POP HAZMAT-RETRO presents AMERICAN CELEBRITY HOUSE OF HORRORS by JONATHAN KIERAN
TODAY’S FORTUNATE HONOREE: PIA ZADORA
PEDESTAL-WORTHY LEGACY: (FILM) Voyage of the Rock Aliens, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Naked Gun 33 ½: The Final Insult (MUSIC) “When the Rain Begins to Fall” – Duet with Jermaine Jackson
GUILTY OF VEHICULAR FANSLAUGHTER: Zadora’s powers of wanton butchery have extended to every medium known to modern entertainment: There was no dramatic role she could not reduce to a sizzling pile of charred wood-shavings; no musical performance in which she could not mimic the tortured bleats of a goat being sacrificed alive to Lucifer; no obscure, taste-deprived European community of pop-starved barbarians she could fail to enthrall. It is impossible to pinpoint the throbbing nexus of Zadora’s cultural shame or accurately gauge the magnitude of her everlasting artistic guilt. The badness was mercurial. Its sheer destructive force was almost omnipotent and thus remains beyond true quantification.
RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: Long before the apocalyptic advent of rancid devilry known as “Snooki,” Pia Zadora boasted the glimmering rhinestone crown as New Jersey’s No. 1 grimy little Pygmy-blossom. The spawn of show business veterans, Zadora married a 54 year-old junk-bond pioneer, future corporate tax-delinquent and ostensible dwarf-fetishist named Mishulam Riklis—a man determined to
inflict launch his 23 year-old bride’s “talents” upon the world.
Wisely (and perhaps tellingly) bankrolling Pia’s Skyrocket to Glory with a heartwarming father-daughter incest flick called Butterfly in 1982, Riklis set in motion a Whirling Typhoon of Pop Catastrophe almost unmatched in the history of ravenous Fame Whoredom. This squeaking cyclone left in its erratic path a trail of wreckage breathtaking in terms of sheer tackiness. The aftermath of disaster included numerous Golden Raspberry (“Razzie”) Awards for Worst Actress and Worst New Star of the Decade, marrow-melting disco duets with Jermaine Jackson, ill-omened lead roles in sci-fi comedies like Voyage of the Rock Aliens and “women-in-prison” flops like Nevada Heat, inexplicable collaborations with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and even a “stunt-cameo” in Naked Gun: 33 ½. Since Zadora appeared singing onstage in the very last scene of the film, and the movie’s subtitle was The Final Insult, one may indeed ponder the likelihood that Pia herself was intended to be the “final insult.”
Along the way, Zadora and her Grampaw Hubby controversially managed to bring the wrecking ball to Mary Pickford’s landmark “Pickfair” mansion in Hollywood, although Zadora could have stood in the front yard and caterwauled It’s Wrong for Me to Love You (theme from Butterfly) and the house would have probably collapsed into a heap of its own accord. The Golden Globe Award for Best New Star was
purchased for given to Zadora in another scandalous episode wherein critics charged that Daddy Riklis unduly influenced the Hollywood Foreign Press to honor his itty-bitty wife’s scathingly reviewed Butterfly turn.
Divorce and the agonies of childbirth appeared to slow Pia Zadora’s Chuckwagon of Ruin until her dazzling reemergence in the dramatic (and regrettably real-life) role of an allegedly face-scratching, hose-wielding child-strangler on June 2, 2013. The setting was the affluent community of Summerlin, Nevada. The soundstage was Zadora’s own house … with guest appearances by the local SWAT team. If future women-in-prison films loom on the horizon for Zadora’s sure-to-be-imminent career reboot, she may finally get a chance to do some much-needed “character research.”
EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC: Of all the harrowing Legacies of Lame scattered like moldering bread crumbs upon the landscape of woeful entertainment “history” by Pia Zadora, perhaps none exemplifies her greatness more than the video for When the Rain Begins to Fall, a 1984 “HiNRG” dance-club duet with Jermaine Jackson. Remember: ‘84 was the year in which Jermaine’s brother, Michael, was attaining unprecedented global superstardom on the back of his masterful Thriller album. However, Jermaine’s stab at a piece of the “I Deserve Worship, Too!” Pie was considerably less convincing.
With his head looking like a greasy, misshapen block of wood some farmer might use as a surface for decapitating chickens, Jermaine appears to have tried to stage his own, Euro-ripoff of Michael’s classic Beat It video, only Jermaine’s rival gang members are inhabiting some godforsaken village in Latvia and are dressed like mannequins from a 1984 Kmart Teens Department in Rancho Cucamonga. It’s all shredded denim, white linen pantaloons, sleeveless tees and acid-wash eye-patches. Jermaine himself appears to have been forced to glue a couple of his brother’s used old golden codpieces onto his shoulders to serve as epaulets. Fabulously embarrassing! Truly, I have never seen a work of such flagrant pointlessness as the video for When the Rain Begins to Fall.
Never mind that the song itself is excruciatingly awful—like being bombarded in your nightmares by millions of slashing sheets of white, lined notebook paper. The concept for the video seems to have been written by “Papa” Joe Jackson in five minutes along the margins of the Sunday morning comics-section and shoved at his son with the admonition: “Here’s an idea for your crap song, Jermaine. It’s got a little bacon grease and egg stains on it, but that don’t matter none. Now get the hell out of my sight! Can’t you see I’ve got to worry about attaching myself like a soul-sucking barnacle to Michael’s success? Hire that Pina Zamora girl. I played cards & hookers with her daddy-husband the other night and he says she’s lookin’ for just about anything to do right now. That’s right up your alley.”
Pia unquestionably brings her signature wonk to this dreadful attempt at an MTV epic. Looking like the illegitimate love-child of Tammy Faye Baker and an Ewok, Zadora minces and pouts and “emotes” like her motor’s only running on one battery, or like she needs jumper cables to the brain, or something. It’s an Extravaganza of Awful, from start to finish, but the highlight has got to be Pia’s sunglasses—an incomprehensible fashion abomination that looks like something out of Maui Jim Meets the Invisible Man. Brilliantly horrendous. Enjoy.
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