I bloody love Amazon. It recommends me all sorts of exploitation goodness and sexy stuff thanks to what I buy every month. Sometimes Amazon gets it completely wrong and sometimes Amazon hits the nail on the head so perfectly I want it in plush form so I can give it some massive cuddle. The latest gem it pointed out to me was the 2005 Russ Meyer tribute Pervert! directed by Jonathan Yudis.
The film see’s college student James (Sean Andrews) return to his family’s desert ranch to help out his father, Hezekiah (Darrell Sandeen), for the summer. James finds that Hezekiah has gotten remarried to the rather busty Cheryl (porn star Mary Carey) but it doesn’t take long for Cheryl and James to hook up, only for Hezekiah to find out and fight with his wife over it. Then Cheryl disappears… Old man Hezekiah returns home from town with another voluptuous broad attached to his arm, Alisha, who also quickly falls for James. Then one night Cheryl turns up and dies in front of James, the same night that Hezekiah finds Alisha dead. What follows is a bizarre romp including bouncing breasts, a witch doctor, sculptures made of meat and a homicidal penis.
Pervert! is a horror-comedy-sexploitation film that Film Threat is quoted as saying ‘Smells like Russ Meyer’. Except that it doesn’t just smell of Meyer, the film reeks of it and for all the best reasons. For the seasoned Meyer fan, the film is full of references that will make you squeal with delight. The film opens with a mad preacher introducing the story that reminds you of Mudhoney (1965) and the evangelical preacher of Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens (1979). Then there’s the desert ranch itself, a near copycat of the ranch in Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965), complete with its own water tank (and, yes, Yudis even includes a scene of his leading lady washing by it that is shot exactly like Meyer’s shots of Lori Williams and Tura Satana doing the same). Mary Carey even has a scene which completely takes Satana’s corn on the cob eating scene from Faster Pussycat! and raises the bar a good fifty miles in the air. Not content with keeping the Meyer references at that, Yudis includes desert shots that look like they could have been lifted from Cherry, Harry & Raquel! (1969) and Supervixens (1975) and a rattlesnake gag and cool pick up truck that wouldn’t be out-of-place in Motorpsycho (1965). Those were just the really obvious references, I couldn’t be bothered to list all of them when making notes!
It’s not just the very well done references to Meyer’s films that make the film so successful but the realised grindhouse/exploitation tone of the whole piece. The script is great, full of one liners and innuendo that are found across the sex comedy and sexploitation genre’s in general; ‘I’ve handled a lot of fruit in my time. It’s one thing I’ve never minded, it’s a little bruises and spots’ (Hezekiah when spanking Cheryl), ‘You’re a rotten constitution in the court of man!’. There is, of course, plenty of nudity with female forms that hark back to a time when stick thin wasn’t the ‘in thing’ and breasts that Meyer would obviously stamp with a seal of approval. In other words, beautiful, bouncy and big. Even the film’s opening, with the grainy and faded logo for production company Stag Films and campy Horny-14 (‘Approved for all perverts by the director of this film. Pregnant women and men with an erection at this point in the film should leave now.’) feels legitimately vintage in exploitation glory.
Let’s not forget to mention the acting which is tongue-in-cheek in all the right places. Andrews as Sean is fantastic playing the naive and possibly cursed (?) role that so many cute boys played in 60s/70s sex-horror films, all puppy dog eyes and innocence craving life experience. Carey is great as the spunky (excuse the pun) and sex-fuelled Cheryl, pulling the innocent girl next door card when necessary and who would have been a perfect Meyer candidate if we were still in the 70s. The rest of the female cast are also terrific, their slightly wooden delivery perfect for a film of this ilk with special mention going to Lucia whose role as the Uschi Digard/Kitten Natividad montage girl is nailed perfectly. Best of all is Sandeen as Hezekiah who is clearly channeling Stuart Lancaster’s role as The Old Man in Faster Pussycat! but still manages to put his own memorable spin on it.
The real star of the show, however, has to be the stop-motion murderous penis who wrecks havoc in the last half of the feature. This is definitely where Yudis’s previous experience working in comedy and animation really come to shine, the penis animated with much personality and a rough and ready style that suits the spirit and tone of the picture.All in all, a fabulous homage to the B-movies of sexploitation and horror and a wonderful tribute to the ‘King of the Nudies’ Russ Meyer, Pervert! is a must watch for any fan who enjoys what exploitation and grindhouse cinema used to bring to the big (and small) screen!