Director: Dale Berry
Something Weird Video/Image Entertainment

“They make ‘em big in Texas”, so they say. And this also applies to exploitation films: big, brassy, and incredible! The Lone Star State had Larry Buchanan, S.F. Brownrigg, Whit Boyd, and maybe the most unhinged of them all…DALE BERRY! This mad genius produced one trashy epic after another, starting in 1965 with THE HOT BED and continuing til 1968, producing around two a year, every one of them flagrantly trashy and brilliant. Berry’s films have always been popular staples of Something Weird’s catalog, so it’s only fitting that his two genre outings from 1967 are paired here for the viewing pleasure of every respectable pervert in the country.

She’s not hip and she’s not 21, but she sure is hot: it’s Diane Darcel, the star of HIP, HOT AND 21, a thoroughly confusing and off-the-wall timewaster detailing the trials and tribulations of a good country girl in the wilds of the big city. Diane is sold by her hillbilly stepdaddy to studly Rick Edwards for $50, and whisked away to a motel for a wedding night of bliss. She’s soon introduced to her fellow motel denizens, including Marla, a cackling, heroin-addicted madame and her stable of whores turning their tricks in a number of rooms (cue the lengthy sequence of ugly women banging ugly guys in shadowy lighting). When Rick skips town after popping her cherry, Diane is left to stay with Marla, who takes more than a passing interest in her. It is through her new “friend” that she meets Michelle, a drug-dealing junkie who introduces Diane to Al, the German head of the local drug ring and supplier for all the hookers’ junk, and Ernie, a bonafide pervert who pays the girls to let him degrade them. But Ernie goes too far when he whips Michelle to a bloody death! Trying to avoid the cops, Al sends Diane to his apartment to retrieve $15,000 to escape to Mexico, but she knocks out a cop who tries to bust her and takes off with the cash. Now she’s got the cops and Al after her! For her trouble, she is raped twice by a hotel clerk where she shacks up in hiding before Al finds her and drags her with him in a wild police chase, complete with bullet-dodging and screeching tires!

What didn’t Dale Berry include in this movie? Characters are introduced and forgotten, the storyline meanders all over the place, and if you’re still confused by the time the finale rolls around, join the club! But that is part of the charm of a Dale Berry movie: he doesn’t try to make any sense or deliver a competent film. As long as there are naked girls, a nice smattering of violence, and it’s all in focus, he considered the finished product a success. This one has drug-addicted prostitutes, heroin shooting, a gory whipping scene, somnambulistic sex scenes, outrageous dialogue, bitchy gals, Big Bill Thurman as a tough cop (he wears a band-aid in a scene before he is brained on the forehead with a vase!), familiar library music from any number of sexploitation classics rubbing shoulders with original twangy guitar rock, a never-ending chase sequence, and our heroine never once getting a lucky break in the entire film! At 87 minutes, it’s slightly too long, but is still a one-of-a-kind cult gem that goes in 20 directions at once and thankfully never reaches the finish line in any way, shape or form! Diane Darcel tries her best to be a good actress, and succeeds more often than not, but her limitations are evident and make for a hell of a lot of fun as she’s being dragged around by the bad guys or discovering her friend’s bloody corpse. With her big, beautiful brunette bouiffant, she looks great go-go dancing after her husband ditches her and looks just as confused and clueless as the audience as the whole ugly mess unspools around her. Everyone else was probably recruited from the Dallas stripping circuit, including the Russ Meyer starlet Lorna Maitland, billed as a Special Guest Star. She doesn’t even disrobe, instead parading around and dancing on tables in a striped bikini, looking almost unrecognizable from her LORNA and MUDHONEY days (it’s the fact that she’s not wearing that blonde wig from those films probably). For those anxious for male beefcake in their exploitation, the actor playing Rick Edwards parades around in his tighty whities unashamed for the camera!

Watch the opening of HOT THRILLS AND WARM CHILLS and I defy you not to be entranced, face smashed to the screen, eyes a-goggle: the luscious Rita Alexander saunters on-screen, gazing at herself in the mirror, her giant blonde wig perfectly fashioned to her wild-eyebrowed head. This woman has sin on her mind and she breathes it with every pore on her body. Rita balances her filled champagne glass on her ample bosom, and leans backward for a sip before gulping the whole thing in one fell swoop and jumps into an impromptu dance number, flailing her arms, whipping her hair, gyrating her hips. Taking a breather, she lights a thin black cigarette, takes a few luxurious puffs, then back to business, whipping a thin veil around her like a whirling dervish, before plopping down on her sofa, returning her seductive gaze to the mirror before her. Did I mention the whole scene is backed with an infectious Spanish-language garage rock track? It’s the best exactly-2-minutes pre-credits sequence ever shot, and may give a subtle-as-a-sledgehammer hint of the wild charms in store for you over the next hour and some change. This is Berry at his bewildering best!

Toni has invited her two best galpals, Dody and Kitten, to visit her at her swinging pad in Rio (though for some reason it switches to New Orleans….). The trio used to be the toughest girl gang in the world (Watch out, Pussycats! Move over, Man-Eaters!), but Dody married a bookworm who doesn’t give her the time of day and Kitten, an admitted nymphomaniac, married a philanderer! Rita has a proposition for the girls: join her in one last job and live like queens for the rest of their lives. The score? The crown jewels intended for King Sex (!), the winner of a Mardi Gras contest. Toni plans to distract the cops by screaming loudly (“As soon as the screaming starts, men’s feet naturally start to run”)! However, before they proceed with the sting, they share their sexual escapades with each other. Namely, Kitten reminisces about her husband’s cheating ways. Cue the scenes of director Berry rolling around with ugly girls in his boxers! Toni warns the girls not to sleep around the night before the operation, but finds time to take home a plainclothes cop for some pie, sexual innuendo dialogue (“I’m eating.”, “Is it good?”, “Delicious”), and of course the bumping of uglies. The morning of the heist, Kitten drops out but replaces herself with Chris, a bubblehead blonde with giant breast implants that look about ready to burst with the touch of a finger! Toni is randomly attacked by a guy who barges into her apartment and gives her oral sex. Her response? She enjoys getting eaten, then kicks him out, proclaiming, “I hope you got what you came for!” Dody and Toni pull off the heist and run through the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras (cue the 8mm home movie footage of Mardi Gras), exchanging gunshots with a pursuing cop, and run into an above ground cemetery, where Toni’s fate is sealed with the closing of a tomb.

“Filmed on location in the Sin city of the Western Hemisphere where babes and booze can be had with the wink of an eye”, HOT THRILLS has been touted as a favorite of Something Weird’s #1 lady Lisa Petrucci, and what can I say, the gal has excellent taste. In a mere 68 minutes, Berry throws together a mish-mash of jewel heist plot, towering wigs, men in their boxer shorts tangling with busty trashy women, delicious dialogue, flubbed lines, and somehow in the mad dash to make a nudie cutie, not a lick of sense was included. All the better for those looking to check their brains at the door and watch a clueless filmmaker at the zenith of his non-talents. The running time does drag during a lengthy, boring topless exotic dancing sequence, and footage of New Orleans garage band The Glory Rhodes is too brief to hear a full song or even get a good shot of the entire band (though you do see their full-faced teenage go-go girl in a schoolgirl uniform). Amidst all the ridiculous dialogue, the best line in the film comes when Dody is asked why she stays with her boring husband: “Money, baby, money! And you should brag with that fay-ggy-looking S-uh-B yooo married!” (can you detect the Southern accent?). And don’t discount the soundtrack, filled with Spanish-language garage rock, flavored with spice and a killer organ-driven rhythm. “Special Guest Star” Lorna Maitland never shows up, leading one to wonder if maybe she was excised from this print for legal reasons (if Berry simply reused her routine from HIP, HOT AND 21 and she sued). But larger-than-life Rita Alexander more than makes up for her, and it’s a shame she didn’t do more films of this type. Every time she’s on-screen, you must watch her! Sure, HIP HOT AND 21 is a lot of fun, but it pales in comparison to the sheer madness of HOT THRILLS AND WARM CHILLS. Proceed with caution! You will lose brain cells witnessing this atrocity.

Because trailers no longer exist for any of Dale Berry’s films (too bad, I’d love to see how they were marketed), the collection here includes previews for other Texas-shot exploitation classics! EAT DRINK AND MAKE MERRIE is unique not only because it was shot by Whit Boyd, but because the trailer is uncensored (i.e., shows pubic hair) while the film’s only existent print, available from Something Weird on VHS, has all instances of full frontal nudity scratched out! The no-name cast is uniformly unattractive, and the ugly color of the film stock just further proves the low budget on these things. MISS JESSICA IS PREGNANT is an exceptionally well-made regional drama, with a backwoods brother and sister falling in love with one another, with high tension between their family members and loved ones as well. It looks like the type of film S.F. Brownrigg would have made in black-and-white in 1969. The leading lady even resembles Camilla Carr! It’s too bad this film appears to be unavailable, because it looks really good. Another Whit Boyd anti-masterpiece, SPIKED HEELS AND BLACK NYLONS, presented in garish color, is barely a trailer. It’s basically the opening credits of the film, with randomly selected segments of the film. The film itself is actually pretty entertaining, but you’d never guess it from this bland trailer. At least it’s spiced up with some of the good garage rock score from the film; yep, that’s Bill Thurman introducing a girl to heroin! Three unnecessarily included Peepland shorts “Just Two Hot”, “Cherry Flip”, and “Muscles and Bustles”, plus the Gallery of Underground Sexploitation Movie-Magazine Covers backed by radio spots, closes this very welcome trip down to Texas! (Casey Scott)