Mar 16 2017

Up Your Ladder (1979)

Sketchy in all definitions of the word, Up Your Ladder plays like a filmed adaptation of a dirty joke book, but with all the finesse and professionalism of middle schoolers who got hold of Dad’s camcorder while he was out of town. Its floss-thin excuse of a framework for its phalanx of gags is a talking apartment building — no, really! With 138 units, the Villa Elaine has many stories to tell, and the movie’s host is Elaine herself, personified in transparent overlay miniature by Cindy Morgan (in her feature debut, one year before her breakout role as Caddyshack seductress Lacey Underall), whose suspenders-centered outfit greatly diminishes her considerable sex appeal.

Elaine introduces viewers to various tenants past and present (as well as people elsewhere, meaning Up Your Ladder is not even competent enough to stick to its own stupid concept). Then we see their naughty, below-the-Borscht Belt bits play out — many times for no more than one minute, since it doesn’t take that long to reach a punch line. As good an example as any: Inside apartment 319, a bachelor (Rick Dillon, Female Chauvinists) is about to get busy with a hot-to-trot date (Tallie Cochrane, The Centerfold Girls) until she expresses fear she’s been exposed to either VD or TB, but cannot remember which. So naturally, the horny guy places an urgent call to his doctor (Thomas Newman, The Munsters’ Revenge), who advises, “Tell her to run around the room a few times. If she coughs, fuck her.” Hang up, lights out, slide whistle.

I know, I know: Groan. And that’s just the first sketch!

If you choose to subject yourself to Up Yours (its alternate title), grit your molars and steel yourself for a prudish woman (Joe Dante regular Belinda Balaski, Amazon Women on the Moon) harangued by obscene phone calls; for a bedridden old man (Michael Pataki, The Bat People) who, thinking himself a vampire, bites butts; for a busty manicurist (Ilsa herself, Dyanne Thorne) applying for a barbershop job; for a nude tap dancer (Odette Wyler, aka The Boob Tube’s Becky Sharpe) who, uh, tap dances nude; for a chesty medical patient afraid to undress (Jill Jacobson, Nurse Sherri); for a compulsive masturbator (didn’t catch his name — does it matter?); and for a very hungry husband (Chuck McCann, Hamburger: The Motion Picture) whose wife forgot to buy groceries, so he eats a can of dog food out of desperation.

Wondering where the sex might be in that last setup? It’s in McCann’s character fatally attempting to lick his own testicles — blessedly offscreen, and for that, we are thankful. Too bad that doesn’t extend to the rest of this atrocity, so unfunny it’s an enemy of comedy. —Ed Donovan

Get it at Amazon.

Jan 25 2017

Sisters in Leather (1969)

Zoltan G. Spencer was nothing if not efficient. His softcore Sisters in Leather ends up running a curly hair over an hour, and the plot is set in motion before the opening credits. It helps, of course, that said plot is as twisty as a Popsicle stick. As white-bread, white-collar, whiny-ass Joe (utterly amateur Dick Osmun, A Sweet Sickness) marvels at the hottie he’s just picked up in his convertible before they mack their way toward third base, “I’ve heard of free love, and here it was, sitting in my car!”

Ah, but just as there’s no such thing as a free lunch, this supposedly “free” love comes at a price: $2,000, to be exact. That’s because the all-too-eager passenger, Dolly (Karen Thomas, The Secret Sex Lives of Romeo and Juliet), is underage, and their nude shenanigans have been photographed for blackmail. If he doesn’t cough up the dough, Dolly’s fellow girl bikers — aka the Sisters in Leather — threaten to send prints to his lovely, lonely wife, Mary (Kathy Williams, Love Camp 7).

Anxious to find out more about these “hungry hellcats,” Joe spots the girls’ emblem on a male biker and follows him to a bar (where $1.50 would score you a “PICHTER” of beer, per the sign). What he should be doing instead is keeping an eye on the wife he ignores, because Dolly and her gang rat Joe out to Mary in an effort to “recruit” the square, suburban spouse into their lascivious lifestyle of lesbianism … and it works! At a rather unconventional ladies-only picnic, clothes become optional and the Sisters in Leather become the Sisters on Leather for a nude ride. I’m no biker, but I imagine that can’t be good on the seats.

Sisters marks a step up from Spencer’s The Satanist the year before, in that this has recorded sound — all the better to hear Joe complain, “They have my wife and they’re doing a pretty good job of turning her into a dyke!” The moral to this shady, skinflint skin flick? Zoltan should be thankful Twitter didn’t exist in ’69. —Ed Donovan

Get it at Amazon.

Dec 23 2016

The Satanist (1968)

Who’s got the tricks to make a sex machine of all the chicks? Satan! The proof is in The Satanist, as writer/director Zoltan G. Spencer (Terror at Orgy Castle) plops a succubus into suburbia to see what happens. Fornicating, that’s what.

After experiencing a nervous breakdown, a novelist named John (who haltingly narrates the dialogue-free picture) is ordered to temporarily escape city life for a little R&R, yet finds only T&A. Typewriter in tow, John would like to write, but his wife, Mary, feeling frisky in a second-honeymoon way, disrobes and coaxes him to do the same. He does; unfortunately, the reveal of his shaggy back rudely hurls the film into horror territory.

Later, on a leisurely postcoital drive, the couple meets the shapely Shondra (Pat Barrington, Orgy of the Dead), a neighbor who fancies herself a “student of the occult.” She loans a book on ancient sorcery to John, whose perusal of its pages causes him to have erotic dreams of making it with a bosomy blonde while Mary, undisturbed by the mattress motions, sleeps soundly.

Awake, John turns Peeping Tom and watches Shondra rub a Vaseline-like ointment all over a woman’s breasts; Mary witnesses a satanic rite being performed using her hubby’s glasses. Sufficiently weirded out, the spouses agree it’s time to end their friendship with that witchy woman Shondra, but awww, dammit, they promised to attend her party on Sunday! While it seems like an excuse to watch a hoochie-coochie dance and listen to sitar-flavored jazz, the real reason for the soirée is unveiled after the couple unknowingly downs drugged drinks: John is tied up and forced to watch as each male guest takes a turn donning a mask of fertility and, well, spreading his fertilizer. (While supposed to represent a goat, the headgear looks more like a goat with fake eyelashes and Cinnabon pastries on each ear.) The moral of this story: Following the etiquette rules of Emily Post will earn you conscription as the devil’s concubine.

It is important to note what this one-hour wonder is not: porn. All the couplings — and there are many, even before the climactic party resembling a community-theater adaptation of Eyes Wide Shut — are practically chaste by today’s standards, featuring maximum toplessness and a minimum of rolling around. Fabulously sexy as always, Barrington adds color to this black-and-white cheapie. As you might have theorized based upon all of the above — or likely just from the name Zoltan — The Satanist feels like the kind of sexploitation obscurity that served as Something Weird Video’s bread and butter, but oh, my Lord, that’s not butter! —Ed Donovan

Get it at Amazon.

Apr 20 2016

Body Chemistry 4: Full Exposure (1995)

bodychem4In Body Chemistry 4: Full Exposure, sultry TV producer turned shady murder suspect Dr. Claire Archer (Shannon Tweed, Hot Dog … The Movie) decides to check out the legal briefs of her married lawyer, Simon Mitchell (Larry Poindexter, American Ninja 2: The Confrontation), in hopes of helping her case.

To get on his good side, she gives him an oral examination in his office’s break room. With him completely won over by her well-timed arguments, they do a little gavel-bashing atop a car in a parking garage, in an elevator, on a pool table and on his own dining room table, where people eat. Even a whole bottle of Pledge wouldn’t mask that evidence.

bodychem41Thoroughly routine among erotic thrillers of the 1990s (Tweed’s character likes to hump? Who’da guessed?), this entry from director Jim Wynorski (Sorority House Massacre II) also has the misfortune of allowing Tweed’s six-time co-star Andrew Stevens to show up briefly as his character from the previous year’s Body Chemistry III. Tweed, however, is new to the Roger Corman-birthed franchise, taking over the role from Shari Shattuck, who took it over from Lisa Pescia.

Also making a return appearance? Fake breasts. (To clarify, Stevens’ are real.) —Ed Donovan

Get it at Amazon.

Mar 14 2016

The Happy Hooker (1975)

happyhookerAdmittedly without researching, I can think of no prostitute other than Xaviera Hollander to have achieved such a level of American fame that Hollywood responded in kind by turning her memoir and her life into a veritable film franchise. Naturally, her household-name status was a genuine by-product of the Me Decade (as opposed to our current Me Me ME Decade); I’m half-surprised she wasn’t called upon by prime-time TV to corporate-synergize by testing the cabin mattresses aboard The Love Boat or causing Tattoo to spill some ink during a visit to Fantasy Island.

Based on Hollander’s 1971 memoir of the same name, The Happy Hooker is a sex comedy that is neither all that sexy nor all that funny. Furthermore, title be damned, it’s not all that happy, either. In fact, Nicholas Sgarro’s virgin outing as a feature director is so bad, it’s depressing. (No wonder he was banished to television forever after, cresting with 54 episodes of Knots Landing.)

Gods and Monsters’ Lynn Redgrave strikes one as vigorously miscast in the role of the real-life, larger-than-life Hollander, but at least she grants sympathy to her character. Arriving in America from Holland, Xaviera is gaga for the rich guy she moved continents for (Nicholas Pryor, Risky Business), until his deep-seated mommy issues suffocate their planned nuptials with a throw pillow.

happyhooker1She revolts the same way many women do: balling as many men as possible. What she enjoys, she soon gets paid for, which leads to full-time freelancing and, eventually, full-blown whoredom heading a bordello. See, Xavier does anything and anyone, while her peers may flinch. Make out with a black chick? Not a problem! X’s color-blind tongue is already out, wet and a-waggin’!

For something so sordid-sounding, The Happy Hooker is not only boring, but almost fully absent of nudity. Redgrave’s big number has her stripping to her underwear — and then back again — while dancing atop the conference room of a Wall Street executive (Tom Poston, TV’s Newhart). The only flesh bared is brief, yet belongs to Anita Morris, Ruthless People’s risqué redhead, here turned into a giant banana split with extra whipped cream. As with every scene in Sgarro’s film, it’s not as much fun as it sounds.

This awful flick was followed by 1977’s awful The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington and 1980’s truly awful The Happy Hooker Goes to Hollywood, which would be forgotten from pop culture’s collective conscience if not for Adam West (TV’s Batman) appearing in drag and getting blown. With each adventure, a different leading lady donned the garter belt. —Ed Donovan

Get it at Amazon.