Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Short Film: Happiest Monster (USA, 2006)

Like so many shorts, we stumbled upon this little "lo-fi" treasure on YouTube.
It was a foundation year project of Jonathan Kim, made at Cal Arts. According to his Linked-In page, Kim, who attended Cal Arts from 2005 – 2009 and got a BA in character animation, is currently a senior animator at Lab Zero Games in Los Angeles, the "forward-thinking and retro-minded [...] independent game development studio founded by the original team that brought you Skullgirls". Whatever.
Kim seems aka "PP-Infinity". He has a Tumblr site and a presence at YouTube, whence the film below comes.
The plot, as explained at Online Short Films: "The story of a lucky girl who chances upon a visit by a monster and experiences the change of her life! Flying through the everlasting sky, euphoria awaits everyone who embarks on this journey with the happiest monster!"
The short tale presented, on a symbolic level, is that of a little girl who, as we all are told we should, confronts fears. But, unlike you're told as a child, doing that doesn't always help much in the end.
"With music by the very talented Mr. Andrew Toups." Enjoy.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Film Noir (Serbia, 2007)

Last week at our weekly bad film night, for some unexplainable reason we decided not to watch the direct-to-DVD horror film starring Uri Geller entitled Sanatorium aka Diagnosis (2001 / German trailer) and, instead, pulled this totally unknown B&W feature-length animation film out of our pile of mystery movies on DVD.
What can we say other than that it ruined the night: instead of some hilariously crappy movie as expected, we found ourselves watch a truly engrossing and first-rate if flawed and obviously low budget movie. We would have been like totally pissed off had the movie not captured our attention so thoroughly and been so entertaining (in a good way). It is without a doubt the best B&W animated film noir we've seen since, well, about a half year ago when we caught the animated French sci-fi noir, Renaissance (2006 / trailer). That film is a good one in itself, but Film Noir definitely out-noirs Renaissance, sometimes to the point of almost becoming a satire of the genre. Unlike Renaissance, however, which is totally B&W, Film Noir borrows a page from the far more Baroque  Sin City (2005 / trailer) in that there are occasional flashes of color — women's red nails or lipstick, red-rimmed gunshot wounds, yellow cabs, etc. — amidst the B&W shadows of a world long gone wrong.
Like the much flashier, better-scripted and bigger-budgeted star vehicle Sin City, the obviously low budget Film Noir is almost as much of an action flick as it is a noir. But Sin City is far more a comic nook than Film Noir, although Film Noir does suffer from some comic book plotting and action sequences. But it is a sign of quality that Film Noir works so well despite such flaws. (One action scene in it does actually go over the edge — though the film manages to recover — and brings to mind the joke in Last Action Hero [1993 / trailer] about how no matter how many guns are shot at Arnie in the film world, he never gets hit by a single bullet: in Film Noir, there is an outrageous car vs. helicopter chase in which our hero is out-driving a machine-gun-wielding bad guy in a helicopter who shoots hundreds of bullets at him at point-blank range but only hits the car's hood seven times. An unintentional joke that leads to a small scene thereafter at a used car lot that once again reinforces an idea that laces the entire movie: everyone is corrupt, and everyone can be bought.)
Film Noir utilizes the quintessential noir plot device of amnesia, a favorite of traditional noirs —   Somewhere in the Night (1946 / trailer), The Crooked Way (1949 / scene), High Wall (1947 / trailer), Black Angel (1946 / trailer) or Street of Chance (1942)*, anyone? — as well as contemporary neo-noirs (Shutter Island [2010 / trailer], Memento [2000 / trailer] or Dark City [1998 / trailer], anyone?). Our hero awakens next to a dead body, a cop, and has no memory of who he is or how he got where he is, and then spends more than half of the movie trying to find out his identity. Confronted by duplicitous but hot-to-fuck babes, a shady doctor, a missing private eye, and scores of hitmen out to kill him, he begins to realize that whoever he is, he ain't a nice guy. And finally, once he solves the mystery of his identity, he is no better off than before and must now figure out a way of getting out of the whole mess alive.
* Street of Chance puts a twist on the ol' amnesia plot by beginning with a man awakening from his amnesia, only to be in danger from whatever it was that happened in his other life, which he in turn now no longer remembers.
Film Noir is set in a quasi-contemporary world complete with mobile phones and an internet that supplies info better and quicker than that of today, but at the same time the "back-projected" cityscape often has an oddly 40s feel. Yes, the action takes place in the ultimate noir city, Los Angeles,* a place that always rains at night unless you happen to be driving a convertible (which, as everyone knows, you can also leave parked in a bad part of town for days with its top down and keys in the glove compartment and not have stolen). It's a lonely world, one in which the women might be hot to hop in bed with you, but also won't bat an eye ratting on you once they've had their big O. It is almost emblematic of that world that the only woman who turns out to be "true", or "honest" and "trustworthy", is also the one who's most fucked up. (That said, we personally have never met a junkie — and we've known more than we care to admit — who was any of the three.)
* We doubt that anyone who has lived or lives in LA and who has enjoyed the experience of driving its empty roads, particularly in the industrial areas, late at night would disagree with this statement.
It is, in the end, a bit difficult to write about Film Noir without giving away too much of the events, and in turn it must be said that the movie is more a case of matter over substance than anything else. Many aspects of the narrative are pure baloney, of the level of low-grade pulp plotting, and the whole movie probably wouldn't work if it had been done live action. But as an animated movie, Film Noir bathes in its source and creates a mood and rhythm that underscores the various themes — duplicity being the main one, as almost every character of the movie has a hidden side — that drift in and out of the movie. The animation itself is already a bit old fashioned, but this is actually an advantage, as it acts a bit like the mesmerizing patina that old age lends the B&W classic noirs. The jazzy soundtrack, redolent of lascivious cigarette smoke and whiskey, might definitely be more neo-noir than noir, but it underscores the visuals and events excellently, adding that special spice to the pervading mood of the movie.
The big question this film leaves in its wake is: Why the fuck hasn't anyone heard of it yet? It should be a cult hit, but it's more unknown than any given Ralph Bakshi flick. Time for that to change.

Friday, April 17, 2015

R.I.P.: Harry H. Novak, Part XV – Other People's Films & Addendum

12 January 1928 — 26 March 2014

 "When I was a kid, my Daddy told me, 'There's a buyer for everything.'
And I lived to find out that he was right." 
Harry H. Novak

Harry H. Novak, alongside David F Friedman (24 Dec 1923 — 14 Feb 2011) one of the great (s)exploitation kings of the last half of the 20th century, died 26 March 2014 at the age of 86.
Over a bit more than the past year, in a total of 14 blog entries (roughly one a month), we have taken a relatively detailed and rambling if undoubtedly incomplete career review of the projects Harry H. Novak foisted upon the American public. It is definitely not a complete list, and definitely not infallible, it was merely culled from sources reliable and unreliable that we found online; we also in no way suggest that the given release dates are the correct ones, they are merely the first ones we found.
What follows here are films by other people that are connected to Harry Novak, if ever so slightly, and films that we have since discovered to have possibly been fingered by the great sleazemonger.If you know any we missed, feel free to send the title — if we get enough, we might do an Addendum II.

Go here for Part I
Go here for Part II: 1956-64
Go here for Part III: 1965-66
Go here for Part IV: 1967
Go here for Part V: 1968
Go here for Part VI: 1969
Go here for Part VII: 1970
Go here for Part VIII: 1971
Go here for Part IX: 1972
Go here for Part X: 1973
Go here for Part XI: 1974-75
Go here for Part XII: 1976-77
Go here for Part XIII: 1978-79 
Go here for Part XIV: 1980-86 

Other People's Films: 

Serial Mom
(1994, writ. & dir. by the great John Waters)
Trailer to
Serial Mom:
Why John Waters should choose this movie of all his movies to give "Special Thanks" to Harry Novak in the credits is beyond us, but we are sure he has seen many a Novak movie in his younger, formative days — indeed, Waters' early masterpieces share a stylistic similarity to some of Novak's sleazy low budget sexploiters.
Serial Mom is lesser Waters, but as always even lesser Waters is truly enjoyable Waters. Kids in Mind, which views the movie as conveying the message that "picture-perfect suburbs hide dark secrets", also points out that the movie includes "several brief but obvious flashes of a pornographic movie* showing nude, abnormally large breasts [Doris Wishman's Deadly Weapons (1974 / trailer below), featuring Harry Reems], and a number of skin magazines with varying degrees of female nudity. There is one very noisy and rambunctious sex scene between a married couple (they are shown under covers). There is also a very long masturbation scene (also under covers)."
* Why do so many people not realize that just because a movie has nekkid people or simulated sex scenes, it is not a porn movie?
Trailer to
Deadly Weapons:

Deadly Weapons (1974) trailer von filmow

The plot, according to the Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review: "Beverly Sutphin (Kathleen Turner) leads a life as the perfect housewife, married to her dentist husband Eugene (Sam Waterston) and with two teenage children Chip (Matthew Lillard) and Misty (Ricky Lake). However, she also kills the neighbours who complain to the police about her obscene phone calls and steal her parking spot at the mall, the math teacher who condemns Chip for liking horror movies, and Misty's date for standing her up. She is arrested whereupon she is nicknamed 'Serial Mom' by the media. At the trial, Beverly determines to conduct her own defence by exposing the dirty secrets and hypocrisies of the witnesses brought to condemn her."
Much like Cecil B. (2000 / trailer) was the last good film from Melanie Griffith before she got totally, completely, over-the-top addicted to plastic surgery, and Pecker (1998 / trailer) was the last good film Edward Furlong made before he went off the deep end,*   Serial Mom is the last good film that Kathleen Turner made before her thyroid went wacko.
* Pecker was also the last good movie Christina Ricci made before she went Hollywood anorexic, but since we find her hot both with curves and pencil thin, we forgive her.

The Secret History of American Movies
(2001, writ. & dir. Ray Greene)
Harry Novak appears as a talking head in this documentary. The description of the film found everywhere online (and now here, too) is written by Mark Denning, who wrote: "Pauline Kael once wrote that since movies were so rarely great art, if one weren't interested in great trash, there wasn't much reason to pay attention to them, and one could reasonably argue that few periods brought us more top-quality cinematic trash than the 1950s and '60s. With drive-ins and grindhouses across the United States making room for low-budget exploitation films of all stripes (such as horror, science fiction, teen exploitation, biker films, beach pictures, nudies, and much more) as the major studios were focusing their attention on big-budget blockbusters and television, this was a boom time for inspired trash, and Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies takes a look at the low-budget wonders of the 1950s and '60s, as well as the men and women who made them and the social and psychological subtexts lurking behind many of these movies. Schlock! includes interviews with Roger Corman, Peter Bogdanovich, David F. Friedman, Doris Wishman, Samuel Z. Arkoff, Dick Miller, Vampira, and more."
The busty babe on the poster is of course Pat Barrington, and the image itself taken from the poster to one of her "best" movies, The Agony of Love (1965 / trailer), which we looked at in Part III of this career review.
We couldn't find a trailer to Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies online so, instead, we present the trailer to the directorial debut of John Landis, also entitled Schlock (1973), but which has no connection to Novak.
Trailer to
John Landis's Schlock:

Until the Night
(2004, writ & dir. Gregory Hatanaka)

Trailer to
Until the Night:
Who knows why or how it came to be, but supposedly Harry Novak appears as a reporter somewhere in the background of this movie about relationships falling apart. Until the Night is the unknown directorial début of the equally unknown producer Gregory Hatanaka, which he followed two years later with the much more interesting flick Mad Cowgirl (2006 / trailer below). Of note about Until the Night: it stars everyone's favorite zombie-killing redneck Daryl (Norman Reedus) as Robert.
Trailer to
Mad Cowgirl:
Over at imdb, williampark77 of Los Angeles, who "couldn't wait until this night ended", complains that Until the Night is "a boring wreck of a film, and a terrible waste of the talents of some usually excellent actors. [...] Poorly shot on digital video, with a nearly nonexistent plot, lousy script, poor directorial choices that include jumpy editing and an annoying, extremely repetitious performance by Norman Reedus, who seems to be more interested in chewing his nails or smoking a cigarette than croaking another line of bad dialogue. More embarrassing is a very strange and unnecessary cameo by Sean Young, who really is going to the bottom of the barrel for a paycheck. [...] I saw this film at a special screening in Hollywood, and most of the cast and crew were in the audience and it received quite a tepid response [...]. I would advise you to avoid this movie, but it's so bad, I don't think anyone will put it out."
An opinion not shared by Film Threat, where someone gushes: "You have to excuse me if I sound a bit breathless, but I’ve just been gut-punched by a new film. The production in question is Gregory Hatanaka's Until the Night and this is one of the most mature, devastating and challenging films to come along. [...] Until the Night is such a work of professional triumph emotional maturity that it makes nearly every current drama in release pale in comparison. This is what independent filmmaking should be all about — taking chances and succeeding with gusto. What a damn fine movie!"
Trailer to
another Unknown Film featuring Norman Reedus
(and Debbie Harry, Adrian Brody, Elina Löwensohn & Issac Hayes)
truly worth rediscovery —
Six Ways to Sunday (1997):

(2013, dir. Jared Masters)

Trailer to
Aka Virgin Leathers. Jared Masters, the founder of Frolic Pictures, is a "self-taught Beethoven" who "was expelled his freshman year of high school for streaking" and now makes independent sleaze horror flicks. That he might give "Special Thanks" to Harry Novak in the credits of one of his numerous flicks is hardly surprising, as Novak's movies are surely a stylistic and contentual influence of this Young Turk.
Slink won the award for the 'Best Scream Indie Horror' at the 2013 EOTM Awards. The plot, as taken from the Frolic Films website: "After the unexplained death of their Uncle Arlo, Kayla Nunez (Danika Galindo) and her sister (Jacqueline Larsen) venture to his home in the rural town of Wickenhaven. They plan to claim their share of his estate, but their trip takes a drastic turn after discovering that their uncle's house is occupied by a mysterious relative, Aunt May (Julia Faye West), who may be harboring deadly secrets. Complicating matters is the deranged, lust-filled tanning salon owner, Dale (Art Roberts), and his exotic wife, Joan (Dawna Lee Heising), whose business in designer handbags is the backbone to the entire town's economy, and possibly the darkest fashion controversy the world will ever know."
Slink stars younger gals who look like wanna-be porn starlets, older gals who look like former porn starlets and/or plastic surgery addicts (in this regard, "Joan", photo below, stands out in particular) and a variety of ugly men. The acting of Slink is postmodern bad, the sets cheap and the tale over the top — just our cup of tea, in other words.
But not that of Culture Crypt, which hates the flick, saying: "Unquestionably, the single greatest drawback to reviewing low budget independent horror movies is that the job requires sitting through the entirety of something like Slink. [...] Gather up some friends and family with nothing better to do and use them to populate a cast and crew, no experience required. That is the starting point for Slink. From there, the filmmaking philosophy is simply to set each scene in a corner of a room haphazardly dressed to resemble something else and let the camera roll on whatever happens. [...] Any way it is sliced, Slink is a mess on all fronts. Performances are painfully embarrassing for everyone involved. Sets look like they were constructed for a high-school stage play. The music is out of place and thoroughly obnoxious. And the ending is one of the worst ever seen. [...]"
The only complaint at Ain't It Cool News, however, is that the movie ends "as if the camera ran out of film". They go on to rave that "[...] though this one feels like it might have been done on the cheap, the idea behind it is strong and for the most part, Slink, though somewhat predictable, plays out pretty masterfully. [...] Basically this is one of those Motel Hell (1980 / trailer below) type films where a down-home business makes its business off of the flesh of young women, but instead of Farmer Vincent's fritters, the youthful flesh is made into fashionable handbags, the likes of which Paris, Brittany, and Christina tote to the fashionable affairs [...]. Slink is a pretty tight little thriller with some nice twists along the way in terms of script. The film goes to some dark places [...]. I have to give the film credit for having a very corroded moral core and going to those dank places most horror films are afraid to go. The effects are pretty great and the directing itself does a really good job of maintaining its black tone throughout. [...] Though the evil tanning salon wenches are overly botoxed and siliconed, it fits the tone of the lifestyle the film is lampooning. This is a film about looks over everything else; a comment on the shallow lifestyle we live in, so the gratuitous nudity and NIP/TUCK (2003-10) wet dream actresses serve more of a purpose than just window dressing."
Trailer to the classic black comedy
Motel Hell:

Addendum — Are they or Aren't They?
Though, famously, all Novak releases at Something Weird got cut and discontinued for some unknown reason, on a thread about Novak & Something Weird over at AV Maniacs, it says: "A couple of the Harry Novak releases that weren't on the deletion list are still available on the website" and then lists eight films, five of which (Acapulco Uncensored [1968], Cry for Cindy [1976], For Love and Money [1967], The Golden Box [1970] and The Muthers [1968]) we could collaborate elsewhere as Novak productions and thus looked at in earlier segments of this career review. Three titles, however, we couldn't get any collaborating evidence for, so we chose to ignore them, perhaps incorrectly. For the benefit of the doubt, we'll look at the three films here. 

Mr. Peter's Pets
(1963, dir. Dick Crane)

"This story must be told.
Otherwise you would never know about it,
because it could never happen."
(Opening narration)

Supposedly aka Petey's Sweeties. As mentioned, we have our doubts to what extent Novak was involved in this movie, which seems to be the only known directorial credit of "Dick Crane", who, according to imdb, five years earlier produced (and appeared in) Ronald V. Ashcroft's Girl with an Itch (1958 / trailer below). (Ashcroft, as some of you might know, produced and directed the masterpiece The Astounding She-Monster [1957 / trailer].)
Trailer to
Girl with an Itch:
More than one source, however, including Something Weird, a site we find more reliable than imdb, says that Dick Crane is actually the productive Peter Perry Jr., who was truly known to use the name "Dick Crane" and "Dick C. Crane" as a pseudonym — he acts under that name, for example, in what could be his best movie, Honeymoon of Terror [1961 / trailer].)
The Japanese poster above comes from Pulp International, which also gives the skinny on the film: "[...] A pet shop owner (Al Hopson) orders a potion from a catalog, sending a dollar to India for Maharaja Poon Ja's Animal Ambrosia, a Hindu elixir that ensures long life and happiness for one's pets. But before he administers the elixir to his animals he decides, 'Only if it is good enough for me is it good enough for my little friends', and tastes it himself. It goes down accompanied by a bolt of lightning and a peal of thunder — sort of like when you do a Jäger shot. But instead of merely making him act like an animal he’s literally turned into one. Specifically, a turtle. Each time he takes the elixir he turns into a different animal, almost any type he wishes, from kittens to pythons. [...] He immediately uses his power to gain proximity to unsuspecting women so he can watch them take bubble baths, play guitar nude, and so forth. It's just as silly as it sounds. [...]"
Perhaps Novak truly had something to do with this movie at one point or another, but it was produced by sleazemonger Dan Sonney (23 Jan 1915 — 3 Mar 2002), David Friedman's partner at Entertainment Ventures Incorporated, who once co-owned the mummified body of Elmer McCurdy — it was bought by Dan Sonney's father, "policeman-turned-showman" Louis Sonney, in 1922 and belonged to the family business. Louis Sonney is often claimed an uncredited co-producer of the great Dwain Esper's classic road show exploiter, Maniac (1934). In Eric Schaefer's great book Bold! Daring! Shocking! True! : A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959, Dan Sonney says that Esper's Maniac "cost about $7,500" to make, while Esper's earlier lesser classic, Narcotic (1933 / full movie) was supposedly completed for $8,900. Likewise, in Christine Quigley's book Modern Mummies: The Preservation of the Human Body in the Twentieth Century, Dan Sonney states that "My dad was pretty good friends with Dwain Esper and loaned Elmer to him for about six months for Narcotic. [The mummy was displayed as a dead junkie.] Even after my dad died and news came out that Elmer had been found, Esper still claimed that he owned it."
Clips from Mr. Peter's Pets appear in the Sonney/Friedman documentary Mau Mau Sex Sex (2001)... 
Trailer to
Mau Mau Sex Sex (2001):

Her Odd Tastes
(1969, dir. Donald A. Davis [as Don Davis])

"A Bizarre and Intimate Journey for Adventurous Adults"

Writen by Jerry Wilder, who, like so many of the credited writers that worked with Don Davis, never seems to have taken part in another film, thus giving credence to the concept that that name, too, is merely one of Davis's many pseudonyms. As for Davis, we already took a look at the Ed Wood protégé and great anti-filmmaker Don Davis (7 June 1932 — 23 Sept 1982) in Parts IV, V and XII of Novak's career review when we looked at his movies, respectively, For Love and Money (1967), For Single Swingers Only (1968 / film at a NSFW website), Acapulco Uncensored (1968 / full movie), The Muthers (1968) and The Golden Box (1970). Of them, the last three, like this movie here and the next one that follows, all featured the acting and pendulous talents of Marsha Jordon, who is often praised as the "Queen of Softcore" — a title we ourselves would be more likely to give the legendary Uschi Dirgard, shown below on the cover of Men's magazine.
That aside, we would agree that Marsha had pendulous talents, as the clip below — not from any film we know of — amply demonstrates.
Not from Her Odd Tastes & NSFW—
A Naked, Buxom Marsha Jordon Lolling Around:

Over at TCM, they swipe their plot description uncredited and word for word from The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion: "Christine Hunter's search for pleasure leads her to retrace the path of Charles Odman in the film Odd Tastes, q. v. In her travels, she encounters a group of devil worshippers and participates in their rituals. Her first stopover, Hong Kong, introduces her to some 'experimentation' with erotic drugs. Moving on, she accepts the invitation of a desert sheik and experiences some of the delights of harem life. In Africa, Christine meets a youth whose unfortunate sexual experiences lead Christine into an extraordinary situation. ..." 
Few people who have seen the movie seem to have to have found it worth reviewing, a rare exception being that aficionado of filth from NYC, lor, who regular leaves his insights at imdb. Calling the movie a "wonderful vehicle for Marsha Jordan, tailored to her strong suits", he goes on to give a blow-by-blow description that reveals an affinity to the film: "Her Odd Tastes is a quite successful movie made by her frequent director Don Davis. [...] Film opens with a bang, with Jordan as Christine Hunter and a gal pal Lisa (luscious Capri) having a sensual lesbian scene — the battle of the blondes & busts. After implied cunnilingus (with Capri delivering a screaming orgasm worthy of a Joe Sarno actress), Jordan writes in her journal the revelation that this was incest — the duo are sisters! She's left town and started a new life as a cordless vibrator saleslady, door to door. (This sounds comical, but the film is played straight.) She visits the house of Charles Odman [...], and when he tries to rape her at knife-point she accidentally stabs him to death in self-defense. Jordan delivers full-frontal-nudity as she runs away, clad only in a loose bathrobe, getting a lift from good Samaritan John Franklin (Michael Perrotta, an effective character actor). He turns out to be a publisher, and volunteers to remove any incriminating evidence from the scene of the crime. He returns with Odman's journal, requesting that she continue the dead man's lifelong research concerning the ultimate in pain & pleasure. Jordan chooses to emphasize the pleasure aspect, but this is an obvious foreshadowing that pain will ensue in due course. She embarks on a globe-hopping journey to retrace Odman's steps, courtesy of some obvious stock footage, all of Jordan's scenes being shot on cheap, generic studio sets. [...]"
The final sex scene, which involves an electric chair — "a sinister recliner that belches smoke, sparks, and electric shocks" — is said to be a real scorcher...
Her Odd Tastes appears to be the sequel to an apparently lost Don Davis movie entitled Odd Tastes made the year earlier in 1968, which has a similar plot but has the wanna-be killer that Christine (Marsha Jordon) accidently kills in Her Odd Tastes, Charles Odman ("Joe Bonaparte"), as the main character exploring the nooks and crannies of sexual deviance. Going by the plot description of Odd Tastes found in The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures, the two film even overlap plotwise: "Becoming increasingly perverted, he (Odman) ultimately falls victim to his own devices: he is destroyed in a sadistic 'experiment' with a personal vibrator saleswoman."
Capri is also found in the sleazy and underappreciated Lee Frost roughie The Animal (1968), a movie "based on facts taken from authenticated newspaper files"; the great opening sequence can be seen below.
Opening Sequence to
R.L. Frost's The Animal (1968):

Marsha, The Erotic Housewife
(1970, Donald A. Davis [as Don Davis])

Trailer to
Marsha, The Erotic Housewife:

Marsha the Erotic Housewife (1970) von bmoviebabe
The second to last movie that Marsha Jordan was to make with Davis; the last, The Golden Box, was released a month after this one. By now, Marsha was a big enough name among soft-core fans that the movie — "one of the biggest adult love stories ever produced" and filmed in "THROBBING COLOR" — was literally named after her. (The last name of her character, however, was different: "Bannister".)
One Sheet Index has the original pressbook description: "Starring the incomparable Marsha Jordan and a cast of seasoned professionals, the dialogue sparkles with the humor and mannerisms of today's young marrieds. Marsha, The Erotic Housewife, the story of a beautiful young bride who learns of her husband's (Edward Blessington) lengthy affair with another woman. Her first desire is for revenge thru meaningless affairs with any man she can find. With the help of her lifelong friend, she ultimately realizes that this path can only lead to disaster; what she really wants is to save her marriage and family. The plot to return the erring husband to the fold is witty, practical, successful and surprising. [...]"
Elliot James of Score magazine, that great fan of mammoth mummeries, says "Marsha The Erotic Housewife is an easy-going domestic comedy with a slight soap opera touch, photographed in a straightforward style. Don Davis made this for the couples crowd then beginning to check out pre-hardcore adult films. Of course, he didn't neglect the raincoaters who get to examine Marsha's mammazonian birthday suit at various points."
Over at imdb, one such raincoater, JohnSolomonAuthor of Canada, shares the following commentary with the world: "Marsha as a person is perky, pretty, and very likeable. Personally I don't find women with super-size breasts all that attractive though. However, there is one absolutely GREAT erotic scene in this film. Marsha walks in on a married couple who are making out in the kitchen. The man's wife takes off all her clothes and sits naked on the kitchen counter. She is very beautiful and the scene is highly erotic."
Marsha Jordan's Last Movie —
Swinger's Massacre aka Inside Amy (1975):

Other "Maybes":

Hedonistic Pleasures
(1969, writ & dir. Ed DePriest)

Did Harry Novak have anything to do with this movie by the ever-elusive Ed DePriest? Who knows for sure — but: on the Something Weird release of the "Harry Novak Double Feature — Special Edition", featuring two known films fingered by Harry (William Rotsler's The Agony of Love [1966] and The Girl with Hungry Eyes [1967]), as an extra they present an excerpt from this movie here, Hedonistic Pleasures. Logic would say that if Harry presented it, he probably had the right to, so he must have been involved somehow, somewhere.
TCM has a plot: "Made possible by highly sophisticated miniature cameras, this exposé of Hollywood's sexual underground deals with prostitution, sex techniques, oral sex, and group sexual encounters. Living in Hollywood there is a whole subculture of perverts, who with jaded sexual appetites, seek increasingly outrageous and bizarre means of satisfaction." Above, from the movie — though possibly swiped from another — is a blonde Pat Barrington shaking her plastic orbs for some hippies in a park.
The breast-fixated Divine Exploitation has some additional comments to the movie, "Hedonistic Pleasures is an extremely bizarre mock documentary on the wild sex life in Hollywood. You get hookers and hippies and acid trips and...well, you get the idea. Directed by Ed DePriest, this is only 55 minutes and he tries to pack in as much female flesh as possible. The weird part is the boobies. The first girl has missile-shaped ones with the entire end of the titty being nipple. The next girl is a lopsided A cup, more like an A- cup. They finally gave us a nice looking pair and her ass was scary. It was a no-win kind of thing. The scene with the hippies smoking grass and swimming seems familiar like it was in another mondo flick, but I can't place it. The scene with the couple tripping on acid had this cool projector that made it look like these bizarre shapes were erupting from her mouth. That was cool."
No trailer to be found anywhere. 

Sisters in Leather
(1969, dir. Zoltan G. Spencer)

Did Harry Novak have anything to do with this movie by Zoltan G. Spencer (aka Spence Criley)? Who knows for sure — but: on the Something Weird release of the "Harry Novak Double Feature — Special Edition", featuring two known films fingered by Harry (William Rotsler's The Agony of Love [1966] and The Girl with Hungry Eyes [1967]), as an extra they present an excerpt from this movie here, Hedonistic Pleasures. Logic would say that if Harry presented it, he probably had the right to, so he must have been involved somehow, somewhere.
Heavily edited Trailer to
Zoltan G. Spencer's most famous film,
Terror at Orgy Castle (1972):
Women in Prison Films uses's uncredited paragraph (taken from imdb) to explain the plot: "A spouse (Dick Osmun) is blackmailed by 3 lesbo riders once they identify him having sex with different female (Karen Thomas) in a convertible car. They then take the man's spouse (Kathy Williams) out for a picnic and some naked bike driving. The man discovers some male motorcyclists and collectively they try to save his girlfriend from getting a lesbo biker."
The movie features way more nudity than any twenty exploiters from the 21st century combined, as you can see by all the shots found at Score the Film's Movie Blog, which rhetorically asks (and answers) the question: "Will I watch it again? Nope."
The great blog Movies About Girls — which points out that "Zoltan G. Spencer disappeared at the dawn of the 70s. No one's seen him for 40 years. I suspect lesbian bikers were involved." —  gets to the nitty-gritty: "A shamelessly skuzzy anti-epic from the height of the grindhouse era, Sisters in Leather is, on one hand, a bit of cheat: despite the title and the tagline ('No man or woman is safe from these love-hungry hellcats!'), this is not really a biker chick movie at all, and only one of the girls actually wears leather. On the other hand, it is relentlessly grimy, and the nudity is pretty wall-to-wall, so let's call it even. As long as you don't mind threadbare production values, fuzzy black and white photography, wooden acting, wobbly overdubbing, and low-rent fake jazz — or even better, if you love all that stuff — there's plenty to like about this kooky sexploitation romp."
Dangerous Dykes!
A Scene from Sister in Leather:

Two That Got Away (1979) 
The above is a copy of a Valiant International advert that Novak took out in the Feb 19, 1979 issue of Boxoffice. Of the films mentioned, we've looked into all but two in the course of this career review. Try as we might, however, we cannot find any movies titled Three's Not Company (starring John Holmes) or Miss Banana Split, not even as an "AKA". We assume the productions never happened, or they were given new titles prior to release and never carried the moniker given in the advert. Anyone know any different?
That said, the presumed Novak-fingered movie Sissy's Hot Summer (1979), looked at in Part VII, is a take-off of the sitcom Three's Company (1977-1984) and also features John Holmes, so our guess is that movie was originally entitled Three's Not Company. Anyone know for sure?

Special Mention — Proven Not to Be Novak:

Leather Persuasion
(1980, dir. "C.B. Remington")

OK, in all truth, this movie here is also one that got away — in that we pretty much have totally confirmed that Harry Novak never had anything to do with the only known films entitled Leather Persuasion.
An online bio of Harry Novak found everywhere online states: "Boxoffice International Pictures was forced to shut down in 1978. Harry subsequently launched Valiant International Pictures in the late 70's; this particular outfit distributed such X-rated porno fare as Sissy's Hot Summer, Sweet Surrender, and Leather Persuasion." Both Sissy's Hot Summer (1979) and Sweet Surrender (1980) we were able to find and, to a limited point, offer evidence of Novak's fingers. With Leather Persuasion, however, the only evidence we've found indicates Novak didn't finger this baby.
Despite the obvious marketability of the title, it seems to grace only two existing movies, and the only one that is certifiably X-rated is the gay porn film above from 2001 directed by "Dean Dickson" — Get it? Hah! Hah! Hah! (Not!) — featuring the inferiority-complex-inducing meats of angel-eyed Michael Brandon (below) and Erik Evans (standing above; who knows who the other leatherman is). It is a film we can surely rule out as involving Novak in any way, as he was seemingly adverse to "serious" gay fare.
The second Leather Persuasion we found, an earlier film made in 1980, is a straight movie, "X-rated", but not porn; the image way above (from Vidbase) is the VHS cover used for the Centurian Leather release. This obscure 1980 movie was directed by "C.B. Remington", and the plot, according to Ravishment University, is: "Kim, Joannie & Connie are three lovely girls on a summer outing. They are tricked and trapped into spending the night at a house of seemingly comfortable lodgings. They are drugged and forced into slavery with lots of bondage and discipline by Tamara, a Dominatrix extreme."
Alone the fact that the movie features the great David F. Friedman in the cast indicates that the movie is not a Novak flick.... something confirmed when we contacted L.J. Dopp, who the website CD Baby says "was art director for exploitation producer David F. Friedman's pioneer home video company, TVX, and directed his first commercial movie, Leather Persuasion, in 1980 — a film of inordinate restraint featuring Friedman as a detective."
L.J. Dopp was kind enough to tell us about his "50 minutes long, well-shot (and lit) in 16mm" movie: "[...] I read in a European book on the sexploitation masters that Harry Novak also made a film titled Leather Persuasion in 1980, and figured that guy had my film mixed-up with Harry's, as [...] he had nothing to do with my film — nor does my film contain any actual violence or sex. Yes, I used the name 'C.B. Remington' as director, and 'Siegfried Lohengrin' as composer. [...] That is the correct plot listed by Ravishment Univ. Two of the three victims had just been in Roger Corman's Humanoids from the Deep (1980 / trailer), and the third (Marci Drake) was the first victim in The Toolbox Murders (1978 / trailer). She gave me such a hard time on Leather Persuasion that when I discovered her murder in that splatter film — by Cameron Mitchell with a claw hammer — I rewound the tape and watched it a couple of more times. David F. Friedman, my boss at TVX (adult video), kindly appeared as a detective in Leather Persuasion's final scene, but it was an odd duck having no hardcore or simulated sex scenes, no actual S&M, but lots of female nudity and bondage. The producers made their money back and then some by selling videos for $89 retail through their many bondage mags. Film cost $12,000 and they put up ten; I never got paid."
 Marci Drake in The Toolbox Murders:
OK, now it's official: despite what is written all over the web, Harry Novak had nothing to do with Leather Persuasion. As for "C.B. Remington", L.J. Dopp went on to become "an award-winning commercial artist who specializes in fantasy, horror and sci-fi projects as well as movie work." His last directorial project is the cult-worthy Crustacean (2010), the trailer of which you find below.
Trailer to
L.J. Dopp's Crustacean:

Addendum — Other Novak Firms & Films:
Through the wonder that is called the Internet, we were able to uncover that Harry Novak and his wife Carmen Novak had more film-related businesses than just the commonly known and reported firms Boxoffice International and Valiant International Pictures. At various times, the building at 4774 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029, — owned by the Harry Novak TR Trust — housed a variety of other firms headed by one or the other Novak, or both, or that can be linked (if only faintly) to Harry Novak.
Kathay International Productions, for example, which has since been dissolved but, in 1970, applied for the copyright to the Novak-presented Wilbur and the Baby Factory (1970, see Part VII). Or All-World Pictures, Ltd., which, in 1975, had Cynthia's Sister (1972, see Part IX), The Sinful Dwarf (1973, see Part X) and The Manicurist* all seized when they attempted to bring the movies into London "on the grounds that the said goods are indecent or obscene [...]". (The French website Encyclo Ciné also lists All-World Pictures as a co-producer of Teenage Bride [1975, see Part XI]). Or CNH Video, which the imdb claims distributed the VHS's of the Novak projects Booby Trap (1970, see Part VII), Machismo: 40 Graves for 40 Guns (1971, see Part VIII) and A Scream in the Streets (1973, see Part X).
* Regrettably, we weren't able to find any movie known as The Manicurist, though it seems to have been screened in a double feature with The Black Godfather (1974 / trailer) or Dr. Masher (1969) at some locations in 1975.
The CNH Video cover to
A Scream in the Street, re-titled Scream Street:

Also at 4774 Melrose Avenue: Channel X Video, Inc, with its president Carmen Novak, and Global Pictures, Inc., with its now-deceased President Harry Novak. Yep, the Harry Novak juggled a lot of firms aside from those commonly known. Novak's Global Pictures, which, as far as we can tell, didn't do anything after about 1972, should not be confused with Yoram Globus's Global Pictures, which as of the 1990s has kept the world flooded in action trash from Cannon Films.

A search of the Copyright Office reveals that Channel X Video, Inc., applied for copyrights to a number of known Novak films that we already looked at — Fandango aka Mona's Place (1970 / see Part VII), Street of a 1000 Pleasures (1972 / see Part IX), Bust Out (Convicts Woman) (1973 / see Part X), Black Bunch (1973 / see Part X), and Black Alley Cats (1973 / see Part X) — as well as some we haven't. So let's take a look at the known films that Novak, or Channel X Video, fingered... or at least tried to gain some copyright control of — the next five films. 

Female Factory
(1971, writ & dir. Lee Frost)
Aka Surftide Female Factory, but under all titles this Lee Frost sexploitation movie is considered lost. But then again, maybe not. We can't help but notice that the American poster above lists some of the same stars as on the poster for the 1973 German release of ...und ewig knarren die Betten shown below.
But: ...und ewig knarren die Betten is actually the belated release of a 1962 Lee Frost movie entitled nothing less than Surftide 77 (1962) — a movie that features none of the names on the two posters above.
Odder still, however, on-line sources list H. Duane Weaver as the co-scriptwriter of both the 1962 and 1971 movie, although the only other films we could find listing his name on the credits all come from 1961/62 (they would be: the classic low-budgeter Night Tide [1961 / trailer], as associate producer; the Arch Hall Jr. vehicle Eegah (1962 / trailer), as production manager; and Rider on a Dead Horse [1962 / scene], as production supervisor). Strangely enough, both Female Factory and Surftide 77 also share the same cameraman, Andrew Janczak, whose limited output includes the psychotronic classics The Creeping Terror (1964 / full film), as director of photography, and his underappreciated sole directorial effort, Terror in the Jungle (1968 / scene).
A Trailer to
The Creeping Trailer (1964):
So dare we suggest that Female Factory and Surftide 77 are actually one and the same movie, at most possibly re-cut? The evidence is there...
We discovered an on-line review of ...und ewig knarren die Betten at the German blog splattertrash, and they flatly state that the German version is not only an edit of 1962's Surftide 77 with new material but also give Surftide Female Factory as an aka title for the older film. The plot they offer is as follows: "The P.I. Bernhard Bingbang (Thomas Newman) is hired by the aged Agatha [and Townsend] Bungworthy (Bob Cresse [in a duel role]) to find the sole heir to the family fortune. The only clue: the young lady has a mole in the shape of a butterfly on her breast — so Bingbang really needs to take a close look at all the ladies that come in question."
Among the women he gets a close look at are the scrumptious Althea Currier and the early Playboy Playmates Arline Hunter* (August 1954) and — sigh — Virginia Gordon (January 1959, seen above).
Virginia Gordon Show Her Boobs in
Surftide 77:

Virginia Gordon Surftide 77 von explorerwinfield
* "Much of Hunter's fame was built upon her resemblance to Marilyn Monroe; indeed, her Playboy pose was obviously inspired by Monroe's notorious 1949 nude photo session. The similarity in look between Hunter and Monroe also came into play when a nude Hunter starred in a film short called Apple Knockers and Coke. For many years there have been those who have seen the film and have mistaken Hunter for Monroe."

Dr. Carstair's 1869 Love-Root Elixir
(1972, dir. Henning Schellerup [as Hans Christian])

NSFW Trailer to

Dr. Carstair's 1869 Love-Root Elixir: 

Trailer till
Aka Sticky Fingers and a variety of foreign-language names. Scripted by Joseph Dury, who also co-wrote Henning Schellerup's Novak-distributed The Black Alley Cats (1973, see Part X) and Schellerup's later forgotten porn noir Night Pleasures (1976). Among Schellerup's less interesting projects is the TV version of The Time Machine (1978), which we looked at in our R.I.P. Career Review of the character actor R.G. Armstrong.
Dr. Carstair's 1869 Love-Root Elixir is a hardcore flick complete with stiff dicks, penetration and money shots, or at least the movie also exists in a hardcore version. We weren't too lucky in finding a plot anywhere online, though Erotica Films does offer "A couple of thugs rob gold from the peaceful miners, then they steal their women. This leads to fighting, making up, a threesome in a brothel."
Vintage XXX adds an additional detail, taken from the Alpha Blue DVD release backside description: "Bandits steal gold and women from innocent townsfolk. Contains what is probably the sexiest scene of a girl peeing into a cowboy hat ever filmed!"
DVD Drive-In adds that the movie features the "favorites Marsha Jordan and Kathy Hilton. It is, by all accounts, lost, and the trailer has stock music from Novak's corn-porn pictures!" (Lost, the film is not.)
Over at imdb, the inexhaustible Lor of New York City calls the flick a "well-made porn Western [that] deserves a wider audience". He continues to explain [*spoilers*]: "Dr. Carstair's is a surprisingly good example of that rare bird, XXX Western saga. [...] The movie looks good, has decent location photography, and even the period dress rings true. It's simple-minded in script, but no dumber than any of dozens of Charles Starrett B-Westerns of the '40s and '50s cranked out by Columbia. Looking a bit like both Val Avery and William Conrad, William Guhl (of Kiss of the Tarantula [1976 / trailer] and Grave of the Vampire [1972 / trailer]) is effective in the title role, as a 19th-century huckster traveling the West with his plain-Jane but sexy daughter Jenny (an unidentified actress) selling a tonic for $1 a bottle which seemingly has aphrodisiac qualities. He formerly had a gold mine in a small town he returns to, but evil Garett (Tony Vorno, who looks a lot like soft porn star Gary Kent) has stolen his supposedly tapped-out mine. [Vorno, by the way, directed and wrote one film, the infamous rape flick, Victims (1982), and can be found in Garden of the Dead (1972 / full movie).] [...] At least in the Alpha Blue Archives version, this film is an unusual example of a successful spice-up splice job, wherein fully XXX insert shots logically extend the sex scenes into what 1972 audiences really wanted to see. [...] One drawback however is that for fellatio footage the performer doubling for each actress does not look like the original performer. The sex scenes are remarkably effective in their hybrid form and probably improve rather than tarnish the original film. [...] Homework assignment is to identify the actress who played Jenny, a talented enough trouper who is key to this film's success."

(1973, writ. & dir. George Bowden)
Though credited to "George Tilghman" (director) and "D. Taylor" (writer), this obscure and possibly lost comedy was written and directed by George Bowden, whose early involvement in the Los Angeles exploitation film scene and BA in journalism eventually led to the security of a lifelong job at LA City College (he' since retired, professor emeritus).
Among the projects he participated in: He played "David the Intern" in Ted V. Mikels' The Corpse Grinders (1971 / trailer); he was the still photographer for Black Starlet (1974); he wrote the original concept and story to Hollywood High (1976 / a trailer), but not the screenplay; and, as far as we know his only other directorial project was the documentary short Swimsuits Optional (1983), "an intelligent look at the conflict over nudity at beaches" and "a must for those who enjoy good documentaries".
Bowden's own plot description of Keys, given at imdb: "A key to a train station locker containing a fortune in cash is missing and a young couple must join a special 'club' to find it. This spoof of swingers in the 1970s is a race against time featuring colorful characters and scenery."
Keys stared the cult actress Barbara Mills, among other regulars of the LA exploitation scene of the late 60s & early 70s.

Little Girls Blue
(1978, dir. "Joanna Williams")
Aka Mama Don't Preach. Director "Joanna Williams", whose limited output consists of about five hardcore films, is known to have used the pseudonyms Wray Hamilton and Jennifer Ray; some on-line sources claim she is the former soft-core actress "Ann Myers", otherwise known as Anne Perry aka Anne Meyers (of House on Bare Mountain [1962 / full movie] and Swamp Girl [1971 / trailer]), who in turn became the porn director Anne Perry-Rhine, known for Sweet Savage (1979 / full NSFW film) and Star Babe (1977 / full NSFW film). Other sources swear she is actually is the former soft-core actress Maria Lease, of Lee Frosts The Scavengers (1969 / opening credits) and Love Camp 7 (1969 / trailer), and Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971 / trailer below).
Anyone know for sure? We tend towards Maria Lease...
Trailer to
Dracula vs. Frankenstein:
Little Girls Blue did well enough to warrant a sequel, five years later in 1983, also directed by "Joanna Williams", entitled  Little Girls Blue Part 2. Both Part I and II were written by Williams and "William Dancer", the latter of whom is better known as Daniel Cady, the under-appreciated exploitation producer of many a fun trash film beginning with Help Wanted Female (1968 / 8 minutes) and ending with Dolly Dearest (1991 / trailer below); he foisted many a John Hayes movie and Henning Schellerup movie (including Dr. Carstair's) onto the breathless public.
Daniel Cady, by the way, is married to former soft-core starlet (see above) Maria Lease, the director of Dolly Dearest (1991).
Trailer to
Dolly Dearest:

In a rare review of a porn movie, The Video Vacuum explains Little Girls Blue: "The sex-starved students at the Townsend School for Girls fantasize about getting it on with their teachers. The faculty, as it turns out, has similar aspirations. Some of the students actually manage to seduce and bed their teachers while others sneak out of school in the middle of the night to meet their boyfriends in a barn for sex. [...] Little Girls Blue is a classic erotic XXX flick that harkens back to a time when adult films were more than just a series of unending sex scenes and money shots. It boasts an impressive production design and a good use of location. Williams directs the fantasy scenes in a dreamlike manner (there is lots of slow motion) and the results are quite steamy. She puts more heart into what could've been just another horny schoolgirl movie and handles the sex scenes rather well. [...] Folks, they just don't make 'em like this anymore." (Considering the sex objects of the film — schoolgirls — the topic is so P.I. it ain't surprising.) 

Butter Me Up!
(1984, dir. Charles Webb [as Charles De Santos])

"Shot Live On Video Tape!"

Aka Last Tango in Sausalito. Not a classic of the Golden Age. The tagline, as found at imdb: "Sexy blonde housewives experiment with hard cocks and dildos up their perfect pink asspipes!"
The DVD back cover embellishes the non-plot: "Through a series of flashbacks, a beautiful wife recalls her introduction to anal sex. Adventures include scenes with her young and wild girlfriends and a series of group encounters that are sure to please the lusty viewer!" Hard to believe that the same director made The Seven Seductions (see Part XIV) only three years earlier. Starring: Nina Hartley, Lili Marlene and Rocky Balboa.

The End?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...