Monday, May 10, 2021

freakboy on film: VAPORS (1965)

Have you ever purchased a DVD mainly for an item on the Special Features list?  Well, I recently did. 



 
Don't get me wrong.  I enjoy THE BODY BENEATH and its tale of vampires stalking English graveyards with the help of a dodgy maid and a sympathetic hunchback, but it's not my favorite Andy Milligan film.  I honestly don't know if I would've purchased the DVD if it wasn't for the short film VAPORS being included. 

I originally noticed VAPORS listed on IMDb.  It's Andy Milligan's first film, but I didn't fully investigate it until I saw the trailer on THE GHASTLY ONES/SEEDS OF SIN DVD.  The trailer was just a series of stills showing various men, but it was explained that VAPORS was a motion picture of real life in a homosexual environment.  Well, I knew I was going to see this film and IMDb led me to THE BODY BENEATH DVD.  Believe it or not, I didn't just blindly order it.  I searched You Tube and streaming services before double checking the Something Weird Video website to make sure VAPORS was actually on the disc.  



VAPORS 
(1965) 
written by Hope Stansbury 
directed by Andy Milligan  



Out of all the rooms in all the bathhouses in the world, Mr. Jaffee wanders into Thomas' room.  A conversation begins between these two men, brimming with anticipation and emotion.  Life, loss and attraction fuel the word exchange as they draw nearer to one another.  If only they wouldn't be constantly interrupted by the other patrons of the baths.  




"An insane asylum for homosexuals," Mr. Jaffee remarks to Thomas about the baths, and he might be right.  Some of the scenes with the other patrons could easily be set in a mental hospital with little adjustment.  The characters pop in and out to say something witty, droll or bitchy and often distract from the intense and fascinating conversation between Thomas and Mr. Jaffee.



Robert Dahdah brings a quiet stillness to Mr. Jaffee as his reasons for coming to the bath slowly unfurl.  Gerald Jacuzzo brings honest realism to Thomas as he sympathetically listens while trying to steer the conversation towards the reason men come to the baths.  Screenwriter Hope Stansbury expertly captures the initial awkwardness of strangers meeting and how it is sometimes easier to bare your soul to someone who doesn't know you.  

I confess that I am disappointed Andy Milligan didn't write VAPORS because its raw honesty occasionally reminded me of FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET.  However, he does an amazing directorial job, especially with the scenes between Mr. Jaffee and Thomas.  The framings make the viewers feel like they are in that room, eavesdropping on the intimate conversation.  Maybe we are the eye that Thomas feels is watching them.  

In conclusion, If you are into classic LGBTQ+ cinema, then you should definitely seek out VAPORS.  It's a rare glimpse of pre-Stonewall times in the lives of queer men, with a last scene so raw and honest (for 1965) that it had to be censored a bit. 

As for the late Andy Milligan, he's still not done with me yet.  His 1970 film NIGHTBIRDS has peaked my interest, but sadly seems only to be available on a Region 2 Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack.  If anyone knows of NIGHTBIRDS streaming somewhere, or a reasonably priced Region 1 or All-Region DVD, please let me know.  Thank you! 

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 
JLH 

P.S. A different film about a different bathhouse from a different decade...

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New Month! 
New Eye! 
New Interview!  
 
๐Ÿ‘




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I'll be participating in The Christopher Lee Blogathon later this month, thanks to.... 







Wednesday, April 14, 2021

channel freakboy: SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH

received an alluring e-mail from Amazon during the midst of my Saturday Morning Mid-Life Crisis.  


Swingin' Single Animated Series Are Waiting To Meet You!

Ok, maybe it didn't say exactly those tempting words, but I had to look.  Nothing was catching my half-blind eyes until I fell under the spell of SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH.  (IMDb was sketchy on the years this aired.  It was either 1969-1972 or 1971-1974.)  I had no idea there was an older animated version, but I wanted to see it!  No, I needed to!  So, with only a moment of hesitation and without checking You Tube for episodes or clips, I ordered an inexpensive DVD.



What was I thinking? 

I wasn't thinking.  I was a junkie haunting the back alleys of Toon Town, jonesin' for my next Saturday morning fix.  A little jingle jangle to slide me into a  kaleidoscope world of color, magic and canned laughter.  

Veronica, Betty, Reggie, Archie, Jughead, Sabrina and not Salem.


A most insipid theme song filled my head and I was suddenly trippin' through the white bread streets of Riverdale.  Pop's Chok'lit Shoppe loomed ahead, so I decided to peer inside.  There was Archie, the square-est square with a cloying modulated voice, sharing a malted with tomboy Betty.  Over by the jukebox was southern belle Veronica, with a super obnoxious squealing voice, dancing with the ultra smug Reggie.  Bursting out of the door, while eating a burger, was Jughead frantically running from the stalker-love of Big Ethel. 
 
Big Ethel will NOT be ignored! 

I followed them for a while, passing Harvey Kinkle as he abruptly left town, and was soon outside of a big, turn-of-the 20th century house.  I cautiously drew nearer and continued my peeping-john routine.  My mind reeled and my half-blind eyes bugged out.  I found them!  I found all of them witches and they were nothing like I expected.  Though I'm not sure what I was expecting.  

Sabrina is very reflective.

Hilda & Zelda have seen better days.



Sabrina was there, looking like Sabrina with short blond, or maybe white hair held back with a headband. To perform magic, she tugged her ear like a less magical Carol Burnett or a drunk Samantha Stephens.  Then I got seriously confused when her Aunts appeared, partly because they were perpetuating harmful pointy-hat witch stereotypes.  Mainly because the Aunts were reverse from what I knew.  Hilda was the taller, severe one, while Zelda was the shorter, kinder one.  Oh, and Salem the cat wasn't black, which was surprising with all the other stereotypical witch stuff going on. 

Salem is angry at being stuck in this series. 

Never fear, Cousin Ambrose is here! 


Just when I thought I was going to lose my jingle jangle high, Cousin Ambrose swished in to give this vanilla town some edge.  With his effeminate voice and mannerisms, Cousin Ambrose might be a part of the LGBTQIA community, though its never directly stated.  However, he looked quite natural and comfortable when he changed into a cheerleader skirt, so I was happy to find a connection in the hetero-norm landscape of Riverdale.  

Mr. Weatherbee is just jealous that he doesn't look as fabulous in a skirt or dress..


A loud, obnoxious commotion distracted me from Sabrina's house to a truly disturbing sight.  Had that old castle always been there or was my jingle jangle cut with some sugar sugar? There before me were painfully ridiculous versions of the Universal horror monsters called the Groovie Goolies.  They claimed to be Sabrina's cousins but I think they showed up in an attempt to get their own spin-off series.  I don't know if they succeeded but thankfully they disappeared after awhile.

It's no wonder that....

...Grundy & Weatherbee need a drink or two or three.


As I felt the jingle jangle wearing off, I ran to the school dance to drink some of the obviously spiked punch.  Unfortunately, Principal Weatherbee and schoolmarm Miss Grundy had drained the bowl because they wanted to forget the crazy nonsense around them.  This totally bummed me out, but maybe it was for the best..  I would never want to forget the magical moment when Big Ethel called Sabrina a hussy.  As I waved a sobering farewell to this trip, I considered the possibility that Riverdale wasn't as straight-laced as I initially thought. 

What happens at Riverdale beach, stays at Riverdale beach.


Now here I sit with a Saturday morning jingle jangle hangover, licking the bottom of the cereal bowl and typing these words.  Words to make sense of the senseless or the other way around.  Maybe the recent memories of Netflix's CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA altered my perception of this teenage witch.  I mean, that's why I fully expected Satan to appear when animated Sabrina angered a higher power, but was disappointed when it turned out to be simply the head witch.  I'm just relieved Josie and the Pussycats had already fled Riverdale to go on tour and stop villains from world domination because I would've hated to see them diminished in this particular cartoon universe. 

In conclusion, I've learned that I should stick with series I have previously seen for my Saturday Morning Mid-Life Crisis and to severely research before ordering.  Don't get me wrong, there were good moments in this animated series of SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH, but they were very few and extremely far between.  In other words, watch at the risk of utter tedium.  

(I just hope my next animated trip is really out of this world. ๐Ÿ˜‰)

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words. 

Freak Out, 
JLH 

P.S. My Saturday Morning Mid-Life Crisis, so far...






Friday, April 9, 2021

freakboy on film: THE GHASTLY ONES / SEEDS OF SIN (an Andy Milligan double feature)

In the last few months of 2020, I was introduced to writer/director Andy Milligan by way of FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET.  I enjoyed this early 1970's look at New York City hustlers so much that I purchased a DVD from Greece via eBay.  My 2021 was rang in with popcorn, chocolate, a sleeping cat on my lap and the X-rated cut of FLESHPOT glowing from the TV.  It was the most bizarre and fascinating New Year's Eve I've ever experienced.




In March, TCM UNDERGROUND aired the R-rated cut of FLESHPOT again, along with another Andy Milligan film called GURU THE MAD MONK.  It's a crazy film about a demented monk, a hunchback and a vampire living together in a monastery.  Think THREE'S COMPANY with a  body count, well...sort of.  GURU compelled me to look up other Andy Milligan classics on IMDb and SEEDS OF SIN caught my eye.  Unfortunately, this particular film wasn't streaming anywhere and I could only find a clip on You Tube.  The one clip convinced me to order a double feature DVD.  



Let's start with...

THE GHASTLY ONES (1968) 
screenplay by Hal Sherwood & Andy Milligan / directed by Andy Milligan 



Three sisters, and their respective husbands, are called to their ancestral home for the reading of their father's will.  Once there, the drinks start flowing and the bodies begin piling up.  Is the killer one of the sisters, one of the husbands or one of the three unsettling servants?  I thought I had it figured out, but I was wrong.



Overall, I was entertained by THE GHASTLY ONES, except for gruesome scenes involving a real rabbit.  My only other complaint is I wish the plot would have focused a bit more on the characters.  Certain emotional elements with the sisters and the husbands are introduced, but not fully explored.  Still, if you are in the mood for low-budget crazy horror, you could do worse than THE GHASTLY ONES! 



Now to the reason we are here...

SEEDS OF SIN (1968) 
screenplay by John Borske & Andy Milligan / directed by Andy Milligan 

"Well, you've ruined my life and now I've just ruined your dinner!" - the mother to her children 


Welcome to a house of family dysfunction, secrets and sin!  A sickly, cantankerous matriarch lives with her one-eyed male caretaker, daughter Carol and two conniving servants.  The matriarch has other grown children but wants nothing to do with them.  Carol, going against her mother's wishes, invites the estranged family home for Christmas.  Well, holiday cheer quickly turns to murderous fear as family members get bumped off one by one by someone in the house.  Now do you understand why this one caught my eye? 



What the hell did I just watch? was what I thought at the end of the film.  Don't get me wrong, I loved the crazy dialogue and shocking character revelations, but the film was edited in a seriously confusing way.  Some of the other grown children are not really properly introduced, so good luck keeping track of who is who.  I even thought one character was killed and came back to life, but I had misidentified two similar looking characters.  To top off the confusion, the deleted scenes in the DVD bonus features shows us the death of a character who is barely in the actual film.  Sadly, there is a reason for the horrible editing.



According to the back of the DVD box, producers and distributers wanted more sex in the film.  How much more?  Well, SEEDS OF SIN begins with an orgy that does NOT appear to involve any character from the film.  Same goes for some of the other endless sex scenes scattered throughout. (Who the hell is getting it on now?).  However, there are a few actual plot-related sex scenes, but even they go on far too long.  The only interesting thing in these soft-core moments is the harsh lighting often gives the men a ghostly glow, especially their posteriors.  (Damn, that's a seriously white ass!) 
 


Overall, I really enjoyed this film, I think.  SEEDS OF SIN was everything I expected in the family dysfunction angle, but nothing like I expected in just about every other angle.  So, if you are in the mood for a choppy, disturbing, occasionally hard to follow nudie-horror film, SEEDS OF SIN might float your filmic boat!  Oh, when I watch it again, and I will, there will be a lot of fast-forwarding during the sex scenes, which should up the entertainment factor. 

In conclusion, I am beginning to think FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET is Andy Milligan's masterpiece, though SEEDS OF SIN could've came close if important scenes had not been replaced by extra sex.  However, I've barely scratched the surface.  Thanks to an extremely intriguing trailer in the DVD bonus features, the late Andy Milligan isn't done with me yet. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 
JLH 

P.S.  A recently reviewed film I stumbled upon while searching for Andy Milligan films...

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New Month!
New Eye!
New Interview! 

๐Ÿ‘




Tuesday, March 30, 2021

freakboy on film: SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED (1974)

 "And remember...the heartbeat you hear may not be your own." 


screenplay by Ed Adlum & Ed Kelleher /
directed by Michael Findlay 


One thing I miss about video stores is searching for a particular title but finding a completely different, but equally entertaining film instead.  The closest I've encountered this phenomenon in the streaming world is via Amazon Prime Video.  I was recently searching for various films directed by Andy Milligan when I stumbled across this crazy, possibly offensive, low-budget excursion into furry terror.

Those meddling kids.


Keith, Karen, Lynn & Tom are college students hand-picked by Dr. Ernst Prell to join his Yeti expedition.  While suck-up Keith dines on exotic cuisine at a specialty restaurant with Dr. Prell, the others attend a super-groovy, swingin' popcorn party.  The party really starts poppin' when Spencer, a former student, arrives with a tale of mutilation.  Seven years ago, he and three other students went on a similar field trip with Dr. Prell, but the Yeti killed his friends.  This story doesn't cause Tom, Karen and Lynn to shriek because Spencer, who became a teacher, is now just a maintenance worker at the college after a nervous breakdown.  Oh, and Spencer drinks...a lot...much to the frustration of his wife. 

What to do before watching this film. 


Bright and early the next morning, with no popcorn hangovers, Dr. 
Prell and his students drive to an island owned by a colleague of his.  Dr. Karl Werner has informed Dr. Prell that a Yeti with horrible body odor has been lurking about.  He has seen and smelled the beast, but failed to take photographs of the creature or its sizable footprints.  Maybe Dr. Werner was too busy playing records with his Native American housekeeper to bother grabbing a camera. 

  Move over, Hazel.  There's a new housekeeper in town!


Laughing Crow is a burly, hairy, intimidating housekeeper.  My half-blind eyes thought he looked maybe more Italian than Native American, but the character is portrayed by an actor named Ivan Agar.  So, Laughing Crow's actual heritage may be more of a mystery than the Yeti, especially when the character's backstory is totally blown out of the water by the end.  I'll leave it for others to decide whether or not to be outraged over the character of Laughing Crow in this utterly outrageous film.

(We now interrupt this post to bring you the Broadway musical stylings of Tom...) 



๐ŸŽตThe Snowman's on the prowl 
He's mean and he's ugly 
And some people say that he's downright nasty 
Yeah, he's mean and he's gruesome 
He'll make your threesome into a twosome 
Now's your chance to make a break 
Don't let a moment go to waste 
On the prowl 
Hear him howl 
Here comes the Yeti now!๐ŸŽต

The Yeti boogies to Tom's song.


The whole film is nuts, but in a surprisingly good way.  The acting and the Yeti  are perfect for a low-budget 1970's flick.  In other words, nobody is going to win any awards, but the performances and costumes will haunt you long after the credits roll.  The most shocking and impressive aspect is how the plot mostly makes sense, which shouldn't happen with this type of film.  

Dr. Werner & Dr. Prell make Yeti-hunting fashion statements.


Will they find the Yeti?  Will the mutilated shriek?  Will Lynn and Tom get it on or does she only have four eyes for Dr. Werner?  Will it be revealed that Dr. Prell uses Prell shampoo?  There is so much more I could say, but I don't want to spoil the insane surprises waiting for you! 

What to do to get a friend to watch this film.


In conclusion, there is nothing I didn't enjoy about SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED.  I'm thankful Prime Video suggested it in lieu of what I had been searching for.  So, grab a bottle of booze (if you're of legal age), some better-looking popcorn and join this crazy hunt for the elusive Yeti! 

Seriously, this popcorn looks sketchy.


Now I have the urge to dig out a very different Yeti movie I have on DVD.  Hmmm...there may be more furry action to come! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

  
Another Yeti movie?   Pack the essentials!


Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 
JLH 

P.S. A different crazy film...

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In case you missed my very short film....




 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

channel freakboy: JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS (1970-1971)

For those who don't know, JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS started life in 1963 as a comic book in the Archie universe.  Then they were in two early 1970's Saturday morning animated series, one in  the Scooby-Doo universe and the other in outer space.  In the 21st Century, the all-girl band turned up in a vastly under-appreciated 2001 live-action film and appeared in RIVERDALE, The CW's moody, broody take on Archie and the gang. 


For this post, and my continuing Saturday Morning Mid-Life Crisis, I'd like to examine 4 aspects of the first animated series.  So, come along now, pour a bowl of your favorite breakfast cereal and put on long tails and ears for hats...



1. The characters...
Josie, on the guitar, is sweet and understanding.  Valerie, on tambourines, is so clever and mechanically inclined that I'm convinced she taught MacGyver everything he knows.  Melody, on the drums, may seem like a ditzy blonde but she is more aware than people think.  



Along for the crazy ride is Alan, the roadie (I assume), who may be sweet on Josie, but I think he's secretly crushin' on Alex.  Alexander Cabot III, the band's manager, tends to be a chicken, but manages to book gigs all over the world.  His sister Alexandra, a schemer with a punk rock white stripe in her hair, tags along because she can and because she has it bad for Alan.  Last, but not least, there is Alexandra's cat Sebastian, who ultimately gives his feline brethren a good name.  He saves the gang on occasion, even from the bottom of the ocean in the first episode.



2. Groovy tunes... 
Ive been wanting an official collection of Josie and the Pussycats for years.  I could've dropped $900 of my stimulus money on a used CD via Amazon or just buy the series on DVD for $10.  It was a no brainer because I'm a cheapskate.  The songs have always been the thing I remember most from watching reruns as a kid. 



I enjoyed all the songs, but a few really stood out.  The theme song is terrific and nicely sets up the series, but there is so much more to hear.  Inside, Outside, Upside Down is a catchy song about stalking your crush.  Lie Lie Lie is one of the most realistic songs about romance ever recorded.  Roadrunner is unfortunately not about a fellow cartoon character, but it is about a woman warning another of a male hussy.  My favorite is You've Come A Long Way Baby.  This song is about a woman not being impressed with the glitz and glam of an old beau's success.  She wants the boy she used to know, not the tricked out mack-daddy he's become.



3.  Mystery-solving teens..
When I was younger, I believed Josie and the Pussycats belonged with the Scooby gang in the genre of teen sleuths.  Now that I'm older and allegedly wiser, I'm not so certain.  Yes, there are similarities, but there are also notable differences. 



Josie and the gang aren't really solving mysteries.  They are often swept up in the world domination plans of James Bond-style villains.  Typically, these baddies are introduced in the opening scene, so there is rarely a big unmasking at the end.  Also different is the constant antagonistic behavior of Alexandra.  She has no comparison character in the Scooby gang.  Last, but once again not least, Sebastian isn't really a sidekick like Scooby or Captain Caveman because he's not front and center.  Maybe these differences stem from Josie and the Pussycats being a comic book first.  



4. Insensitivity issues... 
It was 50 years ago, so 21st Century viewers should expect to be offended by something.  There is cultural insensitivity, especially a scene where Alan goes through a series of stereotypical disguises.  There is also body insensitivity, with some overweight jokes.  I must add there is age insensitivity when a villain transforms Alexander, Melody and Alexandra into slow, sleepy, complaining senior citizens.

Oh, and some might find Melody offensive because she may contribute to the ditzy blond stereotype and Alexandra may encourage bullying.  Plus, there is little representation of the LGBTQ community, other than maybe Alan.  There may also be an outcry over The Pussycats' skimpy cat outfits.  Are they a product of male chauvinist sexism or female feminist empowerment?  I don't know, but I believe the most important question centers around one of The Pussycats.  



Does Valerie, a strong, intelligent, independent woman of color, counterbalance the potentially outrage-inducing aspects of JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS?  
I believe the answer is far more complex and runs much deeper than an early 1970's Saturday morning cartoon.

In conclusion, despite its flaws, i enjoyed this trip down Saturday Morning Lane.  Memorable characters and great songs keep JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS groovin'.  However, 21st Century parental discretion is advised. 

Freak Out, 
JLH 

P.S.  4 reasons to see the 2001 film...



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My Saturday Morning Mid-Life Crisis, so far...