Thursday, May 13, 2010

Let's Exploit This Sleaze: Answers 30-34

30. After getting shot in the head, the protagonist tries to survive by rubbing weight-loss cream all over his belly.

Answer (l); Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend (1992)

Scott Marcus (stage name Andern Scott) starred as a security guard who’s love life is non-existent. He’s a nice guy, and all, but boring as hell. Desperate for sex he graduates from cable porn to voyeurism. Not getting what he wants, he blows his entire life savings on prostitutes. He then gets the bright idea to record his encounters with them on audio and videotape.

Although the protagonist died in this picture, the movie was successful enough to spawn a sequel, titled The Hitler Tapes (1994), in which our protagonist somehow resurrects from the dead, and sees a psychiatrist about his sex addiction.

Unfortunately, like Tony McCabe, Scott never got to see his second movie. An armed robber shot him to death during his shift at a convenience store.

31. A pornographer lectures a young coed: “It's time for straight talk, Kim. It's not my fault you posed for Harmon. It's not my fault you posed for Larry in the nude. You did it. It’s your problem. It’s pretty late to act prissy and prim. All you kids make me sick! You act like little Miss Muffet and down inside your dirty. Do you hear me? Dirty! You’re greedy and self centered and think you can get away with anything. You’re no better than the girl who sells herself to a man. You’re worse because your a hypocrite. And now little Miss Muffet is in trouble and she's all outraged virtue. Well you listen and you listen well: you’re damaged merchandise and this is a fire sale. You walk outta here and your reputation won't be worth fifteen cents. You'll do as I tell you! Do you hear me? You'll do as I tell you!”

Answer (y); Scum of the Earth (1963 )

William Kerwin plays a glamour photographer, blackmailed by a pornographer into finding fresh talent. He’s again teamed up with Allison Louise Downe, who plays a young woman desperately in need of money for college. The above rant constitutes one of the most famous scenes of exploitation lore. Some buffs cite this film as the first roughie.

Figure 6. Scum of the Earth trailer

32. Harvey Korman (yes, that Harvey Korman) plays a pornographer who falls in love with the centerfold. His partner (the centerfold‘s husband) falls in love with a statuette.

Answer (r); Living Venus (1961)

In this flick, Korman teams up with the ubiquitous William Kerwin, only to get shafted when the Playboy-like magazine they start (Pagan) becomes extremely popular (not to mention lucrative). Kerwin’s character gets the idea for a men’s magazine when he obsesses over a statuette titled “Living Venus,” and persuades a cocktail waitress who resembles it to be the steady centerfold. In order to keep her from leaving the magazine, once it becomes a hit, he marries her, despite the fact that only Korman loves her.

33. A crime boss finds ever-inventive ways to torture her underlings when they disobey.

Answer (ag); White Slaves of Chinatown (1964)

Olga and her henchman/brother Nick starred in this five-movie serial. In each picture, she would find some new racket to get into: dope, espionage, diamonds, et cetera. Supporting these ventures was her main racket, prostitution. Through all these movies, part of her main struggles come from keeping her girls in line, often using drugs and bizarre torture methods.

Cincinnati native Audrey Campbell played Olga in the first three movies, all shot and released in 1964, and written and directed by Joseph Mawra. You can see a trailer of Olga at Something Weird Video (NSFW). If you’ll notice, all of the dialogue consists of voiceover. That’s because of the expense involved with synchronized sound projects, a situation that would ease up later in the decade when technological advances drove down the cost of sound film equipment.

34. Col. Harlan Sanders (yes, that Col. Sanders) unwittingly helps a sleazy record producer con a rock band out of its money.

Answer (f); Blast-Off Girls (1967)

Produced, written and directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis, Blast-Off girls didn’t contain the sleaze, the goriness or the nudity that marks the rest of his work. It was perfect for the teen market.

You can see an excerpt of it on WFMU’s Beware of the Blog.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Let's Exploit This Sleaze: Answers 27-29

27. A group of swingers clean up their act when one of them attempts suicide.

Answer (ab); Suburban Roulette (1968)

After taking a five-year hiatus to work behind the camera, Allison Louise Downe dusted off her acting chops to star in what would be her final movie. Reunited here with Lewis & Friedman regular William Kerwin, the two actors continued to demonstrate a pretty interesting on-camera chemistry between them.

Originally intended as a splatter film, Lewis & Friedman retooled the premise, substituting the new hot-button topic of swinging (back then called ‘wife-swapping’). Not a good flick, to be sure. But it’s arguably Lewis, Friedman and Downe’s best work. The film had two trailers, the first narrated by Downe herself.

Figure 4. The “normal” Suburban Roulette Trailer

What caught the eye (and imagination) of the audience, however, was the second trailer, arguably the sleaziest I’ve ever seen. What’s interesting here is that none of the scenes shot for this second trailer actually appeared in the movie--that and the fact it featured a really sick (but cool) theme song.

Figure 5. The second Suburban Roulette Trailer

Suburban Roulette (1968)
Uploaded by bmoviebabe. - Classic TV and last night's shows, online.

Almost always, acting in exploitation films ranges from really horrible to almost mediocre. But in this one, Tony McCabe turned in a sparkling performance as the creepy villain. Unfortunately, McCabe died in an automobile crash weeks after wraps, and never lived to see the final product.

Trivia: shot over a weekend outside of O’Hare International Airport, the film crew repeatedly had to stop work to let planes get out of sound range.

28. An old man rescues wayward women so that he can force them to fight and kill each other.

Answer (s); Mr. Mari’s Girls (1967)

A purely offensive film that has something provocative to outrage just about anyone. As one reviewer put it:
This film is pure Exploitation that titillates the viewer with nudity, drug abuse, abortion, and lesbianism….This black and white obscure oddity is a film that will never in a million years be made in the politically correct climate we live in today, so enjoy it if you can find it anywhere.

29. In order to simulate the eating of human flesh, the actors in this movie chowed down on ham covered with Bosco Chocolate Syrup. (According to them, this tasted about as good as it sounds.)

Answer (u); Night of the Living Dead (1968)

For the same reason that a clock which doesn’t work at all is correct precisely twice every day, you’d figure that the exploitation genre would occasionally produce a great movie, if only by accident. But Night of the Living Dead’s success was no accident. For a genre that usually rushed out any script it could, typos and all, George Romero pored over successive drafts, creating tight, intelligent dialogue. According to its producer, Karl Hardman (who also played the antagonist), the final tweaking came at the behest of its star, Duane Jones:
The script had been written with the character Ben as a rather simple truck driver. His dialogue was that of a lower class/uneducated person. Duane Jones was a very well educated man [and he] simply refused to do the role as it was written. As I recall, I believe that Duane himself upgraded his own dialogue to reflect how he felt the character should present himself.
Originally written for a budget of $6,000, Romero approached Hardman, then head of a firm that produced industrial films, about taking on Night of the Living Dead as a side project. Hardman helped Romero amass $114,000, three to five times the budget of most grind house movies.

For some reason, distributors decided to show the picture at kiddie matinees. Consequently, it bombed at the box office in its initial run. But real cinema connoisseurs saw its profundity immediately. Legendarily tough New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael called it. of the most gruesomely terrifying movies ever made — and when you leave the theatre you may wish you could forget the whole horrible experience. . . . The film's grainy, banal seriousness works for it — gives it a crude realism.
Rex Reed wrote of it:

If you want to see what turns a B movie into a classic ...don't miss Night of the Living Dead. It is unthinkable for anyone seriously interested in horror movies not to see it.
Part of the allure of this movie is that it so deftly mirrors the underlying political tensions in the United States during the rough year of 1968, replete with raging war abroad and political assassinations at home. It also helped that the cast had a tremendous chemistry, both off camera and on. As a matter of fact, three of the actors--Hardman, Marilyn Eastman and Kyra Schon--were father, mother and daughter, respectively.

Listed #93 in American Film Institute’s most thrilling movies, it’s spawned a number of sequels, a fairly decent big-budget remake, and a stage play, with a prequel in the works. It’s the only flick on this list I would recommend.

Check out Schon’s website, The Ghoul Next Door. Because Night of the Living Dead is in public domain, you may legally download it, or stream it in its entirety here.

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Friday, May 07, 2010

Let’s Exploit This Sleaze: Answers 19-26

19. Communist agents recruit American schoolgirls to wreak havoc as juvenile delinquents.

Answer (af); The Violent Years (1956)

One of Ed Wood’s earlier films, The Violent Years was a poor man’s Blackboard Jungle with a hint of espionage. In essence, it was one of a number of 1950s anti-teen movies, forerunners of the anti-hippie flicks of the 1960s.

As you can see from the below trailer, this movie upheld Wood's normally (ahem!) high standards.

Figure 3. The Violent Years trailer

20. A Dr. Frankenstein clone and his monster have to teach a visiting extraterrestrial about love.

Answer (p); Kiss Me Quick (1964)

Harry Novak’s first successful independent picture, he often made references to this nudie-cutie in his other films.

21. A biker gang strings up a piece of piano wire between two trees so that when a biker from a rival gang passes by, he loses his head.

Answer (z); She-Devils on Wheels (1968)

Another one by the team of Friedman, Lewis and Downe, She-Devils on Wheels has something to offend just about anyone. In this picture, a female biker gang (the Maneaters) prove themselves as tough and as vicious as the Hells Angels. It’s not so much a feminist movie so much as it is a depiction of the feminist as a new-fangled pinup girl.

To see for yourself, click here (NSFW).

22. The protagonist, dressed as a matador, picks a professional wrestler (played by boxer Jake LaMotta) to death.

Answer (j); Confessions of a Psycho Cat (1968)

Here’s the setup. A woman blackmails three unconvicted murderers into playing a game. She’ll give each and every man $100K if he can stay alive in Manhattan for twenty-four hours. Of course, she’s the hunter, and they are the prey.

Geez. They don’t make prey like they used to.

As to why she’s doing it….well, you’re just going to have to watch the picture.

23. A woman wreaks revenge by smothering the bad guys in her, um, décolletage.
Answer (k); Deadly Weapons (1974)

Another late Doris Wishman roughie, Deadly Weapons starred Polish Actress Liliana Wilczkowska, better known as Chesty Morgan (73FF-32-36). The film also stars Herbert Streicher (aka Harry Reems), best known for playing the doctor in Deep Throat.

Click here to watch the trailer (NSFW).

Answered by Ray.

24. This 1968 movie spoofed Star Trek.

Answer (aa); Space-Thing (1968)

Produced by David Friedman and Byron Mabe, Space-Thing looks a lot like Star Trek with the design of its doors, its soft-blue internal coloring schemes, its outdoor desert scenes, its quasi-Federation insignia, the uniform design (left), and the occasional twin-nacelle engine. Unfortunately, the special effects are sorely lacking, with the main ship looking very much like a toy top (which it is).

25. An artist can’t find just the right hue until he cuts himself.

Answer (h); Color Me Blood Red (1965)

Herschell Gordon Lewis’ homage to the Roger Corman film A Bucket of Blood is about an artist (Gordon Oas-Heim) whose critics badmouth him for not having a good sense of color. He uses his own blood to make a series of well received paintings, but finds that the whole process leaves him woozy. So in order to replenish his stock, he must turn to murder.

Friedman and Lewis were going to make another splatter pic titled Suburban Roulette. However, rampant imitation of their masterpiece, Blood Feast, had over-saturated the market for gore. Instead, they redeveloped Suburban Roulette into another idea completely (see answer for #27).

If you wanna watch another gory trailer, click here (warning: violent content)

26. An African-American man has to explain to his grown white daughter that they aren’t biologically related.

Answer (ac); Swamp Girl (1971)

Escaped convicts kidnap a young woman, a native of the Okefenokee swamp, and force her to guide them safely amid the alligators. Country music legend Ferlin Husky co-stars.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Let’s Exploit This Sleaze: Answers 12-18

12. A tuxedo-wearing man shooting hoops at a playground goes up for a slam dunk only to be riddled with bullets by the time he reaches the basket.

Answer (i); Come Back Charleston Blue (1972)

This blaxploitation movie, the sequel to Ossie Davis’ Cotton Comes to Harlem, brings back the main characters Gravedigger Jones (played by Godfrey Cambridge) and Coffin Ed Johnson (played by Raymond St. Jacques). In the first film, Gravedigger and Coffin Ed had to search all of Harlem to find a bale of cotton. In this movie, they have to search all of Harlem to find what might be the ghost of a long-dead, 1930s gangster suspected of trafficking heroin, and chasing away the Mafia.

Figure 2. Excerpt of Come Back, Charleston Blue (warning: violent content)

13. Yankee tourists are lured to a Southern town that exists for only a few days every one hundred years. The inhabitants, in an effort to gain some measure of revenge for the Civil War, involve the visitors in a number of degrading games that culminate in their horrific deaths.

Answer (ae); 2000 Maniacs (1964)

David Friedman and Herschell Gordon Lewis produced this movie, one of the earliest known examples of the ‘hicksploitation’ subgenre. It stars former Playboy Playmate Connie Mason, star of Blood Feast, and another of Friedman and Lewis’ major players, William Kerwin.

Answered by Ray.

14. A Peeping Tom blackmails a killer before feeding her to his giant man-eating plant.

Answer (w); Please Don’t Eat My Mother (1973)

As if to prove that exploitation didn’t stray all that far from the policies of mainstream Hollywood, this film is pretty much a rip-off of Roger Corman’s Little Shop of Horrors. In both films nerdish little guys grow attached to a plant which needs more and more human flesh to survive. Another Harry Novak production.

15. Crazed hippies beat an old man with his walker, and then dump a crying tot into a garbage can.

Answer (o); Just for the Hell of It (1968)

Another Friedman & Lewis production penned by Allison Downe, this movie kinda foreshadows the depiction of Charles Manson and his slippie gang as marauding hippies run amok to perform wanton acts of violence.

16. A woman drowns in quicksand as her friends passively look on and do nothing. The last thing we see of her, before she goes completely under, is her outstretched middle finger.

Answer (a); The Acid Eaters (1968)

Obviously, drugs would become a theme of 1960s exploitation films. This is another Harry Novak special, this time directed by Byron Mabe.

In the scene described above, young folks are seriously tripping out in the wild when the quicksand victim attacks another woman with a knife. In the ensuing struggle, the would-be killer winds up in the muck (click here to see; NSFW).

17. An advertising agency has to deal with an executive who can’t stop exposing himself, while the President of the United States pressures the company to come up with a campaign for a Nazi war criminal’s corporation.

Answer (x); Putney Swope (1969)

This early blaxploitation flick, written and directed by Robert Downey Sr., centers on the takeover of a large advertising firm by a predominantly African-American executive corps. The new managers prove successful, despite their pledge not to take on clients who sell booze, guns, cigarettes, or anything else harmful to the public good. Thus, they certainly don’t want to work for notorious Nazi war criminal Borman Six--despite the fact that they have the perfect ad campaign for him (“The Borman Girl has got to have soul!”)

Included in the cast are Allan Arbus, Hair alums Ronnie Dyson and Shelley Plimpton, Antonio (Huggybear) Fargas, Al Green, and legendary hoaxer Alan Abel.

Answered by Malcolm.

18. A biker gang quakes in fear when its members realize they are in a fight with (gasp!) lesbians.

Answer (m); Five Loose Women (1974)

Ed Wood wrote this women-out-of-prison flick directed by his main protégé (figures that the world’s worst director still had a protégé) Stephen Apostolof (aka A.C. Stevens). By this time, Wood was living quite a destitute existence. Guzzling alcohol, he wrote a furious flurry of novels, short stories and screenplays, including this one. Despite the conditions, his writing output showed an amazing consistency: everything that came out of his typewriter sucked big ones. Ironically, people continue to produce his never-before published stories, and re-make his movies.

Five Loose Women is a prime example of Wood’s later work. It stars Rene Bond (left), one of a generation of actors who bounced back and forth between exploitation movies and pornographic features in hopes of getting work in mainstream Hollywood films. She finally gave up the silver screen in 1981. Sadly, she died of cirrhosis in 1995.

Click here to see the trailer (NSFW).

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Let’s Exploit This Sleaze: Answers 8-11

8. A mild-mannered man turns into a psycho sex killer whenever he sees gold earrings.
Answer (c); The Amazing Transplant (1972)

What would you do if you’re an incredibly attractive woman in your late-forties, and utterly devastated by the recent death of your husband? If your response is to make cheesy light romantic comedies in which no one is wearing a stitch of clothing, your name would be Doris Wishman.

Wishman came to filmmaking late in life to escape the grief of widowhood. She started out in 1960 by making such films as Nude on the Moon and Diary of a Nudist. The bottom fell out of the nudist camp movies (so to speak) in the mid-1960s, however, when mainstream Hollywood films began to defy the Hays Code and include nudity (e.g., Jayne Mansfield in the 1963 film Promises, Promises, Linda Geiser in 1964 flick The Pawnbroker, and the nude scene filmed by Marilyn Monroe in Something’s Got to Give).

Many of the nudist camp and “nudie-cutie” films made by Wishman, Friedman, Lewis and others fell by the wayside, and another genre of exploitation film began to surface in their place. Called “roughies,” these movies were in some ways reminiscent of film noir, and featured a lot of violent action and suspense. The closest mainstream equivalent would be such movies as Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (starring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh), or Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom (starring Carl Boehm and Dame Anna Massey).

Wishman became one of the preeminent makers of roughies with such titles as Bad Girls Go to Hell and Another Day, Another Man. In The Amazing Transplant, one of her later films in that genre, the impotent protagonist blackmails a physician into grafting onto his body the, um, membrum virale of his sexually successful, but terminally ill best friend--a premise Wishman winced at late in her life. It would seem the new part has a mind of its own, becoming active at the sight of gold earrings.

From 1960 to her death in 2002, Wishman cranked out a little under one film per year, making her one of the more prolific female auteurs in the history of cinema.

9. This movie simultaneously spoofed a literary classic and Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.

Answer (ad); The Secret Sex Lives of Romeo and Juliet (1969)

If you’re into science fiction, you’ve probably never heard of Shannon Carse. But, you might well know him by his real name: William Rotsler, a five-time Hugo award-winning artist, and namesake of the Rotsler Award for sci-fi graphic arts.

He also wrote a number of sci-fi stories, including some of the early Star Trek novels, one of which made a lasting contribution to the ST canon. If you recall last year’s blockbuster movie revamp starring Chris Pine, Zach Quinto and Zoe Saldana, there’s a running gag about Kirk’s futile efforts to find out Uhura’s first name. During the original run of the series, Uhura had no first name. After consulting with Gene Roddenberry and Nichelle Nichols, Rotsler decided to give her one: Nyota (Swahili for ‘star’). The name has been with the character ever since.

Rotsler, well known as a photographer, also made a number of exploitation movies for Harry Novak’s Boxoffice International Pictures. Novak, a protégé of both Howard Hughes and Walt Disney (to whom he bears a striking resemblance), based a number of his films on literary classics, among them Venus in Furs, The Notorious Daughter of Fanny Hill, and, of course, The Secret Sex Lives of Romeo and Juliet.

Laced into the narrative are numerous quotes and humor devices from Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, one of the most popular TV shows of the time. In addition to hearing such corruptions as “Here come de prince,” “Sock it to me!” and “beautiful downtown Verona,” there are a number of corny Laugh-In style quick-edit jokes. For example:

If a captain of a ship had a first mate by the name of Monte, and he glued his door shut, could you say, ‘Cap, you let Monte glue you in?’
Answered by SJ.

10. In this movie, Jack Nicholson steals one scene as a masochistic dental patient (“No Novocain, please. It dulls the senses.”).

Answer (q); Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Later remade as a Broadway musical, and a big-name, big-budget mainstream Hollywood film, Little Shop of Horrors began as Roger Corman’s exploitation masterpiece. Corman filmed it over the weekend on a shoestring budget of $25,000 shortly after filming A Bucket of Blood, which used the same background score, and featured a similar plot. According to Bruce Rux and other sources, CIA MK-ULTRA researcher Dr. William Bryan served as a technical advisor for both films.

Over his life, Corman, the undisputed king of the exploitation film, wrote, directed or produced almost 400 titles, a number no one’s bound to approach anytime soon. In the process, he mentored a lot of illustrious names. In addition to Jack Nicholson, other alums of his infamous ‘boot camp’ school of filmmaking include directors Peter Bogdanovich, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, along with actors Dick Miller, and the late-Lana Clarkson.

First answered by Foam. Independently answered by Ray.

11. A businessman, at the insistence of an important client, reluctantly hires a bunch of prostitutes to entertain the guests of a sleazy party, only to find that his wife is one of the call girls.

Answer (b); The Agony of Love (1966)

This movie, about a bored suburban housewife who sells her body for kicks, is almost identical in theme to the critically lauded French film Belle de Jour starring Catherine Deneuve. Moreover, Agony of Love contains a number of dreamlike sequences similar in cinematic style. The similarities are probably a coincidence. But if you think that this film, written and directed by William Rotsler, simply ripped off a famous art flick, think again. Rotsler made Agony of Love in 1966. Luis Buñuel shot Belle de Jour in 1967.

Trivia: Rotsler cast one of his sci-fi friends, Nebula award-winning author Robert Silverberg, as a wisecracking psychiatrist.

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