Monday, December 28, 2020

Marilyn Joi, Part V: 1981-2019

Let's hear it for Marilyn Joi. Between 1972 and 1989, this Babe of Yesteryear made indelible as well as blink-and-you-miss-her appearances in a variety of fondly remembered, unjustly forgotten, or gladly overlooked grindhouse products. But fame is a fickle thing, especially in the nether regions of exploitation movies, and although she always exuded a memorable presence and has some notable films in her resume, she never became a "name" — heck, more people know the name Jean Bell than they do Marilyn Joi,* though Joi arguably displayed far greater thespian talent and definitely appeared in a larger number of noteworthy movies. Indeed: "Joi brought variety and a measure of depth to her big and small screen performances. She never walked through a role and she knew the meaning of nuance. She could be a bad girl, a traditional action film heroine, or a light comedienne of considerable charm. [Bob McCann in Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television]" To that, we might add that she had a killer figure and she was sexy, and she had fabulous eyes.
* Perhaps due in part to Ms. Bell's status of being one of the first Afro-American women to get nekkid in Playboy, while Ms. Joi only did cheesecake for race-specific publications like Players, "the Black Playboy". (Although, according to Ms. Joi, "I did do some [nude] pictures, but they were never published. I'm sure they're floating around somewhere."**) Players deemed Marilyn "America's Favorite Black Poster Girl" in 1980 and, two years later, voted her one of "America's Ten Sexiest Black Women" — and she was.
** Quote taken from an informative interview published in Shock Cinema #16 in 2000, which can be found at the Internet Archives. We make extensive use of that interview in the following blog entry. For those of you who don't know Shock Cinema, it is one of the best magazines around, particularly for people who read sites like this one. Check it out, buy an issue — you'll love it!
A beautiful and bubbly Marilyn Joi interviewed:

"Marilyn Joi" was born 22 May 1945 in New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, USA. Her full real name is not general knowledge, though her real first name seems to be "Mary"; on-screen, she was at times also credited as Tracy King, Tracy Ann King, T.A. King and even Anita King. She is alive and well and (unlike us) on twitter. A true Babe of Yesteryear, her film career was much too short and she is unjustly unknown — which is why we here at a wasted life have decided to take one of our typically meandering and unfocused looks at her filmography. (If it's more meandering and unfocused than usual, well, in this day and age of corona lockdown we have more time on our hands…)
As always, we make no guarantee that anything we write is 100% correct (feel free to tell us where we're wrong — preferably in a non-trolly tone of voice). And if we missed a film, let us know…

Go here for
Marilyn Joi, Part One: 1972-73
Marilyn Joi, Part Two: 1974
Marilyn Joi, Part Three: 1975-76
Marilyn Joi, Part Four: 1977-80

(1981, dir. Chuck Vincent)
A.k.a. Snap! and, in Germany, Manche mögens Prall (more or less, "Some Like It Plump" or "Some Like It Firm" — you get the drift).
This C.O.D., starring Jack Lemmon's son Chris Lemmon, is not a remake of Michael Powell's 1932 lost crime film, C.O.D. But: the German title Manche mögen's Prall is a definite play upon the classic Lemmon/Curtis/Monroe movie, Manche mögen's heiß a.k.a. Some Like It Hot (1959 / trailer).
C.O.D. is a softcore sex comedy from the hardcore auteur Chuck Vincent (6 Sep 1940 – 23 Sept 1991), a man best known for his elegant hardcore porn films from the Golden Age of triple-X. (Oddly enough, considering that he specialized in heterosexual hardcore, Chuck Vincent was gay as the day; his career was cut short at the age of 51 from AIDS-related complications.) When Manche mögen's Präll was released in Germany, as the poster directly below shows director "Chuck Vincent" became "Sigi Krämer" and the script was suddenly by "Hartmut Neugebauer" who, the year earlier, was the "dialogue director" of Luigi Cozzi's anti-classic slice of Italo trash, Contamination (1980 / trailer), but generally only worked as a German-language voiceover actor on foreign films.
Over at the imdb, the writing credits are a bit broader: the story is credited to Wolfgang von Schiber, of the obscure German sleaze-film production house Geiselgasteig (which co-produced the movie — not to mention the mondo documentaries Shocking Asia I [1981? / trailer] and II [1985? / full film in Russian]), while the screenplay is credited to Chuck Vincent, Ian Shaw (writing as "Jonathan Hannah") and Rick Marx. Shaw never wrote another film, though he did compose the music to many no-budget and porn films (as he did for this film here); Marx, on the other hand, worked as a scribe on many a film, mostly porn (including some classics like Wanda Whips Wall Street [1982 / NSFW trailer] and Vincent's Roommates [1982 / SFW trailer]) and low-budget trash like Doom Asylum (1988 / trailer) and Roberta Findlay's Tenement (1985 / trailer).
In the book Fictional Presidential Films: A Comprehensive Filmography of Portrayals from 1930 to 2011, the authors Sarah Miles Bolam & Thomas J. Bolam use creative grammar to supply the following plot synopsis: "Screwball comedies go to new directions in C.O.D. This so-called cheesy film concerns Albert Zack (Chris Lemmon of Wishmaster [1997] and Just Before Dawn [1981 / trailer]), purportedly the son of Jack Lemmon, who works as an assistant for a lingerie company. One day, he finds himself with the unenviable and unbelievable job of signing up advertisements for bras from five lovely ladies including a movie star, a singer, a countess (Carole Davis*, below, of Project: Metalbeast [1995 / German trailer]), the President's daughter (Teresa Ganzel of Transylvania 6-5000 [1985 / trailer]), and an Olympic star. The film is a series of encounters as Zack goes through his list of lovelies. President Foster (Andrew MacMillan) is an incidental character in the attempt to get his daughter out of one bra ad and into another."
* Carole Davis, former West Coast Director of the Companion Animal Protection Society, a national non-profit organization that investigates puppy mills and pet stores, and former Penthouse Pet (January 1980, as "Tamara Kapitas") and Pet of the Year runner-up (1981), at one point actually modeled Playtex bras in real life. As a singer/songwriter and recording artist, Carole was signed to Warner Brother records in 1989. She released an album, Heart of Gold, which was produced by Nile Rodgers, and had a dance-floor hit with her single Serious Money. Speaking of Penthouse Pets of the Year, however, another cast member of this movie, Corrine Wahl, a.k.a. Corrine Alphen, of Equalizer 2000 (1986 / trailer), had that honor in 1982. Alphen now earns her rent money as a tarot card reader.
Carole looking sexy but dancing badly to
Serious Money:

Further details to the movie that we could uncover online include: the firm that hires Albert Zack is the "Beaver Bra Company", which is struggling due to the low popularity of wearing bras*; many of the "silly antics and situations" find Zack dressed in various costumes, including drag; of the two board members at Beaver Bras that always try to stop him because they stand to gain should the firm fail, one is named Lydia (Jennifer Richards** of TerrorVision [1986 / trailer]); Zack is helped and hindered by his faithful secretary, Holly (Olivia Pascal of Jess Franco's Bloody Moon [1981 / trailer]). Basically: "It's one boob after another as Albert struggles to keep abreast of the situation ... its win or bust in SNAP!"
* How we here at a wasted life miss those days here in Berlin in the 80s & early 90s when almost no woman under 30 wore a bra and nude sunbathing was common at the local park.
** A "Jennifer Richards" also had a brief career in porn in the 70s, including Teenie Tulip a.k.a. Hungry Mouth (poster below) — anyone know if it's the same Jennifer? We would guess it is, for various other, more-famous porn stars also pop up in the movie as glorified extras, the most well-known probably being: Samantha Fox (4 Dec 1950 – 22 Apr 2020), credited under her real name, Stasia Micula; Ron "Hedgehog" Jeremy, credited using his real first and last name, Ron Hyatt; hot stuff stud Jack Wrangler (11 Jul 1946 – 7 Apr 2009); and Bobby Aster (14 Nov 1937 – 7 Apr 2002), credited as Bobby H. Charles (could that be his real name?), as a witchdoctor. That people from the industry are found in the jiggle comedy is perhaps not surprising, seeing who directed the movie.
Unluckily, we were unable to find out whether Marilyn Joi's character, Debbie Winter, is the movie star "at work in a horror-parody film", the singer, or the Olympic athlete (or even someone else), but we are sure she would have filled out a Beaver bra nicely! Sadly, after this movie, Marilyn Joi pretty much stopped working: she appeared on TV once or twice to play a hooker, but she didn't appear in another "real movie" for eight years, when she showed up in 1989's Satan's Princess (see further below) to play… a hooker.
As is often the case with films, different participants get credited on different posters or VHS or DVD covers, depending on which participant is better known at any given moment. So while Germen skin starlet Dolly Dollar, a.k.a. Christine Zierl, who shows up to play someone named "Christina Werner", wasn't worth mentioning originally, she was later deemed a big enough name to be credited on the poster. As evident by the picture below, like all other women in the movie, she had more than enough to fill out a bra. But for all her lung capacity, she was a miserable singer, as evident by her so-terrible-it's-still-terrible Euro-disco song from the same year as the movie, Come A Little Bit Closer.
Dolly Dollar "sings"
Come A Little Bit Closer:
In any event, herewith ends, as far as we can tell, Marilyn Joi's "real" career in feature film: hereafter, the appearances we could "locate" are, at best: tiny, questionable, or only via trailer or as a talking head.

Drive-In Madness!
(1987, "writ & dir." Tim Ferrante)

"A right mess of a program that only gets better the fewer times you view it."
Tim Ferrante @ Flick Attack

Also known as Drive-in Madness Greatest Hits. Marilyn Joi via trailer! Not a movie and not made for the big screen, Drive-In Madness! is a product of its time, the day and age before the internet and YouTube and film-on-demand, when it was close to impossible to see obscure films or their trailers. But then came the VHS, and with it the rise of the trailer compellation: feature-length releases, some with and some without "themes", of obscure trailers to obscure movies. Tim Ferrante's theme was the drive-in, and this ode to the cinema dinosaur (now revived thanks to Covid) featured more than just trailers…
"Drive-in Madness! […] does do a bit more than just show trailers, as it also splices in various intermission segments from the drive-in and also has interviews with some of the biggest names in Horror and Exploitation film. […] I particularly enjoy the fact that the filmmakers went to the trouble of including the locally made trailers for a double bill, and those old intermission commercials are always fun, but the interviews make this film for without them, this is really just another ok trailer completion that while offering up some goodies, does not cut very deep into the genre. The interviews however, contain some very interesting information about the making of these films. The movie being made in 1987 plays to its benefit here as several producers were still alive to talk about these films. […] [Bad Movies for Bad People]"
"Narrated by Poltergeist real estate agent James Karen, the 84-minute quasi-documentary leans heavy on the films of Al Adamson, with six of his flicks represented with full trailers, from Satan's Sadists (1969 / trailer) to Naughty Stewardesses (1974, see Part II) — not a complaint. I don't know if any rhyme or reason were present in director Tim Ferrante's choices of what clips to include, but for the most part, it's an unpredictable bunch that touches upon sci-fi (The Human Duplicators [1965 / trailer]), mondo (Macabro [1980 / Italo trailer]), action (Girls for Rent [1974 / trailer]), comedy (The Booby Hatch [1976]) and, oddly, made-for-VHS trash that never would play drive-ins (Psychos in Love [1987 / trailer]). [Flick Attack]"
And of the Al Adamson trailers screened, Marilyn Joi is found in three: The Naughty Stewardesses (1974, see Part II), Blazing Stewardesses (1975, see Part III) & Nurse Sherri (1978, found way above) — thus the compellation's inclusion here. The talking heads include Linnea Quigley, Russell Streiner, John Russo, Samuel M. Sherman, Bobbie Bresee, Forry Ackerman, George Romero, and Tom Savini.
Full movie at

Satan's Princess
(1989, dir. Bert I. Gordon)
(Lotsa ta-tas in this one.) A.k.a. Heat from Another Sun, Princess of Darkness and Malediction. Even exploitation babes eventually experience the fate of female actors in the biz: you hit a "certain age", and you become invisible. Maybe Marilyn Joi had other reasons for disappearing from the screen, but after C.O.D. it was eight years before the now 44-year-old Marilyn Joi was seen again in a feature-length product… in a blink-and-you-miss-it bit as a hooker in this direct-to-VHS flick. (Ain't no such thing as a white hooker, you know.)
One sort of wonders why it took a auteur hack like Gordon — who can forget his anti-classics like The Amazing Colossal Man (1957 / trailer), Attack of the Puppet People (1958 / trailer), The Spider (1958 / trailer), Village of the Giants (1965 / trailer), Necromancy (1972)*, and the double attack of Food of the Gods (1976 / trailer) and Empire of the Ants (1977 / trailer)**? — such a long time to get around using Joi in one of his films… Oh, yeah: 'cause few of them ever feature an Afro-American character.
Bert I. Gordon is still alive today, though he hasn't made a movie since Secrets of a Psychopath (2015 / trailer), a rent-paying job of desperation for Kari Wuhrer (of Anaconda [1997] & Thinner [1996] & Berserker [2004]) and the then 93-year-old Gordon's first flick in 26 years, after … (drum role) … Satan's Princess.
* OK, this is far from one of his "good" flicks — but we reviewed it and are loath to miss the chance for inter-blog link.
** We really should also include The Beginning of the End (1957), one of our favorite after-school creature feature staples, which he only produced. Aside from the fabulous scene of the grasshopper crawling off an obvious photo of a building, it includes one the greatest scenes ever: a mute character silently screaming in terror as he meets his demise. We've long wondered why Tarentino hasn't yet appropriated that idea in a movie.
Trailer to
The Beginning of the End (1957):
Screenplay scribe Stephen Katz (4 July 1946 — 18 Oct 2005) began his career with the far more intriguing an offbeat script to the hard-to-place Hex aka The Shrieking (1973 / full film). Satan's Princess was both his second and second-to-last feature-length film project.
The plot, as found at the Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review: "Retired police detective Lou Cherney (Robert Forster [13 Jul 1941 – 11 Oct 2019] of Alligator [1980] and Uncle Sam [1996]) is pressed by a man to search for his missing daughter. Lou finds that the missing girl has been taken as the lesbian lover of Canadian modelling agency head Nicole St James (Lydie Denier of To The Limit [1995]). As he starts investigating Nicole, Lou learns that she is involved with black magic. People who provide Lou with information turn up dead and then Nicole marshals occult forces in an effort to kill him."
"Bert I. Gordon on his best day was no better than an average director, but his enthusiasm and lack of taste were generally good for an entertaining movie. Satan's Princess […] is a well-paced and very silly combination of urban crime drama and supernatural chiller. And it features Borscht Belt comic Jack Carter (of The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington [1977, see Part IV]) as a 15th-century Spanish priest. […] One thing you gotta respect about Robert Forster is that you can never catch him sleepwalking through anything. Not only does he always seem to give each project 100%, regardless of how big a turkey it is, he usually is able to jack the movie up a notch or two with his performance. Satan's Princess is dumb and laughable, but I'll be damned if Forster doesn't fill in the gaps in Gordon's screenplay and create a full-fledged character that's a joy to watch. [Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot]"
Spoilers: "There's plenty of sleaze and exploitation to the proceedings. You get a lesbian sex scene, a topless woman swallowing fire, a Robert Forster sex scene where he talks dirty and spanks, and a poor bimbo gets her tit cut off. The film is pretty consistent until the last 30 minutes when it goes over the top and spreads the cheese on thick. […] The gore is minimal and the deaths range from realistic slasher murders to the supernatural. A cop gets strangled, a woman gets blown out of her apartment window, and Satan's Princess gets torched with a flamethrower. The film's finale is pretty anti-climatic and ends with a demon trying to escape in a booby-trapped car… [80's Horror Central]"
We couldn't find a trailer for Satan's Princess online, but we did find a fan-made homage using Samantha "I Got Boobs" Fox's song Touch Me (I Want Your Body), a song typical of its time (1986) that gets virtually no airplay nowadays.
Touch Me (I Want Your Body)
Satan's Princess Tribute:

Queen of Lost Island
(1994, dir. Donald G. Jackson)
Personally, we doubt that Marilyn Joi appeared in what is probably a senseless, white-gal silicon-tit festival starring pre-dementia Julie Strain — but, who knows: Did Joi or didn't Joi appear in this movie?
And for that matter, which movie? Queen of Lost Island, or The Devil's Pet? Much as some websites claim the two films as different films and other sites claim them as one and the same, some websites — for example, aventrix — say Joi (or Joy) is there and other make nary a mention of her name (e.g., imdb). (There is also, however, an occasional mention of a "Marilyn Deye".)
Ta-tas Trailer to
Queen of Lost Island:
The imdb, for example, gives both Queen of Lost Island and Elixir as alternative titles for The Devil's Pet, but doesn't list Joi on the cast. The INSDB (International Show Database) not only lists Marilyn Joi (as "Marilyn Joy") on the cast, but supplies a plot: "Topless model Julie (Julie Strain) becomes possessed by a demon and lures other models to a remote island, where she goes after them with a samurai sword. Filmed in 1994 as Queen of Lost Island, and screened briefly under that title, this didn't receive a home video release until 2007 when it popped up on DVD as Elixir. Most online sources claim this is the same film as The Devil's Pet, but that is incorrect." Letterbxd says exactly the same thing, word for word.
In any event, although the likelihood that Joi is there is close to nil, for the benefit of the doubt let's take a look at this non-movie by the infamous anti-director Donald G. Jackson (24 Apr 1943 – 20 Oct 2003), a man hardly remembered by anyone for producing a steady stream of truly terrible no-budget anti-films of the kind that make that famous measuring stick for cinematic talent, Ed Wood Jr., look like Orson Welles. Jackson, who does indeed have one cult semi-classic to his name, Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988 / trailer below), was a proponent of a directorial style that he created with Scott Shaw known as "Zen filmmaking" in which no scripts are used while making a movie. For this movie here, he gave his name as "Maximo T. Bird".
Trailer to
Hell Comes to Frogtown:
Filmblitz, which was "lured in by the prospect of [Julie] Strain waving a sword without her top on", watched the movie, to their subsequent regret: "The 'plot' — and quotes have rarely ever been used more deliberately — sees a glamour photographer […] head off to an island with a bunch of models, including Strain. An antique bottle is stumbled across, containing some kind of fluid, which they inexplicably drink […]. This causes them to go psychotic, and in Strain's case, spend the rest of the film wandering the island, waving a sword without her top on. The movie consists, more or less, of three kinds of scenes, framed by a wraparound segment where the photographer is being interviewed by a journalist — which largely robs the rest of any suspense, since we know he's not going to die. These are: 1) Glamour photography sessions. 2) Softcore sex scenes. 3) People wandering aimlessly around the island*. Repeat, apparently at random, for 75 minutes. In what bizarre universe does this pass for film-making?"
* Hmmm… were you to remove the Type 3 scene description, and replace it with "People wandering aimlessly around", the description could well fit the only Strain film we've ever seen in which she is "real", the sludge that is Blonde Heaven (1994)… We say "real" because we saw and enjoyed Metal Heavy 2000 (2000), but she's animated in that. (She has one of those over-enhanced bodies that look best when fully clothed, photoshopped, or rendered in animation.)
Over at Letterbxd, Nick Weaver is a smidgeon more positive in his review of this "excuse to show as many titties in the most peculiar context available": "Elixir is about an island photography shoot gone wrong and a mystical bottle of love potion. Dumb as bricks, mindless, yet inexplicably compelling. Everything feels like its building up to something, whether it be a violent climax or the return of Robert Z'Dar's abandoned character, but it doesn't. I'd wager literally 40% of this movie is topless Julie Strain sword dancing. The rest is a mishmash of hiking, recycled flashback footage, and other people's boobs."

Producing Schlock:
The Career of Al Adamson
(2009, dir. Unknown)
A short and sweet video documentary that features producer Samuel Sherman taking about Al Adamson and their time as a filmmaking team. It is probably a "Special Feature" on some DVD release, but we don't know which one. Marilyn Joi does not appear as a talking head here — only Sherman does — but you see her in clip or two, most conspicuously a stewardess in The Naughty Stewardesses.

Adamson was already 14-years dead when this featurette was made — and oddly enough, despite his legendary status as a cult filmmaker, a feature-length documentary had yet to be made about him. (It took another ten years before one finally was, too.)

Blood & Flesh:
The Reel Life & Ghastly Death
of Al Adamson
(2019, dir. David Gregory)

Unbelievably enough, considering that he was indeed a "name" in low budget and bad film that interested people — hell, even we went to see Satan's Sadists (1972 / trailer) for the umpteenth time when, many decades ago, when he introduced the film himself, live, for a screening here in Berlin — it took an unbelievable 24 years before someone finally decided a documentary was needed. Severin got professional DVD filler-material and documentary director David Gregory, who hasn't made a fiction film since his 1995 no-budget directorial debut Scathed, to put it together — a man, in any event, who knows his genre films. (This year, 2020, has supposedly seen the release of his 17-minute documentary The Joy of Marilyn Joi, we assume as an extra on the coveted Al Adamson: The Masterpiece Collection — a bit out of our price range, unluckily.)
Trailer to
Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life and Ghastly Death of Al Adamson
"Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life and Ghastly Death of Al Adamson is an utterly mesmerising and wholly important documentary, and everybody involved should be incredibly proud. […] If you are interested in horror, exploitation and just wild Hollywood stories, this truly is the film for you. [Movie Waffler]"
"Al Adamson wasn't what you'd call a superstar filmmaker. Toiling in the world of super low budget B- and C-grade drive-in fare from the early '60s through the early '80s, Adamson was responsible for inflicting more than thirty films upon an largely unsuspecting public during his career, often recycling the same film with different titles to try to squeeze a few extra bucks out of it. Being an unknown didn't stop him from being passionate, though, and if there was anything Adamson loved, it was making movies. Then, one day, he just disappeared off the face of the earth, only to be found much later hastily buried under cement and a lovely new tile floor in his own home. [Screen Anarchy]"
Trailer to the
Al Adamson Masterpiece Collection:

And, to hear from Severin Films itself: "'Horror Film Director Found Slain, Buried Under Floor', screamed the August 1995 headline in the Los Angeles Times. But the whole truth behind Al Adamson's strange life and gruesome death reveals perhaps the most bizarre career in Hollywood history. From his early years as the son of a silent screen cowboy, through the production of some 30 lurid low budget pictures including Satan's Sadists, Dracula Vs. Frankenstein, and The Naughty Stewardesses [see Part III], to his grisly demise, the Al Adamson story remains wild beyond belief. Told through over 40 first-person recollections from friends, family, colleagues and historians, plus rare clips and archival interviews with Adamson himself, Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life and Ghastly Death of Al Adamson is the delightful, dirty and deadly documentary of bikers, go-go dancers, aging Hollywood actors, porn stars, freak-out girls, Charles Manson, Colonel Sanders, alien conspiracies, bad contractors and 'scenes so SICK the Movies could never show them before'..." 
Marilyn Joi appears as one of the plethora of talking heads…

The End

Coming soon: Babe of Yesteryear, Gigi Darlene

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