A relentlessly eccentric comedy, clearly inspired by the work of John Waters and the Paul Morrissey of ANDY WARHOL'S BAD, HOLD ME, THRILL ME, KISS ME is not quite as clever as it thinks, but far more entertaining than one might expect.
Eli (Max Parrish), handsome but not terribly bright or honest, accidentally shoots his psychotic fiance Twinkle (Sean Young) and, convinced that he's killed her, hits the road with the $200,000 they stole from her wealthy parents. He hides out in an isolated trailer park whose eccentric
inhabitants ensure that his stay is not a dull one. First and foremost, there are Sabra (Andrea Naschak), the foul-mouthed, bondage-loving stripper who takes him in, and her virginal sister Dannie (Adrienne Shelly), who spends many nights sleeping outside their trailer with her pets while her
sister carries on. Then there are the neighbors: blowsy but good-hearted Southern belle Lucille (Diane Ladd) and her mother (Mary Lanier, Ladd's real mother), opera-singing Olga (Ania Suli) and her swinish son Laszlo (Bela Lehockzy), and a host of other colorful and trashy misfits.
Eli--now calling himself Bud, and sometimes Fritz--falls in love with Dannie, but must cope with the spiteful Sabra, who's staked her claim and doesn't intend to lose to goody-two-shoes Dannie. Dannie repels Eli's advances because she wants nothing to do with sex, which she associates with her
monstrous sister. Eli attempts to establish a false identity through the mysterious Mr. Jones (Timothy Leary), intending to flee the country with what's left of the stolen money. Eli's plans, not especially well laid to begin with, quickly go awry. He successfully seduces Dannie, but they
accidentally murder Sabra with a pint of poisoned chocolate milk and have to bury her in a pet cemetery. Twinkle turns up, very much alive and determined to get her man back, and Laszlo absconds with the money. True love wins out, however, and Dannie and Eli leave the trailer camp together,
determined to forge a future for themselves.
It's hard to dislike a film that opens in a roadside wedding chapel with the bride-to-be pointing a pistol at the prospective groom when he hesitates to say, "I do." Though its kookiness is sometimes forced, HOLD ME, THRILL ME, KISS ME is often inspired, and boasts a series of excellent
performances, some from surprising quarters. It's no eye-opener when Diane Ladd hints at a touching neediness beneath Lucille's frilly flirting, or when Adrienne Shelly--best known for her roles in Hal Hartley's TRUST and THE UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH--makes far more of her half of the madonna/whore
sibling duo than the role's outlines would suggest. But Andrea Naschak, well known to pornographic movie fans as April Rayne, is surprising as Sabra; broadly drawn though she is, she's a convincing character. Hunky newcomer Max Parrish projects an apparently effortless charm that eludes many more
HOLD ME, THRILL ME, KISS ME is a little thin on plot, but chock full of incidents, some remarkably inventive and well rendered. Dannie and Eli's terribly ordinary date at a nice restaurant, for example, becomes an exercise in overcoming comic obstacles courtesy of Sabra; determined to thwart the
budding romance, she leaves Dannie cuffed to the towel rack, and though Eli gets his love out of the bathroom, he can't free her hands. Dannie's exhibition of grace under pressure is a delight. Further complications arise later in the evening, when Dannie is eager to succumb to Eli's blandishments
but demurs, observing plaintively that she doesn't want her first time to be in handcuffs.
For all the garishness of the setting, in which tackiness reigns supreme, HOLD ME, THRILL ME, KISS ME largely avoids the gross characterizations that often mar self-consciously hip movies; the residents of the El Monte trailer park all reveal quirks and facets that give them a life beyond pure
caricature. First-time director Joel Hirschman, whose background is as an actor ("mostly unemployed," he says in the production notes), does smoothly accomplished work, and the film's score--which ranges from B-52 Fred Schneider's cheerfully vulgar "Monster" ("There's a monster in my pants ...")
to Mel Carter's lush "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me"--is a particular asset. (Profanity, nudity, sexual situations, adult situations.)
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