Favourite Five Series: Something Weird Video Films Part Two
No long introductory blurb this time around, so if you missed yesterday’s post click here for a summary of the project and my ultimate Favourite Five Something Weird Video films! At the bottom of this list I also included all the Something Weird Video films that I rated a 4/5 or better. Without further ado; My Favourite Five Something Weird Video Films PART TWO…
CONFESSIONS OF A PSYCHO CAT (1968)
Directed By: Herb Stanley
Starring: Eileen Lord, Ed Garrabrandt, Frank Geraci, Dick Lord, Arlenne Lorrance, Jake LaMotta, Rita Bennett
Confessions of a Psycho Cat is about Virginia Marcus; a wealthy eccentric with serious daddy issues. Virginia offers three men $100,000 if they can stay alive in Manhattan for 24 hours; Buddy “the addict”, Charles Freeman “the actor” and Rocco “the wrestler”. The challenge? Virginia intends to hunt each one of them down. The film details the hunt peppered with a bunch of unnecessary sex scenes. Unfortunately some brainiac thought Confessions of a Psycho Cat would be more marketable as a sexploitation flick and added several sex scenes to the film. I didn’t dislike these scenes but they are little more than occasionally amusing filler. Despite this, the enticing story and characters that make up the central plot and the outstanding performances more than make up for the filler bits. The black and white photography and the sets and props are quite excellent. Especially outstanding is Virginia’s intimidating trophy game room! Confessions of a Psycho Cat’s greatest asset and the best reason I can give as to why you should check out this film is Eileen Lord who plays Virginia. Lord gives a truly magnificent and memorable turn in Confessions of a Psycho Cat. Her look, her expressions, her shouting and yelling, her hysterical laughing, her hand gestures, her body movements, her costumes; all puuuuuurfection. It is one of those epic crazy performances that linger in the mind. Lord never holds back the emotions going from reasonable to insane regularly through the film. According to IMDB this is Eileen Lord’s only acting credit. Bloody shame that! Confessions of a Psycho Cat is well worth watching just for Eileen Lord and her Virginia character. Virginia’s three victims were also well cast and included boxer Jake “Raging Bull” LaMotta. Confessions of a Psycho Cat is a wild ride worth taking. The central plot is certainly the highlight and the reason you must see this film but the clumsily added sex scenes were not completely without their charm. To read my full review of Confessions of a Psycho Cat click here.
THE CURSE OF HER FLESH (1968)
Directed By: Michael Findlay
Starring: Michael Findlay, Eve Bork, Ron Skideri, Linda Boyce, Sally Farb, John Amero, Jane Bond, Vivian Del Rio, Uta Erickson, Cindy Freemont, Suzanne Marre, Steve Roule
The Curse of Her Flesh is the second entry in Michael Findlay’s Flesh trilogy. The trilogy begins with The Touch of Her Flesh and finishes with The Kiss of Her Flesh. I enjoyed all three films but The Curse of Her Flesh in my opinion is the crème de la crème of the trio. Michael Findlay directs and stars as the film’s central character; weapons expert Richard Jennings. In the first film he discovers his wife cheating and the film ends with Richard Jennings on the receiving end of his own crossbow. Richard Jennings is a pretty resilient fella. The Curse of Her Flesh opens with one of the most salacious, kinky and salty striptease/burlesque acts I have had the pleasure of seeing! The fabulous Cindy Freemont sporting her super spectacular bouffant hairdo will knock your sox clear off! We are updated by a radio broadcast as to what Mr. Jennings has been up to since last we seen him. “The Police are still baffled by the series of brutal murders started one year ago today. The strange chain of events began when Richard Jennings famous weapons expert discovered his young voluptuous wife in the arms of another man. As he watched the two of them together his mind snapped and turning from them in horror he ran. On the street he was struck down by a car and temporarily crippled losing one of his eyes. He vowed vengeance on all other women whom he considered like his wife. The series of murders began. The first girl to die was a go-go dancer. The police were completely baffled; Jennings didn’t even know this girl. The next was a stripper; she was killed on stage with a poison dart from a blowgun. The third was a beautiful model, a good friend of his wife. The fourth a prostitute who knew where his wife was hiding and after getting the information from her he killed her. And finally he killed his own wife; the woman who had driven his berserk. He since has disappeared entirely but the police hunt goes on. They are looking for him all over New York.” And so continues Jenning’s killing spree! Jennings is now going by the pseudonym Joe Davidson and has purchased a burlesque theatre with the intention of killing his wife’s lover Steve who has been hired as an actor. Jennings/Davidson concocts a convoluted plan to completely fuck with Steve’s life and eventually eliminate him. I’m not going to tell you the whole damn story but bloody hell does it have one hell of a finale! One of the most memorable finales in recent memory! The Curse of Her Flesh boasts not only one of the craziest finales but one of the craziest plots I have ever stumbled upon! You will not believe the insane plan that Jennings comes up with to mess with Steve. The icing on the cake is the hymen plastic surgery?! All I can say is, see it for yourself! Several folks die in the nuttiest ways possible! A booby-trapped dildo and a poisoned kitty paw to note a couple! There really is nothing like a Michael Findlay film! The Curse of Her Flesh is a seriously outrageous, nasty, hilarious, naughty, sleazy, entertaining film. The Flesh trilogy is a must have for any fan of sixties exploitation and The Curse of Her Flesh is the extra whipped cream with a cherry on top!
Directed By: Joe Sarno
Starring: Maria Lease, Marianne Prevost, Peggy Steffans, Sue Akers, Dan Machuen, Morris Kaplan
Vibrations is about sisters Julia and Barbara and their strained relationship. The intrusive Julia shows up out of the blue and invites herself to stay at her little sister Barbara’s tiny apartment. The two share an incestuous past that makes Barbara excessively uncomfortable but which Julia seems to embrace. The sisters are polar opposites in every way. Julia is aggressive, self-involved and has a unquechable sexual appetite. Maria is quiet, hard-working, decidedly uptight and sexually oppressed. While the two unhappily co-habitate various complications come up. One complication is in the form of Dick Parrish; a handsome man living on the second floor who Barbara is typing a manuscript for. The second complication is in the form of a quirky broad named Georgia who keeps a storeroom next to Barbara’s apartment. Georgia shows up after dark to masturbate or have group sex in the storage room. I have become a big fan of Joe Sarno whose work I discovered during this Something Weird Video journey. Not everything the man directed is a winner, but I have enjoyed the vast majority of his library. I have delved outside of Sarno’s Something Weird titles also and remarkably have awarded nine of the fourteen films I’ve seen with a 4/5 or better and four of those earned a perfect score; Sin in the Suburbs (featured on my ultimate top five), Passion in Hot Hollows and Laura’s Toys (not on SWV). Mr. Sarno’s vibrators and unhappy women are an ongoing theme in a good many of his films. Vibrators and unhappy women are an especially strong theme in Vibrations; as its title suggests. The incestual aspect made me cringe a couple of times but generally speaking this is an effectively sexy bit of erotica. I have no idea why this film is listed as “adult” on IMDB. Did you know that you can not look up “adult” titles by name on internet movie database? Seriously, go try looking for Vibrations (1968) right now. The whole concept is ridiculous; but you can access it by doing a general internet search; IMDB is the first link that pops up! Vibrations is NOT an “adult” film. I certainly have no issue with XXX, but Vibrations is erotica and there is a huge difference. There is no visual entry or cumshots, just a lot of nudity, touching and simulated sex. Vibrations has a solid story and character development to accompany its erotica. The characters are fascinating and extremely watchable. Georgia, played by an unknown actress who also appears in Confessions of a Psycho Cat is unforgettable. Such an odd woman with the most peculiar delivery imaginable. She almost seems irritated the way she barks out some of her lines. She sports what made me think of drapes around her waist and comes equipped with a two-headed vibrating massager for your pleasure. And it is for your pleasure! In Georgia’s own words when she first meets the curious Julia “I specialize in pleasure. Pleasure so intense it is akin to torment. Exquisite torment.” Both sisters Julia played by Marianne Prevost and Barbara played by Maria Lease are attractive talented women who know how to emote and have a comfortable screen presence. Director Joe Sarno’s wife Peggy Steffans has a small part in the film as the building caretaker. “I just wonder what they could be doing staying in that storeroom all night long. You can bet they’re not playing mahjong.” Steffans is sort of the film’s comic relief; she’s freaking adorable! Vibrations is an attractively filmed, enthralling, ferociously sexy bit of erotica and a personal favourite in Sarno’s oeuvre. Batteries not included.
SHANTY TRAMP (1967)
Directed By: Joseph P. Mawra
Starring: Eleanor Vaill, Bill Rogers, Lawrence Tobin, Ed Anderson, Lee Ann, Dan Craig, Warren Day, Kenneth Douglas, Ben Duran, Lewis Galen, Gary Goch, Jean Hanna, Rick Jarvis, Helon Lacount, Chris Mitchell
The titular Shanty Tramp is Emily; a flirtatious, trampy hustler living in a shanty with her alcoholic father in a small backwoods town. Emily seems to have a sixth sense detecting new men in town who she sniffs out and puts under her spell. When first we meet Emily she is strutting her stuff in a tight dress and heels into a travelling revival tent. She quickly catches the eye of the sleazy evangelist who she agrees to meet with later. The townsfolk including her own father are well aware of Emily and her shtick. Emily’s bad mojo does not prevent Daniel, a young African American man from being attracted to her. Daniel catches Emily’s eye in the revival tent to his mother stern disapproval. Meanwhile Emily kills some time by hooking up with a biker rolling through town at the local dive bar. This meeting will prove to be serpentine for three of the town’s residents. Eleanor Vaill (as Lee Holland) is picture perfect as Emily. Despite some dire consequences for others due to her actions she continues her tramping ways to the bitter end. I should loathe this character, but there was a part of me that thought Emily was a bit sad. She lives in a depressing racist town in a little dump of a house with her pathetic rummy father and no mother to be seen. She is still a loathsome bitch, but a mildly empathetic one. Emily oozes sexuality and wears is like a thorny crown. She unabashedly takes a fin for a romp in the local bar’s storeroom. Eleanor Vaill has a strong screen presence and is unforgettable in the role. I was surprised Vaill only had two other films on her resume; both are Herschell Gordon Lewis’s films, A Taste of Blood and The Girl The Body and The Pill. All the performances in Mawra’s low-budget effort are quite good especially the sleazy evangelist. The Something Weird Video website credits the director as Jose “Joseph” Prieto. IMDB lists Joseph P. Mawra as director but does denote “as Joseph G. Prieto”. I watched five other Mawra flicks during this feature and this is the first time I seen the director use a pseudonym. I wonder why he would choose to use a pseudonym for this particular film? Mawra is best known for his Olga trilogy (Olga’s House of Shame, White Slaves of Chinatown, Olga’s Girls); Olga’s House of Shame was serious exploitative sleaze for 1964. I also watched Mawra’s Peek Snatchers, All Men are Apes and his lesbian documentary Chained Girls and Shanty Tramp has bar none been my favourite. Shanty Tramp has a great soundtrack and I really dug the use of When the Saints Go Marching In which I will now forever associated with this film! Below is a YouTube post I did for Betty Dickson’s song Shanty Tramp with images from the film. It is unfortunate that the Something Weird Video print isn’t in better condition but it did not spoil my enjoyment of Shanty Tramp; a sort of grindhouse version of an Elia Kazan film with a meaty story, great performances and a hearty helping of exploitative goodness.
THE WIZARD OF GORE (1970)
Directed By: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Starring: Ray Sager, Judy Cler, Wayne Ratay, Phil Laurenson, Jim Rau, Don Alexander, John Elliot, Karin Alexana, Jack Gilbreth, Corinne Kirkin, Monica Blackwell, Sally Brody, Karen Burke, Eric Kelner Raynard
The Wizard of Gore is about magician Montag the Magnificent. Montag is a magician with a particularly graphic and gory stage show. He appears to kill a member of the audience during a performance but at the end of the act the “volunteer” takes her bow and leaves seemingly unscathed. Daytime television talk show host Sherry Carson and her reporter boyfriend Jack attend one of the shows and Sherry is anxious to do a piece on the magician. The couple eventually begin to question how Montag is involved when his volunteers later turn up dead. The Wizard of Gore has a pretty nutty premise and the delivery is pretty nutty too. I had not seen The Wizard of Gore in years before doing this feature. In fact, I had done a top ten list for each year of the seventies February 2011 and didn’t bother to re-watch it thinking I remembered it well enough. That was pretty dumb as it turns out because The Wizard of Gore definitely would have made my top ten for 1970! I loved this film! It is full of over-the-top outrageous performances and gore! Each death is nasty and unique; a real grisly delight it is! I laughed and was delightfully disgusted in equal measure! I laughed and laughed hard throughout The Wizard of Gore which has replaced Blood Feast as my number one Herschell Gordon Lewis film. In fairness to Blood Feast, I have seen the film so many times over the years I can quote well over half the film. I really enjoyed Judy Cler as Sherry Carson and Wayne Ratay as Jack but no one entertained me more than Montag the Magnificent played by Lewis regular Ray Sager. Montag is not only a magnificent magician he is also a master hypnotist! As Montag, Sager is flippant, arrogant, rude, and spectacularly self-important. The eccentric lead performance from Ray Sager alone makes The Wizard of Gore worth seeing. Montag is indeed The Wizard of Gore and brings heaps of gooey and grotesque theatrics to his dastardly stage show! And like so many of my favourite films it has an unbelievable and completely unforgettable finale! The Wizard of Gore is a Goretacular Spectacular and one of Lewis’ best. The Wizard of Gore was included on my Favourite Five Herschell Gordon Lewis films; to find out what the other four films were click here.
SWV Honorable mentions that I gave a 4 or 4.5/5 rating: A Smell of Honey A Swallow of Brine, Olga’s House of Shame, Help Wanted Female, The Kiss of Her Flesh, Love Toy, Heat of Madness, The Immoral Three, Scum of the Earth, A Thousand Pleasures, White Slaves of Chinatown, The Defilers, Bad Girls Go to Hell, Take Me Naked, Scream of the Butterfly, My Tale is Hot, The Swap and How They Make it, The Gore Gore Girls, The Curious Dr. Humpp, Career Bed, Aroused, The Fat Black Pussycat, The Exquisite Cadaver, Fleshpot on 42nd Street, A Taste of Flesh and Mantis in Lace.