CHERRY FALLS (2000)

Directed By: Geoffrey Wright 
Written By: Ken Selden 
Cinematography By: Anthony B. Richmond 
Editor: John F. Link 

Cast: Brittany Murphy, Michael Biehn, Jesse Bradford, Jay Mohr, Candy Clark, Bre Blair, Gabriel Mann, Douglas Spain, Natalie Ramsey, Kristen Miller, Michael Weston, Keram Malicki-Sanchez, Clementine Ford 

A psychotic serial slasher starts a bloodthirsty murder rampage at Cherry Falls high school that only kills the local high school virgins. This leads to the local teenage population organizing a sex party in order to lose their virginity and thus no longer be targets


I am shocked I never reviewed this sooner. This is a film that usually is bright up every once in a while. it has a great premise that never seems to get a chance to rise up to its full potential. As even the parts that are crazy under another set of changes could have made the film a bit more respectable rather than ridiculed. This is a film that should have been bigger than it ever got a chance to rise to.

This film was part of the SCREAM clones. Teen horror films that were self-aware. That obviously flooded the market after that film’s success. This film tries to be more satirical and ridiculous at times then becomes more suspenseful.

Unlike SCREAM isn’t as smart though it does seem self-aware. This film also tends to go over the top a bit too much. That it’s not shocking anymore but common. Despite all the problems the film had behind the scenes something feels lost as envelope-pushing as the film could have been. It’s a film that deserves a do-over

The film’s hook is that it reverses the usual trope of sex equaling death. Here we have a serial killer who hunts down virgins. once the teenagers find out they decide to have a teenage orgy at a house party. Where the end of the film takes place.

Though the film can be sexual. Not much is really show. In fact, much of the orgy scenes were cut out to be able to get an R rating rather than an X. Though the distributors weren’t convinced and pulled a theatrical release. So instead the film premiered on the USA network. Where it was cut up, even more, to play on television. Though released in its R-rated cut in Europe. Where it had mild success.

The film isn’t great but does have a good premise. Luckily it obviously has a sense of humor about itself.

The film is scary when it needs To be. Though shockingly predictable, doesn’t spare us from trying to make everyone it can into a suspect. If anything its tone and just general weirdness set it apart. It does help explain its cult status.

This film stars Brittany Murphy. One of the few films where her star quality is used to good effect. Where she has the natural goofiness, quirkiness, and sweetness she usually brings to her parts. As well as one of the few she played a lead in that is rewatchable to a degree. She in fact is the only reason I bought this film out when it was released on DVD in 2000 and on a disc that included 2 other HORROR films that seemed to also air on the USA network. Her performance seems to be day and night as at times she seems lost and goes from silly comedic to deadly serious and in one scene experienced seductress out of nowhere. Even as her character is a virgin.

Due to ongoing censorship issues with the MPAA, the film was never given a theatrical release in the United States and was released as a TV movie on the USA Network. As a result, Cherry Falls is the most expensive television movie ever produced, with a budget of around $14 million. Though it has a pedigree behind it. A rather solid cast with some strange elements.

The film actually shows comedian Jay Mohr more as a character actor rather than just a comedic presence.

The film is funny sometimes I intentionally. As it is ridiculous a lot of times and could easily become camp if the director was more on that wavelength.

Though the film has more of a 1990’s feel. It is almost the 1980’s inspired by it’s simple easy attitude.

Grade: C-

SPUN (2002)

Directed & Edited By: Jonas Akerlund 
Written By: Will De La Santos & Creighton Vero 
Cinematography By: Eric Broms


Cast: Jason Schwartzmen, Mickey Rourke, Brittany Murphy, John Leguizamo, Mena Suvari, Josh Peck, Patrick Fugit, Debbie Harry, China Chow, Charlotte Ayana, Julia Mendoza, Eric Roberts, Nicholas Gonzalez, Larry Drake, Rob Halford, Tony Kaye, Ron Jeremy, Billy Corgan 

A drug dealer introduces one of his customers, a ‘speed freak’, to the man who runs the meth lab. A crazy three-day adventure ensues.


This film is just a dirty as the characters it portrays it seems to be trying to send the message of drawing you in with the visuals and showing you the life of a tweaker so you can see how pathetic and disgusting the life is but at times it seems to also make some characters mythically cool like the character of the cook played by Mickey Rourke.. 


Worse all the bad things seem to be played more for comedy than anything else like telling a story. I wanted to like the film but only found a few things noteworthy or fascinating.


Like most movies that involve drugs as central to the plot and addicts as most of the main characters, there is a lot of misadventures that you think are going to add up to something like a plot but it ends up the movie doesn’t really have anything to say. 


Sure visually it is great and the cast is likable but they need better material they inhabit the characters but if the characters are just there with nothing to do then it’s just like the life of tweakers a waste.

The movie is directed by Jonas Akerlund who has directed videos for Madonna, He certainly has an eye for visuals but he needs to find material that matches his eye here he doesn’t find it. There seems to be an epidemic with foreign directors when they make American movies they seem to like to direct stories that focus on the underground and the downtrodden there are little joy’s and mostly bleak existences which is there right to do but at least make it dramatic or interesting that would be nice instead of making it seem like a photoshoot with a theme no substance and all deteriorating gloss. 


 There are some really gross scenes like Mena Suvari having a bowel movement or John Leguizamo’s constant masturbating or the castration of Patrick fugit I can understand the need to be shocking with your dark comedy to be noticed and make a statement.

A drug dealer introduces one of his customers, a ‘speed freak’, to the man who runs the meth lab. A crazy three-day adventure ensues.


it’s just a wasted endeavor here, in fact, the most interesting character is in the movie but really doesn’t do too much and that is Mickey Rourke the movie isn’t all bad it‘s worth a watch but it’s not as good or revolutionary as it thinks it is. 


You get to see The strippers, The dealers, Porn shops, and all the usual taboo material. But for some reason it seems rather tame and not cutting edge. 

The film has a certain hyper stylization in a kind of trash culture. Trying to glamorize it. It’s distracting though while the film tries to offer characterizations to give us in the audience, people to care about and follow. It also uses then and their pathetic was as folly for humor more than anything else.

It also was the beginning of what seems to be Brittany Murphy’s third act where she seemed to play floozies, addicts and simpletons. Ladies who just seemed off. As she is attractive but seems so out of it that you wonder if it is method acting.

As depending when you were introduced to her as an actress. At first she was a child star then she grew up and played supporting characters and then leads that were more romantic comedic or comedic then she changed her look a bit and became more dramatic. Then the third act of her career came in films like THE DEAD GIRL and SIN CITY. If you watched her grow from a Child actress to here. You wondered if this was a new phase in her career or developing a type to play. As she went fro. Cute to sexy to skanky. Though still walking to the best fi her own drummer.


The film was originally intended to be a documentary on Meth Cooks. Instead, they just took the story of a meth addict (Co-Writer Will De La Santos) and his experiences chauffering a meth cook around town in Eugene, Oregan for three days. They just embellished the stories to be more cinematic. 


 GRADE: C-

DROP DEAD GORGEOUS (1999)

Directed By: Michael Patrick Jann

Written By: Lona Williams 

Cinematography: Michael Spiller Editor: David Codrob & Janice Hampton 

Cast: Kirstie Alley, Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards, Brittany Murphy, Amy Adams, Will Sasso, Mindy Sterling, Ellen Barkin, Allison Janney, Sam Mcmurray, Alexandra Holden, Matt Malloy, Mo Gaffney, Adam West, Nora Dunn, Jacy King, Amanda Detmer, Michael McShane, Jon T. Olson, Laurie Sinclair 

A small-town beauty pageant turns deadly as it becomes clear that someone will go to any lengths to win.


This should have been a bigger hit or at least better remembered. This movie had a cast of many before they were stars actresses. 

The film keeps it’s dark sense of humor throughout despite being more aimed at being a mainstream comedy. The film might think itself more of a satire but comes off more as straight comedy. It’s Inspired but the jokes don’t come off as sharp as they should. 

Watching this film originally in a theater was a memorable film experience if only because it is one of the few I watched with one of my best friends. It was a late summer movie and we were the only ones who seemed to laugh non-stop cementing our budding friendship. As we had the same kind of sense of humor.

Denise Richards looks the part, but also seems a little to long in the tooth for her role. As she looks noticeably older then the rest of the contestants. She also looks too polished. But does look like a beauty queen.

Kirsten Dunst is good as the lead. The beginning of her best roles playing more small town girls.

Though this is more of a teen movie. It spends just as much time on the adult characters. Who are more guilty in their influences and rivalries.

This is a kind of more studio oriented version of the 1970’s comedy SMILE. Which was also an ensemble comedy looking at a small town beauty pageant that was more risqué at the time and had a lot of material you couldn’t get away with now. This film is cleaner and snarkier then that one.

Amy Adams and Brittany Murphy are standouts amongst the cast. This is really Adams first big role and Brittany Murphy is hilarious in her supporting role. One wishes she had been given more to do and be in as she makes the material work and rise.

I remember this was one of the first roles I remember seeing Alison Janney in next to 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU. As she and Ellen Barkin steak their scenes together and even when apart they do.

This is one of the better film roles for Kirstie Alley has played. Here she is the villain and head of the pageant community and ceremony.

The movie is directed by Michael Patrick Jann who was a member of the sketch comedy group THE STATE as well as director of most of their specials. The performances end up better than the film overall.

The problem is at times the film comes off as too goofy and is mostly safe. Playing it’s

The Midwestern angle is strong. I guess they need representation in movies at the time. When it’s Strengths are more when it explores it’s dark side.

Though the humor never has quite the sting you expect and want 

GRADE: C+