Once again, Vinegar Syndrome have made the odd decision to provide a double feature whose top billing is more or less worthless, but paired with a far more interesting and entertaining feature at the bottom of the bill. Thankfully, I chose to tackle the ‘B’ picture first, or you might have gotten a very short review here…
It’s another pair of John Hayes films (the Cut-Throats, Baby Rosemary, Jailbait Babysitter, Grave of the Vampire, Hot Lunch), and as always, that means things could go either way…an aphorism never better displayed than with these two films, one of which was fun cheese and sleaze all the way through.
The other was so mind numbingly awful, its lead so amazingly unlikeable, that it shall never be spoken of again.
Except to make fun of it.
First up, though bizarrely second billed on the menu, we find Luke Perry…wait, WHAT?
Uh…well, probably not THAT Luke Perry, given the date…
…anyway, Luke Perry, Sharon Matt of Herschell Gordon Lewis‘ Ecstasies of a Women and Linda and Abilene and a cast of unknowns frequent a mixed gender gay bar filled with drag queens, gay and lesbian couples. A Roger C. Carmel lookalike and his boyfriend pick up a pair of (Ru Paul’s) drag racers for a quiet evening home, only to get busted by pre-Stonewall vice cops.
But wait…those queens are really kings! That’s right – surprise, they’re the real cops, busting a pair of blackmailing faux-cops…and yet, all is not well…
“You know, frankly, helping a pervert like you makes me sick to my stomach!”
And yet, our self appointed bastion of morality appears to have some issues of his own, from a lusty (and possibly imaginary) arrangement with the landlady to participating in a weird hippie sex club where he injects a girl with drugs for the chance to have his way with her(!).
Oh, sure it’s part of another bust…but when he falls for her story and brings her home to his disordered bachelor pad, it’s only a matter of time before this cute, liberated hippie chick has him working through all of that self imposed repression…but is it all one big setup?
Grumpy uptight old Tony Vorno actually had quite a career in sexploitation, appearing in films like Help Wanted Female, Fandango, Dream No Evil and Jailbait Babysitter, and even taking a part in low rent zombie flick Garden of the Dead. Cute Sharon Matt appears in two of the three Lost Films of Herschell Gordon Lewis, and brings Ecstasies of Women’s Bonnie Clark along with her here.
An odd but enjoyable sexploiter somewhat in line with Judy! with a touch of Her Odd Tastes and plenty of no budget Something Weirdness to its look, feel and structure, The Hang Up is the sort of film that acts like it wants to deliver a moral to make up for all its flirtations with seediness…but simply has nothing to say. Thankfully, we can just sit back and enjoy the fun, soaking in every drop of period sleaze. It makes for a pleasant diversion for an hour or two.
On the other hand, at the top of the bill is a sordid kitchen sink melodrama about an obnoxious, mouthy, constantly yelling and wholly unlikeable Irish drunkard (and make no mistake, we know very well that he’s Irish from the incessant round of gaelic-style drinking songs and lilting melodies that accompany him throughout the film’s endless, glacial running time) who works the docks (though he seems to do more hanging around, drinking and yelling than he ever even approximates a lick of actual labor).
He’s in with the mob for his gambling debts, and somehow manages to be around all sorts of naked strippers and hippie types (who you’d think would be wise enough to shy away from the company of this filthy shirted, mean spirited loser)…and holy shit, we’re already more than 2/3 through the movie. Then it tries to turn into some half-assed take on The Prisoner in the last 20m. Yeah, sure.
What the fuck was John Hayes thinking?
Look, if you’re going to get this one, get it for the amusingly seedy sexploiter The Hang-Up. I honestly can’t even picture an audience for the other one.