Posts Tagged ‘something weird video’

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What the hell, I’m in the mood to crank out one more review of a Harry Novak-produced softcore sexploitationer, so let’s close this little week-long series out with probably my favorite of the bunch — 1966’s black-and-white smutfest The Agony Of Love. What sets this one apart from the rest of its well-populated — and sadly extinct — genre? Two words : Pat Barrington.

For those who may not be familiar with the name, Ms. Barrington, who passed away in 2014, was a true standout of sultry sensuality at a time when, let’s face it, just about any woman who was willing to take off all her clothes in front of the camera could find work on these sorts of productions. This was her first crack at a “leading” role, and while she certainly displays no real acting range to speak of, that actually suits the material perfectly, given that her character, Barbara Thomas, is a bored and unsatisfied (both emotionally and sexually) well-to-do housewife who takes to renting out an apartment and prostituting herself behind the back of her cold and distant husband, Barton (played by Sam Taylor) in a fun, but ultimately fruitless,  quest for fulfillment.  Her unnamed shrink (James Brand, working under the name of R.A. Silverberg to disguise the fact that he throws on a hairpiece and portrays one of her clients later in the film) knows all about her supposedly lurid fantasies, of course, but apart from that her secret desires — most of which are pretty tame by today’s standards apart from a truly bizarre food-themed scene — are only shared with those willing to pay for her services, who are more than happy to indulge her at every turn. As they damn well should be. You’ve honestly gotta wonder who’s getting more out of the exchange — her or them?

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Given that this is a pretty early entry into the sexploitation canon, plenty of “rules” of the genre are broken, given that they hadn’t even been established yet. For one thing, rather than a guy getting it on with a lot of different ladies, this one’s about a lady getting it on with a lot of different guys. For another, no one seems to have informed director William Rotsler that all he needs to do is point the camera and shoot, and so we actually are treated to a fair number of interesting and highly effective shots.  And lastly and perhaps most importantly, The Agony Of Love is one of the far-too-few skin flicks that understands that a plot is more than some throwaway device cobbled together to have some sort of plausible explanation for why everyone is fucking all the time and can instead be utilized to make all those sex scenes matter to viewers for reasons other than just getting their rocks off. In fact, one could even argue that Ms. Barrington is given an honest-to-goodness “character arc” here and that said sex scenes further it along.

As mentioned already, emoting isn’t really one of our leading lady’s skills, but she sure can do the “blank stare” look just fine, and given her character’s mental and emotional state throughout, it’s pretty easy to read those listless expressions as purposeful “far away, empty gazes” even if they’re simply signs of either supreme uninvolvement or, more likely, just good old-fashioned inability. It’s not too terribly often that a genuine lack of skill plays to someone’s strengths, limited as they may be, but that’s definitely the case here.

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And yeah — it sure doesn’t hurt that our gal Pat is shapely in the extreme, either. She’d later go on to appear in a number of roles more, shall we say, tailored towards her specific physical endowments, such as when she popped up (and popped her shirt off) in Russ Meyer’s Mondo Topless, but it’s to Rotsler’s credit that he treats her as more than just admittedly quite delicious eye candy here and trusts her enough to actually carry a picture while providing her with a script, which he also wrote, that puts her in a position to do precisely that.

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So, now that I’ve hopefully convinced you that The Agony Of Love is actually worth seeing, where can you find it? Why, on DVD from Something Weird Video, of course, who saw fit to pair it on a double-bill with the far-more-lackluster The Girl With The Hungry Eyes. Both films are presented, as you’d expect, full frame and with mono sound, and both actually look quite good. Extras are, primarily, the usual smorgasbord of Novak-related stills, promo art, and trailers, and there are a couple of thematically-and chronologically-relevant, but by and large dull, short loops included, as well. Probably only worth buying for the sake of the main feature, but hey — that alone definitely justifies the price of admission.

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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When a couple of big-city musicians head out to the sticks to play a country music gig at a backwater honky-tonk, any number of things could happen, I suppose — but if they’re doing it in 1974, one thing that was almost ubiquitous along the two-lane roads (paved or otherwise) of our always-lusty country were sexy female hitch-hikers.

Unless, ya know, TV and movies have been lying to me all these years. Which is, I suppose, distinctly possible.

Still, County Hooker being a Harry Novak production and all, veracity is of little concern to the proceedings, and so our ostensible “heroes,” Dave (played by Rick Lutze) and Billy (John Paul Jones — no, Zeppelin fans, not that one) do indeed come across a pair of comely young farmer’s daughters named Sue (Rene Bond, in an early, pre-breast implants performance) and Jan (Sandy Dempsey) with their thumbs out, offer the ladies a ride, and find themselves “paid back” for their troubles in the way that men always are by grateful and/or desperate women in flicks of this sort.

When all that good backwoods fuckin’ is done, though, our quartet quickly finds that they’ve got big  problems on their hands —

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The ladies haven’t been entirely honest with the gents, you see, and not only do they work at the very same banjo-twangin’ joynt the fellas are headed to, the throaty singer, Mike (Louis Ojena) who makes his regular home on the stage there is also a bad-ass hayseed pimp, and the waitresses — including Sue and Jan (and be on the lookout for softcore stalwart Maria Arnold) — all work for him off the clock. Sue’s committed the ultimate infraction in the “pleasure business,” though, by immediately falling head over heels for Dave, but if she thinks she’s gonna get out of her — ahem! — indentured servitude and go live the life of a musician’s main squeeze, she’s got another thing coming, because nobody breaks out of Mike’s lecherous clutches without a fight.

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For about 75% of its roughly 75-minute runtime, Country Hooker plays out more or less exactly as you’d expect, with only the most threadbare of “plots” on hand to string together a fair number of distinctly unimaginative, “point-and-shoot” softcore sex scenes, but towards the end director Lew Guinn and whoever wrote the (I’m guessing) six-or eight-page screenplay decide to throw some tragedy into the mix, and tragedy of a decidedly brutal nature at that, and so one of our leading ladies — I won’t say which — meets her end at the hands of her boss in a genuinely stomach-churning (and unconscionably lengthy) rape-and-murder scene that could give even I Spit On Your Grave a run for its money.

Can you say incongruous? Sure you can, even if you were educated in a one-room country schoolhouse. And that, with apologies to Pee-Wee Herman, is our word for the day around here. Most of what’s on offer here is bog-standard rolling in the hay, with a selection of half-assed wisecracks and badly-dubbed country music to break up the monotony (not that watching Rene Bond faux-screwing is every truly dull), and it’s obvious that no one from Novak on down is taking things very seriously because there’s absolutely no reason to. And then, pretty much out of nowhere, things take a turn for the way darker, way bleaker, and way deadlier. Frankly, the whole tone of the film is shot right to hell and I honestly have to wonder how drive-in and jack-shack inner city grindhouse audiences reacted at the time, because it’s a serious mood-wrecker.

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Still, if a woody-killer is what you’re in the mood for, Country Hooker is available on DVD from (who else?) Something Weird Video where it’s paired with another Novak barnyard romp, Sweet Georgia, Both are presented full-frame with mono sound and extras are the usual SWV collection of thematically-related loops and promo materials. I’ll say this much for this movie — it’s certainly memorable, even if for all the wrong reasons.

 

 

 

Here’s a weird one for you, friends — would you believe that, in 1965, drive-in audiences were served up a (somewhat) responsible treatise on race relations from the guy who directed Olga’s House Of Shame?

I know, I know — it seems highly unlikely, and yet that’s exactly what we have with Joseph P. Mawra (here working under the name of J. P. Mawra)’s regional cheapie Murder In Mississippi, and even if the region it played in might not be the one you expect, I still give this flick points for having more guts than anything the big studio machine was cranking out at the time.

Filmed in the exact same upstate New York wooded locales as the first Olga flick, it’s a fairly sold bet that, given its volatile subject matter, Mawra’s little black-and-white opus never made it south of the Mason-Dixon line, since I can’t find any archived news stories in relation to the riots and unrest it would almost certainly have triggered among racist white southerners, and while piggy-backing onto tragedy is never exactly a classy move, this flick, coming reasonably hot on the heels of the murder of civil rights volunteers in Philadelphia, Mississippi,  at least has its heart in the right place and was ballsy enough to take a definite point of view on the issue — which is more than you can say for most Hollywood product at the time, which was doing its utmost to flat-out ignore the toxic reality of Jim Crow.

Fortunately for us, of course, this movie now seems an anachronistic leftover from a bygone age, since  times have moved on and local law enforcement no longer unfairly targets people based solely on the color of their skin, and certainly doesn’t resort to anything like the murder of unarmed black youths under the flimsiest of pretexts — wait, scratch that, I guess nothing’s really changed at all, so let’s take a little more detailed look at this film that by all rights shouldn’t be topical any longer, but sadly still is, shall we?

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Lovely UVA co-ed Carol Lee Byrd (Sheila Britt, credited here as Sheila Britton) and her racially diverse group of friends arrive in a no-name  Mississippi town to register black voters when local sheriff  Engstrom (Derek Crane) takes notice of the “outside agitators” (a term thought lost to time until the Ferguson chief of police recently, and shamefully, resurrected it) and warns the bunch to head back north. They don’t, so he and his deputy/brother, Bob (John Steel) and a couple of their sleazy greaseball pals kill a couple of the kids and take pretty Carol Lee hostage. Problem is, she comes from a wealthy family and her brother’s a famous New York actor, so when he comes down looking to pay his sister’s ransom, you’d think the heat would be on the racist cops, right?

There’s just one wrinkle, though — brother Dick (Richard Towers) is a sell-out phony who could care less about civil rights and is happy to let the black folks of Mississippi keep suffering as long as he gets his sister back in one piece and she agrees to give up all this foolish nonsense and go back to school.  Along the way, the crackers’ kidnapping scheme goes pear-shaped, Mawra and screenwriter/producer Herbert S. Altman spend a long time intimating that one of the greasy, chicken-chompin’ honkies might decide to rape Carol Lee while she’s in captivity, and once she escapes, one of her black friends is castrated (in long, drawn-out, entirely unconvincing fashion) by the good ole boys once they run their fleeing quarry down.

As events progress we’re treated to some truly atrocious night shoot filming that’s so damn poorly lit that it’s well nigh impossible to make out what’s happening, but at the end of the day the FBI finally shows up,  everyone is brought in front of a federal Civil Rights Commissioner,  and it seems all will be well — until the commissioner turns out to be completely in the pocket of Engstrom and suddenly the prospect of he and his co-defendants getting off scott-free appears to be very real indeed.

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Not so fast, though, lovers of truth, justice, and equality — with two out in the bottom of the ninth and things looking beyond bleak for our courageous freedom marchers, Mawra and Altman pull a happy ending out of their ass that’s downright whiplash-inducing in its suddenness, complete with stock footage of LBJ himself addressing the nation! It’s incongruous in the extreme, to say the least, and enough to make the average white southerner circa 1965 positively hurl in their popcorn, but rest assured that after numerous trials and tribulations, the good guys do win — even if it sure doesn’t look like they’re going to with less than two minutes to go.

For that reason alone, as well as its attempt to tackle head-on topics that the major studios of the day were treating like an electrified third rail, Murder In Mississippi is well worth your time, despite the fact that its production values are uniformly shoddy, even by regional exploitation film standards. In my book, you needn’t be perfect if you’re at least willing to be brave, and this is a surprisingly brave piece of movie-making, especially considering who was behind the whole thing.

For those interested in having a look at this fairly realistic account of just how goddamn bad things were in the segregated south, Something Weird Video has paired it on DVD the similarly-themed Black Rebels on an extras-heavy “special edition” disc, but our good friends at The Movie And Music Network also have made it available for streaming online, and readers of this site can watch it for free by following the link underneath the poster at the top of this review. I can only hope that there are some enterprising young filmmakers out there who are working on similar projects today based on events in places like Ferguson, Cleveland, and New York, and that 50 years from now we can look back at their efforts and be positively shocked and appalled at how certain members of our law enforcement community continued to treat people of color nearly a half-century after Jim Crow supposedly ended.

 

Halloween might be over (just barely), but you know we’re not done talking about horror movies here because — well, shit, we never are. We’re just shifting our focus slightly given that it’s been far too long since we ran a “Grindhouse Classics” review here, and even farther too long (ummm — I’d better check that for grammatical accuracy) since we looked at a flick from the “Godfather of Gore” himself, the incomparable Herschell Gordon Lewis. Seriously, what kind of self-respecting “B-Movie” blog doesn’t find its way back to HGL at least once every few months or so?

The answer, apparently, is this one, so please allow me to make up for lost time by telling you, dear reader, about the sublime pleasures of 1970’s The Wizard Of Gore, a film especially worthy of attention given that our friends over at the Movie And Music Network have made it freely available to followers of this site simply by clicking on the link underneath the photo of the poster above. Yeah, it’s also available on both DVD and Blu-Ray (where it’s paired with The Gore Gore Girls) from Something Weird Video, and it’s definitely worth a purchase in either or both of those formats given that SWV have pulled out all the stops by remastering the full-frame picture and mono sound and loading the packages up with extras like a full-length commentary track from Lewis himself and a very cool gallery of exploitation stills, promo photos, etc., but still — free is free, right? And the Something Weird channel over at MMN has a boat-load of other great titles worth checking out, as well, so hey — I strongly encourage you to support the fine work these folks are doing by clicking the link and watching this movie at no cost to you.

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Hell, even if you’ve seen this before — and it’s a good best many, if not most, of you have — it’s one of those true gems that’s worth re-visiting every year or two just because it’s so goddamned much fun. Honestly, if you love Lewis, everything you want is in here — hilariously OTT performances, tons of low-grade gore effects that are heavy on the red Karo syrup and store-bought meat. wooden supporting characters, cheap sets and costumes, and as an added bonus, a little bit of the poorly-thought-through mind-fuckery that permeates his drug-sploitation opus,   Something Weird,  sneaks its way into the ending here, as well. What more could you possibly ask for?

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I’m assuming that only the briefest of plot recaps is in order here, so here goes : bellicose magician Montag the Magnificent ( last-minute substitute “star” Ray Sager, who goes about his work with a shit-ton of gusto but zero talent, and looks a lot  like a 75-year-old Harry Reems) is packing houses in an unnamed (but obviously South Florida-located) town with his bloody spectacle of a show that features the ultra-violent, slow-burn dismemberment, disembowelment, and all-around sadistic torture of female volunteers from his audience. You name it, he sticks these ladies into it — guillotines, punch presses, the list is endless and highly varied. But hey — it’s just show biz, right? And moments after being butchered in front of everyone’s eyes, the gals are all back, and seemingly none the worse for wear.

Except — they all tend to turn up dead, this time for real, later on, and usually by the exact same method they at least looked to be killed by during the show.

That might raise some suspicions to you or I, but for TV chat-show host Sherry Carson (Judy Cler — whose daytime program is the quaintly-titled “Housewives’ Coffee Break”), her motives are a bit different. Having witnessed Montag’s act not once,  but twice, in the company of her personality-free boyfriend, Jack (Wayne Ratay), she’s more concerned with proving our guy to be a not-so-magnificent fraud. One has to wonder if she’d even be pursuing the story at all if the women just died on stage rather like they were “supposed” to.

Still, such absurdities of logic (isn’t all illusion technically “fraudulent”?) have no place in the examination of an HGL production, because — well, they just don’t. These flicks operate under their own set of rules, where the only consideration being pursued is how to get the whole thing done as gruesomely and cheaply as possible. Viewed through that lens — provided you can put aside your concerns about the film’s blatantly obvious misogyny, of course — The Wizard Of Gore  can be considered nothing but an astonishing success.

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Please, though, whatever you’re doing, don’t come into this looking for an explanation as to how all this shit is happening by the time it’s over. It’s not that Herschell doesn’t provide one — it’s just that he and screenwriter Allen Kahn don’t care if it makes any sense. We all know that “mind-bending” psychedelia was the order of the day back when this thing came out, but even by the non-standards of the time, the non-resolution offered here strains credulity well beyond the breaking point. You just have to simply not give a shit about anything other than blood, guts, and sleaze to appreciate The Wizard Of Gore for what it is — namely, a non-stop parade of, well, blood, guts, and sleaze that certainly never takes itself at all seriously and assumes, quite rightly, that you won’t (or at least shouldn’t), either.

That certainly doesn’t add up to it being anything like a conventionally-defined “good” movie, but so what? The fun here is in the fact that it’s not a conventionally-defined “bad” movie, either — or even a “so-bad-it’s-good” movie. It’s just pure, unmitigated, balls-to-the-walls shlock and shock, with absolutely nothing to offer by way of any redeeming qualities whatsoever. Not only is there no “message” to be gleaned from its proceedings, there’s no point. You may call that whatever you wish, but I call it a very special brand of genius.

It’s easy to get distracted by Halloween horror marathons, sidesteps into the world of comics, the occasional Hollywood blockbuster, noteworthy documentaries, etc., but flicks like The Wizard Of Gore remain, at the end of the day, what we’re all about here at TFG. Follow the link up top, watch it now, wallow in the celluloid filth, and love every minute of it.

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If you buy the 1971 copyright credit on legendary exploitation producer Harry Novak’s The Godson — and I guess there’s really no reason not to — then that means only one thing : they got this sleazy softcore number “in the can,” so to speak, in a hurry. A quick nudie cash-in on Coppola’s mob masterpiece was a given, of course, but the fact that writer/director William Rostler (who, interestingly enough, went on to a career in children’s television) was able to crank this out for Novak later during the very same year that The Godfather was released — in fact, you can rest assured Francis Ford’s opus was still playing when this one hit The Deuce and various grindhouse and drive-in screens across the country — is a fairly impressive feat, in my view. Not that my standards for what constitutes being “impressive” are all that high, mind you, but whatever.

And speaking of being impressive, a lot of the nubile female flesh on display here is precisely that. The poster for this flick proclaims their main girl, Lois Mitchell, to be “the most exciting new discovery of the decade” (keep in mind the decade was rather young), and while that might be a little bit much, she’s certainly easy on the eyes, particularly in the opening credits sequence that’s lifted more directly from the James Bond series than it is any mob movie. Sexploitation starlets Uschi Digard — who, sadly, only appears in one scene, but at least it’s a memorable one — Maria Arnold, June Allyson, and the one-time Mrs. Richard Pryor herself, Deborah McGuire (who also turned up briefly in Russ Meyer’s Supervixens , so Uschi’s  not the only “R.M. girl” to be ogled here) clock in for duty as well, so hey, there’s not a whole lot to complain about in the simulated-bumping-and-grinding department.

Unless you count that the fact that so much of it is decidedly strange, even by pre-Deep Throat standards, when you had to get inventive to get noticed because you couldn’t legally go “all the way” yet . Seriously, it’s no huge wonder that “discovery of the decade” Mitchell only went on to appear in one more film in her short career (and in a bit part, no less), given the confusing entry into the business she endured here. She shows a fair amount of gung-ho phony enthusiasm for the more “hands-on” aspects of her work, but Rostler can’t decide if he wants to make a hard-hitting misogynistic mob movie or a Benny Hill-style romp, and the end result is softcore with a decidedly split personality .  Still, that gives it a leg up over its mostly-dull competition in my view, and   trust me when I say that the keen eye will be rewarded by paying close attention to one scene in particular that Rostler offers up here. More on that in a minute, though — first we’ve gotta talk plot.

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Calling the story in this one “paper thin” is probably being a little generous, but that’s true for any early-’70s softcore effort, isn’t it? Marco (Jason Yukon) is the godson of a feared mob boss who’s determined to make his own mark in the underworld and break out from the long shadow cast by his benefactor (who, of course, he resents the hell out of) . To that end,  he double-crosses his Don by turning the previously-failing local brothel into a rip-roaring success, but his business acumen angers the wrong folks and proves to the key to his eventual downfall. Whoops, sorry for giving away the ending — suffice to say he’s not the only one who dies, though.

In between all this middling quasi-drama the girls he employs are put through a heck of a workout, and by and large seem to be having fun. Hicksploitation stalwart John Tull turns up to get his willie wet, and I vaguely recognize some of the other guys in this one as well, but the most recognizable face appears only briefly and  is obscured by two naked women positioned on his lap — none other than legendary science fiction scribe Harlan Ellison is the lucky fella in question, in a scene that sees our ladies performing an “outcall service” in the writer’s actual (as in real life) home. Yes, friends, this is most definitely the only (nominal) mob flick that depicts a post-sci fi convention geek orgy, guaranteed!

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The Godson is probably worth a watch for that fact alone, but a little more Uschi would have been welcome (I suppose you can say that about any film, though), especially since even though, as I mentioned, the other ladies all seem plenty hot to trot, she still puts ’em all to shame with her boundless bouncing and eager carnal euphoria. I have no idea if she’s anything like to always-ready-to-ride nympho she plays in every single one of her flicks, but ya know, it warms my heart to think that she might be.

Still, in case I haven’t made it abundantly clear already, The Godson is, at the very least, a decidedly different kind of sexploitation picture. Sure, it’s uneven, and frankly pretty amateurish in many places, but it’s at least never (well, never might be a reach — will you settle for almost never?) dull. I don’t really know if Rostler had a very clear idea of what he was doing here, but watching him try (and, sure, sometimes fail) to figure it out while a bunch of good-looking naked women writhe and gyrate isn’t the worst way to spend 92 minutes of your life.

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For those of you sufficiently intrigued to feast your eyes on this curiosity for  yourself, it’s available on a double-bill DVD from (of course) Something Weird Video, where’s it’s paired with the decidedly darker and more somber Below The Belt (which features a lot more of  Uschi, yay!). It’s presented in a reasonably good-looking full frame print with fairly solid mono sound, and the disc includes a veritable shitload of extras including a feature-length commentary track with Harry Novak and assorted co-conspirators, two short Uschi nudie loops including one where she meets Dracula, a generous sampling of trailers for other Novak sexploitationers,  and that “gallery of exploitation advertising art and stills” that’s ubiquitous on all of these SWV “special edition” discs they put out through Image Entertainment.  All in all it’s a heck of a nice package — and it definitely doesn’t hurt  that the main feature itself is a fair bit more interesting than most similar fare produced at the time.

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We all know how exploitation maestro William Girdler’s career (and, sadly, life) ended — in 1978, at the tragically early age of 30 and after having directed numerous B-movie hits such as The ManitouThree On A MeathookSheba, BabyDay Of The AnimalsAbby, and his most successful feature, Grizzly, he was killed in a helicopter crash in the Philippines while scouting locations for his next project.

Guess he never should have left Louisville, which is where more or less all of his previous flicks had been lensed, including the one we’re here to take a look at today, his 1972 debut effort, Asylum Of  Satan, which he directed, co-wrote, and composed the soundtrack music for when he still hadn’t been on this Earth for a quarter-century (specifically, he was 24).

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It’s a good job this isn’t the film he’s best known for, to be sure, since it’s a pretty choppy affair that feels hopelessly padded even at a meager 78 minutes, but hey — we all gotta start somewhere, right? And if I made a movie at that age (or, hell, even now) it would probably be a damn sight worse than this is. But that’s probably as close to “praise” as we can honestly get here, since Asylum Of Satan bears all the hallmarks of a work done by somebody who’s definitely learning on the job as he goes along.

Oh, sure, it exudes a reasonable (though far from overwhelming) amount of the kind of low-grade charm that these regional low-budget (this was made for a reported $50,000) efforts often do, but it’s nowhere near enough to save this haphazard, plodding affair from its own unique blend of lethargy and outright confusion. On the one hand it definitely feels like Girdler probably wants to scare us —  he just doesn’t seem to know how to go about doing it, nor does it feel like he’s got either the time or the inclination to figure out where and how he’s missing the boat.

The set-up here is a reasonably interesting, if cliched, one : our heroine, a young lady named Lucina (Carla Borelli), wakes up in an insane asylum with no clear idea of how she got there or why she can’t leave. Her “therapist” is a quietly threatening type named Dr. Jason Specter (Charles Kissinger), and his staff seem every bit as , well, “off” as he does. Her fiance,  Chris (Nick Jolley), comes calling one day but is quickly brushed away by the not-so-good doctor, which prompts the would-be groom to enlist the aid of local police lieutenant Tom Walsh (Louis Bandy), who relates that it couldn’t have been Dr. Specter he spoke to since — get this — the man’s been dead for years. However, prior to his demise, Specter had, in fact, been “picked up for devil worship” on more than one occasion (funny, I didn’t realize any religious practices were illegal in this country).

Anyway, to make a (too) long story short,  Dr. Specter’s alive and well , obviously, and his supposedly “abandoned” asylum is still operating — in fact, it serves a very special purpose : he kidnaps young co-eds and brings them there to prepare them for their future role as human sacrifices to Lucifer himself!

Between all these half-baked “revelations” we’re treated to several ineptly-staged “trippy, dreamlike” sequences, but by and large things don’t really threaten to get interesting until the devil finally makes the scene right near the end — and that’s only memorable for all the wrong reasons. Take a look at Girdler’s version of the so-called “Prince of Lies”  and you”ll see why :

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Yeah, I agree — Ed Wood probably would have done a better job. And so would his actors have. The performances in Asylum Of Satan  are uniformly cringe-worthy, but not in that “fun” or “camp” sort of way : they’re just flat-out listless, unprofessional, and bad. As is the script, As is the uninspired camera work. As is the painful musical score. As are the sets. As is the pacing. As is — well, you get the idea.

Still, you’ve gotta give Girdler credit for persistence. He didn’t give up after this one even though any sane human being probably would. He pressed on and got a little bit better with each successive attempt. There’s certainly nothing here to suggest that we had a genuine auteur on our hands, but damn if that isn’t exactly what he ended up becoming. All of which is enough to make you wonder if he cut some sort of deal with the devil in order to overcome his obvious deficiencies as a film-maker and achieve commercial success. The circumstances surrounding his death would certainly lend some credence to that theory.

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Asylum Of Satan is available on a double-bill DVD from Something Weird Video which sees it paired with the equally incompetent, bust vastly more interesting (not to mention fucked up), Satan’s Children (which was one of the first films I ever reviewed for this very blog). It’s presented full frame with mono sound, both of which are less than stellar but perfectly adequate all things considered. Extras are the usuaul SWV assortment of exploitation stills, artwork, and short subjects,  most of which feature, as you’d no doubt expect, a Satanic theme. It’s a reasonably fun little package, but hardly worth the exorbitant prices it commands on eBay, Amazon Marketplace, etc., owing to its out of print status. All in all, this is a flick that only die-hard Girdler completists need to have in their home library.

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Ah, Uschi. She really was something back in the day, wasn’t she? Admittedly, a good number of the flicks she appeared in were pretty dismal, but she could liven up even the most listless celluloid atrocity by just showing up on screen and taking her clothes off. Okay, her Swedish accent, when left un-doctored, was so thick as to be impenetrable, but who really cares? It’s not like she was hired for what she had to say or anything. She was there for her face, her body, and her always-lively performances. You don’t need to be overly fluent in English for any of that — hell, her fellow Swedes in ABBA didn’t even know what they were singing about and they went on to become one of the best-selling recording acts of all time.

And let’s be honest — it’s not like every film she was in was terrible. Not by a long shot. Her work with Russ Meyer was sensationally iconoclastic, legendary-for-good-reason stuff, and some of her less-well-remembered softcore efforts were pretty solid, as well.

Case in point : old-hand nudie director Edward L. Montoro’s 1970 steamy low-budgeter Getting Into Heaven. I’m not here to tell you it’s some lost classic or anything of the sort, but it is a fun, never-dull slice of skinema that stands apart from other productions of its ilk for, at the very least, being a consistently engaging production that all the principals involved in at least appear to be trying to make as good as it could possibly be. That’s worth at least a little something right there, isn’t it?

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The plot’s about as simple/pointless as one can imagine : Heaven (Uschi, working under the curious pseudonym of Marie Marceau) lives with an equally-pretty roommate, Sin (Jennie Lynn), and has a nice cop boyfriend (Scott Cameron) —but a future as an immigrant housewife just doesn’t appeal to her. She has her sights set on becoming a starlet, and is willing to do whatever it takes to land a part in the next big Hollywood production from the studio run by a hormy mogul named Mr. Salacity  (Miles White). Basically, of course, that means that she,  Sin,  and their friend Karen (Phyllis Stengel, credited here with the last name of “Stangel,” which is probably more a lazy typo on the producers’ part than an actual stage name) are going to have to take off their clothes a lot, sleep with anybody who can get them ahead, and — uhmmm — frolic around in the buff with a stuffed tiger. What a girl won’t do to pursue her dreams, huh?

Beyond that there’s not a great deal more one needs to know by way of specifics, apart from the fact that every woman in this movie is darn easy on the eyes and more than willing to disrobe at the drop of the hat and stay that way for a good few minutes. The simulated sex scenes are pretty standard (polite-speak for “physically impossible and designed more to show off female genitalia while keeping boy-parts obscured than for realism”) stuff for the time, but at least Montoro knows when enough is enough and it’s time to move on and set up the next one, which is more than you can say for a lot of similar contemporary fare. The “humor” is all groaningly obvious and more than a touch misogynistic, but shit, that’s all part of the morally, ethically, and artistically questionable “charm”  of these sorts of throwaway sex productions, right? And there’s nothing blatantly anti-female enough going on to rise to the level where it would genuinely bother your conscience. Frankly, nothing happening here even matters enough for that.

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Maybe it’s damning Getting Into Heaven with faint praise to say that its best attribute — apart from Uschi’s multiple attributes — is that isn’t boring, but hey, it’s still the truth. And how much more than that do any of us really ask for from any movie? Shoot, plenty of mega-budget blockbusters spend exponentially more money than what Montoro had to work with here and don’t come anywhere close to being as entertaining as this is. Which just goes to show that an amazing, all-natural hourglass figure trumps flashy CGI any day of the week.

And how many films can honestly say that the lead actress doesn’t even have to talk much to steal every scene she’s in?

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Getting Into Heaven is available on DVD from, as you’d probably expect, Something Weird Video, where it’s paired with the truly dire Angels. Both films feature reasonably good-looking full-frame transfers and adequate-if-you’re-not-expecting-much mono sound, and extras include a bevy of worn-down-looking Uschi short subjects (probably shot on short ends) along with trailers for and stills/artwork  from numerous other SWV softcore numbers . In other words, more or less exactly what we’ve come to expect from this sort of thing — but the film itself is definitely a notch above what we’ve come to expect from this sort of thing, and when it’s been a long day and you’re not in a particularly demanding mood, sometimes that’s enough.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.