Troma // 1970 // 78 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 3rd, 2006
Not the long-lost "Screech and Lisa Make the Biggest Mistake of Their Lives" episode Saved by the Bell fans have been waiting for.
The Seduction of a Nerd (a.k.a. Mother a.k.a. Up Your Teddy Bear (?!?)) is the most recent insane movie unearthed by Troma, repackaged, and sent out to the masses. Super-70s babe Julie Newmar (Catwoman from the old Batman series) plays a toy-making mogul who sees genius in a socially-inept nerd (Wally Cox). What transpired torched my brain.
Newmar plays "Mother," the director of a struggling toy company that is seeing its sales bottom out and its financial future in jeopardy. Desperate to turn her flagging organization around, Mother decides to pursue a gifted toymaker Clyde King (Cox). Problem is, Wally is a verifiable weirdo, an awkward nerd who lives by himself and stalks attractive women on the streets and is resistant to the idea of joining her company.
Recognizing this unsavory truth, Mother enlists the aid of her big, fat savant aid Lyle Ferns (Victor Buono) to secure Wally and his toymaking gifts. Their strategy? Bring in a slew of prostitutes to tempt him with their carnal wiles, trading sex for his signature on a contract guaranteeing his employment with Mother's company.
But after multiple failed attempts, where Wally chickens out in encounter after encounter, the truth eventually dawns on Mother: it is she who Wally is obsessed with!
Big props to Troma for digging up this crazy relic. The Seduction of a Nerd is incoherent lunacy, and if that's your bag (say, for example, you're a fan of For Your Height Only) you really should experience this -- if only to see Julie Newmar, quite possibly the most gorgeous woman ever, parading around in a two-piece.
Actually, what really sells this flick is Cox. His titular "nerd" is a creepy creation, an amalgam of typical social awkwardness and mildly disturbing quirks (see, attractive women on the streets, stalking). But what really gets the butter cooking are the dream sequences. As soon as Clyde lays his peepers on the lovely "Mother," he launches into truly surreal visions. His first encounter leads to a daydream where he's running in slow motion, grasping flowers, while Mother dances. Subsequent hallucinations include Clyde in a high chair playing with his food and Mother scolding him for being a bad boy. Strange as all get-out.
The point is, obviously, that Clyde sees Mother as his literal "Mother," and this is embroiled in some kind of twisted Oedipal complex, choosing to pursue these imaginary exploits instead of cavorting with the prostitutes. Actually, as I reread that sentence, it comes across as if this film has something deep to say. I don't think it does; it's more or less a goofball comedy and an excuse for director Don Joslyn to put together some bizarre set-pieces. Case in point: Lyle.
As the guy tasked with tracking Clyde and arranging for the hooker hook-ups, Lyle gets much screen-time, and, thanks to his enormous girth, shoulders the load for the slapstick quotient. The poor sap ends up crammed in a wetsuit, forced into a tiny car that he repeatedly rolls out of, and, worst of all, dressed in drag and -- as it is inferred by his not-so-subtle staggered gait -- solicited by a man who proceeds to have anal sex with him. Funny? I'm not thinking so. Deranged? Amen!
Finally, as the movie wanders toward its ending, the situation gets even more ridiculous and impenetrable. The focus suddenly shifts to Lyle, now damaged goods apparently, who confronts Mother and forces himself on her. By this point I had no idea what was going on.
Profound weirdness from start to end.
The full frame video transfer is serviceable but nothing special, easily showing its age. Stereo sound is about par for the course. The only stand-out extra is a recent interview with Julie Newmar, but when she opens by saying how great this movie is and can be compared to a Fellini film, it's hard to take anything she says seriously after that.
The Seduction of a Nerd is a Grade-A cinematic craziness. Only give it a whirl if incoherence and scenes of a grown man in a high chair interest you.
Go stand in the corner. Madam Newmar, on the other hand, may proceed with the spanking.
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 78 Minutes
Release Year: 1970
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Intro by Lloyd Kaufman
* Interview with Julie Newmar