The Naff Nic Season: Zandalee (1991)

(Rating 18, 110 mins)

 

After quite literally getting a big net and trawling the world wide web, I managed to locate the seemingly forgotten Zandalee in some sad corner, cast away into the darkness never to be spoken of again like a weird cousin that keeps setting things on fire and dismembering cats. A straight to video release at the time, it has became a very minor footnote on both Nic Cage’s and (The Honorable) Judge Reinhold’s curriculum vitae.

 

We open with Zandalee herself, a bored, sexually frustrated shop owner. Unhappy in her marriage to ex-poet now corporate stooge Thierry (Reinhold (yes, i am aware how unbelievable it is watching Judge Reinhold play a man called Thierry never mind a man called Thierry who is a poet)), she seeks out excitement and passion by having a steamy affair with Thierry’s weird, greasy artist friend from a different life Johnny (Cage). The affair intensifies, Thierry becomes suspicious and what follows is semi-pornographic, frequently histrionic barrage of naked, sweaty skin and excessive shouting culminating in a ridiculous Shakespearean tragedy of an ending.

 

This is the kind of film Channel 5 would have broadcast when it first came to air, wedged between the bizarre documentaries they acquired about Hitler and sharks. There are boobs and bums at regular intervals, regular enough for it to garner an ‘erotic thriller’ tag, and strong enough to keep fans of the soft core porn variety of film-making quite happy. It also helps that Zandalee is played by Erika Anderson (known to some as Greta from Nightmare on Elm Street 5) who may not be the greatest actress in the world but certainly has the physical attributes to make her character believable enough to cause such a vicious love triangle. She also delves into the sex scenes with particular aplomb, her and Cage making all that gratuitous nudity between the pair surprisingly unembarrassing to watch. We also get a glimpse, and quite possibly only glimpse on celluloid, of Judge Reinhold’s butt so if that is the sort of thing you are searching for in your film watching experiences then Zandalee is for you.

 

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Cage’s performance is not his best, but we do get to see an absolutely cracking example of his ability to go completely over the top in a scene where Johnny, unable to take Zandalee’s decision to break off their affair, trashes his art studio, punching and ripping through various canvases while howling like a banshee who has stubbed their toe, before slopping great big dripping handfuls of black paint all over his naked chest and legs, and then slumping into a defeated lump in the corner.

 

Reinhold does his best in one of his first proper dramatic roles after his breakthrough in Beverly Hills Cop, but he’s not great. The only strong thing going for him is a gloriously bad moustache which hangs limply on his upper lip, like a hairy tentacle of aching sadness. I’m pretty sure that he and Cage were paid bonuses for their facial garnish as Cage himself turns up for the party with a terrible goatee party piece, the bottom half of which looks like a fluffy bollock.

 

As mentioned before, Anderson is not Meryl Streep, but she puts in a decent performance as the object of obsession. She spends most of film as the oasis of calm between two hysterical and overwrought performances from Cage and Reinhold, but as we inch towards the finale, her character joins the mire of screeching, sobbing and waving guns about.

 

The finale itself just needs Kenneth Williams to make it a very convincing but bleak Carry On Romeo and Juliet scene. Some drug dealers, only very briefly alluded to earlier in the film, enter stage right to make a massive impact on Johnny and Zandalee’s relationship. It’s such a bloody cop out of an ending and reeks of a bored screenwriter who just got to the last three pages and didn’t know how to wrap it up.

 

I’m going to go out on a limb and say this film isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It’s no Con Air or Leaving Las Vegas, but it certainly doesn’t deserve to be dangling in the doldrums with the likes of The Wicker Man and Left Behind (I still have flashbacks of terror over that one). It is certainly a overly ripe, overwrought piece of work but strangely enough it’s never deathly dull but it’s just not particularly great either.

Average with lots of butts.

IMDB Rating: 4.4

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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