Favourite Five Series: DORIS WISHMAN
Doris Wishman, or Queen Doris as I like to call her was almost fifty when she directed her first film Hideout in the Sun in 1960 and she continued to make films until her death in 2002 at the age of ninety! Ninety years old and still directing sleaze; this is why I call her Queen Doris! Over the course of her career Wishman directed and produced thirty, wrote twenty-two and acted in nine films. She took a lengthy hiatus after her only straight up horror film A Night to Dismember (1983) failed to attract an audience. She made a return to filmmaking in 2001 with Satan Was a Lady. I was surprised to learn that Queen Doris was the cousin of Max Rosenberg, one of the founders of the UK production company Amicus Productions (The Beast Must Die, The Skull, Dr. Terror’s House of Horror, Torture Garden, etc). Doris embarked on her filmmaking career solo however and borrowed some money from her sister to make the nudie cutie Hideout in the Sun. Her next nudie flick was the aptly named Nude on the Moon which was banned in New York. Despite legislation being passed that allowed nudity in films set in nudist resorts/colonies apparently if those nudist colonies were on the moon they were forbidden. Apparently it was the science-fiction theme the state had issue with. Wishman made a handful more nudie cuties before getting into meatier territory with The Sex Perils of Paulette in 1965. This was the beginning of my favourite era of Wishman filmmaking. Although I had an overwhelming urge to royally rough up the titular whiny wishy-washy Paulette, I loved the hell out of the supporting characters in the film! Four of my five favourite films on this list are from 1965 to 1968 period and I had two more short-listed; My Brother’s Wife (1966) and Too Much Too Often (1968). I particularly enjoyed My Brother’s Wife which had two of my very favourite characters to appear in any Wishman film; the wickedly wanton and narcissistic Zena played by Darlene Bennett and the slippery and sleazilicous Frankie played by Sam Stewart. Wishman focused more often on female characters but My Brother’s Wife gives equal screen time to both sexes. Too Much Too Often is one of the few films in Wishman’s resume that focuses on a male character’s story; bad-ass hustler Mike Torson played by Buck Starr messes with a lot of folks lives without pity.
I was a little apprehensive about diving into Wishman’s post sixties resume after checking out Deadly Weapons (1974) featuring Chesty Morgan. The plot for Deadly Weapons (if you are familiar with Chesty Morgan you can figure out what the film’s “deadly weapons” are) sounded pretty damn fun but it just was not very much fun at all. As it turns out there was no need to worry about Wishman post 60s output at all! I enjoyed several of Queen Doris’s films from the 70s and one even made my list! It was an incredibly difficult decision to leave The Immoral Three (1975) off of this list! I enjoyed the hell out of that movie! It’s sleazy, funny, wacky, violent, sexy and tremendous fun! Let Me Die a Woman (1977) is Wishman’s documentary about sex change patients. The documentary included a few tidbits that had me squirming a little but it was actually quite interesting. The completely cat-shit crazy The Amazing transplant is without a doubt, Wishman’s dumbest plot but I have to admit, it provided tons of unintentional laughs and it was great to see Uta Erickson, Larry Hunter and Bernard Marcel from Love Toy reunited! Also making an appearance in The Amazing Transplant is Wishman mainstay Sam Stewart and three of Michael Findlay’s regulars Linda Boyce, Janet Banzet and Suzzan Landau. I had been working from a very simplistic laptop for the last several months which was a huge pain in the ass. I finally got myself set up with a beautiful new home computer and sweet big-ass monitor just a few short days ago! I mention this because I have had some friends and co-workers helping me out with some computer related stuff as of late. A guy I work with offered several times to download this movie and that, as he is constantly downloading movies himself. Well, I finally took him up on the offer. Thinking Doris Wishman’s Come with Me My Love was going to be along the same lines as Love Toy and Immoral Three I had a co-worker burn it onto a DVD for me. When he handed it to me, he said, “You know this is a porn film right?” I chuckled (knowing absolutely nothing whatsoever about the film) and said; “I’m sure there’s lots of nudity and sex but I doubt its graphic. I’ve seen several of Doris Wishman’s films and they are not porn.” I really should have read up on this film. This was porn. Real hairy hard-core, hairy faces in hairy asses, cocks in hairy vaginas seventies porn. It has a vaguely horror oriented plot with a dead husband back for revenge, but it is mostly a hairy fuck flick. Really hairy in case you haven’t caught that already. The only good thing I can say about the film was it was sorta neat when the dead husband walked out of the tacky seventies wallpaper. Oh! And the film also features Annie Sprinkle, who is kinda cute. The final film I feel I should mention is A Night To Dismember. It actually is not a Something Weird Video film, but since I knew I would be covering Doris Wishman during this feature it was one of the first films I watched. I found it on YouTube on New Years Eve and decided to re-watch it. Perhaps it is because I’ve seen a lot more of Doris Wishman’s work at this point but I definitely felt warmer towards the film on a second viewing. Flawed? Oh you bet! But it sure as hell has its memorable moments and its opening scene is pretty damn awesome!
There are a few distinct details about Wishman’s films that take some getting accustom to. The big one is the dubbing. No one speaks in a Wishman film; voices are added afterwards or the story is narrated. Wishman reuses locations and never bothers to change the decor or anything else in the room. You will find the same drapes, couch, pictures etc from film to film. Not only is the carpet and the drapes the same but sometimes Ms. Wishman recycles a snippet from a previous movie and adds it into another as filler. Queen Doris is also fond of her irrelevant inanimate objects; which her camera lingers on longingly and often. I was shocked to see an actual location shoot was used in The Immoral Three. One of the main characters travels to Las Vegas and stays in the worst room in the city. It could have been footage the actress took on an actual vacation to Vegas that Wishman spliced into the film but it is still a location. Queen Doris also loves her cutaways! According to wikipedia “A cutaway shot is the interruption of a continuously filmed action by inserting a view of something else. It is usually, although not always, followed by a cut back to the first shot, when the cutaway avoids a jump cut. The cutaway shot does not necessarily contribute any dramatic content of its own, but is used to help the editor assemble a longer sequence. For this reason, editors choose cutaway shots related to the main action, such as another action or object in the same location. For example, if the main shot is of a man walking down an alley, possible cutaways may include a shot of a cat on a nearby dumpster or a shot of a person watching from a window overhead.” We have all seen cutaway shots in films, but Ms. Wishman uses them more often than most. Ever since Richard Brandt pointed it out to me I can’t help but notice now. Damn you Brandt. Like many directors Ms. Wishman uses many of the same actresses and actors. This just makes sense to me. You like the actress or actor’s work and they understand what you want from them it makes for the perfect union. And Ms. Wishman and her mainstays are a delightful union indeed; Darlene Bennett, Dawn Bennett, Sam Stewart, Buck Starr, Bob Oran, Michael Alaimo, Sharon Kent, Uta Erickson, Bernard Marcel and Larry Hunter. Before October 2013 I had seen just one Doris Wishman film; Bad Girls Go To Hell. I have now seen twenty-three of Doris Wishman’s thirty directorial efforts. I am addicted to Queen Doris like crack and I can say without a doubt her films have not only been one of my favourite Something Weird Video discoveries but one of my favourite film discoveries period. A female director is a rare bird and a female exploitation director is rarer still; all hail Queen Doris! Roll out the red carpet! My Favourite Five Doris Wishman films…
INDECENT DESIRES (1968)
Starring: Sharon Kent, Trom Little, Michael Alaimo, Jackie Richards, Buck Starr
An awkward loner named Zeb finds a ring and a doll in a garbage can and takes them home as found treasures. We than meet Ann an office clerk who meets her co-worker Babs each morning so they can walk together to the office. On this particular morning Zeb passes by the two ladies and envisions Ann as a giant version of the doll he found in the garbage. This is the beginning of strange and supernatural shenanigans! Somehow this vision causes a voodoo-esque connection between Ann and the doll and anything that Zeb does to the doll happens to Ann. Initially Zeb spends his time feeling the doll up. As he caresses dolly’s breasts Ann feels the sensation as well. Zeb begins stalking Ann and discovers she has a fiance. The odd young man’s feelings of sexuality eventually turn to bitterness. Indecent Desires’s story is bordering on a horror premise and is the most unusual of all Wishman’s sixties output. The reasoning behind the occurences in the film are never explained, but it by no means diminishes the enjoyment factor. I love the imagery in this film. The doll is a major focus and Ann played by the beautiful Sharon Kent actually looks like a real live doll! Ann is adorable and sexy and spends most of her screen time in underwear, lingerie or naked, involuntarily feeling herself up. Ms. Kent does a fantastic job as Ann. Kent gives a convincing performance of a woman who is not in control of her own movements and is slowly losing her mind. Pretty much silent the entire film but a huge highlight is Michael Alaimo who plays Zeb. We learn little if anything about Zeb’s life but from his actions he is clearly not in his right mind. He spends all his time alone, picks through the garbage and is a stalker. When Zeb first finds the doll he takes it home and sets up a table to place her on so he can admire her. He then grooms her and poses her which is a pretty peculiar thing for a fella to do isn’t it? What would compel a man to pick a doll out of the garbage and take it home in the first place? Indecent desires perhaps? Perhaps Zeb was already aware of his awesome powers of voodoo? Also along for the ride is Ann’s chum Babs who seems to be put in for more sex appeal. She makes out with her reflection and has a sassy sex scene with her new boyfriend. Babs was a lot of frisky fun! I think Indecent Desires is Ms. Wishman’s most creative and esthetically pleasing film. Indecent Desires has a fabulously fun plot, top-notch performances and is my personal favourite from Queen Doris!
For more images from Indecent Desires click here.
ANOTHER DAY ANOTHER MAN (1966)
Starring: Agustin Mayor, Barbara Kemp, Sam Stewart, Mary O’Hara, Bob Oran, Darlene Bennett, John B. Brandt, Dawn Bennett, Darlene Cotton, Gigi Darlene, Alan Feinstein, Tracy Lee, Joni Roberts, June Roberts, Louis Silverman, Marlene Starr
Ann’s new hubby Steve is suddenly taken ill and Ann is forced to come up with money to pay the bills. Ann calls on the help of her former roommate Tess to set her up with the escort service she works for which inevitably has dire consequences. Another Day, Another Man is more dialog driven than a lot of Wishman’s films from this period and the visuals are especially memorable. The film features the song used in Something Weird Video’s promo reel played before all of their films; the appropriately chosen The Hellraisers by Syd Dale. It is a great opening tune for this delightfully seedy little film. The hair in this one is as large as it gets! The tower on Ann’s (Barbara Kemp) head is beyond belief! How does one even get hair to stand that tall?! It is seriously fabulous! Barbara Kemp is a fascination to watch; I think she may have been on Valium as she seems to have but one emotion.
Here she is shocked…
Here she is chatting with a friend…
Shocked and chatting with a friend look remarkably similar. Oh Barb, you made me smile often. Ann is a good woman though, and bad things often happen to good women in Ms. Wishman’s films. Of course, Ann could have gotten a job in an office or a store but who was going to hire her with that hair? Of course Ann was aware of the potential considerable income prostitution could offer and there were a lot of medical bills to pay. Ann’s friend Tess is a great character. A bold woman who does what needs to be done and takes no shit. Lately however business has not been so good and she is beginning to feel less confident. Mary O’Hara is perfect as the hustling and headstrong Tess. Sam Stewart puts in another memorable Wishman performance with his pimp character Bert and his flashback scene is one of the film’s best moments. Funny, sexy, tragic and sleazy; Another Day, Another Man was the second Wishman film I seen and it was the one that really started my Wishman fever.
For more images from Another Day, Another Man click here.
LOVE TOY (1973)
Starring: Bernard Marcel, Pat Happel, Uta Erickson, Larry Hunter
In Love Toy a man named Marcus loses everything in a card game to a creep named Alex who agrees to let him off the hook if he will allow him to spend a night with his teenage daughter Chris. Marcus hesitantly agrees but has second thoughts at which time Alex and his wife Mary tie Marcus up while Alex has his way with his daughter. Poor Chris will never be the same after this night of depravity and sexual merriment. Alex, played with sleazy perfection by Bernard Marcel is a messed up cat who has the young Chris pretend she is his pet, his daughter, his wife, his mother and his mistress. Mary, Alex’s quiet as a mouse wife is played with a beautiful, subtle insanity by the talented and lovely Uta Erickson; she is as screwy as hubby with her mother issues and tendencies towards violence. The unfortunate Chris played by the impossibly young-looking Pat Happel must have been disturbed six ways after playing this role; but she does it so very well. Her emotions from disgust to horror to shock and ecstasy are precisely relayed. Bad dad Marcus is played by Larry Hunter with a quiet but disturbing conviction. The performances are great! The entire film takes place in two rooms that are filled to capacity with seedy and sordid goings-on. Love Toy is a film that lives up to it exploitative promises! A truly delicious salacious piece of seventies cinema! To read my full review click here.
For more images from Love Toy click here.
A TASTE OF FLESH (1967)
Starring: Michael Alaimo, Darlene Bennett, Layla Peters, Buck Starr, Peggy Steffans
Hannah a woman Bobi befriended while travelling through Europe shows up in the U.S. out of the blue. Hannah calls Bobi to tell her she is unable to find a room in town and naturally Bobi invites Hannah to stay with herself and roommate Carol. Bobi has a massive crush on Hannah and wastes no time hitting on her much to Hannah’s dismay. Suddenly two men knock on the door claiming to be plumbers and push their way into the apartment. The two men have an agenda and they have been following Hannah since she disboarded the plane. Hannah it turns out is not who she claims and is part of a plan that was hatched months previous when Bobi was visiting Europe. The cat is let out of the bag 25 minutes into the film, but this is a 70ish minute film so I figured telling you about Hannah was a bit too spoily. Hannah is adorable and I loved her cute little Eastern European accent. I learned from David that Peggy Steffans was married to director Joe Sarno; another favourite director I’ve discovered during this Something Weird Video feature! You can count on one review at very least for a Mr. Joseph W. Sarno film before the end of the month. Lovely Darlene Bennett has a feature role as Carol, a sassy, sexy and frightfully easy young woman who makes plans to go away with one of the kidnappers/criminals after a three-minute conversation! Too funny. Frankie, the criminal Carol gets down with is way too slick for his own good. Frankie doesn’t know when to shut up. He is a terrible criminal and is a little too fond of the dames. Buck Starr is well-suited for the role of Frankie; the guy just kinda has a gigalo vibe. The excellent Layla Peters plays Bobi. Bobi’s lesbian dream sequence is definitely one of the films most awesome highlights. It is sexy, romantic, sweet and trippy. Bobi and Hannah have great chemistry; unfortunately for Bobi the awake Hannah has no inkling towards the ladies. Layla Peters as Bobi is a likable albeit frustrated gal. Last but certainly not least is Michael Alaimo who plays no-nonsense Nick. How Nick came to find himself partnered up with a flake like Frankie is a mystery. There is no way an organized bad-ass like Nick would hook up with a dumb-ass like Frankie but this is Doris Wishman’s world and anything goes. Nick plays hardball and he is the one that does most of the roughing up of the ladies in the film; and he does it convincingly too. Alaimo is one of several highlights in A Taste of Flesh. Another nifty looking film full of Wishman regulars with some wonderful creative shots, and a solid premise; perhaps Wishman’s most solid? It is definitely one of my favourite Wishman finales that is a definite. A Taste of Flesh is more of a crime thing than sexploitation and almost borders on a roughie but it is pure Doris Wishman any way you cut it.
For more images from A Taste of Flesh click here.
BAD GIRLS GO TO HELL (1965)
Starring: Gigi Darlene, Charles E. Mazin, Sam Stewart, Gertrude Cross, Alan Feinstein, Barnard L. Sackett, Darlene Bennett, Marlene Starr, Harold Key
Bad Girls go to Hell was the only Doris Wishman film I had seen prior to this year. I barely remembered it beyond recalling that I liked it. I rented the double feature Bad Girls Go to Hell and Another Day, Another Man from my DVD rental oulet Zip and it was what set off the Doris domino effect. I liked Bad Girls go to Hell but I didn’t love it; I much preferred Another Day, Another Man. After watching twenty-three Wishman films I decided I should go back and re-watch Bad Girls go to Hell. I am so glad I did. As I said, I enjoyed it, but on a re-watch I found so much more to love! Of all Wishman’s films this is as close to a roughie as they get. This unfortunate gal really gets fucked with; literally! It is a ridiculously efficient film clocking in just a smidge over an hour; it is actually a little too short for my liking. The saucy and ridiculously cute Meg played by Gigi Darlene reprimands her husband for working on a Saturday and leaving her all alone. He promises to take her dancing that night to make up for it. Her day however takes an immediate turn for the worst when their building’s janitor attempts to rape her and she kills him in self-defense. She flees after the death of the janitor and continues to meet and part from a veritable parade of folks with intentions of doing her wrong. Poor Meg! Ms. Wishman does put her ladies through some heavy nasty shit! The parade of perverts and malcontents are pretty entertaining and I enjoyed looking back on this one especially for Sam Stewart and Darlene and Dawn’s appearances! Meg meets Sam’s character Ed in the park and he seems like such a nice man. That being said going home with a strange man you meet in the park (especially one in New York) is probably ill-advised. They play house for a while and everything seems to be going honky-dory until she finds a hidden bottle of liquor that is. Me thinketh Ed was on the wagon. After a good beating she moves on to the next situation. That next situation involves the aforementioned Bennett sister’s who play Ellen and Della. Dawn plays Della; a lesbian looking for a roommate and she is freaking hilarious! Everyone is top-notch in this and there is plenty of neat shots, crazy characters, sex and violence and Doris charm to warrant repeat viewings! And the ending? Best Doris Wishman ending EVER.
For more images from Bad Girls Go To Hell click here.