GINGER (1971)
Director: Don Schain
Monterey Home Video

Director: Don Schain
Monterey Home Video

As the movie industry leaped into the unforgettable decade of the 70s, exploitation films started to get hotter and heavier for lack of better words. The first mainstream porno movie didn't arrive until 1973 with DEEP THROAT, but major studios had already been increasingly using nudity in the era of the new ratings systems. Then you had independent films like 1971's GINGER, a softcore, R-rated action film that would no doubt get an NC-17 today. A big hit at drive-in theaters, it spawned two sequels as well as a minor movie career for its star.

Ginger McAllister is played by Cheri Caffaro, a tall, lanky bleach blonde of some obvious appeal. Ginger is an independently wealthy young woman of no fixed ability whose parents had just been killed in an accident. Given an assignment in typical James Bond fashion (suitcase with weapons and all), she is hired by private investigator Jason Varone (William Grannell), which is sort of like working for Murray Slauter at the WJM newsroom. Ginger's mission -- to crack down on a prostitution and drugs ring in a resort town in... New Jersey(!). Here, a big drug deal is meeting two polite Hispanic guys in a dark warehouse, and chewing them down to $600 (from $800) for a big bag of weed.

The leader of this ring is Rex Halsey (Duane Tucker) an effeminate bastard with bad hair, bad clothes, and thick leather neckwear. Halsey's gang include a group of pretty young pros and a no-nonsense black dude who takes out the oppression of his people on stuck-up white women. Ginger infiltrates their group by performing an exotic dance at a club for Halsey's pretty boy henchman. She helps a man-hating hooker by performing a lesbian act on her, catfights another girl and ties her up with her own bikini, and later knots a dude's balls with sharp piano wires!

Caffaro can be described as sort of the Caucasian equivalent of Pam Grier, with much less animal enthusiasm. Ginger is nasty and aggressive, but Caffaro expresses this through the awful delivery of her lines, as well as campy facial expressions that make her come off as a comical vixen. The rest of the acting is also pretty lame, and the production values resemble an early porno flick with some of the worst lighting you'll ever witness. The movie is low on action and many of the sequences drag on too long. But it was a hit, and its themes of bondage made it memorable with fans of kinkiness in cinema.

Themes of bondage made it into the sequel, THE ABDUCTORS. As far as drive-in films go, it starts off with a bang. We see two thugs escorting a naked blonde beauty to a cell where she is left tied and gagged. Then, three cheerleaders (one is Jeramie Rain from LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT) have their convertible's tire shot and are then stripped and kidnapped as well. Caffaro as Ginger is again hired by Varone (Grannell) to investigate the vicinity of the abductions. This time she is given an edible disk that gives off a radio signal within a 30-mile radius (much more advanced technology than the previous film's telephone in a briefcase).

Discovering that photos of all the abductees ran in the paper prior to their kidnappings, Ginger gets the attention of an advertising man (Richard Smedley, the zombie in BLOOD OF GHASTLY HORROR) and interests him in giving publicity to a fashion model. The luscious model is actually Carter Winston (Jennifer Brooks from THE ADULT VERSION OF & HIDE), another detective working for Varone. Both Carter and Ginger fall hands to the kidnappers and face the same humiliation until their edible disks bring on Varone and the cops, and they crack what turns out to be an operation that sells young women to horny middle-aged businessmen!

THE ABDUCTORS is a step above its predecessor in terms of budget and quality. There's more action, the villains are more interesting, and the editing is tighter. Even Caffaro seems more confident in her character and in her acting as well. In a time where political correctness had no meaning and a heroine could enjoy having sex with her enemy only to cut off his manhood afterwards, the Ginger films provide some decent after hour thrills.

Monterey Home Video has released GINGER and THE ABDUCTORS on DVD separately. Unfortunately, they utilize their old VHS masters so the transfers are so-so. First off all, they are full frame, and both were obviously meant to be screened at 1.85:1. There is much dead space on the top of the screen, and judging from opening titles that run off the screen, the sides lop off some picture information. The picture quality on both is passable. Colors look ok, sometimes a bit soft, and some dark scenes come off so badly that they're hard to make out. The sound quality is fine considering the limitations of the budget and the constant echoes of camera equipment.

The only extras are photo galleries and a Caffaro filmography that states she worked with Jayne Mansfield in 1976--nearly a decade after the actresses death! By the way, I contacted Monterey regarding a DVD of the third Ginger film, 1973's GIRLS ARE FOR LOVING. Despite being advertised in the inlay sheet of THE ABDUCTORS DVD, they say that "There are no plans at present" and that endorsement was a "misprint." Hopefully if the first two sell well they'll reconsider.

Anyone wishing for a DVD release of GIRLS ARE FOR LOVING should e-mail (George R. Reis)