Tuesday, June 6, 2023

R.I.P.: Susan Tyrrell, Part II (1983-2012)

Susan Tyrrell
18 March 1945 – 16 June 2012

"Susie was just a great, great chick and a total hell raiser. She had a huge personality and the talent to back it up."
Iggy Pop

NOTE: On 7 May 2023, someone took it to themselves to flag a bunch of posts here at a wasted life as containing "sensitive content". For the most part, that meant any post with a denigrating or humorous comment about that fascist lump of lard known as Donald Trump or his plasticine trophy wife, but one or two did contain comfy love pillows and/or tasty salamis (see: Hell Night). Unlike this entry here, our R.I.P. Career Review of the great Susan Tyrrell from way back in 2012, which really did (and does) not contain any questionable images or statements. Here, the flagger, undoubtedly a cancel culture "conservative", flagged merely to annoy.
But, as we have to resubmit this blog entry for review, we took advantage of the moment to update all embedded videos and some of the content. Also, because we always found this entry — like our first boyfriend — much too large and long to swallow easily, we've decided to split it in two and make half of the 2012 entry today's blogpost
. Enjoy.
Go here for:
Susan Tyrrell, Part I (1971 to 1982)

Born in San Francisco, CA, on 18 March 1945 as Susan Jillian Creamer, she entered show biz in the early 1960s as Susan Tyrell (later Tyrrell) and cut her teeth in summer stock productions, regional plays and New York productions. "SuSu," as she liked to be called, made two obscure appearances on TV in 1964 (on The Patty Duke Show ["The Tycoons"] and Mr. Novak ["Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"]), but her uneven career as a supporting actress really started in 1971 when she appeared in her first three cinema releases, none of which can really be called important films. (See Susan Tyrrell, Pt. I.)
A year later, she made waves and garnered a lot of attention with her Oscar-nominated performance in John Huston's Fat City, but she was much too much an individualist to use the momentum to achieve a reliable, commercial career. Taking jobs primarily when she needed money instead of to keep her career rolling, she travelled the world and the seven seas and lived an eventful life full of ups and downs and, over a period of some 30 years, achieved cult status as character actress and true original. As Tyrrell once said in an interview, "The last thing my mother said to me was, 'SuSu, your life is a celebration of everything that is cheap and tawdry.' I've always liked that, and I've always tried to live up to it."
In 2000, she and her career suffered a setback when she was diagnosed with essential thrombocythemia, a rare disease that afflicts one to three people out of 100,000 a year, which resulted in the amputation of both her legs below the knees. Her acting career rather stagnated thereafter, though she continued to appear both on stage and in a rare movie and/or short film. She was also an active and interesting painter.
2010 Interview with Susan
about her art:
In 2008 Susan Tyrrell moved to Austin, Texas, where she died on Saturday, 16 June 2012. She is survived by her mother, Gillian Creamer (née Tyrell), a former British socialite with whom SuSu had had no contact for over 40 years; two sisters, Candace Sweet and Carole Davenport; a half-brother, Peter Creamer; and a niece, Amy Sweet.*
* That was in 2012; whom amongst them is still alive today is unknown to us.
Susan Tyrrell was a distinctive talent who will be missed. Below is a review of selected projects that she took part in. May she R.I.P — and raise hell wherever she is now.

Fire and Ice
(1983, dir. Ralph Bakshi)
The early 80s were a good time for Barbarian films, both good and bad — for example, alone before 1984 some titles include: Hawk the Slayer (1981 / trailer), Conan the Barbarian (1982 / trailer), The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982), Attila flagello di Dio (1982), Sangraal, la spada di fuoco (1982), Gunan, King of the Barbarians (1982 / German trailer), Ator, the Fighting Eagle (1982 / trailer), Sorceress (1982 / scene), The Beastmaster (1982), Krull (1983 / trailer), La guerra del ferro — Ironmaster (1983 / French trailer), Hundra (1983), The Throne of Power (1983 / trailer), Yor: The Hunter from the Future (1983), Deathstalker (1983), Conquest (1983 / trailer) and this one here, Fire and Ice.

Fire and Ice is a rotoscope animation film from Ralph Bakshi, which he conceived and created together with the great Frank Frazetta. The plot, as explained on ralphbakshi.com: "From their stronghold in Icepeak, the evil Queen Juliana (Tyrrell) and her son Nekron (Stephen Mendel) send forth a wave of glaciers, forcing humanity to retreat south. Nekron sends a delegation to King Jarel (Leo Gordon) in Firekeep to request his surrender, but this is a really ruse for Nekron's sub-humans to kidnap Jarel's daughter, the Princess Teegra (Cynthia Leake). But Teegra makes an escape and comes upon the farmboy Larn (William Ostrander), the only survivor of a village razed by glaciers, who offers to escort her back to Firekeep. As Teegra is recaptured, Larn teams with the mysterious Darkwolf (Steve Sandor) to save Teegra and then travel to Icepeak to stop Juliana."
The film was a flop; in 2010, shortly after Frazetta's death, Robert Rodriguez licensed the rights from Bakshi for redevelopment as a live-action film, but the project seems dead.
Trailer to
Fire And Ice:

Night Warning
(1983, dir. William Asher)

Aka Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker; Momma's Boy; Nightmare Maker; Thrilled to Death and The Evil Protégé. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema says: "This incestuous destructothon easily ranks among the most perfect and under-appreciated slashers of the golden '80s." Susan Tyrrell herself, however, was not fond of this film — but then, as she once said, she hated the movies that "I had to do that were all that were left for me."
As the over-possessive Aunt Cheryl, she has the core scenery-chewing role in this cult horror film by William Asher, a director who specialized primarily in TV series but also did a yitload of Beach movies — Muscle Beach Party (1964 / trailer), anyone? — as well as rare fun stuff like The 27th Day (1957 / trailer) and Johnny Cool (1963 / trailer); Night Warning is one of his last films.
According to The World's Greatest Critic, the film, which garnered placement on Great Britain's list of banned video nasties, "is one of 14 still banned in the UK today. This brings us to the very violent and bloody aspects of Night Warning that managed to get the damned thing banned in England! There are plenty of blood geysers here, some of which splash on naked body parts. The underlying suggestion of incest doesn't help matters either, nor does Aunt Cheryl's creative methods for keeping Billy under her control. The unsettling thing here, if one allows oneself to get that interested in this film, is the fact that just about everyone is potentially a rotten human being."
Trailer to
Night Warning:
The plot as no longer found at Wikipedia: "The movie tells of bigoted police detective Joe Carlson (Bo Svenson), whose homophobia leads him to try to frame high school basketball player Billy Lynch (Jimmy McNichol) for the murder of a television repairman when he becomes convinced that the killing was the result of a homosexual love triangle. Unbeknownst to the detective, Billy's aunt Cheryl (Susan Tyrrell) is the real killer; having harboured incestuous fantasies towards Billy for years, his impending graduation has caused long dormant homicidal urges to resurface. Joe's continued plaguing of Billy causes Cheryl to become progressively more unstable, ultimately jeopardizing the lives of everyone around her."
A young Julia Duffy, playing Billy's gal Julia, looks damn good in her nude scene. The film can be found at Internet Archives.

What's Up, Hideous Sun Demon
(1983, dir. Craig Mitchell & Robert Clarke)
A.k.a. Revenge of the Sun Demon. Robert Clarke needs no introduction to fans of Z-films — his autobiography To "B" or Not to "B" is a wonderful look into the world of bad films from the mid-20th century from a good-natured man who was part of it: he acted in dozens of classic B and Z films (and a rare A film) all the way up into the 80s, including The Man from Planet X (1951 / trailer), The Astounding She-Monster (1957 / trailer), The Incredible Petrified World (1957 / full film), Beyond the Time Barrier (1960 / trailer), Terror of the Bloodhunters (1962 / full film), and Frankenstein Island (1981 / full film). 
The Hideous Sun Demon (1959), in which he also starred, was his only directorial project. In 1983, Craig Mitchell took the film and, with Clarke's permission, pulled a — see the similarity in titles here? — What's Up Tiger Lily? (1965 / trailer) on the film: he redubbed it, added a few new shots, and changed it into a comedy about suntan lotion that works from the inside out and has side effects (an obsession with sex, sex, sex). Jay Leno is part of the voiceover cast, which also includes Susan Tyrrell: she supplies the voice for the ditsy Barbie, played in the original by Nan Peterson (of Louisiana Hussy [1959 / full film] and the Ed Wood Jr-scripted Shotgun Wedding [1963 / trailer]).
Craig Mitchell, by the way, has yet to direct another film, but he has written the scripts to a couple of horror films: Highwaymen (2004 / trailer), Komodo (1999 / trailer) and the abysmal Milo (1998).
Trailer to the original 1959 film,
The Hideous Sun Demon:


(1984, dir. Robert Vincent O'Neill)
A "classic" of 80s exploitation written and directed by forgotten exploitation auteur Robert Vincent O'Neill (15 Sept 1930 — 12 Mar 2022), whose career began as a writer on The Mighty Gorga (1969 / trailer) and seems to have ended after his he supplied the story for the 1993 direct-to-video C. Thomas Howell vehicle, Jailbait (trailer). In-between, he directed some fondly remembered unadulterated grindhouse trash — usually from his own script — like The Psycho Lover (1970 / trailer), Blood Mania (1970 / trailer) and Wonder Women (1973 / trailer). He achieved the apex of his talents and career in the 80s, when he helped pen What Waits Below (1985 / trailer), Deadly Force (1983 / trailer) and Vice Squad (1982 / trailer) as well as writing and directing this film, Angel, and its first sequel Avenging Angel the following year, both of which were mostly shot on location in Hollywood.
Angel is a remarkable chaste piece of sleaze for a film about a 15-year-old-hooker (played by then 27-year-old Donna Wilkes) doing tricks since she was 12, but almost enough people die to make up for it — let's call it "sleaze lite". At his blog, Dr Gore explains the plot: "One thing you can say about the tag line for Angel: it didn't lie. So Angel is a high school honour student by day and a Hollywood hooker by night. She hangs out with other ladies of the night and tries to earn some money. A mad killer (John Diehl) is stalking Hollywood Blvd. and wants to slice and dice some hookers. Angel won't stand for it. She's got a gun that's bigger than she is and she can't wait to use it."
Rory Calhoun is oddly touching as the has-been western star Kit Carson, and Tyrrell is rather enjoyable as Angel's painter landlord Solly Mosler, but we personally thought the flick could have done without Angel's father figure, the intensely fake transi transgender Mae (Dick Shawn).
Trailer to

The Killers

(1984, dir. Patrick Roth)

Here's an oddity in her career that few people have seen: a 40-minute short film directed by the German writer Patrick Roth, based on Charles Bukowski's story The Killers, which appears in his collection South of No North. Bukowski, in the style of Hitchcock or Rod Serling, introduces the tale himself; Susan Tyrrell appears somewhere in it as "Susu, Second Ragpicker" — that's her in the photo from the film shown below.
All Movie says "In this disturbing independent film, a petty thief meets a former insurance agent and asks the agent to join him on a robbery in Beverly Hills. Though he thinks the job will be easy, he is sadly mistaken. What follows are horrific scenes of violence and torture." Basically, in the course of the robbery they awaken the couple and follow the precept of "no witnesses," but first take advantage of the presence of free pussy. The twist to the tale is that they forget to take the stolen goods with them...

(1985, dir. Paul Verhoeven)
Paul Verhoeven's first Hollywood production, after finally catching the industry's attention with The Fourth Man (1983 / trailer), which was rather a hit in the USA. Flesh+Blood, set in Italy at the start of the 16th century, is a decidedly non-Hollywood take on the times: violent, filthy and far from idealized — although the girls do still wear make-up.
To reduce the plot to its simplest: Flesh+Blood tells a tale of a group of mercenaries and lowlife led by Martin (Rutger Hauer) who, betrayed by a city ruler Arnolfini (Fernando Hilbeck), end up capturing Agnes (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the bride-to-be of Arnolfini's son Steven (Tom Burlinson) and take refuge in a castle emptied by the plague. Soon, Martin and Agnes are a couple, but then Steven shows up to fight for his bride... 
Susan Tyrrell has a small but notable supporting part as Celine, a prostitute carrying the child of Martin, which is stillborn. The film is far more multi-layered and interesting than the previous plot description makes it seem — it is a seriously good film well worth seeing.
Trailer to
Avenging Angel
(1985, dir. Robert Vincent O'Neill)

Angel's back! Only now she's played by Betsy Russell (of Chain Letter [2010 / trailer], Camp Fear [1991 / trailer] and Cheerleader Camp [1988 / trailer]). Nevertheless, Avenging Angel is relatively chaste and oddly un-sleazy for an exploitation film — just like part one. In Avenging Angel, the real-life one year between films has turned to into an in-film four years, and Molly is long off the streets and on the way to becoming a lawyer. But then Lt. Andrews (Robert F. Lyons), the cop that got her off the streets, is murdered — so Molly pulls out her old working clothes and gun and walks the street to revenge his death. Andrews' murder was witnessed by the film's least realistic and most annoying character, Johnny Glitter (Barry Pearl), and Molly pulls in her old friends — Yo-Yo Charlie (Steven M. Porter), Solly (Tyrrell), and Kit Carson (Rory Calhoun) — to track him down. Things get complicated when Solly's baby gets taken by the bad guys...
In all truth, Avenging Angel is far from a good film — when we saw it in L.A. when it came out, the audience threw popcorn at the screen — but it does flit by easily enough whenever Johnny Glitter isn't around...
Despite being a relative flop, two more sequels followed — Angel III: The Final Chapter (1988 / trailer) and Angel 4: Undercover (1993 / opening credits) — neither made by Robert Vincent O'Neill or featuring Tyrrell, but both featuring different starlets as Angel (Mitzi Kapture and Darlene Vogel, respectively). Both films flopped.
Trailer to
Avenging Angel:

Poker Alice

(1987, dir. Arthur Allan Seidelman)

One of many TV appearances that Tyrrell made in the 80s, in this TV movie she plays "Mad Mary" — but the true star is, of course, Liz Taylor in her twilight years: she plays the title character in this "true" story about Poker Alice (17 Feb 1851 — 27 Feb 1930), photo further below, who, as Wikipedia puts it, "was the best known female poker player in the American West."
Trailer to
Poker Alice:
The plot, according to Herman Seifer at imdb: "Alice Moffit (Taylor), 'Poker Alice', has been disowned by her Boston family because of her incurable penchant for gambling. She is travelling the West with her cousin, John (George Hamilton), when she wins a house in a poker game on a train. The 'house' turns out to be a bordello, which she decides to run until she can sell it. She falls for a bounty hunter, Jeremy Collins (Tom Skerritt), who is about to settle down in California. Marrying him would mean ending the life-long relationship between the two cousins."
What makes Poker Alice of interest to us here at a wasted life is its director, the unknown but still active director Arthur Allan Seidelman. Aside from innumerable TV movies of little interest like this one, most importantly he also gave us Arnold Schwarzenegger's first feature film lead, Hercules in New York (1969) — one of the most stupid films ever made. And we put Poker Alice in this career review — sorry, Susan — only as an excuse to show that film's trailer.
Trailer to
Hercules in New York:

The Chipmunk Adventure
(1987, dir. Janice Karman)
Everyone has to pay the rent. Susan Tyrrell supplies the voice for the character Claudia Furschtien in this installment of the Chipmunks franchise directed by Janice Karman, her only "feature film" directorial credit to date; she usually supplies the voice of Theodore. At imdb, Corey Semple  (corey.semple@earthlink.com) explains the plot of the film as follows: "Alvin has entered himself and Simon and Theodore in a hot-air balloon race around the world against the Chipettes to deliver diamonds for a group of diamond smugglers. The winners will collect a prize of $100,000. Kids and adults will enjoy this film made with musical numbers by the Chipmunks and the Chipettes."
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this film is that its director, Janice Karman, began her career as an actress appearing in the following more-noteworthy films: Switchblade Sisters (1975 / trailer) and Wam Bam Thank You Spaceman (1975).
Trailer to
The Chipmunk Adventure:

The Offspring
(1987, dir. Jeff Burr)

Aka From a Whisper to a Scream. Director Jeff Burr is a prolific producer of B and Z films of the kind that once filled the grindhouses but are now relegated straight-to-video/DVD or never get released because they are meant merely as tax write-offs. The Offspring, his second film, was his first horror outing; it is an anthology film in which, in the Tennessee town of Oldfield, Beth Chandler (Tyrrell), a reporter, is told four tales of horror by a historian (Vincent Price), tales that seem to represent the small town as a centre of evil. Aside from Tyrrell and Price, the cast features some other nice names: Clu Gulager, Rosalind Cash, Cameron Mitchell, Laurence Tierney, Angelo Rossitto and Martine Beswick.
Once upon a time it was written at Wikipedia that Price hated the film, and wrote to a friend: "You're right about From a Whisper to a Scream — terrible! My agent misrepresented it and I was trapped in it"
DVD Drive-In has a slightly better opinion of the film: "From a Whisper to a Scream was obviously done with little money, and some of the stories run longer than they should, with most of them being predictable. But you have to give the filmmakers credit for assembling a great cast, including a decent genre role for an elderly Price... [...] This quartet of vignettes is pretty sick and disturbing (picture a middle-aged man giving his incest-verged sister a nude ice bath or a young boy carving out a soldier's eye to plant it on the face of a mutilated little girl), and are aided by some gruesome special effects by Rob Burman (The Thing [1982 / trailer]). Giving each story a different time backdrop makes for somewhat effective, yet shoestring Gothic horror. With a true horror film legend playing host to the wraparound segments, a treasure trove of great character actors in sleazy roles, and diverse stories all with a shock value edge to them, From a Whisper to a Scream is by no means a classic but well worth a look."
Trailer to
From a Whisper to a Scream:
The Under Achievers
(1987, dir. Jackie Kong)
Supposedly a.k.a. as Night School. There isn't much info out there on this film, the last of four decidedly odd feature films from Kong, a cult flash-in-the-pan of the 80s: the passable mutant killer monster flick The Being (1983 / trailer), the lame comedy Night Patrol (1984 / trailer), the great gore cult comedy Blood Diner (1987 / trailer), and this totally unknown and forgotten and mostly lame comedy.
A scene with
Tyrrell & Barbara Carrera:
Back when she still had a website, Kong gave virtually no details on The Under Achievers, and simply re-used the only review of the film to be found in imdb (written by Nullness, who couldn't follow the film). We prefer, however, to use the plot description by Dan Pavlides once found at Answers.com: "Danny Warren (Edward Albert) is a former minor-league shortstop who becomes a narc to uncover drug dealing in this situation comedy. Investigating at a high-school adult-education class, he falls for the tempting teacher Katherine, played by the exotic Barbara Carrera. Danny forgets the reward of $10,000 per arrest when he elects to continue his 'education.' He joins a colorful group of characters that includes ex-cons, illegal aliens, and brain-dead baby boomers who cause more trouble than their younger counterparts. Swimming classes and wine tasting serve as background for a series of comic catastrophes. Danny soon suspects Katherine's colleague Mrs. Grant (Susan Tyrrell) of being in cahoots with the drug dealers, and Katherine and Mrs. Grant have a prolonged fight scene that is memorably funny."
The scene presented below is the film's closing, but it seems to be edited, for according Nullness, "The movie ends with what seems like an honest plea to let adults take night school for a better education, then cuts to the 'graduation night' festivities and the drag-queen prom queen being shot by some guy." The shooting is missing from the clip below.
Closing scene of
The Under Achievers:

Big Top Pee-wee
(1988, dir. Randal Kleiser)
Susan Tyrrell is easy to overlook in this film, in which she plays Midge Montana. (Literally: Her character is only a few inches tall.) Three years after Pee-wee's cinematic début with Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985 / trailer), which was directed by Tim Burton, the second Pee-wee Herman film is given to the man who directed such heterosexual films as Grease (1978 / trailer) and The Blue Lagoon (1980 / trailer) — with no noticeable reduction in quality, as far as quality can be spoken of in a Pee-wee film.
Teaser trailer to
Big Top Pee-wee:
Video Detective calls the film a "disappointing follow-up to Pee-wee's Big Adventure, this time about a travelling circus and a love triangle. Whoever would have thought that two women, let alone one, would want Pee-Wee?" Their critique reveals a major failure in getting the joke. Look for Benicio Del Toro making his film début, without makeup, as Duke the Dog-Faced Boy, and the ever-hubba-hubba Valeria Golino as one of the love interests.
Whereas Pee-wee and co. fight against and overcome the mean-spirited and small-minded nearby small town in this film, three years later Pee-wee lost his career to a mean-spirited and small-minded nation when he got caught massaging his noodle in a porno theatre in Florida, a state where most men don't even have noodles (they're illegal there).

(1988, dir. Bill Fishman)
Director Bill Fishman began his seventeen-year career of directing an occasional quirky offbeat comedy that no one ever saw — Car 54, Where Are You? (1994 / trailer) or My Dinner with Jimi (2000 / full film) anyone? — with this cult comedy starring a still relatively unfamiliar, almost adult John Cusack (Grifters [trailer] was still two years away) and a still-rebounding Tim Robbins (Howard the Duck [trailer] had occurred only 2 years previously) and featuring a yitload of guest appearances from famous as well long-forgotten stars and musicians — even Michael Nesmith makes a brief appearance in this thing (but then, he's also one of the producers).
Roscoe's Rap from
Susan Tyrrell plays "Nikki Morton", but as we've never seen the film we have no idea her role is in comparison to, say, those of such other notable (non-musician) names like Doug McClure, Connie Stevens and Clu Gulager.
Mutant Reviewers has a clear opinion of the film: "This movie is juvenile. It's kinda gross. There's poop jokes and sex jokes and lots of T and A. Basically, it's a masterpiece." At imdb, Riotgear (of the United States) supplies the following plot description: "Tapeheads is a surprisingly perfect satire of the eighties made at the end of the eighties. It is very funny, with an intelligent script and great dialogue. Fine comedic performances by Cusack and Robbins. Multiple intertwined plots. There is a love story between a female artist and Robbins' nerdy video artist. A self-help guide with Cusack trying to better himself and his buddy. A music marathon with wonderful performances. A corrupt politician caught in a delicious scandal. All this combined with a hysterical dysfunctional family drama make for a thoroughly wacky and wild time. The soundtrack is fabulous too."
From the film —
Devo's Baby Doll:
Far from Home
(1989, dir. Meiert Avis)
A rare feature film from music video director Meiert Avis. Drew Barrymore, at the age of 13, had just bottomed out as a child drug and alcohol abuser — in fact, she was technically still in rehab when she made this film — and Far from Home was the first film of her brief B-film phase during her teens that, as far as we here at a wasted life are concerned, was the best phase of her career. It includes appearances in the surreal Motorama (1991 / trailer further below); the trashy Poison Ivy (1992 / trailer); Guncrazy (1992 / trailer); Doppelganger (1993 / trailer), the last of which had a, uh, "nice" nude scene in which she premièred her surgically reduced boobs; the generally forgotten No Place to Hide (1993 / trailer); and the proto-feminist western Bad Girls (1994 / trailer), in which she also bared her boobs but basically made the full jump back to full Hollywood respectability.
In Far from Home, Susan Tyrrell plays Agnes Reed, the owner of the trailer park where 14-year-old Joleen Cox (Drew) and her dad Charlie Cox (Matt Frewer) get stuck when they run out of gas. As the nymphet Joleen — cringe as she asks "Did you ever do it?" — attracts the attention of the two local youths, it becomes obvious that a serial killer is on the loose in the small Nevada town. (Agnes gets electrocuted to death when the killer pushes an electric fan into her bathwater.)
Trailer to
Far from Home:

Document of the Dead
(1989, dir. Roy Frumkes)
Roy Frumkes is not a well-known name, but he once wrote a criminally underrated and hilariously sick film titled Street Trash (1987 / trailer). Document of the Dead, as the title implies, is a documentary about George Romero originally made by Frumkes as a teaching aid for the film class he was teaching.
Japanese promo for
Document of the Dead:
Initially shot in 1978 while Romero was making the original Dawn of the Dead (1978 / trailer), ten years later Frumkes added footage of Romero making his segment of Two Evil Eyes (1990 / trailer) and released the documentary commercially. Document of the Dead also covers Romero's true masterpiece, Night of the Living Dead (1968 / trailer) and his unjustly under-appreciated Martin (1976 / trailer). Mildly interesting, with talking heads galore — Susan Tyrrell, who never participated in a Romero film, does the voiceover narration.

(1990, dir. John Waters)
The second of the two films John Waters made during his very brief "super-cute and nostalgic film" phase, which started with the original version of Hairspray (1988 / trailer). Cry-Baby is also the first of Johnny Depp's "interesting" lead feature-film roles (he followed it with Edward Scissorhands [1990 / trailer] and, as we all know, hasn't stopped didn't stop going for the fun since until his film career hit the Amber Heard snag). Amy Locane, who played Allison, Depp's romantic interest in the film, famously had her eternally faltering career ended by a manslaughter conviction, twice over, for driving while drunk.
The rest of the killer cast of Cry-Baby includes appearances — some for only seconds — by Joe Dallesandro, Mink Stole, Troy Donahue, Traci Lords, Polly Bergen, Mary Vivian Pearce, Willem Dafoe, Patricia Hearst, David Nelson, Joey Heatherton, Iggy Pop and, of course, Susan Tyrrell — the last two playing Belvedere and Ramona Rickettes, Cry-Baby's loving white-trash grandparents. As Ramona, Tyrrell shoots gophers and plays darts using a picture of the Queen as her target and tells one dude the truth: "You're everything a man should be: young, stupid and mean."
Roger Ebert says the film is "a passable imitation of a 1950s teenage exploitation movie", but Cry-Baby is also a fun and nostalgic homage to everything that way cool in the 50s: In Baltimore, good girl Allison (Amy Locane), tired of being good, falls for bad boy Cry-Baby (Depp) much to the chagrin of her square good-boy boyfriend Baldwin (Stephen Mailer), who manages to get Cry-Baby sent to jail; more soap opera twists and turns and musical numbers follow until all's well that ends well. A film, like Hairspray, that you can watch with the whole family, now even available in a "Director's Cut".
Trailer to
(1990, dir. Luca Bercovici)
Rockula is the second film of director Luca Bercovici — his first being Ghoulies (1985 / trailer) — a man whose face is much more familiar than his name (aside from his occasional script and directorial jobs, he's an active character actor). Once upon a time, the now defunct website AwesomeBMovies.com said that Rockula is "an awesome b movie". Stomp Tokyo points out that the film, which was made in 1988 but only released in 1990, "has the distinction of being possibly the last of the Golan-Globus Cannon films", and also says "Rockula is probably the best vampire farce you've never seen." Mutant Reviewers from Hell, also now a dead site, once gave the film "14 out of 15 hot redheads clubbed with ham bones". The Man Cave, which once upon a time admitted to needing a "handful of times" to finally get past the film's start, also said "Rockula is actually a hilarious and dare I say undiscovered classic cult flick that needs to be seen by a larger audience."
Yep, but as it is, and as yet another dead site, B-Movie Chicks.com, once said: "Rockula is the cult flick that never was. [...] If this movie got wider distribution and marketing back in the day, I'm sure it would be among cheeseball classics such as Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988 / trailer) and Rock & Roll High School (1979 / trailer)." So, let's leave it Leonard Maltin to disagree with the few other that have ever seen the film in his 2003 Movie & Video Guide: "Teen-age vampire [Dean] Cameron is unable to lose his virginity because of a centuries-old curse. Pretty stale stuff; of interest only for — but not redeemed by — the presence of [Bo] Diddley." Susan Tyrell plays "Chuck the Bartender", the singing (!) bartender to whom the teen vampire shares his troubles while drowning in them.
Trailer to

(1991, dir. Barry Shils)
Drew Barrymore isn't the only person to have a cameo appearance in this surreal road movie written by Joseph Minion (he also wrote the mildly amusing After Hours [1985 / trailer] and the decidedly bonkers Vampire's Kiss [1988 / trailer]), there's also Flea, Jack Nance, Garrett Morris, Mary Woronov, Vince Edwards, Dick Miller, Meat Loaf and, the reason the film is even here, Tyrrell as a bartender.
Trailer to
Plot, taken from Wikipedia: "A ten-year-old runaway boy (played by Jordan Christopher Michael) on a road trip for the purpose of collecting game pieces (cards) from the fictional 'Chimera' gas stations, in order to spell out the word M-O-T-O-R-A-M-A. By doing so he will supposedly win the grand prize of $500 million." Four years later, director Barry Shils followed this, his debut film, with the documentary Wigstock: The Movie (1995 / trailer).
Dolly Parton's song to Motorama

The Demolitionist
(1995, dir. Robert Kurtzman)
Richard Grieco (of Webs [2003] and Raiders of the Damned [2005]) was still sorta good-looking when he played the bad guy in this flick, a female knock-off of Robocop (1987 / trailer) — or Cyborg Cop (1993 / trailer), if you prefer — that signaled the downward spiral of his non-career.
The Demolitionist is the first film of prolific special effects/make-up artist Robert Kurtzman, whose limited directorial output of other genre films consists of the equally entertaining films Deadly Impact (2010 / trailer), The Rage (2007 / trailer), Buried Alive (2007 / trailer) and Wishmaster (1997). Tyrrell has a sizeable role in the film as Mayor Eleanor Grimbaum — you even see her in the trailer, for a change. The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review, which says that "The Demolitionist reminds of Barb Wire (1996 / trailer), made the same year as this and likewise featured a Baywatch (1989-2001) bimbo in an anarchic near future action setting," offers the following plot description: "It is in the future. Undercover police officer Alyssa Lloyd (Nicole 'Baywatch Bimbo' Eggert of Decoys [2004]) is discovered trying to infiltrate the gang of Mad Dog Burns (Grieco). Mad Dog leaves her crucified as a warning in his ongoing campaign to destroy Mayor Eleanor Grimbaum (Tyrrell) who has banned all guns. However, Mayor Grimbaum authorizes Alyssa to be used as the first subject in Professor Jack Crowley's (Bruce Abbott) Lazarus Project where her blood is replaced by nantotech plasma and she rebuilt as an enhanced human fighting machine. Using a hi-tech motorcycle and a masked bodysuit, Alyssa takes on Mad Dog's gang. She is quickly nicknamed The Demolitionist by the media. But Mad Dog retaliates by trying to use his influences in the council and having The Lazarus Project stopped by showing Alyssa to be unstable."
Trailer to
The Demolitionist:

Digital Man

(1995, dir. Phillip J. Roth)
When talking of the acting of the familiar faces that flit through this obscure and justifiably unknown Z-film — it features Don Swayze, fer Christ's sake — the blog The Barbaric Bs of Schlocky Creek says: "The most fun character is a gun-toting granny [named Mildred Hodges] played by the always-lively Susan Tyrrell, who is on screen too briefly to be able to ham it up [...]."
The plot, according to David Gibson (djg6@ukc.ac.uk) at imdb: "An out-of-control robot is inadvertently set loose in a small community, and a crack squad of soldiers is sent to hunt it down. Gradually, the members of the squad begin to suspect that some of them are robots." More or less a sci-fi western due to its sun-burnt setting and basic plotline — imagine The Magnificent Seven (1960 / trailer) in which the cowboys are all cyborgs who think they're cowboys — Digital Man, like all Phillip J. Roth's films, is pure unadulterated poverty-row cheez, the kind that goes well with a six-pack, a couple of joints and a group of farting and burping and loudly guffawing bad-movie fans.
Trailer to
Digital Man:

(1995, dir. Victor Salva)
Will the day ever arrive when people write of a Victor Salva film without mentioning his 1988 conviction and subsequent 15 months in jail for molesting (and videotaping the act with) a 12-year-old boy who acted in both Salva's attention-getting short film Something in the Basement (1986) and his subsequent first feature-length debut Clownhouse (1989 / trailer)? Probably not. In any event, the guy Salva did the dirty to no longer has a film career, but Salva remains a successful and employed filmmaker.
Trailer to
Powder is the most art-film like of all Salva's genre films, and definitely far better a film than his inexplicably popular Jeepers Creepers (2001 / trailer), the most recent installment of which, the fourth, Jeepers Creepers: Reborn (trailer), came out in 2022. Better film or not, Powder is slow and rather pompous. Plot: Albino outsider with special powers doesn't fit in the cruel, rural world. (Where's Prof. X when ya need him?) Tyrrell's in there somewhere as "Maxine", but we've forgotten where and for how long.
Trailer to the Bollywood remake,
Alag (2006):

Tales from the Crypt: Comes the Dawn
(Season 6, Episode 13)
(1995, dir. John Herzfeld)
Plot: Two asshole hunters (Bruce Payne and Michael Ironside) go the Buttfuck, Alaska, to do some illegal hunting and suddenly become the prey themselves when their guide (Vivian Wu) double-crosses them. Tyrrell has a rather juicy part in this episode of the classic TV series as Mona the bartender, the story of which is based on Jack Davis's tale of the same name found in Haunt of Fear #26 (the original cover is below — the tale was not the cover story).
The illustration underneath the episode title above is the splash page used by the Crypt Keeper when he introduces the story. The greedy prospector of the original comic book is changed to two poachers in the TV episode. The twist ending of Comes the Dawn was later used as a driving plot point of the films 30 Days into Night (2007 / trailer) and Frostbite (2006 / trailer). Director John Herzfeld went on to direct Charlize Theron's feature film debut, the extremely Tarantinoesque ensemble crime film 2 Days in the Valley (1996 / trailer), and 15 Minutes (2001 / trailer), one of those Robert De Niro films in which he is made out to be a star of but disappears ten minutes into the film.
Tyrrell's death in
Comes the Dawn:
Pink as the Day She Was Born
(1997, dir. Steve Hall)
An independent film that also seems to already be a lost or at least forgotten film, Pink as the Day She Was Born doesn't seem to have been seen by anyone. The image shown above is the only one of the film that we could location anywhere on the web. Co-produced by Linda Perry, the lead singer of the band 4 Non Blondes — if you don't remember the name, you'll remember their hit below — and with a cast that includes Nicole Eggert, Margaret Cho, Mink Stole and Susan Tyrrell (as "Lana"), according to the NY Times the films tells the tale of how "would-be rock singer Cherry (Alanna Ubach) flees Arizona for Los Angeles' seedy Sunset Strip where she is befriended by a sex parlor worker. Cherry takes a job in the sex trade while searching for a band that can support her burgeoning talent."
4 Non Blondes'
What's Up?:
TCM says the film, which Margaret Cho — pictured below as her Rhinestone Cowboy character of the film — once described as "one of those things you'll rent at the video store in 20 years", was shown at Outfest '97: The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. 
According to a webpage from some online Nicole Eggert fan website, at the Los Angeles Film Festival Pink as the Day She Was Born won an award as the "Best Narrative Feature Not Suited For All Audiences."
Scene from
Pink as the Day She Was Born:

Poison Ivy: The New Seduction
 (1997, dir. Kurt Voss)
Kurt Voss, the guitarist for The Hindi Guns, directed this direct-to-video third installment of the Poison Ivy franchise — the original, from 1992 (trailer), features the not entirely baby-fat-free Drew Barrymore, while Poison Ivy II: Lily (1996 / trailer) features the curves of Alyssa Milano. A series that couldn't be killed for a while, 11 years after this film here there was a distantly related TV movie added to the franchise, 2008's Poison Ivy: The Secret Society (trailer).
For Poison Ivy: The New Seduction, instead of a getting a familiar name trying to break her child career mould, the producers went for someone totally new who was willing to get naked a lot: Jaime Pressly (of Demon Island [2002]). Heterosexual male viewers seem to like Poison Ivy: The New Seduction. Good ol' Dr Gore gives the flick a score of "3 out of 4 seductive Presslys", pointing out the obvious reason why men like the film: "The most important thing to know about Poison Ivy: The New Seduction is that Jaime Pressly does get naked. [...] Jaime Pressly is a nuclear sex bomb. That voice. That body. That face. Seeing her leap out of a pool naked in slow motion..." 
At the dead website Yellow Ape Production, Jim Haggerty once rated the film an 8 of 10, saying: "Hands down, the best of the Poison Ivy series — a dubious honour, to be sure, but this sex-drenched soap opera gets its hooks into you early on and never lets go." Haggerty also takes the time out from grooving on the boobs and sex to notice that "the legendary Susan Tyrrell is a hoot as the current maid". Yep, Tyrrell is the maid, Mrs. B, who just knows that this film's poison ivy, "Violet", ain't up to no good.
Plot, according to the currently dead website DVD Verdict: "Violet (Pressly) is the sister of Ivy from the first movie (we'll forget that Ivy wasn't the first movie's Lolita's real name — it was given on the fly by Sara Gilbert). Her mother's life was ruined after being discovered in an affair with the father of her best friend Joy (Megan Edwards). Eleven years later Ivy is dead and Violet has grown into the loveliest young psychopath you'd ever want to bring home. She moves home and supposedly just drops by to visit her old best friend Joy, but obviously has more in mind. In a plot device that stretches your sense of belief, Joy immediately moves a girl she hasn't seen since she was ten into her palatial home. Of course Violet wants to seduce the father and become the most important member of the family, killing anyone in her way."
Trailer to
Poison Ivy: The New Seduction
Relax... It's Just Sex
(1998, dir. P.J. Castellaneta)
Relax... It's Just Sex is an independent ensemble film, shot on the meager budget of $250,000 that, for a change, is mostly about the daily whine and grind of gay and lesbian life in the-then contemporary USA instead of that of contemporary hetero Gen-Xers or yuppies. The plot, according to John Sacksteder (jsackste@bellsouth.net) at imdb: "A mixed group of individuals — lesbian, gays, and heterosexuals who all frequent a local bar struggle to accept each other's lifestyles. However when the two gays are attacked and fight back and ultimately rape one of their attackers, the group becomes strongly divided on their actions. Jennifer Tilly (of American Strays [1996] and Bride of Chucky [1998]) is the mother hen of the group who tries to hold everyone together. The lesbian lovers break up when one admits to having an affair with a man."
Susan Tyrrell plays Alicia Pillsbury, the mama of lesbian Megan (Serena Scott Thomas of The Thirst [2006 / trailer]), the latter who, after cheating on her gal of nine years with a man, decides she wants to go mainstream again. (Alicia Pillsbury's response: "What are we going to say to our friends at PFLAG.* That's what I would like to know.")
* PFLAG — Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. 
Film Threat, which says "this appears to be just another entry in the glut of ensemble cast dramedies which [have] flooded the market", manages to be homophobe even as they try to be liberal and hip: "[...] Virtually all the characters are gay or lesbian. I suppose this was inevitable. Necessary and appropriate, even. After all, homosexuals have every bit as much of a right to bitch and moan about their lousy love lives, philosophize about the meanings of life and death, and just generally spew their existential angst for about an hour and a half as straight folks." (Do Blacks have the same right to do so as whites, we wonder... oh, excuse us — was that a subliminally racist question?) Still, they do point out one fact that it takes longer to list/describe the characters than to state the plot because "the interactions between these people ARE the plot".
Trailer to
Relax... It's Just Sex:
Buddy Boy
(1999, dir. Mark Hanlon)
Director Mark Hanlon went on from this independent directorial début to write the screenplay to the overly maligned horror flick Ghost Ship (2002 / trailer). With Buddy Boy, however, we're in non-commercial personal film territory: this tale is of another resident of the apartment complex in which Dorothy Vallens* once lived: Francis (Aidan Gillen of Wake Wood [2011 / trailer]) is a stuttering and unnaturally shy social misfit; extremely religious, his miserable world consists of tending his shrill, alcoholic invalid mother Sal (Tyrrell, of course) and his dead-end job at a photo lab, where he vicariously experiences the lives in the photos. Discovering a hole under the stairs, he is soon spying on his attractive French neighbour, Gloria (Emmanuelle Seigner of Nirvana [1996]). Saving her from a mugging, a dinner invitation leads to the exchange of body fluids and, as she is a modern gal and he a religious mental mess, things get a bit insane... a lot of nudity but few real answers in this dank exercise of extreme oddness.
Once upon a time, some efilm critic said that "Susan Tyrrell hams it up in a cartoony and silly over-the-top performance" and seems to have found this film here very depressing, bemoaning that: "Buddy Boy is yet another example of dreary, dysfunctional indie fare. [...] Mark Hanlon indulges in heavy religious symbolism while taking on heavy subject matter such as cannibalism, transsexuals, child abduction and murder, no less. Hence, this is not light, comedy fun for the whole family. Hanlon takes on many a dysfunction which inadvertently, I hope, depresses his audience with a bombardment of misery over and over and over again. It starts out too much and only gets worse."
* "Dorothy Vallens" was Isabella Rossellini's character in Blue Velvet (1986 / trailer).
First 15 minutes:
Masked and Anonymous
(2003, dir. Larry Charles)
Shot in 20 days on digital video, Masked and Anonymous is the feature film directorial début of Larry Charles, who went on to do the much better films Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006 / trailer), Brüno (2009 / trailer) and more. The co-scriptwriter "Sergei Petrov" is no one less than Bob Dylan, who also stars in this film — by 2003, he had obviously finally managed to forget his other equally obscure cinematic, uh, ego stroke Renaldo and Clara (1978) and was willing to take part in another vanity piece.
As Roger Ebert rightly states, "Bob Dylan idolatry is one of the enduring secular religions of our day." And it is a religion heavily practised in Hollywood, seeing the list of names of Tinsel-town denizens that took pay cuts to appear in this film, some but for seconds, including: Jeff Bridges, Penélope Cruz, John Goodman, Jessica Lange Luke Wilson, Angela Bassett, Bruce Dern, Ed Harris, Val Kilmer, Cheech Marin, Chris Penn, Giovanni Ribisi, Mickey Rourke, Christian Slater, Fred Ward and, of course Susan Tyrrell (you see her, as "Ella the Fortune Teller," all of one second in the background in the trailer). Ebert summarizes the film's "plot" as follows: [A] nation in the throes of post-revolutionary chaos. This is 'a ravaged Latin American country' (Variety) or perhaps 'a sideways allegory about an alternative America' (Salon). It was filmed in run-down areas of Los Angeles, nudge, nudge. A venal rock promoter named Uncle Sweetheart (Goodman) and his brassy partner, Nina Veronica (Lange), decide to spring Jack Fate (Dylan) from prison to give a benefit concert to raise funds for poverty relief (maybe) and Uncle and Nina (certainly)."
The now dead Mr. Cranky once bitched that the film teaches you "that Dylan was more full of himself than a naked Tommy Lee on a heroin binge", while The Onion says that Dylan is "an icon and he delivers an icon's performance, literally: He could easily have been replaced by piece of wood with his face painted on it". One hates to imagine what the three-hour version of Masked and Anonymous is like.
Trailer to
Masked and Anonymous:
The Boneyard Collection
(2008, dir. Edward L. Plumb)
Director Edward L. Plumb made his odd horror comedy anthology film (hosted by Dr. Acula [Forrest J. Ackerman]) over a period of roughly eight years, filming one episode at a time (the last two, however, were actually filmed in tandem). Susan Tyrrell, as the "High Priestess" appears in the second episode, The Devil's Due at Midnight, which was shot in 2004; her costars include the legendary George Kennedy, the too rarely seen Ken Foree (of From Beyond [1986 / trailer] and Death Spa [1990 / trailer]), and the great Brad Dourif.
The plot is about a coven of hot stuff witches who conjure up the devil (Dourif) and have to fend off the inept attacks of an the inefficient witch killer (Foree). The other episodes include Boogie with the Dead (girls' band vs. zombies), Her Morbid Desires (actress playing a vampire finds out all her costars are dying on set) and Cry of the Mummy (about the problems a mummy faces in the film industry).
Trailer to
The Boneyard Collection:
Pieces of Dolores
(2007, dir. Garth Twa)

The following is a re-written version of Garth Twa's own description of his farcical short: A crime has been committed — after finding the literal pieces of Dolores in a ditch (a foot, an ear, Tuesday's panties) Heart (Jeff Buhler) and his puppy-like partner Donder (Joshua McBride) stumble after the trail of the missing girl and meet an array of odd, ill-tempered, or outright grotesque witnesses, including John Fleck (of the NEA Four, which won the battle but lost the war) as Brad the rabid office manager, Susan Tyrrell as the neighbor with the bacterial face lift, and Mink Stole as Dolores's icy mother. Moving through some of the stranger precincts of Los Angeles, Heart is bullied by a dental receptionist with a fetish for axe murderers and struggles to keep up with Riverwalkers as they march through the bone-dry L.A. River. In the end, he is no closer to the truth than when he started.
Trailer to the short:
Flexing with Monty
(2010, dir. John Albo)
Tyrrell's involvement in this direct-to-video horror art film is rather distant: for whatever the reason may be, she supplies the voice for the character of Mrs. Nog, who is played by bit-player Melinda Peterson. Flexing with Monty is to date the only feature-length film by John Albo, a horror fanatic who, with fellow horror fan Danny DeVito, has founded The Blood Factory, where you can watch some nice sick horror shorts (for free!).
According to Wikipedia, shooting for Flexing with Monty began in 1994 and by the time it was completed in 2008, both its original producer and its male lead, Trevor Goddard, had died. The plot as once supplied at View Clips: "Monty (Goddard of Deep Rising [1998 / German trailer] and Hollywood Vampyr [2002 / trailer]) is a bodybuilder. His gym is the very heart of his existence. He is aggressively male, outrageously narcissistic and a bigot. Sharing this strange world is Monty's cerebral and emotionally wounded younger brother, Bertin (Rudi Davis). One stormy day, the brothers' bizarre but settled lives are suddenly disrupted by the unexpected arrival of Lilith (Sally Kirkland of Fatal Games [1984 / trailer] and Jack the Reaper [2011 / trailer]), a Catholic nun collecting contributions for an unusual cause. Lilith's arrival is the catalyst required to generate a momentous change in Bertin's relationship with his brother: a change that results in the astonishing and gruesome downfall of the vainglorious Monty."  
Trailer to
Flexing with Monty:
(2012, dir. David Zellner)
Susan Tyrrell's last completed project was this short film for the Austin-based independent filmmakers, the Zellner Brothers. The plot, as once given somewhere online by someone named Kristina Aikens: "Ten-year-old Annie (Sydney Aguirre) likes to destroy things. Like many a kid before her, Annie smashes stuff just to see what happens and tests the boundaries of her interactions with others. Without friends her own age or adult supervision, Annie wanders aimlessly, looking for something to capture her interest and wreaking havoc when the mood strikes her — which is often. But one day, she encounters something strange and mysterious in the woods, something completely out of her experience. Now Annie is challenged to tap into a feeling she's never been asked to show before: compassion for another human being." The mysterious thing in the woods is the voice of a woman named Esther coming up from the depths of an old well. Tyrrell plays Esther.
Trailer to

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