Leave it to Something Weird to dredge the bottom of the sexploitation ocean to uncover two long-lost black-and-white sexual thrillers of the 60s! Neither film is a classic of any sorts (how many Something Weird titles really are?), but both are interesting examples of the type of film that exploitation filmmakers tried making to break into Hollywood and away from their low-budget niche.
Twitchy artist Jonathan Crane is a weird one. He has a lovely wife in a house in the country, but he regularly ventures into Los Angeles to have an affair with pug-ugly Doris Mays. When Doris threatens to expose his secret love life, Crane disposes of her...or does he? Soon, a mysterious woman is stalking Mrs. Crane and kills his father....is Doris back from the grave in DAY OF THE NIGHTMARE?
If you've seen William Castle's camp classic HOMICIDAL, you've already seen DAY OF THE NIGHTMARE. While Castle's epic had "Jean Arless," a decent helping of atmosphere and dread, and a great surprise twist ending, NIGHTMARE doesn't have much of anything. Essentially, the film shouldn't really exist. The aura of the film indicates there isn't any passion behind it. The cinematography has little flair and the performances just don't gel with the material, including John Ireland. And cult film fans looking for kitsch or wild Something Weird-style moments will be disappointed. Other than a Liz Renay cameo, a lame "swinger's party" and a promising opening scene of Jonathan whipping an artists' model who comes onto him, there is little to recommend in this film. Worth a look, but doesn't warrant revisiting.
Slightly more interesting is SCREAM OF THE BUTTERFLY. Before erotic thrillers were popularized by Paul Verhoeven's BASIC INSTINCT, there were films like BUTTERFLY: a little nudity, heaps of sexual tension, and plot twists aplenty! After a promising opening scene with "Miss Slutsy-Wutsy" Marla Williams being mowed down by a car driven by her lover, the film proceeds to tell the tale of Ms. Williams' marriage to Paul, a trusting rich boy who is unaware of Marla's cheating ways with David, a gorgeous young stud she ran into on the beach on their honeymoon! Marla explains away her infidelity with an over-dramatic speech about a severe case of nymphomania (shades of Isabel Sarli in FUEGO), but rather than continue having her way with two men, she decides to off one of them. Of course, it doesn't go as planned....
While not the best example of this exploitation subgenre (Troma's SUGAR COOKIES wins that title), if there was a reason to own this disc, it would have be this film. As noted before, it's no classic and those with a short attention span need not apply, but there is something special about this little flick. The district attorney scenes interjected in-between the soap operatics get a little old, what with all the yelling and side comments from the three men involved. But the low-budget cinematography by cult favorite Ray Dennis Steckler is quite accomplished, making good use of light and shadow. A sudden display of homosexuality in the third act is VERY surprising for 1965. Leading lady Nelida Lobato (wife of the director) at times is a dead ringer for June Allyson circa 1970, the slow-motion sex scene on the beach is a little much, and the performances are pretty much dead in the water, but this is still a fascinating little relic worth looking into.
Something Weird is known for their excellent transfers of their black-and-white titles. These two are no exception: DAY OF THE NIGHTMARE fares a little better, except for the duration of Liz Renay's cameo, which is riddled with scratches. SCREAM OF THE BUTTERFLY has its grainy moments, but like its co-feature, the picture is for the most part crisp, clear, and features excellent contrast. The mono audio is stronger than usual for a Something Weird disc, but there are still moments when the volume will need to be cranked during dialogue.
Trailers no longer exist for either feature, but there are still some nifty previews included here. Harry Novak's AGONY OF LOVE, starring Pat Barrington, is screaming for a DVD release. Superb black-and-white cinematography highlights the story of a housewife who turns to hooking to fulfill her innermost desires. Director William Rotsler plays one of her rougher clients and Novak himself plays a trick! COOL IT BABY is another Harry Novak acquisition. Looks pretty interesting, with writhing top-heavy tarts in black underwear, bondage and hot candle wax, and startling torture scenes out of an Olga film! DEATH OF A NYMPHET is officially lost. The one point of interest is cast member Peggy Steffans (aka Cleo Nova), the real-life wife of director Joe Sarno and a pretty good actress (see A TASTE OF FLESH). Yet another Novak acquisition rears its head with FREE LOVE CONFIDENTIAL, which looks like quite a groovy ride! Two horny housewives looking for excitement make a stag film, then realize their "director" plans on using it for blackmail purposes! I think the music is by the group who sang "Mondo Mod"?! Need I describe FUEGO? Over-the-top, hilarious, bigger-than-life, and sexy as hell. Isabel Sarli is an unparalleled goddess of sex and any cult film fan who has yet to experience her charms is a cult film fan I pity. The movie lives up to the trailer...and then some! JUSTINE: THE EROTIC EXCITEMENT OF EVIL, another lost film, claims it is based on the Marquis de Sade book, but the resemblance ends with the title. This 'Justine' has men fighting over her in Puerto Rico!! The preview features a really groovy library music track I've been trying to find for years! NYMPHO is a seamy NYC-lensed roughie distributed by the reliable DistribPix (THE BIZARRE ONES, ALL MY MEN). Packed with strange dialogue and recognizable nudie cutie faces, I still can't decide what time period this takes place in. One scene seems to be in the Old West, another in the 1930s, yet another in modern times?! Anything by Distribpix is worth tracking down, so I'd welcome a DVD release of this. THE PASSIONATE STRANGERS is like a sexy version of BRIEF ENCOUNTER, it seems. The black-and-white camerawork is topnotch. It was directed by Eddie Romero of "Blood Island" fame and look closely for Filipino exploitation regular Vic Diaz in a love scene!! SEX OBSESSED has one of the most obvious titles in film history, and is apparently lost. It's a Greek sex film starring Dora Sitzani (provocatively renamed "Sinzani" for U.S. audiences). Greek exploitation doesn't show its face on a regular basis, so I'd jump at the chance to see this! THE 7TH COMMANDMENT is one strange cookie. A luscious blonde beatnik in a beret is beaten up by an elderly man in the first few seconds...? I don't get much else from the trailer, but there's a murder in it. Maybe it's a film noir potboiler? Anyone in the know drop me a line.
Most interesting of the shorts is "The Wife and the Whip", which is an excerpt from the Ameros' THE LUSTING HOURS, a fake "sexumentary" following the lives of prostitutes, drug addicts, and hustlers. This clip tells the story of a hustler and his escorting of rich old biddies and cruising Port Authority bathrooms for male clients (the scene of the hustler and a male client sharing a sex scene together has been edited out). But apparently we're supposed to feel sorry for this slimeball when confronted with his home life: his "girlfriend", obviously a man in drag (actually co-director Lem Amero himself!), tries in vain to get some money from him. When he refuses, she takes to him with a whip! The narrator has it right when he muses, "Ah, domestic bliss. Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home"!! "Amour Pour Une Femme" is an 8mm mail order short packed with kitsch. Three strippers allow a homely young girl (actually a man in drag!) to watch their act. There's a pretty hilarious plot twist!! 60s hairdos and hair don'ts abound. "Nympho a Go Go" is a clip from the less-than-exciting SEXY PROIBITISSIMO, presented in 2.35:1 widescreen! Basically a blonde woman walks around her apartment in sexual frustration before taking a cold shower. Yawn. In addition to the trailers and shorts, another marvelous gallery of nudie movie magazine covers is lots of fun to sit through, with the title music from BOOBY TRAP playing throughout. An Easter Egg on the main menu is a trailer for THE QUEEN, a drag queen documentary that looks interesting.
I can't rant and rave about how
great this disc is, and I can't get rid of it, either. Both films have a special
endearing something that might entice further revisits, and the disc looks nice
on my shelf. So...oh what the hell, buy the disc! (Casey
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