Any producer or director who's gone eyeball to eyeball with a recalcitrant porn performer will relate to this film. Then, too, XXX producers or directors might find some of the sordid industry stereotypes portrayed in this picture, with its noirish-edge, to be broadly cartoonish, perhaps outlandish, but, nonetheless, relatively amusing and entertaining.
Therein is what makes Who Killed Holly Hollywood? a curious cultural anomaly. The film is lensed smartly and stylishly like a creditable B-movie erotic thriller (the opening scene where the camera pans the room and allows the visuals, in brief seconds, to do the talking is quite reminiscent of Robert McCallum's classic opener in 3AM).
Portions of the film ring true to their source, faithful to their situation, and are accentuated with resounding street poetry. But at other times, when the situation desperately depends on it, the script sinks below street level by exploiting the genre with insipid cliches, championing lines of dialogue that no self-respecting hack writer would be caught dead inventing, such as, "I wouldn't fuck you with somebody else's dick". Aw, c'mon, now. Is this meant to be intentional?
However Who Killed Holly Hollywood? makes telling comments about power, the abuse of it, the XXX industry and the industry's perceptions about certain individuals within its caste system, particularly, porn star boyfriends. I believe the word, "leech" comes immediately to mind. If I were a leech, er, a boyfriend of a porn star, I might actually be embarrassed into finding a real job after watching this film.
Among the chief principals in this whodunnit, which features more dead bodies than a game of Clue, and where just about everyone's being fingered through some tell-tale hint of dialogue, is Jonathan Morgan as an unhinged homicide detective who investigates the murder of porn starlet/phone sex girl Holly Hollywood. Marc Wallice, as the other major character, is screenwriter Clinton Darke's embittered alter ego. Morgan and Wallice make the most of their material and turn in fluid, believable moments. Perhaps career performances for these two gents.
Morgan's detective character is a two-faced hypocrite. He's a Ramada Romeo who uses power plays like some form of surrogate penis to emotionally cock-whip women as his sex scene in a motel room with hooker Tami Monroe (he entraps her) so availably illustrates.
"Hey, what kind of cop are you?" Monroe asks. We'd like to know, too, because Morgan approaches this scene about as emotionally involved as an ambulance chaser. He has Monroe suck his cock with the urgency of a Mogadishu food drop, then rips through her body like there's no sequel in sight, landing the expected cum shot square on her kisser just to prove who's in charge.
Morgan, we learn, is a closet porn freak, and when he directs volleys of psychotic outburts toward his girlfriend and fellow undercover investigator, Christina Dior, it registers a creepiness that would make even Ted Bundy cringe. Morgan, here, calls up similarities to Ray Liotta in Unlawful Entry.
Wallice exudes a quiet but unnerving lethalness as a frustrated, undiscovered writing talent who feels sickeningly cheapened because he's had to prostitute his wares in the porn industry.
Dior did this film at the outset of her brief fling with XXX. Hence, her sexual presence is held strictly to a brief nude scene when she poses as an aspiring starlet for sleazy talent agent Ron Jeremy (Ron's character is another excellent performance of true redundancy at work). But this is not to minimize Dior's role which is significantly pivotal and she carries it off with refreshing vitality and professionalism.
Even director Bone participates in this fare and dips his wick — literally. Bone plays Joel Cairo (Casablanca humor here), a smug shit of a producer whom you just love to hate. Trading cynical barbs and wit with his undermatched performers, Bone, too, exerts a ruthless power over them and even gets an onscreen blowjob from Cumisha Amad whom he's just suckered with hollow promises. What's next? Ron Vogel taking it up the ass with a Rolleiflex?
But what really sneaks up on you and knocks you for a loop is screen time rendered by, of all people, Bone's sound man, Mike Shadoe. Shadoe plays one of Holly's phone sex clients who may have heard her being murdered. While being interrogated by the cops, Shadoe parlays a marvelous, wired anxiety that adds up to one pulsing, memorable screen turn.
What we can gather of the character Holly Hollywood (played by Brazil, Rinse Dream's favorite XXX actress) in her few moments on the screen, and through flashback? Well, our immediate gut reaction is to give her killer a gold medal. She's a manipulative, castrating bitch, and a roundup of the usual list of suspects is conducted with the subtlety of flashing neon arrows pointed toward their heads.
But before Holly/Brazil heads for that big porn shoot in the sky, she shares one last scene with co-star Peter North, after a hilarious "yondah lies da castle of my faddah" movie-within-a-movie moment. The only question that remains to be asked once North's popped on her face after a healthy side-saddle plunge is this: if you fuck someone who's going to die in a movie, is this considered precognitive necrophilia?
Most of the other sex scenes are used as plot devices to help establish alibis, and point fingers of guilt (Madison and Brittany O'Connell play a pair of bimbo-suspects). One of the zestier scenes of the lot is an outdoor threeway involving porn star/drug merchant Terry Thomas, Cumisha Amado and Crystal Wilder.
Who Killed Holly Hollywood? is a dark, witty and cynical picture that makes it one of the more evocative adult projects in recent memory. You'll definitely hear from it again come awards nominations time.