Lovely But Deadly
United States – 1981
Director – David Sheldon
Vestron Video, 1985, VHS
Run Time – 1 hour, 35 minutes
Just before the glory days of Supply-Side Reaganomics really took hold, the most pressing concerns in the American mainstream were the cornucopia of narcotics available on every street corner, and karate. In the very hallways of any given high-school at this time could be found the hardest drugs known to man side by side with capable (if not technically proficient) practitioners of that exotic new oriental sport known as “kara-tay.” There was little gray area, and the mixing of these two elements almost never took place except on the field of battle. When these worlds collided, karate enthusiasts brought together by their affection for brightly colored matching outfits held forth in gruesome combat against irretrievably stoned filthy-rich play[persons] intent on publicly flaunting both.But fortunately Mary Ann “Lovely” Lovett has come of age just in time to challenge divisive conceptions of social legitimacy. Her young brother Arthur has just flipped his wig on the hard-shit and drowned himself in the ocean. As such she has taken up the karate vs. drug challenge that will come to epitomize 80’s cinema (see alnything w/Chuck Norris, from 1980-88.)
But not just yet, Lovely But Deadly seems to bridge a gap between the all inclusive 70’s and the hyper dichotomous 80’s. When I think of the former what comes to mind are disco clubs where it was equally legitimate to wear “country-western” as it was “love-child” or a “tennis-club” looks. There seems to have been, at least on the surface an acceptance for any sort of new idea or combination of ideas. But it wasn’t to last. The transition was epitomized by Jimmy Carter’s resounding election beatdown at the hands of Ronald Reagan, and the subsequent rise of the post-industrial polyester sportcoat set. Soon it was either rich cool or poor cool and never the twain shall meet (until poor cool was co-opted, again).
In this way Lovely and her Patrick Nagel inspired karate/cheerleading coach and karate/cheerleader classmates struggle seems Sisyphean. Supplied by a filthy rich pensioner and some mentally disabled tough guys the school quarterback Mantis is openly distributing the hard shit in the halls through a network of stringy haired “former honor students”. And soon it is revealed that Lovely’s own rockstar boyfriend Javelin is sheepishly acting as the post-groovy/pre-rad mouthpiece for the latest fads in burgeoning suburban narco-culture. Lovely herself embodies the quickly eclipsing quaintness of the 70’s and it’s almost as if the whole movie, James Bond knockoff theme song included, is the last gasp of an eccentric and inclusive populist culture.
For more awesome Vestron Video sleeves visit Vestron Video International.
Swedish VHS sleeve from Rolfens DVD.
Poster from Moviegoods.