Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Pink Flamingos (Baltimore, 1972)

A classic of underground cinema that lives up to and possibly even transcends its reputation, Pink Flamingos remains, even now 46 years after its release, a movie that separates the men from the boys, the human beings from the Republicans.
The movie was, in its day, prime transgressive cinema before the term and movement was even officially regurgitated and quickly drowned in its own intellectual pretentions. And unlike in most cinematic endeavors from that movement, for all the boundaries this and the movies of John Waters crossed, the filmmaker always broke them with his tongue firmly in his cheek: his are movies that [usually] make you laugh even as they freak you out or disgust you. (One laughs a lot during Pink Flamingos.)
True, the movie is not as shocking now as it was when it first came out — it is, as fiction, by nature less shocking than the reality of the US's current innately corrupt political system and collapsing society — but even the jaded might still feel an occasional pang of shock when watching this movie. (The singing butthole usually gets most people, not to mention the movie's infamous closing scene, done in an uncut take, of Divine chowing down on doggy doo.) Laughs, in any event, are guaranteed... if only nervous ones.
Rest assured, however, when you screen this healthy and hearty and enjoyable cinematic abortion, you do end up watching a truly terribly made movie. The soundtrack might be top notch,* but when it comes to the cinematic and/or technical qualities normally expected of a feature film — editing, acting, cinematography, continuity, whatever — Pink Flamingos displays more exuberance than any semblance of skill.
* Indeed, it is perhaps one of the earliest example of the continual use of well-known and/or obscure pop songs to underscore, often incongruently, diverse scenes the narrative, a filmic technique that has become almost de jure since, dunno, Reservoir Dogs (1992 / trailer).
But this very exuberance, combined with the whole film's in-your-face attitude and dedicated transgression of good taste, works magic. Waters may have, in the meantime and after 12 different feature films in total, directed better-made movies displaying consummate filmic professionalism, but none of his later works carry the punch or have been as influential as Pink Flamingos. It is, in its own extremely idiosyncratic manner, a masterpiece of sorts. And imperative viewing for anyone interested in underground film, exploitation movies, low culture, black comedy, alternative culture(s), artistic expression, freedom of speech, or chicken fucking.
Pink Flamingo is the third no-budget, feature-length movie Waters directed, preceded as it was by the director's lesser known Mondo Trasho (1969 / scene) and Multiple Maniacs (1970 / trailer). It is the first of what has since become known as John Waters' "Trash Trilogy", which also includes his subsequent two vintage Baltimore projects, Female Trouble (1974 / trailer) and Desperate Living (1977 / trailer) — both of which are noteworthy cinematic experiences on their own.
Shot on a reported budget of $10,000, Pink Flamingos looks every bit a product of its budget, which is also very much part of the movie's anarchistic and questionable charm. The influence of the low budget and/or guerilla filmmaking tactics and style of the Now York underground filmmakers of the 1960s, above all the brothers Mike & George Kuchar,* is evident, particularly in the over-exaggerated acting style and extremely arch dialog. Character after character manages to spout inanely long dialog that verges on being baroque, but for that there are also fun scenes without any dialog (but set to music) — like of Divine (19 Oct 1975 – 7 Mar 1988), as Divine / Babs Johnson, strolling down streets (the reactions are real and priceless), or Raymond Marble (David Lochary [21 Aug 1944 – 29 July 1977]) displaying his family jewals. One gets the feeling that aside from limited sound recording facilities, Waters also had only limited access to editing possibilities, for much of the film is shot in long takes, with pans, zooms and/or an unmoving camera — basically: poverty-level Jess Franco.
* George Kuchar may be resting in peace, but the surviving brother, Mike, is still making short films and is also a productive graphic artist of truly great gay smut art, an extremely innocent example of which is directly below.
The basic plot is simple: Divine and her criminal family — comprising Edie the Egg Lady (Edith Massey [28 May 1918 – 24 Oct 1984]), Crackers (Danny Mills [Died 21 Jan 2017]) and companion Connie (Mary Vivian Pearce) — are laying low in a trailer out in the country, but back in beautiful Baltimore Connie (Mink Stole) and Raymond Marble have grown jealous of her reputation as "The Filthiest Person Alive". They decide to destroy Divine and usurp her title... but only live long enough to rue the day. Framed within that narrative are characters deeply imbued in sleaze and fun pastimes like fucking, masturbation, incest, rape, illegal baby selling, lesbianism, murder, cannibalism, egg eating, cop killing, shopping, foot fetishism, butt singing and more. And a great wardrobe: at least in the case of Divine, Crackers, Connie and the Marbles, all would fit in perfectly in the nightlife of today's Berlin. (Though, in the case of Raymond, the blue pubes that properly match the hair color on his head definitely clash with his almost bear-like excess of body hair.)
Seen today, it is surprising how easily Pink Flamingos suddenly becomes a kind of allegorical mirror of the contemporary politics: If you see Babs as the Democrats, and the Marbles as the Republicans, in the end they are all criminals and what they "do" is different only in degrees. But Babs is a bit more social (as seen by her extended family and B-day party popularity), while the Marbles are bit more egoistic, consumer- and position-driven, and convinced of their own entitlement.
Also comparable to the US Republicans, aside from all their questionable business activities and the less-than-pious cravings for social status, in the end the Marbles are extremely and illogically judgmental and conservative: they are continually shocked by the actions of others, though no one does anything all that much worse than what they themselves do. (One might argue they don't even have the balls to do their own evil: yes, they sell the babies of kidnapped girls they chain up and impregnate in the basement, but they have to hire someone to do the actual rapes instead of having Raymond doing it himself.) And Raymond, for all his own sexual peccadilloes & perversions, even runs away in pure horror after, having just exposed himself in public, he confronted by a highly attractive chick with a dick (Elizabeth Coffey, who, in real life, had it taken off a week later). Yep, the Marbles are very much conservatives of the contemporary rightwing religious Trump Republican model: something — pussy-grabbing, underage sex, white collar crime, affairs, cocksucking — is only disgusting or wrong if other people do it.
Whatever. Pink Flamingos, "An Exercise in Poor Taste", lives up to its infamy in a multiple of ways. A historical artifact of immense cultural importance, this gleefully tasteless and oddly life-affirming cult film is required viewing for culture vultures of all persuasions and political parties. Watch it, now. And if you don't like it, well, go do what Divine does in the final scene.
P.S.: Trailer to John Waters' own "remake", Kiddie Flamingos (2014 / trailer). 
P.P.S.: John Waters "has stated that Armando Bo's 1969 Argentine film Fuego influenced not only Pink Flamingos, but his other films. His words: 'If you watch some of my films, you can see what a huge influence Fuego was. I forgot how much I stole. ... Look at Isabel's makeup and hairdo in Fuego. Dawn Davenport, Divine's character in Female Trouble, could be her exact twin, only heavier. Isabel, you inspired us all to a life of cheap exhibitionism, exaggerated sexual desires and a love for all that is trash-ridden in cinema.'" So, for your viewing pleasure... 
The Full Movie —
Armando Bo's Fuego (1969):

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Uschi Digard, Part IV: 1971, Part I

Babes of Yesteryear: a wasted life's irregular and PI feature that takes a look at the filmographies of the underappreciated actresses cum sex bombs of low-culture cinema of the past. Some may still be alive, others not. Our choice of whom we look at is idiosyncratic and entirely our own — but the actors are/were babes, one and all. (Being who we are, we might also take a look at some actor cum beefcake, if we feel like it.)
As the photo and blog-entry title above reveal, we're currently looking at the films of one of the ultimate cult babes ever, a woman who needs no introduction to any and all red-blooded American hetero male whose hormonal memory goes further back than the start of the 80s: the great Uschi Digard.*
* A.k.a. Astrid | Debbie Bowman | Brigette | Briget | Britt | Marie Brown | Clarissa | Uschi Dansk | Debbie | Ushi Devon | Julia Digaid | Uschi Digaid | Ushi Digant | Ursula Digard | Ushie Digard | Ushi Digard | Alicia Digart | Uschi Digart | Ushi Digart | Ushi Digert | Uschi Digger | Beatrice Dunn | Fiona | Francine Franklin | Gina | Glenda | Sheila Gramer | Ilsa | Jobi | Cynthia Jones | Karin | Astrid Lillimor | Astrid Lillimore | Lola | Marie Marceau | Marni | Sally Martin | Mindy | Olga | Ves Pray | Barbara Que | Ronnie Roundheels | Sherrie | H. Sohl | Heide Sohl | Heidi Sohler | U. Heidi Sohler | Sonja | Susie | Euji Swenson | Pat Tarqui | Joanie Ulrich | Ursula | Uschi | Ushi | Mishka Valkaro | Elke Vann | Elke Von | Jobi Winston | Ingred Young… and probably more.
As The Oak Drive-In puts it: "With her long hair, Amazonian build & beautiful natural looks (usually devoid of make-up), nobody seems to personify that 60's & early 70's sex appeal 'look' better than [Uschi Digard]. She had a presence that truly was bigger than life — a mind-bending combination of hippie Earth Mother looks and a sexual wildcat. […] She always seemed to have a smile on her face and almost seemed to be winking at the camera and saying 'Hey, it's all in fun.' Although she skirted around the edges at times, she never preformed hardcore…"
Today, Uschi Digard is still alive, happily married (for over 50 years), and last we heard retired in Palm Springs, CA. To learn everything you ever wanted to know about her, we would suggest listening to the great interview she gave The Rialto Report in 2013.

Herewith we give a nudity warning: naked babes and beefcake are highly likely to be found in our Babes of Yesteryear entries. If such sights offend thee, well, either go to another blog or pluck thy eyes from thee...

Please note: we make no guarantee for the validity of the release dates given… or of the info supplied, for that matter. But the info you read here is probably more reliable than anything that comes out of Donald Trump's mouth.

Go here for
Uschi Digard, Part I: 1968-69
Uschi Digard, Part II: 1970, Part I


 

Casting Call
(1971, dir. Kendall Stewart)
Possibly a lost film in English, in Germany the video release of Casting Call ["Sexclub der Triebhaften"] can still be found secondhand, if rarely. Uschi, credited as "Heidi Sohler" plays Hanna Hightower; "Heidi Sohler" is even listed on some of the poster(s). Later re-releases, after the name Uschi Digard actually developed a fan base of such, saw her real name listed.
Interestingly enough, although the English-language poster above sees no reason to list the man normally credited as the director, Kendall "Ken" Stewart, the German poster below credits the movie's direction to "Robert Leigh", Casting Call's producer. Assuming the name Kendall "Ken" Stewart is real, Stewart made two other movies before falling off the face of the earth, Matinee Wives a.k.a. Matinee Hookers (1970) — also produced by Robert Leigh — and Code Name: Raw-Hide (1972). But could Robert and Ken actually be the same person?
But just to throw a monkey wrench into that hypothesis, Pre-Cert Videos claims that the Kendall Stewart who made Matinee Hookers is actually some guy known as Kendall S. Rase, who eventually went on to edit Henning Schellerup's In Search of Historic Jesus (1979 / TV spot). 
The streets of Los Angeles —
from Code Name: Raw-Hide (1972):
The script, attributed to "Clyde Rogers", was supplied by Rik Van Nutter (1 May 1929 – 15 Oct 2005), who, assuming it's the Rik Van Nutter (born "Frederick Allen Nutter"), was a former husband of Anita Ekberg (from 1963 to 75). A Hollywood hang-around and (very) occasional actor, he was the third actor to play CIA man "Felix Leiter" in the James Bond series (Thunderball [1965 / trailer]). He's also found somewhere in Antonio Margheriti's Assignment: Outer Space (1960 / full movie).
The plot, according to TCM: "Sex exploitation film director Les Heyer (John Long), a decadent and insatiable man, satisfies his unnatural desires by sleeping with the women who answer his casting calls. Among the women who enter his office are: Charlotte (Susan Bergdahl), who is unsatisfied in her marriage; Bobbi (Valerie Lauron), a flower child who has sex for money in order to release a friend from jail; Hanna (Uschi), a bisexual; and Sherri (Judy Angel), a hopeful starlet and Heyer's mistress, who invents new thrills for Heyer in hopes of starring in his next film. Heyer has two assistants, flesh peddler Harry Kelp (Zoltan Narish), who more than matches the director's capacity for evil, and Jay Robbins (Stephen Treadwell of the sleazy roughie, The Erotic Circus [1969 / see below), a wholesome young man who seems to be out of place in Heyer's world. Jay's fiancée, Abbey (Sarah Warren), an actress who is desperate for a break, falls into Heyer's trap, and his activities with her climax the film."
One might say the movie is an exposé of the events behind #metoo.
Full movie —
The Erotic Circus:


Below the Belt
(1971, writ & dir. Bethel Buckalew)
 
As Below the Belt was "Presented" by Harry Novak, we took a look at the movie in Part VIII of his RIP Career Review way back in 2014. There, we cobbled the following together: Another Bethel Buckalew movie that, as so often, is often (and probably incorrectly) credited to Pete Perry. As AV explains, Below the Belt follows "Novak's early-'70s formula: A few minutes of gangland tough talk in some featureless office gives way to extended scenes of simulated sex, with the principals positioning heads and legs precisely enough to avoid an X rating. Then the crooks hook up and talk some more before the next buxom distraction wanders in. [...] In Below The Belt, the criminal element convenes in a rural milieu as sweaty and dusty as those in Buckalew's 'hicksploitation' outings Midnight Plowboy (1971) and The Pigkeeper's Daughter (1972 / trailer)."
Full movie —
 Below the Belt:
At Fandango, Paul Gaita explains the plot: "Sexploitation vet John Tull stars as Sammy Beal, a less-than-scrupulous boxing manager whose current protégé is virginal country boy Johnny (Steven Hodge). Half-pint Sammy is a walking textbook example of Napoleon complex: when he's not screaming his sweaty head off at Johnny or punch-drunk assistant Benny Bravo (George 'Buck' Flower), he's mauling and berating any woman that comes within grabbing distance (including sexploitation mainstays Rene Bond and Uschi Digart, whose poolside romp with Tull should please her fans). Naturally, he dissolves into a whimpering man-baby immediately after sex. Johnny's rough-hewn skill at the sweet science catches the eye of cigar-chomping mobster Louie Gardino (Frank Finklehoffer), who dispatches comely B-girl Lisa (Mirka Madnadraszky) to distract him from his training. The naïve pugilist naturally falls for her voluptuous charms, but trouble rears its head when he catches her in a bedroom tussle with Sammy. Things rapidly come to an ugly end for all involved."
Woody Anders (Woodyanders@aol.com) of The Last New Jersey Drive-In on the Left calls the movie "pretty standard soft-core sexploitation fare", saying "Bethal Buckalew relates the sordid story at a plodding pace, but fortunately crams this schlock with more than enough gratuitous nudity and sizzling soft-core sex to make this junk a perfectly agreeable diversion. The exquisitely busty'n'lusty Uschi Digard steams up the screen by engaging in scorching hot raunchy sex with Sammy in a swimming pool. The ever-adorable Rene Bond [pre-boob job] likewise heats things up as a lovely hooker Sammy first terrorizes before doing just what you think with. Leggy and statuesque brunette knock-out Mirka Madnadrazsky as the enticing Lisa may not be much of an actress, but she sure looks mighty tasty in the buff. The bluesy theme song provides a solid belly laugh. Ditto the surprise downbeat ending."
Trash Film Guru more or less concurs: "In fairness, this flick suffers from the same setbacks that pretty much all of these things do — cheesy theme song, repetitious music during the sex scenes, dull camera work more concerned with obscuring any actual penetration that may or may not be occurring than it is with actually making the copulation look interesting, and cheap studio and location sets, to name just a few obvious shortcomings — but in its favor, it has well-above-average performances from Hodge, Finkleloffe, and Flower, a decidedly unexpected but perfectly logical downbeat ending, and best of all Bond and Digard eating up plenty of screentime and doing what they do best."
"Sexploitation vet" John Tull seems to have retired from movies nine years later after his last and first fully X-rated film, Balling for Dollar$ (1980 / full NSFW film). The image used for the original poster of Below the Belt, featuring the great Uschi, was also used for the cover of the magazine edition of Girls Who Do Sex Films. (We once had a paperback book version of the magazine, but it seems to have disappeared from our bookshelf.) A copy of the magazine, which features interviews with Uschi, Neola "Malta" Graef, Maria Arnold and others, is currently available here at the Rialto Report.


The Cult
(1971, writ & dir. Kentucky Jones)
 

A family that preys together ... slays together.

A.k.a. House of Bondage, The Love Cult, The Manson Massacre and Together Girls. A poster of the movie is seen the background somewhere in the cult video Charles Manson Superstar (1989), a fact we mention only as a lead-in to embedding the documentary below.
Charles Manson Superstar (1989):
The Cult is the secret inspiration behind Quentin Tarantino's upcoming Mansion movie.* As for writer & director "Kentucky Jones", the reason that he has only one known film credit to his name is probably because he took it from the eponymously named but short-live TV series from 64/65 starring Dennis Weaver, Kentucky Jones (trailer). Temple of Schlock, relying on "the word on the street", claims "Kentucky Jones" is no one less than the great Albert Zugsmith (24 April 1910 – 26 Oct 1993) — see Sappho, Darling (1968) in Part I. They also point out, as many do, that "As of now, the only version of The Cult that is available is a German-language print ["Die Töchter des Satans"] with no English sub-titles."
* Total lie we just want to see how long it takes for the statement to become an internet fact.
The newspaper clippings above and below are two of many to be found at the fun blog ..the scene of screen 13.., which says: "Although The Other Side of Madness (1971 / trailer) was the first direct Manson-sploitation planned during the trails, the 'Kentucky Jones' film The Cult was seriously the first Up-Chucked flick (possibly!) out of the gate while the Wade Williams flick took time and possibly had some problems in getting it released. Unlike the planned-out (but still kind of cheap) Wade Williams production, this one cut right to the chase by focusing on a group of women that was based on the Manson Girls but not a dramatic presentation of the news. That's the way to really do it — point the camera, shoot, go freaky, and be done with it!"
And while paired with any number of movies when screened, the clipping directly above indicates that in least in "Chicagoland", The Love Cult was released as part of a double bill with the English-language release of Max Pécas' Libido: The Urge to Love a.k.a. Je suis une nymphomane (1971), which features cult actress Janine Reynaud (13 Aug 1930 – 13 May 2018).
The Manson of The Cult isn't called Charlie, however; he's called either Invar or Ivor, depending on the website writing. And Uschi, in an un-credited appearance, plays her first MILF role as his mommy. Bad mommy, obviously enough, because: "Ivor (Makee K. Blaisdell [15 Nov 1931 – 21 Feb 1988]), for instance, turned out the way he did because he hates his mother. Why? The hate grew out of an incestuous relationship with her. [Temple of Schlock]"
 
Trailer to
The Mansion Massacre:
Bleeding Skull hits the movie's charm on the head when they say, "I know nothing about the facts surrounding Charles Manson and his crimes. But I do know that The Manson Massacre has a scene where a baby gets thrown into a dumpster. And that's good enough for me." At the same time, even as Bleeding Skull makes the film sound so much fun, it also points out why we find it hard to believe that Albert Zugsmith directed the movie: he usually displayed more care and talent in his products than found in The Cult. According to BS, "Writer-director 'Kentucky Jones' [...] comes from the Jerry Warren* school of photography — set up the camera, point it at something, and expose the film. The shots are totally devoid of creativity and/or insanity. Typically, that would be a problem. But here, the straight-forward visual approach leaves us wide open to absorb what we're seeing. And what we're seeing is 69 minutes of non-narrative vignettes that say nothing. They're just stupid. And hilarious. Everything about the film is spot-off in terms of tone. The soundtrack is mod freak-beat with lots of 'boing' sound effects. The typography used for the opening and closing credits looks more suited to a Dr. Pepper commercial than a smut-filled expose. There's no method of attack to the flashbacks and at one point, Invar accidentally looks into the camera. This is exploitation in its barest, most ideal form. Even when it's boring. It's just humping, stabbing, and a final scene of the gang driving the hearse down the street. Backwards."
* See our review of Jerry Warren's Teenage Zombies (1959).
The Oak Drive-In has the "plot": "B&W flashbacks show the background of Manson (or Ivor as his called here) and his followers. Ivor's flashbacks include an incestuous relationship with his mother (played by softcore queen Uschi Digard), killing his father and time in jail (complete with a pretty rough 'pick up the soap' shower scene). Other flashbacks show him recruiting up his harem — for one he girl he does this is done by helping her steal a vibrator (after her father refuses to buy it for her) and various sick/weird home situations of the other members of the group. After they steal a hearse Ivor rides around in the back laying in a white coffin — in fact pretty much all he does thru this movie is lay around looking bored surrounded by his chicks and occasionally explodes into tirades and belt whippings (when is not thinking about Uschi). Looking like it was filmed on about two sets it is somewhat of an endurance test (OK, its kinda boring). This is a sleazy, grubby bit of celluloid, with the dubbed German dialogue (no subtitles) even adding to the weirdness of the whole thing, but it does have a certain fascination about it.
Makee K. Blaisdell's decade-long career was primarily as an occasional TV actor — he was even in the background on Star Trek twice, in The Changeling (1967 / episode) and the franchise-influential Space Seed (1967 / episode). His only real screen credit of note is this piece of sleaze, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-produced short Johnny Lingo (1969), where he played the title character.
Full short film —
Johnny Lingo (1969):


Fancy Lady
(1971, dir. Nick Millard)
Softcore sex, and more softcore sex, and a lot of cutaways to Uschi grinning. Not one of Nick Millard's better films — and one of Uschi's lesser projects, despite playing the title role. Millard's fascination with footwear raises its head a couple of times, most notably in the final masturbation scene when Uschi gets off using a shoe.
Video Graveyard adds some opinions to its plot description: "I have seen a few of Philips' movies and they have all consisted of unimaginative camera work, a free jazz soundtrack, no plot, sex scenes that are way too long, and a lame voiceover that is thrown in because no sound was recorded on location. This is the case with Fancy Lady as we follow Uschi throughout San Francisco while she analyzes the sex acts of Americans. You see, Uschi is a reporter from Copenhagen who is on assignment to do a story on the differences between Europe and the USA in the world of sex. Uschi wanders around and thinks out loud via the voiceover as she watches a pair of lesbians for 20 minutes and then a hetero couple for another 20. There are all sorts of inane comments she makes that sound like a commentary by a Scandinavian Jessica Simpson after ingesting Spanish fly. The sex scenes are extremely dull and the second one even contains a bored-looking cat wandering around on the bed through the whole act. This was the most fascinating aspect of the whole exercise. Things slightly improved in the last 10 minutes when Uschi finally showed us what she was paid for in a quick masturbation scene but unfortunately it was too little too late. Shoe and leather fetishists may get more out of this than I did."
Sex Gore Mutants tends to agree that the movie is bad, complaining that "For the most part though, Fancy Lady is episodic and uninvolving. It's shot in quite an ugly manner too, barely looking like a film at all."
Rock!Pop!Shock! totally disagrees, however, gushing instead that "Seriously. It's pretty great. Short on plot, thankfully Fancy Lady features enough of the strange Nick Philips [aka Nick Millard] kink that makes his work so enjoyable that we're able to completely forgive the shortcomings of the story. Uschi's exploits feature plenty of obvious foot fetishism, especially the last scene where she literally rubs herself off with her black leather shoe, and in the lesbian scene in the park where both girls sport nothing but thigh high leather boots. [...] This type of stuff shows up quite frequently in his work but its shot really well, it's almost always steamy even if it's hard to explain why, and it completely works in the bizarre context of his fantasy world. But what about Uschi? She's in fine form here. She's positively lovely in everything this writer has seen her in and this film is no exception. Her lesbian scene is top notch and the finale is as hot as anything else from the era. Her completely shapely body looks beautiful on film, and here it's lit to accentuate the curves the good lord gave her in all the right places. The movie isn't exactly a smart film, it doesn't require any thought or deliver any kind of social message, but it is packed with plenty of Uschi action and some very cool footage of San Francisco's red light district circa 1971."


The Seven Minutes
(1971, dir. Russ Meyer [21 Mar 1922 – 18 Sept 2004])
As anyone who's halfway into bosom-mania or classic sexploitation movies knows, the great Russ Meyer had a brief sojourn into mainstream filmmaking at the beginning of the seventies. The results were a decidedly mixed bag of only two movies, both of which are nevertheless intriguingly "Russ Meyer". The first and most successful is of course his classic satire of sexploitation and Hollywood, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970 / trailer), in which he managed to maintain all his signature features: beautiful and bountiful babes, violence, excessive melodrama, outrageous characterization, quick editing, eye-catching camera angles & blocking — everything you know and love in his best films, but clothed in a hint of respectability.
Trailer to
The Seven Minutes:
Then came this baby, what was to be the second of three films for 20th Century Fox, a firm that never knew why they signed him in the first place, was for years [apparently] ashamed of the success of Dolls, and was happy to let him go after this movie, The Seven Minutes, flopped. And that it flopped is hardly surprising: it was neither a Meyer film, nor was it not; instead, it was some sort of oddly anemic creature that you can't take your eyes off even as it makes you want to watch something else. The little flesh here discrete, the satire and melodrama barely visible — but, Wow! Did Russ Meyer ever go so overboard in the editing room with any other movie of his? No. And that alone makes it an interesting watch, even if it does almost leave you dizzy by the end of the movie: few shots last longer than four seconds. That, combined with Meyer's traditionally odd viewpoints and catchy blocking, makes for some pretty odd visuals in a movie whose only other true saving's grace is a huge cast of familiar if (in the case of many) no longer remembered faces.
Russ Meyer shows up for a few seconds in the background wearing a red sweater; the great Uschi likewise flits by (un-credited) as the "Very Big Brunette with Gorilla".
Despite the fact that The Seven Minutes is hardly a horror cult film, the website Horror Cult Films, which notes "there's lots of big-breasted women in tight tops in this movie", has the basic plot setup of this, a film version of Irving Wallace's eponymously named best seller (paperback cover below): "A sting operation occurs where two detectives enter a bookstore and purchase a copy of a book called The Seven Minutes so the seller can be prosecuted. Behind the operation is prosecutor Elmo Duncan (Philip Carey [15 July 1925 – 6 Feb 2009]), who wants to become a senator and feels that campaigning against pornography will give him votes, backed up by a group who wish to stamp out all youthful violence incited by salacious material in books and films. The publisher calls hot shot attorney Mike Barrett (Wayne Maunder [19 Dec 1935 – 11 Nov 2018]) to defend the book and he sets about uncovering the mystery of its true author, but at the same time, a teenager supposedly commits a rape, and his father owned…. a copy of The Seven Minutes…."
There are those who find this Meyer oddity oddly interesting, and it is, even if it is also, well, somewhat boring despite the idiosyncratic touches. Most people, however, tend to think like The Video Vacuum, which says, "Basically, the whole thing feels like an overlong episode of Matlock (1986-95) with a couple of titties tossed in. It's hard to understand why Meyer would want to make this movie. I'm sure the subject of free speech spoke to him, but he really is the wrong director to tackle the subject. Luckily for us, he quickly returned to his drive-in roots with his next picture, Black Snake (1973 / trailer)." Black Snake, by the way, is a.k.a. Sweet Suzy.


Wow! It's Cindy
(1971, dir. possibly unknown)
 
A movie, going by the poster, that paced no importance on the names of anyone involved. Sinemia, among other websites, claims that Ray Nankey is the director; according to the imdb, he's the cameraman — but he seems to directed a short film in his lifetime, 1972's Patriotism, featuring the great unsolved-murder victim, Bob "Col Hogan" Crane (13 July 1928 – 29 June 1978).
Full short —
Ray Nankey's Patriotism:
Other websites list Leslie Gaston as the director, but in general she is listed merely as part of the crew; the One Sheet Index, for example, have her listed as being responsible for the script, but even they don't list a director.
While Uschi plays one of the main characters, Joyce, the soft-core actress Phyllis Stangel (of, among other, H.G. Lewis's Miss Nymphet's Zap-In [1970]), plays the title character Cindy. We're not 100% sure, but we believe the long-retired actress is now a real estate agent in the state that brought us that infamous, long-deceased guy (27 Aug 1906 – 26 July 1984) who inspired Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974 / trailer), not to mention the movie Deranged (1974 / trailer).
Wow! It's Cindy is probably a 100% generic pre-hardcore sexfilm, but filmed with sound; as far as we can tell, no one has seen fit to write about it online although it is readily available everywhere. In Germany, in an attempt to take advantage of a variety of popular films directed by someone named Russ Meyer, this movie got released as Cindy: Supervixen in Hollywood.
The poster proclaims "The all American girl who became the all American tramp", but most plot descriptions make the blonde titular character Teutonic. The only plot we ever find anywhere other than at the One-Sheet Index — like at Veehd, for example — infers more of a foreigner-comes-to-Hollywood Horatio Alger story: "Blonde German model Cindy (Phyllis Stenger) arrives at Los Angeles from Germany to try her hand at becoming a Hollywood actress. She is welcomed by her close friend Joyce (Uschi Digard), who is a successful call girl. Joyce puts Cindy up in her apartment. Soon Cindy finds out how difficult it is to start a Hollywood career. Despite submitting herself to the casting couch hanky panky, Cindy is unable to land a starring role in any Hollywood movie. However, Cindy's sojourn in Hollywood is not all that gloomy when she meets the love of her life at a birthday party."
The advertisement above comes from ..the scene of screen 13.., where they write, "The World Theater in Billings had a long history dating back to 1924 as Myrick's Egyptian Theatre with incarnations being names the Lyric and the Dolly. Facing a change in the movie-going scene, it developed a late night program called Playmate Theater in order to boost up the business. This small chapter, which went from Summer '71 to Summer '72, needs to be chronicled as one of the many attempts to go adult in the early 70s that came and went at a fast pace before the adult movie industry turned into a solid business through the decade. The theater would close in Nov. 1978."


A Touch of Sweden
(1971, dir. Joseph F. Robertson)

"I made two of the top ten turkeys ever made. That's a distinction! I mean, it means something! That means I did something!"
Joseph F. Robertson in Tom Weaver's
It Came from Horrorwood: Interviews with Moviemakers in the SF and Horror

12.5 minutes of
A Touch of Sweden:
Director Joseph F. Robertson (17 April 1925 – 8 July 2001), or someone, later added hardcore inserts to this movie and released it as Pastries (1974), which we'll look at later. For his porn movies, Robertson generally preferred his female nom de plume, "Adelle Robbins", but that was hardly the only name he turned to. A former Marine, he entered the film biz via D-grade horror as the producer and/or writer and/or actor and/or director of fondly remembered, prime sub-standard fun, namely Herbert L. Strock's The Crawling Hand (1963 / trailer), Robert Hutton's The Slime People (1963 / trailer) and Gerd Oswald's (less fun) Agent for H.A.R.M. (1966 / trailer). By the seventies, he'd moved into exploitation and even has the dubious honor of having directed a cross-dressed Ed Wood in Love Feast (1969) and Mrs Stone's Thing (1970 / theme song). Once he went hardcore, he pretty much stayed there until the end, though he returned to no-budget horror briefly for two horror comedies: he produced Stephen Sayadian's Dr. Caligari (1989) and his own Auntie Lee's Meat Pies (1992 / scene).
Trailer to
Stephen Sayadian's Dr. Caligari (1989):
Over at Something Weird, Mike Accomando of Dreadful Pleasures writes: "What a cast! [...] Touch of Sweden is a great showcase for La Uschi, who stars in and narrates the story in her wonderful syrupy accent. While on vacation in Sweden, Uschi describes her adventures in Hollywood to a wide-eyed plaything. After becoming a star in sex films [...], the buxotic Usch has a change of heart and says, 'I felt guilty. I wanted to do something for humanity.' Everyone's favorite sex bomb then 'helps her fellow man' by becoming a nurse (!) and meeting 'the strangest people.' Naturally, Uschi and her fellow nurses offer their own special brand of sexual healing. Bed-hopping includes Norman Fields as a womanizing Groucho Marx impersonator, horny fat guy Jack King, a rump-wrangling barber (John Keith) who gets a bottle stuck up his ass, fake sheik Ron Darby, The Adult Version of Jekyll & Hide's (1972 / scene) John Barnum, smut stud John Paul Jones, and a skirt-chasing Count Dracula who tries to put the bite on Miss Digart. As usual, Sandy Dempsey and Sandi Carey get their cookie sheets greased. In fact, the whole cast gets played with so often, they should have 'Mattel' stenciled on their asses. Touch of Sweden shapes up as a well-made, frequently funny sex romp courtesy of producer/director Joseph F. Robertson, who also cameos as both Cecil, a patient who loves knitting, and a drunk who sits outside a phone booth and happily watches Uschi undress. It often unspools like a soft-X episode of Love American Style gone haywire [....]."
 
In other words, the sex film as farce — as so many used to be. Aside from director Joseph F. Robertson's reuse of this movie for his later porn release Pastries (1974), "footage from this R-rated comedy later ended up in the 3-D soft-core film The Chamber-Mades (1972)", a [possibly lost] film so obscure it isn't on the imdb — you see Uschi on that film's poster below in the left eye frame of the glasses. Not to be confused with the X-rated The Chambermaids (1974 / NSFW).


The Toy Box
(1971, dir. Ronald Víctor García [as Ron Garcia])

German title: Sexualrausch. Uschi has the famous scene in which bedsheets get hot and amorous with her, but the true main characters are Ralph (Sean Kenney, credited as Evan Steele) and Donna (Ann Perry, born Virginia Ann Lindsay, 23 Mar 1936 – 11 Sept 2015, credited as Ann Myers). Sean Kenney is perhaps most famous as the second actor to play the seminal Star Trek character Capt Pike, in the two-part episode, The Menagerie (he also twice played a lesser character, Lt DePaul), but he is also found in a number of popular trash disasterpieces, namely: The Corpse Grinders (1971 / trailer), The Bloody Slaying of Sarah Ridelander aka Savage Abduction (1973 / scene) and Terminal Island (1973 / trailer).
The Opening Credits of
The Toy Box:
We took a look at The Toy Box in the RIP Career Reviews of Henry Novak Part VIII, where we wrote, matryoshka-doll like:
"Director Ronald Víctor García, who also wrote the flick, went on to a long, still-running career as TV director and cinematographer. The Toy Box can be found on-line in a hardcore version, particularly if you search under the movie's Italian title La Scatola Dei Giochi Erotici, but the truly XXX scenes were obviously added at a later date.
"We also took a quick look at this flick in our R.I.P. Career Review of Paul Hunt, where we kept things short: 'Paul Hunt acted as producer (along with the great Harry Novak) and cinematographer for Garcia's infamous trash favorite, The Toy Box. Girls, Guns and Ghouls says: "Ron Garcia [...] created a pure gem of a film in The Toy Box, one of the most enjoyable little movies I've seen in many a year. I can only urge any cult, horror or sleaze fans out there to pick it up, I can't imagine anyone who reads these pages regularly being disappointed. Then again, how any film that shows buxom screen goddess Uschi Digard naked on a revolving bed, being caressed by the bedsheets of the bed can be passed up by anyone is beyond me." (Full review here.)
"Critical Condition, on the other hand and like most, was less impressed: '[An] incomprehensible mess that has mucho nudity but makes very little sense. A group of sexual exhibitionists gather at a secluded mansion to put on sex shows for the enigmatic "Uncle" (Jack King of The Creeping Terror [1964 / full movie / trailer below]), who may or may not be dead. Once they are done with their performances, the sexual participants are allowed to pick a prize from "The Toy Box" as a token of Uncle's thanks. Things are not going good. People are being murdered by their sex partners while Uncle watches. Some people disappear and the occupants are not allowed to leave the mansion. In the end, we find out that this is all a plot by an alien race to kidnap humans and use their brains as a drug to get high! This hodgepodge of sex and horror is confusing to the extreme. The story is downright impossible to follow. Toss in a lot of post-sync dubbing, plentiful simulated sex (including oral sex with hilarious "slurping" sounds dubbed in) and annoying gel lighting and what you get is a potpourri of nonsense. [...] The Toy Box (aka The Orgy Box) is rough going for even the most patient viewer.'"
Trailer to
The Creeping Terror (1964):
The advertisement below, for "Endless Terror" screenings at Akron, Ohio's sadly departed Gala Twin Drive In and Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio's sadly departed Ascot Triple Drive In, reveals a sleaze-film fan's dream line up of Harry Novak releases. A Taste of Hell (1973 / trailer) is violent jungle war film featuring a visually deformed hero, while "Crazed Vampire" is nothing less than Jean Rollin's (3 Nov 1938 – 15 Dec 2010) classic Requiem for a Vampire (1971 / trailer).


The World Is Just a "B" Movie
(1971, dir. R.D. Robinson & Alan Stecker)

A super obscure movie, the filmmakers of which have never been heard of again — but then, director Alan Stecker is also usually (and incorrectly) attributed as "Alan Steckery". Stecker is now an artist in Georgia, and since we couldn't find a poster to his film, we've embedded a random piece of his art instead. It's entitled, Hey! I'm Talking Here.
Someone at TV Guide saw the movie, and even wrote about it, "Despite its promising title, this film is crippled by atrocious performances, an awful script, and a minuscule $20,000 budget. [...] The filmmakers deserve some credit for actually getting this low-budget 16mm picture off the ground, but good intentions and hard work do not a movie make."
Elsewhere, Sandra Brennan (Rovi) is of the opinion that "The world may be just a 'B' movie, but this low-budget flick only gets a 'D'. It is the story of two bank robbers. One of them spends his cash and time ogling the mammary glands of innumerable topless waitresses."
TCM has a plot: "When Jonathan Peru (James Christopher), an amateur thief who has dug a tunnel under the vault of a bank, enlists the help of professional robber Harry Greene (Robert Lincoln Robb) to pull off his heist, he shows Greene where to cut through to the vault using a red heart-shaped diagram bearing the directions, 'Cut on the dotted line'. Although Greene manages to accomplish the task alone, he offers part of the loot to Peru, whose conscience prevents him from taking it and who instead takes pleasure in watching topless and bottomless dancers at nightclubs. When Greene is sent to jail for robbing the bank, Peru remains free to indulge his sexual fantasies of the scantily clad dancers." Uschi is one of the dancers, we assume...
According to the imdb, the forgotten folk musician Bob Lind, who has written hits for others and once had one himself entitled Elusive Butterfly, supposedly wrote the title track. And, indeed, he once wrote a song entitled The World Is Just a B Movie (lyrics)... in 1966, four years before this movie ever got released.  Lind, a former friend of Charles Bukowski, is the guy who inspired Bukowski's character "Dinky Summers", found in Bukowski's 1978 novel Women and other writings.
The World Is Just a B Movie
Music and Lyrics by Bob Lind:


Coed Dorm
(1971, dir. Thomas "Tom" S. Alderman)

From ..the scene of screen 13..
Anyone remember how titillatingly progressive the concept of coed dorms once was? The concept even warranted a LIFE magazine cover (below) not to mention proved inspirational for any number of salacious books — Harrad Experiment (1966), anyone? (Which also became a movie, in 1973 [trailer].)
This obscure movie here is a.k.a. Farouk U and/or Farouk University. Alderman's short career seems directly linked to a guy named Darrel Presnell (21 June 1923 – 28 June 2002), who co-wrote The Master-Piece (1969) with Alderman and then produced Alderman's only known directorial projects, this comedy here and, two years later, Alderman's somewhat more popular horror movie, The Severed Arm (1973). Then — POOF! — they seemed to have left the biz. (Alderman did first find time to appear in a tiny part in The Spook Who Sat by the Door [1973 / trailer / full film].)
The Severed Arm features the screen debut of the cult horror actor Angus Scrimm (19 August 1926 – 9 January 2016, of Wishmaster [1997] and Vampirella [1996] and so much more), admittedly in a very small role as a postman.
The Severed Arm:
Coed Dorm, however, is a sexploitation comedy. Available at Something Weird, where Handsome Harry Archer explains the film as follows: "Founded by Ali Baba Schwartz and presided over by Dr Maurice De Sade (Ray Dannis, 15 Dec 1921 – 27 Dec 2006, the undertaker of The Undertaker and His Pals [1966 / trailer]), a 'world-famous gynecologist', Farouk University ('Farouk U') not only offers 'an exotic curriculum' but also a 'coed fraternity-sorority house', which is the 'only one of its kind in the world'. Attending both the school and the Coed Dorm is Thi Beta This sorority sister Virgy Summers (Diane Patton), a 20-year-old 'angel of a girl' whose defrocked-priest daddy has left her 40 million dollars if she remains a virgin. (Once a year, she must be 'certified pure'.) Also attending is Graham Williams (Bob Guthrie), a blond pretty-boy and divinity student: 'Good morals are no joke.' He's also properly appalled when the housemother, an ex-porno actress named Tempest LaVerne gets naked and attacks him: 'I have committed fornication! The devil broke down my resistance!' As expected, Graham and Virgy fall in love. They kiss. They get naked. They do it. Oops. Bye, bye virginity. Bye, bye millions. Nevertheless, Virgy deals with it stoically by breaking into song. Yup, Coed Dorm is, amazingly, a semi-musical! More musical numbers occur when the dorm holds a benefit show to help Graham pay his college tuition. On the program are none other than Uschi Didard ('Miss Melons') accompanying 'The Farouk U All-Girl Topless Tabernacle Choir'; a torrid strip by Miss LaVerne she calls 'The Sins of Florence Nightingale'; and De Sade singing a suave version of 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' while surrounded by bare-breasted gals waving flags. (Mr. Dannis is pretty funny here.) And because De Sade is also something of a mad scientist ('I'm transplanting the rectum of a baboon!'), Tempest asks if he can make Virgy 'whole again'. He suggests 'a virgin transplant' and soon has the unbroken hymen of an 80-year-old virgin transplanted into Virgy. Unfortunately, the operation does not go well, but it does lead to the film's funniest musical number... Wow. Rated X when first released in 1971 (by Ellman Film Enterprises), Coed Dorm is a rather wacky drive-in mix of skin, songs, and stupid jokes — definitely not what one would expect from the director of the low-budget horror film The Severed Arm. [...]"
Flick Attack is one of the few, the brave, who have watched it and they were moved to say: "Unless you're an Uschi Digard completist […], I can't much recommend Coed Dorm, an ultra-obscure campus comedy in the throbbing vein of Animal House (1978 / trailer), the National Lampoon classic that looks positively academic by comparison. […]"


Drop Out
(1971, writ. & dir. "Robert Lee")

Needless to say, not to be confused with Tinto Brass's Dropout (1970). "Robert Lee" is not Lee Frost, as is often credited, but is actually the less violently misogynistic sex-film maker, Stephen C. Apostolof (25 Feb 1928 – 14 Aug 2005), whose first foray into the film industry was as producer and co-scriptor of Journey to Freedom (1957, poster below), with Tor Johnson. Apostolof finally dove headfirst into low budget sexploitation in 1965 by producing and directing the infamous Orgy of the Dead (1965 / a trailer), starring possibly future Babe of Yesteryear starlet Pat Barrington and written by Ed Wood, the latter with whom Apostolof worked regularly over the years.
The exact release date of Drop Out is contentious, sometimes given as 1971 or 1973. In 1972, in any event, Apostolof also made Drop Out Wife (1972), a movie that is often confused with this one, but they are two distinctly different films.
Nothing to do with this movie —
the complete soundtrack to Orgy of the Dead:
Germany's Das größte Filmlexikon der Welt ["The Largest Film Lexicon in the World"] dismisses Drop Out as "primitive undressing and bed scenes strung together through the story of a girl who becomes the victim of rape".
Temple of Schlock, where many of our images come from, has a more in-depth description, taken from the original one-sheet: "The star of our Drop Out is a young girl named Billie (Susan Westcott) who is running away from a life she can no longer justify. While hitch-hiking north on the Coast Highway, she is picked up by Sam Thorn (Vincent Adams), a 300-pound sexual glutton, and the two journey together on towards San Francisco. As it grows later in the day, Sam pulls his car, with the sleeping Billie, into a motel operated by his friend, Kunt Harris (Mark Fore), a part time neo-Nazi and full time voyeur. Thus begins for Billie a series of sexual escapades starting with a hilarious running bout with Big Sam Thorn. Sam, with more than his feelings hurt, checks out the next morning without paying for Billie's room, leaving her in the hands of the 'Crazy' Kunt. Billie agrees to work off her bill as a maid at the motel, working under the direction of the constantly inflamed Kunt. At the motel, she encounters a host of unforgettable characters including: Millie (Linda Vroom), the leggy go-go dancer, who turns Billie on to where the lights are low and the action is hot; Susan (Anita, or Nora Westbauer), Kunt's hot-pants wife driven mad with desire for Link (Jerome Scott), the handsome young filmmaker, who travels with his buxom assistants, Theda ('Barbara Caron', or Barbara Mills) and Bara ('Heidi Sohier', or Uschi), and plans to capture the motel occupants' wilder sexual moments on film, with or without their consent. The motel is alive with sexual activity; room to room and wall to wall. Kunt takes as much advantage of it as possible, occasionally employing his spy glasses to enjoy the indoor activities of several of his patrons. Link and his comely assistants have a tremendous romp putting it all on film. But now, they have a new idea for the perfect ending to their work of sexual art. It was the perfect climax: A live, unrehearsed gang bang using Billie as their unsuspecting victim. It seemed as if it was going to be just another beach party until four of them got Billie alone!"

Coming eventually —
Uschi Digard, Part V: 1971, Part II
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