Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sexbomb (1989)

Directed by Jeff Broadstreet
Starring Linnea Quigley, Delia Sheppard, Robert Quarry
Rated R

"When the wolf attacks you, scream your tits off."

Every so often, glossy teen splatter mag Fangoria decides that they're an empire and expand wildly, starting a host of 'new and exciting' projects that they will abandon a year or so later, when they once again sober up to the fact that there's only so many horror-nerd dollars to go around. Just a year or two ago, they were announcing all kinds of crazy shit - a comic book line (dead after a handful of first issues), a television channel (nope), an annual awards show (lame). They went through a similarly bold expansion in the late 1980's, when horror - and heavy metal, and Jolt cola, and monster trucks, and fake tits, and Andrew Dice Clay, and anything else loud, ugly, and obnoxious - was a burning-hot commodity. Jumping on the Freddy-Jason-Leatherface frenzy, Fango divvied up their latex-obsessed coverage into three different magazines: Fangoria, Gorezone, and Toxic Horror. The latter was the sleaziest of the three, but they all basically covered the same ground, as did two other short-lived rivals, Slaughterhouse and Horror Fan. I read them all, because I was a teenage horror-obsessed dirtbag, baby, and all I really remember about 'em is that all of them pimped Sexbomb to the fuckin' moon. There were two reasons for this, and both of them were bolted onto Delia Sheppard's chest.

It did help that the film is a horror-flick spoof, and that it co-stars a right-off-the-bat topless Linnea Quigley (so hot at the time that the credits just list her as "Linnea" Madonna! Or, uh... Charo!) and a handful of tongue-in-cheek gore effects, but trust me when I tell you that the splatter-nation was stroked and primed for a good year about the coming of Delia Sheppard, a top-heavy, blindingly beautiful new sensation straight outta Denmark, a Penthouse Pet turned softcore siren, the scream queen to end all scream queens. Who, after all, could compete with lungs that large?

Well, it was all for nothin', really. All those magazines, save for Fango itself, soon folded. All that bullshit 80's excess, the Freddy fingers and mud-wrestling and Dokken, it was all kaput by the early 1990's. Blame it on Kurt Cobain. Everybody else does. As for Sexbomb, it didn't even get a proper release until 2003 and by then, well, the buzz had severely diminished. But let us not judge this film on the merits of this modern, digital age, because it was not made for times like these. It was made for hormonal werewolves with VCRs who would never have to ask, "Linnea who?"

Speaking of Linnea, her perky, teacup tits are the very first thing you see as Sexbomb opens. She runs around a sofa in her skivvies, getting chased by a dude with a jockstrap on his head. It's just another day in the life of Phoebe Love, scream queen at large, currently shooting a slice n' dice flick called "I Rip Your Flesh With Pliers, Part 2". When the scene finishes, the director sends Linnea off to get fitted for "tearaway nipples." Ouch.

You want plot? Well, I can offer a wisp, at least. King Faraday (Robert 'Count Yorga' Quarry) is the loudmouth, cigar-chomping producer of Rip Your Flesh. A cheap and vindictive man, he shows up on set and begins cutting corners, firing, among other people, Lou Lurrod (Stuart Benton), the script consultant. Lou crumples and limps off the set, a broken man with no prospects and no future. Into his life vavooms Candy (Delia Sheppard), King Farady's trophy wife (in other words, erm, 'Queen Farady'. Say it out loud, and then groan). It should be mentioned right here that Delia was well worth the hype. It helps, of course, that she is either nude or poured into a pink tube-dress for most of the film's running time, but her stunning, Jayne Mansfield-esque curves are a true marvel to behold. She's so absurdly attractive, it's almost painful to look at her.
Anyway, she wants out of her marriage with the old grouch, and the only way she can do it while continuing to enjoy her lavish lifestyle is, naturally, to kill him. So, using her considerable feminine charms, she ropes Lou into her web of intrigue.

Lou gets hired back onto the shoot when King mistakes him for Candy's hairdresser. I know that doesn't make any sense, but roll with it. He gets an assignment to write a film called Werewolves in Heat. Candy spends the rest of Sexbomb trying to kill her husband; Lou spends it either fucking Candy, or trying to stop her from killing her husband. Somewhere in there, there's a werewolf rape scene.

Eventually, King goes missing. Porn legend Veronica Hart (credited here as Kathryn Stanleigh) is King Farady's daughter, who suspects a plot is afoot. There's some weird fucker in a Dashiki involved, as well. I dunno, it's hard to pay attention when Sheppard has her shirt off so often.

By the way, the Sexbomb DVD has a fantastic, rambling commentary track from Sheppard, Linnea, and Robert Quarry. Delia says stuff like, "You know, some people will buy your clothes after you've worn them. Even one stocking. Even if it's ripped!" Linnea tries her best to keep the conversation on track, but its mostly hopeless.
At one point, they're watching a very Scooby Doo-esque scene where Linnea gets chased by the jockstrap guy while some band plays a song on the soundstage.
"I still have that bra, and that belt, and that skirt," Linnea says,
"And the filling," croaks Quarry. That guy is fucking awesome.

Anyway, there's a scene where the Dashiki mobster dude and his muscle-chick girlfriend are carrying on, and he gets a call from the presumably dead King Faraday. It is at this point that I realize I no longer have any idea what's going on. I switch on the commentary for some clarity, and Sheppard is saying, "I don't really get who this character is. What's he supposed to be doing?"

And she was in the movie.

In summation: the sophisticated twenty-first century viewer will, within three minutes, Google "Delia Sheppard nude scenes", and call it a night. But the VCR werewolves from 1989? They will howl in delirious lupine lust and wish, with all of their wolfbane-cursed hearts, that Kurt Cobain never makes that fuckin' record. Sexbomb truly is the last gasp of the 1980's, a glorious, self-referential mess that blusters, roars, and strips down at every opportunity, an eager-to-please bit of pop culture flotsam that will be worshipped as a campy masterpiece about five minutes after we're all dead.

PS: Director Jeff Broadstreet went on to direct the universally loathed Night of the Living Dead 3D in 2006. As of this writing, he appears to be directing a remake of Spider Baby (!). Linnea decided to start adding "Quigley" to her credits again after this film. She is still adorable and still the go-to scream queen. Delia Sheppard did not become the cult icon we thought she would, but that is neither our fault nor hers. Again, it's probably Nirvana's. She continues to act in television shows and major Hollywood productions - hell, she was 'Trophy wife to George Wendt' in 2007's Larry the Cable Guy's Christmas Spectacular, and you can't get much more high-profile than that - but lately, it seems like a lot her appearances have gone uncredited. Perhaps she should try pouring herself back into that pink tube-dress for her next audition. It sure the fuck would work on me.

Links: Delia Sheppard
Linnea Quigley

Availability: Sexbomb is available on DVD.
Buy Sexbomb at Amazon.
-Ken McIntyre

1 comment:

  1. I remember seeing a picture of Ms. Sheppard in one of those magazines (HorrorFan maybe?) She had a pink beehive hairdo and was winking at the camera.

    I'd like to thank Toxic Horror for inrtoducing me to the Church of the Subgenius and Hasil Adkins.
    Long live Uncle Bob!

    I think Gorezone had a column by the Phantom of the Movies. He'd rave about stuff like Basket Case 3, Sonny Boy (with David Carradine in drag) and some kung-fu priest movie starring Erik Estrada and Jan Michael Vincent.

    I rented all 3 (oooooooofff!)


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