Never in a million years would you think the instantly forgettable 1998 borderline-softcore-porn-twisty-whodunit-thriller Wild Things would spawn three sequels, but holy shit, this movie somehow has. It makes more sense once you find out that each sequel is a straight-to-DVD-or-anything-goes-cable basic, carbon copy of the original, with familiar character archetypes gently swapped throughout the story.
There’s always a:
1) rich high school girl who loves to fuck (a Denise Richards)
2) poor girl everyone teases for being Florida trash who loves to fuck (a Neve Campbell)
3) middle-aged dude man cop who loves to fuck (a Kevin Bacon)
4) middle-aged non-cop dude man or cocksure high school male jock who loves to fuck (a Matt Dillon)
Oh, and it always takes place in the same sleepy town in Florida, Blue Bay, which I guess is real but I can’t imagine everyone is that hot there. And these are movies where almost every single person is hot, I can count on one hand how many non-hot people are in these movies, even as extras. Girls, guys, (there’s no non-binary representation here but if there was you know they would be hot), everyone in this movie is offensively hot. And usually topless. Rarely bottomless, unless they’re Kevin Bacon.
Having been to several Florida places multiple times (Tampa, St. Pete, Miami, etc), I can confirm there isn’t this many hot people in the entire state, much less in a little swamp town with alligators and shit.
So, let’s dive deep into this fictional representation of Florida where everyone has perfect breasts and pecks, and are really good at lying…and MURDER…
STREAMING ON SHOWTIME
directed by: John McNaughton; screenplay by: Stephen Peters
cast: Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon, Neve Campbell, Denise Richards, Bill Murray, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Robert “Killer” Wagner, Theresa Russell, Carrie Snodgress, Jeff Perry, Marc Macaulay
runtime: 108 minutes (1 hr, 48 min.)
release date: March 20, 1998
opening weekend U.S. box office:
- Titanic – $17.1M
- Primary Colors – $12M
- The Man in the Iron Mask – $11M
- Wild Things– $9.6M
- U.S. Marshals– $7.2M
Wild Things total U.S. box-office gross: $67.2M
BLUE = MARGETIS; RED = PALLADINO
I remember when my dad got this on DVD and how it was like this thing I was absolutely 100% not allowed to watch. I guess I wouldn’t let my eight-year-old watch it either, but I was always drawn to this title in my dad’s video rack. It seemed to me this provocative, inappropriate, and deranged thing and if I watched it I knew it wouldn’t come out the other end, the same person. When I finally got around to seeing it on Netflix or some shit when I was in early college, it all seemed a bit hilarious to me. This movie wasn’t the powerful beacon of sexual prowess I had built it up to be, but a borderline incoherent, cheaply, and poorly made erotic thriller with plenty of twists and turns, but twists and turns so stupid they could barely qualify. Wild Things might be the best “film” alongside the horrendous sequels, but this movie is an absolute piece of shit, inside and out, that isn’t nearly as entertaining as it needs to be to offset the grossness.
So it takes place in this small beach town in Florida called Blue Bay, where everyone is super attractive without an ounce of body fat. Matt Dillon is a hunky teacher that gets accused of raping Denise Richards, a high school senior who has a major crush on him. Corroborating her story is Neve Campbell, who plays the poor girl people make fun of for being Florida trash. Besides her hair not being perfect, there’s really nothing trashy about her, she’s the same movie star goddess that kicked Ghostface’s ass in the Scream movies. Enter Kevin Bacon who plays the investigating detective and RENT‘s Daphne Rubin-Vega (Mimi!) as his partner. We also get a criminally underutilized Bill Murray as a sleazy Florida lawyer. Murray and Bacon’s casting seem the most believable in that we never buy Campbell as a trashy Florida teen, we never buy Denise Richards as a high school student and we never buy that Matt Dillon has ever read a book.
Anyway, it ends up that Dillon, Richards, and Campbell were all in it together with the false rape accusation as a way to get money from someone’s dad or something? Palladino, it was your idea to watch these shitty movies so I’m leaving it up to you to trace plot elements. Anyway, there’s like six more double crosses and it ends up that Bacon is also involved with the scheming and ends up assassinating Denise Richards and gets away with it cause he’s a cop. Then, Matt Dillon kills Bacon on a boat, and Neve Campbell kills Matt Dillon on the same boat and then Neve Campbell meets up with Bill Murray and he hands her a bunch of money and they part ways. That’s basically the movie, completely spoiled in hopes you’ll never waste two hours of your life watching this egregiously misogynistic shitfest. I just did you a solid. Thank me.
The ending credit sequence attempts to plug in all the plot holes (of which there are many), and they do this “trick“ during the end credit sequences of all three sequels. For me, the sequels are more worth watching cause they cross the threshold of incompetence enough to make it a clean hate-watch. You don’t have a solid Kevin Bacon performance or a quirky Bill Murray appearance holding it back. It’s just 100% Florida trash, pasteurized, never from concentrate. Most Pulp. Palladino, what did you think?
There are better erotic thrillers, like Body Heat or Sea of Love. And there are worse ones, like Body Double or Color of Night. This movie is what it is and it knows that. It doesn’t try to act like something it isn’t. I was fourteen when this thing came out, and the marketing campaign was just tv spot after tv spot that essentially said “DENISE RICHARDS GETS NAKED AND MAKES OUT WITH NEVE CAMPBELL.” Do you think executive producer Kevin Bacon and the brass at the studio saw that and thought “but there’s so much more to it than that!” Probably nah.
I like Bill Murray, I like Kevin Bacon, I like Matt Dillon, I like Neve Campbell and I like to look at/think about late-90’s era Denise Richards. Having these people in the film definitely makes it go down easier. Especially Murray, who we both agree was completely underutilized, but bear in mind that this was just a little before Rushmore turned him from a 90’s three-star-comedies goofball lead to a 2000’s four-star-dramadies elder statesman lead. He does the best with what he’s given. Same as everyone else in the film, really.
I suppose Wild Things is like a sit-down franchise restaurant’s take on a fast-food franchise’s staple. Sony/Columbia Pictures took a 1:05 a.m. softcore basic cable script and did what PF Chang’s would do to Panda Express’ orange chicken recipe. Put a little more time into its production, made it look a little nicer, and added some spices Panda Express doesn’t have in their kitchen. Better than the usual thing, sure, but it’s still just overpriced orange chicken.
Wild Things 2
STREAMING ON TUBI
directed by: Jack Perez; screenplay by: Andy Hurst and Ross Helford
cast: Susan Ward, Leila Arcieri, Isaiah Washington, Linden Ashby, Anthony Denison, Joe Michael Burke, Katie Stuart, Faith Salie, Marc Macaulay
runtime: 95 minutes (1 hr, 35 min)
release date: March 6, 2004 (Encore Mystery Original Movie)
better movies released March ’04: Hidalgo, Starsky & Hutch, Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London, Secret Window, Dawn of the Dead, Spartan, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Jersey Girl, Scooby Doo 2, Never Die Alone
BLUE = MARGETIS; RED = PALLADINO
Hey, 20-year-old Michael Palladino. It’s me, 38-year-old Michael. Assuming this is 18 years ago to the day, it’s a summer night in ’04 and you’re probably at Blockbuster video. Well, you see that shelf full of Wild Things 2 copies? You’re right not to let your curiosity get the better of you. Watching a sweaty Susan Ward play volleyball in the Florida sun isn’t worth $4.99. Wait until 2022, when movies like these have absolutely zero value and are given away practically for free as long as you don’t mind watching thirty-second ads for Fry’s.
This entry begins the slow, steady walk into the deep end of the swamp that will eventually drown us by the time part four rears its “super-hot-but-so-what” head. As is the case with the following entries, it abides by the template set forth by the original Wild Things. Only this time, the rich girl is the one who seems kind of sweet (or is she?) and the Florida trash babe is the one who comes across as the scheming villainess (or is she?) who can fuck her way out of any jam. Isaiah “Me and My Big Mouth” Washington assumes the Kevin Bacon role. A bacon substitute, if you will. (But please don’t.) He’s like a Cricket Wireless version of Flipper Purify from Jungle Fever that moved to Florida and became a detective.
The only thing I remember aside from all that is when Susan Ward’s stepdad (I think?) jumped out of a plane and didn’t know his parachute pack was filled with newspaper. What an incredible visual that was.
The poster art says it all. Seriously, scroll up and look. Two hot babes in a pool, and one of them (but which one?) is pointing a gun at us. A gun that is underwater. In other words, a gun that doesn’t really work anymore. And that’s the movie. A gun loaded with the promise of sex and thrills, but it ends up giving us a misfire.
Hey, 14-year-old Michael Margetis. It’s me, 32-year-old Michael. It’s a summer night in ’04 and you have your mom’s Blockbuster card. You walked a good half mile to get to the video store, pants full of odd quarters and crumpled singles to pay the Blockbuster lady. You know, the one who claims to have been Alan Ball’s neighbor in the 1980s, and claims the character of Claire from Six Feet Under is based on her? Anyway, you walk in, and immediately your heart is pumping fast. This is your church. AMC and Harkins are one thing, but this is the archives! Where the ‘Blockbuster Favorites’ live. Focus Michael, you’re going to see a sexually enticing DVD cover for Wild Things 2, but don’t rent it! Proceed directly to the classics section and check out some Julianne Moore or Benicio Del Toro shit from the mid-90s. They’re your people, Michael! Them, not hot twenty-somethings from Florida! Fuck Wild Things 2. Shit, you can watch porn on the internet without having to sit through 60+ minutes of brain-numbing exposition. This is cinema. Stick to cinema, Mike!
As Palladino pointed out, this installment is slow and familiar. It repurposes all the archetypes from the original – you got the rich girl with an asshole stepfather, you got the poor girl who doesn’t act poor at all, you got the Matt Dillon bad boy character in the form of a corrupt forensic pathologist and you got the Kevin Bacon character more or less duplicated in both Detective Johnny Cage from Mortal Kombat, the movie, and Detective Dina Meyer from Starship Troopers. Oh wait, you also have the Isaiah Washington character in the Kevin Bacon role, so that role is triplicated here. Washington gives the only performance of the film that…WAIT…Dina Meyer is in the third one, NOT THIS ONE! Whoops, MY BAD!! These movies blend together cause they’re all so fucking generic and reptitive! Anyway onto the sex…
After the rich girl, poor girl, and forensic pathologist all make a false rape accusation against the stepdad and send him to prison, the inaugural “we got away with perjury” threesome begins between the three schemers. I’m not assigning any of these sexy meat bags names (MALE OR FEMALE OR NON-BINARY, I DON’T DISCRIMATE BASED ON GENDER, THEY’RE ALL VAPID AND HORNY DUM DUMS IN THIS NO MATTER HOW THEY IDENTIFY) because they aren’t even characters, and I can’t remember, and nobody fucking remembers their stupid names. They’re essentially just mannequins with the magical ability to speak words and have threeways. There’s also something in a pool? Like the first one? There are a few scenes that are just the rich girl and poor girl, and some that are either the rich girl and the forensic dude or the poor girl and the forensic dude. Does Isaiah Washington fuck in this? I can’t remember. The Johnny Cage cop doesn’t.
It all comes to a head when the rich girl and poor girl kill the forensics dude and then the rich girl kills the poor girl and then the rich girl kills her stepdad BY PUSHING HIM OUT OF AN AIRPLANE AND REPLACING HIS PARACHUTE WITH LOCAL NEWSPAPERS. The image of this guy following (above) is hands down, the funniest scene in any of these fucking movies. HILARIOUS. As funny as anything on I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson. Without a doubt. Anyway, let’s move on to the third Wild Things installment….about diamonds?
Wild Things: Diamonds in the Rough
STREAMING ON TUBI
directed: Jay Lowi; screenplay: Andy Hurst and Ross Helford
cast: Sandra McCoy, Sarah Laine, Linden Ashby, Dina Meyer, Brad Johnson
runtime: 87 minutes (1 hr, 27 min.)
release date: February 19, 2005 (Encore Mystery Original Movie)
better movies released February ’05: Hitch, Son of the Mask, The Wedding Date, Boogeyman, Cursed, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Man of the House, Downfall
BLUE = MARGETIS; RED = PALLADINO
Holy shit, what is this one about again? Sorry, they’re all basically the same movie so I forget. Lemme check my notes – please hold…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..Ok. So this one has basically the same plot as the last two but it adds in this dumb diamond inheritance plot.
So it’s this greedy high school girl archetype again and her David Hasselhoff-looking rich stepdad who won’t let her inherit these diamonds she wants or something. I dunno, they’re at a bank so they’re pretty safe, but she gets mad and takes it out on the poor girl at her high school. The poor girl ends up accusing The Hoff of rape and he goes to jail and it ends up, the poor girl was in sexual cahoots with the stepdaughter and a young forensic pathologist guy. They have the traditional Wild Things end-of-act-one perjury threesome, complete with several boob shots, but two cops – Starship Troopers’ Dina Meyer (SHE’S ACTUALLY IN THIS ONE, I PROMISE) and Detective Johnny Cage, who was also in the second Wild Things movie – are hot on the trail of their BS. They’re super sus of all these hot people and they aren’t wrong, a couple more twists and turns happen and the teenage lesbians murder their forensic pathologist partner, and then the poor girl murders the rich girl and it’s revealed that the Hoff is the poor girl’s birth father and the Dina Meyer cop is her birth mother. The Dina Meyer cop and the poor girl team up to murder the Hoff/stepdad by spiking his drink with roofies and having him fall over this cliff to his death? Is that really their plan? Who cares?! It’s WILD THANGS!!!!
I feel like this is the sequel I have the least amount to talk about. It’s not nearly as awful/fascinating as the next Wild Things – Wild Things: Foursome – and it’s not nearly as coherent as the still awful Wild Things 2. Though, there is a fully-clothed hook-up scene between the rich girl and the poor girl, where the rich girl grabs the poor girl’s crotch and says, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush…” Get it?! BUSH!!!! I think this was the least fun I’ve had watching any of these. Palladino, what did you think and what did I miss?
How should I know what you missed? This whole franchise is starting to smear together like a hungover Jacksonville stripper’s eye makeup on a Sunday morning. I’m racking my brain trying to think about what I didn’t miss. All the plot points you just mentioned are mostly news to me.
I remember there being diamonds. Not just because that’s in the title, but because fake diamonds are much easier for a prop department to get than a briefcase of fake cash, I assume. And I do remember when Dina Meyer was revealed to be the main girl’s mom, because it felt like that old porn trope in which any actress who is approaching forty has to assume the MILF role.
The double-cross thing has now gotten to the point in which it’s almost a square dance. The characters just trade partners and dance over and over again for no other reason than that’s how Wild Things rules work.
In short, this sequel is where the wild things aren’t. Back to you in the studio.
Wild Things: Foursome
STREAMING ON TUBI
directed by: Andy Hurst; screenplay by: Monty Featherstone and Howard Zemski
cast: Jillian Murphy, Marnette Patterson, Ashley Parker Angel, John Schneider, Ethan Smith, Marc Macaulay
runtime: 92 minutes (1 hr, 32 min.)
release date: June 1, 2010 (straight to DVD)
better movies released June ’10: Marmaduke, Get Him to the Greek, The A-Team, The Karate Kid, Winter’s Bone, Toy Story 3, Knight and Day, Winter’s Bone, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Grown Ups, I Am Love, Jonah Hex
BLUE = MARGETIS; RED = PALLADINO
I’m dead now. Just a blank, hollow husk. I cannot deal with a single Wild Thing anymore, let alone four. Like most stupid sexy fun times, it started off great but no one knew when to quit and now it’s getting very unhealthy.
This sequel is a Von Dutch hat on top of a Von Dutch hat on top of a Von Dutch hat on top of an Ed Hardy hat. The thought of a Florida babe in a pair of jean shorts and a bikini top riding a Swamp Boat only gives me a sharp headache now. I took the movie in the way a baby might do, by recognizing only colors, shapes, and sounds. This thing could have just been a set of flashcards with illustrations of Wild Things staples. An FHM cover girl would come onscreen, hold up the cards one by one, and I’d shout out the answers like a five-year-old watching Dora the Explorer.
The only clear memory I have of this movie is that the lead (I think?) male actor looked like a Chad Michael Murray-shaped candle that had been in the sun for a hot afternoon. He got shot in the head and I laughed. Big highlight.
I need to lay down. Margetis, please take over.
Wow, they did it. They made a Wild Things sequel worse than Wild Things: Diamonds in the Rough. I hope everyone appreciates what an achievement this is in the realm of sucking. This one is a skosh different in that the protagonist is a teen male. His name isn’t Chad but let’s call him Chad, he’s a Chad for sure. Chad looks like if Barbie produced Fuck Boi Ken dolls and one had Geppetto as a dad who wished for a real boy and the Fuck Boi Ken doll turned into a human 34-year-old still in high school. It takes place in Florida, so that checks out. Chad’s stepdad is a splendidly rich former Nascar driver who has this amazing house Chad and his hundreds of other 30-year-old friends (all still in high school – again, it’s Florida) party at. His girlfriend, let’s call her Hayleeiiyy, gets pissed when he actively starts trying to fuck another girl at school — let’s call her Amber — at the party, IN FRONT OF HER. A dude with a stupid fedora shows up — let’s call him The Brockster — and challenges Chad to a pink slip boat race, but he isn’t racing — AMBER is. She’s the “poor girl” archetype but she knows about several “guy things” like driving boats recklessly fast and firing guns recklessly fast. It’s interesting to note that in almost every scene (both the bro dawgs and the wild things) are missing their shirts.
Anyway, The Brockster basically disappears for the rest of the movie, after Amber wins that race, and then a major trial happens where Amber accuses Chad of rape. It turns out Amber, Hayleeiiyy, and Chad are all in cahoots and proceed to their traditional Wild Things end-of-act-one perjury threesome, with a twist – Another 37-year-old teen from the party, let’s call her, Kelseei:)!!, who helped them all “fake the rape”, comes into an already steamy threesome and gets naked and climbs on top of the flesh pile…MAKING IT A FOURSOME!!! This one is definitely the most graphic in terms of nudity and simulated sex, and this scene is probably the most middle-aged-dad-whose-kids-are-at-their-mother’s-for-the-weekend boner-inducing. Anyway, there’s a bunch of double-crosses, and Hayleeiiyy murders Chad who is trying to kill Amber, and then Amber kills Hayleeiiyy because she’s in sexual cahoots with this fat, stubby mid-30s lawyer who looks like a straight-up crawfish. It ends with the short lawyer making out with Amber and then having Kelseei:)!!, the foursome lady, explode Amber on the boat while walking off with a briefcase full of rape settlement cash. The end.
God, this one was far and away the worst, but it was the most hilarious and sad to watch because it went there. It WENT THERE. It went so far off the rails, you have to see it to believe it. This is just…I mean I guess these movies exist so Christian men can pretend they aren’t watching porn. But still…
RANKING OF THE WILD THINGS
BLUE = MARGETIS; RED = PALLADINO
- Wild Things – 3/10
- Wild Things 2 – 1/10
- Wild Things: Diamonds in the Rough – 0.5/10
- Wild Things: Foursome – 0/10
They just kept getting worse, and stupider, and ickier and more misogynistic and more problematic and more depressing and yeah, funnier, of course. These movies are garbage but at least the original has Kevin Bacon and Bill Murray and at least the sequels perfectly capture the 2000s era of straight-to-DVD dumpster trash.
- Wild Things – 5/10
- Wild Things 2 – 2/10
- Wild Things 3: Diamonds in the Rough – 1/10
- Wild Things: Foursome – 0.5/10
When we started this, I thought the following sequels would be sequels in name only. Basically, late-night Cinemax trash that couldn’t get distributed on its own, so it dressed itself up as another Wild Things and hoped we’d all get suckered in. I wanted this to not be the case. I wanted it all contained in one universe. One sexy, sweaty, swampy, sleazy universe, where Florida trash and Florida elite alike join together to make false rape accusations, commit insurance fraud, fuck each other’s brains out and eventually kill each other on a boat.
But now I want to escape this universe. A halfway decent erotic thriller repeated itself over and over until it just fell down and died. I understand that falling down and dying are a big reason why people move to Florida in the first place, but still.
Stick to the first one. Only watch the other three if you’re doing it for a friend’s movie review site.