One thing is for sure: you can't duplicate the authentic feel of a 42nd Street double-feature in this day and age. All of the popular venues were either demolished or mutated into neighborhood theaters, showing the latest Hollywood blockbuster. But Something Weird Video has given their best shot time and time again, and this Twisted Temple Double Feature disc is their latest attempt to bring a little bit of the grindhouse into your home.
TV hypnotist The Great Eric is getting tired of dwindling offers and small paychecks, so he develops a brilliant concept after witnessing a televangelist raking in the dough. He invents a ludicrous fake religion worshipping love and the act of free love, complete with oddball costumes and talky hypnotic speeches. Recruiting a number of wealthy yahoos, including an elderly nymphomaniac (!), things start crumbling when some of the male cult members begin raping the women of the cult! It all ends with murder most foul...
Despite some interesting opening title cards (all pseudonyms), LOVE CULT is a pretty disappointing experience. Any and all sex takes place off-screen, there are brief flashes of nudity, and the film runs out of steam at the 30-minute mark. The one major plus is a brief appearance by Doris Wishman starlet Sharon Kent (INDECENT DESIRES) as a mute cult member, looking almost unrecognizable. The sex cult is an interesting concept, especially considering this was shot before cults became popularized with Jim Jones and Charles Manson leading the way, but even at 65 minutes, the flick feels much too long and drawn-out. The narrator seems to be having a good time, though, with melodramatic descriptions and speeches discussing Eric and his obsessive cult mentality. The black-and-white transfer for LOVE CULT has frequent grain and some dirt, but is generally pretty gorgeous. The mono audio, on the other hand, is very scratchy; music is bombastic and bold, while dialogue is very low. Blame this on the original onset sound recording, however.
Vastly more interesting is MUNDO DEPRAVADOS, starring a MUCH older Tempest Storm and a pair of bumbling idiot detectives. A young woman, scared by an ominous phone call (her frightened expressions are hilarious!), drops the phone, runs out of her apartment (she leaves the door open...in NYC??!!), and is chased by the caller, in a dark hat and trenchcoat, into a mannequin warehouse where she is strangled...or stabbed...or something... In-between the investigation, Bunny Ware (of STRANGE RAMPAGE, with the voice of a Bronx taxi driver!) inherits some money and throws a party for her girlfriends, as the man of her dreams watches her strip to excellent library music through the ventilation shaft! A number of red herrings are thrown in, with a fat guy who snatches naughty things from strippers and the aforementioned peeping tom as the prime suspects. Tempest Storm, the boss of the various murdered girls (and giving Connie Mason a run for her money as worst actress of all time), acts as bait by performing a handful of striptease acts. Much like her earlier acts, her breasts are never fully shown.
One of the longest 78 minutes in sexploitation history, MUNDO DEPRAVADOS still features enough unbelievable characters and situations to keep any viewer awake. Witness one of the shortest and stupidest TV exercise shows ever aired, a grating lengthy skit where the detectives impersonate everyone from Frank Sinatra to Topo Gigio (!!), Tempest including a fake slasher in her strip act, and Bunny Ware beating the shit out of an attempted rapist with her spiked heel shoe!! Delores Carlos is listed in the credits, but I couldn't see her anywhere. The dialogue is some of the funniest you'll hear (one of the murder witnesses says, "I wanna help! I've been a housekeeper here for a long time and those two girls were my favorites!!!"), so even though there isn't enough nudity for a sexploitation flick, you won't be too bored in this "World of the Depraved!" The transfer for MUNDO DEPRAVADOS is much better-looking than its CO-feature, with little if any dirt or speckles; grain in some spots, but overall the picture is clean and crisp. The mono audio once again suffers from onset sound recording; the library music is full and clear, the dialogue quiet and under-recorded.
First up on the extras platter are incredibly rare outtakes from MUNDO DEPRAVADOS, presented without dialogue with music from the film! None of the footage consists of anything special (i.e., unused scenes), most of it is close-ups of the clapboard, displaying the original shooting title MEET ME UNDER THE BED. There are some flubbed takes with Tempest forgetting her lines (not surprising) and additional footage of a shower scene. Bunny Ware fans note that she appears in multiple takes of her final scene with the peeping tom, and even some unused footage of her assault. I'm surprised any of it still exists!
The trailer vault kicks off with the feature films, LOVE CULT and MUNDO DEPRAVADOS. The preview for the latter stands as a testament to the way the film USED to look like, and it includes unrelated footage from STRANGE RAMPAGE?! Albert Zugsmith's ON HER BED OF ROSES is also known as PSYCHOPATHIA SEXUALIS, and looks to be pretty incredible! Car crashes, incest fantasies, plenty of sex and swinging, and a gun-wielding girl with a man's voice! What is it about? I have no idea! I must see it! THE PEEPING PHANTOM looks like another regional nudie-cutie, reminiscent of MUNDO DEPRAVADOS with a shadowy figure terrorizing dancers. It might be lost, I've only ever seen the trailer and there is no IMDB entry. Of course it would be wonderful to see it! SEX CLUB INTERNATIONAL and SEX KILLER are both Barry Mahon flicks; the former is a sex-n-bullets picture that might be interesting, the latter is coming to DVD soon. Mahon always had beautiful women in his films, but that didn't always make them interesting. SEX KILLER stars Findlay regular and personal fave Uta Erickson and Bob Oran of Doris Wishman's films, and looks to be pretty twisted!! STRANGE COMPULSION is an arty tale of a peeping tom; Annabelle Weenick is in it!! The lead actor reminds me of Anthony Perkins in PSYCHO; wether the film still exists or not is questionable. THE TWISTED SEX looks pretty off-the-wall, with negative film optics, vaseline lens, and people getting their kicks in strange ways. One man is tortured by two beautiful girls in a dungeon, another girl becomes a call girl and is raped, there's lesbianism, a gigolo serving an older woman, a voyeur strangling girls while wearing a monter mask! It's all supposed to be based on true testimonies from a psychiatrist's case book! I'd love to see it! TWO GIRLS FOR A MADMAN is another NYC Distribpix release; shot in gorgeous black-and-white, it tells the tale of two girls who have various misadventures surrounded by psychopaths. Lucky Kargo of LOVE CULT stars! VENUS IN FURS is neither the Franco or Dallamano version, but a completely different version produced by Lou Campa! Shot in upstate New York, it has Findlay regular Janet Banzet (!), orgies, outdoor whipping, muscle worship, and Lucky Kargo again!! It's inspired by the Leopold von Sacher-Masoch novel of the same name, but I can't vouch for its accuracy. Looks excellent!!
The collection of shorts begins rather strangely with "The Revolution Marches on Its Stomach." A short shot in a faux Mondo style, the documentary covers a (reportedly German) cult living in Munich, who allows the crew to film them in exchange for a buffet of food and green jello for their orgy! And we of course get to witness naked bodies being covered in food and the cult members bathing in green jello! A female narrator (a cult member with an atrocious fake German accent) tells us how the world could learn a lot from the cult! They play bongos and smoke pot, too. Pickles and bush abound! The 30s nudie short "Swami Yogi-Pogi" features a turbaned mystique witnessing a cache of high society dames stripping and skinny-dipping in a large pool while a Billy Gilbert look-alike comic takes pictures. He tries to magically put swimming suits back on them to no avail! These ancient loops are always a blast; imagine these women just showing up to do some nude swimming or stretching, then going home to make dinner for their husbands?! Fascinating time capsules! A whole disc of these would be fun! "Tempest Gets Plastered" has appeared on the DOUBLE AGENT 73 disc as "The Big, Big Bust." It's a newsreel showing Ms. Storm getting her incredibly large (44-inches!) bust put into plaster as a drooling narrator rambles. No nudity, but it's still sexy viewing! To top off the extras, there is the token Gallery of Sexploitation Movie Magazine Covers, from back when skinflick mags were interesting, all to the tune of BOOBY Trap's main theme.
Neither film, LOVE CULT or MUNDO DEPRAVADOS, is the best example of the cinema frequented by rain-coaters and curious tourists during the heyday of 42nd Street moviegoing, but the intention of the disc is most appreciated. You probably won't want to revisit this one all that often, but it's a nice little addition to your Something Weird collection and has enough warped moments to warrant purchasing. (Casey Scott)
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