Tale As Old As Time : “The Beauties And The Beast”

Posted: February 8, 2014 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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Believe it or not, 66 minutes can change your life. For instance :  It takes less time than that to win the lottery. To meet the girl (or guy) of your dreams. To get a phone call telling you some long-lost great aunt twice removed that you’ve never heard of has left you a mansion and yacht in her will.

On the flip side, 66 minutes is also more than enough time to get struck by lightning, have your dream girl (or guy) walk out on you, or learn that your internet activiites at the office have been tracked and you’ve been requested to report to human resources immediately.

I suggest a compromise — don’t let anything great or awful happen to you in the next 66 minutes, and spend them watching director Ray Nadeau’s (billed in the credits as Ray Naneau, which is either the most limp pseudonym ever conceived of or simply a misprint — given this film’s production “values,” I’m betting on the latter) 1974 50th-rate softcore effort, The Beauties And The Beast.

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Alternately known as The Beast And The Vixens or, even better, Desperately Seeking Yeti (or Desperately Seeking Yetti as the typo on the VHS cover shown above indicates), this apparently-budget-free quickie won’t change your life for either the better or the worse, but it almost certainly will entertain you more than it probably has any right to given that no one involved in its production seems to be putting forth anything resembling effort at all.

Here’s the deal : after being informed by a blandly omniscient on-screen narrator/nature lover/voyeur with binoculars that the story we’re about to see “could be true,” we’re treated to a scene of a dude in one of the least-convincing gorilla suits ever emerging from his lair, grabbing a topless sunhather, and bringing her back home (to that lair I just mentioned). Then he cock-blocks some guy trying to get it on with his old lady in the woods, and takes her back to that lair (okay, actually it’s a cave), as well, whereupon the first girl tells her not to worry, big and hairy doesn’t actually do anything to them, and even brings them food and drink. The cave is also, weirdly enough, partly furnished. Go figure. Oh, and we’re informed that another girl even escaped earlier while Sasquatch (or “Sasquash,” as our narrator pronounces it) was out and about. Nothing to worry about here, then, I guess.

Which probably explains why Nadeau and screenwriter Gaynor MacLaren never get back to this “subplot” at all. What was that about no effort? This thing doesn’t even look like any thought went into it.

Next up we meet our principal players, sexy young co-eds Ann (Jacqueline Giroux) and Mary (Uschi Digard). They’ve decided to rent a cabin in the woods for the weekend with their boyfriends. Only their boyfriends aren’t with them. And never show up. And the girls don’t even wonder what might have happened, or seem particularly bothered. They just sit around, drink brandy, talk (good luck making out anything Uschi’s saying through her thick Swedish accent — no wonder Russ Meyer dubbed over all her lines in his flicks), and take their shirts off (getting Uschi to take her shirt off in front of the camera? There’s that “no effort” thing again).

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The next day they meet up with some free-livin’, free-lovin’ hippies in the woods. Taking a break from the relentless Dinsey-esque library music that makes up the majority of this film’s soundtrack, we’re “treated” to a full-length acoustic guitar number from one of the bearded, scraggly long-hairs. Bigfoot, who’ spying on all this “action,” seems curiously unaffected by the musical talent on display, but nevertheless refrains from making his move — for the time being. First we get some skinny-dipping, Ann has a weird surrealistic dream about a “Showdown At The OK Corral”-type gunfight with Mary with the two of them wearing nothing but holsters and cowboy boots, and one of the hippie couples gets it on.

Then it’s time for the big, action-packed climax! A band of ruffians that made a brief appearance earlier raid the hippie commune looking for some gold coins they, for some reason, believe the flower children have stashed away, Bigfoot crashes the party, saves one of the groovy peace-and-love chicks from getting raped by one of the hoods (well, raped through her jeans at any rate — you gotta see it to believe it), and an “old hermit” we hear some talk of,  but never get a chance to meet earlier,  leads “Sasquash” away once he’s saved the both the day and our heroines’ virtue.

There ya go, your 66 minutes are up. And while it doesn’t sound particularly memorable, I assure you it is — from the poorly-synched sound to the atrocious dialogue-dubbing to the ape mask that doesn’t even move much less articulate to the constant always-stopping-short-of-all-out-monster-rape  (the most “action” Bigfoot gets is one groped boob) to the out-of-the-blue “have pity on our poor, heroic creature” ending, The Beauties And The Beast is a flat-out awesome adventure in ineptitude. Plus, unlike so many other softcore efforts, all the ladies in tis film — yeah, okay, especially Uschi, I admit it — are darn attractive and you genuinely want to see all of ’em, as Joe Bob Briggs would say, get nekkid.

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If you, dear reader, are in the mood for some cheap, brainless, clothes-less fun — and who isn’t sometimes? — you could do a hell of a lot worse than Nadeau’s decidedly unambitious little number here, and thanks to the folks at an outfit I’ve never heard of before or since called Televista, you can. They put it out on DVD (half-assed cover reproduced above) a few years back the way it should be — with a shitty-looking, ripped-from-VHS transfer, garbled mono sound, and no extras. The “no effort” ethos has bee carried on quite nicely, some 30-plus years after the film was made.

Go on, give The Beauties And The Beast a whirl.  Sure, it’s nowhere near as awesome as inheriting a mansion and a yacht, but it’s considerably less painful than being struck by lightning. That’s worth a little something right there, isn’t it?

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