Monday, November 30, 2015

99 WOMEN (1969)



     When going into a Jess Franco film, you know you’re most likely to get either a boring piece of shit, or a film that’s mildly entertaining yet forgettable. On a rare occasion, however, Jess Franco produces a flick that’s actually decent and worth adding to one’s collection. One example is 1969’s women in prison movie, 99 Women.
     Three women—Marie (Maria Rhom), Helga (Eliza Montes) and Natalie (Luciana Paluzzi)—are sent to an island prison run by Governor Santos (Herbert Lom) and his sadistic lesbian director Thelma (Mercedes McCambridge) who subject the women to brutal forms of discipline. When the new director Leonie Carrol (Maria Schell) arrives at the prison and decides that the current methods of discipline are too harsh, Marie sees a chance to have her case reevaluated and perhaps gain her freedom. When that fails, Marie sees that her only attempt at freedom will be by escaping. Will she and the two other women in tow be able to elude not only Santos and the guards but the horny male prisoners (also on the island) who haven’t seen/been with a woman for some time?
     Okay, let’s just admit: the plot is only an excuse to show a bunch of naked women engaged in lesbian acts as well as hardcore inserts shot by Bruno Mattei.
I’m not complaining of course because the lesbian scenes are nice and erotic and the hardcore scenes are nice as well. Plus, who can really bitch about a flimsy plot when tons of Euro-babe skin and untamed beaver is on display?
     I sure wasn’t when my pants decided to rise for a better view of the action.
     Some of the hardcore inserts are kind of goofy and have no context. Many just pop up outta nowhere. One in particular came as a surprise: the girl is just chillin’ there, mindin’ her own business, when—bam!—a dude jumps into the shot and fucks her. Almost comical.
     And speaking of comical, there’s one insert in which a dude and chick are 69-ing; the dude’s mouth is nowhere near the chick’s pussy—yet he is moving his tongue around as though he’s performing oral! Gave me a good belly laugh.
     And some of the scenes involving the male prisoners are rather inept because they’re all wearing watches. Last I checked, this sort of stuff was confiscated at the prison. But who really gives a fuck? We’re just here for the sex and nudity!
     What else is there to say about the film? Well…uh…the acting seems decent, though it’s hard to be certain seeing as the movie is in French. And despite how flimsy the story is I found myself entertained by it and actually liking and caring about some of the characters.
     99 Women joins the ranks of the one other Franco movie I’ve enjoyed: Sadomania. And it is definitely one I’ll be adding to my collection—and soon. After all, one can never have enough material that turns your dick into a tree.


"We keep all the good stuff downstairs."

Friday, November 27, 2015

THE SINFUL DWARF (1974)



How can you make drugging young women, locking them in an attic and prostituting them out to horny men more repulsive that it already is? Make the protagonist a sadistic dwarf who lures unsuspecting ladies into his home with toys. Even better, ensure that the actor playing the dwarf is the host of a Danish kiddie-show.
     In 2009, Severin Films unleased the 1974 film The Sinful Dwarf onto American audiences in both its softcore and hardcore versions (this review concerns the softcore version). The DVD cover is littered with blurbs such as “Best. Plot. Ever. Weird, demented and amazing… The whole movie delivers the goods” (Cinema is King), and “Over the top with nudity, sex and disturbing images. It just doesn’t get any sleazier, folks!” (The Daily Grindhouse). Indeed, I’d heard from several sources that this film was as sleazy as they come, as demented as it gets. So, did the film live up to its reputation?
     Well…
     Mary (Anne Sparrow) and her husband Peter (Tony Eades) move into the boarding house run by Olaf (Torben Bille) and his mother, ex-nightclub singer Lila Lash (Clara Keller). Unbeknownst to the young couple, Olaf and Lila have a secret hidden away in their attic: several young women who are kept drugged up on heroin and prostituted out to men! Frequently hearing the noises made by the women, and the men who come to get their rocks off, Anne begins to investigate. At the same time, Olaf has grown bored with his current batch of beauties and has set his sights on Anne with the intention of adding her to the collection.
     Let’s just say that this film’s reputation promises more than the actual product delivers, which is standard practice in the exploitation world. While, yes, the film does deliver the sleaze, it all feels as though the filmmakers were following a How-To manual on sleaze, piling it on until it’s just boring, and it all lacks the energy found in other sleaze flicks. Even a whipping scene feels tacked on—and is pulled off with such ineptitude that it manages to make the whipping scene in Blood Feast look entirely convincing. Olaf could certainly compete with other sleazy characters for the Sleazeball of the Century award but the rest of the film contains nothing that hasn’t been seen before.

     And given that the characters this movie lures to their doom are as bland and uninteresting as cigarette ash, the audience doesn’t care what type of perversions they are subjected to. The only characters who really stand out are Lila, Olaf, and Santa Clause (Wener Hedman), a drug dealer who smuggles drugs in teddy bears. Unfortunately they are relegated to supporting roles—Olaf! Given a supporting role in his own movie! That was a big mistake on the part of the writers because the other characters are not worth spending more than five minutes with—and that’s being generous. Mary is your stereotypical exploitation blonde, i.e. nice body, no talent or brains; Peter is a struggling writer (whom we don’t really see doing much writing—no wonder he’s struggling!) who seems to just be there because Mary needs a husband. Plus, their sex scene would give Olaf a chance to spy on something, and smile that devious little smile of his.
     Of course, this being an exploitation film, complaining about the presence of boring, stock characters is kind of like complaining about your teeth when you accidentally bite your lip: such is to be expected.
     However, stock characters wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the story and plot were interesting. Sadly, this is where the movie really fails. The softcore version is 95 minutes long. The first hour or so is basically comprised of Anne playing Nancy Drew, Anne being Peter’s wife, Lila engaging in a few drunken musical numbers to entertain her friend, Peter walking around trying to sell his “writing” and looking for a job, Olaf shuffling around and being sleazy, and a few sex scenes along with the aforementioned whipping scene. The plot doesn’t get moving until the last 25 minutes or so, but by then it’s too little, too late. We do get the infamous “walking stick” scene—which involves Olaf’s walking stick and Anne’s vagina, you do the math—but the scene is hardly shocking or disturbing and is just getting in the way of the film’s closing credits. Or, maybe we’ve just been numbed by the snail-in-molasses pace of the film’s first hour. You figure it out.
     Overall, The Sinful Dwarf is worth checking out as an object of curiosity as well as for Olaf who, as I mentioned earlier, makes the film worth sitting through. Just don’t expect to be pimping this film out to your friends—unless you hate them.
Olaf is peeking in on a better movie.

SLIME CITY (1988)



    
It’s always depressing when a review make a film sound more entertaining than it really is. Such is the case with Slime City.
     Alex (Craig Sabin, credited as Robert C. Sabin) moves into a new apartment in New York City. The apartment is filled with weird tenants like his neighbor Roman (Dennis Embry, who resembles Lux Interior a bit) who’s a poet and garbage picker. One night Roman invites Alex to his apartment for dinner where Roman serves up some green goop (“Himalayan yogurt,” he calls it) and some kind of green beverage. After consuming it and fucking his neighbor Nicole, Alex begins to mutate into a slime-oozing psycho. Turns out a cult leader named Zachary and his followers committed suicide in the basement and the green shit is his way of gaining new bodies for the dead members. Will Alex’s girlfriend Lori (Mary Huner) be able to stop the Alex from becoming a totally murderous monster?
     Yeah, sounds like it could be a good slice of eighties cheese, right? Sadly, the film lacks the energy necessary to reach that level. It just sort of drags along from one scene to the next. Sure, it has its moments—a scene in which Alex’s stomach eats the arm of a mugger is a stand out, or when sausages stand-in for guts (!)—but the moments are few and far between. Also, the film has a sleazy look like it’s the retarded cousin of Basket Case, which is pretty cool, and the effects are well done. Oh, and I dug the soundtrack. Other than that, nothing much to recommend here. Rather dull actually, and I found myself more interested in my guitar than in the film. It was worth the $1.99 rental fee, and I might even buy it if I find it around the same price, but anything more would be a waste of money.