Thursday, September 26, 2013

Short Film: Boys Beware (USA, 1961)


"What Jimmy didn't know was that Ralph was sick; a sickness that was not visible like smallpox, but no less dangerous and contagious; a sickness of the mind. You see, Ralph was a homosexual: a person who demands an intimate relationship with members of their own sex."

This month's Short Film of the Month has been chosen less because we find it good — which we don't — but because we find it upsetting and jaw-droppingly idiotic. And as it "shocked and awed" us so much, we thought we would share it. Rest assured, this is a as much of a hate film as, say, Fritz Hippler's infamous anti-Semitic film The Eternal Jew / Der Ewige Jude (1940 / full film), but whereas Hippler's "documentary" focuses on the filth that is the Jew, who we all know want to do nothing other than murder and eat Christian children and then screw their mommies so as the degenerate the purity of the race (when they aren't busy bringing financial ruin to the Western world), this "educational" film here focuses on the sick pervert that is the homosexual, who of course is only interesting popping your son's cherry and converting him into one of his own.

"One never knows when a homosexual is about. He may appear normal and it may be too late when you discover he is mentally ill."

 
Perhaps somewhere in the film there is a glimmer of a valid message that one should be wary of strangers, but this scrap of a legitimately educational message is lost in the vitriol of the hate-mongering viewpoint of the filmmaker, Sid Davis (1 April 1916 — 16 October 2006), pictured above, who makes a rare appearance in one of his own films here in Boys Beware as the man at the beachside public restroom who is hot for the joystick of "Bobby".
Davis, called by one online source "the Roger Corman of educational films", supposedly began his filmmaking career as a child stand-in (and even appeared in the Our Gang series) and continued doing stand-in work into the fifties, particularly for his personal friend John Wayne, for whom he was a regular stand-in for almost a decade (1941-1952). Wayne even supposedly lent Davis the money to make his first educational scare film, The Dangerous Stranger (1949 / full film). The short film was a big success, and over a period of some 27 years Davis went on to make estimated 150-200 "educational" films of varying veracity and pedagogic usefulness but that nevertheless enjoyed great popularity amongst the teachers of the American Way. These films, and real estate, made him a millionaire.

"The decision is always yours, and your whole future may depend on making the right one. So no matter where you meet a stranger, be careful if they are too friendly."

Davis's films, which were seldom written with the involvement of any specialists on the topic at hand, were morality plays that played on the fears of his audience, the American youth, warning them against any form of misbehavior, for that would surely lead to death. To quote the NY Times, his "movies are squarely in the tradition of cautionary literature for children, whose best-known example is probably Struwwelpeter, the German tale of the dreadful fate of a dreadful child, which has been traumatizing young miscreants since the mid-19th-century. Mr. Davis's films, most live-action, some animated, are 16-millimeter equivalents. They are small mirrors of postwar anxiety in an age when juvenile delinquency [and drugs and sex and any form of breaking the norms or being an individual or different] was perceived as a looming threat."

"Public restrooms can often be a hangout for the homosexual."

Shot in that hotbed of homosexual activity, Inglewood, California, USA, Boys Beware has been referred to by some as the Reefer Madness (1937 / full film) of homosexuality films, and indeed its technical finesse and excessive hammering of its misinformation is comparable to that classic and entertaining anti-pot film, but Boys Beware is far more hateful in its unabating ignorance and self-righteousness than that earlier Poverty Row exploitation-cum-morality play. And as such, it is also a bit harder to laugh at — for while it would be nice to think that bigotry and hatred and simple lack of knowledge that it so loudly espouses is a thing of the past, we all know it is not.
For a well-written and thoughtful commentary on Boys Beware — in other words, exactly that which you do find here — we recommend Movie Magg's discussion of the short film found here.

"The companionship, the praise, the friendly attitude dispelled any misgivings Mike might have had about going with a stranger. He probably never realized until too late that he was riding in the shadow of death, but sometime that evening, Mike Merritt exchanged his life for a newspaper headline."

Personally, we would love to do a modern version of Boys Beware, but change the white homosexuals out recruiting chicken into blackface Negroes who, in turn, are in pursuit of the virtue of the white-skinned virginal...
Oh, wait a minute! D.W. Griffith sort of already did that in Birth of the Nation (1915 / full movie), didn't he?
Davis, like Roger Corman ever a man to cut corners where he could, saved the time and expenditure of a new idea or script or music by remaking Boys Beware in 1973 as Boys Aware, which we have embedded below as an extra.

Boys Aware (USA, 1973)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Demonium (Germany / Italy, 2001)

 
To tell the truth, after watching this flick we almost decided not to review it — but then we stumbled upon some photos of a nekkid Joe Zaso online and we had to have a reason to share at least one of them. We just wish we could at least say that we liked the film as much as we like the sight of Zaso's buff bod...
 
We went into this film thinking we knew what we were going for. After all, the work of director Andreas Schnaas is not at all unknown to us, and we immensely enjoyed his later splatter film, Nikos the Impaler (2003), for what is was: an enjoyably laughable, super-low-budget, badly acted and blood-drenched piece of trash not lacking a certain level of irony. And, indeed, we figured Demonium would be more of the same but set in a different genre: Italo goth instead of New York City supernatural slasher. And modern Italo goth the film was, but as for the rest, it was not at all what we expected. Why? Well, 'cause our DVD — graced with a red, German-language "No sale to minors" label — proved to be cut: at 81 minutes, it's four minutes shorter than the 85-minute length given on imdb and 39 minutes shorter than the 120-minute length given at Wikipedia. Damn! Whatever happened to the old German-language "Neue Version" label they used to slap on cut versions? Our guess is that someone finally figured out that they were the quickest way to make sure no one bought your DVD.
In any event, it seems the only thing cut from the film was the blood, guts and gore, for the film we saw doesn't have any. Instead, all it has is a crappy script lifted from any given version of A Cat and the Canary or its numerous imitations, a yitload of bad acting and mostly ugly actors, some hilarious accents, and the production and directorial finesse expected of William Beaudine, were he still alive and making films. Tell us: why bother even releasing a Schnaas film cut of its gore excesses? Is that not like making a hamburger without a patty, licking the slit of a blow-up doll, masturbating without an erection, voting in the USA, or drinking water to get drunk? As in: totally fucking stupid? By removing the goo and groo, all that is left is a badly shot student film lacking any and all irony or intentional humor with a trite and predictable and at times downright stupid plot featuring ugly people whose acting talent is of similar caliber. In other words, at least in the case of Demonium, the missing minutes of carnage means that there is nothing left to the film to make it worth watching.
 
Demonium opens with an interminably long and turgidly lifeless sex scene between two truly ugly lovebirds, Rasmus Bentley (Andrea Bruschi) and the blind Maria (Claudia Abbate), a scene that tries its hardest to make viewers choke on their beer in unfettered disgust and nausea. Bentley then goes to work to close the deal that should make the two rich, and while he is out a deformed personage enters the apartment. Cat and mouse is played and then Bentley comes home and he and his ugly love-of-his-life both die — and then it's flashback time! Yep, a story that could easily have been told in consecutive order is for some odd reason instead told in flashback, and a long one at that: easily three-fourths of the flick. Well-structured the script is not — but then, nothing about the [cut] film indicates that anyone involved is capable of doing anything related to film well, be it scriptwriting, acting, editing, lighting, directing, whatever. (Hell, though the film was supposedly shot in 35 mm, even the DVD transfer is so second rate that the viewer sometimes feel as if they are watching the world's worst 3D flick without glasses.)
 
As of the flashback, the movie turns gothic in that it is set in a difficult-to-reach European castle in which a mad scientist is murdered and all his heirs gather not only for the reading of the will but also for the stipulated spent nights required to make them eligible for their inheritance. But little do they know that the mad scientist also left behind a mysterious discovery that his lawyer, Rasmus Bentley, and his S&M/B&D housekeeper, the not-yet blind Maria, want to get their mitts on — and are willing to kill for. (OK, here already the story already begins to fall apart: since none of the heirs even know the formula exists, why kill them to steal it?) Whatever.
 
Somewhere in the plot there is also a deformed monster in the basement, the Mad Doc's son, who eventually is walled up alive but manages to break out to show up at the beginning of the film for the first double-death — two deaths that already steal much of the momentum from the rest of the film because the viewer already knows what will eventually befall the two über-assholes once they get what they want.
Demonium may be shot in what looks to be a castle, but beyond that its aura and mood is anything but gothic — in fact, the movie has absolutely no mood or aura to speak about at all. All the actors with the exception of Joe Zaso not only evidence a uniform lack in thespian talent, but their various accents are so thick that their turgid and nonsensical dialogue is often difficult to understand. (Zaso almost seems to be making fun of this with his character, a sex-obsessed alpha male Russian artist named Viktor Plushnikov, whom he ladles with a stereotypical accent straight from Rocky and Bullwinkle [2000 / trailer].) Aside from groo and gunk cut from the film, the movie is missing a few other things that might have helped made it an enjoyable piece of trash: a tad bit of suspense might have helped, not to mention some intentional humor or irony, and perhaps a single character with whom the viewer might identify... and tits, of course. If there was any amount of notable nudity in this movie, it must have been taken out with the blood and slime. (But then, considering the calibre of the female flesh, perhaps the lack of breastage is a mercy.)
In the version we saw, Demonium is a totally worthless piece of shite: it features absolutely nothing that in any way would justify wasting one's time to watch. Crap can be fun when done right — see Nikos the Impaler (2003) or, for other German no-budget trash, Jochen Taubert's Ich Piss' auf deinen Kadaver (1999) and/or Zombie Reanimation (2009) — but nothing appears done right in the cut version of Demonium.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

5 Minutes to Live (USA, 1961)


(Spoilers.) If we are to believe the article found in the Saturday, 21 January 1961 issue of the Toledo Ohio Blade, the movie seems to be the end result of a wife's need for occupational therapy: Bel-Air housewife Mrs. Ludlow Flower Jr., aka Cay Forester, a former actress found mostly in B-films (such as Queen of the Amazons [1947 / full movie], Strange Impersonation [1946 / full movie], Blonde Savage [1947] and the classic noir D.O.A. [1950 / trailer / full movie]), asked for and received the permission of her husband, real estate executive Ludlow Flower Jr, to write a movie; by dinnertime that day she had the plot, and six months later 5 Minutes to Live was finished and ready to be made.* And once the film actually went into production — produced by hubby Ludlow Flower Jr — Mrs. Ludlow Flower Jr. even ended up taking over the main female role, thus returning to drive-in screens after a ten-year absence as the third headlining star behind the lead credit of "Johnny Cash as Johnny Cabot."
 

Full Movie — Cay Forester in Blonde Savage (1947):
Personally, we find it a bit odd that 5 Minutes to Live is so thoroughly unknown; we know tons of Cash fans, and not one of them had ever heard of the film when we asked them about it — a film that if nothing else is of note for being Johnny Cash's feature-film debut and first starring role. Hell, Cash doesn't even mention it in the only autobiography of his we have on our bookshelf — Man in Black (Warner Books, 1975) — but then he was in the midst of his pill-popping speedfreak days when he made the movie, so perhaps he couldn't really remember it all that well in his cleaner years. Or perhaps it was simply an unpleasant memory for him; according to Michael Streissguth in his book Johnny Cash: The Biography, Cash wasn't paid cash up front but was forced to take a percentage deal... seeing that the film wasn't exactly the biggest hit, it probably hardly brought in the money. Likewise, it really didn't help him break into Hollywood, either: despite Cash's own desire to break into the movies, it was another ten years before he had another feature film role, alongside Kirk Douglas, in the western A Gunfight (1971).
 
Whatever the reason the movie has been relegated to obscurity, however, it is not that the movie is absolutely terrible: hardly a masterpiece in many ways, it nevertheless moves quickly enough, even has one or two shocks, and age has given it a nice patina. Hardly imperative viewing, but good enough for a rainy afternoon — and face it, it's got Johnny Cash in it! (Watch it now before the remake comes out: Jan de Bont, who hasn't made a decent film since Speed [1994 / trailer], is set to remake it as a John Cusack vehicle within the near future.)
The plot is relatively simple: Johnny Cabot (Cash), a guitar-playing psycho hiding out in a sleazy motel with his curvaceous, rent-paying babe Doris (Midge Ware of Untamed Women [1952 / trailer: see below]), is hired by Fred Dorella (character actor Vic Tayback of Mansion of the Doomed [1976 / trailer] and Blood and Lace [1971 / trailer]) to take a bank manager's wife hostage so as to force the manager to empty the bank's safe. A "fool-proof" plan, as Fred calls it, but as we all know, "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley." (Robert Burns, 1785.)

Trailer to Untamed Women, with Midge Ware:
That 5 Minutes to Live is low budget is pretty obvious in both the almost threadbare production values and the less-than-fully-developed script, but director Bill Karn (Ma Barker's Killer Brood [1960 / trailer / full movie]) does a good job with what he has. He handles the action scenes rather well and takes everything as far as he probably could at the time, thus the visuals often borderline on the sleazy and the situations the tawdry. 
Despite all that and an occasional shock and/or surprise as well as an overall solid framing and visual composition, however, he can't really do all that much about giving 5 Minutes to Live any real suspense because most of the movie is told as a flashback by an arrested and overly loquacious Fred, so long before Mrs. Wilson (Cay Forester) is even taken hostage we already know that the robbery is doomed to fail. As a result, the supposedly suspense-building twist, that Mr. Wilson (Donald Woods of 13 Ghosts [1960 / trailer], The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms [1953 / trailer] and Dimension 5 [1966 / trailer]) is having affair and planning to leave his wife anyways, is hardly the narrative sucker-punch that it is supposed to be. One can only wonder why they ever chose the framing device for this movie, for it adds nothing but running time (Ah-Hah!) and the movie would have been a lot more nerve-wracking and tense without it. And thus far better, of course.
 

Johnny Cash sings 5 Minutes to Live:
Cash's casting is an obvious gimmick playing upon the singer's bad boy image, but he does well with his one-note character: beady-eyed, stone-cold, unemotional and sadistic, it is just as easy to believe that he wouldn't blink an eye when shooting the woman he shares his bed with as it is that he would terrorize his hostage just to ease his boredom and make the time pass more quickly. What is much harder to believe, however, is that he would ever have a soft spot for kids; this convenient point plays a key role in the climactic events but never comes across as anything other than superficial and contrived. Still, for most of the movie, Cash exudes a psychotic placidness that literally seethes with simmering violence and emotional disregard, and this helps carry the movie far more so than the sometimes almost contrived acting style of the lead female, Cay Forester... if you get down to it, she is actually out-acted by the 8-year-old playing her son, no one less than Ron "Opie/Richie" Howard. Indeed, many of the secondary and tertiary characters — for example, both country singer Merle Travis as the spineless lackey Max and Pamela Mason (of The Navy vs. the Night Monsters [1966 / trailer] and Wild in the Streets [1968 / trailer]) as Mr. Wilson's surprisingly frumpy mistress Ellen Harcourt — make a better thespian impression than the stiltedness of Cay Forester as Mrs. Wilson.
 
The true flaw of 5 Minutes to Live is the script, which displays a little bit too much no-budget sloppiness — starting, of course, with the self-castrating framing sequence. At one point close to the end, for example, a cop gets shot dead and not even his partner seems to care enough to even take note that he's left the world of the living. Likewise, Cabot's decision to eliminate his girl, despite the fact that she's followed him on the run and is paying his way, purely due to the disparaging accusations of a man he just met (Fred, the head of the robbery plan) that she's the one who fingered him in New Jersey, is a little less than understandable. It does, however, do well to underscore just how ruthless Cabot is — which in turn makes it thrice as hard to believe that he would have such moral compunctions when it comes to kids.
 
As for the extended period of time that Cabot and Mrs Wilson spend together at her home, the sadistic head games he plays with her are disturbing, but nevertheless it eventually gets hard to believe that he would sexualize everything so much and then never actually rape her.** Likewise — though this is surely simply a by-product of the time, when housewives were housewives and unlike today were not expected to ever take the bull by the horns — Mrs. Wilson not only lets one-too-many chances of escape flit by unnoticed, but she is also unbelievably maladroit with a fire poker. (One can only assume that in all cases she was worried she might break a nail.) At least the final revelation made by Mr. Wilson at the end of the movie is a pleasant twist, turning as it does the movie's implausibly timely dues ex machina into a clever solution to buy time.
In the end, however, despite the narrative flaws and uneven acting, 5 Minutes to Live remains an interesting film (in no small part due to Johnny Cash) that not only chugs along at a decent pace but also keeps the viewer riveted. The movie is far from a masterpiece, but hardly a waste of time — particularly if you're a fan of Johnny Cash.
 

As An Extra — Johnny Cash Sings I Walk the Line in German:

* A fine public interest story, but it fails to take into consideration that the credit sequence states that the movie is based on a story by Palmer Thompson and adapted by Robert L. Joseph.
** According to the American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures, when the movie was re-released as Door-to-Door Maniac in 1966 by Robert L. Lippert (a producer of The Last Man on Earth [1964], among others), new footage — including a rape sequence — was added. The public domain version found everywhere — and reviewed here — has all the sadistic foreplay but not the actual event... unless, of course, it was conveyed so "decently" that we missed it. But if the latter is true, then one can only say that Mrs. Wilson sure never shows any emotional scars from the event and smiles away into the sunset at the end of the movie...
 
 
The Full Movie — 5 Minutes to Live:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

R.I.P.: José Ramón Larraz


1929 (Barcelona) — 03 Sept 2013 (Málaga)

"José Ramón Larraz (born 1929 in Barcelona) is a Spanish director of exploitation and horror fims such as the erotic and bloody Vampyres (1974). Larraz began making films in England, then in 1976 apparently relocated his operations back to Spain. He made many different types of films, but is best known for his horror films. His last few horror films were Spanish/ American co-productions. He apparently retired from filmmaking in 1992 at age 63." (Wikipedia, retrieved 05.09.13)
It was José Ramón Larraz's great film Vampyres (1974) that first even made us conscious of the concept of "Eurotrash". Years ago, in La La Land circa 1984, on a stoned late-night jaunt with some friends downtown on Broadway, the neon marquee of the now long defunct grindhouse Cameo Theatre sang a Circe song of a two-buck quadruple screening. While we no longer remember all the titles, one was "The Voyage of Tanya" and the other Vampyres...
In all truth, it was the sexy sounding "The Voyage of Tanya" that drew us into the theatre, which at night was less a grindhouse than a flophouse where the unified snoring of the homeless sometimes drowned out the dialogue up on screen, but the decidedly sexy-sounding title turned out to actually be a kiddy film originally titled Paddle to the Sea (1966 / first 10 minutes). We sat through it anyway — at less than 30 minutes, it's a relatively short film — and then were confronted with Vampyres, perhaps the first Eurotrash film we ever saw outside of a Hammer film on TV (if Hammer even counts as Eurotrash).
The Trailer to Vampyres:
It bowled us over: so stylish, so arty, so full of strangely sexy ladies, so bloody — and so much sex. To simply quote Pete Tombs at Fangoria: "[His] early, low budget, quickly shot works have the unmistakeable stamp of an 'auteur' [...]. Like all his best work, they share a slim scenario, a small cast, an isolated rural location, and the atmospheric woods and misty 'golden hour' landscapes that nurture his dream spaces. There's something old fashioned about many of Larraz's films (it's no surprise to discover that one of his favourite US movies was the 1946 Robert Siodmak chiller The Spiral Staircase [trailer]) and yet there is something almost indefinably modern about them too. It's in the way they are framed, the way the shots are cut, the camera angles: that's where his artist's eye comes in and it's what makes the best of his films special and timeless."
In a later conversation with friends, the term "Eurotrah" popped up, and from then on we knew one of our favorite "genres", if one can even call Eurotrash a genre...
In any event, Vampyres was a film from José Ramón Larraz, and though we have never seen another film by the good man, we hold him dear in our heart for the experience he gave us and the horizons he opened... And now he has died. 
We take our hat off to him — may he Rest In Peace.

Part II (1970-1978) is found here.

Monday, September 2, 2013

R.I.P.: Harry Reems, Part V (1980–84)


27 August  1947 – 19 March  2013


Go here for R.I.P.: Harry Reems, Part I

Go here for R.I.P.: Harry Reems, Part II I (1969-72)

Go here for R.I.P.: Harry Reems, Part III (1973-74)

Go here for R.I.P.: Harry Reems, Part IV (1975-79)



 Demented
(1980, dir. Arthur Jeffreys)
 
Trailer:
This much maligned horror flick seems to be the debut and last directorial effort of Arthur Jeffreys. It was written by Alex Rebar, an actor who appeared in Microscopic Liquid Subway to Oblivion (1970 / opening credits) and had the lead role in the craptastic The Incredible Melting Man (1977 / trailer), and also wrote a few films like this one here and David Hess's To All A Good Night (1980) and Mario Azzopardi's Nowhere to Hide (1987 / trailer). Harry Reems has an important role as the unfaithful husband Matt Rodgers, but oddly enough he is credited as "Bruce Gilchrist" — we would guess name recognition was not important to the filmmakers. 
The plot, in its barest bones, is explained by Torrent Butler: "A woman (chestacular Sallee Young of Home Sweet Home [1981 / full film]) is gang-raped in a horse's stable, and even though the rapists are caught and imprisoned, she is harassed many moons later by ghastly visions of her tormentors, while her husband philanders and every little thing frightens her out of her wits."
At the Cult Movie Forums, jacksmith1983 calls the film "an obscure and largely forgotten entry to the familiar rape & revenge cycle of seventies and eighties exploitation filmmaking" and says: "Aficionados of trash cinema will know where they are at with Demented, which spins what was already by 1980 a rather predictable yarn of a young woman who is savagely raped only to later snap and take brutal revenge upon various unsavory men folk. [...] Demented, unlike its contemporaries such as Wes Craven's Last House on the Left (1972) and Meir Zarchi's I Spit On Your Grave (1978 / trailer) makes no pretence at a moral argument or message, instead pitching itself as a straightforward exercise in exploitation all the way. [...] All in all Demented is not an especially good film to say the least. Thanks mainly to a dreadful central performance and a dopey, predictable, uninvolving script, Demented completely fails to engage the viewers emotional and gut responses on the same level as the more famous not to mention much more effective exploitation pictures it tries and singularly fails to emulate. Ultimately the name of the game proves to be paint-by-numbers exploitation with no ambition beyond serving up an unpleasant dish of graphic rape, topped off with seedy sex and nudity and finally dressed with a modest welter of vengeful brutality. While Demented does in fairness at least deliver upon its sleazy promise, the end results are pretty forgettable at best and not in anything like the same league as the likes of Last House On The Left, I Spit On Your Grave, Death Weekend (1976 / trailer) and Savage Streets (1984 / trailer)."
Full film while it lasts:




To All a Goodnight
(1980, dir. David Hess)
For the second time in 1980, Harry Reems appears in an Alex-Rebar-scripted slasher, this time directed by no one less than David Hess, the legendary star of such cult faves as the unavoidable Last House on the Left (1972), House on the Edge of the Park (1980 / trailer) and Bodycount (1986 / trailer). And again, as in Demented, Reems is credited under a different name: "Dan Stryker". He's a tertiary character, in any event, and really doesn't have all that much screen time.
To All a Goodnight was shot in Santa Barbara, CA, on a budget of $40,000 in ten days. At imdb, Jean-Marc Rocher (rocher@fiberbit.net) gives the plot as follows: "It's Christmas break at the Calvin Finishing School for Girls, and the students are planning a big party while the president of the school is away. A group of boys show up and the fun begins, until mysterious killer starts bumping off couples one by one. The police show up and promise to keep everyone safe, but they prove ineffectual against the crazed psycho. Could the killings have anything to do with the girl who was killed in an initiation stunt at the school a few years earlier?"
The ever-affable Ninja Dixon says about this generally panned slasher flick: "Personally I love this genre [slashers]. It's not especially complicated, like candy for the brain. Often no complicated message or to advanced character developments, just attractive people getting killed by either a known lone maniac or a lone unknown killer that's unmasked in the end. To All a Good Night is no exception from the rules. This is just a movie where a bunch of horny school kids want to do some extra partying in a big house and a killer-Santa shows up, killing them one by one with axes, knifes, big stones, airplanes and other things that happens to be around. Everything is set up with a frantic pace, with the 'two years earlier'-scene over and done in a couple of minutes and after that there's hardly any establishing of the characters. This might sound a bit negative, but I actually am quite fond of this early Christmas-slasher. It has a huge bodycount over a short period, some impressive gore and the actors are absolutely not bad. What hurts the movie is the way too generic screenplay and that it's too dark most of the time. That last thing can have to do with the transfer to video, because I think that beneath that video-version there's a very atmospheric and well-shot movie. [...]"
Video Junkie, on the other hand, is less appreciative of the film: "Hitting right at the peak of the stalk-and-slash boom, this film appears to have never actually gotten to theaters in the U.S. and debuted on video by Media Home Entertainment. This is understandable when you realize this film is the movie equivalent of a stocking full of coal."
While it lasts — the full film online:



 
Les chiens chauds
(1980 , writ & dir. Claude Fournier)
Aka Cops and Other Lovers, The Cleanup Squad, Under the Cover Cops, Hot Dogs. Claude Fournier is actually a respected director in Canada, though this comedy is probably not one of his prestige projects.
At Rovei, Mark Deming explains the plot: "In this French-language comedy from Canada, Mr. Clean (Harry Reems) is a police detective who heads a special task force of the vice squad. Clean's by-the-book attitude makes him none too popular with his underlings, so they try to fake a sex scandal that will cause him to be fired from the force." Over at Why Do They Exist?, they say: "Deep Throat made Harry Reems a highly unlikely star, but by 1980 his alcohol and drug abuse had pretty much killed his porn career. The obvious move was, of course, to go to Québec and take the straight-man role (no pun intended) in [...] Hot Dogs. Basically an even more sophomoric and plotless proto-Police Academy (1984 / trailer), Hot Dogs is so bored with its own identity that it barely has jokes and treats even its copious nudity as an afterthought."
 
At imdb, William (williamnorton316@hotmail.com) of Seattle, Washington, who finds the movie "pretty low on nudity and filled with bad Canadian humor", says that Hot Dogs is a "very unfunny comedy with surprising good funny performance by Reems. Reems who admitted to being 'out of it' in most of his films in his later career, seems to be having fun giving a great performance." Over in Tokyo, Japan, haildevilman finds the movie OK: "This movie should not be taken seriously at all. [...] Just crack a beer, check your brain, and hope you're not one of those sensitive types. Then you'll have a blast with this one. Sure it's dirty and raunchy. [...] This is clearly not a date film. Lots of nudity, innuendo, dirty (and I mean DIRTY) jokes, and sexual candor. But we're all adults here, right?"
 

 

Dream House
(1981, dir. Joseph Hardy)
Who knows how Harry Reems got into this TV movie, but there he is somewhere playing "Phil Billings", probably on screen for mere seconds. (Anyone know for sure?). This TV movie is less a family film than a woman's film and not the kind of stuff we would watch here at A Wasted Life.
Over at imdb, GotchaPhoto from California explains the film: "John Schnieder plays a carpenter who meets and romances this lady played by Marilu Henner (of Vamps [2012 / trailer], Hammett [1982 / trailer] and Cannonball Run II [1984 / trailer]). She is only in town to give conferences on construction for 4 days. They date for four days and she goes back to NY. John (Charlie) loads up his truck and goes to NY to find her and make her his wife. Although this city girl is not convinced, Charlie has a lot of patience. He buys a small strip of land in the ghetto that is wedged between two buildings: a spot where his love interest needs to build new condos. Charlie is against all odds trying to convince the girl that he loves to give him the shot that he needs and to build a house in the middle of the ghetto where the gangs go to great lengths to show him he's not welcome."

John Schneider, seen here to the left with a noticeable bulge in a scene from Dukes of Hazard, went on to appear is in much better movies than Dream House, such as Return of the Killer Shrews (2012 / trailer), Conjurer (2008 / trailer), Shark Swarm (2008 / trailer), Ogre (2008 / trailer) and Lake Placid 2 (2007 / trailer). Oddly enough, in none of those films did he ever again display the same noticeable bulge that was so integral to the appeal of his Dukes of Hazard character....and that would so indiscriminately change sides scene to scene.



 National Lampoon's Movie Madness
(1982, dir. Bob Giraldi & Henry Jaglom)
 
Once upon a time there was a humor magazine called National Lampoon, and they made a flick called Animal House (1978 / trailer) and it was such a big hit that they thought they could shit gold. So they shat this film out and had, well, shit.
Originally a four-segment film meant to satirize popular film genres, the movie was trimmed down to three segments upon release. Music video and commercial director Bob Giraldi did the segments "Growing Yourself" and "Success Wanters", while Henry Jaglom, who hasn't made an interesting film since his mildly interesting début hippy-film oddity A Safe Place (1971 / trailer), directed the other two, "Municipalians" and the cut segment "The Bomb".
The praise for this film is fairly consistent, always of the same tone as over at Reel Film, which says "The folks at National Lampoon have released some awful movies over the years (i.e. Van Wilder [2002 / trailer], Gold Diggers [2003 / trailer], etc), but this is surely the worst." Blogger Jerry Saravia, who admits not making it through to the third and final segment (the one with Reems), says: "[...] I cannot imagine a single soul finding anything of comedic value in National Lampoon Goes to the Movies, which is the worst comedy I've ever seen. Let me make that painstakingly clear once more: it is the WORST COMEDY I'VE EVER SEEN. EVER. In the history of the comedy genre, nothing is WORSE than this movie. NOT ONE!"
Bad Movie Planet, which says the movie us "is a poorly conceived anthology that falls flat on its face early on and stays there", is particularly put off by the episode in which Harry Reems flits by somewhere playing a Vice Squad Cop: "As bad as the previous segments are, nothing can prepare you for "Municipalians." Not a moment goes by in which it this section doesn't make you feel like someone is shoving a dead possum in your face, and this is mostly director Henry Jaglom's fault. [...] Jaglom's whiny, navel-gazing autobiographical style doesn't lend itself to the silly excesses of a low brow comedy. Jaglom has no comic timing and keeps the film moving at a snail's pace. [...] "Municipalians" also boasts the film's worst performances." And, according to Uncle Scoopy, the final segment of this "totally unfunny movie performed with desperation by people begging the audience to laugh [...] doesn't even have the gratuitous nudity which spiced up the other two vignettes." A crappy film, in other words, and not exactly a stepping stone to a career in films that doesn't focus on your meat lolipop.
Trailer:



Mae West
(1982, dir. Lee Philips)
Ann Jillian as Mae West singing CC Rider:
Harry Reems is the narrator of this TV biography directed by actor (Violent Midnight [1963 / scene]) turned director (The Stranger Within [1974 / full film) Lee Philips. Ann Jillian stars as the title figure; unlike in Mae West's autobiography, in which West presents herself as the one with the desire to go show business, the movie makes her mother Matilda West (Piper Laurie of The Faculty [1998 / trailer], Trauma [1993 / trailer], Ruby [1977 / trailer] and Carrie [1976 / trailer]) very much an early "Hollywood Mom". There is disagreement whether the character Rene Valentine (Roddy McDowall of Shakma [1990], Cutting Class [1989 / trailer], Dead of Winter (1987 / trailer], Fright Night (1985 / trailer], Arnold [1973 / trailer], The Legend of Hell House [1973 / trailer] and his only directorial project, The Devil's Widow [1970 / trailer]) is based on true life drag queens Bert Savoy or Julian Eltinge.
Bridgette Andersen, the child actress that played the young Mae West — later also seen in one of the segments of Nightmares (1983 / trailer) — became a Hollywood causality on May 18, 1997, at the age of 21 and died of an "accidental overdose of alcohol and heroin".
As an extra, here is Ann Jillian's home recipe for "Jumpin' Jilly's Chili":
3 tablespoons salad oil
1 onion
1 pound ground turkey (in Kitchen Bouquet)
1 clove garlic
1 16-ounce can peeled tomatoes
2 30-ounce cans kidney beans
1 tablespoon chilli powder
1 small can tomato paste
1 1/2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes
1 ounce dry red wine
1 pinch curry powder
Paprika and salt to taste
Marinate turkey in Kitchen Bouquet before browning for a few minutes. In skillet, heat salad oil; add diced onion. Cook for 2 minutes until translucent. Add marinated turkey and garlic; cook 5 minutes. Add peeled tomatoes, kidney beans, chili powder (more or less to taste), tomato paste, sundried tomatoes, dry red wine, and curry powder. Cover and simmer on low/medium heat for one hour. Season to taste with paprika and salt. Remove garlic clove and serve. Serves six.



Society Affairs
(1982, dir. Gary Graver)
 
Harry Reems may have been an important person is the fight for freedom of speech, but it did cost him an "above-ground" career: in the 70s and 80s, "Porno Chic" aside, a porn past pretty much was the kiss of death for a mainstream future, a few non-names aside (such as George 'Buck' Flower and to a lesser extent, seeing that they, too, are no longer active as actors, Sonny Landham or Robert Kerman — the last of whom works hard in this movie here, too). Harry was not a non-name, he was the name that everyone knew, even if they had never seen a film of his, but his fame was of no help when it came to crossing over to a half-way "mainstream" film career.
In 1982, after a few years short of a decade of trying to make it outside of porn and four years after suffering the career-killing expulsion from Grease (1978), Reems returned to triple-X with this movie here, Society Affairs, a burlesque of the then-popular late-night soaps like Dallas (1978-91) and Dynasty (1981-89). The plot? Well, according to 3X Update: "Harry Reems [returns] after an eight-year hiatus from adult films, and Harry comes back with a characteristic bang. Playing two roles — a crass, lascivious crook and a polite, boring rich guy — Harry also puts in double time when he discovers in the middle of a caper a house full of really horny women. Turning in an amazing Olympic-caliber sexual performance, the incredible Mr. Reems first thoroughly boffs each gorgeous young woman in succession, and then in a torrid clustering. Great acting and blistering sex abound in this killer return for Harry Reems, which also features Veronica Hart (of One-Eyed Monster [2008 / trailer], Parasomnia [2008 / trailer], Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh [1991 / trailer] and Sexbomb [1989 / trailer]) in a pair of mind-blowing fornication scenes."
Awarded the "Best Film of the Year" by Adam Film World — over Cafe Flesh (1982), if you can believe it — Society Affairs was directed by the prolific Hollywood cinematographer and director Gary Graver, aka Robert McCallum (20 July  1938 - 16 Nov  2006). Graver worked for everyone from Orson Wells to Disney to Paul Hunt and a yitload of other names, many of whom weren't connected to porn. He was primarily active in B-movies and porn since, as he put it, "I knew how to make a movie without much money." Among his unknown and decidedly trashy non-porn credits as director: The Hard Road (1970 / trailer), Erika's Hot Summer (1971 / Erika Gavin naked), Texas Lightning (1981 / sleazy scene), Trick or Treats (1982 / trailer), Party Camp (1987 / trailer), Evil Spirits (1990 / trailer), Roots of Evil (1992 / trailer), Angel Eyes (1993 / trailer) and Sexual Roulette (1996 / trailer).
Graver's credits as cinematographer are a bit more noteworthy, and he pointed the camera for a number of anti-classics, including: Satan's Sadists (1969 / trailer), The Mighty Gorga (1969 / scene), Blood Mania (1970 / trailer), Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971), Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973 / full movie), Bummer (1973 / trailer), The Naughty Stewardesses (1975 / trailer), Black Heat (1976 / full film), Grand Theft Auto (1977 / trailer), The Toolbox Murders (1978 / trailer) and Mortuary (1983 / trailer).
Graver, who worked regularly with Roger Corman and such greats as Al Adamson, was last in the news in the 1990s for trying to sell Orson Welles's 1941 Oscar for Citizen Kane (1941 / trailer) which, according to Graves, Welles gave it to him in lieu of cash for shooting The Other Side of the Wind (1972-?). Welles' daughter Beatrice Welles went to court to stop him and won both the case and the Oscar — the latter of which she promptly sold herself.
 Trailer to Gary Graver's directorial debut, The Embracers (1966):



Wolf Cubs
(1983, writ. & dir. Joseph W. Sarno)
Aka SS Operation Wolf Cub. This obscure Sarno non-porn production, a good ol' sleazy naziploitation flick, seems never to have reached the American shores. Indeed, who knows if it was ever released anywhere theatrically, though it did get a VHS release in Europe.
 
The Swedish website filmipset has the balls to say "SS Operation Wolf Cub is one of the most remarkable ever made," but they seem to be alone in this opinion... not that all that many people seem to have ever seen this movie. Over at the forum on AV Maniacs, Tommy K says: "SS Operation Wolf Cub [...] has got Harry Reems fighting neo-nazis in Sweden. Not really a good film." Elsewhere someone adds that Reems is an ex-mercenary and that the actors all "have an ability to both sound and look completely retarded." At the Cinehound Forum, there is an exchange regarding the film that is probably right on the mark, with one guy saying the movie "is an amazing slice of undefendable Eurotrash and extremely entertaining for all the right (wrong?) reasons [that] I still wouldn't watch or recommend anybody to watch it without the aid of at least one mind-altering substance. [...] It also has one of the most offensive sex scenes I've ever seen committed to celluloid, make's everything in Enema Bandit (1976) seem like prime jerk-off material in comparison."



Sister Dearest
(1984, writ. & dir. Jonathan Ross)
The movie Sister Dearest is basically illegal nowadays and thus relatively hard to cum over. Why? 'Cause it's one of Traci Lords' early films, released when Lords (born Nora Louise Kuzma on May 7, 1968) was but a sweet 16, so once her age came out it was pulled as kiddy porn. It was later re-cut and re-released as Back to Class, sans Lords, and in that form is relatively easy to find. Harry Reems, in his small part as "the Professor", has sex with Susan Hart in both versions.
Sister Dearest is one of the early straight films of former gay porno star Matt Ramsey (A Matter of Size [1983 / NSFW film] and The Bigger the Better [1984 / NSFW scene]), better known today as Peter North, whose formable wurst (at 56 years of age) still gushes gallons in triple-X videos today. (Unlike for Reems, porn has made North a millionaire.)
The incestuous plot of Sister Dearest, according to 3X Update: "When Randy Jennings (Tom Byron) visits his old fraternity during Alumni Day at State U., he suddenly flashes back to his days (and nights) as a naive college freshman. His education begins the night he first arrives. During a wild frat party, he inadvertently stumbles onto his sister, Vicky (Traci Lords) while she is earning her reputation as the campus nymphomaniac. That's only the beginning: there’s the beautiful black co-ed (Sahara), who's a pushover for total honesty; an art student (Susan Hart), who is driven to get something straight between her professor and herself; Vicky's roommate (Ginger Lynn), who has an extra-curricular activity with an off-campus tattoo artist; and a couple of exotic dancers (Sondra Stillman and Breeze), who can't help but get caught up in the heat of the moment. Still there is something missing in Randy's education and, in the end, neither his college nor his fraternity can help him … only his sister." 3X Update also offers a somewhat less detailed description to the re-release version, Back to Class (1987): "The boys are back in school — and into the coeds. The Gamma Gnu gang is back to class — and wilder than ever. Get set for the ride!"
Traci Lords acting in a non-sex scene from Sister Dearest:



 Girls on Fire
(1984, dir. Jack Remy)
An X-rated riff on Some Like It Hot (1959 / trailer). Harry Reems has a "special guest appearance" as a jogger on the beach that ends up shagging a girl on the beach (Shaun Michelle [1953-2002])....
Porno Classic explains the plot: "Two investigators (Jamie Gillis and Robert Bullock), assigned to uncover insurance fraud, also find trouble when a hood (John Alderman of Love Camp 7 [1969 / trailer], The Hard Road [1970 / trailer], Pink Angels [1972 / trailer], Hannah, Queen of the Vampires [1973 / trailer], Cleopatra Jones [1973], Black Samson [1974 / trailer], Drive-In Massacre [1977 / trailer] and New Year's Evil [1980 / trailer]) comes home to find them in bed with his delectable wife (Kimberly Carson) and their hands on his incriminating 'little black book'. They're chased into the middle of a lingerie fashion show rehearsal, overflowing with a bevy of gorgeous models — all willing to help them out (in every way!). Our heroes and the hoods dress in drag to hide and pursue in a comedy filled with the hilarity and the hottest sex with the most beautiful girls in adult films."
Adult DVD is of the opinion that "Girls on Fire, while being a well-done porn film, is also a fun silly comedy. Although it ends up being nothing more than your standard men on the run film, the script is written so the sex scenes fit the film instead of it being the other way around as the majority of adult films are. The end result is a really fun erotic comedy. There are many corny lines throughout the film, but they just add to the fun. [...] The acting in the film is strangely good for an adult film. John Holmes is hilarious running around the fashion show in drag. [...] The women in the film are good looking. Most of the males could have been better picked though." The full, naturally NSFW movie can be watched here at Mr Snake.



Those Young Girls
(1984, dir. Myles "Miles" Kidder)
In all truth, Harry Reems returned to porn just as the Golden Age was having its last dying gasps — its last films of note could arguably be Chuck Vincent's 1981 porn drama Roommates (trailer) or the oddly anti-sex porn flick Café Flesh (1982 / "Rats & Babies") — and the contemporary direct-to-video age was rising. Porn films simply got less interesting, and while this one here still has bit more going for it than most that were to follow, it doesn't really stand out as anything spectacular. Those Young Girls is, however, one of Harry Reems last true porn-star turns; the main cast is a name cast, and all names are still known today: Reems, John Holmes, the under-age Traci Lords and Ginger Lynn, who wrote the script (supposedly based on real-life experiences).
Rame.net manages to make the film seem very, uh, un-sexy in its blow-by-blow review of the European release (Lords isn't underage by European standards, so the film is still legal to sell there): "The infamous Those Young Girls [...] is not a great movie. Traci plays the role of the porn veteran to Ginger Lynn's aspiring newcomer. For the first scene, Traci takes part in a nude photo shoot. Traci gets fucked by Harry Reems by the poolside. He comes on her tits. Ginger and Traci innocently play around in a sunny garden, hosing each other down and getting each other wet like the carwash scene in Debbie does Dallas (1978). John Holmes plays the sleazy agent that Ginger Lynn hooks up with, she sucks off Holmes till he comes on her face. Ginger then appears in a nude photo shoot. Ginger and Harry appear in a music video, then they fuck on a bed. Ginger and Traci get in a Jacuzzi then move onto a bed where they proceed to do a 69 with good close-ups. They then tie up Harry and suck him for a while before leaving him tied up. Distinctly average, even though both Ginger and Traci look incredibly cute."
 Trailer to Traci Lords' 1st non-porn film, the remake Not of this Earth (1988):



 The Cartier Affair
(1984, by Rod Holcomb)
Harry Reems is here somewhere as a state trooper in the background of this TV movie directed by Rod Holcomb, who still does TV today; the high-point of Holcomb's career is probably the hilarious Melissa Sue Anderson vehicle, the TV horror Midnight Offerings (1981 / full film).
We took a quick look at this film here at the R.I.P. career review of Charles Napier, where we said: "A TV movie and 'star' vehicle for Joan Collins and David Hasselhoff! Plot: Joan Collins as Cartier Rand, an American TV star, with Napier as her unsatisfying long-time lover Morgan. Rand needs a new assistant after her old one trashes her house; in comes young, gay Curt Taylor (David Hasselhoff). Actually, he's an ex-jailbird who owes prison top-dog Drexler (Telly Savalas) money, and he's been installed in Rand's house to steal her jewellery. But he turns out to be less gay than he initially seems... Someone at Amazon says: 'This movie tries to be a blend of comedy, thriller and erotic drama. It doesn't really work out.' Who cares if this film is any good; with a cast like this, it has to be included on this list!"
 Actors at work:

R.S.V.P.
(1984, dir. Lem Amero)
As far as we can tell, this comedy is the last non-hardcore of Harry Reems as well as the last directorial effort of Lem Amero of the Amero Borthers, the auteur sleaze merchants with whom Reems previously made Bacchanale (1970) and Every Inch a Lady (1975). Lem died of AIDS-related illness five years after making this movie, in 1989.
 
The story to R.S.V.P. was supplied by Joel Bender, the scriptwriter of Roberta Findley's ridiculous Tenement (1985 / trailer), who began his career as the writer/director of the cult comedy Gas Pump Girls (1979 / fan-made trailer); Bender, also active as a director, has a number of trashy horror flicks to his resume: The Cursed (2010 / trailer), Midnight Kiss (1993 / trailer), The Immortalizer (1989 / Spanish trailer), and The Returning (1983 / full film).
 
The New York Times describes R.S.V.P. as follows: "This R-rated gem is about an author who produces a novel with characters inspired by real-live Hollywood stars. When the book is turned into a film, the producers throw a party and invite all the films' real-life 'characters' to celebrate its release and learn that they are featured in the film. All's well until a body turns up in the author-party host's swimming pool. However, there are plenty more bodies to be seen in this one — the kind with hearts still beating — because this comedy is loaded with nudity." Over at imdb, "djelvis2" of the United States was less impressed, saying: "This movie was made a half-decade too late; it would have been perfect before movies like Porky's (1982 / trailer) and Zapped! (1982 / trailer) raised the bar... I was watching for Veronica Hart, back in her redhead days, and she still comes off as the smartest, most capable actress in the room. Alas, the film's an hour-and-a-half of naughty one-liners that would be perfect if Reader's Digest ever had an adult-rated Laughter is the Best Medicine. [...] It attempts to bring a sense of burlesque back to motion pictures, but with nothing that really pulls the audience in. The jokes wouldn't past muster on a Fox sitcom, the plot's thin as a thong, and the performances are community theater level. [...]"
Harry Reems plays "Grant Garrison," alongside such luminaries as Playboy Playmate Lynda Wiesmeier (photo above); Lola Mason, of the classic film The Brain that Wouldn't Die (1962); Katt Shea, the director of Carrie II: The Rage (1999); Steve Nave, of The Doll Squad (1973 / trailer); and Michael Pataki, of Dracula's Dog (1978 / trailer)
 A mini-scene without Reems:
r.s.v.p. | sinemalar.com



For Your Thighs Only
(1984, dir. Jerome Tanner)
The second directorial effort of Jerome Tanner, who already evidences the direct-to-video aesthetic he went on to cultivate in over 200 subsequent "movies". Harry Reems shows up for one scene to bonk Angel (born "Jennifer James" — seen here from her 1985 Penthouse pictorial), who plays "Agent Vacuum". The back cover blurb of the video says: "Holy headlines of horror! They, the religious right, want to outlaw sex for recreation and limit it to purposes of procreation. What is a wanton lover of sexual entertainment to do?" Over 3X Update they add "[A] group of fearless and beautiful agent in skirts stand up for traditional American values." Needless to say, "beautiful" is relative... Big hair and bad acting, as seen in this NSFW sex scene. Reportedly one of George Bush's favorite films.



Girls of the Night
(1984, dir. Ned Moorehead)
We can't help but think that someone was having fun when they managed to get the director's name listed on imdb as "Ned Morehead", a name far more appropriate for a porn filmmaker than the "Moorehead" given in the film's credit sequence.
Classic Archive explains the plot: "Enter the carnal world of high-powered Washington D.C. sex where Amber Lynn (of the hilariously terrible 'horror' films Things [1989 / trailer] and Evils of the Night [1985 / trailer]) stars as a promiscuous young call girl. She caters to the perverse desires of an up and coming Senator, Harry Reems and other sexually insatiable heads of government. Along with her willing and wanton girlfriends; Colleen Brennen, Renee Tyfani, and the black sensation, Sahara, these girls of the night haunt in the smoke-filled rooms and the corridors of power in search of passion, and nonstop hot-blooded lust."
 
The full NSFW movie can be found here at Red Tube. Colleen Brennen, by the way, aka Sharon Kelly, appeared (as "Super Cherry") in Russ Meyers' masterpiece Supervixens (1975) and can also be seen in such fine films as Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (1975 / trailer) and Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks (1976 / trailer).
German trailer to Russ Meyer's Supervixens (1975), with Colleen Brennen:


 Go here for R.I.P.: Harry Reems, Part VI (1985).
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