LOVELY BUT DEADLY (1981; Just for the Hell of It)
After her teenage kid brother dies due to drugs in the opening sequence, a pretty young female martial artist goes undercover to seek revenge in this unapologetic schlock-fest, which briefly passed through drive-ins before becoming an early-'80s pay-cable fixture. Directed/co-written by David Sheldon (producer of such drive-in faves as GRIZZLY and JUST BEFORE DAWN), with a story by Lawrence D. Foldes (YOUNG WARRIORS), this amusingly braindead romp is packed with over-aged "teenagers," sloppy chopsocky and slumming character actors... Meet the newest transfer student at Pacific Coast High, Mary Ann 'Lovely' Lovitt (Lucinda Dooling), who beats the crap out of the first dealer she encounters and overdoses him with his own "Liquid Angel," then uses her sex appeal to learn that this drug epidemic not only involves the football team, but wealthy boosters. Lovely soon brawls with vicious cheerleaders in the locker room, flirts with football-star/drug-pusher Mantis Managian (Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rick Moser) and makes an enemy out of his jealous girlfriend (Pamela Jean Bryant, H.O.T.S.), even as sole friend Steve (longtime soap star Michael O'Leary) gets pounded to a pulp and the apathetic local cops brush her off by telling Lovely to shut up and be a "good girl." But after fast-talking businessman "Honest Charlie" (Richard Herd) puts the creepy moves on Lovely and she lays him out, our plucky heroine is captured by the ring-leaders of this vast drug-import operation... Although Sheldon's direction is strictly TV-level (including the world's most lethargic motorboat race climax) and Lovely doesn't get to kick nearly enough ass, at least the film delivers a smattering of topless nudity and bursts of gratuitous idiocy, such as a full-blown catfight between Dooling and Bryant in the middle of a swanky costume party or Lovely's entire female martial arts class coming to her rescue in the finale. Much of the supporting cast seems to be enjoying this ridiculous gig though, particularly martial-arts-movie badguy Mel Novak (GAME OF DEATH, BLACK BELT JONES) as a sleazy bigwig who keeps an unlocked trunk full of drugs in his home office, plus Irwin Keyes and Judd Omen (escaped convict Mickey from PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE) as henchmen who steam a guy to death inside a refrigerator box! There's also Marie Windsor (CAT-WOMEN OF THE MOON) as Lovely's aunt; Mary Beth McDonough (THE WALTONS) and Eddie Deezen-esque Marvin Katzoff as students; and it looks as if (future Tony Award winner and '50s Commie Blacklist victim) John Randolph filmed his handful of School Superintendent scenes during one long lunch break. The only misfire is untalented 1970s Aussie pop star (and future David Hasselhoff album producer) Mark Holden as Lovely's rich boyfriend Javelin Scott, whose unnecessary tunes slam the breaks on the dumbass fun. Meanwhile, much of this film's success is due to its likeable lead. Sure, Dooling's action moves are pathetic, but her unwavering enthusiasm helps to sell the screenplay's rampant stupidity. Unfortunately, Lucinda's acting career never really took off, snagging small roles in Spielberg's 1941 and SURF II, and also appearing in the 1980 Los Angeles stage premiere of Fassbinder's "The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant" (in the role played on film by Hanna Schygulla). She later married MGMT. Entertainment founder David Schiff and passed away in December 2015 after a 15-year-long battle with recurring brain tumors.
© 2017 by Steven Puchalski.