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Case Number 03842: Small Claims Court

Buy A Smell Of Honey, A Swallow Of Brine / A Sweet Sickness / The Brick Dollhouse at Amazon

A Smell Of Honey, A Swallow Of Brine / A Sweet Sickness / The Brick Dollhouse

Something Weird Video // 1967 // 200 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron (Retired) // January 15th, 2004

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All Rise...

The Charge

A story of a female every man has known

The Case

Sharon Winters is the kind of poor white trailer trash that all men seem to instinctually lust after. As such, she has no problem finding guys willing to grind into the batter's box to hit triples. But when they want to round the corner and plow into home, she has an odd habit of screaming "RAPE!" At least her methods are effective. She has one ex-boyfriend already in jail on trumped up assault charges and another mild-mannered milquetoast is on the lam from potential prosecution. Sharon cries defilement so often that she makes that lupine loudmouth of fairy tale fame seem like a stutterer. She's such a she-devil that she even scares off her lesbian roommate. But after new beau Lowell gets one too many balls of blue and starts his own perverted pillaging, Sharon seems unstoppable. That is, until she meets Tony, an atonal lounge singer who likes to give his dates a few foreplay fractures before the lovin' starts. Soon, Sharon is walking the streets, offering any John who'll take it A Smell of Honey, a Swallow of Brine.

Dee is a struggling actress in Hollywood who won't offer her ample "talents" to potential employers or their carnal casting couches. But when her "famous" friend Connie Stevens…son explains to her that the only way to get ahead is to offer same, Dee balks. Yet it seems no matter where she turns, men want to force themselves on her. Her disheveled landlord in a ripped robe comes to collect the rent "in kind" and even gets some Girl Scout cookies along the way. Dee's agent calls, offers her a stripping gig at a gentleman's club, and before you know it, a drunken duncecap is trying to pry his way into her undressing room. The last straw comes when Dee goes house hunting. Deciding that her old residence has too many "hands on" features, she visits a respectable apartment for rent. One rag soaked in ether later, and she's involved in a four-way lesbian orgy with whip cream, chocolate sauce, a picture of Salvador Dali in the background and a guy in an ape mask. Fame may indeed be the ultimate aphrodisiac, but for Dee, getting it turns out to be A Sweet Sickness.

Over at The Brick Doll House, the gals are getting kind of restless. Not because of the dead body in the guest room. No, it's been over four hours and they haven't had a nude swingers pot party yet. Unfortunately, the birthday suit wake and bake will have to wait until the police discover just who did kill their Asian ass mate, Min. Seems the Eastern enigma was shot, and everyone is a suspect. As the cops grill the girls, they each tell a tawdry tale of sex, smoke, and a great deal of lame go-go dancing. Only Min's girlfriend, the bed-resting bottle blond butch, seems to offer any clues about the killing. Turns out to be some ancillary character did it, a drone we half forget walked through one of the dozen or so orgy scenes we witness throughout the brief 55-minute running time of this skuzzy little sleazefest. This doesn't stop our lustful ladies from telling topless tales about their days and nights of endless debauchery, hoping that their description of wicked weedheads and same-sex charades leads to a good old-fashioned frisking.

"Paula, I may be a bitch, but I'll never be a butch!"

For anyone who has ever seen a Something Weird Video creation, in either tape or digital form, that phrase has mesmerized and tantalized. Along with Lawrence Wood's "damaged goods/dirty" speech from Scum of the Earth and the warnings about Montag from The Wizard of Gore, this sordid snippet sticks out memorably amongst the many miscreant images. The dirty cheap blonde with hate in her eyes, telling a sullen sister of Sappho that her come-hither advances are falling on deaf deltoids. The hysterically snide laugh ripe with icy bitterness. It's all part of the legend of A Smell of Honey, A Swallow of Brine, one of David F. Friedman's Holy Grail films that fans of the mighty monarch and his heavy petting protégé, Stacy Walker, have waited eons to see on DVD. Well, the good news is that Honey has found a digital home. The bad news is that unless you consider Walker a human sex doll offering more than a slutty slick-backed hairdo, you may be a tad bored with this mean-spirited morality tale. Walker's Sharon Winters is one deplorable witch, the kind of "what does he see in her" hussy that apparently makes men pant for her plentiful pulchritude. Yet it's also easy to see other blokes avoiding her like a trip to the dentist. Her cock tease routine grows old rather quickly, and when she finally gets her comeuppance, it's in a very misogynistic and overly violent manner.

The lure of this movie to exploitation aficionados is evident. Friedman's simplistic story is all decadent come-on and piddling payoff. There is nothing subtle or in between. Stacy acts like a fuel injected sexual furnace waiting for a nice load of coal to stoke her fires. All the men she manipulates are weak as kittens and twice as addicted to the potential for pussy. Then it's one faux fornication scene after another, all ending with Walker's sudden, wigged out whining of imaginary molestation before we're back at it again. There is style a-plenty in Byron Mabe's direction (what's up with all those mirrors?) and quotable lines en mass, but unless you see Walker as human Viagra, A Smell of Honey, A Swallow of Brine may not offer you the "lift" it promised for so long.

After finally getting Smell of Honey on DVD, one would imagine it being all downhill from there, right? Well, this is only partly true, as nothing can quite prepare you for the roller coaster randiness and overall "oh my god"-ness of A Sweet Sickness. Wanting to tell the classic Hollywood story of the once compulsory casting couch but ending up being a surreal set of strange asexual set pieces, Sickness combines a dull narrative with delirious visuals to become a cut-rate men's magazine sprung to life. If you like your boobies bountiful and sunny side up, this movie will more than satisfy your bare-chested cravings. Women answer the door topless, cavort around their apartments sans blouse, and can't wait to remove their outer covering when a man says "Hey." One rather robust gal in particular shakes her humongous moneymaker in all its elephantine teat glory for several insane seconds, belly bouncing and misbehaving for the extreme close-up camera. And just when you think this nudie nonsense can't get any more bizarre, we are treated to a twenty-minute psychedelic freak-out (in B&W, mind you) in which our heroine is drugged and forced to spray whipped cream, syrup, and other sundae condiments all over a man in a monkey mask. Wrap everything up with a strange stop motion sequence (in which a producer's casting "bed" manages to magically appear and "un-make" itself), and A Sweet Sickness is one of the most deranged delights in the genre.

Similarly, like a tattered laundry line with a great deal of over-inflated faux erotica draped all over it, The Brick Doll House is a murder mystery wrapped in an orgy (or ten) and filtered through a lot of same sex leanings. The whodunit narrative is just an excuse to have characters "remember" several sordid scenes of naked pseudo swingers shucking and jiving. Frankly, if you've seen one marijuana fueled frig fest, you've seen them all—and indeed, they all are probably included as part of Brick Doll House's half-baked saga. The characterization is so straight out of a Playboy cartoon panel that you'll roll your eyes into the back of your head every time one of these anti-thespian bimbos says, "I remember this one time…" Still, there is a unique visual flourish to some of the action and again, if you like bonanzas of breasts, you'll get a massive serving of mammary here. One actresses near full-frontal shower is strangely evocative, and when the blond haired lesbian gives the red-headed nympho a heaping helping of the hand massager, the lingering takes of the actress making monkey noises is car-wreck compelling. The Brick Doll House may not be up to Sickness or Honey standards, but it makes a wonderfully misguided portion of this triple treat.

As they do with all of their multi-features, Something Weird keeps the bonuses to a bare minimum. First off is another in a long line of bravura commentaries by Dave Friedman. The man just can't be boring, even if he tried. While he tends to repeat some of the stories we've all heard before, he manages to discuss all three films over the course of Honey's running time. This narrative is really not very scene specific (and out of sync a couple of times), but it is still another amazing chapter in the genre's ever-growing oral history. Along with the standard series of trailers and gallery of exploitation art, the sole archival short is an odd, three-minute video clip showcasing the Apple Theater. No narrative or voiceover, just a series of shots of the interior and exterior.

As for the print quality, buyers should beware and be advised: the transfers of both Honey and Sickness are full of defects. Vraney explains in the commentary that this is the best looking version of Honey he has ever come across, and Henenlotter just loves the missing moments, sloppy splices, and occasional scratches. Purists may balk, and it's better to know the truth up front before buying the DVD and experience digital disgust later. Doll House is culled from a pristine Friedman negative and looks bright and unbelievably colorful. While one gets sick of saying it, considering how rare these movies are, it's a treat just to be able to see them, period. And with this twisted triple feature from Something Weird, we finally get closure on the story of Paula and Stacey. While her sugar may seem sweet, she carries a bitter pill in her hard to swallow antics. Thankfully, the other film's plentiful bare bodkins come to rescue us from anticipation frustration.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 88

Perp Profile

Studio: Something Weird Video
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 200 Minutes
Release Year: 1967
MPAA Rating: Unrated
• Classic
• Erotic
• Exploitation

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary by David Friedman and SWV's Mike Vraney and Frank Henenlotter
• Trailers
• Gallery of Exploitation Art with Audio Rarities
• Archival Short Subject

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