Wednesday, December 8, 2010

WIP Wednesday: Stuck! (Steven Balderson, 2009)

We skipped last week's film to better highlight the Paul Naschy Blogathon, but are back with a relatively new entry to the genre, Stuck! by Steven Balderson.

The film is shot as a fifties/sixties noir that reminds me a lot of Joe Sarno's films, stylistically (Sin in the Suburbs in particular). The film stars Starina Johnson along with Karen Black (The Deep), Mink Stole (Pink Flamingos, Desperate Living), Jane Wiedlin (of The Go-Gos), Stacy Cunningham, and Pleasant Gehman.

Daisy (Johnson) has an ill mother who decides to kill herself. When Daisy tries to stop her the gun goes off and the mother is wounded, but not badly enough to prevent her from finishing the job. The lady next-door (Black) witnesses the struggle, and her testimony leads to Daisy's conviction and eventual death sentence. When her hanging goes wrong, Daisy's attitude is changed, and she leads the other inmates against the redneck prison guard, "Amazon" (Cunningham). Ultimately, Daisy's day comes, and the witness takes a turn as well.

Starina Johnson as Daisy

The idea of being "stuck" is the running theme of the film. Not only are the women stuck in prison, but Daisy is stuck in an unhappy life. Amazon is stuck in a job she hates. Daisy's mother is stuck in the house due to her illness. The neighbor/witness is stuck in a friendless and confusing world. The three major characters are Daisy, Amazon, and the neighbor. While Karen Black's character gets the least play, she is important to the theme of hopelessness. As the film goes on, she realizes she was not as sure of what she saw as her testimony stated. She begins to rethink what happened, and as she looks into the various manners of execution, feels that she has done Daisy a wrong. Unfortunately, she does not have the courage to speak up. She is stuck in the grip of cowardice, which is common for many of us.

Amazon threatens Daisy

As far as the WIP genre goes, this one is less typical than most while remaining true to many of the normal tenants. We have a pervy warden, played with wonderful silence by Betti O, the sadistic guard, and the new girl. There is a slight lack of the HBIC, as most of the women are tough on Daisy when she arrives, but warm to her. There are no factions to war between, nor are their gratuitous shower scenes; just the one to show Daisy's vulnerability more than for pure jiggle factor.

Friendless and naked is a bad way to be.

That does not mean this is some sort of Lifetime Network version of a WIP film. Things get a little ugly, particularly after Daisy instigates the assault on Amazon. The guard and warden still leer at the women, and there are cell romances. The exchange between Daisy and Dutch (Gehman) is quite erotic while being nothing but words and glimpses of hands and faces.

No good can come of this.

All in all this is a good film that is suitable for those who might generally be opposed to the WIP genre. The story is one that could have been written for men, save that daughters are typically saddled with the care of the sick and elderly. The crimes Daisy's new friends are convicted of are more typically female crimes, but the overall story, the overall message, could be for either gender. It is a smart film which I highly recommend.

Gratuitous Self Back Patting:

BTW, I have Tweeted a bit with Starina, and she is very nice. If you're on Twitter she is worth the follow :-)


Terrell Sandefur said...

Good Review / Good Film !

Terrell Sandefur
"Piggy" Stuck!

Darius Whiteplume said...

Glad you enjoyed it. I liked the film a lot.

David said...

Friendless and Naked is how I spend most of my nights.

Darius Whiteplume said...

@The Dave - It is the curse of internet life ;-)

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