Something Weird Video // 1968 // 210 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron (Retired) // September 7th, 2004
It's too late to escape!
Toni and Sonya are best friends, each trying to make it big in the wicked city. And it seems things are finally working out for them. Toni lands a big commercial, while Sonya gets the opportunity to dance for a Danish ballet impresario. Both gals take toe dancing, even though each looks like she's a little top- (not to mention side-, thigh-, shoulder-, shin-, and ass-) heavy to be going on point. Each sees this Bolshoi BS as her key to superstar success (hey, it worked for Totie Fields).
But all is not right in pipe-dreamland. The only reason Toni got her ad man gig is because she's sleeping with the puffy producer, whose status as a married man makes him an easy target for Madison Avenue blackmailing. And Sonya is no Martha Graham herself. While potentially gifted, she has a big bun-wearing interfering mother who flits around in her own private universe of useless doting. Not that freaked-out fiend rapist Frankie gives two rats' rear ends about any of this. Under advice from his shrink to seek out a sanitarium stay, the mental masher does the next best thing. He stalks and assaults Toni, and since the stupid girl was carrying pal Sonya's ID with her, Frank decides to pay her a violation visit as well. It's not long before lives are ruined and scenery is chewed as our hapless lasses learn what it's like to be Two Girls for a Madman.
Mr. Mari is a madcap bon vivant who likes the ladies -- or at least, that's the initial impression he gives. From his upper West Side digs he helps out the desperate and depressed, giving the gals whatever they wish for: money, drugs, fashion tips. Mary needs help with her gambling debts. Mr. Mari has a handful of cash ready to rectify the situation. Stella is a street kid strung out on junk. He gives her some "injectable joy" and access to a shower (she dances naked for him in gratitude). Diana diddled her teacher, all in the name of good grades, and now has to have an abortion. Mr. Mari knows just the way to fix this delicate condition. Dirk wants to marry her lesbian lover so that Barbara, who is blind, won't leave her once she's had a sight-saving surgical procedure. So Mr. M dons vestments and performs a quickie coupling. Then there is Ann. She is frantic to escape her life as an underworld prostitute and mob gang member. And she knows someone who can help her. But there is often a price to pay when you are one of Mr. Mari's Girls, and this hood whore is about to learn the hard way what that penalty is.
When she learns that a "Hooded Strangler" is hanging around her neighborhood, Helen Doe gets one of those typically brilliant bimbo ideas. She decides to pack an overnight case and visit her maiden aunt, off in the country. Before you know it, she is out of gas, "thousands" of miles from nowhere. But this does not faze our determined deb. She merely makes for the nearest stream and settles in for a little skinny-dipping. Refreshed and re-dressed, she tramples the local pastures looking for some help. Lucky for her, a local rancher named Chick picks her up. He offers her a "ride," but Helen really misinterpreted his meaning. Before you know it, Chick is forcing himself on the stranded slut...and just for a moment, she seems to be enjoying it.
Then our range-riding rapist makes good on his "other" promise and takes Helen to the white slave headquarters of Carl, a beefy bad guy who keeps a harem of harlots-in-training locked up in his home. There, Helen is witness to acts of depravity so severe that nothing can erase them from her memory: not the lesbian loving of a girl named Magda; not the repeated floggings and exotic dancing of the other detained denizens; not even the brain-addled servant with an inhuman, high pitched palaver. Desperate to escape, Helen is looking for a way out, before she too becomes one of the Tortured Females.
With a promising title and an even more poised-with-potential performance out of Lucky Kargo as the impeccably cap-toothed psycho Frank, Two Girls for a Madman should be a full-tilt roughie piling on the sex, skin, and sleaze. Instead, this is a method actors' paradise, with each performer forgetting the pulchritude and giving with the attitude. Our two leading ladies are very asexually annoying. Toni takes so long combing and styling her hair that you wonder how she ever got the reputation for being hot to trot. Of course, once she hears a Joan Baez wannabe at a local Greenwich coffeehouse (which, by the way, has its own Plato's Retreat in the backroom) and starts swiveling in a decadent do-bee dance, her slut signature is more or less secured. Sonya, on the other hand, is hampered by a mother who's so strange that you expect the odd old lady to spout horns and start spitting snakeheads. Sonya herself is so externally sunny that you expect a solar system to start up around her. But inside she is stifled with self-doubt at the hands of her own stage drag hag. But it is Frank who steals this film away from the nearly naked dames. With a mouth full of lethal choppers, a physique that suggests a male prostitute gone to seed, and an overall insanity that ranks right up there with Dick Cavett and William Shatner, this studied psycho is so sure of himself and his scatty actions that he exudes more charm than harm. It's only when he brandishes a knife and starts using it as an undressing aid that the tension starts to get tight. Sadly, Two Girls for a Madman never achieves a lucid level of lewdness. It just kind of lies there, like most of Frank's "conquests."
Mr. Mari, on the other hand, has the veritable life of a ribald Riley. He owns a fashionable townhouse on the swanky side of town. He apparently has money to burn and is more than happy to waste it on a bunch of loser ladies who sniff around him like panthers at a piglet petting zoo. And his gals are more than happy to make "good" on their debts. Still, Mr. Mari's Girls is really just a vice-filled collection of vignettes that is both a celebration and condemnation of some stupid slags, specifically, and of all women in the "broader," general sense.
Condescending, but with an air of self-righteous sensitivity, our pandering playboy offers his desperate females anything they want -- cash to settle their gambling debts, drugs to get them straight, illegal marriage ceremonies -- in return for the right to feel superior and sanctimonious. Most of the ladies who lumber through this drippy dandy's door have made life-changing boo-boos, but Mr. M seems to always have the specialized salve to make them all better. While the focus here is less on nudity and more on miscreant behavior, we are still treated to the sight, several times in fact, of less than fetching physical forms being aired out for the ogling. It's just too bad that most of the meat here is industrial grade. Since there is no real story (except the mystery of who Mari really is, and we never really learn that fact), the oddball ending, in which all the gals join in for a free-for-all feline fracas, seems as out of place as proper English on a porn star. Mr. Mari's Girls may think he's the catfight's meow, but we know he's only in it for the p...power trip.
What do you do when you have a desert location, a few carnival tent show strippers, and a couple hundred feet of 16mm film? Why, you create something head-smackingly surreal, like the sleazy sensation Tortured Females. In essence, a cautionary tale about going to visit distant relatives unannounced, but becoming a glorified midway attraction with some of the skankiest showgirls this side of a Detroit dive bar, this 60-minute excuse for endless nudity is more stomach-churning than libido-lifting. Our lead "actress" (using that word for want of a more appropriate term) has all the screen presence of a pus wart, and sports a set of breasts so bloated with silicon injections that they fail to flay in the wind. Using a voiceover narration technique to avoid her awkward line readings, we are treated to endless moments of this Miss trying to emote convincingly. All she can do is stretch and bend like she's got a wicked itch that she just can't scratch.
In between the suggestive shots of women being beaten and tormented, we are forced to endure more misshapen flesh than at a plastic surgeon's convention. But nothing will prepare you for the one thing that saves this schlock pot of pulchritude. About halfway through the numbing narrative, we are introduced to Carl and Chick's henchman, who is described as, quote, "a half-witted, monkey-chattering, Mongolian hunchback," close quote. (Pause for effect.) And indeed, our pantyhose-headed performer squats around the floor like he's loaded with chiggers, and titters with a voice that wavers between a maniacal laugh and a sped-up chipmunk-ish giggling. This simian simpleton is just the final stroke of strangeness that lifts Tortured Females above its damsel-in-distress dynamics.
This is a typical triple feature treat from Something Weird, a variation on their classic double bill offerings from the past. This means that we are given very few extras in exchange for a big fat bonus feature. In this case, there are only four trailers on this disc, but at least two of them are doozies! With titles like Watch the Birdie! and The Molesters, how could they be anything but? On the sound and vision side, SWV does their usual bang-up job presenting these black and white beauties in all their 1.33:1 full screen freshness. All three films have a monochrome magic that our exploitation product pioneers preserve with crackerjack clarity and limited defects or dirt. Of the aural attributes, there is not much to be said about Dolby Digital Mono, except here it is clean and clear.
The prospect of women in peril and/or bondage is just too much for some men. And one can just imagine that many a male will get his groin in a groan over the potential promised within these tawdry titles. But don't be fooled, oh lovers of discipline and domination. While this tortured triple feature from Something Weird has lots of possibilities, it only delivers a decent, not decisive, dose of debauchery. Still, empty sleaze is better than no sleaze, right? Right!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Something Weird Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 210 Minutes
Release Year: 1968
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Gallery of Sick Sixties Sex Stills with Audio Oddities
* IMDb: Two Girls for a Madman
* IMDb: Mr. Mari's Girls
* IMDb: Tortured Females