The late great First Lady of exploitation, Doris Wishman, left behind a consistently surprising filmography which can be easily split into neat categories: the Florida nudie cuties, the New York roughies, the garish 70s nightmares (including the eye-popping Chesty Morgan films), A NIGHT TO DISMEMBER in a category all its own and the new millennium revival films. Of these different subgenres in her career, the black-and-white period shot exclusively in New York City is her most interesting and has aged the best. Something Weird visited this period of her life its very first double-feature DVD, BAD GIRLS GO TO HELL/ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER MAN. Paired here are two more shot-on-a-shoestring roughie melodramas, but both much more coherent and admirable than those two schizophrenic wonders.
Blonde (wigged) and beautiful New York City model Sharon Kent (who was also a favorite of Barry Mahon) stars as Ann, a lovely secretary whose life is perfect. Her best friend Babs (middle-aged and buxom Jackie Richards) works with her in a friendly office and her boyfriend Bob recently proposed to her. Her world comes crashing down around her, however, when a creepy bespectacled geek (Wishman regular Michael Alaimo) begins stalking her. Through a supernatural mishap (which is never explained, but who cares?), the stalker finds a blonde doll and a tacky ring in the garbage can and suddenly, everything he does to the doll, Ann can feel being done to her! As the loser whips, feels up, undresses and puts a cigarette out on the doll, Ann feels every bit of it, and begins to believe her mind is unraveling. Babs is too busy whoring it up with a foreign sleazeball (Buck Starr, of TOO MUCH, TOO OFTEN) and Bob is away on business. Can she escape this hell?
INDECENT DESIRES is well-known to most cult film viewers, even if they don't realize it. Clips of creepy Michael Alaimo stripping the clothes off a doll and heroine Sharon Kent with her head cocked at an odd angle have appeared in Something Weird's trademark clip trailer, so it's great to see one of Doris' best get the digital treatment. Those familiar with the Wishman universe will be surprised to note that there are few pointless cutaway shots to inanimate objects, feet and the dubbed dialogue is matched with the actors' lips, making this one of her most technically accomplished films. Cinematographer C. Davis Smith was always in top form working on his many Wishman films, and his swooping hand-held camerawork is in full force here, including many breathtaking time capsule shots of New York City and effective close-ups of the characters, the mysterious doll and fabulous shadowy lighting. Sharon Kent, whose statuesque form graced many New York City-area skinflicks, gives a surprisingly good performance here, even though her hysterics can be a little ridiculous at times, and has never looked more beautiful. Thirty-something Jackie Richards was one of the oldest women in sexploitation, but that didn't stop her from flaunting her naturally large bust in countless nudie films of the mid-to-late-60s. Smith directed her film debut, ALL MY MEN, a year earlier, and may have been the person to recommend her to Wishman for this film, where she has a well-photographed love scene and performs nude exercises directly into the camera lens! A pretty non-descript title hides behind it a vastly entertaining and never boring roughie, with supernatural themes and a typical downbeat Wishman ending. Highly recommended!
Paired with the incredible INDECENT DESIRES is another underrated Wishman curio, MY BROTHER'S WIFE, that featured a memorable ad campaign which is often quoted more than the film. Oily bohunk Frankie blows into New York City after a lengthy absence to visit his older brother Bob. Much to his surprise, he finds his balding obese sibling has married a lovely young girl, Mary, who is trapped in a loveless marriage. Frankie offers Mary the love she craves (via beautifully photographed shadowy love scenes shot in silhouette), but also plays the field with his former girlfriend, party girl Zena. Little does Mary know her knight in shining armor is planning to embezzle all of his brother's dough through her and split with Zena! But with Doris Wishman doing writing and directing chores, this isn't gonna end pretty...
With MY BROTHER'S WIFE, Wishman-heads are back in safe territory with plenty of cutaways to paintings, chairs, and shoes and awkward dubbing. But more than a roughie, this film is Wishman's take on the 40s film noir genre, with a doomed love triangle, scheming criminals, hard-boiled dialogue and a number of far-fetched plot twists amidst the typical Wishman trappings. To keep the plot moving, a cast of familiar faces play each sad and pathetic character. To play the unhappy hausfrau, Wishman tapped June Roberts, a baby-faced nude model whose figure could cut glass and who bears a striking resemblance to Mike Vraney and Something Weird's #1 lady, Lisa Petrucci. Roberts would also grace the films of Barry Mahon, Michael Findlay, and Joseph Mawra, but her talents would be best tested by sexploitation maestro Joe Sarno in a leading role in MOONLIGHTING WIVES and supporting roles in FLESH AND LACE, THE NAKED FOG, RED ROSES OF PASSION and THE LOVE MERCHANT. Her adorable face is one of the best-loved by Something Weird followers. Darlene Bennett, who appeared in more 60s grindhouse films than any other actress, is given one of her biggest roles as the femme fatale Zena. Her acting left an awful lot to be desired, but she had a dark, mysterious beauty which many of her contemporaries didn't, and she fits perfectly in this sleazy film noir. Not to mention she had a bust to be proud of and a derriere that wouldn't quit, which is witnessed when she sits on the camera lens in a typically bold and brilliant move by cameraman C. Davis Smith. Also in the cast is Darlene's often forgotten twin sister, Dawn, who plays Zena's lesbian cousin Della, making the move on Zena in a signature uncomfortable Wishman sapphic love scene. Dawn was like a pudgier, less photogenic carbon copy of Darlene, which is why she wasn't as frequently cast in films as her sister. Making up the male cast members are two Doris Wishman favorites: Sam Stewart and Bob Oran. Stewart (whose self-portrait hangs on the wall in several of Doris' films) was a muscular square-jawed actor who had legitimate acting talent, and was usually cast as the heavy in films like BAD GIRLS GO TO HELL, ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER MAN and MR. MARI'S GIRLS. His natural good looks also landed him hero roles in THE GIRL FROM S.I.N. (directed by C. Davis Smith) and CARGO OF LOVE. Bob Oran is best-remembered as the sleazy john who pummels prostitute Mary O'Hara in ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER MAN.
Making the disc all the more attractive to Wishman fans is The Doris Wishman Trailer Show, made up of every existing trailer for Something Weird's Doris Wishman collection and which can all be accessed through a "Play All" feature! In addition to the superb previews for INDECENT DESIRES and MY BROTHER'S WIFE (both of which give away the films' endings!), each period of Wishman's career is represented. Color nudie cutie trailers for BLAZE STARR GOES NUDIST, GENTLEMEN PREFER NATURE GIRLS and NUDE ON THE MOON feature lots of nudist camp shenanigans, including volleyball, swimming, and lounging, and offer glimpses of Blaze Starr, Allison Downe, Shelby Livingston, and other nudie cutie favorites of the early 60s. Moving into the New York City roughie era, previews for BAD GIRLS GO TO HELL, ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER MAN, THE SEX PERILS OF PAULETTE, A TASTE OF FLESH and TOO MUCH, TOO OFTEN prove why this was her most fertile period, filled with a cavalcade of favorite roughie cast members (including Gigi Darlene, Darlene Bennett, "Cleo Nova", aka Peggy Steffans, Barbi Kemp, Sam Stewart, Buck Starr, Bob Oran, Michael Alaimo, and Sharon Kent), fascinating C. Davis Smith cinematography, and hyperbole aplenty to draw the raincoat crowd in. Of the black-and-white films, the most intriguing and most deserving of the next Wishman double feature would be A TASTE OF FLESH (a hostage crisis drama) and SEX PERILS OF PAULETTE (Doris' first excursion into the slimy world of the roughie). Slid in-between Wishman's films was THE HOT MONTH OF AUGUST, a film she purchased while vacationing in Greece and re-dubbed with no rhyme or reason. Moving into the 1970s, marvel at the astounding freak-show appeal of DEADLY WEAPONS and DOUBLE AGENT 73, both starring the incomparable Chesty Morgan and their "sequel", THE IMMORAL THREE, another goofy spy caper with three female agents. The first penis transplant movie, THE AMAZING TRANSPLANT, features footage in the trailer that isn't in the finished product or on the Something Weird DVD of the film (which is cut as well). An Easter Egg on the main menu hides a trailer for one of Wishman's least-appreciated efforts, LOVE TOY, a sick tale of a man paying off his gambling debts by loaning his nubile teenage daughter out for an evening of depraved sex. This four-person sleazefest co-stars ravishing blonde starlet Uta Erickson in one of her many NYC films, and after appearing regularly in the grotesque horrors of Michael Findlay, her highlighted scene of putting out a cigarette out on a man's face probably seemed like a cakewalk. Another strong contender for a DVD release, if Image dares.
Contrary to the packaging, the announced Doris Wishman interview (which was to be supplied by filmmaker Ray Greene, who interviewed Doris for his exploitation docu SCHLOCK) is not included in the package, which is a shame as it would have offered a rare glimpse into the turning wheels behind one of the only women working in the man's world of exploitation. It is hoped that Something Weird will include the video interview (shot before her death in 2002) in a future double feature.
The supplements are rounded out by two color short subjects, both directed by Barry Mahon and starring Wishman's favorite girls, Darlene Bennett and Gigi Darlene! "The Room Mates" is narrated by an unseen photographer who introduces Darlene and her unfamiliar female roommate Mary Anne as "his favorite models". Darlene showers, lounges topless drinking topless, combs her hair topless and finally gets dressed. It's an uneventful little short, but Darlene looks ravishing in full color. "Music to Strip By" stars Darlene and incredibly cute Gigi Darlene as two girlfriends who bring over a new stripping record album (!) to their girlfriend's house. Their girlfriend, a professional stripper with tons of eye makeup, teaches them how to perform a superb strip routine to the record's beats. The print is worn, but the two girls look great and this is a rare opportunity to see them together in color! Finishing up the disc is a lengthy gallery of Doris Wishman posters and pressbooks chronologically spanning her entire career, including her lost films THE PRINCE AND THE NATURE GIRL, HIDEOUT IN THE SUN (her first film which Wishman once offered on her official website while she was alive, but has gone back into the vaults now) and BEHIND THE NUDIST CURTAIN, as well as alternate artwork for NUDE ON THE MOON (as MOON DOLLS) and BLAZE STARR GOES NUDIST (as BACK TO NATURE). Radio spots for classicks such as FUGITIVE GIRLS, THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR, SECRET NINJA, BLACK CLEOPATRA (aka THE NOTORIOUS CLEOPATRA) double-featured with TRADER HORNEE, THE BOOGEY MAN, THE BLACK CONNECTION and a blaxploitation marathon including MONKEY HUSTLE, FOXY BROWN, BLACK CAESAR and SCREAM BLACULA SCREAM play over these fascinating images, finishing off what is definitely one of Something Weird's best releases of 2004. (Casey Scott)
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