Vicious Lips (1986)

There are more guns on that poster than there are in the movie. Also, most of the characters don’t dress like that, though the hair is actually pretty accurate. The boots are way off though. In general, that poster conveys a lot more action than actually happens in Vicious Lips.

A futuristic New Wave generic faux-punk band of women called Vicious Lips has just gotten the opportunity of a lifetime to play at a major interstellar venue. They just have one little problem: they’re on the other side of the galaxy. Their lead singer has also just been killed, so their scuzzy manager finds a new voice, steals a spaceship, and off they go. Hijinks ensue…or they would if the movie didn’t suddenly take a turn as they crash onto a desert planet and then immediately all get high and turn on each other. Eventually it devolves into the new voice having some weird kind of terrible hallucinatory nightmare sequence, only for the movie to realize it has written itself into a hole. So it’s all a dream sequence, and the band is already at the venue and about to go on stage. They then give a performance, and the scuzzy manager plays hardball with the lady who runs the club. The movie ends with neon credits and that weird 1980s faux-pop rock synth sound that is in so many B-movies of the era.

Vicious Lips is not a good movie. I wish it was, and it has things I like and appreciate, but the plot falls into a trap mainly because it’s trying to hide the minimalist budget. The second act is dominated by one long, drawn out argument that slowly begins to build like a wave and then takes forever to finally crash as characters try to convey a little backstory yet utterly fail to do so. In the meantime, we are treated to some weird and cheesy rock ballads, with lines about dreams, moons, and other space-related tropes that make no damn sense when written out. All of these are apparently played on guitars made with two stings and built-in bug zappers. Also, a dude gets his eyeball gouged out, though the gouging is implied at best and only results in him holding a fake eyeball and screaming.

In the third act, suddenly the main character finds herself in a random warehouse full of hanging curtains, chased by an alien werewolf and some group of punk cannibal nuclear mutants, while the zombie former lead singer shows up to yell at her. Also, the scuzzy manager cavorts with a pair of nearly naked women in the desert, while the rest of the band hardly shows up. None of this is good, and the movie tries to make up with it by waving its hand and saying, “It’s all a dream!” That’s a terrible cop out, you should have just had her find some kind of space ship and saved the day, gotten the band to restore their faith in her, and grabbed the manager before he actually got to enjoy the duo of nympho desert dwellers he had encountered because that’s supposed to be his lot in life. Oh dude, I just wrote a better ending for your movie.

I feel comfortable doing this, because this film was directed by the always incredible Albert Pyun, a director of cyberpunk-inspired science fiction films. He’s probably most known for the likes of Cyborg, Nemesis, and the 1990 Captain America movie, but in general he’s associated with the same kind of B-grade crap that we love from the direct-to-video era. I feel it’s ok to yell at him because, I admit, I’m a fan of his bizarre worlds and terrible plots. Some of it is every bit as damned impressive as it is ridiculous, and he’s earned his way into the list of the best worst directors.

Now if only I didn’t have to hear people singing about their moon fever.

2 thoughts on “Vicious Lips (1986)

  1. I’ve yet to see a single Pyun movie — that said, while looking through his strange ouvre this one stood out as especially weird….

    As did Radioactive Dreams (1985) — have you seen it?

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    1. I haven’t seen Radioactive Dreams yet, though I’ve seen a handful of Pyun’s films. His movies are an experience, to put it mildly. I’d recommend Nemesis (1992) purely for the confusing insanity of it.

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