“Some of the facts are ugly and sordid. Some of the scenes may even turn your stomach.”
And with that prescient warning, we kick off The Incredible Sex Revolution, “Introducing Lovey Song” and “Dr. Lee Gladden as himself”
“You see, I’m not an actor. You must have guessed that by now.”
Gladden is a stiff, balding proto-hipster type who talks not only through his teeth, but through the roof of his mouth, making him sound like a premature denture wearer. Combine that with his naturally reedy tones, and you’re annoyed even before he praises “Direct(or) Albert Zugsmith, who’s brought you such great motion pictures as…(Russ Meyer’s) Fanny Hill (!)”
“Gee, she is a beauty!”
Song is a gorgeous long haired Vietnamese type (the script identifies her as Chinese-Hawaiian), shown laughing and cheery until she decides to suddenly start looking nervous and ducking under the seat. Oh, wait, now it comes out…they’re a pair of cheating marrieds.
But wait, forget them, it’s time for one of those cheesy “comic” romps through history. There’s an Adam and Eve sequence with a nigh-equally attractive blonde. Now we’re in Biblical times for a bit of polygamy. Then to darkest Africa for the flip side, polyandry (one woman, several husbands). Eskimo “wife lending”. Then off to the Old West for a spiked punch key party (!). And this is all in the first 15 minutes.
“At 18 I was finally a woman…but unable to function in a woman’s primary role.”
Song now arrives at Gladden’s office in an eyepatch, and proceeds to crawl all over his psychiatric couch seductively while asking questions about his practice(!) Eventually she gets hypnotized and relates a tale of how throwing rent parties and hanging with topless swingers results in a trip cross country and loveless marriage to an apparent stiffie named “Aaron”.
“His moral values were completely different from what I had been taught. Yet he was fun. And exciting.”
But a drunken wife swap results in her first orgasm, courtesy of swinging artiste “Jan”, who regales her with slick talk and Kinseyan sexology, giving a cheesy nod to Gladden in the process:
“Peggy, I went to Dr. Gladden’s lecture at the university last night. Oh, it was great, it was great. Yes, he said that the, uh, current experiments in wife exchange show the stress of modern living on man’s essentially polygamous nature. Of course not, honey bunch, I have no ulterior motive in telling you this. But Dr. Gladden is one of our leading psychologists…”
“You can’t even take care of one wife. So why try to be King Solomon?”
In the course of her therapist visit, Song blurts out how she has a thing for her dead father. Then she and Aaron come practically to blows over their rubbish sex life (and his incessant harping on wife swapping statistics – though if that’s the problem, why is she hot for the equally preachy Jan?) and she winds up in a (generally offscreen and possibly entirely psychological) lesbo fling with “lonely as hell” next door neighbor “Theresa Morton”, aka “Tessie the Terrible”(!)
“I’m really not in the market for the Ladies Home Journal…but I do have a nice cold drink for my beautiful neighbor.”
Finally, she lashes out at Gladden, in a sort of reverse transference – but like a true shrink, he uses the incident as a teaching tool. And hey, absent all the mutually self congratulatory crap going on between himself and Zugsmith and all the nonsensical free love open marriage rhetoric, he actually speaks and behaves like an honest to goodness licensed psychotherapist. He even lets Song do a spot of actual acting for a few minutes – and you know what? She’s not all that bad, either.
“This much is clear. In trying to live as your parents have taught you, you’ve unconsciously attempted to keep their love and influence alive. Your association with Aaron and his friends has drawn you into a way of life which conflicts sharply with their training.”
Things close out on a sour note with a bizarre ending where a scavenger hunt turns very ugly (which brings out an equally nasty repressed memory from childhood) that takes what was previously a likeable if somewhat straitlaced character and really puts her through the most sexist and abusive of wringers. But overall, The Incredible Sex Revolution is an enjoyable return to SWV territory in one of Vinegar Syndrome’s typical pristine restorations.
Song is a flat out stunner with a pleasantly throaty voice and intimate tone, and as such would have been a pleasure to watch in even the worst of exploiters. But surprisingly for the guy who brought us the unwatchable 60’s TV sitcom on celluloid The Phantom Gunslinger, Zugsmith delivers a textbook Something Weird style New York City sexploiter.
Not as silly as a Doris Wishman film or as grim and violent as a Michael and Roberta Findlay or Joseph P. Mawra picture, the scent of Stan Borden can be discerned here: from the often gritty and crowded apartment settings and scruggly guys to the smoking hot, comparatively intelligent Asian lead (and when’s the last time you heard a sexploitation starlet given credit for apparent braininess?) Even the clearly Californian poolside settings of the film’s second act bear the general inflections of the Big Apple sexploiter of the era.
It’s interesting, entertaining in a camp fashion and eminently watchable…and knowing that it originates from the director of awful, unwatchably broad tongue in cheek “comedies” like Sex Kittens Go to College and the aforementioned Phantom Gunslinger, practically jaw dropping.
You mean this clown actually had a decent film in him after all?
Who the hell knew?
Top billed on the release but second billed in both menu and quality is On Her Bed of Roses, another Zugsmith production playing in similar territory. This time he takes on Krafft-Ebbing’s infamous tome Psychopathia Sexualis. Gladden once again appears, this time not as ‘himself’, but in the role of Krafft-Ebbing(!)
His patient is a snappy, unlikeable and not especially fetching Melissa Borden (Sandra Long) whose mother (Barbara Hines) is messing around with strange men…which gives both occasion and excuse which she uses to get inappropriately affectionate with daddy (Ric Marlow). She also identifies with weirdo neighbor “Stefan” Long (Ronald Warren), a neurotic mama’s boy in a queasy incestuous relationship with his mother (Regina Gleason), but they’re both screwed up for more reasons than just a mutually shared affliction of coming from totally fucked up families…
Melissa throws a costume party at the Borden home, which results in daddy unsurprisingly hooking up with gorgeous Lovey Song (yep, these films seem to share at least a few cast members) and a bit of a suburban orgy before Melissa freaks out and shoves Song and daddy dearest into a pool.
Apparently she’s got multiple personalities, switching Sybil-like from rage to sexual come-ons to little girlishness at the drop of a hat. Is it because of her bizarre Electra complex? Her sleazy MILFy mother competing with her for every boyfriend she brings home? Or is she just fucking nuts?
Either way, neighbor Long is completely cracked, winding up on a random shooting spree before offing himself at the film’s outset and ostensibly prompting the long flashback and filling in of the blanks that follows… though precious little of that even relates to Long and his own motivations. It’s just one long, boring tangent.
Unlike the Incredible Sex Revolution, this one really drags, is filled with unlikeable characters and ultimately remains somewhat hard to watch. About the best things get is that costume party with Song and that random belly dancer doing her thing…the rest is quite painful and something of an endurance test for viewers.
This double feature amounts to two sides of Two-Face’s same coin, and this one’s the scarred side. Forget it, and stick to the other half of the bill.
Oddly for a pairing of pictures that are resolutely softcore at best, we also get a few minutes of “soft edits” from each film, swapping out the films’ few topless sequences for lame clothed variants. Seriously? Were markets still that uptight in the mid-60’s?
Bottom line here, stick to The Incredible Sex Revolution, which is a good, mid-60’s New York-esque sexploiter. If you dig the Findlays, Mawra, Borden or Something Weird films per se, this one should be right up your alley.