Posts Tagged ‘Bethel Buckalew’

stkeaqfSbD0wOkqvtGGy7anyo2O

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first here — that’s a pretty crappy scan for the poster of 1971’s Below The Belt, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s also the one and only image I could find of it anywhere online, so we’re sort of stuck with it — and that’s kind of a shame given that, as far as Harry Novak softcore productions go, this one actually isn’t too bad.

Novak and writer/director Bethel Buckalew have traded in the barnyards and swamps of hick country for the mean. gritty streets of the (unnamed) big city in this one, and venturing out of their usual “comfort zone” injects the proceedings here with a frisson of realism that most of their collaborations fail to achieve (not that they’re really trying). Sure, it would still be a heck of a reach to claim that this is anything like a good movie, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a successful one in terms of doing what it sets out to do — even if all it “sets out to do” is show a lot of simulated sex scenes.

lybelowbelts

For those concerned with a recap of the threadbare plot, here it is : dimwit prizefighter Sammy (played by John Tull, who “starred” in too many flicks of this nature to count) is saddled with a sleazy manager named Johnny (Steven Hodge) who’s in deep trouble with local mobster Louie (Fred Finkleloffe), which is a bad thing because Louie’s the kind of guy who doesn’t really appreciate deadbeats who don’t pay up, and he has the muscle working for him to do something about it. What’s a shady promoter to do? Why, use his charge to get him out of hot water, of course!

Johnny has to keep his fighter focused on his training regimen if he’s going to ride him to a big payday, though, and in order to do that he has to make sure that all of the big galoot’s needs are met — and so while trainer Benny (the always-awesome George “Buck” Flower) works him during daytime hours, leggy hooker Lisa (Mirka Madnadraszky — billed here simply as “Mirka”) is hired to keep him busy at night. Johnny’s definitely not a one-woman kind of guy, though, so look for him to stalk, subdue, and not exactly rape, since she eventually consents, Rene Bond (playing another hooker who’s never given a name), and to have long, slow (but, fortunately, in no way dull) poolside sex with the amazingly-endowed Uschi Digard (whose character is purportedly named “Denise,” although I don’t recall hearing her called that — or anything — in the film), as well. There’s some pseudo lesbian love-making thrown into the mix for good measure, as well, so hey — that’s always a plus.

456-belowthebelt3

In fairness, this flick suffers from the same setbacks that pretty much all of these things do — cheesy theme song, repetitious music during the sex scenes, dull camera work more concerned with obscuring any actual penetration that may or may not be occurring than it is with actually making the copulation look interesting, and cheap studio and location sets, to name just a few obvious shortcomings — but in its favor, it has well-above-average performances from Hodge, Finkleloffe, and Flower, a decidedly unexpected but perfectly logical downbeat ending, and best of all Bond and Digard eating up plenty of screentime and doing what they do best.

MV5BNjAzMTIxNDMzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTE2NzIyMQ@@._V1_SX640_SY720_

So yeah, what the hell — Below The Belt is definitely worth a look, and look at it you certainly can thanks to (need I even say it?) Something Weird Video, who released it on DVD some years back paired with another Novak sexploitationer, The Godson (which, if memory serves me correctly, I reviewed on this site a few years ago). Both films have been remastered to look as good as they possibly can and are presented full-frame with mono sound. Extras include the standard collection of Novak trailers and promo art, plus a couple of generally pretty decent, if quite grainy, Uschi solo loops (one of which is hidden as an “Easter egg”), which makes perfectly good sense given that she features, to one degree or another, in both films. Worth a buy if you’re a fan of these sorts of movies and can still manage to find it at anything like a semi-reasonable price.

FIt0U8xXtUK4xt_99_a

Voluptuous farmer’s daughter Moonbeam (played by Terry Gibson) has what passes for a “problem” in backwoods country in 1972 — she’s all of 19 years old and still unmarried. Needless to say her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Swyner  (Bruce Kimball, working under the pseudonym of “Buck Wayne,” and Gina Paluzzi, respectively) are worried about this situation to no end, but what they don’t know is that their darling not-so-little girl is getting it on with every single swinging dick the countryside has to offer, including those between the legs of local yokel stud Jasper (John Keith — who makes time with every chick in the movie), another dimwit named Wyngate (Paul Stanley —  don’t get excited Kiss fans, not that one), and even, when she drifts off to dreamland, an imaginary handsome prince (Nick Armmans) who used to be not a frog, but her prize porker, Lord Hamilton.

Running concurrently with all this in The Pigkeeper’s Daughter (which is, if you hadn’t sussed it out already, a Harry Novak production) is a secondary “plot” involving a nameless traveling salesman (Peter James) who arrives in hick country thinking he’s going to pull one over on all the locals (to the point where he even sings about it), but ends up consistently getting the wool yanked down over his eyes by every lusty  Daisy Duke-wannabe he encounters, his string of less-than-conquests beginning with a supposedly 15-year-old hitch-hiker (an uncredited Tina Smith, who’s way too — uhhhmmm — developed to fool anyone into believing that she’s really that young), and continuing on to include the likes of Moonbeam’s virgin-until-about-20-minutes-ago cousin, Patty (Peggy Church, trying to hide behind the name “Patty Smith”) and even Mrs. Swyner herself, who screws her way into a free perfume payday.

pig-keepers-featured

There’s no point kidding ourselves — director Bethel Buckalew (who lensed a fair number of Novak’s softcore sleaze-fests, both rural and otherwise) isn’t offering anything up here beyond standard-issue sexploitation, and The Pigkeeper’s Daughter may even, believe it or not, have less of an actual “story” going on than most of its contemporaries, but one thing that does stand out here is what a fair approximation of the Russ Meyer formula we’re treated to , with the women (even the decidedly less attractive ones, like Paluzzi) all being of the decidedly curvy (and natural!) variety, while the men are invariably inbred dumbfucks who blindly follow their cocks into almost any obviously-stupid situation just for the promise of free and easy country pussy.

unnamed

Poor Monnbeam’s marital situation is never exactly resolved, it’s true, but that doesn’t matter so much because by about ten minutes into our roughly 90-minute (which is, frankly, way too long) runtime here, it’s crystal clear that the “script” only exists as a device for stringing the sex scenes together — and to be honest, this one gets pretty down and dirty and I wouldn’t doubt for a second that the actors were really going at it much of the time, with the camera positioned in just such a way at just the right times to obscure any actual penetration.

If that’s enough to keep your attention glued to the screen, then congratulations, you’re in for a good time, even if you have to look at a lot of hairy, pale male flesh along the way. If you’re in the mood for something that at least pretends to have aspirations of being an actual movie, though — well, you’re better off looking just about anywhere else.

MV5BNjc0NzU2NjQxM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMzE4MDc5._V1_SX640_SY720_

For anyone inclined to give The Pigkeeper’s Daughter a shot (or should that be a poke?), it’s available on DVD from — do I even need to say it? — Something Weird Video, where it’s paired with the genuinely bizarre (and previously-reviewed-around-these-parts) Sassy Sue. Both of these nominally-remastered flicks are presented full frame with mono sound and extras include the usual bevy of thematically-related Novak trailers, promo art, shorts, and what have you. It’s actually a pretty darn solid double-bill if you’re a fan of these sorts of horny hillbilly shenanigans, but anybody and even everybody else can safely skip it.

 

 

midnight_plowboy_poster_01

 

Remember what I said the other day about being done with hicksploitation for the time being? I lied.

I didn’t mean to, honest, but earlier today I was a little bored and gave 1971’s Midnight Plowboy (also released under the not-quite-alternate-per-se title of Midnite Plowboy) a go, and ya know what? By the end of it I was still bored. Maybe even more bored than I was before.

The title of this outing that unites the “talents” of producer Harry Novak, director Bethel Buckalew (once again credited only by his surname here) and star John Tull for the first (I’m assuming) time is clever enough, I suppose, given that Midnight Cowboy had just won the Oscar for best picture a couple of years previously and a number of prints of that soon-to-be-regarded-as-a-classic were still playing drive-ins all over the country, but honestly, the “humor” quotient in this one never really rises above the “so obvious you just have to groan” level — which is okay for 10, 20, maybe even 30 minutes, but it’s not enough to carry an entire 84-minute feature, especially when the only thing punctuating it is bog-standard softcore sex that’s even duller than your grand-dad’s old pocket knife.

mp1o

 

Here’s the rundown : dumbfuck inbred hick Junior (Tull, who sure seems to gravitate toward characters with that name) decides to give it a go in Hollywood when the ladies in his po-dunk Alabama (I think, at any rate) town prove unwilling, and within minutes of hitting Tinseltown he’s getting it on in the backseat of a car with some blonde “free love” type while her hubby watches. Then he finds his way to a brothel run by a madame named — errr — Madame (played by Nan Cee — get it? Sure you do) where, despite being flat broke and smelling, no doubt, like a barnyard, he beds every single chick in the joint before being hired on as their chauffeur. Not of a limo, mind you — but of a van, given that the girls seem to work in a pack every night.

The usual inept sexual hijinks ensue — lots of anatomically impossible positions, little to no exposed male genitalia but plenty of boobs ‘n butts n’ bush , you know the drill (no pun intended — I promise) — and along the way Junior actually falls for one of the working girls (who’s portrayed by Debbie Osborne, the only chick in the flick I actually recognized) before — well, shit, that’s about it. The movie doesn’t even “end” so much as it just stops.

MidPlo1

 

Unfortunately, it probably should have stopped a lot sooner because, while the cast, to their credit, do seem to be having a fun, high-spirited time, that never translates over to the audience very much. I’m glad they all enjoyed gettin’ nekkid together, it’s just a shame that they didn’t give us any reason to enjoy watching them.

Ah well, the Novak/Buckalew/Tull triumvirate would end up following the old “practice makes perfect” adage and do a much better job of things just two short years later with Sassy Sue.

MV5BMTkxMzI5MDQyNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDAxMTgxMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_

 

If you feel compelled to blow off my advice, though, Midnight Plowboy is available doubled-up with another “hit” from the Novak-Buckalew creativity juggernaut, the equally dire Country Cuzzins, on DVD from Something Weird Video. Both are presented full-frame with mono sound,  the prints look reasonably good (or good enough, at any rate), and you can make out all the dialogue and canned grunting and groaning just fine. Extras are the usual smorgasbord of backwoods-lovin’-related shorts, trailers, etc. In other words, nothing too special — and maybe enough to really get me off hickspoitation once and for all. Or at least until the next time I’m bored again.

junior-comes-of-age-and-sassy-sue-makes-him-love-it-movie-poster-1975-1020204081

I guess it’s pretty obvious if you’re a reg’lar ’round these here parts that yours truly has been on something of a hicksploitation kick lately, and since I never seem to know when to quit, last night I gave ultra-sleazy 1973 Harry Novak production Sassy Sue a whirl, and ya know what? I think I might just have had my fill of this extinct subgenre for awhile.

It’s not that this softcore effort directed by old skin pro Bethel Buckalew (here credited only by his last name for some reason) is all that bad, per se — it’s just that it’s hard to imagine anything sleazier or more tasteless, so I might as well quit while I’m ahead — and by “ahead” I mean, of course, at the absolute bottom of the barrel.

tallie and colleen

To the extent that this flick can be said to have a “plot,” then,  here it is : somewhere way below the Mason-Dixon line, farmer/moonshiner Pa Willard (Patrick Wright) is worried that his dim-witted, most-likely-inbred son, Junior (John Tull) is a little too interested in the livestock — particularly Sassy Sue, one of the family cows — than he is the nubile young ladies running around the countryside in their Daisy Duke shorts (when they bother to wear anything at all, that is), and so he arranges for a bevy of hot n’  horny young honeys to come on by the homestead and give seducing his boy a go.

Pa gets it on with some of the gals, and so does Junior (thankfully), but that gol’ durn dimwit just can’t seem to keep his mind off the cow for very long —

So, yeah, the bestiality theme certainly adds an extra layer of unwholesomeness to this turgid cinematic cesspool, but beyond that the one other thing that seems to set Sassy Sue apart from its other county cuzzins is the fact that, tedious and repetitive as things get (and let’s face it, in these early ’70s nudie films that’s entirely par for the course),  the various (no doubt under-paid) actors and actresses all seem to be visibly having fun with this admittedly idiotic material. In fact, the only person who seems bored by it all is Buckalew, who never gets beyond your basic “point and shoot” approach — although, in fairness to him, it’s not like the material requires anything more than that. So the “what the fuck do you expect?” factor definitely comes into play here.

sassiesue1

As for the flesh on display, a veritable “who’s who” of sexploitation starlets bare it all for the camera here, most notable among them being the semi-legendary Sharon Kelly (or, as she’s better known in this day and age, Colleen Brennan), who’s joined by the likes of Tallie Cochrane, Sandy Carey, Karen Cooknell, and Jeanne Durham, to drop just a few names that fans of this brand of “entertainment” will most likely recognize. Sure, Rene Bond and/or Uschi Digard seem notable by their absence, but apart from them, it seems the gang’s all here, and they really do seem to be enjoying their various and sundry rolls in the hay — even if the guys have a habit of leaving their overalls on.

Or, heck, maybe because the guys have a habit of leaving their overalls on.

MV5BMTgzNzEwNjY4NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjU5NjcyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_

Sassy Sue is available on DVD from Something Weird Video (who else?), where it’s paired with another Novak-produced backwoods boobs n’ butts number, The Pigkeeper’s Daughter. The full frame transfers and mono sound  on both movies are pretty darn nice all things considered, and extras are of the usual “assorted shorts and trailers that are of a piece with the main features” variety. Nothing too terribly remarkable, but it all works,  and even though at 84 minutes this one could stand to lose a good 10 to 15 to  help maintain audience interest a bit more, all in all it’s a reasonably entertaining piece of entirely predictable monkey (or , I guess, cow) business.