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  Click: The Calendar Girl Killer Strike a pose... then die!
Year: 1990
Director: Ross Hagen, John Stewart
Stars: Troy Donahue, Ross Hagen, Hoke Howell, Gregory Scott Cummins, Keely Sims, Susan Jennifer Sullivan, Lisa Michelle Axelrod, Daryl Williamson, Jack Vogel, Dona Speir, Michael J. Shane, Diana Karanikas, Tracy Dali, Johnny Stewart, Joan-Carol Bensen
Genre: Horror, Sex, Thriller, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  2 (from 1 vote)
Review: At a party hosted by dodgy but famed fashion photographer Jack (Ross Hagen), and his equally suspect pal/agent (?) Alan (faded matinee idol Troy Donahue still looking for rock bottom), ageing model Nancy (former Playboy model Dona Speir, a regular presence in Andy Sidaris films) casts a disapproving eye at the younger women cavorting for his latest sleazy photo-shoot. When Nancy's philandering boyfriend adds insult to injury and accidentally knocks her into a hot-tub, Alan pacifies her with the offer of a comeback. Sure enough the following night Nancy doffs her duds posing for Jack's next S&M themed shoot... and is never heard from again. Meanwhile aspiring model Cindy's (Keely Sims) eagerness to become Jack's next calendar girl sparks a fight with Johnny (Gregory Scott Cummins), her sexist lunkhead biker boyfriend. He wants Cindy to "give up this crap" and help realize his dream of running an auto-repair shop. Afterwards Johnny apologizes the only way he knows how... by recklessly racing his bike after Jack's van and pulling frog-faces at Cindy before tumbling head-first off a hill. Miraculously, Johnny survives (boo!) Even more miraculously Jack is impressed. He has Johnny accompany Cindy to his secluded ranch along with a gaggle of models for his most inspired, ultra-violence themed shoot yet. There, while a mysterious stranger (Hoke Howell) lurks in the background, amidst much inane banter and bed-hopping, a maniac in a nurse's outfit and ridiculous Dolly Parton wig starts killing people.

Quite possibly the tackiest slasher film ever made, Click: The Calendar Girl Killer establishes its tone and primary interests opening on a fashion spread montage of big-haired bikini babes wielding deadly weapons. Set to the most early Nineties-sounding synth rock you've ever heard. Made in the era of bubble perms, rah-rah skirts, mullets and stone-washed denim, the film has a glossy trash TV aesthetic in common with shows like Melrose Place or Baywatch. Which while likely insufferable at the time, viewed through the prism of nostalgia is today almost charmingly quaint. Though nowhere close to a good movie. As chief culprit: actor, producer, co-writer and co-director Ross Hagen, a veteran of shite cinema since his Al Adamson days, plumbs new depths of godawful.

Hagen, a familiar face from countless television shows from the Sixties onward to the 2000s (and featured voice actor on the video-game Red Dead Redemption), actually has a handful of halfway decent writer-director credits to his name. Most notably oddball action flick The Glove (1979) and medical thriller B.O.R.N (1989). With Click however Hagen - co-directing with legendary stuntman John Stewart - seems to have seriously lost the plot, delivering a cartoon performance as the absurdly-attired, nursery rhyme ranting madman (the film either forgets or fails spectacularly to hide the identity of its crazed killer) and patching together a barely coherent narrative. Meanwhile Stewart was likely responsible for staging the film's stunt sequences, including Johnny's surprisingly frequent motorbike mishaps and a climax that riffs on The Most Dangerous Game (1932) only with way more explosions, an exhausting fist fight and a character bound to a back-lit crucifix.

Padded with tedious travelogue shots of L.A. hot-spots, mind-numbingly unfunny comedy, sub-soap opera whining and, of course, T&A, Click takes an unholy fifty plus minutes to get to its first murder. Wherein the victim spends an inordinate amount of time gyrating naked in front of a mirror then soaps herself up in the bathtub before the maniac slits her throat. To the film's credit it has one striking set-piece where a canoodling couple's murder is shot with a stylish strobe-lighting effect. Likely the work of cinematographer Gary Graver who went from slumming it with Orson Welles to directing straight-to-video erotic thrillers and outright porn. With its casually meandering plot, sporadic dream sequences featuring the killer as a child berated by a porn-hating nurse and scenes of attractive women (including Playboy model Tracy Dali, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood veteran Susan Jennifer Sullivan and 80s music video staple Lisa Michelle Axelrod), posed in stylishly twisted murder tableaux, Click occasionally achieves the hallucinatory air of a Jess Franco film updated and relocated to Nineties Los Angeles. Strangely enough the script does feature the odd intelligent exchange where characters debate the art vs. sado-porn merits of Jack's work, seemingly inspired by real-life provocateurs like Helmut Newton and Terry Richardson. However Jack's photos are simply too silly to inspire serious debate. Certainly less offensive than the assertion boorish asshole Johnny, who bullies then cheats on his girlfriend, shreds her self-esteem and still emerges smugly vindicated he was right all along, is any kind of a hero.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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