Where Judge Bill Gibron comes from, people say "naked" as if it were spelled "nekkid," and he mocks them as ignorant rubes. Unless they actually are nekkid, in which case he just stares at them slack-jawed.
Trapped by the fury of each other's white-hot emotions!
Life on skid row really sucks ass. Not only do you have to walk around endlessly while a narrator discusses your less-than-successful, alcohol-fueled life, but you are then forced to listen to bad erotic verse as you try to maintain your Sterno high. See, there's this booze-basted bum who lives across the street from the strangely asexual Elaine. When this mule-faced she-freak comes home from a hard day—well, hooking is as good a guess as any—our pickled pervert takes a voyeuristic window seat. He watches as she undresses and spends an inordinate amount of time scratching her belly (how ladylike).
This gives him an idea. Our wino gets wasted, picks up The Big Book of Pitiful Poetry and suddenly, we are in soft focus fantasyland. As a snooty voiceover reads the truly blank doggerel, we see pseudo-recreations of the flowery flesh feasts being described. Nubile naughtiness is celebrated, and there is a lament to the island of Lesbos (gee, wonder what happens then?). Anyway, all these sexed-up sonnets get our soused sleazeball good and goofy, and since he already killed a fellow rumhead for hitting on him, he figures one good killing deserves another. So it's out with the sanity and in with the kitchen knife as the drunken Don Juan wanders over to Elaine's for a little erotic ventilation. With a weapon of death in his hand, it's no surprise that the fugly female fails to say Take Me Naked.
Over on the saner side of town, Richard has had it up to here with his henpecking hausfrau. So he stabs her to death over an argument about his dirty clothes. Placing the now-really-ex in the back of his car, he heads out on the highway. During the journey, he picks up a couple of blowsy hitchhikers and the front seat patron takes the "gas, grass, or ass" mantra far too seriously. One BJ later and Dick is a sex slave in the twosome's unwholesome same-sex chalet. Apparently Bella and Maggie are raging lesbians who are sickened by the touch of a man, made nauseous by the sight of a penis, and have an unhealthy desire to perform some unnecessary dental "surgery" on guys they service.
So if they hate men so much, why do they want the spongy spouse killer? Why, so he can impregnate them via artificial insemination, of course. They are sick of raising as an infant the awkward adult they call "Baby"—they want a real-life toddler to mentally destroy. At first, Richard wants out. But when the overly buxom babe he calls Booberella (actual name: Ann) starts providing some sexual healing, Dick is all about the deal. Little does he know that our sisters in Sappho have a fatalistic way of reneging on their deals. Richard doesn't care. With his wife out of the way and a zaftig sexbomb at his disposal, he is too busy plowing through A Thousand Pleasures to see his impending doom.
After what has to be the near-perfect perversion of Michael and Roberta Findlay's Flesh trilogy (the Touch / Curse / Kiss of Her Flesh films are outright classics), any additional cinematic offerings from the sleazoid specialists would seem pale in comparison. This is indeed the case with Take Me Naked. With a title far more erotic and suggestive than anything happening onscreen, this arthouse hokum is just a literary excuse to show us some static softcore.
Anyone with issues regarding endless voiceover commentary or annoying narration will find this film a disheartening handful. Apparently because no dialogue was recorded (or written, for that matter), we are left with a smart-aleck speaker who describes everything that is going on in the scene—Creeping Terror-style. He then goes on to embellish the amorous moments with flowery, artsy-fartsy language to make it all sound oh-so-respectable and erotic. Only problem is, the prose he's quoting sounds like excerpts from a depressed teen bimbo's daily diary musings about the members of Toto. While the Bowery business is right up the smutty alley of these grindhouse gods, the attempted debauched dreamscapes are just so much misguided castles in the sky. As our prosaic speaker blathers on and on about armed Amazon warriors and the scintillating pleasure of the flesh, the audience is a lot like that couple in 'Twas the Night Before Christmas—bedded down for a long wanton's nap. True, no one made movies like the Findlays, and Take Me Naked does have some stalker/slasher elements to keep the freak fans happy. But with Roberta's less than fetching looks (she's got a bad case of chinlessness), Michael's minor cameo, and the overuse of Vaseline to fancy up the shots, Take Me Naked only manages some middling seediness. After all, nothing is more deadly to porn than poetry. Ask anyone.
Made a good four years before it debuted, A Thousand Pleasures is really a warm-up for John Waters's bad-taste masterpiece Pink Flamingos, with sex substituting for the latter's familial idiosyncrasies. There's a lesbian couple that wants a child, a dumb-as-a-doorknocker male servant, an adult female in a baby's crib, and a determined desire by all involved to plum the depths of depravity. But whereas Flamingos focused on the battle between notoriety, filth, and fame, A Thousand Pleasures is more like a look inside the deviant depots hidden away inside America's suburban shelters. Toss in a little Andy Milligan circa Seeds of Sin, blend with the Findlays' mandatory sadism (this time, it's a fireplace shovel to the privates and the burning of the bottoms of feet), and you've got one twisted tale, a film as fetid as it is fascinating.
But there is another odd element at work in A Thousand Pleasures, one not usually found in the Findlays' work. There is an undercurrent of eroticism here that is missing from Take Me Naked, or the Flesh trilogy. When our Sapphic sisters give a lesson in lesbianism on the dining room table, the display of curvaceous caressing is very enticing, and the character of Ann (also known as "Booberella") threatens to turn the entire enterprise into a Russ Meyer mammary celebration. It is almost as if Michael and Roberta got caught up in the sexual sizzle for a few minutes. Before you know it, they realize the eros of their ways, and the Richard character is being tortured and exacting misogynistic revenge. From the hilarious anti-men rhetoric to the icky infantilism of the banana-breasted "Baby," A Thousand Pleasures is an accurate description of the fun and friskiness you'll feel at the hands of this over-the-top tale of the tacky.
As they do with all ancient artifacts, Something Weird Video attempts to offer the best audio and video presentations of their product, and the twin-bill of Take Me Naked / A Thousand Pleasures is no different. While not the best 1.33:1 black and white transfers the company has ever released, they are still very nice. A Thousand Pleasures looks better because it does not rely on mood lighting and lens manipulation to capture its imagery. It is far better in the contrasts and details than Take Me Naked. Sonically, both films are a little fuzzy. While there is not much that can be done with Dolby Digital Mono, the amount of dropout and shifting sound levels can grow annoying.
In the extras department, SWV provides a fairly decent selection. We are treated to a series of Findlay trailers that showcase how the couple used an equally unique approach to their advertising as they did with their filmmaking. We are also treated to two excerpts from other films featuring the Findlays: 1970's Janie (starring) and 1969's Mnasidika (created by). Janie is a warped tale of a teenager who gets her kicks killing people, after which she engages in a little self-satisfaction. The 15-minute scene here is a strange combination of Son of Sam inner voices and a day of skipping school and murdering hitchhikers. On the other hand, Mnasidika is a Greek freak-out, a 30-minute parable warning against pissing off the residents of the isle of Lesbos. While most of the meaning to this short is lost in a horribly distorted soundtrack, the visual message is clear: Rape and kill a lesbian and her "sisters" will torment you with golden gourds. Yikes! Both of these sequences are interesting artifacts, but without the background context of the entire film, their impact is minimal.
When it comes to the great examples of exploitation, it's hard to beat the Flesh trilogy. Though they can be misinterpreted as mean-spirited attacks on women for the sole reason of their gender, the movies really predate and predict the slasher films of the later '70s and early '80s. Take Me Naked and A Thousand Pleasures show a far more shaded side of the work of Michael and Roberta Findlay. While not as powerful as their influential triptych, these two films are still overripe offerings of cinematic salaciousness.
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