Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Future Shock (1972)

Based on Alvin Toffler's 1970 book of the same name, "Future Shock" is a short documentary addressing rapid changes in technology and society's struggle to adjust to them.

Orson Welles narrates this oddity that plays more like a mondo film than any documentary I've seen. It focuses on society adapting to change (both technological advances and changing views) instead of odd practices and pockets of people civilization forgot. True to mondo form, the heavier segments are juxtaposed with light-hearted scenes. All of it was fairly silly, though. There are a lot of "what if" segments suggesting certain things might be common place in the future, some more ridiculous than others. While same sex marriage, computer generated art and prosthesis are prevalent today, we haven't yet reached the age of androids checking us in at the airport or people altering their DNA to change their skin color. There are some great scenes of robotic men walking around with dramatic synth music underlining how creepy this is supposed to be.

This works because of it's 42 minute running time. Any longer than that and it would start to deteriorate for me, I imagine. The dated effects, excellent narration and score and overall paranoia made for an interesting viewing. This probably isn't something I'd want to watch again, but it was decent enough the first time through.


Behind The Green Door (1972)

One of the earliest and most successful "mainstream" American adult films, "Behind the Green Door" grossed over $1 million in its theatrical run and over $50 million total including video sales despite its meager $60,000 budget. It was so successful, according to Wikipedia, the mob stepped in and tried using extortion to obtain the rights to the film.

There's not much plot to speak of, really. Two men at a diner are asked by the cook to relay the story of the green door and the bulk of the film occurs in flashbacks. Gloria (played by a then unknown Marilyn Chambers) is abducted by two men and driven to an undisclosed location. After being massaged by a slightly older woman who reassures her that no harm with come to her, she is led to a stage where sexual acts are performed on her while a group of masked socialites look on. There are three distinct segments with Gloria (I'll skip the details) culminating with the audience members taking matters into their own hands once things get too exciting for them. Finally, the film closes with Gloria and one of the men from the diner passionately making love after the cook asks what happened to the girl.

Obviously, this is fairly tame compared to today's pornography, but the pacing and direction is some of the best I've seen in adult film. It was far more stylized than its competitors at the time and did an excellent job of creating atmosphere and building anticipation. Marilyn wasn't put through any gymnastics, so to speak. Instead, she was the "every girl" who let her reaction shots do most of her acting. The climax of the film (pun intended) is one of the most bizarre things I've seen in a film of any genre, and Daniel LeBlanc's wonderful score illustrates just how important music is in setting tone.

After a slow moving first half, "Behind the Green Door" finished strong. I was all set to give it a 3/5 rating, but that psychedelic montage bumped it up a whole point for me.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Naughty Stewardesses (1975)

"A shave and a haircut before a night on the town..."
I don't remember where, when or why I bought this, but I've been sitting on it for more than a year. I knew it was going to stink when I bought it, so it sat on my shelf until this weekend when I decided to get it over with. It was worse than I feared it would be.

"The Naughty Stewardesses" is the story of small town girl, Debbie (played by Connie Hoffman), who after several failed career paths decides to start over in California and takes a job working as a stewardess. She moves into a house with three other stewardesses who plunge her head first into the seedy California nightlife. Connie becomes romantically involved with Brewster, an older businessman she met on a flight, and meets Cal at one of his parties. Cal is a photographer and convinces Connie to pose for pictures. We learn later when Cal shoots a porno named "Locked Loins" that he's a member of the "People's Liberation Party". He conspires with another of Brewster's guests to kidnap Connie and hold her for a $50,000 ransom for their cause. Cal, temporarily recovering from impotence, rapes Connie while waiting on Brewster to show up with the money. Brewster shows up with guns blazing and saves the day.

Like so many of these films, it has the perfect setup for debauchery, but nothing happens. Early in the movie, Connie is subjected to one of her roommates shaving another roommate's pussy in the living room before going to a party. There are some creepy bed scenes with Brewster (played by Robert Livingston, a cowboy star from the 1940s who's supposed to be in his mid-50s, but easily looks to be 70), but only because he's so old and lecherous looking. Other than that, this was pretty boring. I watched this movie two days before writing this synopsis and I struggled to remember the basic plot elements. Other than some cool shots of old Las Vegas, this was a complete waste of time. It was neither funny, shocking nor sexy. If you're looking for softcore or a parade of flesh, look elsewhere. This movie sucks, and adding insult to injury, its sequel, "Blazing Stewardesses", is part of this DVD set and I'll have to watch it eventually knowing it will likely be even worse.



Joysticks (1983)

"Eeney... meeney.... miney.... moe...."

After so many clunkers, director Greydon Clark knocks it out of the park with "Joysticks". A prominent business owner (played by veteran tough guy, Joe Don Baker) decides his ditzy daughter has been spending too much time at the local video arcade and enlists the help of his two idiot nephews (one of them played by the blonde Daryl from "Newhart") to have it shut down. When all of their acts of sabotage prove ineffective, things culminate in a video game showdown to decide the arcade's fate.

Joysticks is 80's schlock done right. Exploit a popular teenage fad, add a bunch of exposed breasts, sophomoric comedy and a "B" list star 10 years past his prime and watch the money roll in. It's a shitty movie, but unashamedly so. It delivers everything you'd expect from this sort of thing, and then some. It was fun, cheesy and stupid in all the right ways. Not once did my attention drift while watching this and sometimes that's all I want in a movie. Unfortunately, the picture and sound on this $6.00 DVD are both lousy, but I'm not holding my breath for a Criterion release.