Las Vegas Hillbillys (1966)

While rare, Hollywood on occasion births a sequel greater than the original: The Godfather: Part II, The Empire Strikes Back, Hillbillys in a Haunted House. The latter is the 1967 follow-up to the prior year’s Las Vegas Hillbillys. Arguably, Vegas boasts more star power, but lacks Haunted‘s — how you say? — je ne sais quois. Ah, yes: gorillas and Joi Lansing’s garguantas.

Vegas does have Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doren. As the appropriately named Tawny, Mansfield pops in and out of the movie, with each appearance accompanied by that percussive “bong” sound that signifies cups-poureth-over pulchritude. So there’s that. Director Arthur C. Pierce (Women of the Prehistoric Planet), I salute you.

After nearly 15 minutes of country music performances, a story takes root: Tennessee good ol’ boy Woody Wetherby (Ferlin Husky, a real-life singer probably more or less playing himself) is called to settle the estate of his newly croaked uncle, so he and near-illiterate pal Jeepers (Don Bowman) hop in a jalopy with an umbrella for a roof and head for Sin City. Woody has inherited the strip’s near-empty Golden Circle casino and bar … and an accompanying $40,000 in debts. If only he could get some quality singers to attract paying customers.

One comes built-in — and built — with waitress Boots Malone (Van Doren), who likes to sing and dance atop the bar, and attracts the eye of Woody: “She reminds me of a 2-year-old filly that’s ready to be tamed.” Woody dreams many more live music numbers; 007’s dentally challenged nemesis Richard Kiel appears as muscle; and everyone in the movie has so much fun, it ends in a pie fight. Glad to see someone had that much of a ball. —Rod Lott

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