I consider myself to be pretty well versed in the subject of 'Real Housewives.' I know all of the words to Kim Zolciak's 'Tardy for the Party'; I've tasted Bethenny Frankel's Skinnygirl Margarita; I even interviewed one of the stars from the franchise last year.
So you can imagine how surprised I was when my co-worker brought 'Hollywood Hills 90028,' a low-budget movie from 1994 starring none other than Ms. Frankel, to my attention. I didn't know anything about it -- what it was about, if it hit theaters, how it even got made it in the first place. The only thing I knew was, I needed to see it right away; and a few days later (thanks, eBay!) I had my very own copy on DVD, ready to be screened in all of its glory.
As you might expect, the plot of the movie is relatively simple: a new girl -- Laura Drake (Frankel) -- shows up at a local high school and catches the eye of Mike, a nerdy kid with a big heart and an even bigger alcoholic father. At first, everyone is smitten with Laura -- that is, until people start getting murdered. Naturally, Mike's friends become suspicious of Laura (she's the new girl, after all) and, naturally, she turns out to be a raging sociopath.
Of course, if you've seen the movie -- and I imagine so many of you have -- you'll know that last bit of plot I just revealed isn't much of a spoiler. In fact, when we first meet Laura, we see her crushing an innocent white flower in her bare hands. That alone should give you an idea of how subtle the movie's script is.
Still, it takes a little while for the murders to start happening. Our first victim: mean, old Mr. Cross, an English teacher who spends his hours yelling at and complaining about his low-life students. One day, he berates Laura for not having read the assigned play (which he has a right to be mad about, if you think about it), and when Mike snaps back, he gets sent to the principal's office with 20 points off his GPA. A few scenes later, Mr. Cross is hacked to death by a weird gardening tool. We suspect it might be Laura, and when we find out her parents died in a freak gardening accident (her words) a few scenes later, our suspicions are confirmed.
From then on, anyone who double-crosses Mike is put on death watch. This includes Mike's alcoholic father, who, like Mr. Cross, is such a bad actor, seeing him go turns out to be the best thing that happens in the movie.
Meanwhile, Laura, who is clearly a sexual person (in one of her first run-ins with Mike, she randomly and aggressively puts her leg in his lap), finally consumates her relationship with Mike; they have a long and awkward sex scene in his waterbed (!) that makes the pool scene in 'Showgirls' actually look hot.
This is when things start to get weird. Now that she's unofficially "claimed" her man, you'd think she'd devote all of her sexual attention to Mike. But no, Laura decides to go after everyone in Hollywood, including one of Mike's girlfriends, whom she invites over to sunbathe on her roofdeck that has a view of -- you guessed it -- the famous Hollywood Hills sign. In this scene, Laura bullies the friend into taking off her top (Bethenny takes hers off, too, FYI), then plants a kiss on her. The friend freaks out and goes into suspicion overload, and from then on, Laura's days are numbered.
(Side note: How it took this long for people to grow suspicious of Laura is beyond me. Her parents died in a freak gardeining accent (again, her words), yet she's still living in some fabulous house with a view of the Hollywood Hills sign? If you ask me, these characters deserved what was coming to them.)
Things only get worse for Laura when said topless girlfriend discovers her journal, which is conveniently lying on a shelf above the waterbed. In the journal, Laura details all of her vicious crimes, as if she was asking to get caught. Well, caught she is, though luckily for Laura, she still has time to get a few more murders in, including Mike's father.
When Mike discovers the body, Laura admits to everything. It was all in the name of love! she claims. Now they can finally be together! Mike, of course, isn't happy, and when Laura pulls out a gun, the two enter into a struggle. Before you know it, Laura is shot and dead on the floor of Mike's house. The madness is finally over.
The film ends with a flashback of Mike and his friends walking through the halls of their high school, looking happy and peaceful. Ah, those were the days.
So just how bad is 'Hollywood Hills 90028'? Objectively, it's 72-minute a disaster, with more plot holes and bad acting than even I was expecting. Still, it isn't anything different from the B-movies that were made in the late-'80s and early-'90s. (In one scene, for example, you can't even hear the dialogue, because the sound coming from the car they're driving is too loud.) If anything, 'Hollywood Hills 90028' underwhelming. It's campy, sure, but if you're looking to laugh at some truly trainwreck moments, you're better off just watching an episode of 'The Real Housewives of New York City.'
As for Bethenny's acting, it actually isn't that bad. She's surprisingly less -- how do I put this lightly? -- energetic here than she is on 'Real Housewives' (one might say stiff), but there have been worse performances captured on camera (which, as a camp enthusiast, makes me a little sad to report).
Still, after seeing the movie, I think it's pretty safe to say that the 'Bethenny Getting Married?' star won't be getting an Oscar anytime soon.
Though, if you can believe it, 'Hollywood Hills 90028' didn't kill her acting career altogether; according to her IMDb page, Frankel had a role in the 1995 movie 'Wish Me Luck,' about a genie who apparently turns a nerd into a man (whatever that means). Could this be the beginning of a That Movie EXISTS?! follow-up? If it's any bad as 'Hollywood Hills 90028,' probably.