Demons (1985) / Demons 2 (1986) - A Special Event!

There are some movies that seem to be made for the theater. Demons is one such film. Upon the discovery that the New Beverly would be showing Demons and Demons 2 on a special Sunday night double feature, I had to drop everything to attend. So you'll have to excuse me as this review is not only for one of my favorite 80's monster movies, but also one of the most intense theatrical experiences of my life.

When the announcement was made, I barely noticed any other guest speakers after Lamberto Bava's name popped out of the screen and hit me in the eyeballs. A chance to meet Lamberto Bava? Oh hell yes. I practically ran down the street like a maniac to my storage shed to get my VHS copy of Demons for him to sign. So I left the house at 6:30pm for a show that started at 9pm. Not because it's very far, but because I'm a freak and would rather camp outside the New Bev for 2 + hours than risk getting a shitty seat or worse, it selling out. There had been rumors of Asia Argento making an appearance which isn't really a selling point for me, but I know that it's a deal breaker for a lot of fans. It could have easily resulted in sell out. That ended up not happening, but it was a full house. They opened the doors early so we could start filling to seats. I secured my place in the front row which is ideal with guest speakers I've come to realize. I've been re-reading Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astro Zombies and writing down every bad movie mentioned for reference, so that helped me pass the time. As the theater filled we were elbow to elbow with strangers, not as intrusive at the New Beverly as it would be in just about any other theater. There's a comradery amongst fans that creates a friendly environment. As the guest speakers it arrive it's announced that Lamberto caught a fever and was unable to attend. I was so grief stricken I almost fainted. I even turned to the guy next to me and exclaimed and outburst of sorrow. Then they started to bring them up, Geretta Geretta and Bobby Rhodes, who I embarrassingly only knew as "Rosemary" and "Tony" prior to that night, but was pleasantly surprised to see their familiar faces, Sergio Stivaletti who did the make-up for Demons and about a hundred other amazing Italian horror movies and then to my shock and delight, Claudio-fucking-Simonetti. I gasped. CLAUDIO SIMONETTI. One of my all time favorite film composers. Goblin was my gateway drug into Italian film music which is a genre commonly heard in the soundtrack of my life.

So they gave an epic Q&A. Someone asked how Stivaletti created the glowing eye effect back in 1985 without the aid of computers. He revealed he used scotchlite, a reflective tape, cutting pieces and placing them over the demons eyes. WOW! Educational. When they were walking back to their seats I managed to tackle Claudio and Geretta to have them sign my copy of Demons. They were both very friendly and accepted my praise graciously. Unfortunately I wasn't able to wrangle Bobby Rhodes or Sergio Stivaletti before the lights went out and the movie was starting. Ah, bummer.

Now let's get to the movie! A mysterious man with a half metal plated face hands out movie passes in a subway for a theater called the Metropol. We don't know what the movie is but our leading lady requests a second pass so she can bring a friend. The two girlies arrive and we're given brief introductions to our cast of victims. Most notably the pimp two prostitutes, having Geretta and Bobby in the audience was a real treat! In the center of the lobby of the Metropol is an awkward statue of a knight (or something) on a motorcycle holding a creepy steel mask. Rosemary jokingly puts the mask on, to which Tony commands her to stop triflin. As she puts the mask back she realizes she has a cut on her face, uh oh. As they watch the film it appears to be a horror movie about four young people in a cemetery who find Nostradamas' tomb, read some incantation on it and turn into demons. During the film Rosemary's face starts bleeding so she excuses herself. In the bathroom he face basically explodes into a festering pustule of gore and nastiness...and we have our first (and best) Demon. Rosemary turns into crazed reptile faced creature of terror. Every victim who meets her claw or fang turns into a like minded Demon. So begins an epidemic.

Insanely gruesome special effects courtesy of  Sergio Stivaletti. The film moves at about a million miles an hour once it gains momentum. We're treated to all kinds of fun 80's mayhem, action, sexiness, intentional and unintentional humor, a Rudy Ray Moore-esque pimp, and PLENTY of violence. On top of Simonetti's infectious synthesized score, we also have a plethora of popular rock music by the likes of Motley Crue, Billy Idol and Rick Springfield. There are the obligatory 80's drug addicted punks and rest assure that the motorcycle in the lobby doesn't go to waste. Demons follows the film within a film canon, which has always been a favorite of mine, and really is ideal for a theatrical setting. I always thought that perhaps Demons influenced the 1987 film Anguish in which a murderer goes on a killing spree under the control of a strange horror movie being screened. The same goes for 1991's Popcorn, another classic example of video age dreck that features a possessed film. Demons still runs circles around these movies.

The audience was alive with laughter and celebration. It was truly a glorious occasion. After Demons there was a quick break and then we jumped into the second film. But not before Mr. Clu Gulager came and sat next to me. This may be no big deal to the regulars of the New Beverly since he's apparently been attending the theater on the norm since it's opening in 1978, but to a new girl from a one horse town like Panama City Florida, sitting next to one of the greatest character actors of all time is a pretty big deal. Granted, I've seen him there every time I've gone, but this was the first time I had the opportunity to speak to the man and have a satisfying if not brief conversation about the theater itself, sequels and David F. Friedman. Wow! Then the second picture started...

Demons 2 follows the formula of the first film although this time the movie is being aired on TV instead an unknown theater. It all takes place in an apartment building which we later find out is attached to the TV station that the film is being aired from. A neurotic young woman named Sally is having a birthday party. She's played by Coralina Cataldi, who's like the 80's giallo version of Pheobe Cates. I remember her most notably for her role in Argento's Opera. The whole knife-in-the-mouth-necklace scene is emblazoned in my memory forever. So Sally isn't coping well with her birthday, or something. It's never really made clear, but she's definitely on edge. Every little thing makes her throw a temper tantrum ending with her locking herself in the bedroom. While her friends are in the living room partying she's planted in front of the TV watching THE MOVIE, a demon pops out the screen and gets 'er. It's Demon time. Sally, much like Rosemary, turns into a badass demon and goes on a rampage

We also get to see this...

Turn into this...

We also get one of these...

The demon child also spawns a cute little puppet monster creature ala gremlins-munchie-ghoulies-critters-what-have-you. Bobby Rhodes returns in Demons 2 to serve some much needed demon ass kicking. Not as the same character of course, this time his pimp persona is delivered in the form of a bossy gym instructor. I haven't even mentioned the two main characters, George and Hannah. Probably because they're a little on the boring side. Although Nancy Brilli as Hannah may just be the prettiest little pregnant lady I ever did see. The two have to fight their way through the mayhem to save their unborn child. Charming as they may be, Sally reigns supreme in coolness as did Rosemary in original. I paid to see demons dammit!

A darn good sequel if I do say so myself. After the movie Clu turned to me and said "So what'd ya think?" and I said "it was great! I loved it!", he said "Me too. It's my favorite of the two." WOW, so there you have it folks.

Things I learned tonight:

*Claudio Simonetti is pretty handsome for his age
*He wears a t-shirt for his own band. Which doesn't do anything for him. In fact it's kinda dorky. That would be like me wearing a shirt with my own face on it.
*Scotchlite is the cheapest way to create glowing demon eyes.
*Bobby Rhodes' awesome Rudy Ray Moore voice definitely isn't his own since he barely speaks English.
* Clu Gulager prefers Demons 2 to the original.

I might disagree ever so slightly with Clu, but that's not to say I didn't adore Demons 2. I love them both but the original has a mysticism and finesse that can't quite be matched. It's a classic and I would encourage anyone who hasn't seen it to drop everything and get on that shit!

Over all it was a most excellent event! All that was missing was Lamberto Bava and maybe some William Castle-esque shenanigans to make it even more festive. Ahh well, you can't win them all! But you can come pretty close when it comes to the New Beverly!


Starlet (1969)

This movie felt like a swan song of sorts. The tragic end of the marathon and also somewhat cheekily autobiographical. Starlet is about the adult movie industry, more specifically the production of Nudies. A young devil-may-care softcore pornstress is easily swayed into going hardcore by her sleazy director Phil Latio (yep).  She sleeps her way to the top becoming more and more successful. The role of the sordid producer is played by Russ Meyer alumni Stuart Lancaster. He's got that whole slimy thing down pat. She has two roommates, one a slutty free love bleach blonde Liza Minelli look-alike who runs around in a short smock and no underwear AT ALL. Her other roommate is much more prudent. An "actress" who's ironically engaged to a smut director. She also has one of the weirdest birthmarks I've ever seen, I kept thinking there was spilled wine on her chest.

There's a lot of betrayal, hard feelings and general diva antics. Considering this was the last film in the marathon I was feeling pretty much rung out to dry. Completely desensitized to humping and hijinks, this marginally entertaining depiction of casting couch film making was about as un-sexy as Blood Feast. The acting is fair and the plot holds your attention but I was a bit underwhelmed with this one. I see what they were doing here and it was a noble attempt but next to Space Thing, Starlet is my least favorite of the bunch. Which makes sense because that would be book ending the festival with the weaker movies that only the die hards could bravely survive.

Director Richard Kanter did several blue movies in the 60's and 70's including Thar She Blows, The Erotic Adventures of Robin Hood (both Friedman) and Wild Riders. The Starlet herself, Shari Mann didn't do much else outside of Pussycat Sexploitation. She does offer an interesting take on a character you might otherwise find undignified. She plays Alison Jordan AKA "Starliss Knight" very cool. Her shrewdness could almost be viewed as wisdom considering her bold career moves campily made everyone rich and happy in the end.

In summary, this event is one to be cherished. With it's ups and downs it was an over all success. An amazing turn out and a thoroughly entertaining experience I'm proud to be apart of. Honestly, I'm a little impressed with myself for making it through the whole damn thing. As I mentioned in my introduction, I've never watched 7 movies in a row before. Let alone in a theater in rapid succession. It made a man out of me and I have the New Beverly and the course the late David F. Friedman to thank for that.

(R.I.P December 24th 1923 - February 14th 2011)

The Pick-Up (1968)

I had no idea what to expect from The Pick-Up. Based on the rest of the festival I anticipated plenty of sex and violence, and I wasn't far off. What I wasn't expecting was a respectable post-noir movie reminiscent of gritty Euro-crime cinema. The story follows two mob couriers who make a pick-up of a large amount of money in Vegas and are instructed to drive it back to their boss in Los Angeles. Along the way they see two attractive girls stranded on the side of the road with car trouble. The smarter of the two, Tony, wants to press on because he understands the gravity of the situation. The rookie, Frankie, has a one track mind so he insists that they turn around and go help the girls. Frankie ultimately gets his way so they end up giving the girls a ride. This is when we're reminded that it's still a David F. Friedman movie, Frankie and the cuter of the two girls start to get it on in the backseat making for a very awkward moment in the front seat. That is until they stop at an auto shop where the front seat girl goes in and claims their car will be towed there within the next few hours. What better opportunity to go get a motel room and fuck total strangers, right? The whole thing stinks to high heaven and I can't believe these poor saps are fell for it. So they go, they get separate rooms and they start to go at it. Sure enough, the girls have guns, the guys get tied to the bed so they make off with the car AND the money. The guys are in deep shit.

From there the story goes on to show the guys in a frenzy trying to catch up with the thieving ladies because if they can't get the money back, they'll surely be killed. It would have been a much better movie without all the gross sex, and I really just mean naked David F. Friedman in an awkward sex scene I'll not soon forget. Director Lee Frost is responsible for such b-movie fodder as The Thing With Two Heads, Love Camp 7, Mondo Bizarro, Black Gestapo and the Defilers. His team up with Friedman who has formerly been his rival, was a match made in some kind of softcore nipple electrocuting heaven.

Mike Vraney, owner and founder of Something Weird Video told a great story about his hunt for The Pick-Up. Friedman considered it the Holy Grail of his lost roughies. As far as he knew there were no existing prints in the world. Vraney, who is a real cinematic archeologist made it a personal goal to track it down. After decades of hunting he finally found a print in a vault in Copenhagen Denmark. The print he discovered that day is the one readily available on DVD-R in the Something Weird catalog in English with Danish subtitles. It's also the print we were shown for the event. In my research I cam across the Swedish title, "Den vilda jakten på nakenbrudarna" , which hilariously translates to "Romancing the Naked Chicks".

After sitting for hours in the theater absorbing everything that was being thrown at me it was nice to take a step back and watch a solid suspense film. The Pick-Up is perhaps not for everyone's taste but worth a look for connoisseurs of cult crime anti-classics, Something Weirdos, and David F. Friedman fans alike.

Blood Feast (1963)

For whatever reason, Blood Feast has always been considered controversial. You would think after 40 years of trash and torture porn people would ease up on it a bit but if you browse reviews for the film , you'll most likely find vents of antipathy towards it. Even at the David Friedman retrospective several of the speakers referred to it as "vomitous", "grotesque" and of course just flat out terrible. It didn't help that I had a couple of idiots behind me who thought their commentary was more entertaining than the movie. Perhaps I'm a bit biased but I don't really view Blood Feast as being anything less than a pioneer of it's genre. The invention of "Gore" alone is worth endless praise. I guess I just never took Blood Feast very seriously, other than it being seriously entertaining.

I'm I the only one whoever thought that the guy on the poster looks more like Mark Twain than Fuad Ramses?

Mal Arnold plays Fuad Ramses, an Egyptian caterer who runs a store that specializes in exotic cuisine. When a woman comes in and hires him to cater her daughter's party he realizes that this is the perfect opportunity to prepare his human feast for the Goddess Ishtar. We see Ishtar and she appears to be a mannequin spray painted gold. He goes on his killing spree where we're treated to seeing him maim young girls in various different ways taking certain body parts for his cannibalistic buffet.

I always found Blood Feast to be a somewhat beautiful film. I know I know, ridiculous, right? Upon every viewing I feel like I'm put in a trance. It's hazy and confusing in it's absurdity. It's both nightmarish and charming. There's an otherworldly aura surrounding the film. It really feels like it was made in another time and place, and I don't mean Miami in 1963. The music adds to this, Lewis' score of organ music and tribal drums sets an arcane undertone to the production. Fuad himself is such a strange little villain. He's a cartoon and I can't be reviled by him. He has giant penciled in eyebrows, a dramatic limp and a distinctly over characterized accent that makes you want to hang on to his every word. You might even find yourself rooting for him, because he's certainly the most likable character in the movie. I can hardly resent the film or H.G. Lewis that the end result is a little cheesy. Ok, so it's a lot cheesy, so what? I don't believe for a second that Lewis and Friedman weren't completely aware of what they were making, and let's face it, they're exploitation filmmakers who were out to turn a buck. There are obvious moments where the film it pokes fun at itself. The dim witted cops offer exagerated comic relief by supplying the narrative and re-explaining events the audience has already witnessed on screen. Of course there's also Fuad's book Ancient Weird Religious Rites which I think is rather self explanatory and proof that the filmmakers had a sense of humor.

Love it or hate it, Blood Feast is a cult classic that's spawned remakes, rip-offs even an overdue sequel in 2002. I happen to think it's a GREAT movie. Not kidding here. In all of it's flaws it's held up as a festive frolic of raw unrefined carnage. It's not going anywhere and will likely continue stirring up mixed feelings for generations to come.


A Smell of Honey, A Swallow of Brine (1966)

This movie is essentially about the dangers of being a cock tease. Stacey Walker plays Sharon Winters, a tempestuous sex pot who gets her kicks by luring men (and women) into thinking she's going to go all the way with them. The movie begins with a hot and heavy make out session in a car that's about to take a turn for the penetrative. She's nude, he's aroused and suddenly she starts telling him to stop. He won't, he's too worked up for that. There's a struggle then right as the title appears Sharon pops up and screams "RAPE!". This opening sequence is a very memorable one, and a wonderful introduction to our main character. A cop comes to her aid and the boy gets arrested and is sentenced to several years in a boot camp. My first thought at this point in the movie is that this will be her decent into whorishness.

Earlier in the David F. Friedman marathon they had shown a trailer for A Smell of Honey, A Swallow of Brine where she is repeatedly referred to as "the worst kind of woman". The men in the audience are warned to avoid women like Sharon Winters, and the women are urged to see what she is so that we can be glad we're not like her. The trailer goes on to state the debauchery we're to bare witness too, and we're shown examples with scenes of Miss Winters being whipped while chained up in a dark room and performing fellatio on a coke bottle. I basically expected her to be the biggest slut ever. Boy was I wrong...

After the trial Sharon seems unscathed and quite pleased with herself. She lays half naked on her bed and talks to her lesbian roommate in a very suggestive conversation which dances around the subject of desires for one another. Sharon goes on to tell her roommate that she has a date with a boring guy from the office and that she's in for an uneventful night. When her date arrives, you can immediately see he's uncomfortable with her forth rightness. He's a fuddy duddy and brings a nice little gift for Sharon, who's wearing nothing but a bathrobe. She pours him a giant tumbler full of rum and invites him upstairs so he can "talk to her" while she takes a bath. Cleverly positioned, we can see her undressing slowly for the camera in the mirror. He's becoming more and more uncomfortable. She gets out and lays on her bed asking him if he's ever made love to a woman. He's timid but ultimately accepts her forward invitation. After all of this prolonged stimuli you're kind of ready for them to have sex, but sure enough, what happens? "Stop it! I'm a virgin, stop! RAPE!". The first scenario left a lot to speculation but after this poor sap you begin to see that she's kind of just a crazy bitch. She laughs as he runs for the door, never to be seen again.

Her next victim is her own roommate who's been lusting after Sharon for a long time. She obliges her in some girl on girl touchy-feely time but invariably reacts the same way when things get a little too steamy. This scene ends with the famous line "I may be a bitch, but I'll never be a butch", with her kicking her roommates ass to the curb.

The next victim is my favorite. A new co-worker, Lowell Carter, a handsome all around good guy. He's instantly attracted to her and they begin to date. She plays it cool at first, obviously wanting to extend her fun. Long kisses at the end of the night, and he's very respectable. He takes his blue balls and leaves in peace. Then he begins to have very salacious and quite violent dreams about Sharon. This is where most of the trailer footage comes from. Her being chained and whipped by him, and then the reverse, her with devilish make-up in sex black undies whipping him. My favorite scene is in one of these dreams. He's sitting at a bar, shaky, smoking a cigarette while she's stripping coming at him from the other end of the long stretch. She takes off her top and we see these ridiculously huge pasties that look like giant black nipples. The look on his face really sums up our feeling watching all of this go one. At that point you're pretty much ready for Sharon to just screw someone, and who better than poor Lowell. He's been so nice and I actually started to believe that he meant it when he said that he was falling in love with her. Her manipulative games planted this ugly seed of aggression in his mind, eventually bringing out his violent urges which explodes on screen in a way I'll resist from mentioning as to not engage in too many spoilers.

Lowell was an ok guy, and that was the most extended tease yet. After he's out of the picture, how could we go on? Well, let's just say she meets her match and her life is altered, forcibly, and in a very ironic way. If not so comically fitting, it's bruteness could be mistaken for chauvinistic. You can't really think in those terms as far as sexploitaton movies go, or David F. Friedman for that matter. Sharon Winters really could be considered "the worst kind of woman" but not for the reasons I would have automatically assumed. This is a very erotic and stylish film. I was pleasantly surprised by it's steady incline of tension and the amusing outcome. This was my favorite movie in this film fest of the ones I had not already seen (stay tuned for my review of Blood Feast) and was a perfect choice for the middle slot, as it perked me up for the remaining films. Stacey Walker was charming, funny, had a great/bad laugh and teetered between being sexy and skanky perfectly. She spends most of the movie being naked or half dressed and yet there is relatively no sex at all. This is a very special roughie, possibly my all time favorite of the genre and I give it my utmost recommendation! I'll be buying my own copy very soon!

Stick around, there's more to come in this David F. Friedman marathon. Next we take a break from sex and focus on what made the Godfather of Gore infamous in BLOOD FEAST <3


She Freak (1967)

With David F. Friedman's background as a carny, She Freak could be considered his opus. He traveled with carnivals when he was a kid which gives us a lot of insight into his legacy. She Freak is about a small town southern Waitress, Jade Cochran, who wants a better life for herself. So she quits her job and starts waiting tables for a carnival food stand. Definitely doesn't appear to be much better but she's happy with the change of scene and the opportunity to travel. She meets a lot of people, including a burlesque dancer named Moon who becomes her roommate. She also meets a beefy tough guy named Blackie who runs the ferris wheel. She's instantly drawn to him. Jade inquires to Moon about the single men around the carnival, Moon describes a few eligible bachelors. The most appealing was the well-off Steve St. John, who runs the freak show. Jade is starting to show signs of her gold digging nature by instantly being interested in him because of his money. She pursues Steve (played by Bill McKinney, who spoke before the showing) and they begin courting. During this time, she also hooks up with Blackie for a one night stand. Uh oh! Our little midget friend from the side show see's her leaving his cabin late at night which is a good sign that there's trouble to come.

For fear of giving too much away, I'll leave the plot description at that. I'll just add one thing, if you haven't seen this, expect a blatant rip-off of Todd Brownings Freaks. That's not a bad thing though, it's a nice homage and certainly has it's own flair. One of the most interesting aspects of She Freak is the documentary style footage of carnival life. In between the story we're shown in great detail the routines of the workers, the vendors, the rides, the side-shows,the game booths, the food being prepared and even the tents and rides being taken down and re-built. Where as Freaks showed us how these infamous people with seemingly unlivable disabilities function, She Freak shows us the gritty lifestyle and occupations of your average carny folk. They even break down the lingo for us.

It's really quite a remarkable film when you look at the big picture. It's educational and the story is an pays respect to one of the greatest movies ever made. The acting isn't too bad in my opinion either. Claire Brennan does a wonderful job as the greedy, underhanded Jade Cochran, and Bill McKinney would go on to star in movies like the Outlaw Josey Wales, First Blood, the Green Mile and most infamously as Ned Beatty's redneck rapist in Deliverance.

She Freak is definitely not to everyone's taste. Even fans of b-movies might be a little disappointed. There is a lack of freaks in the movie, which is what the title is trying to sell you on. As I'm sure David F. Friedman knew when he made it, you can't please everyone. If you're interested in seeing a historical account of carnival life with a fairly entertaining modern (for the 60's) spin on Freaks, then surely check it out.

Stay tuned for my next David F. Friedman review! A Smell of Honey, A Swallow of Brine...


Scum of the Earth (1963)

Herschell Gordon Lewis has been a favorite director of mine for years. His movies (and maybe Basket Case as well) are single handedly responsible for introducing me to Something Weird Video when I was in my teens. Naturally, a few would slip through the cracks. I focussed on his gore movies almost completely over looking his other facets of exploitation. Scum of the Earth was a title noticed, but with so much schlock to go through it remained just another notch on my massive to-see list. I hadn't even realized that it's known for the most infamous speech in the entire Something Weird catalog.

For a movie that at first glance could appear to be just another trashy exploitation flick, it's surprisingly tasteful. Like an artfully executed after school special. A talented smut photographer, Harmon Johnson played by William Kerwin, and an ex-model played by Sandra Sinclair are stuck in an illegal pornography ring. Sandy wants out and the boss has promised this to her if she can produce a new model. The target: a young college bound girl. She needs tuition money and they tell her she'll just be modeling shoes and bathing suits. It starts well, she's happy with her new job and fast cash. Harmon earns her trust and they develop a friendship. The boss, Mr. Lang played by Lawrence J. Aberwood is a serious cigar chomping asshole. He's got sleaze written all over him. There's also a few lackies named Ajax and Larry. Ajax is a hulking buffoon who likes to play rough with the models. Larry is played by Mal Arnold, infamous for portraying the wild eyed, Ishtar worshiping  Egyptian feast making Fuad Ramses in Herschell Gordon Lewis' legendary Blood Feast. I can't even express how excited I was to see him in another roll. Hilariously, his character constantly reminds us that he's a minor, when he's obviously at at least thirty. Adding even more irony is that he plays an old man in Blood Feast which was made the same year. It's this kind of campy foul play that has made me a fan of anything with H.G. Lewis' name on it. Mal Arnold isn't the only Lewis/Friedman alumni. William Kerwin is also a major player in Blood Feast, A Taste of Blood, Two Thousand Maniacs, Suburban Roulette, the Adventures of Lucky Pierre and Bell, Bare and Beautiful. I always enjoy seeing him as the ideal straight man. That's what I love about Scum of the Earth, we get to see him break away from that and play a sleaze for a change, and I might add he never looked better. White hair on the sides and a five o'clock shadow. I barely recognized him with all that sexiness going on.

Although Scum of the Earth is considered a roughie, it's quite tame. As I mentioned there's almost no nudity, just silhouettes and a few I-think-I-just-saw-a-nipple moments. Unlike most roughies, this film has a happy ending! So you can look forward to not needing a shower afterwards. Based on Lawrence J. Aberwood's notorious "You're Damaged Merchandise, and this is a Fire Sale" speech, you would expect a lot more trashy happenings. In the end we're left with what could be considered an exceptionally well made public service announcement on the dangers of pornographers. Which I believe is a wink at the audience since that's what H.G. Lewis and even more so David F. Friedman are famous for. They turned themselves into overly caricaturized villains for this movie.

This has become an instant favorite of mine. It may be a little too modest for some exploitation fans, but for me Mr. Aberwood's venomous sermon on why Little Miss Muffet is dirty deep down inside, do you hear me? Dirty! I think his vileness makes up for the lack of vulgarity from the other characters. On that note, I'll leave you with something you've probably seen hundreds of times...

Stay tuned for my third review in the David F. Friedman retrospective, She Freak. Until then I bid you adieu...


Space Thing (1968)

I'm just going to go ahead and say it. This was the weakest movie in the marathon. That's probably why they showed it first at 3pm to the sparse audience of early comers. That's still speaking highly of this entire event because I did quite enjoy it.

A man obsessed with sci-fi magazines finds himself bored with his horny wife, when she complains about the magazines coming in between them he puts them down momentarily to take us into a long awkward sex scene (the first of many I would see in the course of the next 12 hours). Post coitus he immediately starts gazing at his beloved science fiction comics again and without notice we're taken into a world of fantasy where our bored husband is posing as an alien (a human looking alien) to infiltrate an enemy space ship which just happens to be crawling with half nude women. They all of course find him irresistible and are itching to get him alone for, um, probing?

"Visit The Planet Of the Rapes!"  - HA! How misleading!

The movie doesn't really go anywhere. Its known as "the worst sci-fi movie ever made with nudity", which I think is an accurate description, although Doris Wishman's Nude on the Moon is viable contender. There's something very Ed Wood feeling about this movie. The forced dialog carries out the half assed plot humorously. The protagonist constantly reminds the audience of his revulsion to these femaliens, but how he MUST complete his mission. The few other men on the ship are apparently inadequate. The captain is a sexy dominatrix, she of course eventually comes around and wants to sleep with him too.

The sex scenes are the most boring part of the movie. They aren't really having sex, just making out. The girl is naked, the guy usually isn't, they lay side by side on a space bed and do this for for at least five minutes at a time. I would notice over the course of the evening that this is David F. Friedman's choice manner in which he exploits sex. More like suggestive dry humping if you ask me. The aspects that make some of these movies raunchy aren't the "sex", it's the prolonged foreplay. At the beginning of Space Thing for example, there's a painfully long scene where his wife is licking his, um...something hairy...I never really figured out what. It just looked like she had a mouth full of hair. It was truly revolting!

I loved that the opening credits of Space Thing were painted on a female body.

The climax of the movie, which is set in the desert (supposedly an alien planet), is mostly the girls topless running around the barren rocky landscape. It also features the most laughably ineffective "explosion" I've ever seen in a  movie.

This review is running a little short, but it was a very short movie! I'm glad I was able to catch it at the theater. I would have never sought it out myself and being just barely over and hour it was a nice aperitif for the main attractions.


A Tribute to David F. Friedman

I was lucky enough to attend a 12 hour David Friedman retrospective last Saturday at the New Beverly. There are several reasons this occasion was very special. New Bev's celebrity tributes are always heart warming and sincere, no matter how sleazy the films are. There's an enthusiam amongst the audience and staff that creates creates a comfortable environment for movie fanatics alike. Then there's the movies themselves, beautifully unrestored in all of their 33mm glory. Whether you have a penchant for cult movies or classics, the New Beverly really delivers the bacon.

David F. Friedman was always just a name I saw on my H.G. Lewis movies or peppered in my Something Weird catalogs. I noticed that he produced mostly nudies, which based on what I've seen from other schlockmiesters isn't a very exciting genre. Mildly (at best) entertaining plots sparsely inserted between painfully drawn out soft core sex scenes. This prevented me from digging much deeper than my beloved Herschell's filmography. Although Friedman was a blip on my cinematic radar, my fandom definitely came to fruition with the passing of this phenomenal tribute.

When I saw the advertisement on the flyer, only a few of the films had been announced. I was mostly excited about Blood Feast. It's been one of my favorites for years and the prospects of seeing it in the theater seemed too good to be true. I've taken a lot of time off of work recently for various events so I decided to leave this one up to fate. If I got the day off, great. If not, oh well. As chance would have it, I got the day off. My husband unfortunately didn't so it looked like I was flying solo. I thought about just catching three or four of the movies, then realized that it didn't make sense to only see a few when I had the whole night clear and this was kind of a once in a lifetime event. So I showed up at 3pm for the first movie, Space Thing, which you can expect a review for shortly.

I walked in knowing relatively nothing about David F. Friedman, after 12 hours and several guest speakers telling stories I felt like we were good friends. I feel kind of blindsided by this whole aspect of exploitation which is slightly embarrassing considering it's been staring me in the face for years. So I'm writing this blog to set up my next 7 reviews. That's right, I'm reviewing each every one of the films that were burned into my retinas during that 12 hour period. I've never watched that many movies in one sitting before. Four, maybe five at my most obsessive during a period of unemployment. This whole event has really swept me away. I've felt strange and on some kind of smut movie high for days. That could also be the head cold I caught from sitting confined place breathing the same stale air as 50 or so other people for 12 hours. Yuck. Totally worth it, and even perhaps fitting?

So here's the line up...

Space Thing (1968)
Scum of the Earth (1963)
She Freak (1967)
A Smell of Honey, A Swallow of Brine (1966)
Blood Feast (1963)
The Pick-Up (1968)
Starlet (1969)

I'm going to try and review them straight through, as to not get distracted by other movies I may watch before I complete this task. Be sure to check back, I should have my review for Space Thing up before the night is over.