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By Merle Bertrand | August 13, 2001

Remember when home video first started to take off and the corner mom and pop video store was desperate for titles fill their shelves? Back then, simply the novelty of watching a movie in the privacy of one’s own home was so heady and overpowering, distributors were putting out practically anything to fulfill our insatiable demands. Hell, you could almost film your dog peeing in the yard for ninety minutes, put the tape in a video sleeve with a sexy, half-naked woman on the box and sell 20,000 copies or so.
Fast forward to Sundance 2000, when dotcom distributors, in essentially the same frantic frame of mind as their video store predecessors, were nearly as ubiquitous as the filmmakers themselves. Distributors such as, who rather ostentatiously had an RV cruising the streets of Park City, showing short films as it did so to its mobile audience.
Alas, like the home video craze a decade earlier, the internet distribution craze seems to have cooled off considerably. No surprise there if drivel like “Bikini Bandits and the Magic Lamp” is the best “content” such e-distributors have to offer.
Following in the footsteps of the wildly successful “Bikini Bandits Episode 7” — an epic adventure in which four bikini-clad vixens rob a convenience store — “Magic Lamp” shoots nearly as low. Here, our scantily clad heroines steal a magic lantern from a Moroccan convenience store. When they rub it in a variety of subtle-as-a-brick-to-the-head ways, out pops a scrawny genie in Speedos. The end.
Maybe I’m taking it all too seriously, but something just seems cynical if not downright tawdry about this whole “Bikini Bandits” series. Never one to complain about watching babes in bikinis, these micro-movies are nevertheless just so cotton candy-ish; so cheesy; so…bad.
In fact, “Bikini Bandits and the Magic Lamp” is so simplistic, repetitive and non-titillating, it makes one think, not so much of the mid-80’s home video boom, but of a similar fad from over a century ago: girlie peep shows looping endlessly on wild west nickelodeons. Here’s predicting the novelty of the Bikini Bandits wears off just as quickly.

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