SOFTCORE FILMS

STRIPSHOW 2: LOVERS, LIARS, AND THIEVES

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I saw this film back when it was first released in 1997, and I’ve been trying to look for it to watch in again for the past few years. But I only knew the film under it’s original title, Lovers, Liars and Thieves, so that’s how I’d search for it. But all I’d ever usually find was info was about an unrelated film script of the same name, which has been in various stages of development for almost 15 years now and, at present, has still yet to be made. But now I finally found out that it was renamed as Stripshow 2 for it’s DVD release, and that’s how I found it.

First, don’t worry if you haven’t seen the first Stripshow film. Like several other softcore films of that time period, studios would take two unrelated films and rename as sequels when releasing them on VHS (now DVD). Usually this was done when films had a common theme or sometimes just if they shared a leading star, such as in the Shauna O’Brien films Elke and Innocence Betrayed were released as Friend of The Family and Friend of The Family 2. I have not yet seen the original movie Stripshow, but as far as I can tell, this film was renamed and repackeged as a sequel because both films feature Tane McClure and Monique Parent in leading roles. Be forwarned that this review will contain some minor spoilers.

Written and directed by Harold ‘Ace Frazer, this film stars Tane McClure as a woman only referred to in this film as “Mama” (that’s actually a recurring thing in this film, that most characters are only ever referred to by nicknames, if they’re named at all) who works as the Madam of a brothel operating in some small unnamed rural town. She has 7 women living there and working as prostitutes, and mama herself also works as a prostitute herself. During the opening sequence it’s nighttime and the brothel is full of customers, and while Mama is in bed with a man we see a woman (but we don’t see her face) sneak into Mama’s office and steal her little black book, which continues all the info about the brothels costomers. When Mama finds out she’s incensed, and suspects that it’s one of ladies, but doesn’t know who yet. She calls someone called “Cowboy”, a deadly hitman whom she’s hired before, but never actually met in person, to come to town and kill whomever the thief is. Then Mama, with the help of Big John (Gene Rey), her assistant/bodyguard, they attempt to figure out who the thief so they can let the Cowboy know when he gets there.

David Christensen plays Dakota Johnson. A womanizer and self-described “hustler.” We’re not given many details of his background, other than him pointing out that his father and grandfather were both hustler’s too. When we first see him, he dumped out of a car on the side of the road out in the middle of nowhere by an angry woman that he apparently betrayed. He’s picked up by another woman whom he spends the night with in a motel. That woman then drops him off in town, where he happens to run into Mama, who mistakes him for the Cowboy (because he’s wearing a cowboy hat, and she found him at the secret area where she was leaving the first half of the money she promised the Cowboy for him to find). Not understand exactly what’s going on, but intrigued by the money ($5k in cash now, and another $5k after the job is done), he goes along with it, moving into the brothel while Mama continues to investigate. Meanwhile, the real Cowboy is on his way. We see him delayed when his car breaks downs on the road, so he has to walk the rest of the way. But he’s armed, and seems dangerous.

Monique Parent plays prostitute who is only referred to as “teacher.” It turns out that she is the woman who stole Mama’s book. This is because she is being forced by a couple of IRS agents (Ray Merrill & Erich Schmidt), who are threatening to foreclose on her parents’ home if they don’t do what she says. She gives them book, but they say that’s not what the wanted, they want Mama’s bank books, so they can have evidence of all the money the brothel is taking in). So now, not only is Teacher unable to leave the brothel, she has try to steal from Mama again. Eventually, Teacher and Dakota get together, with her confessing her crimes and filling him on the details of who Mama thinks he is. So now they’re both in danger, if the Mama finds out what Teacher did and if the real Cowboy shows up before Dakota leaves she’ll have them both killed. But Dakota vows to stick around and help Teacher get the book she needs so they can both be free. I won’t spoil the ending, but it gets pretty action-packed, with shootouts, fights, and car chases, before the dramatic climax.

There are few flaws in the story (Cinema Sins would probably have a field day with this) but, for a first time director, Harold ‘Ace’ Frazer does an impressive job. This is shot very well, and he clearly had a decent budget to bring his story life. This is back in the day when softcore films were treated like mainstream B-movies, so it’s shot on locations, not movie sets. There is also a great cast. Christensen as the leading man gets the most screen-time, and carries the film well. Although his character is initially meant to be somewhat of a con-man, he’s also a sympathetic figure and you can’t help but root for him. And you could hardly ask for two better leading ladies than Tane and Monique, who were both sexy and talented actresses (another thing that differentiates softcore films from that ere from those today).

There are three full sex scenes in this film, all featuring Christensen. One with Michelle Nicholson, who plays the woman who picks him up and takes him to the motel, one with Tamara Kane, who plays one of the prostitutes at the brother, and one with Monique Parent. There are several other, I’d call them “half-scenes”, with other women, including Tane McClure, where we see couples in bed, or getting ready to get into bed, and there are many scenes of women in various stages of underdress. But this film is more of an action-thriller so, despite the setting, the focus is mostly on the suspense and danger of the situation. But it works because, as the story progresses, you find yourself more concerned with the safety of Cowboy and Teacher than you are with seeing more sex. And that in and of itself is an impressive feat.

Stripshow 2 is a suspenseful film with an impressive cast that will keep your attention from start to finish. Chacebook rating: 4 STARS

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