An establishing pre-credits sequence works quite well. We meet a pretty blonde in a tight blue bikini top who stops off at a remote petrol station one night for directions. She's driving upstate to meet her girlfriends where she intends to take part in a fundraising bikini carwash marathon.
She can't find anyone in the store, and can't get a signal on her mobile telephone. So she goes back into the station and uses their telephone to ring her friend, advising that she'll find her own way to the rest of the group shortly.
Alas, this is not to be: the girl didn't bank on bumping into (literally) barking mad Moe (William Jarand). He's rather handy with an axe, as we learn when the scene closes with said utensil embedded in the girl's skull.
It's not remotely original but there's a modicum of style about this night-set opening, and the sharp editing promises a taut little thriller in the style of early 80s slasher films.
But then, following the opening credits, things start to go downhill.
First, we meet Jenna (Cindel Chartrand). She's extremely cute but annoyingly sour, begrudgingly going along with her friends to take part in the aforementioned carwash. I mean, this girl is so miserable - it's painful to watch her.
Still, she goes along with the clan and drives into the country to catch up with the busload of girls being driven by randy nerds Blake (Jarek Gader) and Tommy (Ivan Peric). They've agreed to take the girls to the carwash event, in the hope of losing their virginity along the way.
Unfortunately the bus breaks down on a remote stretch, with only a seemingly abandoned petrol station nearby. A few of the girls start to explore the place while the boys try to fix the problem. When they realise the bus can't be mended - and when Tommy lays his eyes on Jenna - the boys suggest that the girls simply stage their carwash right there.
After a little grumbling, the girls agree. Cue bad rock music and lots of sun-kissed scenes of the girls cavorting semi-naked across cars.
But what they haven't counted on is the petrol station opposite them being inhabited by the insane, murderous Moe ...
At one point an elderly foreign-speaking couple break down and impose themselves upon the group (don't worry, sourpuss Jenna is bilingual - clever girl). Why? So they can be slain mere minutes later, that's all.
The tagline reads "These girls are so hot, a maniac killer must put them on ice" and may just be the best thing about the film.
Perhaps I'm being a tad unfair. Reasonably well-shot for the most part and graced by some moderately interesting visual ideas (a couple of instances of nifty camerawork; some adroit chase sequences; a stand-out throat-slashing), BIKINI GIRLS showcases debut director Geoff Klein as having some potential.
What he needs to overcome in future if he is to make it as a serious genre filmmaker - aside from things dictated by the meagre budget such as a lack of convincing FX (most deaths are off-screen), shoddy lighting and amateurish performances - are his sloppy scriptwriting (wafer-thin characters and clichéd dialogue) and, crucially, the severe lack of decent pacing: some judicious editing would have come in handy here, as BIKINI GIRLS feels dreadfully long for an 81-minute film.
But there are a few set-pieces that tend to work to a modest degree. Well, given their shoestring means. However, Klein also perhaps lacks the energy and imagination required to work around his bargain basement restrictions. As a result he fails to elevate the film above poverty row slasher fare - again, a lot of this is to do with a script (co-written by Klein and Jeff Ross) that plays it safe and undisciplined editing that does its utmost to kill all pace and mood.
On the plus side, the film features a bevy of attractive females in skimpy attire, and the tone was generally darker than I'd anticipated.
Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment's screener disc is a very skeletal affair, proffering the film and nothing else. No menus, no scene-selection, no trailers or extras. No information is therefore available yet relating to the final disc's specifications.
As for the film, its presented uncut in anamorphic 1.78:1. From the framing, this appears to be the correct aspect ratio. Images are surprisingly bright in day scenes, but flat and dull during the darker moments. This is likely to be a reflection of the ultra low-budget, rather than the disc transfer. In fact, the picture presentation is very good: clean, sharp and colourful for the most part.
The English 2.0 audio is a highly credible proposition too. There are no drop-outs or hiss to report upon, and an even balance between music and audible dialogue is maintained throughout.
BIKINI GIRLS ON ICE is not the greatest film but does have its moments. And girls, in bikinis. And Jarand, the wonderful Jarand - a member of Overactors Anonymous, surely. The disc is difficult to comment upon as it's so basic, but at least - if the presentation here is indicative of what will hit stores - the film itself looks and sounds good.
This should just about bridge the gap for those awaiting the third instalment of Thomas Seymour's BIKINI CARWASH BLOODBATH series. Just be sure to expect fewer gags and more in the way of sub-PROM NIGHT scares.
Review by Stu Willis
|Released by Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment|
|Region 2 - PAL|
|see main review|