Directors: Richard MacLeod & David Smythe
Something Weird Video/Image Entertainment

There’s nothing quite as exciting as an off-the-wall, mind-melting sexploitation relic from the good old days of New York City grindhouse moviemaking. Something Weird Video has emerged as the savior of this subgenre, rescuing negatives and long-lost prints of the hundreds of regional rarities originating around the Big Apple. But not every film they’ve discovered is a gem worth polishing off. So we come to this Kitty Krime Double Feature of KITTEN IN A CAGE and THE GIRL FROM PUSSYCAT, a pairing of two sub par black-and-white offerings with a few worthwhile moments between them, but ultimately are a drag.

On a bleak day in upstate New York, a beautiful brunette in a clinging black overcoat runs for her life through fields and woods. Julie is escaping from a mental institution, but she has no recollection of how or why she was put there. Hitching a ride with unsuspecting milquetoast Ted back into the big city, she calls her boyfriend-turned-boss Brian who shacks her up in his lavish mansion. But a mysterious stalker in a ski mask tracks her there, knocks out the butler, and tries to stick a hypodermic into her before Brian arrives and saves her. With the characters and the audience thoroughly confused, Brian whisks Julie away to…a strip club (?!) where she watches a number of lengthy numbers while Brian arranges for Julie to stay with lesbian go-go girl Kelly. He continues his investigation and discovers that Julie, for some reason, knows the whereabouts of a million dollars’ worth of precious stones and has both the authorities and mobsters after her!

Despite the presence of nudie luminaries June Roberts (on her way out of the biz) and Linda Boyce (on her way up in the biz) and a groovy garage rock soundtrack, KITTEN IN A CAGE is a consistently confusing mess that mixes crime, nudity, and bad dubbing to create a monster like no other. One could say director Richard McLeod was trying to be oblique and lay out a unique mystery, but the bizarre dubbing seems to indicate that the entire production was reshaped in post or just made up as filming progressed. McLeod reaches his nudity quota in the almost 30-minute segment in the strip club (which also includes a random scene of a guy with a switchblade mauling a blonde stripper backstage), then follows up with a nude shower scene and lesbian massage sequence between Julie and Kelly. Despite all the requisite exploitation elements, including a shoot-out finale with bullets ricocheting off birch trees (!), KITTEN is a real chore to sit through, perking up during June Roberts’ stage routine and location footage of Central Park and a spacious mansion. Somehow Harry Novak got his hands on this thing and distributed it through Box Office International, making it one of few New York pick-ups in the company’s history (the others would include a series of Lou Campa roughies, character actor Larry Crane’s THE DEVIL IN VELVET, Stanley Brasloff’s BEHIND LOCKED DOORS, and the Amero Brothers’ DIARY OF A SWINGER). It’s strange to think what he saw in this film that screamed box office gold, but it’s thanks to Novak that a negative has survived and the film looks so sparkling and clean on this DVD. A real pity the film isn’t better, though…

As for the cast, Miriam Eliot is an alluring creature, but the film may have been more interesting if supporting player Linda Boyce had taken her place as the lead. Boyce was a very good actress, in addition to having a unique look and no qualms about disrobing for the cameras, and just seems wasted here in a nude strip routine. Eliot does try her darndest to work with the script (or lack thereof) and her dubbed voice changes at least twice during the running time. June Roberts could never claim to be an actress, but she had an incredible figure, ready to please, and watching her really get into her dance routine leads me to believe she probably was a dancer in real-life. Her enraged behavior as a spectator pelts her with ice cubes is priceless!

Filmed at the cusp of softcore and hardcore, GIRL FROM PUSSYCAT opens with a copulating couple (the girl has really obvious tan lines) and the credits written on the wall behind them. Darlene, the tanned blonde in a typical 60s poncho, and her girl gang are planning a bank robbery, much to the chagrin of her sensitive boyfriend Jack, but she takes time out to lezzie it up with Bobbie. Eve drops out, but Jane takes her place; however, Jane also has the hots for Jack. Judy flashbacks to a turgid romance wherein she was forced to give her boyfriend head to prove she loved him, then is asked, “What does it feel like to be a tramp? You did it because you’re a whore!” Jane beds Jack, while Judy picks up a smarmy gent on the street to screw and cast aside in an effort to fix her psyche. Post-robbery, the girls frolic in the cash nude and maul two strangers who come knocking at their door, resulting in an orgy. Eve also has fun on her own with a geek sporting glasses and an USMC tattoo. It turns out that Jack works at the bank recently robbed and battles with turning in his girlfriend or ignoring the heist. Darlene and Bobbie make it easy for him by hogtying him, dousing his face with beer, and inflicting much pain on him. Will Jane come around and escape with Jack, the love of her life?

Stan Borden’s American Film Distributing Corp. would unleash this to grindhouses on the Deuce, and it is the quintessential raincoat movie, offering little more than an avalanche of nudity, crotch-grinding, and wooden acting, all attached to a flimsy clothesline of a plot and set to a classical music soundtrack. A few interesting things about this skinflick: there is a healthy dose of dialogue, all delivered pretty well in live sound (a few flubbed lines are left in). It’s pretty vintage and a sign of the times that a low-budget film can get away with four girls running out of a bank wielding guns and a bag filled with cash in the Big Apple. Try that today and enjoy your cell. I also liked the torture sequence, with two women giving it rough to a man, and considering this is 1969, it would be one of the last black-and-white scenarios of its kind. Some of the men participate in the sex scenes wearing boxers, but most disrobe, providing some surprise male nudity. The only recognizable actress is the pixie-haired Jo Ellen, resembling Julia Roberts, and who some may recognize as the lead in FELICIA or one of the models in IN HOT BLOOD. At 66 minutes, GIRL FROM PUSSYCAT still feels slightly too long, but some of the sex scenes are hot, an otherworldly feel achieved through odd editing, strange cinematography, and a very cryptic ending, and the aforementioned elements make it an interesting watch for historians of this genre.

Though neither film is a masterpiece, both transfers are gorgeous, taken from original negatives! KITTEN IN A CAGE fares slightly worse, with some grain during outdoor scenes, debris during reel changes, and some dark moments thanks to the bad lighting at the time of filming. GIRL FROM PUSSYCAT looks clean and crisp, with every pore of skin clear as crystal, and aside from a few moments of grain, is spectacular. Both mono audio mixes are very muffled, due to the poor dubbing in KITTEN and poor live sound recording in PUSSYCAT. Both features begin with the oft-used feline-filled “Restricted Admittance” reel.

The supplements kick off with the original previews for KITTEN IN A CAGE and GIRL FROM PUSSYCAT. KITTEN manages to choose scenes that are somewhat competently dubbed, and plays up the violence and crime angles of the film. GIRL FROM PUSSYCAT’s preview is overflowing with nudity and sex, giving no attention to the story and selling the film on its flesh factor. It must have been a hit! Continuing with the cat theme, the subsequent trailers include THE FAT BLACK PUSSYCAT. This amusing trailer shows no footage from the polarizing feature (this one is love it or hate it), but has a creepy nursery rhyme and a shot of a cat to entice viewers. HOUSE OF CATS is a Mitam Production (misspelled in the trailer as Mitan), so it’s probably lost. Mitam shot films in California, apparently, but they have the feel of New York or Texas genre films. See a nude woman tied up topless in a barn, an obese woman flaunt her breasts to a greasy spectator, and goofy quasi-rape scenes that erupt into love scenes. THE PINK PUSSY is an Argentinean import, starring Libertad Leblanc. Where Isabel Sarli was Argentina’s answer to Elizabeth Taylor, Leblanc was the country’s answer to Marilyn Monroe, and the two would compete for reigning sex symbol of the South American land. In America the film was spiced up with inserts featuring June Roberts, but the original feature has enough nudity, violence, and bad taste to be completely entertaining. Highly recommended! OK, folks, here is the real reason you may want to pick up this disc: for the first time on DVD, the original theatrical trailer for 3 LIVES OF A PSYCHO CAT! That’s right, the original unedited film that would later be re-edited into the maddening masterpiece CONFESSIONS OF A PSYCHO CAT. See footage cut from the surviving version! Revel in the eyes-bulging performance of Eileen Lord! Hear the announcer proclaim “Jake LaMotta, ex-middleweight champion of the world”! This preview just recently surfaced on SWV’s TWISTED SEX VOL. 22, and one can only hope they can find the full-length, unedited feature! Is it strange that seeing this preview was the highlight of the disc for me…? Another previously lost trailer for PLATINUM PUSSYCAT appears. Some scenes are in color, while other black-and-white sequences are tinted red. This odd film features a scene of a man being crushed under a car, nude women tied up and whipped, a man shot with an arrow, male nudity, lengthy chase scenes, a woman in a shower being punched, and apparently tons of screaming!! Available from Something Weird on VHS and DVD-R. The PUSSYCATS PARADISE/TRIP AROUND THE WORLD double-feature promo has been around for years, showing no footage from the film but promising lots of “lusty, busty, playful lovelies” in a “riotous bare-ful romp”.

In addition to the incredible trailers, four Peepland shorts, completely unrelated to the features, continue the cat theme with “Friendly Kitten”, “Pretty Kitty from Kansas City”, “Young and Kittenish”, and “Kute Kitty”. All feature women of the 1940’s, with appropriately dated hairdos and cute poses to the camera; these are fascinating to watch, but you have to be in the mood for some sexy time travel. Two Harry Novak galleries, one of posters and pressbooks (with radio ads playing throughout) and the other of promotional photos, finish off this mildly entertaining double-feature. (Casey Scott)