31 December 2009

Strip For Action

A.K.A. - Hot Ticket
United States – 1996
Director – Lev L. Spiro
New Horizons Home Video, 1999, VHS
Run Time – 1 hour, 17 minutes

There are many amusements on offer when occasionally watching one of these stripper oddities from the Corman studio. One of the most awkward, particularly in mixed company is contemplating and discussing the extent of plastic surgery that the principals have undergone to achieve their current shape. In fact I think if you watched enough of these you could probably watch them transform over the course of their careers.
But hey, we are talking about the stripper microgenre invented by actress Katt Shea with Stripped to Kill (1987). It was to be the first of a slew of successful films revolving around the trials and tribulations of strippers. The very nature of the work demands that you repeatedly perform stripteases, in both the scenes taking place in the stripclub, as well as the scenes in which you do it with your late-90’s mushroom haircut boyfriend. Instead of an actress willing to strip, the job requires a stripper willing to act, which is exactly the standard set by Shea.

The name alone, Strip for Action, holds tremendous menace. The combination and context of the words possess an imminent but still ethereal threat. But backed up by that killer tagline, it really drives it home for me. The insinuation of stripping doesn’t convey anything explicitly filthy, but the addition of action suggests that that action, whatever it is can only take place when naked. The nature of the action itself remains in question, and this is where the threat lies, shrouded in mystery.

The Strip For Action box art is phenomenal. For over a year as this movie sat on my shelf waiting to be screened. Browsing the unwatched tapes I would occasionally pull it out and contemplate it. Each time I would stare at the cover for a while thinking to myself, “She looks uncomfortable, do I really want to watch this?” Let’s be honest, I was intimidated, hung up on the possibility of impending emotional darkness if I followed through. So for all that time the box art looked awkward, but I was too cowed to pay much heed.

But when I woke this morning, I realized that the decision had already been made, Strip For Action was the movie I was going to watch tonight. So when the time came, the idea of this film was no longer threatening, and perhaps that’s why I was able to see the box art with uncluttered eyes. It was then that I realized the fact that the gun is obviously and poorly Photoshopped into her hand after the fact. Not only that, as I was inspecting that digital handiwork, I realized that her bra was also an ad hoc addition. I wish I could tell you that this suggests some deep metaphor for the meaning of the film itself, some kind of prophecy. But it is as straightforward and honest as a picture worth an hour and 15 minutes can get. No, what Strip For Action boils down to is a soap-opera spiked with lap-dances and cursing. The box, with all its bluster and false modesty, is an explicit reflection of the film contained within, a sort of a Bizarro-world version of the emperor’s new clothes.

You girls stay in the car while we exchange hair styling tips.

No comments: