Friday, October 5, 2012

Unlike the Moon, This is Strictly Cheese: "Moon in Scorpio" (1987)

Hollywood is back, lecturing us that all Vietnam War veterans are kooked out bloodthirsty murderers who took part in atrocities like gunning down innocent women and children. The three heroes in this story all carry a secret, and they get together for a reunion and a whole lot of murder.

Britt Ekland is Linda, and she is insane. She sports a strait jacket, and the film is her recounting of what happened to her before she was found on a boat adrift with no one else on board. Through flashback, we find out she married Allen (John Phillip Law) and they head for California for a free yacht trip to Acapulco. The yacht's crew consist of Allen's Nam buddy Burt (William Smith...no, not THAT Will Smith) and his lush girlfriend Claire (Jillian Kesner) and other Nam buddy Mark (Louis Van Bergen) and his weird but gorgeous girlfriend Isabel (April Wayne).

The beginning of the film opens with crazed Linda, and a bunch of murders committed by someone in Vietcong black pajama garb. Apparently, this unseen villain is one of the boat's members, and we must half-heartedly guess who it is. Allen has a convenient fear of water, thanks to a poorly staged massacre in Vietnam (which may be Gary Graver's backyard). He and Linda are the only normal couple, as the other four fight like cats and dogs.

One of the characters is killed, and we immediately hit a scripting problem. Claire is sliced and diced and tossed overboard, and we view this. Yet this is Linda's story, and she does not know what happened to Claire. So apparently, we are suffering through Linda's memories mixed with the memories of the killer's, even though the killer is obviously not Linda. The killer dons the black PJs and slippers and sabotages the boat's radio and engine. Adrift with a killer onboard, Isabel makes moves on all the men left while warning everyone that the moon is in Scorpio. Eventually, if you have not figured the killer's identity out already, the only two people left on the boat are Linda and the pajamas person.

I cannot say too much without giving away the killer's identity, since the list is rather small to begin with. I can let you in on one secret: you will not care. Ekland is absolutely hilarious in a serious role. Her "insanity" scenes are very funny. Her screen time with Law is uncomfortable simply because she is so bad in this part. At one point, Allen tries to strangle Linda in his sleep, and her reaction is so nonchalant I wished he had not woken up. Law stares at the water, Smith glares at Claire, Wayne takes her top off, Kesner does too, and Van Bergen quickly becomes the "who is that guy...oh, yeah" character.

Director Graver has done it all- from being Orson Welles' protege to directing hardcore pornography under a pseudonym. His IMDB filmography lists well over a hundred entries, but his direction here is substandard and sloppy. Watch the cast complain about being helplessly adrift while shoreline is obvious in the background a mere one hundred feet away. Watch Allen look into the water, and the shadow of the camera boat lurk just under his feet. Graver can pick pretty women to populate his picture, and his murders are violent and gory, but everyone delivers their lines with as much enthusiasm as a basket of sleeping kittens.

"Moon in Scorpio" is proof positive that anyone can make a film if they have the money, and anyone did a lousy job of it here. (*) out of five stars.