Primitive Love (1964)

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Again, let me stress, the rating system is based simply on how much I enjoyed watching the movie.  It’s not a recommendation to anyone who reads this unless you like films that are very bizarre.  If you’re one of Roger Ebert’s contested “geek show” lovers, then this mondo fits the bill perfectly.  Yeah, I watch mondos.  I have no shame.

Primitive Love is bizarre even by mondo standards though.  This movie came on the same DVD as Mondo Balordo (which I’d seen a while ago) and the two films share one thing in common aside from their being part of one of the sickest, most exploitative film sub-genres; they both star actors who were clearly not making the Hollywood a-list.  I forgot why exactly but I guess Jayne Mansfield’s career had really gone south if, after a few promising roles in films such as Frank Tashlin’s The Girl Can’t Help It and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, she had to be in Primitive Love.  I mean, come on.

In Primitive Love Jayne Mansfield plays Dr. Jayne Mansfield – no need to name our characters – who goes to Italy to show a professor that, ahem, male attitudes towards sex are just as primitive now as they were before man became civilized.  So is the film educational?

Of course not, it’s a shock show.  If you’re not familiar with “mondos”, they are pseudo documentaries in the National Geographic style except that, rather than actually trying to teach you about different parts of the world, they just show footage of bizarre mating rituals from primitive tribes, various types of underground fetish clubs, weird religious customs and disturbing footage of animals being tortured.  Often times, when there isn’t enough footage, the filmmakers pad it with mundane stock footage and “pepper” it with narration that attempts to give the footage heavier meaning.  In Primitive Love, somewhere in Africa, some guy was playing the bongos while a woman danced.  Jayne Mansfield described this as a mating ritual or something.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let me start from the beginning.  Primitive Love isn’t entirely a mondo.  The “documentary” portion is framed in a ridiculous sex comedy romp!  I kid you not!  I don’t know how this thing was put together but I’m assuming the producers scored some vaguely intriguing (albeit in a racist, “look at those primitives” kind of way) stock footage along with Jayne Mansfield and, well, just decided to combine the two.  It’s amusing how director Luigi Scattini (emphasis on “scat”) really tries to meld the two into a cohesive movie and boy is it weird.

For the first 15 and last 10 or so minutes (out of 77 total) two bumbling janitors that are basically a grade-z Jerry Lewis and Jerry Lewis Jr. try to get close to Mansfield in all manner of “hilarious” situation.  Mansfield does her normal thing; that high pitch squeak and suggestive behavior – coming out of a shower in towel only, feigning a strip tease, etc. – all while clarifying that she’s not interested in either of the buffoons.  The mondo portion begins after Mansfield sets up her projector for the professor and begins her “thesis.”  Unfortunately, the two moron characters don’t go away during the mondo portion.  They continuously try to sneak peeks and, when they do, picture themselves in parts of the film, daydreaming about their own African jungle fantasies with Mansfield.

One of those scenarios leads to a HILARIOUS racist joke; one of the guys sees a “witch doctor” in the documentary then turns around and sees their black manager and says, “it’s the witch doctor!”  Oh me, oh my!  How racism used to be so funny back in the day!  But, what can I say?  I watch this shit so I guess I’m a hypocrite.

Anyhoo, the mondo portion shows lots of footage of various “primitive” cultures from Africa, Asia and Brazil and, of course, the necessary animal killings and abuse.  Yes the extraction of the snake venom as an aphrodisiac, the cock fight and slaughtering of pig, chicken and crocodile were not easy on the eyes.  On the less grotesque but no less bizarre tip, a woman in China is punished for her lechery by having eggs pelted at her by her husband.

Overall, as mentioned earlier, the combination of the two entirely different concepts is very weird.  If you wanted a Jayne Mansfield sex romp that isn’t any good, you have to deal with sick mondo footage and if you wanted a mondo, well you have to deal with an honestly pretty awful, unfunny and embarrassing set of scenes before and after.  But if you’re a weirdo like me, hoo boy, are you in for a treat.

Sole Survivor (1983)

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Well, if you ask me, the poster for this movie is a tad misleading.  I know this poster was made way after the movie and references Final Destination so it should give some indication as to what this film is about.  But I don’t look at taglines; I look at pictures!  And, as far as I was concerned Sole Survivor from writer/director Thom Eberhardt, appeared to be some sort of sci-fi/horror hybrid involving a futuristic ship picking up an apparition of some sort on its radar screen.

Just look at that picture and tell me you wouldn’t assume the movie is about that!  Alas, it’s not.  It’s about fate (huge sigh), hence the tagline on the poster.  I don’t like when religious/philosophical themes are dressed up as horror films because I honestly don’t care about this kind of crap.  I don’t believe in fate or any of that nonsense so when the movie’s lead character is being chased around by an apparition, the last thing I want to picture that apparition coming from is God!  It sort of undermines the whole “scary” and “evil” thing for me.

But, hey, it was still a pretty compelling movie even if the ending left me cold.  Granted it was unexpected but I didn’t want it to happen since it made God the hero and the characters the villains or at least “destined.”  That’s my take on it.

Sole Survivor is about a TV actress named Denise Watson (Anita Skinner), who is the only person to survive a plane crash.  Her doctor/love interest Brian Richardson (Kurt Johnson) warns her that people who survive this type of stuff get the notion that they’re invincible and do crazy things like walk out in traffic, “testing” death.  But because Watson is smart and logical, she takes it all in stride.  Of course, in a movie dominated by fate, this simply won’t do.  So poor Watson basically is forced to survive near death experience after near death experience among which include a failed elevator and driving her car off the road.  Oh, and for some reason, all of it is caused by dead people who come back to life at the hands of some crazy medium.

Yeah, I know, it doesn’t make much sense.  There’s this crazy woman named Karla Davis (Caren Larkey), who keeps having visions that predict Watson’s demise.  Why?  I don’t know what that has to do with the rest of the movie but corpses come back to life.

So why did I give the movie three out of four iron crosses?  Because it was entertaining and there were some neat scary parts in it.  And I thought the Watson character was kinda cute (what can I say?  I like sassy red heads).  There were some neat shots of dead people coming to life and there were a few moments of suspense and there was a pointless but titillating game of strip poker.  The gore was kind of minimal save for the wicked plane crash at the beginning of the movie over which the camera pans over the carnage.  This gives false hope since there is only very minimal gore throughout the rest of the movie.