Director: I. Robert Levy
Code Red DVD

Following the success of the independent comedy classic KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE, it seems like everybody tried making a similar type of free-form sketch-based laugh fest. The desire for more films of its kind even inspired re-releases of similar movies made earlier in the decade, such as THE GROOVE TUBE. Of this mini-genre of sketch comedy features, two sister films have become cult items without having actually been seen by many, thanks to two memorable titles: IF YOU DON’T STOP IT…YOU’LL GO BLIND!!, and CAN I DO IT…TILL I NEED GLASSES? These goofy R-rated cheapies, with plenty of nudity, bad taste, and 1970s charm, are finally coming to DVD courtesy of Code Red! While we’ll have to wait for IF YOU DON’T STOP IT, it’s good to finally have CAN I DO IT widely available for the first time in years. It’s no comedy classic, far from it, but has enough outrageous chuckles in it to make it worth your while.

Though influenced by the concept of a sketch-based film like KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE, CAN I DO IT is really more in keeping with films like Olsen and Johnson’s HELLZAPOPPIN’ or “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In”, with random skits and jokes played out in no particular order, with no rhyme or reason. A cast of unfamiliar faces (according to actress Tallie Cochrane, a local L.A.-based comedy troupe called Whizbang who performed improv-style theater shows utilizing many of the skits seen here) play out a non-stop series of gags that anyone with a children’s dirty joke book from 1962 will know all the punch lines to. For example: a man answers the door and sees a robber pointing a gun at him. He pleads and begs, promising to give him everything he wants as long as he doesn’t kill him; the criminal claims he’s not a robber, but a rapist. The man calmly tells his wife, “It’s for you.” Or this gem: a man, his daughter, and another man and his son are on a beach. The girl’s father yells at the other man because his son peed his name in the sand. The boy’s father asks what’s so bad about that. The girl’s father, outraged, screams that it’s his daughter’s handwriting. Cue whimsical music, end scene. Yep, it’s that kind of movie.

CAN I DO IT’s prequel, IF YOU DON’T STOP IT YOU’LL GO BLIND (seen on a theater marquee here), is a much funnier and entertaining romp, with the added bonus of featuring Die Uschi in several skits, as well as the bubbly comediennes Maria Arnold and Tallie Cochrane. While IF YOU DON’T STOP IT features a number of similar old-school stand-up jokes, it appears that all of the best were used in that film, while the bottom-of-the-barrel chuckles were reserved for this film. In fact, some viewers couldn’t be blamed for thinking this is merely a bunch of deleted sequences from the earlier flick! There are some eye-catching visual bits, like Santa Claus getting a shot in his ass at the Hollywood V.D. Clinic, and some of the jokes are actually funny (like an ugliest-wife contest between two friends, a soldier who needs a woman’s haircut, and a pervert jerking off to Hustler magazine on a bus). Thankfully the film only runs around 72 minutes, so it doesn’t wear out its welcome, and viewers with a liberal sense of humor that leans towards the sophomoric should find plenty to enjoy here. Just sit back and have a good time with this cheap, rather effective outing that could have only been brought to life in the 1970s. And try not to get the silly title song stuck in your head (with female vocals by Tallie Cochrane)!

Much was made at the time of the film’s release of Robin Williams, before his star took off on “Mork and Mindy”, appearing as a lawyer and a hick with a toothache in two brief, unfunny bits. Posters and trailers claimed it was his first major role, and he was the star of the film! However, Williams had the last laugh when he sued the filmmakers for misusing his name and image, and several prints and video versions actually had his scenes deleted. It’s here in all its glory, and you’ll be aghast at how his brief cameos were blown out of proportion to bring people into the theaters! Also watch for Garth Pillsbury (VIXEN) as the host of “Wildlife Today”, and Vincent Barbi as a Sicilian mobster in a barbershop. The late Patrick Wright appears in various roles, from an elderly German doctor to a Wild West villain to an Indian chief, and proves why he was one of the most capable and unsung comedians working in the exploitation genre. His wife Tallie, another of my personal favorites, appears briefly as Aunt Gloria, an extravagantly-dressed storyteller who reads stories to an unseen audience of children, such as a dirty bird version of “Little Red Riding Hood” and the adventures of Irving the Sperm. Uschi Digart appears for a nanosecond during the opening credits, topless astride an elephant.

Transferred from a very good condition 35mm print, CAN I DO IT looks head and shoulders above its VHS incarnation, presented widescreen anamorphic (1.78:1) with a strong, clear color palette; some scenes are grainier than others, but then you watch sequences like the story of Irving the Sperm, awash in red lighting and with ambitious set design, and you’ll be surprised that the film could ever look this good!

Anyone expecting extras, and clicking the Extras option on the main menu of the disc, will be treated to a goofy brief snippet of a newspaper boy screaming “Extra! Extra!” Hardy har har, and at face value quite a slap in the face of cult film fans, but it’s actually kind of in keeping with the spirit of the film itself. In addition to the film’s theatrical trailer, you also get previews for future and new releases from Code Red (BEYOND THE DOOR, DEAD PIT, THE FARMER, POWER PLAY, SOLE SURVIVOR, and WACKY TAXI). But the gem of the disc, even better than the movie, is a trailer for THE OBSESSED ONE. What is it? You tell me! This previously unheard-of blaxploitation revenge film looks to be either a very cheap American production or an imported foreign feature with added scenes, but it’s packed with violence, chase scenes, and that revenge movie standby, rape! Put this one at the front of your new release list, Code Red!!! (Casey Scott)