For those who've longed for more of that saucy cherub known as Rene Bond, Judge Bill Gibron recommends this randy double feature from the sensational Something Weird Video vaults.
The name is Bond…RENE Bond!
Becky Bartolucci has what can best be described as a bifurcated persona. During the day, she works in a stamp shop, trading philatelic insights with the customers while she wards off phallic advances from her boyfriend, Sidney. At night, our brainy babe sports a bikini, hits the local dive, and does the naked frug in front of a bunch of drunken longshoremen. During one of these performances, a sleaze named Buck tries to buy her "service." Becky—like her chest—flatly refuses. Not one to take "never" for an answer, Buck follows our heroine, and when her car breaks down, he takes the opportunity to rape her. Stunned and strung up, she is eventually rescued by Paul and Andrea. These so-called Good Samaritans take the battered babe back to their friendly home, where they proceed to wine, dine, massage, and skinny-dip her into a false sense of security. Little does Becky know that Paul is a flesh peddler who plans to sell her into white slavery…and Buck is the buyer! That will surely teach her to be a Teaser.
Over in hoary old song land, Frankie and Johnnie…Were Lovers, and as the lyric laments, oh, lordy, how they could love. Indeed, Frankie the famous singer just can't get enough of Johnnie. Johnnie, on the other hand, just wants to build the world's first "safety" car. Unfortunately, he needs $30K in commitment-free cash to make his vehicular dream a reality. Naturally, Frankie is willing to finance his fantasies in return for a little erotic escrow. When he's not getting his butt kicked by Frankie's ex-husband, or pumping out the IBM punch cards to calculate his steel stress tolerances, he's bedding his steamy sugar momma with ease. But Johnnie has a lustful longing for Frankie's redheaded slut friend Alice. After a roadside rescue (said safe car stalled out…hmmm), Alice and Johnnie find an abandoned house along the highway and go gonzo on each other's groins during a ribald rest stop. When Frankie finds them, it will take more than mid-'70s computations to save our automotive Romeo.
Rene Bond is kind of a litmus test for exploitation fans. There are those who find her enticing, incredibly sexy, capable of carnal arousal, and representative of the best the genre has to offer. In either of her forms—flat-chested and fantastic, or post-breast-enhancement surgery—the skin-and-steam queen's loyalists lament those losers who find her a chipmunk-like sex cherub. Indeed, to this critic, Bond resembles a perplexing porn pimple about ready to pop, with grapefruit-like implants sitting awkwardly on her junior high school-style frame. She may be interesting, but alluring or erotic are not some of her stronger selling points. Yet there are those who will decry such descriptions, claiming that Bond matches vice-for-vice with other greater grindhouse vixens like Uschi Digart, Pat Barrington, and Gigi Darlene.
A film like Teaser exposes the Bond mystique perfectly. This little nothing of a movie, a sordid rape drama with elements of swinging and white slavery doesn't even star the Pat Benetar of the nudie cutie. Instead, that dreary distinction goes to human peculiarity Becky Sharpe (here playing the cleverly named BECKY Bartolucci). Some might find Sharpe's angular manly moves kind of fetching, but she still resembles a sex-change candidate in mid-surgical indecision. There is just something so masculine, so brawny and asexual about her presence that you can't quite put your finger on it—nor would you ever want to.
Teaser sure takes its time getting to its tainted point. If you want endless scenes of Becky Sharpe doing the nude watusi, if you long for Rene Bond to get all greasy and give an androgynous actress the big rub, if you crave a Sappho scene where calm kissing in semi-sensuality is as far as the carnality goes, then this rather routine movie will be your video Viagra. Those taken with the bountiful Bonds will be happy to know that Rene ratchets up the sex scenes here. She does most of the dirty work, while Sharpe sits around looking stunted. Frankly, without Bond, Teaser would be trash. The set-up sucks, the finale is laughable, and the overall tone is one of "hardcore minus penetration." Anyone wondering why people palpitate over the exploitation genre will have a hard time finding such excitement incentives here. True to its title, this movie is all teasing and very little pleasing…except for the reliable Rene.
For those still flummoxed by this so-called smut pixie, it's the second feature that is the true eye opener. Like some long-lost heterosexual Holy Grail, carnal connoisseurs have often said that some of Bond's best work is contained in one of her most madcap softcore extravaganzas, 1975's Frankie and Johnnie…Were Lovers. Like a demented version of the Elvis/Elly May Clampett spectacle, or the Streisand/Kristofferson version of A Star is Born (this ribald romp predates the mainstream movie by a year) with plenty of pelvic pow-wowing, our story of scar-crossed lovers is an absolute hoot.
Perhaps the most memorable moment in the movie occurs when Johnnie is at the handy local "computer" station doing some last-minute "calculations" (the device takes up three huge office spaces). While he's IBM-ing his illiterate heart out, Frankie shows up sans undies, and immediately demands full service. When Johnnie is reluctant, she orally entices him. When that doesn't work, it's time for a little manual manipulation. It's not long before Johnnie gives in, and the databank goes daffy with a running monologue on the polluted tomfoolery. It's sequences like these that make Frankie and Johnnie…Were Lovers such a treat. Add in the directorial oddities (the entire movie has ADR sound, meaning everything—including the foley—has a strange foreign film feel), and Rene's sultry tones (oh Lordy, how she can sing…sort of), and you've got another Something Weird Video classic.
As usual, the DVD offers differing levels of technical excellence. Both movies were shot in 1.33:1 full frame, but Frankie and Johnnie…Were Lovers wins the transfer wars. While not 100% clean, it still looks almost brand-new. Teaser, on the other hand, has lots of scratches, blemishes, and age defects. The color is fairly correct in each film (though it's a little faded in both), and there is some minor remastering "shimmer" during Teaser's darker moments. Otherwise, the Dolby Digital Mono matches the clarity of the prints, and the result is a decent pair of exploitation entities.
As for bonus features, Something Weird is back to their old tricks. We are treated to a series of tantalizing trailers, with ads for Teenage Sex Kitten and The Dicktator as real standouts, and a gallery of sexploitation ad art. In addition, there is a 37-minute mini-movie featurette entitled "Shot on Location." Originally a "soft double X" feature, it features Bond, her boyfriend/suitcase pimp Ric Lutze and some other adult stars doing the standard "behind-the-scenes" balderdash during the making of a skin flick. It is light, loopy fun.
So if you have always had trouble getting "into" Rene Bond, if you find her more alarming than fetching, or frankly can't understand what a certain segment of the male population sees in a chinless wonder with cheek pouches resembling those of a squirrel laden down for winter, give Teaser/Frankie and Johnnie…Were Lovers a spin. This deranged DVD proves that in the legacy of lewdness, Rene Bond deserves a place of prominence. You may not change your opinion of her loveliness, but she definitely added something zesty to the typical tawdriness found in the grindhouse.
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