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Friday, May 21, 2010

THE BEST OF SEX AND VIOLENCE (1981)

I love how the guy representing "Violence" resembles a post-apocalyptic Tommy Chong.

Back in the days of my misspent youth I had a friend named Kenny who was the one kid I could always count on for tales of outrageous movies that he'd somehow stumbled across in whitebread Westport, CT. in the pre-VHS days (some of the moneyed families we knew had such luxury items, but the likes of Kenny and myself didn't get properly hooked up in that department until around 1984). The most memorable film he ever described was a little charmer entitled OLD MacDONALD'S FARM, a rather eye-opening selection from his dad's incorrectly-presumed-hidden library of 8mm hardcore pornography that was Kenny's first exposure to the magical world of grainy bestiality, and when Kenny recounted its grimy highlights all the kids in our junior high art class paid rapt attention and sat there in sheer shock. Our mutual pal Matt backed up Kenny's claims and since everyone knew Matt was a source to be trusted we bought Kenny's impromptu film review and from then on gave ear whenever he'd say, "I saw the most fucked-up movie the other day..."

At some point during our high school years Kenny mentioned some movie he'd seen at the local combination art house/grindhouse movie theater, Norwalk's Sono Cinema, and though he could not recall its title I was intrigued by his recounting of it. The nameless film in question was apparently a collection of "coming attractions for movies that never come," hosted by a nearly dead and visibly-crippled-by-arthritis John Carradine (a very respected character actor from the golden age of Hollywood, for all you young 'uns what don't know), and packed to the rafters with an avalanche of unforgettable trailer come-on copy of the kind they simply can't replicate nowadays. I'd heard of a handful of the films Kenny described as being represented, but the majority of them made me scratch my head and wonder if he was making up most of them (Matt had by this time moved a few towns away and was no longer on hand to verify Kenny's cinematic education). Since Kenny couldn't remember the film's title and none of my friends who worked at the Sono were there for the one-shot midnight show when it ran I had no verification if this alleged cornucopia of sleaze even existed, so for once I wrote it off as Kenny bullshitting me for the sake of spinning an entertaining story and soon forgot all about it.

Then came college and a few years of drunk and utterly stoned VHS movie-watching, and at some point during that time a fellow sleaze film junkie, a freshman who would later go on to be known as "Selwyn Harris" (one of the undisputed experts on the grindhouse pleasures of the Deuce in its heyday), invited me to watch a tape of trailers provided by his roommate. The tape was entitled THE BEST OF SEX AND VIOLENCE and as I watched it it seemed familiar, miraculously battering through my damaged brain cells to get to the memory of Kenny's yarn from five years prior. When I realized what I was watching I let out a scream of recognition and explained the Kenny connection to my fellow viewers, both of whom where shocked that it had actually received a theatrical run. As soon as possible I obtained a copy for myself and over the next several years dragged any who were willing to sit through it into its squalid depths, eventually yielding a fiercely loyal audience among my friends who were still in Westport as we made the transition from college to the world of grownup life and responsibilities.

THE BEST OF SEX AND VIOLENCE is by no means a particularly good trailer compilation but it is indeed entertaining, and for every dreary coming attraction like THE WORKING GIRLS or THE MANHANDLERS, there's a FAIRY TALES or EBONY, IVORY & JADE to be had. With the exception of 1980's THE BOOGEYMAN and TANYA'S ISLAND, all the films included hail from the late 1960's and the 1970's, covering several genres, including biker sleaze, Euro sexploitation, blaxploitation, women in prison T & A epics, softcore (and not-so-softcore) porn comedies, and of course horror. Perhaps 95% of the films represented are outright shit, but THE BEST OF SEX AND VIOLENCE is where I first heard of the now legendary DOLEMITE and its sublime sequel, THE HUMAN TORNADO, so it was well worth sitting through more than once.

This cheapjack pseudo-documentary opens with a shot of an attractive blonde walking down the street in broad daylight as an ominous Casio-generated tune is heard on the soundtrack to suggest menace. She looks around nervously and soon begins to run as an unseen attacker gives chase. Then for no apparent reason she's seen running full tilt, only now she's clad in naught but a pair of panties as her breasts flop all over the goddamned place, mere seconds before the camera shifts to show a masculine arm driving a switchblade into the lens as the woman's scream is heard. It is at that moment that the titles appear, accompanied by some clearly disinterested offscreen singers belting out "Sex...and Vi-Oh-Lence!!!" and we're off to the races.

The film includes the following trailers, supplemented by truly awful jokes croaked forth by John Carradine and a bizarre segment in which his sons David (he of KUNG FU television fame and later the KILL BILL films) and Keith flank him and do nothing but look into the camera with faces filled with embarrassment for a few seconds before the next coming attraction kicks in:
  • BURY ME AN ANGEL (1972)
A rock-bottom-cheap biker movie starring Dixie Peabody (Who???) as a biker chick described as "a howling hellcat, humping a hot steel hog an a roaring rampage of revenge." Cheap-looking though the trailer is, it doesn't even begin to communicate just how poverty row the movie is, to say nothing of giving any hint as to its extraordinarily high boredom factor. I'll spare you seeing the film with this capsule synopsis: Biker chick seeks revenge on the murderer of her brother, who, at the end of the film, is revealed to have been her lover.
  • THE DOBERMAN GANG (1972)
One of a couple of boring heist movies involving the title dog breed.
  • TUNNEL VISION (1975)
An occasionally brilliant series of TV-related gags revolving about the programming on an all-uncensored television network in the future year of 1985. The funny bits in the movie itself are hilarious, but you have to wade through a lot of crap to get to the gems, plus the trailer does absolutely zero to get one interested in seeing the film.
  • THE SIN OF ADAM AND EVE (1969)
A boring-looking Mexican nudie flick about Adam and Eve, in which Adam has an unusually greasy ass and fights a number of wild animals before putting the bone to Eve (and her happenin' high maintenance hairdo).
  • BILL OSCO'S ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1976)
A mildly pornographic and incredibly annoying musical version of the Lewis Carroll classic. I recall seeing newspaper ads for this while visiting my dad in Washington, D.C. when this came out, and I was amazed the paper was able to get away with an illustration of Alice sitting on what was quite clearly a mushroom-penis.
  • CINDERELLA (1977)
A softcore fairy tale sendup, of note solely for starring exploitation mainstay Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith and the black dude who played Lyte in REPO MAN as her cross-dressing fairy godmother.
  • FAIRY TALES (1978)
Another musical adult fairy tale sendup that has a few truly funny segments including a terrific ode to the joys of female-empowered S&M and a jaw-dropping bit in which Snow White (see above) sings about "the seven little wonders" of her world as a gaggle of dwarves with shit-eating grins merrily undress her prior to simultaneously jumping her. Those highlights are both thankfully seen in the trailer.
  • EMANUELLE AROUND THE WORLD (1977)
One of the seeming legion of turgid (and not in a good way) softcore flicks starring the sexually inquisitive Emanuelle character.
  • TANYA'S ISLAND (1980)
In which former girlfriend of Prince and future Vanity 6 frontwoman Vanity (appearing as "D.D. Winters") gets boned up the ass by a guy in an ape suit (which is in the trailer). NOTE: said ass-raunchin' ape guy was Rob Bottin, the makeup effects genius behind THE HOWLING (1981) and John Carpenter's THE THING (1982).
  • I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978)
Almost unwatchably nasty, love it or hate it, this is one of the undisputed classics of the rape/revenge genre and all I have to say on this one can be found here.
  • TOURIST TRAP (1979)
A decent shocker that played endlessly on the Tri-State Area's Channel 9 for much of the 1980's.
  • THE BOOGEYMAN (1980)
An Italian-made slasher entry about shards of a haunted mirror that cause gory havoc.
  • ZOMBIE (1979)
Perhaps the best-known of the many Italian DAWN OF THE DEAD ripoffs, and definitely one of the dullest.
  • THE SINGLE GIRLS (1974)
Boring sexploitation fodder.
  • THE WORKING GIRLS (1974)
See above (although Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson is in it with her natural red hair, though that's little consolation).
  • THE MANHANDLERS (1975)
See above (only minus Cassandra Peterson).
  • DR. MINX (1975)
A really boring sexploitationer, of note only because it stars Edy (BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS) Williams, who was once married to legendary big-titty maven Russ Meyer.
  • TRUCK STOP WOMEN (1974)
C.B.-era tomfoolery starring the late and super-hot Claudia (GATOR BAIT) Jennings.
  • THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE (1973)
An unimaginably boring ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU knockoff featuring a young Pam Grier as a human/panther hybrid.
  • BEYOND ATLANTIS (1973)
Dull crap about scantily-clad undersea cavegirl types.
  • THE DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT (1973)
Dull Euro-horror.
  • SWEET SUGAR (1972)
Mediocre women in prison antics set at a sugar cane plantation.
  • TERMINAL ISLAND (1973)
A terrific trailer featuring a heavily-guarded penal island where the co-ed prisoners make their own laws (in other words the strong horribly subjugate the weak; you do the math), with Marta Kristen (formerly Judy Robinson on LOST IN SPACE) and a pre-MAGNUM P.I. Tom Selleck and Roger E. Mosley.
  • EBONY, IVORY & JADE (1976)
An outstanding trailer that completely disguises what a boring piece of shit the movie actually is.
  • DR. BLACK & MR. HYDE (1976)
In which kindly inner city doctor Bernie Casey injects himself with a serum that turns him into a homicidal white man (by "white" I mean it looks like somebody dumped liberal amounts of flour all over him. Seriously!). This ran forever on Channel 9 during the pre-cable days, only in a version that edited out all the violence and naked women, much of which can thankfully be found in the trailer.
  • DOLEMITE (1975)
The movie itself may be a study in artistic incompetence, but the trailer for DOLEMITE is a tour de force on how to sell a turd to unsuspecting audiences. This now-legendary example of pimpalicious blaxploitation comedy is shilled with incredibly over-the-top tag lines and clips of ludicrous action and profanity that instantly make all who see it want to immediately watch the movie. I saw the trailer on the VHS tape of THE BEST OF SEX AND VIOLENCE in 1987and since DOLEMITE was still quite obscure to mainstream audiences at the time, it took me another three years to finally see the movie and let me tell you that it was not worth the wait.
  • THE HUMAN TORNADO (1976)
The direct sequel to DOLEMITE, THE HUMAN TORNADO is everything its predecessor was not (even though it's still strictly amateur hour film-making) and has gone on to become one of my all-time favorite movies. The trailer, though fun, does not even begin to do it justice, so I strongly urge you to track it down for yourself.
  • DISCO GODFATHER (1979)
Now known for some inexplicable reason as AVENGING DISCO GODFATHER on DVD, this was the last gasp of the features turned out by DOLEMITE creator Rudy ray Moore and when one sees the film for oneself there's little wonder why. Released at the ass end of the disco craze, it's the story of a deejay who takes on evil PCP pushers with his feeble fat-assed karate stylings when not spinning platters at a roller disco while punctuating every sentence with loud exhortations to "put some weight on it." The trailer shows you all you'll ever need to know about the movie, so its brevity is less a sales pitch than an act of kindness.

When the trailer for DISCO GODFATHER ends, Carradine states that the only thing that could keep him from hosting THE BEST OF SEX AND VIOLENCE PART 2 would be the end of the world, so of course the camera immediately cuts to a cheap globe prop that explodes as we're treated to a reprise of "Sex...and Vi-Oh-Lence!!!"

The bottom line on this one is that THE BEST OF SEX AND VIOLENCE is a surefire winner if put on during a boozy late-night gathering of like-minded sleaze addicts, especially those who have not yet seen it. If nothing else, it's likely to spur the uninitiated to track down grindhouse movies for their own edification, and the preservation of that now-extinct in-theater genre and indelible part of this nation's cinematic history is a noble pursuit.

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