If it weren't for the unrelenting, repellant sexism and misogyny at its core, TWENTY DOLLAR STAR could have been good, cheap, sleazy fun.
Lisa (Rebecca Holden) is a Hollywood star, a sex siren of the silver screen who by day terrorizes her hapless director (Greg Mullavey). By night, breaking date after date with her hunky but bland physician boyfriend (Steven Ford), she heads for the mean streets of downtown L.A., where she leads
her second, sleazy life out of a skid-row hotel. Donning an assortment of wigs and skin-tight outfits, Lisa goes out at night, teetering up and down the sidewalks on her six-inch heels, hoping to attract fat, greasy slobs, whom she brings back to her dive to do the wild thing for the titular
twenty. Of course, Lisa isn't a bad girl. She's just the screwed-up product of a bad childhood with her cold, distant and abusive father (Dick Sargent, hubby Darrin Stephens on TV's erstwhile "Bewitched"). While trying to face up to her problems, she flirts with lesbianism while dancing in her
living room with a woman who also had an abusive childhood.
While her sympathetic gay secretary, Brian (Bernie White), frets over her increasingly erratic behavior, Lisa's life is coming undone on other fronts--the manager of her hotel (Eddie Barth) finds out who she really is and tries blackmailing her. Lisa blithely sics a trio of thugs on him. But he
has his revenge when she inexplicably returns to the hotel: he beats her up and then holds her ransom for double his original demand, which Brian dutifully brings to the hotel after a tearful phone call. Lisa resolves to put her life back on the right track, but as she's about to leave the hotel
behind, a couple of former tricks show up, with friends, to gang-rape her. That really sends her over the edge, needless to say, causing her to withdraw into a stupor, which she comes out of only when her father comes to see her with the promise of the paternal love he has denied her all these
TWENTY DOLLAR STAR, contrived by writer-director Paul Leder (I DISMEMBER MAMA), seems to revel in abusing its heroine with a rapist mind-set that "she deserves it," leading up to its inexplicable moral that her problems will be solved only after she makes peace with the father who beat her
savagely throughout her childhood.
This serves to take much of the fun out of the film's many technical gaffes, such as one scene of sensitive soul-searching punctuated by a huge horsefly buzzing lazily around the set. The expressionistically-lit confrontation between Lisa and the hotel manager has its delicate mood disturbed by a
crew member apparently walking in front of one of the key lights. And the gang-rape scene is shot in artsy overhead angles that reveal the rapists' failure to undo their pants before the deed, making the assault look something more like a gang dry-hump.
The performance level of the actors isn't much better. Holden is an overwrought scenery-chewer unintentionally parodying a star performance, surrounded by largely competent professionals whose tiny triumphs mainly consist in negotiating the ludicrous plot and character turns and inane dialogue
without giggling on-camera. There are those here, such as White, who may one day go on to better things and bury this entry on their resume with embarrassment for having appeared in a film that, with its morality for the pea-brained, manages the feat of making most garden-variety porn look
wholesome by comparison. (Violence, profanity, adult situations, nudity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: If it weren't for the unrelenting, repellant sexism and misogyny at its core, TWENTY DOLLAR STAR could have been good, cheap, sleazy fun. Lisa (Rebecca Holden) is a Hollywood star, a sex siren of the silver screen who by day terrorizes her hapless direct… (more)