Vicious Lips (1986) aka Pleasure Planet, directed by Albert Pyun.
Written by Albert Pyun.
Starring Dru-Anne Perry, Gina Calabrese, Linda Kerridge
Buy on DVD from Amazon.com
Never having seen Vicious Lips (also known as Pleasure Planet) when it was first released back in 1986, this is one of those cult movies that has been on my list for a very long time but I’ve never gotten around to seeing. Because it’s a little harder to get and they never seem to replay it on cable, I’d actually forgotten about it. So when it popped up on Comet, I DVR’d it like nobody’s business.
I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I found it to be stupefying and satisfyingly hypnotic, dream-like, nightmarish…take your pick of adjectives. The filmmakers were obviously shooting for that result and they did a bang-up job. Other movies with similar results that came to my mind were Forbidden Zone, Beyond the Black Rainbow, The Warriors, Legend and Upstream Color…all wonderful films that had different approaches that succeeded in capturing unconscious reality.
Vicious Lips is the work of noted American B-movie director Albert Pyun, known for such cult classics as Radioactive Dreams, Nemesis, Omega Doom, Dollman, Cyborg and many others. If you look at the list of his credits, there will be more than a few that will ring a bell. Once again, the work was produced with a low budget and starred mostly inexperienced actors.
The plot revolves around an all-girl rock group that has been invited to compete in an off-planet battle of the bands; a Josie and the Pussycats in space, if you will. While on their journey through outer space, things go awry and they crash-land on a desert planet populated by scantily clad pleasure robots and psychopaths intent on doing…well, it’s never quite clear exactly what. But it’s bad, I’m pretty sure. Oh, and there’s a mass-murderer in a cell on the spaceship they’re on who loves to kill women. Of course!
Throughout the film, there are various performances by the band and there’s an 80s-era Heart and Pat Benatar-esque quality to the music. If that sort of thing floats your boat, it’s a real shame that the soundtrack does not appear to have ever been released. Fortunately, some brave souls have uploaded at least a couple of the tracks from the film to YouTube.
As stated previously, the actors are not seasoned. But they definitely commit wholeheartedly to their roles and give it all they’ve got. The mix of seriousness and camp works well and all of the actors have charisma. Frankly, I thought they were all great, especially Anthony Kentz as Matty Asher, the band’s slimy promoter and manager. This appears to be his one and only movie role and that’s a shame; he’s brilliant. Linda Kerridge from Fade to Black is one of the girls in the band, but that’s about the limit of recognizable names for me.
Keeping in mind that this is a very low budget film, the special effects were amazing. In particular, the face makeup and prosthetics on the imprisoned killer were genuinely scary. The noted makeup artist Greg Cannom is credited with the creation of the character named Milo the Venusian Manbeast. He worked with Pyun many times and on a many other projects, including big budget blockbusters like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Titanic and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Ultimately, the storyline will not be the thing that sticks with you after viewing this cult B-movie classic and many of the threads peter out and fade away. What will stick with you is the perfect encapsulation of the time this film was made and the fun of New Wave futurism captured within. Those were not gloomy times and even the horror elements of this film are tongue-in-cheek. It’s too bad there was no Vicious Lips sequel, but then that just makes this movie that much more special.
If you can’t catch Vicious Lips on Comet, it’s available on DVD. Part of a four-movie collection titled Cult Movie Marathon: Volume One from Shout! Factory, the disks also include The Unholy Rollers, Invasion of the Bee Girls and The Devil’s 8. This seems to me a decent, rather eclectic gathering of less-often seen, interesting films that are worth a purchase. All four films are quite different from each other, with Invasion of the Bee Girls and The Unholy Rollers being so very 70s. Who chose Vicious Lips to be teamed up with these other flicks is either a genius or clueless; you be the judge.
But back to the dreamy quality of this film; combined with the relentlessly 80s vibe, music and spacey theme, I highly recommend this movie, if you can find it; it’s well worth seeing and say hello to Judy Jetson when you see her.