Tag Archives: trash cinema

Teen-Age Crime Wave (1955)

“This is a shower room. It’s to clean you up on the outside even if it doesn’t get to the dirt on the inside.”

Yes, juvenile delinquents are back at it, and this time the film is set in the crime-ridden Antelope Valley. It’s traditional family values vs juvenile delinquency in Teen-Age Crime Wave, a definite addition to the Trash Cinema section, and of course, family values win the day in this corn-fest of a film.

A teenage siren named Terry Marsh (Molly McCart) hangs out in a bar until she catches the attention of a middle-aged chubby patron. He thinks he’s hit the jackpot as he steers the obviously underage girl out of the door, but it’s a set up. A few feet from the door, he’s mugged by Terry’s two male accomplices who are waiting in a car outside. The robbery goes wrong, and while Mike Denton (Tommy Cook) and Al (Jimmy Ogg) escape, Terry and another girl, Jane Koberly (Sue England) are arrested. While Terry has a previous record, Jane maintains her innocence, claiming that she knew nothing of the planned robbery and that she was simply out on a blind date.

In the slammer, tensions between Terry and Jane lead to a minor girl fight which is broken up by the warden. Then comes the court case and the sentencing. Nice, middle-class Mr and Mrs Koberly (Guy Kingsford and Helen Brown) are the kind of people who worry about what the neighbours think, and they reel from the shock that they’ve raised a juvenile delinquent. There are a few introspective ‘where did we go wrong’ moments, but Jane is sent to a juvenile facility along with the very-hardened Terry.

On the way to the lock-up (the girls are transported in a police car with a female matron for company), Mike conducts a bold crime by running the police car off the road. He shoots the policeman and grabs the two girls. Jane’s pleas to be allowed to stay with the matron fall on deaf ears, and so the trio of teens-gone-bad are on the run….

Taking refuge in a remote house in the Antelope Valley, Mike and Terry seize an elderly couple hostage at gunpoint and get their cooperation by threatening to blow out the old lady’s brains. With Jane boo-hooing and asking to go home, it’s not too long before it’s Mike and Terry vs the elderly Mr and Mrs Grant and Jane.

To top off the situation, it’s the night before Thanksgiving, and the Grants’ son “college boy” and bona-fide war hero, Ben Grant (Frank Griffen) is heading home for the holidays. This adds another person to the hostage pot, but it also adds another dynamic to the drama. Terry fancies Ben and tries to pull a little femme fatale number, and then Mike, who’s becoming more and more psycho every minute, becomes violently jealous….

There are a few poignant undercurrents here: Mike and Terry eye Ben and Jane–a couple on the other side of the divide, and there are shreds of ‘if only’ here–especially on the part of Terry. A crack opens into Terry’s past and this reveals a few moments of regret. But she reverts to her old, hardened personality–a self she’s much more comfortable with and she decides she wants to seduce Ben, but as Jane points out that she doesn’t stand a chance with Ben as Terry is  “dirt.” Terry’s response:

“I’ll show you how dirt operates on a respectable guy.” 

But the only tactics Terry has up her sleeve are those rather well-worn and transparent tricks she played in the bar with the chump earlier, and Ben, of course, is repulsed by Terry. Her rejection adds to that large chip on her shoulder. Terry’s attempts to seduce Ben show her desire to reveal the ugly side of people that lurks inside the seemingly-respectable shell. Seducing Ben would ‘prove’ a number of things: that she’s desirable to the sort of man she can no longer have, and also it would prove her pet theory that everyone is rotten–a college boy who’s a war hero would prove both points.

A lot of the film’s fun comes from the performances of the two desperate delinquents. Mike crows when he sees the headlines, and he goes berserk at the round-the-clock monotone bible reading from Mr Grant. Mr. Grant must think that Mike will get religion by osmosis. Mike even tries to spice things up with a little sex fest and then accuses Mr Grant of being a peeper. Unfortunately the film is hemmed in by its time and by its predictably heavy moral message, but it is a diversion all the same.

From director Fred F Sears.

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The Driver’s Seat AKA Identikit (1974)

“There are so many lunatics running around.”

In perhaps the most bizarre role of Elizabeth Taylor’s career, she stars in The Driver’s Seat as Lise, a neurotic woman who goes on holiday to Italy. The first scene establishes that there’s something wrong with Lise. She’s trying on a dress and irrationally becomes hysterical when a saleswoman mentions that the dress is stain-free. Apparently, Lise is buying an outfit for her trip to Rome, and she settles on a bizarre combination of a multi-coloured striped coat and a patterned dress. Once at the airport, Lise appears to be vaguely looking for something, and it becomes clear that what she’s searching for is a man. She subjects each man to scrutiny, but in the terminal, no one seems to pique her interest. Then she sits next to a single young man on the plane and makes him feel so uncomfortable, he moves. This leaves Lise sitting next to Richard (Ian Bannen) a randy macrobiotic diet fanatic who insists he must have a daily sexual encounter as part of his programme. Lise brushes off his advances with vague hints that she’s meeting someone at her hotel.

When Lise arrives in Italy she meets a range of people as she searches for the man who is her “type.” She meets a sweet old lady who is so addlepated, she only vaguely notes that Lise is extremely peculiar. With her bizarre, loud clothing, wild gestures, heavy make-up and searching gazes, some men assume Lise is a prostitute–or at the very least, a desperate, lonely women out looking for a ‘good time’. As her search continues for the man who is her “type”, Lise sheds–with relief–parts of her past.

This Italian film (also known as Identikit) directed by Giuseppe Patroni Griffi uses a backdrop of 70s terrorism to create a sense of a volatile, dangerous world, and the plot swings back and forth between Lise and her search for her “type” and the police who question anyone who saw Lise from the time she got on the plane. Some of the dialogue is dubbed, and the picture is a fairly typical 70s production. To add to the film’s bizarre qualities, Andy Warhol has a small speaking role as an English lord. The DVD is produced by Cheezy Flicks, and yes, it’s cheesy, but as a fan of the novel by Muriel Spark, I was very pleased with the quality of the film. Elizabeth Taylor delivers an impressive performance as Lise–she contains just the right amount of distraction, suggested violence, and explosive tension.

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A Dirty Shame (2004)

 “She’s probably kidnapped by sex fiends.”

a-dirty-shameThose fans of cult director John Waters who suspected that he was mellowing and becoming remotely respectable can think again. John Waters’ new film A Dirty Shame proves that Waters is still producing Trash Cinema. Trash film fans will be delighted to know that A Dirty Shame takes us back to this director’s pre-Polyester days.

Sylvia Stickles (Tracey Ullman) and hubbie Vaughn (Chris Isaak) live on Hartford Street in Baltimore. They have a daughter, Caprice (Selma Blair)–also known as exotic dancer Ursula Udders–a hot favourite at the local biker bar. The Stickles form the perfect dysfunctional Waters family. Caprice is under house arrest for numerous incidents of public indecency, but her dad tells her that “the government wants you to stay inside for a while,” and “you’re too pretty to go out.” When the film begins, Sylvia brushes off Vaughn’s advances and hurries off to work at the local shop owned by her mother, Big Ethel (Suzanne Shepherd). On the drive there, Sylvia suffers a head injury, and she meets Guru Ray Ray (Johnny Knoxville). Ray Ray–a self-described “sexual healer” turns Sylvia into a sex addict.

Soon Sylvia is engaged in sexual mayhem–molesting anyone who comes in her path, stealing lingerie from bins, and even performing an erotic dance at the local old people’s home. Ray Ray and his band of uninhibited followers anticipate a day of carnal rapture, and these ‘enlightened’ few invade the neighbourhood and a Sex Addicts meeting looking for new converts. The normal citizens (“Neuters”) of Hartford Road hold a Decency Rally and form Neuter Resistance.

There’s a message in the film that is evident in the Neuter Resistance Platform. Phrases such as: “tolerance went too far” accompanied by the idea that society is now more permissive than the 60s, indicate the film’s less-than-sly knock at moral righteousness. This film is a raunchy riot from beginning to end, and it certainly isn’t for the meek or the Neuters. As with any John Waters film, don’t expect subtle solutions. This is over-the-top sexual anarchy. Nothing more. Nothing less. Die-hard John Waters’ fans will be happy to be back with familiar filth. Everyone else … you’re on your own ….

The film’s soundtrack is packed with appropriate Filth Music. Special mention of Patty Hearst who plays Sex Addict, Paige, and Mink Stole as a particularly righteous Neuter. Special features (and I watched the NC-17 version) include: commentaries, “All the Dirt on A Dirty Shame” (a behind-the-scenes look at the film), a deleted scene, and the trailer. Welcome back to the gutter, John. We knew you’d never left us.

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Confessions of a Psycho Cat (1968)

“They’re going to put you in a padded cell where you belong.”

Something Weird Video specializes in offering the bizarre, the camp and the truly tasteless on DVD, and Confessions of a Psycho Cat certainly fits their criteria. A so-called ‘roughie’, the film dabbles in the relatively tame ‘adult’ cinema of the 60s while presenting a story rife with truly bad acting. In this tawdry tale, Virginia Marcus (Eileen Lord), who is in the middle of yet another nervous breakdown, can’t accompany her snotty brother on safari. She decides to amuse herself by having her own, private safari on the streets on New York. Gathering together three losers who’ve all been acquitted of murder charges—a junkie named Buddy, a has-been actor Charles Freeman, and a former wrestler (Jake Lamotta)–Virginia offers them each the sum of $100,000 if they can stay alive in Manhattan for 24 hours. There are rules to the game, and each man takes the bait.

Confessions of a Psycho Cat is directed by Herb Stanley, and film aficionados will note that the plot resembles The Most Dangerous Game. The story vacillates between scenes at a swingers’ party and Buddy telling the story of Virginia’s New York safari in flashback. There’s no shortage of nude and undie scenes of degenerate swingers, and one scene involves Jake Lamotta and his bored ‘date’ who prances back and forth across the screen in her big undies, until she has a snogging session with her own reflection. This is a 60s exploitation title, and the film will be a curiosity for some viewers and a cult favourite for others. While this is not my favourite Something Weird Video title (the nudie scenes take away from the bizarre plot), it’s a great deal of tacky fun. If you like one of the titles from Something Weird, then there’s a good chance you’ll like them all, and the reverse is also true. If you like films that are so-bad-they’re-good, then you’ve hit the mother lode with Something Weird.

DVD extras include: Bad Girl Sexploitation trailers for Bad Girls Don’t Cry, Come Play With Me, Fuego, In Hot Blood, Olga’s House of Shame, Ride the Wild Pink Horse, Spoiled Rotten, Stefania and Submission. There’s also a 28 minute short film Preface to a Life and Hot Blooded Woman a 68 minute film about a go-go girl who goes berserk.

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Filed under Cult Classics, Exploitation

Damaged Goods/The Hard Road (1961/1970)

“There ought to be a law against her.”

How on earth do you rate a cheesy double feature of glorified sex education films? This is the dilemma that faced me after watching the 2-for-1 DVD from Something Weird Video–Damaged Goods/The Hard Road. Do I rate these films on artistic merit? Educational potential? Campiness? I finally decided to land on the entertainment value of these two films, and for me, the entertainment value wasn’t much….

I love Something Weird Video, and their intro trailer alone is worth the price of a DVD, but Damaged Goods and The Hard Road are scrapping the bottom of the barrel. Of the two features, Damaged Goods (AKA V.D.), from director H. Haile Chace has the better plot and a more traditional story line (which isn’t saying much). The story focuses on Jim (Mory Schoolhouse) and Judy (Charlotte Stewart)–two 17-year-old high school students who can’t wait to graduate and “grow up.” A new girl at the school, Kathy (Dolores Faith) acts as a sort of femme fatale, and this all combines to drive Jim off the deep end. A stripper named Bubbles, a prostitute and a weenie roast are elements of this cheese-fest–and it’s all, apparently, a marvelous opportunity to drag in a doctor who delivers a lecture about sexually transmitted diseases–complete with handy-dandy diagrams (courtesy of U.S. Public Educational Health Services Film).

The Hard Road, from director Gary Graver, is an even worse film than Damaged Goods, and that means I liked it more. This tawdry tale is the story of 17-year-old Pam, and the film begins with her pregnant, in the back seat of her parents’ car. After giving the baby up for adoption, Pam (Connie Nelson) begins her deep descent on the iniquitous road to Hades, and it’s a bumpy ride involving swinging parties, bead curtains, various illegal substances and an extensive wardrobe of caftans. With cameras zooming in and out of bedroom scenes, Pam soon has more men than I’ve had hot dinners. Well these were the swinging 60s, after all.

Ultimately, these two forgettable titles are artifacts, and it’s obvious that Damaged Goods and The Hard Road are both “fluff” content built around the educational venereal disease lectures spliced into each film in a stop-the-madness sort of way. The most hilarious aspect of these films is imagining the reactions of a high school class being forced to watch them. As for DVD quality, there were some neon green vertical lines and splotches on the film. The double feature DVD comes with a load of special features: Teen Trash Trailers, Classroom Scare Short #1: The Innocent Party, Scare Short #2: VD!, a Gallery of Roadshow Pitch Books with “Facts of Life” intermission lecture, and a Gallery of Exploitation Art with radio interview from Slightly Damaged sex hygienist EJ. Schaefer.

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