She Shoulda Said No! (1949)

 

She Shoulda Said No! (1949) movie poster

director  Sam Newfield
viewed: 05/12/2018

She Shoulda Said No! but I guess it’s good she didn’t because otherwise we wouldn’t have this movie.

I kid, I kid, but in reality, star Lila Leeds was busted for MJ with Bob Mitchum in September 1948. The 20 year old starlet’s career was strangled by the scandal, while Mitchum managed to shrug it off and carry on being a big time star. Leeds hadn’t maybe had her breakout role yet, but outside of this Exploitation penance flick, she also never got a chance. And it’s a shame. She’s definitely got that certain something that could have made a star.

She Shoulda Said No! is a more polished and professional morality tale Exploitation than others of its ilk, maybe because of the notoriety of Leeds. It also features notable actors like Lyle Talbot and a young Jack Elam.

Not as sleazy or silly as some other marijuana scare flicks, I did like the kinda 21 Jump Street of its day thing, when a cop going undercover at a soda joint notes in voiceover: “I went home and dig out my old schoolbooks, loaded up my pockets with nickels for the jukebox and brushed up on my jive talk.”

The best sequence is Leeds in jail, initially unrepentant, eventually crumbling under those 60 days behind bars, and the guilt of her brother’s suicide. It’s a testament to the shame how something so petty ruined Leeds’ career, though such drug busts have been much worse for such petty shit on many other people by comparison.

The Blue Hour (1971)

The Blue Hour (1971) movie poster

directors  Sergei Goncharoff, Ron Nicholas
viewed: 04/22/2018

The Blue Hour is sort of like the sexploitation  Stranger Than Paradise.  Not that it’s Jarmuschian but that it’s a sort of immigrant’s tale with arthouse vibe.

Of course, sexploitation means there’s always more “ploitation” than “sex”, and that is very much the case here.

Tania is new to America and experiencing the open sexual mores of the time, which trigger memories of her coming of age on an isolated Greek island. The Blue Hour is strange and inconsistent, but winds up being sort of evocative, feeling somehow very personal.

Not sure I know what to do with it, but it was not uninteresting.

 

Criminally Insane (1975)

 

Criminally Insane (1975) movie poster

director Nick Millard
viewed: 01/12/2017

More like “Criminally Hungry”.

Criminally Insane is like Repulsion, but made by some bastard child of H.G. Lewis and John Waters. And instead of trauma by sex, it’s trauma not getting enough to eat.

“My heart’s just fine as long as my stomach’s not empty.”

Plus points for San Francisco location.

Amazing.

Faces of Death (1978)

Faces of Death (1978) VHS cover

director  Conan LeCilaire
viewed: 11/18/2017

In the 1980’s, having seen Faces of Death was de rigeur for any horror fan. It was one of the most outré things on most family video store movie racks. As far as Exploitation goes, it might have been the video era’s greatest success.

The bait-and-switch of veritable horrors with hammy fakes fit is well within the carny sideshow tease and titillate. The reality, though, was always cheapened by the fake. And it still is. The voice over doesn’t help though it’s strangely politically progressive.

But these days much worse is readily available on the internet. So, out of the context of its reputation and the scrutiny of fake to realism, where does Faces of Death stand now?

It’s definitely in the Mondo mold, and I imagine that is the best way to categorize it today. It shares with Mondo the faux documentary style, the all-knowing narrator moralizing the stuff, the mixture of real life violence and staged material, especially the use of gruesome animal sequences that set the table and tone for verity and horror.

I d say that it’s flaws start with its structure, a seeming randomness that fails to sense its own strengths and weaknesses. It ends up meandering and working through no pattern of development. Interestingly, the music seems an ironic commentary throughout. Which might help to explain the mind-boggling credit sequence and song.

I appreciate Exploitation movies, though I doubt I need to re-watch this again ever. It’s still eerie and gross.

Invasion of the Blood Farmers (1972)

Invasion of the Blood Farmers (1972) movie poster

director  Ed Adlum
viewed: 10/21/2017

Invasion of the Blood Farmers is some legitimate trash cinema. Written by director Ed Adlum and co-scribe Ed Kelleher, edited by Michael Findlay (the two Eds also wrote Findlay’s abominably amazing Shriek of the Mutilated (1974), it’s got psychotronic pedigree.

Wonderfully stiff acting right out of Ed Wood. It also begs comparison to other low budget auteurs such as Andy Milligan or Al Adamson, maybe with a little prime H.G. Lewis thrown in.

“The more I scrub this bloodstain the bigger it gets!” – some dude scrubbing a bloodstain from the floor of a bar

The leads could be the prototypes for Brad and Janet in Rocky Horror they are so bland and ludicrous. Says the Brad to his Janet, “You’re just a pushover for pathologists!” This because both this Brad and Janet’s father are medical guys working at home on some strange multiplying blood. Ultimately it turns out that it’s all due to some literal blood farmers who are part of some weird druidic blood cult.

It’s the kind of bad that is so close to intentional comedy that you may wonder if there was intent of seriousness here at all.

Night of a Thousand Cats (1972)

Night of a Thousand Cats (1972) movie poster

director René Cardona Jr.
viewed: 10/20/2017

“He’s an excellent butler and as faithful as a cat,” so says star Hugo Stiglitz of his Man Friday, Dorgo. A man that he will eventually feed to his man-eating kittycats after Dorgo manages to beat him at chess. An almost Trumpian faithfulness.

Night of a Thousand Cats is a sleazy thriller about sexual predator (Hugo) flying around Mexico City in a helicopter scoping out victims. It’s got to be said, if all stalkers flew helicopters, they’d be a lot easier to spot. He smokes a wacky collection of pipes between abductions, sexual encounters, and murders. He eventually grinds up folks and feeds them to his cats, keeping victims’ heads in glass bottles for kicks.

It’s actually actually kind of a “roughie”. And it gets added creepy factor for the his tracking of child victims as nastily as adult women.

At 63 minutes, it’s a swift affair, trimmed from its original hour and a half. Add into that creepiness some dodgy treatment of the film’s feline stars, and you’ll probably want a shower afterwards.

Nekromantik (1987)

Nekromantik (1987) movie poster

director  Jörg Buttgereit
viewed: 08/11/2017

Back in the mid-to-late 1980’s transgression was all the rage (in certain circles), and there was still a lot of material yet to transgress. It was in these days and in publications like Film Threat that stuff like Jörg Buttgereit’s Nekromantik became the stuff of outré curiosity and urban legend.

When I finally got to see Nekromantik in the early 1990’s from a San Francisco video store with tons of bootleg VHS, it was still pretty fringe, though it had already begat a sequel.

It’s interesting, re-watching it so many years later. I don’t recall how comedic its tone was, maybe because that really pushed back on expectation? But this story of boy and girl and their sexual love for corpses, until boy loses job, then girl, then corpse, isn’t played completely straight-faced. Because the Nekro is the necro but the Romantik is played romantic like in soft-core porn or a shampoo commercial. Clearly intended for laughs.

And the finale, with sperm and blood ejaculating like an over-the-top geyser from a Saturday Night Live skit? That too is quite humorous.

It’s interesting, though, the playing backward of the skinning and killing of a rabbit does have some uncanny effect, as if violence can be undone and what is dead can be brought back somehow. The real gore, such as it is, like it or not, does have that aspect of reality that pushes the rest of the material a little further. The last scene is oddly affecting.

Hitchhike to Hell (1941)

Hitchhike to Hell (1941) movie poster

director Pat Carlyle
viewed: 07/25/2017

“Going My Way, Mister?” so ask a number of dames, thumbing a ride in one sequence in Hitchhike to Hell. One of its cuter and funnier bits.

Going My Way, Mister? is another name for the film, as are Highway GirlsHighway HellHitch-hike to Hell, and Honky Tonk Girl. But by any name, it’s not as trashy, sleazy, or fun as behooves a good Exploitation flick.

Rather, it’s more on the preachy side, most of which comes out of the mouth of owner of a little bar on the road, whose son is seduced by the broads and their shifty pimp.

But it’s the little things that charm. Like the “Going my way, Mister?” montage, there’s a cute scene of how each of the gals downs her whiskey, everybody a little different. It’s the little things that give this film its small level of merit. Though the movie posters are also pretty sweet.

Take Me Naked (1966)

Take Me Naked (1966) movie poster

directors Michael Findlay, Roberta Findlay
viewed: 07/11/2017

Sleazy and artsy, Take Me Naked is moderately confounding. It was also Roberta Findlay’s first directorial role, not to mention starring role. Husband and collaborator Michael stars as well.

There’s a bit more tease than sleaze until the gruesome ending, quite a dark turn of events. There is a peeping tom and a lesbian couple and it all ends in murder.

And, yes, a lot of vaseline on the lens (which sounds sleazier to say than it really is.)

Chained Girls (1965)

Chained Girls (1965) movie poster

director Joseph P. Mawra
viewed: 07/08/2017

Let me tell you, you could queer theory the hell out of Chained Girls. It’s almost a thesis project in itself, just packed with not just stereotypes of the day but leering while offering social commentary on the ways of lesbians in the world.

In the right company, this could be a laugh-riot. In other company, it’s about as offensive as you can imagine. For my money, it’s better to laugh than to cry.

This tidbit comes from Joseph P. Mawra, who (as the somethingweird.com site will tell you) also made White Slaves of Chinatown and Olga’s House of Shame (both 1964). As well from producer George Weiss, producer of Ed Wood’s Glen or Glenda (1953) among many other Exploitation titles.

An amazing artifact, in its own way.