Am I wrong in thinking it’s been a while since Vinegar Syndrome released one of these Something Weird-style packages?
After what feels like a particularly long remove, the erstwhile preservationists of seedy cinematic ephemera make another delve into the world of cheesy, sleazy softcore with a bizarro bent with this worthy trio of late 60’s head scratchers that give a far better window on America than any dozen more “mainstream” signifiers ever could.
Marsha Jordan, the vaguely pretty in a 60’s television sort of way starlet of such Something Weird epics as Ed Wood’s Lady Godiva Rides, Ted V. Mikels’ Dr. Sex, the Ramrodder, the Toy Box, Sweet Georgia and the Black Alleycats (not to mention a bit part in Count Yorga, Vampire!) bares her flabby body (and giant tighty-whitey granny panties) as Marsha the Erotic Housewife.
Don Davis, director of the three features here as well as two Something Weird efforts more memorable for their endlessly repeated theme songs than any actual content besides (the haunting hillbilly epic Swamp Girl, with country stars Ferlin Husky and Claude King, and the blowsy lounge singer cheese of For Love and Money, whose goofy crooner returns to belt out the awkward titular ballad here) pairs Jordan with aging if Tina Louise-like redheaded bombshell Luanne Roberts (Something Weird’s Joys of Jezebel, the Psycho Lover and Trader Hornee, Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Miss Nymphet’s Zap-In and Code Red’s Dandy).
Some nice period locations (check out Roberts’ pad with the brick fireplace or the restaurant/bar the couples head out to thereafter) enliven a fairly typical, if somewhat maudlin tale of cheatin’ spouses. But hold your horses, Jordan fans- because ballyhoo be damned, she’s not the cheater, she’s the longsuffering cuckolded wife!
Sure, in the final minutes of the film, the wronged housewife and mother starts flitting around Las Vegas cocktail bars, banging some guy in his van and a hotel bar piano player on top of his baby grand, but it ain’t much given all the build, and all Davis shows is (if you’re lucky!) a quick partial undressing before cutting to the next scene. The best part comes right at the end, when her cute little neighbor (whose husband drops by in the middle of the workday to bang her in the laundry room) offers a bit of wife swapping (which despite all her “revenge” sleeping around, shocks our relentlessly bourgeoise heroine into stunned silence and a quick exit).
So far removed is the script from the nudge and wink of a title, in fact, that Davis would have been more honest to call this one “Marsha, the (Ineffectually) Calorie Counting Housewife”, particularly as the first half of the film drops her concerns about putting on weight and watching her caloric intake several times over! Was it an inside joke, given Jordan’s midlife zaftig inclinations?
More of a period melodrama than any sort of titillating softcore, Marsha the Erotic Housewife drops some rather occasional bits of peek-a-boo lingerie and flesh as light seasoning to spice its nigh-television feel (complete with goofily happy scene change musical stings!). It’s certainly watchable, but the title promises a lot more sizzle…never mind steak!…than it delivers.
Next up is the previous year’s For Single Swingers Only, which features the incomprehensibly Swedish accented Heide Andersen as “Gracie Neilsen” and Sharon Sanford as her washed out boozehound of a roommate “Gloria”. It’s really no surprise this is the only starring role for either of our leads…
Our heroines go around apartment shopping and wind up in a cheap motel named “Swingers Arms” instead (well, they claim it’s an apartment, but seriously…it may in fact be the back of the Suez Motel!). They hook up with a seedy cockney with awful teeth and his goofy pal, various residents pair off in ever changing combinations, and their “peek freak” lady manager (who I could swear is a regular from those Barry Mahon/Sande Johnson Florida nudie cutie shorts with Gigi Darlene and Nadja Swensen) keeps dropping by everyone’s windows for a free eyeful.
Eventually, Andersen returns home to find her sleazy swinger boyfriend double teaming a stranger while roomie Gloria gets a bit of lesbo action from the manager. This really freaks our closet moralist out, prompting the entire motel to unload and fights to break out between cuckolded couples. Everyone has a well deserved (if hilariously fake and forced) laugh at our heroine, who begins to hallucinate everyone as some evil sinner (seriously, they all develop black eyes, missing teeth and gray hair just like that) and she runs away. “For Gracie…the beginning”, the credits tell us over a freeze frame of her goofy face. Yeah, this one’s definitely a keeper in this trilogy of trash.
The only real mystery here is how anyone in the cast can understand Andersen’s monotone Svenson the Janitor delivery. At least this time, Davis didn’t skimp on the flesh…
This one had previously turned up on a Something Weird/Image DVD paired with Free Love Confidential, but honestly, I didn’t feel motivated enough to dig that disc out for comparison purposes. That said, the (typically time and neglect damaged) print doesn’t appear to have undergone any serious restoration, to judge the film on its own terms. Offhand, expect something between a direct port and some color contrast brightening – like it’s companion pieces, it’s still pretty washed out and filled with minor print damage, though certainly in much more acceptable (and watchable) shape than Don’t Go Into the Woods turned out to be!
Finally, what appears to be an even beefier Marsha Jordan than the one on display in Marsha the Erotic Housewife returns for Her Odd Tastes, as a vibrator-sportin’, card carryin’ lesbian (early) and “sexual adventuress” (later).
“After I arrived in town, I got a job selling a new type of vibrator. I found the best way to sell the product was to use my body to demonstrate it. And this led to some very strange experiences.”
Yet another nice brick fireplace (no, not the same one on display in Marsha the Erotic Housewife) makes an appearance, as Jordan casually chats with a Jeffrey Tambor type over drinks…about some freak who tried to come after her with a knife while making out, whom she winds up accidentally responsible for the death of (!)
Better yet – our Tambor lookalike is some random stranger who she hitched a desperate ride from at the scene of the murder, who further involves himself in this apparent crime scene by heading back to “remove all traces of your presence”. All he removes, though, is a (literal) accounts ledger that supposedly details our loon’s “theories of pleasure and pain”. And this allows Tambor-lite to convince Jordan to write a book about her experiences in kinky sex (!) Say huh?
After her new partner in crime (and literature!) kicks things off by using her own vibe on the lady (no, we don’t see a thing, this is softcore, folks), she heads off to Hong Kong, of all places, to research “the interesting diversions of Asia” with washed out local Sandra Wing.
“Well, I don’t wanna be a prostitute,” Jordan offers, apropos of nothing, before the latter ties her off and shoots her up with an “ancient Chinese secret” that has less to do with an oceanic junk than it’s street equivalent (!) and gives the lady a naked massage. Uh…did she really need to pull out her works for a bit of bodywork?
Then she heads off to South Africa, where she meets softcore regular Steve Vincent (Vinegar Syndrome’s The Suckers, Code Red’s Dandy, Something Weird’s Henry’s Night In and Space Thing) to down a weird smoking concoction (yeah, that looks safe to drink) and wind up as the altarpiece in a rather half-assed black mass (!)
After a boring bit of business with some wimpy guy in a tent (the less said, the better), she ends up in a housewife’s fantasy of an Arab sheik scenario before returning home to admit to having become “depraved” and “incestuous” and giving up on the idea of finding “the perfect pleasure” to settle down with our Tambor substitute. He in turn tries to hump her in a special electric recliner, which short circuits and kills them both as Torgo’s theme music from Manos Hands of Fate plays (!).
Yes, folks, we have another winner.
While the top billed (and misleadingly monikered) feature is pretty much a bust, those who missed out on the earlier release of For Single Swingers Only will certainly appreciate the inclusion of this oddball sexploiter herein. Either way, Her Odd Tastes is something of a doozy, and well worth the investment.
As a triple feature? A no brainer.