Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fire Down Below (1974)

... aka: Perverted Passion

Directed by:
"Cindy Lou Sutters" (Ray Dennis Steckler)

I'm starting to think my priorities are a little mixed up. I've yet to see THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIXED-UP ZOMBIES, THE THRILL KILLERS, BLOOD SHACK or any of Steckler's other R-rated horror flicks, but I can now claim to have seen three of his horror pornos. Fire Down Below (originally and aptly titled Perverted Passion) can now join the ranks of THE HORNY VAMPIRE and SACRILEGE in having me hopin' and prayin' that Steckler's more "mainstream" work beats his adult films. Interestingly, the same idea behind this seldom-seen movie would later be reworked for THE HOLLYWOOD STRANGLER MEETS THE SKID ROW SLASHER (1979); one of the director's most famous films (if by title only). Things begins with a man driving along as the narrator (the man's former probation officer) informs us he's just an "ordinary man" who happens to have just spent several years locked away in a state asylum. The narrator then berates the audience by informing us it's all our fault this sicko is roaming free because we demanded cuts in government spending. "You did it. Now you live with it!" Interestingly, mention of a certain proposition that had apparently just passed is bleeped out of the film, making me wonder if this is some kind of hardcore political statement (?!)

The voyeuristic, misogynistic, Bruce Lee obsessed (!) mental home reject (called just "Mr. Ordinary" by the narrator) spies on a couple having sex from their window while clenching his fists, then spies on a red-headed hooker picking up a guy, wondering "What's she doing with that old son-of-a-gun?" In front of a mirror, he fantasizes about the blonde he'd spied having sex earlier then goes to a trailer park and attacks and strangles a woman to death. Back at his apartment, he listens to his neighbors having sex and then goes to a street fair because he wants to meet a "Mexican broad." He calls up a hooker and we learn the true reason he's so angry and has so much pent-up sexual frustration. Nope, it's not because he's short, pot-bellied and has one of the smallest cocks ever seen in a porno, but because he's impotent. When the hooker he hires can't get him up, he decides to strangle her instead. In between all the sex scenes (which are pretty brief), the nutjob stalks the street hooker. Meanwhile, a biker (who has been sprung from prison due to - you guessed it! - budget cuts) is keeping busy robbing everyone he comes into contact with. He holds a man at gunpoint and steals his wallet, snatches a purse, picks a man's pocket and finally ends up trying to rob the psycho's over-sexed neighbors. While he's fleeing, Mr. Ordinary opens his door and the thief shoots him dead. Upon finding his body, his neighbor turns to her boyfriend and says, "Come on baby, let's go fuck. He was nothing but a bum. A nobody!" The narrator then chimes in: "Well citizens you were lucky this time... One problem cancelled out another."

The absolute weirdest moment in this already weird movie is when a nerdy guy visits a whorehouse. The hooker he pays for is pissed that he tried to beat her up on a previous visit. She berates him for being odd ("Nobody is as weird as you are! You're got to get that through your head right now!") not being able to get an erection ("If you can't get your prick up, then don't come to a cathouse!") and tells him, "Personally, I can't stand you, but I need the money. Is that cool?" Then after an unsuccessful attempt at sex, he starts sobbing and sucks on her breast while calling her "Mommy," while she lays there rolling her eyes

Steckler used the alias "Cindy Lou Sutters" as writer, director and producer and may also the "Hans B. Andersen" who shot and edited it. The entire cast uses fake names and are probably all amateurs, but I'm pretty sure the red-headed hooker seen throughout this movie is Steckler's wife Carolyn Brandt, who had appeared in most of her hubby's films. Brandt does not - nor did she ever - appear in any sex scenes and I don't believe she so much as appeared nude in anything. Here, she is seen in the shower but it's an above-the-shoulders shot, which is an odd occurrence for a hardcore film.

The distributed print of this film is heavily damaged and in terrible shape (note the crease on about half of the screen caps) but I doubt anyone's going to bother remastering something like this. It's pretty stupid, but it's also much more entertaining, tasteless and amusing than the two other X titles I've seen from Mr. Steckler. All of the dialogue - including such gems as "In your eye, bitch!," "It's all these fuckin' cunts think about. The fuckin' money." and my personal favorite while watching "Red" water her garden: "I like a chick who keeps house." - was obviously dubbed in later. There are shots of a theater marquee playing a DEEP THROAT / THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES double feature, lots of adult theatre signs in passing and shots of the Hollywood sign and the Hollywood Blvd. street sign (this may have been filmed in California instead of RDS's usual stomping grounds; Las Vegas).

1/2 SBIG


Walt deFucq said...

Thanks for the info. I wonder if this is the same FIRE DOWN BELOW that is playing at one of the cinemas seen behind Irene Cara as she dances along (I guess) Times Square during her 'Fame' video? Oh, BTW, *marquee :)

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

Very well could be! Either that or there's a 1957 film with the same title. And correction noted. I'm afraid you'll find many more misspellings / typos on here. I run across them almost daily. lol

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