Whatever else you can say about it, you have to admit Deep Tango has one hell of a credits list.
Check out some of the unworthies credited herein:
Angela Pussey as Marathon M.C.
Diana Stillbottom as Lady Statue
Jimmy Cumlately as Doctor
Carmen Banana as Nurse
And perhaps best of all, the credited Dancers include one Trippy Feat!
With that out of the way, let’s get to the meat of the matter…though if you’ve seen Deep Tango, you know there’s precious little meat to be had, so you take your laughs where you can!
A young man (Keith Henderson, named in the end credits as ‘John’, though all character names appear to fluctuate randomly throughout the running time) goes looking for an apartment. The first place he finds is managed by some fat hairy guy in a pink paisley kaftan who’s busy giving oral to the aforementioned “lady statue” before giving us a lovely rendition of some absurd ditty about doing so…
Gee, think this one was done somewhat tongue in cheek (pun intended)?
The building’s full of weirdos, not least a nurse later named in the credits as ‘Pauline’ (the pig nosed Fifi (“Mona”) Watson – think an especially homely variant of Bionca Seven) who appears to be haunting the room he’s been sent up to look over. She seems to be a real mental patient herself, though he eggs her on by calling from the other room and doing some heavy breathing…which leads to her tearing off all his clothes and getting it on, grunting like a gorilla all the while. Say huh?
His girlfriend (the stunning Annette Haven, whom the end credits designate as ‘Tomine’) shows up at the local train station, but she’s a bit whacked out and artsy herself, arriving with a “cinema verite” camera crew, filming “a documentary of our love”.
You pretty much know what to expect from the rest of the film, though Watson stuffing a loaf of French bread up Henderson’s posterior (while he mysteriously dons a crown in homage to then-contemporaneous Parkay ads) was quite out of left field…
There’s an unrelated subplot involving a frizzy-‘froed Doctor (the earlier noted ‘Jimmy Cumlately’) and his skankily attractive Nurse (likewise, ‘Carmen Banana’) and another involving a masturbatory suicide, but nothing really amounts to anything significant, with random pop culture references and weird comedy put forth without regard to any sort of a linear, logical storyline.
Somewhere between hippie art film (think George Romero’s There’s Always Vanilla) and dated counterculture comedy (think the Groove Tube), Deep Tango makes little or no sense, playing around gamely with cinematic tropes and the heady auteurism of period film studies courses and intermingling all this nonsensical head film psychobabble with a deliberate dadaist sensibility (check out all the rhyming, alliterative and free associative wordplay the generally nameless characters rattle off at random intervals throughout).
While nowhere nearly as pretentious an endurance test as, say, The Telephone Book, this is pretty far outside the comfort zone of the average viewer, cult film aficionado or no. I guess you had to be there.
The picture’s more grainy than viewers have come to expect from the fine folks at Vinegar Syndrome, with a relatively soft picture and Jekyll & Hyde Portfolio-level grain noiticeable throughout. Given that this would appear to be a 16mm film blown up to 35mm, this is likely as good as director Zachary Strong’s picture ever looked, and colors are pretty damn vibrant for an early 70’s no budget obscurity of a skin flick like this.*
*Vinegar Syndrome offer a warning at disc startup that the prints were in fairly ratty condition, but as noted herein, they certainly did a fine job with the materials they had at hand.
The music is by somebody named “Nimrod”, who sounds like a wino just pulled in off the street and delivers an absurdly tongue in cheek track called “red headed woman” (or if the credits are to be believed, “contemporary community standards”!) to accompany one of Haven’s sex scenes, but it’s less celebratory of the lovely lady and her charms than a smart-ass indictment of the porn industry and those who view it….seriously, this one has to be heard to be believed.
In the end, unless you’re of a certain generation and rather nostalgic for the days of your youth, the only thing Deep Tango has going for it is Annette Haven. And granted, that’s quite something in and of itself. But is it enough to carry the dead weight she’s been saddled with here?
Seriously, though, it’s not as bad as similar-minded efforts of its era and ilk (adult oriented or no) – even to this day, the pretentious, would-be heady ‘student film’ tends to imply as much curse as blessing. But Deep Tango is (at best) what used to wind up as the bottom of a triple bill on a Something Weird DVD. How it wound up as the leading half of a double bill, I can’t imagine.
Another print in reasonably rough shape, this one boasts the lovely Sharon Kelly in her heyday, right around the time she was starring in films like Dirty Mind of Young Sally, Sassy Sue, Gosh! Alice Goodbody and Delinquent Schoolgirls. While not quite on the level of the more elegant, sloe eyed Haven (who positively oozes posh Decadence), Kelly (real name Colleen Brennan, though better known by her chosen nom du guerre) is a stunner, and like the similarly ubiquitous Rene Bond, is always a pleasure to encounter in cult films on both sides of the softcore fence.
The kewpie doll faced, pointy breasted Roxanne Brewer (of Deep Jaws and Fantasm) sharpens pencils as ‘Michele’ while pretty ‘Sally’ (Jan Michel) gets busy with Kelly’s middle aged husband (and Kelly gets some softcore level action of her own). But he doesn’t believe that what’s good for the goose is what’s good for the gander…
There’s another cute redhead poking around the office (ahem) in the form of glasses bedecked Elaine (Brittany York, in her sole film credit) who gets a bit wild after lighting up, and Gary Schnieder of Swinging Cheerleaders and Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS fame makes an appearance as a young account exec who’s getting (a)head in the office. And hey, is that a white jumpsuited Annette Haven again in the party sequence?
While essentially pointless and tending more towards the softcore end of the equation, Young Secretaries blows it’s ostensible lead feature right out of the water with (Haven aside) prettier girls (and a lot more of ’em!) nicer decor, actual acting and even some semblance of a plot (however vague).
Sure, these are no budget skin flicks from a bygone era. But they don’t have to be snarky and stupid…somebody clue Zachary Strong and guys like him in to that fact, huh?