Something Weird Video // 1968 // 222 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // August 12th, 2003
He does a service to all mankind with each Jezebel he kills!
When Richard Jennings forgets his motivational speech on the way to Boston, he comes home to catch his cuckolding wife creating the Filthy Sanchez with some lame-o. The sight of his spouse doing the deceptive bends makes the bulky businessman go completely batshit and he runs out into traffic. Car crashing ensues. Minus one eye, the use of his legs, and a huge portion of male ego, our wheelchair bound bozo has an arthouse-inspired anxiety/insanity freak out attack and decides that he wants only one thing in life: revenge against all women! So he offs a go-go dancer with a toxic rose, he shoots a stripper with a blowgun, and slices up a prostitute in her personal retail merchandise. When he finally corners his old lady, she's shacked up with some blousy redhead in a woodworking shed. One Norm Abrams moment later, and a table saw decapitation ensues. He is finally felled with his own crossbow. And it's all because of his life partner and the fact that some other man knew The Touch of Her Flesh.
Having dispatched his ball and chain (and apparently survived the arrow appendectomy), randy Rich J. is back, and this time he wants the dong that diddled his darling to pay the piper. So he rents a sleazy sex theater and hires the infidel to act in a strange, absurdist play about fallout shelters and lesbians. Oh yeah, and he continues the corporeal carnage. Still mostly targeting the trashy gals in and around the exotic entertainment industry, he dispatches one by poisoning her pussy...cat's claws. (Talk about a terminal case of cat scratch fever.) During an onstage act of three score and nine, toxic panties kill a couple more craven ladies. He shots a cop in the face and stabs another guy in the gullet. And in a scene that should have Se7en's scribe seeking copyright counsel, an expression of Sappho sisterhood degenerates into a deadly dildo slaying. Eventually, Jennings gets the fiancé of his personal homewrecker to star in some squash porn, and then secretly films her "virginity reconstruction surgery." Viewing such vile cinematic sleaze throws the betrothed into an uproar and he harpoons his honey. Then RJ machetes the macho out of him. It's all because this hurt hubby lives with the unnerving Curse of Her Flesh.
After this latest batch of serial slaughters, that misogynistic mook Dickey Jenny heads for suburbia and takes over the practice of a local small town quack. There he continues his killing calling. One young gal is the unfortunate recipient of a lobster claw lancing before being electrocuted via her hoop earrings. In a seedy house of Lesbos, he "prescribes" a poisoned douche while giving another unlucky lass a lethal dose of "male essence" after an unfortunate bout of oral sex. When tramp-in-training Maria discovers that her sister is one of the dead dykes, she vows vengeance and gets her greasy boyfriend to help out with the hump thumping. In the meantime, R. Jennings "MD" does a little cosmetic surgery with a blowtorch on a hitchhiker. When Maria and mate finally capture the creep, they rig up a little shotgun vasectomy for him. If the sad psychopath pops a woody while the two make monkey noises, he implodes his nutsack. Not surprisingly, he somehow manages to break loose and terrorize them with his good old Latin long knife. But since this is the final film in a seedy sexploitation shocker trilogy, you know it has to end badly for our insane slayer. After all, he was only doing this all in memory of his wife and The Kiss of Her Flesh.
Beware, oh lovers of the exploitation genre, for nothing you have ever seen in the long lineage of crass cinematic conspiracies has prepared you for the unbridled squalidness and downright artsy fartsy insanity of The Flesh Trilogy. Oh sure, you say, you've sat through hundreds of hours of this mind-bending bedlam. You survived Dave Friedman and Herschell Gordon Lewis' nudie and gore flicks. You managed to maintain awareness through untold hours of Harry Novak's profane soft-core corn pone and show no visible adverse effects. Heck, you've even enjoyed Bill Grefe's swamp serenades and the collected oeuvres of Doris Wishman, William Girdler, and the Arch Halls, Senior and Junior. Well, just imagine a movie that combines deviant sex; semi-linear storytelling; badly looped dialogue; lots of cocktail waitresses in various states of undress; inventive, mean-spirited murders; and a psychotic killer who is a combination of Jason Voorhees, Richard Speck, Tiny Tim, and a post gin bloat Ed Wood, and you have just a smidgen of what this trio of tawdry tales are like. Some have labeled the series of sinful salvos "ghoulies," in keeping with the "nudies/roughies" moniker system. But perhaps a more accurate label would be "snuffies," since they are absolutely drenched in the decadence of madman Richard Jennings' various modi della morte. Indeed, if it wasn't for all the naked naughtiness going on and the extended strip/shark/skank scenes that interrupt the narrative blood flow, we'd be witnessing the birth of the fiend specific slasher film in all its gory glory. Only problem is, the Flesh films substitute semen for the sanguine and end up as the godfather to the gross out genre, not for the attack of brutality shown, but for the hideous pallor of the people doing the bare bodkin boogie.
Indeed, these demented detours into the slimy subconscious of a tormented titty twister can best be described as silliness slapped with sordidness with a good health dose of sexually transmitted unease added in. Husband and wife filmmaking team of Michael and Roberta Findlay (he writes, directs, and stars as Jennings; she writes and operates the camera) create a private universe where humans are only filled with vice and viciousness. It's a place where nothing is better than seedy and everything looks grimy with filth. Indeed, many of the sets used here (the woodshop in Touch, the lesbian household in Kiss) look like abandoned crime scenes. Along with the completely gratuitous sex and violence and deranged voice-over ramblings of our crazed killer, The Flesh Trilogy can seem like standard grindhouse fodder. But it's the little touches that turn these films into lost but not forgotten overly ripe gems of gaminess. The opening credits are either superimposed onto naked bodies or scrawled like lame jokes on bathroom walls. Sometimes Jennings sports a pirate eye patch. Other times he looks ocularly intact. In order to avoid the obvious lack of on set sound recording in two of the films (Curse is the normal one), characters only speak when another individual's reaction shot is show (much in the Wishman style of line hiding).
And just in case you thought you'd seen it all, the Findlays keep coming up with more and more original lunacy -- like the "bead" scene, the "claw" killing, and the most non-freshening Massengill moment in the history of the cinema -- to crack your conservative coconut. Of the three films here, Touch is the most consistent, as it tells the most cogent tale. Kiss, because it was made last, relies a little too much on full frontal pubic shots and murderous one-upmanship to be anything other than saucy and surreal. That leaves Curse as the perfect connective tissue for these cinematic scars. Between the long, pointless monologue the adulterer/actor performs on stage to the sheer squash attack of the gourd glory holing, it neatly melds the arch of Touch while preparing us for the craziness to come from Kiss.
If there is one completely unacceptable downside to all of this torrid, tasteless camp coolness, it's the way Something Weird has decided to handle the release of the titles. Sure, any time we can get three movies (albeit ones that average about 70 minutes each) on one DVD, it's grounds for rejoicing. And when they are so lovingly restored and remastered by those same expert monochrome mavens at SWV, we plotz at the knowledge of near flawless black and white transfers. Indeed, some age issues aside (and a little low budget tell-tale "softness"), the ebony and ivory image provided here is exceptional. Sonically, the Findlays loaded their movies with enough be-bop bongo blues stomps and toe tapping trash treasures that the magically mix mashing of Dolby Digital Mono really makes this music spring to life. But in a first for the SWV catalog, we have a DVD release without a single extra. That's right, fans and fanatics, read it and leap to your own conclusions. No trailers. No archival shorts. No galleries, commentaries, or hidden surprises. It may be just a space issue (the third film taking up the room where all this usual bonus content would be), but it's also a huge let down. Collectors have come to expect and respect SWV for putting their all into each release, larding it with as much added value as possible. And while these films are a must buy for any exploitation maven, the lack of luxuries is a tad depressing.
Still, one has to thank those purveyors of the prurient for bringing these exceptionally icky psycho workouts back from the dead. Jennings may think he is doing the world some manner of service by trying to systematically wipe out the female population, but it's Something Weird who is making the planet a better place by giving the hilarious and horrifying Flesh Trilogy a noble, if uncharacteristically bare boned, digital release.
Review content copyright © 2003 Bill Gibron; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Golden Gavel 2003 Nominee
Studio: Something Weird Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 222 Minutes
Release Year: 1968
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* IMDb: The Touch of Her Flesh
* IMDb: The Curse of Her Flesh
* IMDb: The Kiss of Her Flesh