Directors: C. Davis Smith & ???
Something Weird Video/Image

Just when fans thought that all the really great cult gems had been mined from Something Weird’s massive vaults comes this unique double-feature pairing two black-and-white oddities from opposite ends of the country: New York City and Hollywood, California. Their similarities: not many, except for the monochrome photography, their cheeky comic overtones, and plot elements involving invisibility, but both features are lesser-known flicks with entertainment value aplenty.

After a disorienting opening sequence in which a sultry brunette in black lingerie bathes a man’s feet in wine, sucks his toes, then stabs him in the neck with an ice pick while smooching him, our story kicks off. Dr. Sexus, an obese Asian mastermind of the international crime ring S.I.N., with a bald right-hand man and a pair of beautiful women at his disposal, demands the retrieval of a secret invisibility serum. The potion is possessed by its wacky inventor, Dr. L.B. Drake, and his sexy assistant Karen. Sexus recruits Agent Poontang Plenty (the sexpot from the opening sequence) and Mr. Silk Suit (“The Man from M.A.F.I.A.”) to steal the formula. However, neither agent counts on Karen’s boyfriend, cheesecake photographer hero Sam, getting in the way of their diabolical scheme.

Imagine AUSTIN POWERS shot in black-and-white for $200 in 1960’s Manhattan, throw in with elements from “Fu Manchu” and a little Doris Wishman skin, and that’s GIRL FROM S.I.N. wrapped up in a pretty bow. Wishman cinematographer C. Davis Smith gutted her regular acting troupe and struck out on his own with this sexy, funny, and thoroughly enjoyable spoof of the James Bond films of the period. At 66 minutes, some scenes do run overlong (Sam’s photography session, Poontang’s belly dance), but remembering this is a nudie geared towards an audience anxious to see beautiful women, the film as a whole does a good job of balancing the storyline and the nudity. For example, Karen disrobes to become invisible, exposing her ample bosom, which leads to an invisible woman fight as she kicks and punches two invading goons roughing up Dr. Drake. Also tossed in for some variety are a few sequences of roughie action, reminiscent of Joseph Mawra’s OLGA films. In addition to the aforementioned opening sequence with a man meeting death in the throes of pleasure, Karen is given the “heat treatment” in a giant steam machine and tormented with a butcher knife before she passes out. But the almost non-stop narration is full of tongue-in-cheek dialogue and over-the-top melodramatics that keep the proceedings pretty light.

Alluring beauty Joyana, as Poontang Plenty, appears to have made only this one film, but she handles her role well and really jumps into the physical aspects of her role. Watch her go to town a la Tura Satana during her karate demonstration! Barbi Kemp, star of Wishman’s ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER MAN, appears in a brunette wig as one of Sexus’ servants, and her buxom ANOTHER DAY co-star, Mary O’Hara, has a meaty role as Karen. June Roberts (MY BROTHER’S WIFE) also has a cameo as one of Sam’s models. But it’s Joyana who owns the film; in addition to being a drool-worthy bad girl, she gives a massage to Sexus in revealing underwear, performs a belly dance, and poses for several photo sessions for Sam. Whoever she was, it’s too bad she didn’t do at least a few more nudie cuties before disappearing.

After playing a possibly gay hooligan, a sleazy pimp, and an immoral philanderer in Wishman epics, this marks one of square-jawed hunk Sam Stewart’s first appearances as a hero and he seems to be having a grand time here! As a matter of fact, everyone involved with this film looks to be enjoying themselves immensely, and the feelings of fun quickly sweep over the audience. Some of the apartment sets will look familiar from Wishman films, of course. More than a no-budget grindhouse time-waster, Smith has created a film with a “let’s put on a show” candor, almost like a home movie with all his friends and co-workers giving it their all. Stewart and rotund Bob Oran are even listed as executive producers! Mary O’Hara and Barbi Kemp (both from ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER MAN) look less miserable than they did working for Wishman (Doris may have had something to do with that), Oran (MY BROTHER’S WIFE, SEX KILLER) hams it up as the Oriental villain, and Smith himself plays the wide-eyed Dr. Drake. The handsome actor playing Mr. Silk Suit might be recognizable as the detective who recognizes Gigi Darlene during the climax of BAD GIRLS GO TO HELL.

Outside of the Wishman universe, Smith would direct several more features on his own, including ALL MY MEN starring another Wishman regular, Jackie Richards; the Mondo-esque FILE X FOR SEX; and the seedy roughie TO TURN A TRICK, and photographed other classics like TEENAGE GANG DEBS and HONEY for Sande Johnsen. He eventually graduated to behind-the-scenes work on some of the best adult films of the 1970’s (SEX WISH, DEVIL INSIDE HER, NEON NIGHTS), as well as becoming a professional cinematographer and editor outside of the sexploitation business. GIRL FROM S.I.N. would actually have been better paired with another Smith-directed film, as SWV offers all of his solo directorial work save GRAFFITI (which appears to be lost), but at least it has finally hit DVD so the curious can experience it on the digital format. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, and ranks as one of the most enjoyable NYC-lensed sexploitation films in Something Weird’s catalog.

Henry is a hen-pecked married man who spends all his free time building model ships instead of with his wife. He stumbles upon an auction one day where he unwittingly bids on and wins a crumbling chest, where he finds the diary of a scientist who discovered the key to becoming invisible. Following the instructions included for an invisibility serum, Henry decides to take the advice of his psychiatrist: have as many affairs as possible to please his wife’s sexual appetite! He takes on the persona of “Jack”, an invisible virile ladies’ man who gives every woman in his neighborhood a good roll in the hay. The catch: he can become visible again by sneezing, leading to coitus interruptus of the worst kind.

This is a real odd one, folks. Shot in 1969, but resembling through and through an innocent nudie cutie with no sex, HENRY’S NIGHT IN is a perfect excuse for naked women to roll around, feeling themselves up. There’s no visible man mauling them, so the raincoat crowd can gawk at the naked ladies rolling around and examine every inch of their bodies. It’s a whiz-bang idea that is executed pretty well, even if the film drags a lot during its 77-minute running time. HENRY is nowhere near as funny as it thinks it is, and will probably bore most people after the great fun to be had with the co-feature, but it’s interesting to see sexploitation history repeating itself right before hardcore took over and ruined everything. Surprisingly, even though this is in black-and-white and harkens back to the tamer days of sexploitation, there is plenty of pubic hair on display here. Because the film looks like it was shot long before 1969 (think ’61 or ’62), it’s a shock to see Henry’s wife disrobe completely and stand in front of him, displaying her bush for him (and the camera) to see in all its glory. All of the naked ladies in this film expose their beaver, and every time it really packs a wallop.

Forman Shane, the star of HENRY’S NIGHT IN, would find regular sexploitation work with Stephen Apostolof, aka A.C. Stephen, who cast Shane in almost all of his barnburners from 1966 to 1975. He’s an appropriately goofy nebbish in this film, even going so far as to raise his pants waaaay up in an attempt to look the nerd part, and is genuinely funny in several scenes. Fans of Dave Friedman films will recognize Steve Vincent (SPACE THING) as the auctioneer, and nudie regular Phyllis Stengel (GETTING INTO HEAVEN, THE STEWARDESSES) plays one of Henry’s invisible conquests who rides nude on an exercise bike, then takes a bubble bath. One woman takes a shower and shows that silicone really was taking off, even back in 1969, and another bizarre sequence finds Henry sending invisible mice to scare his wife and her lady houseguests out of their clothes! It’s a shame that there are no technical credits for HENRY’S NIGHT IN because whoever was behind the camera did a marvelous job with the photography. Unique framing and angles and professional-looking dolly and crane shots make this look like the filmmakers actually knew what they were doing.

Of the two films, GIRL FROM S.I.N. looks the best. Culled from the original negative, the black and white image is simply stunning throughout the running time, with sharp contrast and crisp detail. A few blemishes and instances of lines provide no distractions, and Smith’s typically gorgeous photography is rendered beautifully. Because the film was post-dubbed, the dialogue comes across strongly, as does the effective library music score. HENRY’S NIGHT IN seems to have come from a 35mm print, but still looks pretty darn good for a film of its vintage and rarity. The opening credits feature a fair amount of print damage, and the film features frequent white lines, blemishes, and perpetual graininess, but there are only a few print jumps and no other really distracting defects to report. The image is reasonably clean and this is about as good as this one’s going to get. The mono audio is acceptable.

It’s a shame that C. Davis Smith wasn’t asked to participate in an audio commentary for this disc, as he was a million laughs on Elite’s NIGHT TO DISMEMBER commentary and even sat with SWV at their Chiller table in 2002, but the disc still comes with a nice selection of extras, beginning with the theatrical trailer for GIRL FROM S.I.N. A short produced by Chevrolet called “You’re Ahead Mr. X!” carries on the invisible man angle when an invisible customer buys a Chevrolet from a pair of bewildered salesmen. Every inch of the car is examined and he even takes it out for a test drive. A mini-feature, “The Naughty Shutter,” hails from 1963 Texas. Too long to be called a featurette and too short to be called a feature, this must have been made to include in-between two full-length movies during a drive-in double feature. Sexploitation shot in the Lone Star State is always good for a few laughs, and this one’s no exception. A local news reporter goes out on the street in search of a story and after being propositioned by a scary looking hooker, wanders into a stripjoint where a popcorn-chomping patron stares at a derriere-shaking dancer. Back at the office, he encounters a man with a camera who can take pictures which provide X-ray vision of the people of the photographs. In other words, he can see them nude. Soon a number of people are after that camera for their own personal use. Completely narrated and with lower-than-low production values which only add to the kitsch value of this rarity, this is even more fun to watch than HENRY’S NIGHT IN! Most of the library music will be familiar from the films of Dale Berry (THE GIRL AND THE GEEK, HOT BLOODED WOMAN), so it’s possible he may have been involved with this film… Capping off the disc is the trusty Gallery of Underground Sexploitation Movie Magazine Covers, with lots of tantalizing mags trumpeting the films of Dave Friedman, Bob Cresse and countless of sexploiteers, all set to the sounds of radio spots for films like THE MIRACLE OF BIRTH and WASTED LIVES.
(Casey Scott)