Something Weird Video // 1968 // 210 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // July 6th, 2006
Kitty Kats and Krime!
A cop car pulls up to the local asylum. Seems one of the patients has pulled a runner and she has to be caught before ...well, it's never explained. Julie's not sure why she was locked up in the loony bin and, after she's picked up by Ted and taken to the city, the reason for her hospitalization ...well, it's never explained. Dropping Ted like a roadside plot convenience, Julie calls up her beefy boss Brian. She wants his help in finding out ...well, it's never explained. While staying in big Bri's palatial manor, Julie is assaulted by a masked man with a syringe. The motivation behind such an attack ...well, it's never explained. Realizing that even his own home is not safe, Brian carts Julie off to his seedy strip club where he hopes to hide the on the lam lass with lesbian dancer Kelly. During her pasty-and-panties performance, Kelly is heckled. She responds by throwing ice, angry because...well, it's never explained. Eventually Brian hooks up with an insurance investigator who, in one fell mono-logistic swoop, tells us that Julie knows where a mermaid statue is located, said figurine carrying $1.5 million in precious gems. Soon it's clear that an ex-bartender of Brian's has gotten out of prison and plotted to drug Julie with sodium pentathol (thus the trip to the booby hatch and the needle molestation) to discover the whereabouts of the jewels. Yet even with said clarification and a final-act foot chase in pursuit of the loot, we're still not sure why Julie is considered a Kitten in a Cage. It's never explained.
Twiggy mimic Darlene spends her days copulating and tanning and her nights...well, there's no sun. She then heads over to her girl-gang hideout and does the lesbian limbo with gal pal Bobbie. Eventually they get around to discussing the broad daylight bank robbery they have planned. One of the she-mob gets incredibly cold feet, so the always horny Judy suggests Jean as a substitute. Only problem is, Jean is in love with Jack, Darlene's sometime boytoy and teller at the financial institution they intend to fleece. They deal with this criminal conflict of interest by simultaneously reminiscing about, and having, sex. Judy explains how a single BJ lead to a life of loathing men, while Bobbie and Darlene do the Sappho squat. Eventually, the heist is pulled, the girls revel in the $250K they scored, and (naturally) decide to have sex to celebrate. Various members of the local perverts union show up and soon it's a non-stop orgy of anonymous naughty bits. Jack eventually puts tit and two together and threatens to expose Darlene and her female felons. One phone call to Bobbie, however, and it's torture time. After an application of belt to backside, screwdriver to footpad, and toaster to fingers, Jack is hobbled and hogtied. It will take a desperate diversion by Jean to save her man from the menace of The Girl from Pussycat.
Like an existential experiment in purposeful plot manipulation, Kitten in a Cage starts off like a half-assed Hitchcockian mystery and then gets even more muddled from there. In the hands of first-time filmmaker Richard MacLeod, this nonsensical narrative is all clues and no clear solution. MacLeod must have thought that by keeping important information away from the viewer, there'd be a level of suspense and foreboding to drive this otherwise tame thriller. Yet the truth is, without a viable storyline to hang our hats on, we slowly lose interest in this sexless snoozefest. This director can't even manage appealing erotic eye candy. In one of the movies more disquieting moments, actress Miriam Eliot is shown showering, sort of. Apparently none too pleased about taking a breast-exposing bath, the producers shaved a female gorilla (all except the arms, obviously) and let this hirsute honey loose in the stall as Julie's corpus copycat. Perhaps the only reason to wade through all this suggestion and speculation is the sight of exploitation Empress June Roberts in the altogether. Her presence alone makes Kitten a carnal delight. Wearing her hair in a Marlo Thomas-like flip and sporting a sensational set of natural breasts, June is a delightful dish. Her main strip scene is one of the genre's best, especially when an overweight weirdo who looks like a failed female-to-male sex-change patient throws heckling hand signs in her direction. June eventually grabs a bucket of ice cubes and starts her own frozen-water war. All the while as she's tossing and shim's taunting, we get gorgeous glimpses of Ms. Roberts's rack. It's the sole skin highlight in this otherwise non-naked nonsense.
Take it from someone whose seen hundreds of exploitation films -- if you want more softcore schtupping than the FDA allows per skin-flick serving, The Girl from Pussycat is your nonstop shark fest. Over the course of 66 inconsequential minutes, there is more girl-on-girl grinding, female-on-male horn-piping, guy-on-gal gladhanding, and couple-on-couple corn-cobbing than in an entire Masters and Johnson research session. Apparently, as part of his meandering mise-en-scene, the obviously pseudonymed David Smythe needs sex scenes to stretch out his narrative. Phone conversations are capped off with cooter and random discussions about personal preferences must be illustrated with proto porn. The best example of this strange stratagem comes from the character of Judy. More or less giving it away on the street (the reactions from clueless extras are classic), she picks up guys and lets them treat her like filth. Since she believes she is dominating these dudes, her perplexing passivity renders the sequences incredibly squalid. Yet Smythe must believe that he's playing the characterization card here, since Judy gets juked not once, but four separate times. There is indeed nothing but softcore overkill here. Hairdos do more to define individuals than dialogue or backstory, and Jack's last-act torment session is more funny than frightening. Certainly, the scotch-and-sirloin crowd couldn't have cared less about deep introspection and The Girl from Pussycat certainly delivers the naughty goods. Yet one has to wonder if these men ever noticed the obvious anti-guy dynamic at play. Judy hates all males and Jean wants a passive paramour, a non-masculine mook she can control. Darlene diddles dudes for their obvious appendage advantage, yet she would much rather mount Bobbie's butch body. Indeed, The Girl from Pussycat paints men as driven by their dingaling, unable to rationalize or respect women for what they bring to the gender dynamic. Or maybe it's just supposed to be an hour-long exposé of erotica. It's kind of hard to tell.
As with most of their black-and-white fare, Something Weird Video really delivers a dynamic DVD presentation. The 1.33:1 full-screen image is monochrome magic, with only a few minor defects -- dirt, scratches, errant edit splices -- screwing up the transfer. Kitten is better than its pal Pussycat, if only because the latter's nonstop sex showcase is slightly more faded. On the sound side of the equation, both movies offer Dolby Digital Mono mediocrity, although Pussycat employs an all-classical underscore (the public domain dominates again) that really grates on your nerves. While one could assume that such a sonic standard would completely class up a film, Kitten's garage rock rejects are far more fun than Pussycat's endless loop of Ludwig Van.
In keeping with the feline format of the films (or, at the very least, their titles), SWV piles on the sensational supplements, starting with a collection of crazy trailers. With naughty names like "The House of Cats," "The Pink Pussy, Where Sin Lives," and "Pussycats Paradise," there are enough explicit entendres to keep the middle schooler stunned for days. We then get a collection of perfunctory peep show reels that argue for the amplified attractiveness of today's adult entertainers. Apparently, back before porn was considered acceptable, any old maid with a desire to drop her top was sat before a camera and told to let them fly! As a result, we get incredibly icky entries like "Pretty Kitty from Kansas City," "Kute Kitten," and "Young and Kittenish." In addition, Harry Novak (who distributed Kitten in a Cage) offers up his vault of vile goodies, and we get a wonderfully wicked gallery of exploitation art (with sleazoid soundtrack hits) and a looks at some sensational sexploitation photos. It's enough to make you purr with perverted delight.
Definitely a double feature of wavering entertainment values, Kitten in a Cage and The Girl from Pussycat certainly push the definitional limits of the feline/female expression. There's not much femme fleece on display, but these gals are sure employing their tigers of temptation in the pure pursuit of pleasure.
Review content copyright © 2006 Bill Gibron; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Something Weird Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 210 Minutes
Release Year: 1968
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Vintage Peepland Short -- "Friendly Kitten"
* Vintage Peepland Short -- "Pretty Kitty from Kansas City"
* Vintage Peepland Short -- "Young and Kittenish"
* Vintage Peepland Short -- "Kute Kitty"
* Gallery of Harry Novak Exploitation Art with Soundtrack Greatest Hits!
* Gallery of Harry Novak Exploitation Photos!
* IMDb: Kitten in a Cage
* IMDb: The Girl from Pussycat