Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Review: Dustin Ferguson's Horndogs Beach Party


Cody takes a look at the USA Up All Night throwback Horndogs Beach Party, directed by Dustin Ferguson and produced by Henrique Couto.


Ohio-based filmmaker Henrique Couto is one of my favorite directors working in the independent realm these days, so it always has my attention whenever he releases a new movie. His latest output is the raunchy comedy Horndogs Beach Party, which he produced with Dustin Ferguson directing from a screenplay by Mike Reeb. This one sounded like it would be right up my alley, as it's an homage to the days of USA Up All Night.

If you're not familiar with USA Up All Night, you really missed out. It was a series that ran on USA Network on Friday and Saturday nights from 1989 to 1998 where hosts Rhonda Shear or Gilbert Gottfried would present screenings of movies - a mixture of mainstream hits and low budget B-movies. Including nudity-packed sex comedies that had their main draw, the nudity, edited out to appease the censors. That's the sort of movie Horndogs Beach Party is looking back at fondly.


This is exactly the sort of movie that would get frequent play on USA Up All Night. The story Ferguson and Reeb concocted centers on a quartet of young people who have come to Venice Beach, California to take part in the tenth annual edition of the titular party. College students Dusty (Shudan Wang) and Cory (Neveen Woods) show up at a rental property run by Dusty's aunt (Up All Night regular Brinke Stevens making a cameo) to find that Aunty Brinke has made a mistake: she was supposed to rent the place out to two females for Dusty and Cory to share the place with, but has accidentally rented it to two men - David Thomas Newman as Stacy and Jared K. Admave as Loren. The names threw her off.


Dusty, Cory, Stacy, and Loren settle in and try to make the most of their situations, and of course love is soon in the air. As the group gets ready for the big party, they're spied on by the crazy lady next door (Dawna Lee Heising) and the guys are tormented by the knuckle-headed dudes who wanted to rent Brinke's place but were turned down because their names gave away their gender, Tad (Peter Stickles) and Brad (Traver Johnson).

This is all supposed to be building up to the "best beach party ever", but given the budget of the film it looks like the saddest beach party ever.


While I knew what sort of movie Horndogs Party Beach was trying emulate, I was surprised by how dedicated it was to the idea that this was something that would be shown on USA Up All Night; so dedicated that it even plays like a TV edit of a raunchier movie. The nudity and sex scenes that would have been in the unedited versions of the movies shown on USA aren't here in Horndogs, either. There is some very-near nudity, but the most risque it gets is the wet T-shirt footage that makes up most of the party sequence. That's something that wouldn't have made it on to USA.

I was watching the streaming version, though. They say the naughtier stuff has been saved for the Blu-ray / DVD release.


Like many low budget sex comedies that would get a slot on Up All Night, Horndogs Beach Party is also not very good... The story and characters are very lacking, the cinematography is awful, the humor doesn't really work, there are a lot of awkward line readings. This being what it is, Ferguson was obviously aiming at making something purposely bad, and he was successful at doing that.

But there is a saving grace here - and I'm not just talking about the 79 minute running time, which means it's 41 minutes shorter than a USA Up All Night screening of a movie would have been. No, the best thing about Horndogs Beach Party is the fact that it's presented as if it's being shown on a program called Sister Sadie Safeword, with J. Ania Lupa as the dominatrix host who shows "painful pictures" to the "movie-loving maggots" who tune in. We get Sadie Safeword segments not only at the beginning and ending of the film, but also at a couple points in between, as if she's chiming in at commercial breaks.


Every time the movie cuts away from Horndogs Beach Party to Sister Sadie Safeword, it's a relief. Best of all, Sadie tears into the movie, calling it out as a sadomasochistic experience and voicing nearly every criticism the viewer will have for what they've been watching. She made watching Horndogs worthwhile.

Although I didn't enjoy a large portion of this feature, I would still pick up a copy of this on Blu-ray / DVD. Partly because Henrique Couto was involved and I get a copy of everything he makes, and partly because I'm a glutton for cinematic punishment. I'm the sort of movie-loving maggot who would be tuning in to watch Sister Sadie Safeword every week.

If you'd like to watch Horndogs Beach Party for yourself, you can purchase a copy of the Blu-ray / DVD combo through HorndogsBeachParty.com.

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