Director: Rudy Ricci and John Russo
Synapse Films

In the late 1960s, having honed their skills on industrial films, beer commercials and episodes of "Mr. Rogers", a group of Pittsburghian filmmakers converged to shoot a little independent picture about reanimated corpses that would forever change the landscape of horror cinema. Almost a decade later, much of the same crew would reconvene, this time to try their hand at making a comedy, one whose focus would appeal to the ongoing sexual awareness and revolution of the 1970’s. Initially slated to be shot in New York City with a budget in excess of $1 million, fall backs and investor dropouts relocated the picture to familiar Pennsylvania territory with a reduced budget of $20,000. Several edits and title changes later, THE BOOBY HATCH was unveiled to a willing and eager public.

Established in 1953 by Thelonious Suck (Sam Schwartz credited as N. Detroit), Joyful Novelties Inc. prides itself in being at the forefront of the sex toy industry. To ensure quality and remain on the cutting edge of adult novelties and marital aids, every dildo, tickler, love doll and lube is thoroughly tested by highly trained professionals, under the watchful eye of product creators and scientists. Cherry Jankowski (Sharon Joy Miller) is one such product tester. An ideal employee, deeply motivated with a strong work ethic, Cherry’s home life is unfortunately in shambles. Her live-in boyfriend Herman (Doug Sortino) is a transvestite who hates it when she brings her work home, her building's janitor ends each shift by pestering her with stuttering obscene phone calls and her next door neighbor is constantly tricking her into compromising situations. To make matters worse, the one person who Cherry can confide in, her co-worker Marcello Fettucini (Rudy Ricci) may soon be collecting unemployment as he is battling a severe case of impotence that could leave him with pink slip in hand. With his boss and his family ready to disown him, Marcello tries every possible stimulus that science has to offer but nothing will allow for his “associate” to rise to the occasion. Picked on by co-workers and his Humphrey Bogart impersonating brother (David Emge), his thoughts turn to suicide but Cherry’s unquenchable thirst for sexual satisfaction might just be the miracle cure that can keep Fettuccini’s noodle from remaining limp.

Lathered in double entendres, blatant innuendo and fifth grade dick jokes, THE BOOBY HATCH is an interesting curiosity for fans of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, given its familiar cast of Romero alum but as sexplotation pictures go, the film can’t quite get it up. The jokes are juvenile and often just plain silly, which isn’t to say that there are a few gags that do hit there mark, it’s just that they are few and far between. Most of the film's sexual situations are habitually light, almost a lampoon of the industrial pictures that much of the crew cut their teeth on and the triple X fare which at the time was becoming chic. As such, the film's attempts to comment on every sexual position, preference and proclivity tend to feel forced, making light of the situation such subjects as rape and erectile dysfunction, which are hardly comedic gold. Many setups, such as a press conference to introduce the Sonic Stimulator, a device that allows one to experience an orgasm without physical contact (doesn’t sound like much fun), simply goes nowhere, providing neither laughs or breasts, and therein may be my biggest gripe. Considering the film's title, the lack of any significant or memorable trips down mammary lane is a bit of a let down. Instead the viewer is treated to far too many scenes of hairy men’s asses, grinding and thrusting their way to a quick climax. John Russo, co-writer of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, provides some insight into this problem on the disc's commentary in the revelation that while one actress may have no problem with being topless, she would however refuse to be shot sans panties, only to turn around and find another actress who refused to go shirtless but had no problem in showing her tush. Such frustrations lead to scenes being blocked in such a way to take full advantage of what few assets where available at the time.

While most of the cast are forgettable, especially star Sharon Joy Miller, fans of George A. Romero will spot more then one familiar face in front of the camera, most notably David Emge, who is best known as Flyboy in DAWN OF THE DEAD. Other Romero players include star/co-writer/co-director Rudy Ricci, also a Monroeville Mall veteran; Ricci played one of the motorcycle gang members in DAWN as well as working behind the scenes in several other Romero projects. Something about George Kosana's face must scream law enforcement, as just as in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD he dons a badge in HATCH as the police chief who questions Fettucini after his botched suicide attempt, and according to this release's commentary track, Ricci's brother, a real life scientist, was called in to play just such an occupation for BOOBY just as he was for NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD where he played a Washington D.C. scientist.

Theatrically released through Constellation Films Inc, THE BOOBY HATCH or "My Life in an X-rated Love Factory", as stated on the film's poster, finds its way to DVD courtesy of Synapse Films with an anamorphic widescreen (1.66:1) transfer that is all together pleasing to the eye. Originally shot in 16mm, the print has its fair share of grain and minor blemishes, but on whole looks reasonably well with strong colors and accurate flesh tones. The English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio is clear and without distortion but the film's scientific equipment, which beeps and whirs while testers fornicate in front of men in white lab coats, tends to drown out dialogue, not that anyone’s really going to pay that close attention to what's being said given the situation.

Extras on the disc include an audio commentary with John Russo, Rudy Ricci and Russell Streiner. It’s damn near impossible to understand Russell for most of the commentary track, as it sounds as if he was in another room, behind a closed door when the recording took place, but both Russo and Ricci come across clear with numerous anecdotes and memories about the film and its cast. Russo recalls the sticker shock that occurred after prop shopping at local adult book stores, which lead him to create most of the film's props himself, with whatever materials he could get his hands on. Similarly, he is quick to point out when locations are either that of the New American Film offices or his own apartment. “A Flyboy in Earth Shoes” features a 10-minute interview with David Emge, who recalls, among other things, his initial desire to try his hand at motion picture acting as well as the chance encounter that lead to him auditioning for George A. Romero. One of the film's first cuts, titled THE LIBERATION OF CHERRY JANKOWSKI, is presented in it’s entirety at 82 minutes. The alternate cut features more screen time for David Emge and features a much more "explosive" climax, but is otherwise a rearranging of the same clips present in HATCH. Original theatrical trailers for THE BOOBY HATCH and THE LIBERATION OF CHERRY JANKOWSKI provide the culmination of another sexy cinematic title from Synapse Films. (Jason McElreath)