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Something Weird Video has recently been busy plumbing the more exotic and salacious realms of '60s and early '70s cinema with their recent DVD releases that focus on the films on David Friedman, Herschell Gordon Lewis, and Harry Novak. They have given films such as Blood Feast, The Erotic Adventures of Zorro, and Mantis in Lace royal treatment on discs laden with extras, as if these are great American treasures.

Indeed, Something Weird has opened up a vein of American cinema that has largely remained hidden from general audiences. These movies rarely played theaters that booked traditional Hollywood fare. Instead, these movies existed in an alternate cinematic universe that typically used grindhouses and (occasionally) art houses as exhibition venues. Hollywood studios apparently paid little attention to this environment.

As evidence, on the audio commentary track of a recent Something Weird DVD release, Kiss Me Quick!, Mike Vraney asks producer Harry Novak how he got away with using the Frankenstein monster (complete with flat-top head, forehead clamps, and neck bolts)--a licensed character that Universal Pictures has vigorously protected for many decades. The Frankenstein monster even appeared on the movie's posters and newspaper ads. "Didn't they [Universal] ever call you?" asks Vraney. "What for?" retorts Novak, with his customary bravado. "We had tits and ass. They didn't have tits and ass."

Something Weird has now released three of the more unusual nudie movies from their vaults: two from producer Harry Novak, the aforementioned Kiss Me Quick! and Please Don't Eat My Mother, and one from producer/actor Bob Creese called House on Bare Mountain. (Something Weird has created a "Monster Nudie Double Feature" by placing Kiss Me Quick! on the same disc with House on Bare Mountain.) These three movies belong to one of the strangest genre mixes ever created -- mixing alternating doses of nudity, sexual situations, horror, and comedy.

At this time, monsters were a hot commodity in America, with televisions shows such as The Munsters and The Addams Family attracting huge audiences. Kids were purchasing Aurora Plastics monster model kits by the ton. Bobby Pickett's "Monster Mash" song was a major hit. And magazines such as Famous Monsters of Filmland and Fantastic Monsters of the Films found readers with a seemingly insatiable appetite for information about Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Creature From the Black Lagoon, and many others. So the environment was right in America for movies that would mix monsters and sex.

During this time, changes were also taking place in the sexploitation film industry. House on Bare Mountain (1962) was the first of this trio of films to be released in theaters. As such, it's a reminder of what nudie-cutie movies were like in the '50s: the camera watches as women shower, sunbathe, and play games in the nude at Granny Good's School for Good Girls. The effect is somewhat similar to the old nudist colony movies, where the participants went about their usual activities (badminton, volleyball, horseback riding, sunning, etc.) while the camera allowed moviegoers to discover (and ogle) this exotic lifestyle. In this case, however, any pretext that the events are real has been completely (and unashamedly) discarded. Kiss Me Quick! (1964), meanwhile, is a reminder of an even earlier adult film genre--the burlesque movie. Now, the bumping and grinding is placed (just barely) within the context of a horror/sci-fi/comedy. But the movie's real reason for existing, of course, is for showing beautiful strippers at work. Please Don't Eat My Mother (1971) belongs to a different type of adult movie altogether and it heralds the way that the adult movie was moving to no-holds-barred explicitness. It doesn't merely present us with women in various stages of undress. It presents us with men and women having sex (in scenes of near-hardcore explicitness).

Something Weird Video gives us these three movies on two separate DVDs. Kiss Me Quick! and House on Bare Mountain are packaged together because each movie has a running time of only a little over an hour (while Please Don't Eat My Mother! has a running time of 94 minutes). Both DVDs are packed with extras. Harry Novak provides audio commentary for both Kiss Me Quick! and Please Don't Eat My Mother! and both discs include several nudie shorts/featurettes, as well as original theatrical trailers and additional exploitation artwork.

 Kiss Me Quick!TOP OF PAGE   

Kiss Me Quick! was Harry Novak's first film as producer and on the audio commentary for Something Weird's DVD, Novak quickly points out that this film is responsible for practically everything he owns. One of the main reasons this film is still so popular today is the cinematography. While most nudie movies (outside of those by Russ Meyer) were indifferently photographed with utilitarian camera angles and flat lighting, Kiss Me Quick! was photographed by one of the finest cinematographers of the past 30 to 40 years--Laszlo Kovacs. His credits include Martin Scorsese's New York, NewYork, Hal Ashby's Shampoo, Peter Bogdanovich's Paper Moon, and Bob Rafelson's Five Easy Pieces. However, in 1964, Kovacs was relatively new in America after having immigrated from Hungary and his difficulties with the English language -- and his lack of a union card -- made it difficult for him to secure work. He worked menial jobs in New York for several years before he and fellow Hungarian expatriate Vilmos Zsigmond packed up and headed for Hollywood.

Harry Novak was one of the first producers to give Kovacs work. The evidence of Kovacs' skill is plain to see in Kiss Me Quick!. His camera isn't just a passive observer. He moves in close, angling up at the strippers as they peel away their clothing, practically caressing their curves as they gyrate and sway. It's the next best thing to being in the front row at a strip club. In those scenes where Kovacs was given free reign, Kiss Me Quick! is quite stunning. But the rest of this movie is astonishingly amateurish. It's only tolerable because every few minutes Kovacs delivers some additional stunning visuals. Director Peter Perry (who frequently used the pseudonym A.P. Stootsberry) had a busy career over the next five years, making several additional sexploitation films, with titles such as The Notorious Daughter of Fanny Hill (1966), The Secret Sex Lives of Romeo and Juliet (1968), and The Notorious Cleopatra (1970). But by the early '70s, he had given up this line of work (and now he refuses to discuss these films, much to chagrin of fans such as Mike Vraney of Something Weird).

Kovacs continued making movies with Novak, photographing The Notorious Daughter of Fanny Hill (1966) and Mantis in Lace (1968), but he soon attracted the attention of filmmakers such as Peter Bogdanovich (who hired him for Targets in 1968) and Peter Fonda (who hired him to photograph Easy Rider in 1969). Throughout the '70s and '80s, Kovacs would be one of the busiest cinematographers in Hollywood, along with his buddy Zsigmond (whose resume is possibly even more impressive than Kovacs').

Kiss Me Quick!'s central character is an ineffectual male. His name is Sterilox and he's from the Buttless Galaxy. He comes to earth because his superior told him that earth women make good servants. So he teleports to Dr. Breedlove's castle, where the good doctor is quite mad and conducting experiments that turn women into insatiable love machines. Dr. Breedlove generously introduces Sterilox to a bevy of strippers (while the doctor shouts encouragement such as "Dance, dance, you little sex bombs!"), but Sterilox remains oblivious and unaffected by their charms. In fact, after watching an astonishing variety of striptease routines, Sterilox becomes infatuated with a vending machine and decides to take it home with him.

In addition to Laszlo Kovacs' fine cinematography, much of the credit for the movie's success, of course, belongs in front of the camera. The comedy with the alien Sterilox (Frank Coe, doing a passable Stan Laurel imitation) and the demented Dr. Breedlove (Max Gardens doing Bela Lugosi mixed with Dr. Strangelove) strives to be so-bad-that-it's-funny, but the comedy only exists to provide a few moments of calm between the bumping and grinding. So it's the none-too-shy women who carry the picture. Because the movie lacks credits whatsoever (the apparent victim of a minuscule budget), it's hard to figure out the names of the women on display, and strangely the audio commentary by Harry Novak and Mike Vraney provides few clues. Natasha is an exception. She appears as one of the trio of strippers who gyrate non-stop in Dr. Breedlove's laboratory. Her movements are well-rehearsed and confident (her two female partners frequently sneak glances at Natasha as they look for some direction). With hair piled nearly a foot high on her head and a somewhat distant personality, Natasha becomes a cool and elegant goddess, while her two female partners grin like naughty school girls (but they're quite alluring in their own right, whatever their names might be).

Something Weird's DVD presentation of Kiss Me Quick! includes a pair of featurettes that star the girls from Dr. Breedlove's laboratory. "Hot Hot Skin" in particular is marvelously staged and filmed, and it features a wonderfully intense rock instrumental soundtrack that sounds like vintage surf guitar (with a nasty-sounding saxophone spicing up the mix), but it's uncredited so I can't tell you who performs the score. The same songs also appear in Kiss Me Quick!--but in abbreviated versions. Here we get longer and more intense versions that capture the wild abandon of the strippers as they shake and wiggle for the camera.



Other extras include a pair of Natasha striptease featurettes and a pair of unrelated shorts with monsters and, of course, nudity. The quality of the transfer of Kiss Me Quick! is quite good, but the extras show considerable wear, with most colors having faded to an orange-brown mess.

 House on Bare MountainTOP OF PAGE   

House on Bare Mountain fills out the second half of the "Monster Nudie Double Feature" disc from Something Weird. It was produced by Bob Creese, who is now widely considered one of the most reviled men in the '60s exploitation business. During the audio commentary of Kiss Me Quick, Harry Novak calls him a "gangster" who tried to strong arm his way into Novak's film production company. For House on Bare Mountain, however, Creese steps in front of the camera--with the billing "Lovable Bob Creese," which surely must have been intentional irony.

Creese does a fair imitation of Jonathan Winter's old granny character as he spends the entire movie in drag as the proprietor of Granny Good's School for Good Girls. Granny gives us a tour of the facilities, with special attention being given to the students as they cavort in the nude at the pool, as they strip at bedtime, as they take showers, as they walk up and down the school's main staircase in various stages of undress, etc.

Unfortunately, House on Bare Mountain lacks the creative inspiration that Laszlo Kovacs gave to Kiss Me Quick! The photography is generally unimaginative and R. Lee Frost's direction fails to elicit much energy. This is a rather drab, uninvolving movie that offers little more than the opportunity to peek at (rather average looking) naked women as they lather up in the shower or try to catch a little shut eye (au natural, of course). Dialog scenes go on much too long (as when Granny gives instructions to her pet seven-foot-tall werewolf). Even the movie's finale--a wild party complete with nude dancing--fails to ignite much energy. This brand of passive voyeurism might have been sufficient in the nudist colony movies of the '50s, but by 1962, House on Bare Mountain was already hopelessly dated.

Creese would go on to produce such sex-and-violence combos as Love Camp 7 and The Scavengers (both 1969), frequently working with director Frost.

 Please Don't Eat My Mother!TOP OF PAGE   

Henry Fudd in Please Don't Eat My Mother is an ineffectual nerd. He allows his mother to rule his life. But during his journeys around the neighborhood, he has an amazing ability to stumble across people having sex. He's a peeping tom who genuinely enjoys watching couples in action. Unlike Sterilox in Kiss Me Quick! (who is completely unmoved by all the women he sees), Henry Fudd does seem to get excited. But he seems quite happy with peeping. In one scene, he takes his lunch with him to the park and he watches as a man and woman move from heavy petting in the front seat to outright rutting in the back seat. Henry happily eats his sandwich and grins blissfully. But unlike the heroes of Russ Meyer's classic nudie cuties The Immoral Mr. Teas and Eve and the Handyman (these movies contain heroes who love to watch but would never actually approach a woman), Henry Fudd in Please Don't Eat My Mother would like to convince a woman to follow him back to his pad for a sexual tryst, but the problems are many fold: 1) he's hopelessly nerdy and dopey looking, 2) he lives with his mother and she's forever poking her nose into his business, and 3) he has purchased a strange plant that looks sort of like a venus flytrap but it grows to tremendous size and grabs the unsuspecting women that enter Henry's room, regardless of whether he means them for plant food or his own amusement.

Whereas Kiss Me Quick! shamelessly appropriated the Frankenstein monster as a supporting character, Please Don't Eat My Mother appropriates the plot from Roger Corman's Little Shop of Horrors. It's truly amazing that Harry Novak could get away with such blatant thievery without causing a ripple of reactions. But from his long list of credits (over 30 films during the 14 years he spent producing independent films), Novak undoubtedly knew his business and the forces surrounding it.

Buck Kartalian stars as Henry Fudd. Before Please Don't Eat My Mother!, he had appeared in several Hollywood movies in supporting roles, including Mister Roberts (1955), Cool Hand Luke (1967), and Planet of the Apes (1968, he played the ape "Julius"). And after Please Don't Eat My Mother!, he appeared in several more small roles, in movies such as The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) and The Rock (1996). But the early '70s was a strange time for Kartalian. His credits include such bargain basement productions as Blood Legacy (1970, with John Carradine in the lead) and Octaman (1970, in which Kartalian played "Octaman," a mutated, upright, walking octopus--with only four arms!). These two movies are pure dreck. As bad as anything ever committed to celluloid. So I suppose Kartalian may have considered the future of his acting career was looking bleak. What would it hurt to star in a nudie horror movie with sex scenes of near-hardcore intensity? Although it took nearly four years for Kartalian to get his next acting gig in Hollywood (as the "Wolfman" in the kids television series Monster Squad), he did survive his association with the sexploitation genre, even appearing in a bit role in last year's The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas.

Kartalian isn't a subtle actor. He loves to grin and ham it up for the camera. But he tries so hard that he's ingratiating. He's short with hairy, muscular arms, a leathery face, stooped shoulders, a large head, and shaggy hair. These physical characteristics made him an ideal choice to play the nebbish, Seymour Krelboined-inspired lead character in Please Don't Eat My Mother! (Seymour is the lead character from Roger Corman's The Little Shop of Horrors.) He's one of the main reasons that this dubious cult movie is still worth watching. The direction by Carl Monson (who also has a supporting role as a police detective) is fairly drab and unimaginative. But the onscreen events are so outrageous that it's difficult to look away.

Another reason for the movie's continued popularity is the presence of Rene Bond, one of the most popular of all the adult film stars from the early '70s. Her career began before Deep Throat issued in a new era of explicitness. (Deep Throat was released to theaters at about the same time as Please Don't Eat My Mother!) She starred in movies with such lurid titles as Saddle Tramp Women, Teenage Sex Kitten, and Panty Girls (all 1972). Bond has attracted a loyal cult following who appreciate her cute babyish face, her enthusiastic performances, and her impressive chest. (On this disc's audio commentary, Harry Novak reveals that he paid for the breast augmentation procedure that turned a rather small breasted actress into a legendary sex kitten.)

Something Weird's DVD contains several extras in addition to the aforementioned audio commentary by Harry Novak. You'll find theatrical trailers for Please Don't Eat My Mother! and several additional Novak features (such as Booby Trap, The Pig Keeper's Daughter, and a handful of others); a theatrical short called "The Voyeur" that features Buck Kartalian; a black-and-white short called "Rene Bond Bound"; several minutes of video clips showing Mike Vraney raiding the vaults of Harry Novak; and a gallery of exploitation art from Novak's films.


Something Weird Video has released Kiss Me Quick! and House on Bare Mountain as a "Monster Nudie Double Feature" DVD (distribution by Image Entertainment). The video transfers for both movies have been digitally remastered. The disc includes original theatrical trailers; audio commentary by producer Harry Novak during Kiss Me Quick!; several theatrical featurettes/shorts, including the Kiss Me Quick! girls in "Hot Hot Skin" and "The Nudie Watusi" and Natasha in "Natasha's Suburban Sexercise" and "Strip Tease Queen"; and a gallery of '60s sexploitation art with radio-spot rarities.

Something Weird Video has also released Please Don't Eat My Mother! on DVD (distribution by Image Entertainment). The video transfer has been digitally remastered. The disc includes audio commentary by Harry Novak; theatrical trailers for Please Don't Eat My Mother! and other Novak movies, such as The Exotic Dreams of Casanova and Street of a Thousand Pleasures; a theatrical short starring Buck Kartalian titled "The Voyeur"; a black-and-white Rene Bond short titled "Rene Bond Bound"; video clips of Something Weird Video raiding Harry Novak's film vault; and a gallery of Harry Novak exploitation art with radio-spot rarities.

Both DVDs have a suggested retail price of $24.99. For more information, check out the Something Weird Video Web site.