi was formerly known as Sugar Bomb which was an apt name since the band’s music is both addictive and explosive, like all good “pop-grunge” should be. Hey, is “pop-grunge” even a real genre? Well, if it isn’t – it should be!

Kat Hamilton‘s resounding voice is a big part of Manic Pixi‘s gritty charm. She sounds a little like Juliet Simms [ex-Automatic Loveletter, NBC's The Voice], only less raspy, more snotty. Kat‘s smile, in fact, kind of reminds me of Juliet Simms‘ grin.

Manic Pixi‘s debut Sugar Bomb! (2014) explodes with four great tracks all in a row! First, “Sweet Tooth” opens the album with a “One, two, fuck you!” chant before kicking out a Green Day-gone-psychobilly groove as Kat uses her appetite for sweets as a metaphor for her sexual desires. “You Can’t Kill Me” rages on with grungier guitar riffs and fuzzy bass as Kat recovers, post break-up, fueled by spiteful arrogance: “I must be Jesus because you can’t kill me / But it’s fun to watch you try.” I love this track! “Hangover”, Manic Pixi‘s 1st single, is one of the band’s most addictive tracks and should be in endless rotation on alt-rock radio. Kat, this time, uses overindulgence as a metaphor for a regretful but hard-to-resist hook-up: “You’re my hangover, you’re the liquor I drink / You’re the voice in my head sayin’ one more round.” Finally, “Suddenly Stuck” is a catchy pop/punker in which Kat realizes that her love has become unrequited: “I’m not the girl you fell in love with / I’m just a girl who fell in love / And everyday I’m in the way / Suddenly stuck.” OK, that’s just the first four tracks! Other favorites include Manic Pixi‘s 2nd single “Kiss Me”, “Lions Cage” and the 24-second hardcore punk rocker “Tongue Tunnel”. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t like “I’m Still Fighting”, “Under Your Spell”, “Meteor Shower”, and the slow-burning ballad “Blue Wine”. Sugar Bomb! is a fantastic debut, and Manic Pixi is my new favorite band of the week!

Watch the video for “Kiss Me” [which had an exclusive premiere at Curve magazine] here …

I found Manic Pixi on CD Baby, an online music store that caters to independent musicians. I go there periodically and check out the new releases. A few months ago, I discovered Goodbye Kitty K on CD Baby; and, last year, I discovered the amazing Midnight Mob. CD Baby is a great place for new independent music.

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A lovely shot of Marisha Ray

Marisha Ray is “an actor, host, stunt performer, and general all around nerd.” She is also the co-creator and star of the short-lived but wonderfully well-done web series Batgirl: Spoiled. I, of course, just did a post about that series and, while I was doing so, I found this very funny comedy short starring the lovely redhead …

The video is from the web series #WalkOfShame created by Brendan Bradley [who previously created the popular web series Squatters]. #WalkOfShame is a series of short comedy vignettes about the mornings after casual sexual encounters. Watch the entire series, “behind the scenes” videos, and bloopers, at Crit Tick.

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A lovely double shot of Marisha Ray

#WalkOfShame reminded me of my favorite song by post-punk veteran Peater Searcy [ex-Squirrl Bait]. It’s called “In the Morning” [from the album Spark (2007)] and, if the web series were a drama, it would be the perfect theme song. Watch the video here …

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Marisha Ray in Batgirl: Spoiled

Batgirl: Spoiled was a very well-made “non-profit” web series based on the Stephanie Brown incarnation of DC Comics’ popular counterpart to superhero Batman. Two excellent episodes were produced. However, in November 2013, the third episode’s crowdfunding campaign via IndieGoGo was cancelled due to a take-down notice from Warner Brothers [which was expected], and the series went into a temporary, possibly permanent hiatus.” Why am I always the last to know? Well, maybe, in this case, it’s because I haven’t embraced DC [or Marvel] superheroes until recently. So, let’s take a look at what was made while we still can …

Batgirl: Spoiled was created by Sax Carr and Marisha Ray. The series was written by Sax Carr, Marisha Ray, Adam Hann-Byrd, Sam Weller, Aliou Amravanti, April Wahlin, and Zack S. West. The first 2 finished episodes were written by Sax Carr and directed by Damian Beurer, but, 12 full episodes were actually scripted.

Episode 1: Blindside (14:33). While staking out the Penguin (Tim Powers) at the Iceberg Lounge, Batgirl (Marisha Ray) decides to stop a another crime in progress. She follows a thug into an abandoned warehouse where she loses contact with Oracle (Jessica Kent). She founds herself surrounded by more thugs led by Tentacles (Eric Cash) and his sidekick Jackal Hammer (Jakob Bokulich). A brutal fight ensues, and Batgirl is eventually defeated. However, before Tentacles has the chance to “ruin her”, she is rescued by Catwoman (Robin Sol) and Harley Quinn (Tara Strand). Watch the episode here …

Amazing, right? Batgirl: Spoiled is definitely one of the best ameteur DC Comics adaptations. The fight scenes, in particular, are very good. The choreography is courtesy of Paradox Pollack. Batgirl, Catwoman and Harley Quinn’s costumes are quite good, too. Tara Strand, who plays Harley Quinn, is the series’ costume coordinator. I hate to admit it, but, I do love the old-school Harley Quinn jester costume in this series, and Strand‘s spirited performance as well. Some of the comments on YouTube are from people who think the fact that this Batgirl has blonde hair is an epic fail. However, I’m not even that much of a fanboy, and a minute of research showed me that Stephanie Brown does, in fact, have blonde hair.

Favorite lines #1: Batgirl throws a bat-a-rang at a fleeing thug, but, he turns down an alley and the weapon misses him. “Well… shit!” she says, aloud. “Did you just miss again?” Oracle wonders in Batgirl’s earpiece. “Shut up… yes… shut up!” Batgirl replies.

Favorite lines #2: Batgirl chases the lone thug into the warehouse. “Come out, come out wherever you are,” she says, as the other thugs surround her. “Oh… I’m sorry… what I meant was… come out one thug who I was chasing. The rest of you should probably go home.”

Favorite lines #3: “Whoa, you should be more careful, Baby Bat,” Harley Quinn tells Batgirl, after her beating.

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Tara Strand as Harley Quinn in Batgirl: Spoiled – Episode 1

Episode 2: Little Lost (Bat)girl (11:46). Stephanie Brown is still shaken after her encounter with Tentacles and his Cthulhu gang. She is grateful that Catwoman and Harley Quinn were there to save her life. However, she is also angry at Oracle for not being able to help her and at Batman for arriving too late. Oracle and Batman are angry with Batgirl for consorting with Catwoman and Harley Quinn, and with Stephanie for not being able to look at the bigger picture in the wake of her assault. “You never understood what that symbol means and you don’t have the discipline to do what we do,” Batman [Bryan Morton (body), Matthew Mercer (voice)] tells Batgirl in the warehouse, after Catwoman and Harley Quinn have fled the scene. “Feel free to hang it up whenever you like,” he adds. Stephanie wants revenge, not justice. “I’m out,” she tells Oracle. Watch the episode here …

This episode features the fight scene, only hinted at in Episode 1, where Catwoman and Harley Quinn save Batgirl in the warehouse. Catwoman’s whip and sexy moves + Harley Quinn’s mallet and silly skipping = awesome! Marisha Ray is excellent as conflicted Batgirl, as is Robin Sol as sexy Catwoman, but, I’m really loving Tara Strand as jovial Harley Quinn! My favorite part, in fact, is when Harley pilfers an unconscious thug’s wallet. “A whole new wad of cash for me? You shouldn’t have,” she mocks, then glances over at Batgirl and Catwoman, smiles big and waves.

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Tara Strand as Harley Quinn in Batgirl: Spoiled – Episode 2

Oh, and stay tuned after the credits in Episode 2 for special bonus scene with Harley Quinn!

I hope, one day, this talented crew of fanboys and fangirls finds a way to produce the other 10 episodes that were written. I’d love to see the inevitable appearance of the third Gotham City siren, Poison Ivy. “So Ivy’s got this whole network of, like, plant spies all over the city,” Harley tells Batgirl, revealing how they came upon her. Batgirl glimpsed one of Ivy’s flowers in Episode 1, but, was unaware of its purpose. Anyway, be sure to check out the YouTube channel BatgirlTheWebSeries for plenty of “behind the scenes” videos and teasers.

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Marisha Ray as Batgirl in Batgirl: Spoiled

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Fresh Meat (2012) is a deliciously twisted dark comedy from New Zealand. This Kiwi treat is funny, sexy, brutal, and bloody. However, under all the sick humor and outrageous violence, is also a delightfully deviant lesbian romance and a little bit of social commentary. Fresh Meat is a wildly appetizing cinematic morsel, and one of the best movies I’ve seen this whole year. It’s high-octane badass-ness at its witty best!

Fresh Meat premiered at the 32nd Hawaii International Film Festival in October 2012. The horror comedy was helmed by first-time director Danny Mulheron, written by Briar Grace-Smith (from a story by Brad Abraham and Joseph O’Brien), and, features a racially diverse ensemble cast that includes Temuera Morrison, sexy Kate Elliott, adorable Hanna Tevita, Nicola Kawana, Kahn West, Leand Macadaan, Ralph Hilaga, and Jack Shadbolt. Let’s meet the wonderfully quirky characters they play.

First, there’s the Crane family …

Hemi Crane (Temuera Morrison) is an associate professor and would-be author. He has written 3 papers and 3 books (all unpublished). Margaret Crane (Nicola Kawana), Hemi’s wife, is celebrity chef and a celebrated author. She has written 15 books and 1 autobiography (all published). Rina Crane (Hanna Tevita), Hemi and Margaret’s beautiful teenage daughter, is a student at the St. Agnes Boarding School for Young Maori Ladies. Rina likes girls. She likes to take showers, too – with girls. Rina is absolutely adorable! Finally, Glenn Crane (Kahn West) is Hemi and Margaret’s preppy teenage son, Rina’s younger brother. He tells his parents that Rina “likes munching rug”. The Cranes are a Maori family living a quiet life in the suburbs. Or so it seems.

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Adorable Hanna Tevita in Fresh Meat (2012)

The Maori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. They’re like Aboriginal Australians. The Maori make up 15% of the population of New Zealand, the 2nd biggest ethnic group after European New Zealanders (whom the Maori refer to as “Pakaha”). The Maori, throughout the country’s history, have faced significant socio-economic struggles and general intolerance. Oh, and the Maori’s ancestors have been known to use cannibalism as a form of religious practice. Anyway …

Next, let’s meet the Tan Brothers gang …

Richie Tan (Leand Macadaan) is the leader of the gang. He is about to serve 12 years for murder, kidnapping and selling fruit without a license. Gigi (Kate Elliott), Richie’s girlfriend, is an ex Army Cadet and dental hygienist. She is sexy, bad-ass and looks like Jordana Brewster playing Tura Satana [from Russ Meyer's Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)] in skimpy pink shorts and thigh-high socks! Paulie Tan (Ralph Hilaga), Richie’s brother, is a gangsta and part-time wine waiter. He is also a gun crazy, meth addict. Finally, Johnny (Jack Shadbolt) is an bumbling explosives expert hired by Gigi. He is a big fan of Margaret Crane’s books.

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Sexy Kate Elliott in Fresh Meat (2012)

OK, let me now spoil the movie for you with a kind-of-lengthy synopsis …

In Fresh Meat, Rina returns home from boarding school only to find a severed hand garnished with herbs and sauce in a casserole dish in the refrigerator. “While you’ve been away, your father and I have had a wee lifestyle change,” Margaret explains. “What, you eat people?” Rina jokes. However, she soon learns that her parents are modern-day Maori cannibals. “Oh, we’re not Maori cannibals,” Hemi clarifies, later, in the film. “We’re cannibals that just happen to be Maori.” Hemi and Margaret have been following an 18th century post-colonial religion, the Solomonites, who practiced cannibalism; and, even Rina’s brother Glenn has been “solomonized”. However, Rina is appalled. Meanwhile, Gigi, Paulie and Johnny attempt to free Richie while he’s being transported to prison, but, the plan goes explosively wrong. The gang, followed by a police helicopter, is forced to crash into the Crane’s garage in the middle of suburbia, where they take the family hostage, unaware of their cannibalistic ways.

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Adorable Hanna Tevita and sexy Kate Elliott in Fresh Meat (2012)

Rina is immediately smitten with Gigi because Gigi resembles a comic book character that Rina draws; but, Gigi, upon exiting her car in the Crane’s garage, punches Rina in the face. However, Gigi soon becomes taken with Rina, too. She glances at Rina’s drawing, in her bedroom, noticing the resemblance. “What’s her special power?” she wonders. “I haven’t decided yet,” Rina admits. “Everyone’s got a special power,” Gigi tells her. Rina smiles, knowing that she’s sparked Gigi’s interest. But, the flame begins to burn only after Rina convinces Gigi to take a shower with her! Rina and Gigi’s dysfunctional romance is, undoubtedly, the heart of this insanely crazy story. Gigi, at first, doesn’t trust Rina; but, later, Rina proves herself. Gigi is struggling with a cop whom Rina let into the house, while Johnny, with his gun aimed at the cop, whines. The cop pepper sprays Gigi making her struggle all the more difficult. Rina watches, struggling with her own conscience. Then, she throws milk in Gigi’s face, and Gigi looks back at her, disappointed that Rina has chosen to help the cop. “It’s an antidote,” Rina says. “For pepper spray.” Gigi, of course, prevails; and, Johnny finally kills the cop. Later still, Rina tries to convince Gigi to stand up to Richie, an abusive freak, who is holding a gun to Rina. “You don’t need this loser. You can have anyone you want. Anyone,” Rina tells her. Gigi smiles. “Shall I leave the room while you two have a gay wedding?” Richie quips. “This isn’t one of your porn videos, Richie,” Gigi replies, staring adoringly at Rina. “Yeah, fuck you, Richie,” Nina retorts, staring adoringly back at Gigi. This is such an awesome scene! Then, Gigi is forced to kill Richie, by blowing his head off with her shotgun, to stop him from killing Rina. Gigi tells Rina that she must clean up [i.e., kill Rina's family] and get out, but, Rina stops her. Gigi punches her, knocking her unconscious. “Sorry, Sweetheart”, she says, as she gently brushes Rina’s hair behind her ear. But, soon, she finds that the tables have turned.

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Adorable Hanna Tevita in Fresh Meat (2012) – again!

Hemi escapes from his ties and he, Margaret and Glenn subdue Gigi before she is able to kill them. They get Johnny, too, whom Gigi and Rina have locked in the trunk of Glenn’s car. Soon, Rina comes to and finds Hemi dragging Gigi’s body to the basement where he keeps the meat. “No, dad. You can’t eat Gigi,” Rina begs. He ignores her demand. He plans to prepare her for dinner along with Johnny, Paulie, Richie, and the other bodies in his basement, including his son Glenn’s child-molesting cricket coach whom Glenn kidnapped and their Rina-adoring neighbor Shaun (Will Robertson) whom Hemi killed because Rina wouldn’t. He hangs Rina up in the basement with Gigi. However, the police surround the house in search of the Tan Brothers. A hostage negotiator calls looking for Paul Tan, but, Hemi panics and pretends to be him. He makes demands, in a bad Asian accent. “Okay? I want a herri-copter with a pirate,” he says. “A hairy what?” the negotiator wonders. His demands are refused. Meanwhile, Rina and Gigi free themselves via a sexy 69-styled escape, and Rina convinces Glenn to turn against their father. He does; but, Hemi kills his youngest son and devours his still beating heart, revealing his intended plan to become immortal, the Solomon Smith incarnate. However, he still needs to drink the blood of his virgin daughter, the reason he forced Rina to attend an all-girls boarding school. But, Hemi doesn’t know that Rina isn’t a virgin. In the end, Rina turns all the gas on in the kitchen. “Goodbye fucked-up family”, she says, and sets off the explosion intending to kill herself and her psychotic cannibal father; but, she is quickly pulled out by a gas mask-wearing fireman before the flames consume her. The fireman, of course, turns out to be Gigi, who lays Rina gently on the ground, outside. “I know where you get your special powers from,” she tells her. “Here,” she adds, gently touching Rina’s chest where her heart beats softly. Then, as Gin Wigmore‘s Saturday Smile plays, Gigi kisses Rina tenderly. Beautiful!

Lucky for you, I didn’t spoil the Carrie-esque epilogue. Oh, wait – I just did, didn’t I? Well, I did if you saw the last few minutes of Carrie (1976) where Sue (Amy Irving) dreams of returning to the lot where Carrie’s house once stood and places flowers on the ground, and … well, you know. Anyway …

I love Fresh Meat! Love it! I watched it via Amazon Prime, on a whim, last night and, again, this morning. And I’ll watch it again tonight! Well, maybe not tonight. Next weekend. This movie is just so wickedly entertaining, it’s worth watching over and over. Hanna Tevita flashing her beautiful smile, and Kate Elliott wearing those pink shorts is all I need, but, Fresh Meat offers much more! Like its awesome soundtrack which includes music from various Kiwi artists such as the aforementioned Gin Wigmore, fellow singer/songwriter Mel Parsons, hip/poppers Kidz in Space, garage rockers The Datsuns, and more. In addition, the main theme music by Plan 9 is pretty damn cool, too! It sounds like Dick Dale playing The Ventures“Hawaii Five-O” as a spaghetti western spy theme!

Have I mentioned that adorable Hanna Tevita and sexy Kate Elliott are a big part of Fresh Meat‘s charm? I did, didn’t I? They’re awesome, together, in this wonderful gem! Fresh Meat was Hanna Tevita‘s debut, and is, sadly, her only credit on IMDb. I would love to see her in more movies. Kate Elliott, on the other hand, has been a little busier with roles in syndicated TV series like Xena: Warrior Princess (1998-2000) and Cleopatra 2525 (2000), and movies such as The Locals (2003) and 30 Days of Night (2007). She’ll also appear in an upcoming featured called Deathgasm (20150 which is “a splatter horror/black comedy about two heavy metal-thrashing losers who have to find their inner strength to stop a malevolent force which they inadvertently unleashed.” The filmmakers promise that it “will be a throwback to the low-budget splatter films of the 80s.” Color me excited!

Anyway, watch the trailer for Fresh Meat here …

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Sable Yu of Snowblade

Snowblade is a lethal lady assassin traveling the badlands of ancient China. Having sold her soul to win mastery of the sword, she fears no man, and knows no law but her own. One dark night, the devil offers her a chance to escape hell, if she can only kill seven foes before the full moon sets.

Snowblade, which began production in 2011, was to be the directorial debut of B&E Productions co-founder Bey Logan. The “exotic period swordplay actioner” was also to star Indonesian-born Chinese actress Sable Yu. However, the project was put on hold leaving only a 30-second teaser trailer. Watch it here …

What ugly circumstances forced this sexy swordswoman to be forced to draw her blade naked? I guess we’ll never know. Bey Logan, by the way, is not only a film producer (who has worked with The Weinstein Company), but, an Asian cinema expert, screenwriter, and martial artist. He wrote the book Hong Kong Action Cinema (1996) and the screenplay for Jackie Chan‘s The Medallion (2003) among others, founded the UK action cinema magazine Impact (1992-2012), and, had a small role in one of my favorite Hong Kong action films, Dante Lam and Donnie Yen‘s The Twins Effect (2003). Anyway, Bey Logan‘s latest B&E production is called Lady Bloodfight (formerly known as Lady Bloodsport) which gets me very excited once again, so stay tuned. However, Snowblade fought a bloody battle but, sadly, died an honorable death.

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Promotional artwork for Snowblade

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Sable Yu of Snowblade

DeadGirlCoverDead Girl: A Romantic Zombie Tale of Revenge (2011) is a book written by Stavros and published by Crazy Duck Press. Dead Girl a refreshing take on the zombie romance popularized in fiction by Isaac Marion‘s Warm Bodies (2010). However, Dead Girl‘s romance is only part of this undead story. The rest is all about zombie revenge.

Jamie Lund climbs onto a muddy river bank after being thrown from a bridge. She makes her way back to her apartment followed by a murder of crows and, soon, realizes that she is dead. She was, in fact, murdered. She wakes the next morning and, after struggling with the onset of rigor mortis, she enlists the aid of her ex-boyfriend Billy Kimmel, an auto mechanic. They set out, together, with only Jamie’s fragments of memory, to find out who killed her.

Jamie, at first, doesn’t remember that she broke up with Billy and hasn’t seen him in six weeks. They lived together, but, Jamie left without giving Billy a reason. Billy agrees to help Jamie even though she left him heart-broken because he loved her then, and he loves her now – even though she’s a living corpse. Billy’s love even compels him to steal Jamie’s body from the morgue before a medical examiner is allowed to cut her open. She collapsed, seemingly dead, in the alley next to Billy’s apartment and, suddenly, he becomes a suspect in her murder. When she wakes, she tells him that Horus, an Egyptian god, is the reason for her resurrection. Horus didn’t kill her, but he gave her undead life to find the person who did. “Pay it back with the heart. Not the flesh,” he told her. As Jamie and Billy spend time together, Jamie begins to wonder why she left him in the first place. She remembers, later, that it was because she didn’t want to become too comfortable and, inevitably, bored with their life. Now, that’s all she wants.

The charm of this story is in how Billy and Jamie’s love is rekindled with innocent moments, save for one lustful encounter instigated by Jamie which Billy stops much to her dismay. “I love you,” he tells her, and they embrace. The horror of this story is when Jamie sets out to avenge her own murder when she and Billy, eventually, find the man responsible. However, in the end, she remembers Horus’s words: “Pay it back with the heart. Not the flesh.”

The original publication of Dead Girl included twelve black & white illustrations and a full-colored cover [pictured] by tattoo artist Charles Hearn. However, the book is getting a new look with new art from Aaron Alfeche.

Dead Girl: A Romantic Zombie Tale of Revenge is an excellent read, and I’d love to see a filmed adaptation (like the one given to Warm Bodies in 2013). When I read this book, I thought of actress Lauren Steinmeyer as Jamie Lund; but, maybe that’s because I was watching the web series she stars in at the same time. However, I do think she’d be perfect for the role …

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Lauren Steinmeyer