THEN: When Michelle Johnson appeared in the racy middle aged comedy BLAME IT ON RIO in 1984 she was only seventeen years of age. She portrayed a beautiful teen that fell in love with her much older “uncle” played by Michael Caine. Looking back at this little flick which also starred Demi Moore, I have a hard time imagining that they would make this movie today. Far from politically correct the feature film also happened to offer audiences a look at the beautiful Johnson – as well as co-star Moore – topless. Yet Michelle took it one step further with a quick full frontal nude scene... Once again, she was seventeen. It feels far creepier to write about it now, but back when I first viewed it my teenage hormones got the best of me.
After this lovely girl’s feature film debut, she found herself working on a number of television shows including “Hotel”, “Dallas” and even a seven episode arc on “The Love Boat” from 1984 to 1985. Yet the horror genre would soon become a part of the actress’ forte when she appeared in the monster themed series “Werewolf” in 1987. That same year she headlined a campy flick called BEAKS: THE MOVIE along with co-star Christopher Atkins. With its goofy Eighties synth and B-movie effects, the film didn’t fly with most audiences.
In 1988 Ms. Johnson joined Deborah Foreman, Zach Galligan as well as a number of other exciting horror names for the fantasy horror comedy WAXWORK. This was a cheerfully gory feature film that was well ahead of its time – think CABIN IN THE WOODS with practical effects. It was a loving tribute to the horror genre with nods to Dracula, Night of the Living Dead and The Werewolf. It is also one that I’ve talked about in this column before while celebrating the greatness that is Galligan and Foreman. A wax museum with living displays is a creepy idea and is handled especially well while managing to inject a few laughs as well as thrills. Alongside a ready and willing cast, this is certainly my favorite performance from Johnson. Add to that she was simply luminous as ‘China’ with a sort of a Marilyn Monroe mystique. My goodness she was beautiful here.
Over the next few years she appeared in a couple of low budget thrillers including SLIPPING INTO DARKNESS in 1988 and THE JIGSAW MURDERS in 1989. She even made a guest appearance in one of my personal favorite television shows, the Bruce Willis, Cybill Shepherd starring “Moonlighting.” With more feature films and television MOW's like “Blood Ties” in 1991 the actress worked steadily. One such series that she made very memorable was “Tales from the Crypt” in the episode entitled ‘Split Second.’
Then came 1992 where the actress took part in a few high profile films including the Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman romance FAR AND AWAY as well as the Meryl Streep-Goldie Hawn dark comedy DEATH BECOMES HER. The later may not have been a huge critical success with a number of mixed reviews, but audiences were amused with the wacky fun. And clearly Michelle seemed to enjoy taking on roles that mixed humor with horror as that same year she starred in Universal’s DR. GIGGLES featuring DARKMAN and “L.A. Law” star Larry Drake who has since become a bit of a horror icon. This wacky flick may not be perfect, but it is one that I find myself re-visiting every once in a while and still having a time of it.
Michelle Johnson worked steadily over the years following including films like ILLICIT DREAMS in 1994, THE DONOR in 1995 and SPECIMEN in 1996. And we must not forget the Steven Seagal action flick THE GLIMMER MAN in 1996 opposite Keenan Ivory Wayans. Sprinkled in-between she continued to work heavily in television on shows like “The Outer Limits”, “Herman’s Head”, “Murder, She Wrote” and a couple of episodes of “Melrose Place” in 1992 and 1993. However, after the year 2000 her resume slowed down quite a bit… like completely. According to her IMDB page she is only credited for a role in REVENGE in 2000 and a baseball flick called MICKEY in 2004.
NOW: Michelle Johnson is one name I haven’t heard in quite a long while. In fact, it wasn’t until The Arrow himself suggested her for this column that I thought about her. So what is she up to now? Well even though you don’t see her acting much anymore, I did find something really interesting. It seems that the Alaskan born actress is still super sexy. Take a glimpse at a couple of music videos she has posted on her very own YouTube page. Considering she is nearing 50… Hell, if she were turning 30 she’s still be smoking hot!
"She Likes them big"
Other than a couple of music videos and an article about her divorce – which I have no interest in talking about for this column - she doesn’t seem to be doing too much in the ‘biz’ as it were. Unlike many actresses from her era, she doesn’t appear to be partaking in social networking or horror convention signings. Aside from a few newer pictures on the internet, there is little else available. With the videos, is she hoping to make some sort of comeback through music? Only time will tell, but for now we will always have a psychotically happy doctor and a wax museum from hell. We miss you Michelle Johnson… why don’t you come on back and grace us with your beauty once again!