Friday, February 19, 2010

Pervert! (USA, 2005)

The to-date only full-length feature film by director Jonathan Yudis, who also doubles as an actor in his own movie to play a tertiary role as a repulsive, filthy, child-beating, sleaze-ball mechanic with homosexual tendencies. The film is an unabashed homage to the films of Russ Meyer, so much so that the film often comes across less an homage than an imitation—regrettably of Russ Meyer on a bad day. Which isn't to say that Pervert! doesn't have a few good laughs and a couple of surprises (it has both), it just means that somewhere along the way one has the feeling that one should rather be (re)watching the real thing instead of a film cut from the rusty remains of Meyer's cookie-cutters.
Yudis and scriptwriter Mike Davis—who went on to script the decidedly unique "green movie" Sex Galaxy (2008 / trailer)—cook up aspects from films as diverse as Lorna (1964) and Cherry, Harry & Raquel (1970) and Supervixens (1975) lightly seasoned with a variation of the bodies-separated concept of Basket Case (1982 / trailer) and twice the amount of gore of all Meyer's productions put together, and while the recipe more or less does jell enough to raise an occasional eyebrow or giggle, the film nonetheless leaves a slightly displeasing aftertaste, sort of as if the ingredients are artificial or mis-measured. Pervert! comes much closer to Meyer's less successful films like Cherry, Harry & Raquel (1970) and Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens (1979 / trailer) than his good ones, and not just because the women of Yudis' film are, as a whole, less attractive and less pneumatically gravity-defying than the average Meyer babe was. None of the truly attractive babes of the film—like the hitchhiker at the start of the film—ever get naked, and of the two that do, one has great tits (Mary Carey), the other one has tits (Juliette Clarke), but neither are half-way visually thrilling as the memorably attractive babes of Meyer's films in their prime (such as Haji, Raven De La Croix, Uschi Digard, Lori Williams, Shari Eubank, Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers, Marcia McBroom, Rena Horten or Lorna Maitland) and both could really use a diet. The women of Meyer's prime had a lot more meat on the bone than is common today, but at least the meat sat in the right places—which it doesn’t really do for either Clarke or Carey, as is most obvious in the (naturally) gratuitous lesbian scene.
Pervert! begins (and ends) with a grizzled old black man (Malik Carter) doing an unintelligible riff of the preacher man that opens Lorna, Meyer's first classic, before the movie moves on to tell the tale of a college loser named James (Sean Andrews, who made his film debut the previous year in Scarecrow Gone Wild [2004 / trailer]) that comes home to visit his estranged Dad Hezekiah (Darrell Sandeen). Since the demise of dear old Mom, Dad has not only become an embittered and misunderstood artist who makes sculptures of meat but has shacked up with a plump, buxom blonde named Cheryl (Mary Carey, a Republican and former gubernatorial candidate of California that is supposedly popular porn star—her first film seems to have been Pussyman's Decadent Divas 18 [2002])—whose tits are as attractive as her thespian talents are lacking). Before long he and Cheryl are sharing body fluids with abandon in the truck & in the shower & against the wall & in the hammock & everywhere else they can. When Hezekiah catches on he pitches a fit and soon replaces her with an attractive but bitchy brunette named Alisha (Sally Jean) who never truly reveals the goods that she so obviously is packing. When both babes show up dead, James is convinced that Hezekiah did them in while Hezekiah thinks that James is the killer. James ends up calling a nursing home that supposedly sends over Nurse Patty (a spunky but oddly non-exceptional Juliette Clarke). She, too, ends up getting the hots for James—as does his dad Hezekiah, for that matter…
At this point Pervert! sort of goes off the deep end in an entertaining way that owes a tiny credit to Basket Case and a lot of credit to the wonders of claymation. To tell this turning point in the story would really destroy the true unexpected twist of the film, so lest you actually plan to see this highly flawed but diverting trash film we here at A Wasted Life shall refrain from revealing the film's "big" surprise… a surprise around which all the action of the rest of the film revolves.

Regardless of whether or not Pervert! is a mildly successful imitation homage of a Meyer's film, what is sure is that lovers of trash and tits and gore will find the film entertaining in its own way, even if it does (despite its obvious attempts of oneupmanship) pale to the less blood-drenched films of the dead master of cartoon violence and jiggle. If you like—and what red-blooded heterosexual with a working salami doesn't?—films with bizarre plots, over-the-top acting (or, in case of Carey, lively but lousy acting), bouncing love pillows, bad taste, low humor and some occasionally inspired dialog, Pervert! will definitely offer 81 minutes of entertainment.
But still, as entertaining as it is, the film does not hold a candle to such true Russ Meyer masterpieces as Lorna (1964), Mudhoney (1965 / trailer), Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965 / trailer), Vixen! (1968 / trailer), Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970 / trailer) or Supervixens (1973 / trailer). The question that arises, then, is why see a mildly entertaining homage when the excellent original product is so easily available?

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