While the majority of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ films were unearthed and released to the public (by the likes of Midnight Vide, Palace Explosive and Something Weird Video) in the 1980s and early-nineties, three titles from his oeuvre continually eluded his loyal band of fans and collectors. Now, thanks to the efforts of Process Blue (a film restoration facility), the Lewis filmography is one giant step closer to being complete, with the discovery and subsequent release of three of the Godfather of Gore’s obscure and previously lost sexploitation films: Linda & Abilene, Ecstasies of Women (both 1969) and Black Love (1971).
Shock-O-Rama presents 2 versions of Nurse Sherri – The Possession of Nurse Sherri, which leans more to the ‘horror’ side of things and Nurse Sherri which is the more sleazy sexploitation cut of the film for the grindhouse / drive-in audiences. The main differences between the two are that the ‘horror’ version has additional scenes with actor JC Wells being pursued by the laughing disembodied head of a cult leader and a long car chase which ends with one of the cars crashing and exploding. I chose to watch the sexploitation cut.
The introductory prologue has a small devil-worshipping cult in the desert trying to bring a man back to life. In the midst of conjuring up the forces of evil, the head necromancer Reanhauer has a heart attack and is rushed to hospital. Whilst in hospital he is attended to by Nurse Sherri and he speaks to her in long monologues regarding the supernatural. Reanhauer’s condition rapidly worsens and he ends up on the operating table under the scalpel of Peter, Sherri’s surgeon boyfriend (with the assistance of Sherri) where he eventually expires. Later on when Sherri is at home masturbating on her bed, a strange animated green ethereal fog floats into her room and rapes her (although she doesn’t really put up much of a fight). This is definitely one of the ‘trippiest’ rapes I’ve ever witnessed on celluloid, and probably the highlight of the film.
It turns out that the green fog was the blasphemous cult leader’s spirit and now Nurse Sherri is possessed! You can tell cos she speaks in a man’s voice and bugs her eyes outta her head. She then goes on a killing spree, massacring a few doctors – one is dispatched via pitchfork impalement, another is stabbed in the chest. A blind ex-footballer hospital patient whose grandmother is a Haitian Voodoo priestess says the only way to exorcise Nurse Sherri’s evil possessor is to dig up and burn the corpse of Reanhauer, so a couple of Sherri’s nurse friends cruise to the cemetery for some good ol’ grave desecratin’.
I actually dug this cheapie from Al Adamson quite a bit more than I’d expected to. I mean yeah, there are a lot of slow parts, the ultra low budget sets and amateurish acting are blatant and the films theme song is stolen directly from The Godfather, but that just goes to show this flick for what it essentially is – a typical slice of ’70s exploitation fare designed to draw in the crowds who are eager to see some gratuitous nudity and a bit of blood.
And there’s enough exploitable elements here to make for some entertaining (if slightly tame) sleaze, mainly of the sexed-up female nurse variety. Whether it be pointless flashbacks to ‘the craziest sexual experience’ Sherri and her boyfriend have ever had (a lesbian encounter and a naughty blowjob), patient ‘relief’ that goes far beyond the call of duty, some semi-bloody kills, and a grand finale that has a bugged out Nurse Sherri covered in blood with a meat cleaver in each hand preparing to slaughter her boyfriend Peter. All in all one of the more enjoyable pieces of trash I’ve seen from schlock-maestro Adamson.
Like a lot of recent double feature DVD releases (due to the bullshit ‘grindhouse revival’ instigated by the Tarantino/Rodriguez film) Shock-O-Rama have presented this release as a tribute to the classic grindhouse double features with a bunch of trailers acting as intermission between the two films.
- Nurse Sherri (alternate cut)
- Interview with Marilyn Joi
- Retro Drive-In Theatre promos
- Commnentary with Producer Samuel M Sherman
The final years in the life and career of notorious cult filmmaker Ed Wood (1924 – 1978) remains one of the most depressing yet intriguing stories in the strange and wonderful history of exploitation cinema. By the mid-1960’s, his days of making low-budget genre movies like Glen or Glenda (1953), Bride of the Monster (1953) and the infamous Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) were far behind him, and Wood’s life was rapidly spiraling down into a whirlpool of alcoholism, low-rent Hollywood dives, and diminishing work options.
To help eek out a living, and keep himself tenuously connected to the business he loved so dearly, the eccentric Wood took to writing unique, smutty adult paperbacks and screenplays for softcore sex films like Stephen C. Apostolof’s strange and surreal classic Orgy of the Dead (1963). As the sixties came to a close, and softcore turned hard, Wood also found himself taking on work in the emerging X and XXX industries. Released by After Hours Cinema, Ed Wood’s Dirty Movies gathers together three long-lost sex films from the bottom end of Wood’s career. The main feature and highlight here is The Young Marrieds (1972), Wood’s final film as a writer/director, a 16mm print of which was discovered and acquired by adult film historian Dimitrios Otis during a search of the vaults of the Venus Theatre in Vancouver in 2004 (previous to its discovery, 1971’s quasi-horror themed porno Necromania was long thought to be Wood’s directorial swan song ).
In The Young Marrieds, Ben (Louis Wolf) hangs out at a strip bar with his work buddy, watching the gals dance while lamenting the frigidity of his wife Ginny (Patti Kramer). After picking up a female hitchhiker in his beach buggy and stopping for a quick dalliance in the bushes, Ben returns home and complains to Ginny that “You don’t get all steamed up”. Ginny, sick of her husband spending his time ogling strippers, slowly starts to loosen herself up, taking her clothes off while the lights are still on (gasp!), baring herself for Ben’s camera, and finally agreeing to participate in a partner-swapping orgy. While Ginny is initially nervous at the prospect, it is the very homophobic Ben who ultimately finds himself being tested, protesting his wife’s tryst with another woman, only to be told that part of the rules of this orgy is that everything and everyone is to be shared with one another (“What’s the matter Ben, haven’t you ever sucked cock before?”). The film ends with a freeze-frame of Ben locking lips with another of the males at the party.
Easily the most explicit of Wood’s sex films, you can certainly see traces of the filmmaker’s unique personality and perspective shining through in the dialogue and, in particular, the overtly serious and portentous narration (‘The very head of trouble that Ben feared lifts itself through the gay veil and confronts him with its presence’). Wood almost appears to be going back to some of the ideas he worked with in Glen or Glenda here, confronting the spectre of prejudice and making a plea for understanding. In a moment of almost cinema verite, a cheaply-mounted framed picture unintentionally falls from the wall and onto the couch during the orgy sequence, and ingratiates its way into the action, clearly moving its position between cuts and being idly played with by the actors as they initiate foreplay.
Next up is Nympho Cycler (1971), in which poor Ed not only writes and directs (both uncredited) but also appears, playing basically himself, an alcohol-bloated middle-aged pornographer in lipstick and false eyelashes, cavorting with his onscreen wife Misty (the lovely Casey Larrain) in a hot tub, taking nude snapshots of her to sell, and hooking her out to all of his friends and associates. When Misty has enough, she takes off on her motorbike to broaden her horizons, getting abused, seduced or raped by a procession of grotty men and women, and seemingly enjoying all of it. Clearly the main interest here is getting the chance to see Wood in front of the camera, as sad a spectacle as it may be (it’s hard to relate what he had become to the almost matinee-star handsome young man of two decades earlier).
The final film on Ed Wood’s Dirty Movies is Shot on Location (1972). With writing and direction credited to John Donne, Wood’s involvement in this film is the subject of much debate and contention amongst his fans. While no claim is made that Wood actually directed Shot on Location, Dimitrios Otis, in his four pages of liner notes included with the DVD, outlines his reasons why he believes the movie had at least some kind of involvement from him (such as the name-dropping of Wood’s close friend, the infamous television psychic Criswell, and similarities in character names and dialogue with The Young Marrieds). Whether Wood was involved or not, Shot on Location is a rather fun title about the making of some strange nudie western film, and is worth watching for the cast alone, which includes real-life couple Ric Lutze and the legendary Rene Bond (both of whom starred in Necromania) and the lovely, late Sandy Demspey (billed here as Tiffany Stewart).
As expected, the quality of the prints of these three films is scratchy, faded, jumpy and washed-out, just as adult sinema from this era should be. The sex is clumsy yet psychologically and historically fascinating, though mostly unarousing, with dicks half-limp at best, and some girls who don’t look very keen at all with some of the acts which they are being asked to perform. Of the three films, only The Young Marrieds would really classify as hardcore, the others hard-R or soft-X at best. Perverts probably need not apply – they will be far better off elsewhere. This one is something to be enjoyed and examined by the Wood purists, and those with an historical interest in this particular period of adult filmmaking.
After Hour’s release of Ed Wood’s Dirty Movies also includes the original trailer for The Young Marrieds (courtesy of Rudolph Grey, whose definitive biography of Wood, Nightmare of Ecstasy, was published by Feral House in 1992). The disc also features trailers for other classic XXX scuzz such as Pleasure Palace, Punk Rock (“Explores the seamy underside of the New York rock scene”), The Love Couch and Teenage Twins.
- Trailer Vault
- Booklet/Liner Notes by Dimitrios Otis
Available on DVD.
Pull out the anti-depressants and crank up the tolerance level to 10, it’s Werner Hedman time again.
This time the film is set in the raunchy 1920s. Count Von Lieberhaus is the kindly benefactor to a town full of nubile girls. In return for tolerating his constant perving on them he doesn’t charge anyone tax and all is fine in the world. Tragically on one of his jaunts he suffers a stroke and later passes away. Gather the clichéd hall of fame to attend the will-reading. There’s the greedy mayor, the smug accountants and, my personal favourite, the alcoholic pastor (picture a heavily overweight Budd Tingwell in a BAD wig and you’re there), all out to grab a share of the late Count’s fortune.
A five DVD set of Bettie Page? Has this cult icon really come that far? Of course, technically it isn’t five discs solely of Bettie, it’s just that she appears in all of them. But still I’m impressed. Bettie Page has become more than just a cult figure, she’s a symbol for sexy without being slutty, a girl who had a look, a style, a figure that stopped you in your tracks and even today, still has that power. From the classic films of auteur Irving Klaw with Bettie and a bevy of scantily clad models in bondage gear to her burlesque turns in Varietease and Teaserama, it’s all here and more besides.
The Bondage Queen disc introduces us to a world where girls always seem to walk around in their scanties before being grabbed by some other girl in her scanties who then ties the first girl up. Of course it is very frustrating trying to play strip chess if some girlie keeps knocking over the pieces, she deserves to be tied up! Although anything but pornographic, there’s an exotic feel to this early raunch, a world of Bridget Jones size undies and pointy bras, that makes you wonder just how straight your grandparents really were. Bettie though doesn’t appear until about 30 minutes but it’s still an entertaining peek at what porn was before it became silicon and meat shots. The wanky narrating gets on your nerves though. Why try and justify it all? We just want to look at girls getting tied up. What’s wrong with that? Bettie looked good in her undies, that’s enough justification for me! Of course the bonus photo gallery of Bettie all tied up was pretty much justification for the whole damn box set if you ask me. Continue reading
Oh yeah, all my Christmases have just come at once – four W.I.P. Roger Corman productions in one box! Break out the cold spoons honey I’m gonna need ‘em. Corman takes the tried and true formula of the innocent gal sent to priz and amps up the violence, nudity, stupidity and fun with these drive in classics. With groovy 70s chicks, bamboo cages, tiny outfits, lots of Asian extras who seem to be doing their best to keep a straight face, mud wrasslin’, sadistic prison guards, food fights, sexual perversions and wonderful hair he really couldn’t go wrong…
BIG DOLL HOUSE (1971) Continue reading
In recent years somewhat of a trend has emerged of parodying and paying homage to exploitation films from the ‘60s and ‘70s, the most obvious example being the Tarantino / Rodriguez franchise Grindhouse. In my opinion most of these attempts to recapture the seedy atmosphere of the best genre flicks fall flat, with some exceptions. Viva is one such exception. Continue reading
Pervert! is a modern-day homage to the films of Sexploitation king Russ Meyer. I went into this not expecting much as I’m really not a big fan of the recent flood of “homages” and “tributes” being churned out by directors pathetically trying to cash-in on the current “retro” / “grindhouse” trend. Pervert! however, is a totally different beast.
Old Hezekiah (Darrell Sandeen) resides with his young, busty live-in whore Cheryl (Mary Carey) in Desert Range, an isolated stretch of desert in the south(?) where he indulges in his love for the art of meat sculpting. When his son James (Sean Andrews) comes to stay Cheryl gets a hankerin’ for some younger meat and the two of them begin an affair behind the old man’s back. Suddenly, Cheryl mysteriously disappears and James thinks his ol’ man may be behind it. When Hezekiah comes home the next day with a new whore, James sets out to investigate his pops “studio” where he discovers Cheryl’s temporarily re-animated corpse. But all is not as it seems, as later on when ol’ pops is chained down, the bodies still keep a droppin’…
Writer/director team Jonathan Yudis and Mike Davis obviously have a Russ Meyer obsession. There are scenes and set-pieces here stolen directly from such Meyer films as Supervixens, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Vixen and a few others but nevertheless Pervert! still manages not to come off as yet another feeble attempt at a cash-in. Like Meyers films, Pervert! is very comic bookish in style with dream bubbles, wacky in-your-face camera angles, cartoon sound effects and loadsa really silly humour. Aside from Darrell Sandeen’s fantastic performance as the perverted old holy roller, the acting isn’t all that good especially from porn star and one-time Governor of California candidate Mary Carey, although she still fulfils the role of the stereotypical Meyer chick: big, natural tits! (in fact I’m pretty sure there’s no silicone in this flick at all).
So, being as this is a tribute to the spirit of Russ Meyer there’s obviously a whole lotta gratuitous nudity, but there’s also (mainly in the second half) a generous splattering of gore. From arterial blood sprays to ol’ Hezekiah tearing his own heart out for one of his meat sculptures, Pervert! can be rather bloody at times. Also, to its credit, Pervert! never reveals its low-budget origins – it has excellent camera-work, razor sharp editing and its cartoonish colours are extra bright and bold.
Overall, for a low-budget modern-day attempt at a Sexploitation flick, Pervert! is pretty decent. Sure, some of the jokes fall flat, the acting aint too hot, and its all been done better before but if you’re lookin’ for some mindless nudity and laughs, check it out.
- Into The Chasm of the Hypervixens: The Making of Pervert
- Deleted Scenes
- Extended Lesbian Scene
- The Bloopers
- Pervert music video
Available on DVD from MVD Visual.
Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes is an award winning documentary/biography of one of the most “biggest” porn stars ever.Wadd takes an in-depth look at pretty much every aspect of John’s life, from his abusive childhood in rural Ohio to his bizarre marriage/love affairs, his porn films, his drug addictions and the Wonderland murders.
At the age of 16, John Holmes fled his violent home life and enlisted in the United States Army. After a 3 year stint in the army Holmes moved to Los Angeles and met then married his first wife Sharon Holmes. Sharon Holmes is interviewed extensively in this documentary and is a very strange woman. He worked various jobs and was discovered one night by a still photographer who saw his 13 inch (there are claims ranging from 10 -16 inches) penis in a restroom at a urinal, the man encouraged him to consider pornography and the beast was unleashed.
From here it’s all a she said/he said version of how the disintegration of John Holmes came about. From interviews with his manager, wives, girlfriends, porn stars such as Ron Jeremy, Bunny Bleu, Sharon Mitchell and other random spectators such as journalists, Larry Flynt, Kitten Natividad and Boogie Nights Director Paul Thomas Anderson.
One thing that remains consistent with all the aforementioned peoples accounts of John Holmes is that he was an enigma, or maybe that is being too generous – a pathological liar. Holmes’ first wife Sharon maintains that she truly knew him as she was the only person he could be himself around. Everyone else is only too eager to contradict fact or inflate and over canonize Holmes (such as the dramatic scenes including his Godchildren; but who am I to belittle their grief?) One thing I believe is that he was not a man of morals, and was out for number one, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily but when you become a snitch and rat out an entire section of an industry that made you famous in the first place (a la Traci Lords), you really have to ask yourself, is this a man who wouldn’t consider killing another human or robbing them for his own personal gain? Not only this, but his persona of the celebrity ‘John Holmes’ is extremely narcissistic and sociopathic and doesn’t really earn himself much credibility.
I won’t talk too much about every bad thing he is accused of, but from gang connections, beating up and pimping out his underage girlfriend to his tumultuous relationship with fellow porn star Misty Dawn there is some enthralling entertainment here. It just gets sicker as the documentary goes on. There is some graphic footage of the horrifically violent Wonderland murders, contention about how he contracted AIDS and even worse, how he made a porno with Hungarian born porn star (turned Politician) Cicciolina when he knew he was HIV positive.
This is a very fascinating documentary and is worth a viewing even if you aren’t a fan of porn. John Holmes was one hell of a train wreck, and this documentation of his life simply needs to be seen to believe the chaos and cacophony that one man created.
Umbrella Entertainment have released Wadd in a 2 disc set called John Homes Exposed.Accompanying the set are an additional 2 films Fantasm and Fantasm Comes Again.
- Audio commentary with Antony I. Ginnane
- “Fantasm Penetrated” – interview featurette
- Original Theatrical Trailers
- Stills and poster gallery
- Deleted Scenes
Available on R4 DVD from Umbrella Entertainment.