Blu-ray Review: Bolero / Ghosts Can't Do It | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Bolero / Ghosts Can’t Do It - Double Feature

Studio: Shout! Factory

Jan 08, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

In 1973, 46-year-old actor John Derek left his wife for a 16-year-old aspiring actress named Cathleen Collins. To avoid statutory rape charges, the couple fled to Germany until the young girl came of age and the two were married. Collins’ film career failed to get off the ground despite Derek’s best efforts to sell distribution rights for Fantasies, an erotic drama he directed her in while she was still underage. Cathleen dyed her hair blonde and re-christened herself “Bo Derek,” and eventually landed a role in the hit comedy 10, which managed to launch her film career—for better or worse.

If their background story didn’t give you the creepy-crawlies, well, John and Bo Derek’s shared filmography should probably be enough to push you over the edge. The couple made a total of four aggressively dirty movies together, all released in the 1980s (including 1973’s Fantasies, which didn’t see release until Bo Derek became famous.) John would write the films for his much-younger wife, produce them, direct her in them, and even operate the cameras himself. The couple would say that their reasoning for operating independently was because they wanted full creative control of their projects; the more likely reasons are that John Derek wasn’t any good as a writer or director, and that Bo Derek is one of the worst actresses to ever become a Hollywood leading lady. (It’s pretty telling that in her most notable post-John Derek role, Tommy Boy, she was only asked to speak a dozen lines.)

Shout! Factory pairs their two later films on one Blu-ray disc:

Bolero: This mind-numbingly bad comedy (?) stars Bo Derek as a virginal, billionaire heiress who celebrates her graduation from boarding school by embarking on a trip around the world with her best friend and her elderly chauffeur/babysitter (played by Oscar-winner George Kennedy, who looks to be wondering where his life went wrong in each of his scenes.) Their first stop is in the Middle East, where Bo “gifts” her virginity to an Arab sheik who passes out from puffing too much hashish before he can finish licking honey off her body. Disappointed, she hops a plane to Spain where she meets a handsome bullfighter who also herds cattle and runs a vineyard. He proves to be the man of her dreams, but has the unfortunate luck of getting his dick gored off by a bull right after they make love. But don’t worry, Bo has plans to make him all better.

Bolero—which is named for a Latin dance which isn’t performed in the movie but sorta contains the lead actress’s name, so it was good enough to use—is a poorly-directed, poorly-written, and even more poorly-acted piece of overblown, softcore hooey. It almost seems as if Derek was trying to distract from his wife’s inability to convey emotion by surrounding her primarily with non-Native-English-speaking actors. He also makes sure she’s nude whenever possible, even if the situation makes little to no sense. (The movie poster featured a shot from Bo’s infamous naked horseback ride, so at least they knew their intended audience.) Despite being ripped apart by critics, the film more than recouped its budget in theaters, and made good money as a rental video. (Roger Ebert put it best in his original, half-star review of the film: “The real future of “Bolero” is in home cassette rentals, where your fast forward and instant replay controls will supply the editing job the movie so desperately needs.”)

The movie brought home six Golden Raspberry Awards, including Worst Picture, Worst Actress, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Score, and Worst New Actor (Olivia D’Abo, who plays Bo’s best friend.) It was five years before the Dereks made their next film, the somehow worse…

Ghosts Can’t Do It: Sorta like Ghost, but this one’s inept in almost every possible way. In this terrible sex comedy, Bo Derek’s billionaire sugar daddy (Anthony Quinn) kills himself after a heart attack does a number on his aged body. He promptly returns as a ghost that only Bo can see and hear; the rest of the movie revolves around the two of them plotting to kill a tropical lothario, allowing the dead husband to possess his body so that they can get back to, y’know, doing it. (Because Ghosts can’t do it. Get the title now?)

The oddest choice made in the movie is that Bo Derek and Anthony Quinn are in only a few scenes together; as they communicate throughout the entire movie, she speaks to herself aloud and the film cuts away to Quinn’s disembodied, floating head in order to get his reaction quips. (The effect sort of resembles Jambi the genie from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.) His role is that of a supernatural peanut gallery, with his commentary becoming increasingly ridiculous as several still-living men compete for his widow’s attention, and his former business rivals try to pick apart his empire.

The movie will get a temporary notability boost over the next few months—or, heaven help us, the next eight years—for its supporting nod from Presidential candidate Donald Trump, who plays one of Quinn’s former rivals. His performance is certainly worthy of the Razzie Award it won him in 1990; the movie also brought home that unwanted trophy for Worst Actress, Worst Director, and Worst Picture. Like in Bolero, Derek spends a significant portion of the movie needlessly nude. We know the idea of a Bo Derek naked and ceaselessly arguing with the spectral, offscreen head of a 75-year-old man may appeal to some; but, for everyone else it makes for an extremely tedious, unfunny 94 minutes.

It’s impossible to, in good conscience, recommend the films themselves, but for those with a morbid curiosity about these films—or an even less savory interest—Shout! Factory’s double feature Blu-ray features both movies with a high quality sound and video presentation. There are no bonus features, but it’s doubtful anyone involved wishes to be associated with these films, anyhow.

Author rating: 3/10

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