Directors: Lou Campa, Joe Marzano
Something Weird Video/Image Entertainment

As detailed on the box copy of this long-time-coming Lou Campa triple feature disc, Something Weird describes the cinema of Campa as such: "a man whose lust for depravity rivals that of Michael Findlay." While it's impossible for any filmmaker of the New York City sexploitation golden age to equal Michael and Roberta's particular brand of sick sinema, Lou Campa churned out a number of entertaining and jaw-dropping features, some of which were picked up by international distributor Harry Novak. Collected here are three of Campa's most successful films, all distributed nationwide by Novak, transferred from gorgeous black-and-white negatives, and swarming with a kind of sliminess that only filmmakers in the Big Apple could conceive.

Mistress Monica and her rotund accomplice Herman have a nice thing going. They entice unsuspecting housewives and hopeful actresses to their home, liquor them up, and photograph them making love to sleazy hairy men, then use the footage to blackmail them into becoming prostitutes and nude models for their sex business! A good thing going, that is, until they're busted by one married woman who won't take blackmail laying down (after laying down in front of the camera with a hairy stud). During their trial, their blackmail victims and associates testify against them, providing flashbacks to the sordid activities of their club, including nude photo sessions and sadistic whipping. Also revealed during the trial is the fact that the corrupt district attorney hired them to run his personal sex club, which he populated by young juveniles and criminals who would do anything to escape the law! Let the lesbian pairings, S&M whippings, bloody torture sequences, pot-smoking, blood-pouring Satanic rituals, and orgies proceed!

COOL IT BABY is a new kind of cheapie film. It's a film so cheap that a trial takes place in an office (!), with a normal sitting chair beside a file cabinet standing in for a witness stand! Shot with live sound and featuring plenty of non-acting by seasoned unprofessionals, COOL IT BABY has a story that's told in typical melodramatic voiceover narration by the various "witnesses" during the trial and by Herman for the rest of the running time. Even though the film was shot in 1967, it's obvious Lou Campa was influenced by the OLGA films shot three years earlier. Monica is a wild-eyed, vicious Olga-replacement and relishes torturing the bloody hell out of girls who defy her orders. One girl is tied up spread-eagled, whipped with a belt, and stabbed with burning hot nails! A blonde Swedish-looking teenager is beaten with a bar of soap to leave no marks (!), then mauled by Herman; she later becomes the center of a Satanic blood ritual straight out of OLGA'S DANCE HALL GIRLS and is assaulted by a client with scissors! It's hard to believe such a sordid flick was saddled with such a non-descript title. Featuring no recognizable NYC area actors, a fully clothed drug orgy, a rambling narration by the vice squad ("One girl had to be taken to Bellevue! I've never seen anything so awful in my five years on the force!"), a female undercover cop murdered in the basement, and a goofy twist ending!

Moving on to the second film in the triple feature, a more subdued brand of sickness is present in MINISKIRT LOVE, another Lou Campa flick with a misleading title but which delivers the goods in sinfully brilliant entertainment. A normal suburban family is turned upside-down when Mommy has an affair with Peter, a bearded smarmy cad, while Daddy Steve is away. Teenage son Billy is completely oblivious to the goings-on, occupied with his photography hobby. But while Mommy is at play, Daddy has some fun of his own with a black hooker in a cheap motel room. Familial bliss is thrown into further turmoil when it turns out that Billy accidentally snapped shots of his mother's sex session and Mommy stabs her hubby in the kitchen when he threatens to take Billy away from her! So Mommy is sent to the loony bin and Aunt Janet comes to stay with the teenage boy. Janet immediately takes a liking to Billy, even helping him take a shower (!) and giving him prolonged kisses. Of course the audience knows where this is headed: it isn't long before Auntie and Nephew are bumping uglies in one of the queerest incestuous couplings in screen history! But what will crazy Mommy think of this when she comes home unexpectedly?

There's not a miniskirt in sight in MINISKIRT LOVE, but there's plenty of wild sexual kink on-hand instead. If seeing a 30-year-old man play a 14-year-old boy sounds creepy, prepare to be even more disgusted with Janet reaches into the shower and rubs down his nude form while he proclaims "That feels good, Aunt Janet." The two mismatched lovers rassle on the front lawn, go out dancing to a groovy garage band, go horseback riding, and finally get down'n'dirty when Billy has a bad dream (!). Plus pervy Janet masturbates to the photos of Mommy and Peter having sex and has a lesbian encounter with an Avon lady! This is without a doubt one of the most uncomfortable sexploitation flicks ever made, like a Joe Sarno film without the class and finesse. Marie Brent, aka Janet Banzet, who will be familiar from a slew of films by Michael Findlay, Joe Sarno, and Sande Johnsen, gets her only star billing here as "Ms. Marie Brent." She was a genuine stage actress, with training by William Hickey, and who committed suicide in 1971. She will be missed, as she exuded a special professionalism in even the most squalid situations. This is probably the sexiest she would ever look.

Now enter the hazy dream world of VENUS IN FURS, inspired by the famous novel but with very little connection otherwise. This is a weird one. Imagine Michael Findlay's TAKE ME NAKED: an arthouse film with touches of depraved sex and grotesque violence. A muscular hunk works selling shoes, but has a very overactive imagination. He falls asleep while reading "Venus in Furs" and dreams of Venus herself, speaking to him in poetry while he caresses her feet and waits on her as a servant. He also stares at women on the subway and imagines kissing and making love to them. After spending his day waiting on beautiful flirtatious women on his knees, he picks up Marna, a mysterious woman in the library, who invites him to her secluded mansion to join her assorted other guests for a weekend of sensual depravity.

There are really no words to describe VENUS IN FURS. The best way to sum up the film would be: the sexual fever dream of a repressed bookworm. Set in a sprawling Gothic mansion where each room holds a different scenario of kinky pleasure, each successive minute of the film throws more surprising visuals at the viewer. The film includes homosexual overtones, dream women lounging on the lawn, muscle worship, bondage, beating, leather boots, foot fetishists, voyeurs, sado-masochism, lesbians, sex with food, bathing, and an encyclopedia of other sexual turn-ons. With familiar library music from both MINISKIRT LOVE (groovy rock) and COOL IT BABY (classical music), the blackmailed housewife from COOL IT BABY (billed as Elinore here, billed as Eleonora there), "Mommy" from MINISKIRT LOVE and Marie Brent feeling up a muscle man in speedos, writer/director Joseph Marzano ("Herman" in COOL IT BABY), and gorgeous black-and-white photography. This is the ultimate Lou Campa film, with elements combined of his entire filmography into one compact 66-minute morsel.

The extras are limited, due to the three films taking up space on the disc (and in a rare instance, each film gets successfully better as the triple feature goes on), but two trailers are here: COOL IT BABY and VENUS IN FURS. Odd that MINISKIRT LOVE isn't included, as it appears on the AGONY OF LOVE DVD. The same two galleries from the AGONY OF LOVE disc appear here, too. (Casey Scott)