If one thing remained consistent in the western genre, it was a glimpse into the sex lives of the Old West. Dating back to the silent days and continuing to modern times, every western offers at least a cameo by a "lady of ill repute," a grizzled madam with guts of steel, or the town whorehouse, filled with drunks and giggling prostitutes. By the 1960s, the skinflick industry struck gold with the idea of expanding on sex in the Old West by producing a subgenre of nudie Westerns. The two presented on DVD here are nowhere near the best (those would be THE SCAVENGERS and perhaps HOT SPUR), but they're representative of the types of films audiences experienced at the drive-in or the grindhouse and one thing is certain: the Old West had just as many perverts as it does 150 years later!
Rick is THE RAMRODDER, a cowpoke who befriends a local Indian tribe and falls in love with the chief's daughter Tuwana (the lovely Kathy Williams). But when a tribal maiden (the Manson Family's Catherine Share?!) is beaten and raped by a toothless bum, Rick is blamed and he must run for his life from the vengeful Indians!
Considering the politically incorrect times of the 1960s, David F. Friedman's THE RAMRODDER comes off as very respectful of the Native American people. They don't speak in the hackneyed English of countless Roy Rogers westerns. As a sex film, RAMRODDER falls pretty short. Kathy Williams is a lovely presence in all of her films, and she unfortunately had a short-lived nudie career. She is the highlight of the show here, despite a supporting turn by Marsha Jordan (bedecked in brown makeup and partaking in a lesbian scene!). Other than the well-done Dance of the Virgin, a staged catfight, and the expected Friedman whipping scene, RAMRODDER can only be recommended to the Manson Family completist. Besides Catherine "Gypsy" Share in a supporting role as the raped Indian maiden, a vengeful castrating warrior is played by the darkly handsome, but ultimately psychotic Bobby Beausoleil, Charlie Manson's right-hand man whose imprisonment for the murder of Gary Hinman inspired the Manson murders!! Fans of Russ Meyer films will notice Robert Aiken (VIXEN; CHERRY, HARRY AND RAQUEL) as the warrior in love with Tuwana.
If THE RAMRODDER is passable entertainment, REVENGE OF THE VIRGINS is the disposable end of the double bill. While it could arguably be the first nudie western (Russ Meyer's WILD GALS OF THE NAKED WEST came in 1962, two years later), it just isn't very good. Pete Perry would acquire some artistic talent within the next nine years before directing a number of entertaining corn-porn flicks for Harry Novak. Here, he displays some of that promise with some interesting camera movements and editing, but the storyline will leave you dozing within the first 10 minutes. A group of white gold-diggers head into the mountains to seek their fortune, but are ambushed by a tribe of topless women with bows and arrows! And that's about it... Not even worth viewing once, really.
The transfers for both films are well above average. THE RAMRODDER has some specklings at reel changes and grain in dark scenes, but for the most part is vivid and colorful. Like all of Something Weird's black-and-white films, REVENGE OF THE VIRGINS looks amazing. The contrasts are breath-taking, very little grain is present, and not enough dirt or speckling to be distracting. Superb job done here! The mono audio is good, but is at times far too low, which isn't uncommon on Something Weird's discs, but they serve their respective films well.
Right off the bat, the main menu sets the tone: a bare ass in warpaint shaking to tribal music! Before moving on to the extra features, it should be made clear that you can view both films in a "double feature" format, one after the other. BUT! If you do, the presentation eliminates Chapter 9 of THE RAMRODDER, featuring the catfight and a kidnapping of a white settler by Bobby Beausoleil and his henchmen. So it's recommended you watch them separately.
If the feature films didn't interest you in the nudie western genre, the trailers will. Besides THE RAMRODDER, most of the films here would actually have been better choices for the DVD format than the two here. BRAND OF SHAME is another David F. Friedman flick; the trailer has music from She-Freak! Directed by Byron Mabe, it tells the tale of a schoolteacher being pursued by friend and foe for a map to a gold mine she possesses. Marsha Jordan and Samantha Scott (BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS star; look fast for David F. Friedman in a cameo as a stage driver and it's always great to see another of Friedman's token whipping scenes. Looks great! THE DOUBLE-BARRELLED DETECTIVE STORY is a western comedy presented in widescreen (!) based on a Mark Twain story. A villain wields a cat by its tail! DR. CARSTAIR'S 1869 LOVE-ROOT ELIXIR is a borderline hardcore sex flick with favorites Marsha Jordan and Kathy Hilton. It is, by all accounts, lost, and the trailer has stock music from Novak's corn-porn pictures! FANDANGO is another Novak film starring James Whitworth (The Hills Have Eyes) as a cowboy. Doesn't look like it has much of a story.... HOT SPUR is real-life sadist producer Bob Cresse's tale of the sick, sick West! After introducing the trailer, proclaiming its importance in the adult film industry (!), the viewer is treated to scenes of women beaten, raped, whipped, humiliated, dragged, chased by a variety of cowboys, in addition to some queasy violence. But this isn't a tongue-in-cheek Friedman flick here, folks, this is real disturbing stuff, all directed by Lee Frost! INDIAN RAID INDIAN MADE is one of the infamous Morganna's few film appearances, here as a topless native dancer! Two musclehead lunkheads with sideburns look like rejects from a gay porn film. LADY GODIVA RIDES is aka LADY GODIVA MEETS TOM JONES, starring Marsha Jordan as Lady Godiva and Forman Shane as Tom Jones. Both should have been in better films. Look fast for Liz Renay laughing in the background during the frenzied dance sequence! Marsha takes a shower, has a mudfight with another girl, and has a sex scene with Forman, who keeps his pants on. It's a typical A.C. Stevens film of the time, his films would get better during the Sexual Revolution. THE SCAVENGERS is probably the best nudie Western, successfully combining nudity and violence in one film (something that HOT SPUR failed at doing). In-between violent shoot-outs, a group of Union deserters take over a whorehouse (cue the nudity and sex, including the incomparable Uschi Digard!) and clash with Confederate soldiers and their accompanying slaves. Features some disturbing violence, good acting, wonderful sets and atmosphere, and excellent cinematography. Bruce Kimball and Maria Lease were both in DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN the same year.
The short subjects are a mixed bag. The Lenny Bruce cartoon "Thank You Mask Man" isn't that funny, but is worth seeing for Bruce's wacked-out humor. "Cowgirl Stripper" is familiar to all SWV viewers; snippets of it appear in their lengthy promo trailer at the start of every DVD (the shots of a woman bending over and with a cowboy hat positioned over her breasts). It looks like it was shot in NYC, judging by the film stock and the appearance of the model, and is a portion of a feature film. "The Nude Dude" isn't what it sounds like; it's a 7-part (!) arcade loop with a nude woman running rampant through a ghost town after killing two men, the only other inhabitants. She wears a patch over her pubic region!! The finale, where she shoots herself in the head with two guns, is kinda sick... "Cowgirl Shootout" is a less interesting 8mm stag reel with a lovely topheavy bar owner competing with a haughty hooker to get customers in their saloons. An Easter Egg on the Special Features menu will please SWV's gay and female viewers; after seeing a multitude of nude cowgirls, you get uncut nude cowboys and Indians sunbathing in the nude and having target practice with a tin can! Bizarre, to say the least, but very daring and cool of SWV to include this! The Gallery of Underground Sexploitation Movie Magazine Covers is a nice change from the movie posters and pressbooks, and I actually spotted some I owned! Lots of rare pictorials for nudie cuties and all accompanied by a very bizarre soundtrack piece!
While the films themselves are mediocre at best, the intent of the disc is appreciated and it's a welcome addition to my DVD shelf after the abomination that was WHEN WOMEN PLAYED DING DONG. Good job on this one, SWV, keep 'em coming! (Casey Scott)
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