Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Two Moon Junction (1988) - Sex-Drenched Tale of Southern Passion

Sherilyn Fenn as a Good Girl Gone Bad in "Two Moon Junction"

Sherilyn Fenn Richard Tyson Two Moon Junction 1988 poster
"Two Moon Junction" (1988).

The 1980s was the decade of sexy small-town period flicks set in the 1950s, most of them revolving around the perennial mantra, "how do I keep my sexy desires a secret from everyone but still get what I want?" "Two Moon Junction" (1988), an erotic drama directed in workmanlike fashion by Zalman King (who also helped come up with the story) for DDM Film Corporation/Lorimar, is right there in the cream of the crop, along with "Mischief" and "Dangerous Liaisons." For a mindless peek under those racy covers, you'll be hard-pressed to do better than "Two Moon Junction." Either you like that sort of thing or you don't. Only you know on which side of that bed you lie.

Sherilyn Fenn Richard Tyson Two Moon Junction 1988
April, played by Sherilyn Fenn, sees something special in Perry (Richard Tyson).

I won't mislead you about this. Here is the bottom line in a nutshell: if you aren't looking for a sexy romance that showcases some very attractive folks and related lustiness, "Two Moon Junction" definitely is not the film for you. The flirting and sex is the only point to "Two Moon Junction." Otherwise "Two Moon Junction" is pointless unless you are a fanatical Burl Ives fan or need to see every last performance by some of the other fading stars who make surprising cameo appearances (more below). What "Two Moon Junction" does right, though, it does very, very right indeed. In a nutshell: a bashful, sexually frustrated Sherilyn Fenn is drawn to Richard Tyson's animal magnetism like a moth to a flame. That's it. Does that interest you? If so, read on.

Sherilyn Fenn Richard Tyson Two Moon Junction 1988
What's a girl got to do to get a little action around here? Oh, the carnival is in town, alrighty then!! Sherilyn Fenn is unsatisfied with small town life in "Two Moon Junction."

Sherilyn Fenn stars as April (very few last names are provided or needed in "Two Moon Junction," but for the record it is April Delongpre), a young woman just out of school. April is dispassionately destined for marriage to her cipher of a rich hometown beau (Martin Hewitt in a truly thankless role). She feels something lacking in her life, now what could it be? If your mind is in the gutter, you'll figure it right out, as she does while taking a shower. We get a pretty good idea when she does a "Porky's" in the gym shower (she does the spying). Turns out that what she needs isn't a shampoo and nails treatment.

Sherilyn Fenn Two Moon Junction 1988

Instead, what April needs is that handsome carny Perry (Richard Tyson) who just blew into town with his dog and bizarre friends. Perry only lives for the moment, and you've seen his type before, walking around with long hair and a bottle of Jack Daniels handy. Perry is so attractive to the ladies that he has his own young groupies in the carnival. Too much is riding on April's dynastic wedding (a huge estate goes to her and so on and so forth) for her to blow boyfriend Chad Douglas Fairchild (yes, he gets the full three-name treatment) off and follow her "passion." So, what's a girl in Two Moon Junction (the town's name) to do?

Sherilyn Fenn Two Moon Junction 1988
April spends a lot of time in the shower thinking.

Believe me, if you don't have any idea what April should do in this situation, well, this may not be the flick for you. She figures that equation out in a flash.

Sherilyn Fenn Two Moon Junction 1988

Very few people are going to watch a film like "Two Moon Junction" for the plot (it comes full circle in a showery kind of way), because we've seen it all before. Instead, "Two Moon Junction" is enjoyable for the atmosphere, the characterizations and the nudity and sex. There's plenty of those things in "Two Moon Junction." In fact, there's so much nudity and sex in "Two Moon Junction" that they become overdone... well, if that's possible. You may find yourself actually wishing there was a plot worth watching, since now and then there are tantalizing glimpses of what could have been. Only when a Deputy points a shotgun at one of the leads do we feel anything remotely similar to dramatic tension in "Two Moon Junction." That melodramatic cloud passes quickly, though, before it can introduce a pesky plot line to get in the way of the point of "Two Moon Junction": the sex and nudity. Oh wait, I said that already. Well, it bears repeating.

Sherilyn Fenn Richard Tyson Two Moon Junction 1988
That is one serious hair style, Sherilyn Fenn, especially when you are just hanging around a small town in "Two Moon Junction." 

Assorted potentially interesting characters appear, say a few words, and then enter blissful oblivion before they get in the way of the sex and nudity. One imagines the cutting room floor was a major fire hazard. Sherilyn at one point has an "Academy Award moment" and forcefully implies that she has a hidden agenda, but it turns out she's bluffing. The only agenda she has is what's hidden under her elegant slacks. A shouting match, a brief note left on a mirror, then, we're back to the atmosphere, the characterizations and, most importantly, the nudity and sex.

Sherilyn Fenn Richard Tyson Two Moon Junction 1988
Sherilyn spends a lot of time in the shower in "Two Moon Junction."

One of the things that makes "Two Moon Junction" a cult classic is the numerous absolutely inexplicable and startling cameos. That is not unusual for this type of rent-payer, but "Two Moon Junction" goes way, way over the top with its quickie appearances by actors who had seen better days elsewhere. We get Kristy McNicol, Herve Villechaize (sadly, his final film), Don Galloway getting one of his few paychecks since "Ironside," Louise Fletcher, Oscar nominee Juanita Moore (she was in "Imitation of Life" for goodness sakes!), and a young Milla Jovovich (her first film). All are completely and utterly wasted except McNicol, who does an energetic wild-girl impression, and one-time Academy Award winner Fletcher, who is appropriately intimidating as Two Moon Junction's matriarch heavy.

Sherilyn Fenn Richard Tyson Two Moon Junction 1988
Burl Ives plays the town sheriff who realizes what is going on and tries to stop it in "Two Moon Junction."

But we haven't gotten to the true coup de grace, the bit which will have you doing a double-take: mother of God if it isn't Burl Ives (also an Oscar winner) playing the henchman in his final film role. This would only have been better as a camp-fest if they could have gotten ol' Burl (and he absolutely looks like he is on his last legs) to sing "Holly Jolly Christmas" or "On Top of Old Smokey" (I could make a truly tasteless joke about that one here, but I mercifully will spare you). The minimal soundtrack with pop tunes by the likes of George Thorogood and Billy Preston is pretty good in an 80's sort of way despite that unfortunate omission of Burl Ives singing... anything. But that's the kind of film it is, they have a legendary singer not singing because that would detract from the... nudity and sex. Seriously, "Two Moon Junction" plays as if whoever was randomly passing through the studio commissary that week was drafted to play a scene or two while their steak was cooking (you think I'm kidding? See who shows up for no reason at all).

Sherilyn Fenn Richard Tyson Two Moon Junction 1988
The look of love... or lust in "Two Moon Junction."

The cameos are amusing, but they are simply curiosities, kind of like Art Garfunkel inexplicably turning up in Sherilyn Fenn's later, also completely campy, "Boxing Helena." The point of "Two Moon Junction" is not the intriguing cameos, but the sex and nudity, as I keep repeating because that is what you need to know. In "Two Moon Junction," Sherilyn Fenn literally spends over half of her time on camera either completely naked, half-naked, thinking about getting naked or wearing outfits in which she struts around as if she might as well be naked (such as a completely gratuitous scene set in a swimming pool). Co-star Richard Tyson must not have owned many shirts, because he spends about 75% of his screen time bare-chested. If you like that sort of thing (I know, I keep saying that, but it is THE deciding line on this film), this film delivers. It delivers BIG TIME. Fenn and Tyson flirt like crazy (the best part of the film, and expertly done, see the clips below), Tyson self-consciously strikes as many Ralph Lauren model poses as possible, the pair takes a romantic motorcycle ride to their secret rendezvous, they meet by the lake at midnight, they take showers together, and so on and so forth. Then, of course, they get down to it.

Sherilyn Fenn Richard Tyson Two Moon Junction 1988
Sherilyn Fenn truly looks stunning in a black one-piece in "Two Moon Junction."

Sherilyn Fenn does a great job playing the good girl/bad girl thing, but at times she looks unaccountably uncomfortable. Fenn weirdly ends her last sex scene with a major crying fit (after doffing her clothes about as quickly as is humanly possible and roll, roll, rolling around in the hay without any restraint whatsoever). After "Two Moon Junction" came out, Sherilyn Fenn tried to pass off the inexplicable sobbing as deriving from the humiliation of having to take her clothes off. Perhaps Sherilyn didn't read the script before taking the part? The stage direction "Sherilyn undresses" must have appeared on every other page! Note that Sherilyn Fenn also chose a few years later to pose for Playboy, and "Boxing Helena" around that same time was basically just a showcase of the naked (but dwindling, you have to see it to understand what I mean by that) Fenn. What was really running through Sherilyn Fenn's mind if the thought of being nude on camera distressed her? Only she knows for sure, but if Sherilyn was uncomfortable with nudity in the slightest, this was a very strange role for her to accept.

Sherilyn Fenn Two Moon Junction 1988
The star-crossed lovers in "Two Moon Junction."

Anyway, Sherilyn Fenn and Richard Tyson show off their extremely attractive bodies throughout (though Sherilyn Fenn sports some of the most unattractive Butch hairstyles seen outside of gay bars). Richard Tyson does run rings around Sherilyn Fenn in the acting department, but this isn't exactly Olympics-caliber competition he's up against. Louise Fletcher gets in a scene or two that, like everything else in the film aside from the sex and nudity, promises more than it delivers. Seriously, folks, if you are watching "Two Moon Junction" for the acting, you picked the wrong movie.

Sherilyn Fenn Richard Tyson Two Moon Junction 1988
Richard Tyson has a lot of 'splainin' to do in "Two Moon Junction."

On the subject of acting, Sherilyn is given some dramatic sequences which are simply preludes to more sex and nudity, and she does virtually nothing with them. The second (and mercifully last) time Sherilyn Fenn tries to act out a hissy fit in "Two Moon Junction," it looks like even she doesn't believe she can pull it off convincingly. Her histrionics die stillborn, like the plot, as she suddenly realizes how acting this way might get in the way of the next sex scene. Thankfully, Sherilyn Fenn doesn't bother attempting a Southern accent at any point, which would have been a disaster. Zalman King is not aiming for realism here, folks.

Sherilyn Fenn Richard Tyson Two Moon Junction 1988
"Two Moon Junction" DVD cover.

After listening to Tyson and Fenn going on and on in their flat Midwestern monotones, it perversely is the ones trying to make the effort to speak in the proper accent who wind up sounding like they are in the wrong movie (one is reminded of what Olivier said about Marilyn Monroe after filming "The Prince and the Showgirl," that he would be great in the first take, but she would always blow it, and by the time she finally got it right on the fourth or fifth take, his edge was gone). One or two others, like Galloway, affect awkward southern accents and wind up sounding like Colonel Sanders. Here is an example of how the acting plays out: at one point Sherilyn Fenn exclaims, "You frighten me," which probably had several exclamation points in the script, and it comes out sounding like "Pass the milk, please" spoken by a sullen teenager. You probably won't be watching Sherilyn Fenn's (usually naked) scenes and be thinking about her oral, er, vocal talents, though.

Sherilyn Fenn Richard Tyson Two Moon Junction 1988
The "happy" couple, played by Sherilyn Fenn and Martin Hewitt in "Two Moon Junction."

I know I am having some fun here with the limitations of "Two Moon Junction," but let me stress that I really like the film. Every time I watch it, I'm amazed at what they got away with in the '80s (if you like this one, see the aforementioned "Mischief" as well, which if anything is better). "Two Moon Junction" is that rare mainstream film that openly broaches the topic of the female libido (which word actually comes up at the one really amusing and true-to-real-life, um, junction of "Two Moon Junction"). In fact, the female libido is the main theme of the film. You don't find too many movies like that, at least of this sort and made at this time.

Sherilyn Fenn Richard Tyson Two Moon Junction 1988
Well, Perry could have just slipped a note under the door, but lipstick on the mirror is so much more dramatic in "Two Moon Junction"....

As I said at the top, there are a handful of truly classic shirt-rippers from the '80s, and "Two Moon Junction" is right there. All kidding aside, I'm a big Sherilyn Fenn fan, and this is her best role. Get the DVD and adjust the settings for full-screen effect, you will see a lot more than you thought you would. This is a top, top choice for couples on a lazy evening.


1 comment:

  1. My theory on why Sherilyn Fenn cried at the end of that scene is that she and Tyson actually had sex. When you watch the film in widescreen, his sizeable penis is on full display when she dismounts. He was not wearing "the sock" that actors usually don in scenes like that. I think this is also how he manages to be so completely vulnerable in the end of that scene; he was feeling somewhat rejected by her response.