Two ”lambada” movies dance onto home video
Years from now, when scholars reflect on the 1990s, they’ll probably find much of humanity’s behavior inexplicable. Why, for example, did we allow nuclear weapons? Racial bigotry? The destruction of the environment? And why did we stand for two simultaneous lambada movies?
For connoisseurs of schlock such questions are irrelevant. What matters is that Lambada and The Forbidden Dance are now in video stores and viewers who avoided their brief runs in movie theaters can check them out, remote control in hand. Which of the flicks is the biggest hoot? Which really delivers the exploitation goods? Does either give the real lowdown on this lambada business?
Nobody should have to watch both, so here’s a handy guide comparing these state-of-the-art examples of Le Bad Cinema.
Best Attempt at Redeeming Social Value: Both Lambada and The Forbidden Dance are message pictures of a sort. In the former, schoolteacher J. Eddie Peck flashes the slickest lambada moves in town in hopes of motivating inner-city kids to study math. In the latter, Brazilian princess Laura Herring uses her dance skills to agitate against the destruction of the AmAmon jungle. The winner: Forbidden Dance, for its hilariously cynical end credit reading ”This picture is dedicated to the preservation of the rain forests.”
Most Gratuitous Tush Shots: Lambada director Joel Silberg, apparently an aging ’70s disco kid, often aims his camera at his dancers’ behinds. Forbidden Dance auteur Greydon Clark, perhaps cognizant of the lambada’s erotic origins, concentrates instead on other areas of the body. The winner (no contest): Lambada.
Most Soft-Core Sex Scenes: Notwithstanding Melora Hardin’s constant attempts to seduce her math teacher, Lambada is remarkably chaste for an exploitation picture. The Forbidden Dance, however, serves up attempted rape, lots of implied lesbianism, and a subplot set in a Sunset Strip brothel. The winner: The Forbidden Dance.
Most Lambada Per Minute: Neither picture bothers with more than 10 minutes of anything resembling authentic Brazilian dancing. But Lambada choreographer Shabba-Doo, who recycles the moves from the various Lionel Richie videos he also choreographed, at least offers a bit more motion. The winner: Lambada.
Most Ridiculous Ending: In The Forbidden Dance, the heroine spreads her message via a national TV show starring Kid Creole and the Coconuts.(Kid Creole fans can save time by fast-forwarding directly to this short scene.) In Lambada, rival gangs rumble in what may be the screen’s first trigonometry contest. The winner: The Forbidden Dance, for the scene in which a Latino housemaid runs off with a giant, bald voodoo priest.
The grade for each picture: D-