Hollywood Hills 90028


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

One of our readers suggested this project about a week ago, so I picked up the one and only available DVD (a cheapo Canadian press), but I really had no idea why the film was significant. It turns out to have been a good recommendation, not because the film is any good, but because there is an interesting story behind it.

The female star, Bethenny Frankel, has basically had two completely different showbiz careers. In 1994-1995 she was an aspiring starlet who was willing to do softcore sex scenes and topless sunbathing on camera in this sub-B teen slasher film. That career petered out. Bethenny disappeared from the public  eye for a decade, then re-emerged in 2005 on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, where she made it to the final round before losing. That led to a recurring role on The Real Housewives of New York City.

"OK," you're thinking, "that's sort of interesting, but not very." Well, here's why it's fascinating: (1) Bethenny has her own personal website for her various endeavors (she's quite the entrepreneur), and her bio fails to mention her 1994-95 acting career; (2) her Wikipedia entry also fails to mention her starlet days, although it elaborates in detail about her efforts as an event promoter and celebrity vegan chef, and even about her childhood summer jobs in her dad's stables; (3) IMDb lists the two different showbiz careers as two different people named Bethenny Frankel, Bethenny 1, and Bethenny 2. Did I mention that the two Bethennys look exactly alike? The IMDb article has plenty of pictures of the new Bethenny, and I have plenty of the old Bethenny, and the two Bethennys are obviously one and the same person, but nobody, presumably including Bethenny herself, has chosen to correct the IMDb entries or the Wikipedia bio.

In other words, the Bethenny Frankel of the mid 90s has been successfully hiding in plain sight! Why would she now expunge and/or avoid any references to her former career? I suppose your guess is as good as mine, but I'm betting that she doesn't want anyone to do what our reader persuaded me to do: find her old topless scenes.

The movie itself is a very poor effort. It's a predictable high school slasher film. The new girl in town, a major babe (Bethenny), inexplicably takes a liking to the local nerd. No sooner do they become romantically entangled when the area is hit with an epidemic of violent deaths, all of which occur to people who have taunted or bullied the nerd. The director uses the old cliché of having the victims talk to the killer with clever lines like, "Oh, it's you," and the camera never shows the killer's face. I guess we are supposed to wonder who the killer might be. Hmm. There were no killings before the new girl appeared in town. She fell in love with the nerd. All the nerd's enemies soon started dying. Gee, I wonder who the murderer could be?

The script is a mess. Characters are introduced, seem briefly significant, then are dropped. At times, there is no continuity from scene to scene, as if certain parts of the film were re-written without considering the effect on the other scenes. For example, an anal-retentive teacher is killed. We see him being bludgeoned with garden shears, then we see that his throat has been slashed by the blades, but in every subsequent scene, the kids and the principal discuss his death as if he had died of natural causes, an extension of his known breathing problems. I guess that is true, in the sense that death is probably the ultimate breathing problem.

The bad writing is matched by bad direction. In several scenes, a camera pans from one face to another, then back, then back again repeatedly. I suppose this sort of "editing in the camera" was necessitated by one or both of these circumstances: (1) a lack of proper editing time and equipment; or (2) a single camera and a minimal budget for film. According to IMDb, this would be the one and only film for director Barry Blake.

I guess the film might have been redeemed by some interesting performances in a few leads, but the work in front of the camera is just as bad as that behind it. The cast consists of unfamiliar faces, presumably comprising the director's retinue of Hollywood fringe players who rarely, if ever, worked elsewhere. Ms. Frankel was the only one who showed any sense of how to create a complete character, and was the only one with a reasonably natural presence on film. And she herself was no Judi Dench. Although Bethenny turned in a perfectly competent performance as the sociopathic killer in this film, it's worthwhile to remember that her acting career died a year after this film was created, and she was not seen on camera again for a decade ... and she was light years beyond the rest of the cast!

The film has only two genuinely strong features: (1) Frankel's pendulous breasts, which bounce around tantalizingly in a spirited girl-on-top sex scene; (2) a mercifully short running time of 74 minutes.


The full-screen DVD is not much better than VHS quality and has no features of any kind. The main menu has two choices: "play film," or "chapters." The so-called chapter menu simply gives six different places where one may pop into the film. That's it.




No reviews online.


  IMDB summary (of 10)

The current IMDb score is meaningless, having been based on eight votes.

The proper score is somewhere around 3.0. It is not bad enough to make IMDb's all time bottom 100, but it is very close to that level, lacking only something memorably bad to push its candidacy.




Straight to video.


  • Bethenny Frankel showed her breasts in two different scenes. In the first, she is sunbathing topless in daylight. In the second, she is having girl-on-top sex with the class wimp.



Web www.scoopy.com

Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is an: