A Missing Dancer And A Whole Lot More
Bruce Von Stiers
Harley Wallen has produced and directed a whole bunch of indie films He has also acted in most of those films. From family dramas to adventure, mysteries and even horror films, Wallen has covered a wide spectrum.
Now Wallen has a new project he's been working on. It is a mystery television series that involves a missing woman and a strip club. The title of the series is Tale of Tails.
So far, there have been several episodes of Tale of Tails filmed. I was able to watch the first five episodes of the series. A good part of the scenes in each episode take place in a strip club named Tails. Those scenes were filmed in a previously closed night club that was retrofitted to look like a strip club.
The series builds on a storyline about a dancer at Tails, Amber, who has disappeared. Her sister is a cop who investigates the disappearance. At the center of it all is the owner of Tails, who seems to have secrets of his own.
Nick is the owner of Tails. He is played by Wallen. Alison, the cop who is Amber's sister, is played by Kaiti Wallen. Kaiti's credits include the horror film Agramon's Gate and the thriller Betrayed.
The first episode opens with two dancers coming into work. One shows the other one some drugs that will help them get through their shift. Then Nick is shown in his office, talking on the phone about a possible sale of the club. The club's DJ, Roadie is looking for Amber, because she is due to be on stage. But nobody seems to know where she is. Apparently Amber showed up at the club, was there for a bit and then hadn't been seen since.
Roadie was played by Tevis Marcum. His acting credits include the films Blood Immortal and Song For Sarah. Marcum had the original idea for the series. He also helped create some of the characters based on his having worked at an actual strip club in the past. This experience seemed to lend credence to his role as Roadie.
Aside from Nick trying to sell the club, his girlfriend Vicky, who is the club manager, is concerned about the books. It seems there have been shortages and the club isn't making the money she feels it should be. Vicky is played by Jovie Lyn. Her credits include the horror film Cemetery Stories.
Some of the scenes in the episode, and other episodes, show dancers on stage, dancers sexually involved with customers and Nick having sex with dancers in his office. While the dancers are topless, the sex scenes are simulated and don't contain graphic nudity. Although several of the female characters in the episodes were actors, some actual dancers were hired for scenes that included pole dancing.
A few of the actors portraying dancers were Jessika Johnson as Chloe, Blanca Blanco as Lola, Alyssa Caswell as Scarlett, Stacey Saunders as Tabby, Salina Gusmano as Rain and Alicia Echevarria as Vanity. Johnson has had roles in Betrayed, Agramon's Gate and several other films. Caswell was also in Agramon's Gate along with Scapegoat and a few other films. Blanco had roles in films such as Mission Possible and Betrayed. Saunders was in Betrayed and Agramon's Gate. Gusmano has been in several short films and the feature Christmas Coupon.
The police get involved with Amber's disappearance. Chief Williamson assigns a detective, Jones, to the case. The chief also visits Nick to gather information. It seems that both Nick and the chief know Amber's mom, Angel. The chief is played by Grover McCants and Jones by Brett Stanfield. Angel, who shows up in a few scenes, is played by Tennille Taraszkiewicz.
There are drug dealing and drug abuse angles, as well as possible prostitution angles in some of the storylines in the episodes. There is Francisco, played by Yan Birch, who deals drugs and other things while hanging out in the club. And there are VIP rooms where a customer can get more than a lap dance.
Later on in the series, Nick interacts with an attorney and the leader of a biker gang. He also seems to be hiding something. At least that's what Vicky seems come to think anyhow. Is Nick skimming money from the club or is there something far more nefarious going on?
We really don't get a backstory on Amber, other than she's a drug abuser and a strip club dancer. There are a couple of scenes with Amber and Alison as little girls playing together. Wallen's daughters Emilia and Hanna play the two young girls.
The episodes are fairly short. They range from about seventeen minutes to a bit over twenty-five minutes long.
As the episodes have a limited length, some of the backstories aren't really built up. I've already mentioned Amber's shortened backstory. But how does both the police chief and Nick know Amber's mom, Angel? Alison has an ex who is another police officer that we meet. What is their deal? And there are a few scenes with a dancer whose boyfriend / husband wants her to quit dancing. What is going on there? I am sure that some of these backstories will be fleshed out in later episodes. But a very interesting back story happens in the fifth episode. The viewer gets to meet the man who raised Nick and how that came about. I hope that in future episodes, more of that backstory is revealed.
Tale of Tail is an interesting crime thriller series. You have a strip club, a missing dancer, a cop who just happens to be the missing dancer's sister, a drug angle, a club owner who is probably hiding something and a mystery possible buyer for the club. Through the first five episodes the story, you get a sense that something very dangerous and criminal is going on. But just what that is has yet to be fully revealed.
I thought the acting was well done. Harley Wallen as Nick was sleazy but not too much. Well, if you ignore him having sex with the dancers anyway. An angry and distraught Alison was well played by Kaiti Wallen. Some of the other characters such as Vicky and Angel, were really good as well. The actors playing the dancers don't have a lot of lines, but definitely add to the story. I think my favorite character in the series is Roadie. I don't know why, but I think I might have hung out with a guy or two like him back in the day.
Tale of Tails was a selection for this year's Chicago Indie Film Awards. It was a winner of the Best Television Series awards at the 2021 Play Film Festival. And it was a selection for the 2021 Hollywood International Golden Age Festival.
To find out more about Tale of Tails, you can visit the film's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Tale-of-Tails-111526083716481/
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© 2021 Bruce E Von Stiers