Meridian (1990) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This film is also known as Phantoms and Kiss of the Beast.

Oh, boy, what a mess. It's a gothic romance kind of like Beauty and the Beast, except ... well ... with soft-core sex scenes. Who is the target market for such a film? It seems to me that those who like the romance would not be interested in the sex scenes where the women gets naked and the guy keeps his pants on. But those who like naked chicks are not going to like the romance novel plot, are they? Judging from the public's acceptance of this film, I suppose the target market is narrowly defined as nobody except guys who want to see Charlie Spradling and Sherilyn Fenn with their shirts off. Even those people will have a difficult time keeping their hands off the fast forward button, because this film is poorly written, poorly directed, and poorly acted. Plus it includes an evil dwarf and an evil twin!

Here's the scoop ...

Fenn plays the heiress to an Italian estate. Charlie plays her best friend, a nice Texas girl who just happens to be working a few miles away from Fenn's Italian castle. You don't buy it? Has "It's A Small World" taught us nothing? Looking down from Fenn's castle, our girls spy a traveling carny performing just outside the gates. They watch the show and see that the ringmaster is a hunky guy who wears a ruffled shirt, so they do what I think any of us would do in this situation - invite all the carnies for dinner in the castle.

Next thing you know, there are sideshow freaks supping in the main dining room. The strongman is still wearing his fashionable over-one-shoulder leopard skin, the sharpshooter is fingering his crossbow at the table, the fire-eater is eating everything flambé, one guy is eating through an iron mask like Doctor Doom's, a dwarf is serving wine out of a flagon by walking up and down on the tablecloth, and the ringmaster is slipping the girls a Mickey Finn or, as they call it in Italy, a Michelangelo Finato. That crafty ruffled shirt-wearin' cad starts to slip the ol' sausage to a drugged Sherilyn Fenn, but once she is in the mood, he mysteriously turns her over to the masked guy and heads in to make some whoopie with Sprads instead. Meanwhile, the masked guy unmasks to Fenn and - lo and behold - it's still the ringmaster!

What the ... ? Supernatural forces?

I wish.

It was time to reveal the ol' evil twin trick!

But wait. The guy with the evil-lookin' mask is actually the good twin. It is the good-lookin' ringmaster who is evil. On the other hand, while the ringmaster may not be as nice a guy as his brother, he does have one advantage over him - when he makes love he doesn't turn into a werewolf. Well, it's not a werewolf exactly; Just a big beastie that looks like Alice the Goon from the old Popeye cartoons. This inevitable transmogrification during sex is kind of a major drawback to dating the nice brother. Of course, the entire thing boils down to the ol' Beauty and the Beast premise. If Beastie Twin can get a woman to love him despite knowing that he turns into a beast during lovemaking, then he will no longer turn into a beast.

Hey, wait a minute. If she loves him even when he turns into a beast, won't she stop loving him if he becomes a different guy who doesn't turn into a beast? If she stops loving him, will he turn back into a beast again? But if he turns back into a beast again, won't she fall in love again? Isn't this really the Mudd's Robots Paradox? Get Shatner on the line.

Just one more thing to discuss: the movie candle rule. That rule states that all movie candles, no matter where they are, and no matter how many there are, must always be lit, no matter how illogical that is. If our single heroine comes home after working a double shift and is about to take a nice romantic bath, she will walk into a bathroom full of lit candles. Simple as that. In this case, the candle rule is applied to an old crypt hidden far beneath the nearby church (it has something or another to do with the evil ringmaster and his accursed twin brother, but I'll be damned if I know what). You can see from the image to the right that nobody has been in these long-forgotten catacombs. The cobwebs speak of decades, possibly centuries, when no human has passed through these corridors.

Except, of course, for the guy who lights the candles.

Could that sumbitch maybe take an extra minute and do a little dusting while he's there?


DVD INFO:  This film is not available on a Region 1 DVD. The link to the left leads to the VHS video tape, which is out of print, although it can be purchased through Amazon's marketplace.

There is a Region 2 DVD available in the U.K., however. It has a mediocre 4:3 transfer of the film, a five minute "making of" featurette (which was sort of interesting, because it concentrated on the locations), and the original trailer, which is very poor quality.

The English DVD info can be found here. The U.S. distributor's home page can be found here. If you are thinking of buying DVDs from outside your region, read this first.



Sherilyn Fenn and Charlie Spradling show their breasts. Fenn is lying down stark naked on her side, but nothing of her lower body is exposed except the side of her hip.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is an E. Complete crap. Unbearable to watch, even if you want to see Fenn and Sprads topless.

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