Thursday, September 27, 2012

Short Film: The Apple Thieves (Hungary, 1967)

Perhaps the most popular regular feature we do here at A Wasted Life are the RIP career reviews of figures of filmic interest who have, well, gone into irreversible permanent retirement. And though they are fun to research, they also require a lot of work – in fact, they are almost Sisyphean, which is why we are considering retiring the feature. But one drunken night of revelry, we decided that if we are to do so, we should do so with a bang: currently, we are working on a "They Died in September" entry that takes a glance at all those "retirees" of the month – a concept comparable to Sisyphus deciding to use an even bigger rock than the one he usually uses.
We are not sure whether we will ever complete "They Died in September", but in the course of collecting names we stumbled upon this Hungarian animator, Ottó Foky, a man we had never previously heard of – in fact, we would hazard to guess that he is unknown in the former Western Bloc.
Born 15 June 1927 in the village of Sárhida, he died at the age of 85 on September 3, 2012 in Budapest. A 1956 graduate of the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design Budapest, thereafter he worked continuously in the field animation, primarily doing children's sorts and advertisements. Occasionally he would do short films that were more cross-generation in nature, and this, The Apple Thieves, is one such film.
It's an interesting little stop-motion film, lightly surreal, that is a pleasant if unexpected discovery – which is why we've decided to share it with you now, as the September 2012 Short Film of the Month. Enjoy.
The Apple Thieves
(Hungary, 1967) 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Haunting of Winchester House (USA, 2009)

Ah, the Winchester House – one of the great American oddities, built by Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester, commonly known as the man who invented "the gun that tamed the West," the Winchester rifle.
Actually, contrary to popular lore neither Winchester nor his father Oliver invented the repeating rifle, but they were responsible for the improvements that led their weapon to such popularity and made them so rich. And somewhere along the way Sarah, William's widow and heiress to both his estate and 50% of the Winchester company, developed a few loose screws and became convinced that the spirits of all those killed by Winchester weapons would kill her if she ever completed the construction of her Queen Anne Style Victorian mansion in San Jose; as a result, the building was under continuous (as in 24-hours a day) construction for 38 years, with the building work ending mere minutes after she died on September 5, 1922. Since then, the meandering, illogically structured house has long become a popular tourist attraction and well-known "haunted" house. Oddly enough, though a "true story" ripe for the cinematic picking, it was nevertheless never tackled until this film in 2009, a "mockbuster" by the infamous production company, The Asylum.
And with that half the readers of this blog have probably already lost interest, for next to that of Uwe Boll, the only other familiar name around today that truly stands for consistent Z-level trash is The Asylum. And in all truth, this film, their direct-to-DVD attempt to ride – at least by similarity of name – on the coattails of 2009's Haunting in Connecticut (trailer), really doesn't break the mold or offer any surprises, despite possibly being one of their few almost passable productions. 
Like most Asylum films, Haunting of Winchester House wears its low budget on its sleeve and is on the far side of even being truly good in any way, but surprisingly enough it is better than any other Asylum film we have seen to date – although the acting sucks just as much as normal, the CGI is just as mind-bogglingly cheap looking as ever, and story itself just as full of holes as is common for The Asylum. No, it is not a good film, but it is not total trash – like, for example, Transmorphers (2007) or Zombie Apocalypse (2011 / trailer) – and occasionally it is even effective as a ghost movie. Nevertheless, we here at A Wasted Life would be hard pressed to recommend it as worth watching because, well, if you get down to it, it isn't.
Populated with hobby actors and featuring a script you could use as a colander, the basic plot of Haunting of Winchester House involves a family – shades of Burnt Offerings (1976 / trailer), though in that film the family were renters, not caretakers – that moves into the Winchester mansion for a few months and, basically, immediately find themselves confronted by not only the ghosts that terrified Sarah Winchester, but Sarah (Kimberly Ables Jindra) herself who, in the best manner of Poltergeist (1982 / trailer), soon takes the daughter of the family and disappears into the wall of the closet. The stereotypical ghost hunter (Tomas Boykin) shows up long enough to explain the rules about ghosts and why they do the things they do and so forth and to pad the film a bit before departing in such a way that the viewer can only wonder how he ever got around to writing six books about ghosts. Will Susan (Lira "I suck as an actress" Kellerman) and Drake (Michael "I suck even worse than her" Holmes) get their daughter back? Will they leave the house alive? Will you – as did we – figure out the big twist ending long before the movie's final frame? Will you  even stay awake long enough to ponder these and similar questions?
"Director" Mark Atkins uses a very cheap cinematic horror trick in the movie a good dozen times, that of a mysterious figure suddenly moving across the screen in the fore or background. Those quick scenes, along with a little icky baby that crawls up the side of the bed for a half-second, are all the scares of the entire movie. Most of the rest of the time, he attempts to induce fear with loud music and people running in circles; for the most part, neither works. There is a helpful ghost of sorts, a deaf guy, who appears suddenly at one point: a well made shot – it's just a shame that the guy playing the ghost always pops his eyes like a bad joke and thus looks much more mentally handicapped than scary. The stupidity of his visage is matched by many another idiotic aspect of the film, two other that immediately come to mind being  the ditz who, at the start of the film, makes a protective circle to keep herself safe from the ghosts and then promptly steps out of it to die, and the illogical concept that two ghosts can't find each other within the same house (mama ghost Sarah can't find girlie ghost despite the fact that both can walk freely throughout the house, the girl even during the day).
 Hell, the more we even write about this flick, the more we realize how bad it is. There might actually be a good film in Haunting of Winchester House somewhere, but it isn't in the film as it was made. Still, though a 98% failure for a low budget horror film, it is, for an Asylum film, a literal masterpiece of ghostly horror. Thus, it is probably great for kids who find flicks like Fear of the Dark (2003) scary, but everyone else might feel cheated or be pissed at having wasted their time.
Oh, yeah: we saw it in 3-D. Like, whippy-doo-da. No reason for 3-D here – it does nothing for the film, which probably wasn't even originally made in 3-D.

Friday, September 14, 2012

R.I.P.: Stanley A. Long

26 November 1933 – 10 September 2012

Stanley A. Long British independent exploitation and sexploitation film-maker Stanley A. Long died of natural causes at the age of 78 in Buckinghamshire, southern England, on September 10th. A producer, director and cinematographer of industrial documentaries and "cheap-and-cheerful soft-core romps", the latter resulted in his being dubbed Britain's "King of Sexploitation". Born to a working class South London family, he began making money as a "glamour photographer" in the 40s and went on to be a RAF photographer when he enlisted in 1952. After returning to civilian life two years later, Long became a freelance wedding and "artistic" photographer; his activities as the latter led to his meeting Arnold L. Miller, and soon the two were making striptease films. Shortly thereafter they formed Searchlight Films and produced their early nudie films, soon moving on up to shockumentaries and other film projects both for themselves and other companies. Long went solo in 1968 with his production company Salon, producing both white-coaters as well as softcore comedies and an occasional horror film. His autobiography, X-Rated: Adventures of an Exploitation Filmmaker, was published in 2008.
May he rest in peace – while we enjoy his legacy!

River Pilot
(1959, dir. Stanley Marks)
Stanley Long was the cinematographer of this documentary short narrated by the British explorer and broadcaster Duncan Carse – seen above in a photo by Howard Coster. A lost film, we assume, which, as explained by the BFI, "Follows a river pilot through a day's work on the Thames, illustrating the responsibilities involved in navigating large ships through busy waters, and the degree of skill and commitment required in the job." Going by imdb, it was another 25 years before director Marks made another film, the documentary short Manpower (1983), but Stanley A. Long took part in many a short documentary in the years that followed, particularly for the military and government, carving himself a solid and lucrative knish in the market. 

Nudist Memories
(1961, dir Arnold L. Miller)

Aka Nature Camp Memories. When Stanley A. Long returned to civilian life from the RAF in 1954, he initially earned his keep as a photographer, as much for weddings as for under-the-counter "art books." The latter brought him in contact with Arnold L. Miller, the director of this film, for whom he supplied photos for Miller's glamour magazine, Photo Studio. Soon, they were producing 8mm striptease films and, finally, nudist films under the production banner of Searchlight Films. Their first was this 27-minute-long short, Nudist Memories. One of the earliest nudie films ever made in Great Britain, it was actually preceded by Charles Saunders' Nudist Paradise (1958) – poster to the right – and Michael Keatering's Travelling Light (1959 / scene). For Nudist Memories, Long did the cinematography while Miller directed. Filmed at the Spielplatz Sun Club, the UK's second oldest "naturist" club, in the village of Bricket Wood, which hosts two other such clubs as well, the films Naked…As Nature Intended (1961 / Pam Green's shower scene) and Confettii (2006 / trailer) were also filmed there. Narrated by Alfred Molina's future wife Jill Gascoine, the movie features four striptease dancers – Anna Karen, Laura Mason, Carol Lynne and Mitzi Mayo – playing their own namesakes. Ms. Mason can also be seen (dressed) as a "Venusian Girl" in the classic bad Zsa Zsa Gabor film Queen of Outer Space (1958 / full film / trailer), while Ms. Karen, seen above left from her stripper days, went on to become a minor character and TV soap actor and can be seen in films such as Beautiful Thing (1996 / trailer) and the under-appreciated wanna-be cult film Flick (2008 / trailer). As we were unable to find any video documentation of Nudist Memories online, we now share with you an early example of Stanley Long's 8mm "glamour films"...
Beauty and the Beast
featuring Desiree the Stripper and Pierre the Gorilla:

The Skin Game
 (1962, dir. Arnold L. Miller)
Aka The Con Man. Long was director of photography and co-producer for Arnold L. Miller's feature-film debut, a "crime drama" originally released as K.I.L. 1 that appears to have had as much skin as drama. The plot, as supplied by the BFI: "Melodrama of a racket run by a scrap dealer making profit out of wrecked cars, which ends in murder when one of his men demands more money." Among those of the cast are the British pop star Jess Conrad...
Not from the film – Jess Conrad's abysmally funny hit song, This Pullover (1960):

Nudes of All Nations
(1962, dir. Arnold L. Miller)
Aka Nudes of the World – it was rather a hit when it came out. Long not only wrote this Arnold L. Miller directorial effort but, as normal, he was the director of photography and co-producer. Over at Strange Things Are Happening, they explain the plot: "[...] After being accused of having a fake tan by fellow international beauty contest entrants, Miss England (Vivienne Ramon, in fact a Spaniard) introduces the girls to the joys of nudism, and before long, they've opened up their own resort in the grounds of a stately home, where they and fellow (real-life nudist) guests enjoy such wholesome activities as a bonfire sing-along, splashing around in the pool and (you guessed it) volleyball. In a rare attempt to give a nudist film some narrative content, the local villagers don't approve of such activities [...] and are determined to put an end to such immorality, leading to a confrontation and new level of understanding. [...] Nudes of the World is entertaining enough, with its wholesome approach to naturism positively daring anyone to find it sexy. Censorship rules mean that this is probably the only nudist camp in the world where everyone wears a g-string – or nearly everyone; to show just what a different world 1961 was, while adult genitals are fully covered, children are shown completely naked. Seen today, this is a rather eyebrow-raising interpretation of decency. [...] Alongside Naked – As Nature Intended (1961), this is probably the high point of the short-lived naturist genre, at least as far as British productions go." Narrated by Valerie Singleton, a well-known and recognizable voice in Britain, she now denies being part of this film despite the original film credit and the unmistakable voice.

Take Off Your Clothes and Live
(1963, dir. Arnold L. Miller)

The image above is from the German release of the 64-minute flick. The only known surviving copy of this movie, from which all recent releases are drawn, is a second-generation VHS. As in Nudes of All Nations, Long not only wrote the narrative – as little as it is – but, as normal, was the director of photography and co-producer. The BFI explains the Shakespearean plot: "Nine British girls travel to Cannes and embark upon a nudist holiday with their two hosts. Besides various beach activities, this includes a visit to a millionaire's yacht, a treasure hunt cruise and a visit to the isle of Levant." Digital Fix explains the film's added attraction: "Take Off Your Clothes and Live has 'Searchlightscope' up its sleeve – a wide-screen process named after Miller and Long's company, Searchlight Films. In other words it's the visual element which was key to its production: naked girls framed in 2.35:1 and against a sun-kissed Mediterranean backdrop. [...] It's as much an endorsement of holidaying abroad as it is the 'sun worshipper' way of life. Unfortunately this doesn't prevent the multi-national cast from becoming a collection of national and/or regional stereotypes." Of all the nudist gals to bare their breasts, only one ever went on to have a career, if but a short one. "Heidi" – billed at Hedy Borland – is actually one Heidi Bohlen, who had an important part in the final Jerry Cotton film Todesschüsse am Broadway / Dead Body on Broadway (1969 / Jerry Cotton theme) and, in 1971, was Brunhild in Adrian Hoven and David F. Friedman's The Long Swift Sword of Siegfried and also appeared in Wolfgang Staudte's Hot Traces of St. Pauli / Fluchtweg St. Pauli (main title); she seems to have left the biz in 1974, however.
Trailer to Hoven & Friedman's The Long Swift Sword of Siegfried (1971):

West End Jungle
(1964, dir. Arnold L. Miller)
Long is there in his normal roles writer, co-producer and director of photography. Cult Movie Forum says: "For a humble exploitation film West End Jungle certainly managed to rattle the establishment's cage back in 1961. Produced in response to the Wolfenden Street Offences Act of 1959, which removed prostitutes from the streets on London, the film argues through a series of 'dramatized re-enactments' that the act merely drove prostitution underground, and created numerous fronts for vice in the form of strip clubs and massage parlors where men in search of sex for sale would fall victim to a variety of con games. [...] Despite the questionable motivation behind the film [...], West End Jungle garnered many high-profile supporters in the form of the News of the World tabloid and several religious figures who campaigned for the film to be shown in London, without success. [...] True to the saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity, various local councils overruled the BBFC's ban on the film allowing it to be shown outside of London, and the film also enjoyed an overseas release as well, even being picked up in the States by American International Pictures." Over at imdb, simon-1303 of the United Kingdom opinions: "Seamy or at least black and white expose of 1950s London's sex trade in all its guises. Using actors and clearly of the period, this reveals and condemns all the tricks of the trade, from call girls to clip joints and high massage parlours to low class walk ups. It's hard to know which are less appealing: the deluded and self-deluded and desperate punters or the calculating and equally desperate working girls. The film condemns them equally, while revealing in details the titillation and barely legal disrobing designed to arouse man's baser desires. With a voice-over straight from the Department of Public Morals, and fascinating glimpses of a period long ago, this has something for everyone. Huge potential for unintentional humour and entirely convincing as to the facts of the case."
While it lasts, the full HD film:

London in the Raw
(1965, dir. Arnold L. Miller & [uncredited] Norman Cohen)

The influence of Paolo Cavara, Franco Prosperi and Gualtiero Jacopetti's classic shockumentary and world-wide hit Mondo Cane (1962 / US trailer / main theme) can be felt much more strongly in this documentary about the seamier sides of London, a film that can be seen as a tandem productions to Primitive London which, like this film, has Michael Klinger as the executive producer. (Like Miller and Long, Klinger started in sleaze, but by the time he died in 1989, he was a producer of relatively mainstream films such as Baby Love [1968 / full film] and Get Carter [1971 / trailer].) Tagline: "The world's greatest city laid bare. Thrill to its gay excitement, its bright lights, but be shocked by the sin in its shadows!" Stanley A. Long is there again as co-producer and director of photography. The BFI, which has recently re-released the film – which it calls a "fascinating exploitation-style documentary" – on DVD, says: "The film's sensationalist thrills include prostitutes entertaining German tourists, beatniks eating cat food, drug dealing, strip clubs and a rather gruelling sequence of hair replacement surgery. Peering voyeuristically behind the grimy net-curtains of London life into seedy bars and clubs for beatnik art lovers, London in the Raw provides a cynical, sometimes startling vision of life on and off the rain-spattered streets of 1960s London." Hollywood Classics addendums: "The life of the bright lights is set against the life of the shadows. This interesting documentary shows how the English spend their leisure time, and contrasts it with the spontaneity and vigour of those in the immigrant community, who provide their own nightlife and entertainment in London."
Trailer to Primitive London, London in the Raw & The Bed-Sitting Room (1969):

Primitive London
(1965, dir. Arnold L. Miller)
Modern dance circa 1965:

Long and Miller's third film about London's underbelly, once again in Mondo Cane mode with some real and mostly reenacted sequences. As normal, Miller directed while Long did the photography and co-produced. The BFI, which has also just released a restored HD version of DVD, says: "[...] Primitive London sets out to reflect society's decay through a sideshow spectacle of 60s London depravity – and managed to outdo its predecessors. Primitive London is a bizarre hotchpotch of loosely linked and entirely disconnected sequences. Here, we confront mods, rockers and beatniks at the Ace Café, cut some rug with obscure beat band The Zephyrs and goggle at sordid wife-swapping parties as we discover a pre-permissive Britain still trying to move on from the post-war depression of the 1950s. The film is an entertaining period piece, most interesting precisely because it provides an unusual counterpoint to the prevailing myth of 'Swinging Sixties' London." According to different on-line sources, the film features "a school for strippers, the judging of a beauty contest, all-in wrestling bouts, sleazy clubs and all-night cafes" as well as "interviews [with] mods, rockers and beatniks, wife swapping, an overworked stripper, childbirth, the killing of chickens and an interview with Billy J. Kramer."
The British teenager explained in Primitive London:

Secrets of a Windmill Girl
(1966, dir. Arnold L. Miller)
Your Business Is Love from Secrets of a Windmill Girl: 

"Presented" by Michael Klinger, Secrets of a Windmill Girl was written and directed by Miller while Stanley Long was there as co-producer and director of photography. The website Strange Things Are Happening explains everything about the film: "[...] Stanley Long had filmed the final night of the legendary nudie revue club The Windmill [featured in the bitter-sweet movie Mrs Henderson Presents (1985 / trailer)] in 1964, [when] the once famous venue [was] no longer able to cut it against a world of strip clubs. Realising that there wasn’t enough footage for a straight documentary, Long and producer Arnold Louis Miller concocted a ridiculous melodrama to wrap around the footage, with childhood friends Pat (Pauline Collins) and Linda (April Wilding [of Hands of the Ripper (1971 / trailer)]) getting jobs as Windmill Girls. While things are good for a while, Pat soon becomes a victim of success, thinking herself above the show and hanging around with a sleazy old theatre producer, attending 'wild' parties and eventually finding herself reduced to the sleazier end of the strip scene. This is all narrated in flat monotone by Wilding, intercut with extensive footage of the Windmill show – [...] staid stuff even in the mid-Sixties (though ironically still more daring than most modern burlesque). Secrets of a Windmill Girl is part of a great British sexploitation tradition – grim-faced, moralising and ultimately depressing. [...] Collins, it must be said, is better than the film deserves – she's an effectively saucy little minx for much of the film, and her decline into delusional, angry, dead-eyed stripper is delivered with a worrying sense of conviction."
Clip from Secrets of a Windmill Girl:

The Sorcerers
(1967, dir. Michael Reeves)

Stanley A. Long was the director of photography of this cult favorite (produced by Arnold L. Miller) starring the great Boris Karloff and directed by future suicide Michael Reeves, who followed this uncompromising film with an even more uncompromising classic, Witchfinder General (1969). Over at the Cult Movie Page they tell you everything you need to know about the movie: "A bleak horror thriller starring the inimitable Boris Karloff as Prof. Marcus Monserrat, a man who creates a device with the power to control peoples' minds and enable Boris and his wife to feel the sensations the people are feeling. He and his wife (Catherine Lacey) take advantage of this power by inviting an unsuspecting young man (Ian Ogilvy) to their house under false pretences and hooking him up to the device which will link his consciousness with theirs. Now they are able to control the young man, manipulating him into committing acts of sex and violence and feeling these sensations in the comfort of their own home. The Professor's wife becomes addicted to the power and the sensations she is able to feel without repercussions and the Professor ultimately realizes he must stop her before it's too late. This film can be seen as a commentary on the nature of cinema and the viewer and their relation to one another. Voyeurism is a key theme; the film makes the bleak point that one of the things we as an audience find so appealing about the cinema is the fact that we are witnessing and reveling in the projections of violence and sex in the safety of the cinema or in our own homes, viewing things from a safe distance and as such not unlike the cruel puppeteers the Professor and his wife become."

The Tomcat
(1968, dir. Georges Robin)
Aka Mini Weekend. Stanley A. Long was the director of photography on this forgotten film produced by Arnold L. Miller; director Robin doesn't seem to have directed another film after this one. The plot to "this mod, mod movie" (as All Movie describes it), according to TCM: "Tom (Anthony Trent) is a sex-starved young man who is harried by his old-fashioned girl friend, Sandra (Liz Rogers of The Return of Count Yorga [1971 / trailer] and Dead Space [1991 / trailer]), and his overbearing mother (Connie Frazer). Obsessed by romantic fantasies about women, Tom spends a weekend in London's West End looking for excitement. He imagines that he is the best-dressed man on Carnaby Street, and later, that he is a popular singer who is mobbed by admiring females. In a nightclub, Tom actually meets a young woman whose boyfriend has left her for the evening. She in turn ditches Tom, who then goes to a pub where he picks up a prostitute. Later, Tom visits a striptease show where he imagines saving the stripper from a gang of attacking old men. Tom decides to return home, and on the way he has a final sex fantasy in which he spends the night with a lovely woman named Jenny (Veronica Lang)."

The Blood Beast Terror
(1968, dir. Vernon Sewell)
Aka The Vampire Beast Craves Blood, Blood Beast From Hell and Deathshead Vampire. Stanley A. Long was the director of photography of this British horror (produced by Arnold L. Miller) starring the great Peter Cushing and directed by the disrespected director who brought us House of Mystery (1961 / full movie), Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968 / trailer) and Burke & Hare (1972 / first 10 minutes). Cushing supposedly thought this to be the worst film he ever made. The Celluloid Tomb tends to agree: "[The film production company] Tigon, whilst capable of brilliance, often sullied themselves via an unfortunate penchant for knocking out totally formulaic, cheaply made tat, which just rehashed tried and tested convention to a point of tedium, wasted the talents of their cast and served no purpose other than to clog up an already overcrowded marketplace. This regrettable shortcoming was never demonstrated better than in their interminable 1967 killer moth opus The Blood Beast Terror. In the countryside of Victorian England some very strange (and highly clichéd) goings on are afoot. The dead bodies of young men are being discovered on the local heath. The corpses are drained of blood and are mutilated in an inexplicable fashion which baffles the local constabulary. Enter Inspector Quennell (a slumming Peter Cushing of Corruption [1968]) who arrives to investigate the deaths, accompanied by his sweet-natured daughter Meg (Vanessa Howard). Quennell's enquiries soon lead him to the door of crazed entomologist Dr Mallinger (Robert Flemyng of The Body Stealers [1969]) who, via a series of bizarre experiments, has succeeded in gifting his daughter Clare (Wanda Ventham) the ability to transform into a gigantic Deathshead moth. It turns out that the monstrous Clare is responsible (naturally) for the spate of killings."

Under the Table You Must Go
(1970, dir. Arnold L. Miller)

Stanley Long does the cinematography to Arnold L. Miller relatively short (52 minutes) return to mondo documentary filmmaking, this time around with its eye on London's bar culture. Strange Things Are Happening says: "A travelogue of London pubs, it shows a capital that isn't quite swinging as much as people suggested – there are trips to sports bars, where oily Jimmy Hill is interviewed, the Playboy club, where Pete Murray leers over Bunnies who are sexy until they open their mouths, and pubs that put on a show – a jazz band or country act, a slice of wartime nostalgia with Tommy Trinder and, most bizarrely, a German-themed Beirkeller where nationalism is thoroughly asserted by 'Rule Britannia' singalongs led by an excitable Jon Pertwee. Youth rears its head as Jonathan King chats to girls in a trendy pub and Radio 1 DJ Stuart Henry chats up dolly birds with all the panache of a sex offender."According to Mod Culture, the film "follows 'a talking Rolls Royce' on a tour of pubs and nightspots from Kew Bridge to Muswell Hill." The photo above may or may not be from the film.

I Am a Groupie
 (1970, dir. Derek Ford)
Stanley Long is producer and cinematographer of Derek Ford's directorial debut, aka Groupie Girl, the first of three films that Ford wrote and directed for Long. I Am a Groupie is not to be mistaken with the other equally exploitive and entertaining and great groupie film also from 1970, the German Ich, ein Groupie (aka Higher and Higher [shortened opening scene]), which is an absolute must-see for fans of euro-exploitation and/or the walled-in city of Berlin! (Derek Ford, who ended his life in literal penury, is also one of the two writers – the other being Alan Selwyn – who, as "Selwyn Ford," wrote the immensely entertaining sleazy scandal book The Casting Couch.) TV Guide is not impressed by this film, saying it's "a silly look at the young girls who become hangers-on to popular rock bands. Esme Johns [in her only film, as "Sally"] is one such girl. She stows away in a pop group's van, trading her boring small-town life for the excitement of London, but trouble follows. She winds up as the band's sexual plaything, gets entangled with drugs, is involved in a car accident, and ends up being arrested by the police." For the French versions of the film Ford – as "Derek Fred" – added hardcore inserts. The band of the film, "Sweaty Betty", was actually a real group, the psychedelic rockers Opal Butterfly... below is their abysmal cover version – not from the film – of the Electric Prunes' classic, I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night.
Opal Butterfly – I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night:

The Swappers
(1970, dir. Derek Ford)

"Remember when all the guy next door wanted to borrow was your lawnmower?" Aka The Wife Swappers. Ford's second directorial effort for producer Long, who also did the cinematography and shares the screenwriting credit for this "documentary", which TV Guide claims evidences a "gross lack of filmmaking ability" and Beardy Freak says "lacks any titillation, fun, or spice and only works now on an occasionally 'so bad it's good' retro level." TCM is more "Just the facts, Ma'am": "A psychiatrist (Stacy Harris) discusses mate swapping, warning that it is a game of increasing risk. To illustrate his point he presents several examples of the practice in documentary fashion. First, a young thrill-seeking wife receives a phone call, after which she is apparently kidnapped, taken to an isolated river bank, and ordered to swim naked to a houseboat to spend the night. In the next scene, Paul (James Donnelly) and Ellen (Valerie St. John), an outwardly happy couple, hope to solve their sexual problems with organized extra-marital sex. Once Ellen gets over her initial inhibitions, she becomes an enthusiastic participant in mate-swapping sessions. Another example shows a couple aboard a cabin cruiser for a weekend outing. They encounter difficulty when the clumsy advances of the host repel the guest's wife, and she has to fight off a rape. In an interview, a wife reveals that she became a prostitute through contacts in the mate-swapping club in order to solve her husband's financial problems. Although her husband was sent to prison for living off her earnings, she decides to continue working as a prostitute. In the final scene, Sheila (Bunty Garland), a childless wife, becomes repulsed by the mate-swapping parties, and one night she throws the guests out and suggests to her husband that a divorce might better satisfy their needs."

This, That and the Other!
(1970, dir. Derek Ford)

Anyone for a swim?

Derek Ford's third and final film for Stanley Long is this mod comedy aka A Promise of Bed. TV Guide calls the film "An all-around sophomoric picture." Over at imdb, Gavcrimson ( explains that the film is a "Three-part 'trilogy of comedy'. In 'This,' Susan Stress (Vanda Hudson of Circus of Horrors [1960 / trailer], in her last film), a fading sex symbol attempts to win the lead in a movie by seducing the son of a film producer only to make a fool of herself in a case of mistaken identity. In 'That,' George (Victor Spinetti of Help! [1965 / trailer]) is a depressed middle-aged loner whose suicide attempt is interrupted by the arrival of a child-like hippy girl who proceeds to turn his life on its head.
Let's party!

While in 'The Other,' Harold (John Bird), an avid sex film fan and taxi driver, crashes his cab after being distracted by the leggy charms of his latest passenger. Suffering a thump on the head, Harold has bizarre hallucinations and ends up being chased around a forest by shapely girls." A given character of one interludes acts as the linking crossover to the next.
Susan Stress takes a bath:

(1971, dir. Stanley A. Long)

Crowd scene with the Crazy Mabel singing:

The feature film directorial debut of Stanley A. Long, who co-wrote this film with Suzanne Mercer, who in turn had assisted Derek Ford in writing Groupie Girl and, according to Wikipedia, was a former groupie herself. But at the time of the making of these films, she was the wife of the saxophone player in Juicy Lucy – which might explain their presence in this film. Curzon Cinemas explains: "An unusual mixture of pop festival documentary and saucy teen comedy, [...] Bread was released in mid-1971 with a running time of approximately 79 minutes; even before the year ended prints had been pruned down to a double-bill-friendly 62. 'I'm not entirely sure I knew what the hell I was making,' Long later admitted. 'The distributors promoted it as a sex film, which it really wasn't, and my first attempt at directing took some time to turn a decent profit at the box-office.' In retrospect, it's not hard to see why. Bread is too strange and erratic an amalgam of different film genres to really succeed. There's not enough sex to make it a sex film; not enough music to make it a music film; and none of the sleazy drama that would move it into Groupie Girl territory. What there is in abundance is mild, cheeky comedy. With bulging tents, sexy ladies, a humorous, dim-witted bicycle-riding policeman, a smattering of very literal toilet gags and boxes and boxes of 'BIG-UN' sausage rolls, Bread emerges from the Carry On tradition, and foreshadows Long's later Adventures series of saucy comedies. [...] Nonetheless, its cheerfully strange fusion of styles and genres make it entertaining and strangely compelling." The plot, again according to Gavcrimson at imdb: "On their way home from the Isle of Wight Pop Festival, Jeff (Peter Marinker, also seen in Event Horizon [1997]), Trev (Dick Haydon) and Mick (Anthony Nigel) along with girlfriends Marty (Liz White) and Cathy (Noelle Rimmington) decide to pitch a tent on private land. In the morning the land's owner Rafe (Michael McStay) turns up and orders them to get off his lawn but changes his mind when one of the girls emerges naked from the tent. Rafe explains he only comes down to the house at weekends and lets them stay providing they redecorate his house. The squatters agree but once Rafe leaves they plot to organize a pop festival at the house. Attempting to raise cash for the venture, the men coerce their girlfriends into making a blue movie. When this proves disastrous Jeff goes to London and poses as a pop journalist in order to book the groups Crazy Mabel and The Juicy Lucy for the festival."
The Juicy Lucy in Bread:

(1971, dir. Stanley Long)

Full title: Naughty! A Report on Pornography and Erotica. Long's second feature film directorial credit, again co-written with Suzanne Mercer; at least one on-line source says the film was re-released in 1975 as Love Girls Report. BFI simply describes the film as a "documentary about pornography and erotica, which utilises fictional scenes illustrating the sexual hypocrisy of the Victorians," failing to in any way take in account its exploitive roots. Over at Cult Movie Forum, the film is described in loving detail that is longer than any of the erections seen in the film's background. Over at imdb, Andrew Leavold of Brisbane, Australia, says "When smut-peddlers make a film about smut-peddling, you don't look for a hidden agenda. It's all there in the immortal words of Al Goldstein, editor of Screw Magazine and guest of the world's first porno festival in Amsterdam, where he waxes lyrical about the 'inalienable right to jerk off'. It's freedom, baby, according to British pornographer Stanley Long (keep it clean, people) as his team takes us on a part-doco, part-reenacted romp through the history of erotic literature, via Victorian hypocrisy to the new-found Euro-swinger's paradises. Like the greasy little man who makes spank films with his wife in the suburbs says, it's all about kicks, and I'm sure the little girl at the zoo watching a primate spank his monkey will agree. A time capsule of sexual mores, and part of a rash of British imitations on the racier Sex Report films from the Continent."

Sex and the Other Woman
(1972, dir. Stanley A. Long)

Over at imdblazarillo says: "This movie is sexist, vaguely misogynistic, and very politically incorrect by today's standards, but there are things I didn't like about it as well. It's basically a series of vignettes with the common theme of gorgeous, predatory females seducing hapless married men. [...] This is definitely a male fantasy above all else. After a somewhat funny opening involving some pathetic schlub's misfortune with a blow-up sex doll (which is pretty much how all the real women in this movie are regarded, so be warned), an official-looking British narrator (Richard Wattis) takes us into the first story of a young married man who is seduced at his new job by the man-eating secretary (Jane Cardew) first in a cupboard, then in an elevator, then in his boss's office. But what will happen when his wife finds out? In the second story a ruthless gold digger (Maggie Wright) gets her claws in a wealthy, but married, man. After nearly killing them both while initiating him into the 'mile-high club' in his private jet, she proceeds to more conventionally wreck his life. The third story is the standard one of a middle-age man being seduced by a 'schoolgirl' friend (Felicity Devonshire) of his daughter. He fancies himself a painter, and though he only does still-lifes, she offers to pose for him nude, then mounts him on the sofa. Unlike some of your better British sex comedies [...], this is almost never very funny, but it is pretty sexy thanks to the actresses involved." In 2008, by the way, Felicity Devonshire (seen in credits photo above), who founded "Devonshire Investment Holdings" in 2003, was ranked 1,794th on The Times' rich list and estimated to be worth in the region of 40 million.

Sex Through the Ages
(1974, dir. Stanley A. Long)
Aka On the Game, and written by Suzanne Mercer. Narrated by Charles Gray (of The Devil Rides Out [1968] and, of course, The Rocky Horror Picture Show [1975 / trailer]). At, the product description is as follows: "On the Game is a riotous look at the history of the oldest profession, from the ancient Hebrews who decreed all women must prostitute themselves once, to the Roman Emperor Claudius' wife who was the most famous part-time hooker, to the Victorians who were austere on the surface but not when their clothes were off! Starring some beautiful girls with lashings of nudity [...], On the Game is a vintage slice of Slap & Tickle." Of the few people that have seemingly ever seen the film, churchofsunshine from United Kingdom says: "Director Stanley Long apparently shot this film in 1973 inside the space of two weeks with a budget of £20,000. [....] The IMDb main page on this title would have you believe that this is a 'comedy', but aside from the '18' rating and copious amounts of female nudity, this is more a documentary than anything else [...], charting the history of the world's 'oldest profession' right from the earliest times into the present. Maybe one should use the term 'mockumentary' to describe the film, because by and large, most of the information imparted within is pretty much correct. [...] Long does try to inject some comedy into the proceedings – it's quite possible that this film is the first one ever to ever pay homage to the opening scene of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (trailer), but it mainly concentrates on the nudity, of which there is plenty. Val Penny is one of many 1970s young nubile starlets in the film, and gets stripped and placed in a cage and dunked into the River Thames in a 'Ducking Stool' (something that was filmed for real [...]). Apparently though, the main problem with the BBFC censors getting a certificate was the scene right towards the end of the film when one of the customers throws cream buns at a prostitutes crotch area (though she was actually fully clothed). Go figure."

Eskimo Nell
(1975, dir. Martin Campbell)

1975 saw the realization of two films inspired by the bawdy ballad The Ballad of Eskimo Nell, one the Australian feature film debut of Richard Franklin (of Psycho II [1983 / trailer]) – originally entitled The True Story of Eskimo Nell (trailer), it got re-titled as Dick Down Under for its UK release – and then this Stanley A. Long production, the second feature film of Martin Campbell, who went on to do No Escape (1994) and Casino Royale (2006 / trailer), among others. In addition to the poem, Eskimo Nell is also inspired by the true life experiences of scriptwriter/actor Michael Armstrong, who plays "Dennis Morrison" in this film: Hired as the director/writer of the Jill Haworth film The Haunted House of Horror (1969 / trailer), he parodies his unpleasant experiences during that production with the representative of AIP (the American distributors) in this film. TCM explains the plot as thus: "Three young men, a scriptwriter (Christopher Timothy), a producer and a director (Michael Armstrong) are called in by Benny U Murdoch (Roy Kinnear of Taste the Blood of Dracula [1970 / trailer]), an exotic movie producer. He wants to make a new erotic movie starring a big woman – the 'Eskimo Nell' of the title. However problems start from the beginning, the scriptwriter is a virgin, a lover of penguins and hasn't a clue on how to write an erotic movie, each of the three main backers want a different type of movie – a western, an erotic and a kung-fu movie with different people in the main part. However problems really start for the three when Benny runs off with all the money and they have to make three different versions of the same film and try not to let the backers and stars know what has happened. And this is made harder when there is a clean-up-filth society breathing down their necks...." Over at The Spinning Image, Graeme Clark says "If a lot of the jokes are too forced, many of them are very funny. Each of the characters have their own obsession, from seedy Benny's breast fetish (see Kinnear amusingly working himself up into a macho frenzy at one point), to the moralists' fixation on clean living. The sequence where they finally shoot the film(s) is the funniest, displaying many the pitfalls of the work: accidents with a clapperboard and the leading man's manhood, too-tight cowboy jeans that rip when the hero gets off his horse, or the prima donna antics of the cast. The kung fu musical is particularly ridiculous, with its unsuitable nun extras and high-kicking number. The whole adventure ends up in a predictable case of mixing the cans up, but by then Eskimo Nell has proved you could make a funny sex comedy – so why didn't it happen more often?"
 5 minutes of Eskimo Nell:

Adventures of a Taxi Driver
(1976, dir. Stanley A. Long)

Scene from Adventures of a Taxi Driver:
The first of three Adventure of... films, a series inspired by the then-popular Confessions of..., which were in turn probably inspired by the Carry On... films; as a whole, all three series were more popular in their land of production (England) than anywhere else. 10K Bullets supplies the following synopsis: "London – the seventies. Joe North (Barry Evans of Die Screaming, Marianne [1971 / trailer] – he ended his years as a real taxi driver in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire) likes the ladies and gets to meet a variety of them in his job as a taxi driver. From dizzy young birds and frustrated housewives, Joe fancies them all, and they take a fancy to Joe. If only things were smoother at home for the put-upon cabbie. With his nagging mother (Diana Dors of Craze [1974 / trailer], Theatre of Blood [1973 / trailer] and Berserk [1967 / trailer]), thieving teenage brother, and the attentions of an overbearing girlfriend (Adrienne Posta) with ideas of marriage, Joe leaves the homestead and rents the spare room at his best mate's flat. Meanwhile, he continues to find himself in an assortment of humorous sexual escapades until he accidentally becomes embroiled in a jewel heist that doesn't quite go to plan." Over at imdb, the Movie Cat says "Transvestites, prostitutes and oral sex references, the weirdest thing about all this is that this sexist tripe was written by a woman."
Opening & closing credits:

Adventures of a Private Eye
(1977, dir. Stanley A. Long)

Short scene:
Every successful film needs a sequel! 10K Bullets, which thinks Adventures of a Private Eye "is the best of the series", offers the following synopsis: "With renowned private eye Judd Blake (Jon Pertwee of Carry on Screaming! [1966 / trailer]) away on business, his lackluster assistant Bob West (Christopher Neil) jumps at the chance to proving himself as an equally skilled detective. When a former model (Suzy Kendall) is blackmailed by a set of compromising photographs, the well-meaning but inexperienced Bob takes on the case. With a list of eccentric suspects all set to inherit a fortune if the offending pictures should come to light, the naïve detective sets about uncovering the blackmailer but his investigation is continuously hampered by several sexy shenanigans. Bob soon finds himself in over his head as he tries to protect his client and solve the mystery." Barry Evans, of Adventures of a Taxi Driver, was offered the lead role here, too, but was unavailable due to other commitments; thus he was replaced by Christopher Neil, who went on to do the next film as well. As with all three movies of the series, a tie-in novel was published written in first-person viewpoint from the lead, who was likewise credited as author (who the true authors were is unknown). Following Adventures of a Private Eye, the beautiful Suzy Kendall (nee Freida Harrison) – of such great eurotrash as Spasmo (1974 / trailer), Torso (1973 / trailer), Storia di una monaca di clausura (1973 / trailer), In the Devil's Garden (1971 / trailer), The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970 / trailer) and Psycho-Circus (1966 / trailer) – retired from the film business.

It Could Happen to You
(1977, dir. Stanley A. Long)

In-between Adventures of a Private Eye and Adventures of a Plumber's Mate (1978), Long managed to rush out this rarely seen VD docu-drama aka Intimate Teenage Secrets. Approached by Variety Films, the UK distributors of films such as Flesh Gordon (1974 / German trailer), to make a serious film on the topic of STDs, Long did just that; he even got a real specialist, Dr. Robert Catterall of Middlesex Hospital, to be the mandatory on-screen white coat. Variety, however, had other things in mind with the final product, and quickly reissued the film as the X-rated Intimate Teenage Secrets. Cult Movie Forum offers the following plot: "Mick (Eric Deacon of A Zed & Two Noughts [1986 / trailer]) a hedonistic bloke whose social life seems to consist mainly of parties where rock music, drinks and snogging are the main ingredients, where people lose their inhibitions quicker than their clothes, and where even a quick blowjob isn't out of the question. Naturally it's not long before Mick is a card-carrying STD sufferer, who inadvertently ends up passing VD around his social circle, which includes his steady girlfriend Jenny (Vicky Williams), various dolly birds he meets at these parties, a swinging secretary (Sue Holderness), and – proving he has nothing if not stamina – when Mick isn't partying hard he is also conducting an affair with an older woman ([the 'internationally known and acclaimed actress'] Rula Lenska of Queen Kong [1976 / trailer]) and gives her VD, too. 
 Rula Lenska as US Americans know her:
Just to illustrate that STDs aren't just a heterosexual concern, a pair of Mick's gay friends – depicted it has to be said in a sympathetic and non-stereotyped fashion – also have their own VD-related problems. The film then takes a detour into the surreal when syphilis and gonorrhea literally appear, portrayed by actors Freddie Earle (of Living Doll [1990 / trailer]) and Bernard Hill (of Franklyn [2008]) respectively, both dressed head to toe in white and sporting hats with 'Syph' and 'Gon' written on them...." Cult Movie Forum adds, "With discharge, deformed babies and gynecological examinations the order of the day, it is at times grim viewing, and is surely the most un-erotic film ever made by a commercial sex film director."


Adventures of a Plumber's Mate
(1978, dir. Stanley A. Long)

Typically "funny" scene
The third and last of Long's Adventures of... films possesses, according to 10K Bullets, "a decidedly despairing, mean-spirited desperation that sits uncomfortably alongside the earlier entries" and "plays as a high-bred throwback to the seedy, small-time crime thrillers of the 50s and the cheeky, light-hearted sex comedies of the 70s." At the NY Times, Hal Erickson writes: "Christopher Neil plays the title character, a bloke named Sid South. In course of his job, Sid runs up against thieves, would-be spies, motorcycle salesmen, and a bevy of cute female tennis players. It was perhaps a 'given' that he'd also run across a character named Crapper." As with the other two entries, there was a tie-in novel to the film. Christopher Neil also supplied some of the music to the film, like the disco song I'm Flying that closes the film...
 Closing disco theme:

(1986, dir. Stanley A. Long as "Al Beresford")
The last directorial and/or production of Stanley A. Long, who thereafter moved into distribution and, eventually, post production. Our search of the web couldn't come up with the what or the why or the when of the three short films that make up this tossed-together anthology film, but most sources seem to agree that the three core independent segments – That's the Way To Do It, Dreamhouse and Do You Believe in Fairies? – are directed by Stanley A. Long and written by Michael Armstrong, though the pedigree of the wrap-around, obviously American framing segments seems to be contentious. Hysteria Lives explains the introduction: "In the grand tradition of the anthology, Screamtime has a wrap around story. In a treat for fans of big box, clamshell horrors of yore a pair of New York hoodlums steal three terror pix from a pre-Disneyfied Times Square video store (it's right next to a porno theatre with John Holmes gurning out of a poster besides a bevy of busty ladies). The two take their bounty to their own big-breasted friend (who's having a shower, natch [see photo]), and they settle down for a night of chills and thrills...." In That's the Way, Punch & Judy dolls may or may not come alive and kill wifey and stepson; in Dreamhouse, a woman has bloody visions of murder and death in her new house; and in Do You Believe a motorbike-riding idiot decides to rob the wrong grannies' house. Of course, no horror anthology film is really an anthology film unless the wrap-around also ends in horror. The Dreamhouse segment was remade as a feature-length film in 2010, the Charisma Carpenter vehicle Psychosis (2010 / trailer). In any event, Screamtime is a direct-to-video slice of 80s flotsam that seems to be of the love it or hate it variety and that is no longer generally available... We here at A Wasted Life just love the VHS cover shown above! Aside from the silicone boobs, isn't that Marty Feldman from Young Frankenstein (1974 / trailer) at the right? And could the blonde be Lisa Blount circa What Waits Below (1985 / trailer)? And is that Charlie to the left?

The Adventures of a Plumber in Outer Space
(2009, dir. Jan Manthey)
Stanley A. Long makes a brief guest appearance in this long short film as an "Angry Motorist"; the film is a no-budget homage to Long's Adventure of... films. The plot description we found online says: "Cheeky, chirpy Robin Evans (Vic Pratt) returns as a plumber who pokes his tool into many a blocked hole. This time his adventures somehow lead him to a distant planet in Outer Space ruled by the fearsome Queen Azzizaz (Marie Magnusson) who is about to explode with frustration due to the fact that all males there are impotent. Can Robin be the answer to her problems? Features: Sexy girls! Aliens! Cleavage! Legs! Policemen! Fights in Space! Extra Sauciness!" They forgot to add: "Lousy acting!" Above, the poster to the film; left, the pre-release poster.
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