Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ghostess with the Mostess, The (1988)

... aka: Alex de Renzy's The Ghostess with the Mostess

Directed by:
Alex de Renzy

If you'd asked me who my favorite director was fifteen years ago, I may have said Tim Burton. PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE (1985), BEETLE JUICE (1988), EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990) and ED WOOD (1994) were some of my most-watched and beloved movies as a kid. Unfortunately, my interest in Mr. Burton has decreased significanly and steadily ever since MARS ATTACKS! (1996). As Burton's budgets started to skyrocket, his output suddenly became cold, noisy and impersonal exercises in elaborate art direction and overblown special effects. His films have always been impressive to look at, but his newer films come off as hollow and heartless once you look beneath the surface. Of Burton's earlier work, the highly imaginative horror-comedy BEETLE JUICE was always my favorite. It involved a good-hearted couple who just so happen to be newly-dead and, as ghosts, attempt to amicably share their home with an obnoxious, pretentious couple of artiste's and their misunderstood Goth daughter. When co-habitation fails, the ghost couple enlist the aid of the titular disgusting poltergeist to help scare off the new family. The film was a pretty big hit and received Oscar nominations. It also spawned this porno parody. For the record, so did Edward Scissorhands (See: EDWARD PENISHANDS 1, 2 or 3).

Instead of a the eccentric family found in Burton's film, here we get a dysfunctional family moving into a new house that's suspiciously cheap. Dad Joe (Joey Silvera) is carrying on a not-so-secret affair with their bitchy, demanding Cuban maid Consuela (Tanya Foxx). Mom Goldie (Aja) is being sexually neglected, while son Jeffrey (Tom Byron) is just left out of the mix with a copy of Hustler to keep him company. Instead of the good-hearted ghost couple, here we get a good-hearted, fun-loving swinger ghost couple; Charlie (Randy Spears) and his ghost girlfriend (Eva Allen as "Marlena Bond"), who I don't think was ever given a name. They're most interested in one-upping each other in who they can have sex with; I guess to see who is the 'ghostess with the mostess'. Charlie makes a b line to mom's bedroom, while the female ghost heads after Jeffrey. The next day, Consuela is possessed and has sex with Jeffrey while he eats rice crispies. And finally, we have the spin on the seance scene, with Dr. Goody Twoshoes (Blake Palmer), his psychic sidekick Fifi (Dana Lynn) and some other chick (an uncredited Lisa Bright) added to the works for a group number.

Ghostess delivers on the sex with a (mostly) attractive and enthusiastic cast who seem to be enjoying themselves. Male star Randy Spears of course has been an adult film mainstay for the past twenty-five years and has, according to IMDb, amassed over 1000 acting credits (!) as of this writing. He's also tried his hand at crossing over into mainstream films by appearing in Chuck Vincent's thriller BAD BLOOD (1989), doing voice work on the TV series American Dad and popping up in many of Fred Olen Ray's recent soft-core films. Aja (born Barbara Holder) was very popular during her four-year career in adult films (having made 80 films in that time) and is often regarded as one of the most naturally beautiful women ever to do adult films. Silvera just recently entered his fourth decade (!) as an adult film star and has directed several hundred of them himself. And of course, it's nearly impossible to watch one of these things without bumping into Tom Byron, who's a pretty terrible actor and not much to look at either but is also still going strong in porn and has an astouding 1500+ credits. Co-star Eva Allen, someone I'm not at all familiar with, was something of a nice surprise. She's extremely vibrant and pleasant in her role, though her career in the adult industry ended after just a few years.

The biggest surprise of all is that much of this material is actually pretty funny. Intentionally so. Even the dialogue during the sex scenes is funny. It's actually funnier than most R-rated horror comedies I've seen. The film works OK as a semi-spoof of Burton's film, following that film's plotline fairly closely, and also throws in a few horror references (there's an EXORCIST joke, a Freddy Krueger poster on the wall...) There are no visual effects in the film aside from some cheap *Boing*-Pops-The-Ghost cuts, but it's competently shot on video and colorful-looking.

If I've noticed any trend in adult films since the age of the internet, it's not only that it's not even necessary for adult films to even be films anymore, but that the sex itself has generally learned more in the direction of degradation and 'extreme' acts. Seeing an older porn like this one, with lots of laughing and smiling, and even glimmers of personality from the performers, marks a sharp contrast to the anonymous direction the genre has gone in recent years.


La horripilante bestia humana (1969)

... aka: Gomar: The Human Gorilla
... aka: Horror and Sex
... aka: Horror y sexo
... aka: Night of the Bloody Apes

Directed by:
René Cardona

Guilt-stricken female grappler Lucy Ossorio (Norma Lazareno) feels she's to blame when she throws opponent Elena Gomez (Noelia Noel) out of the ring and fractures her skull. Well here's some news for you, Lucy: You are to blame! Elena gets an operation to remove a sliver of bone from her brain and remains in critical condition, while her surgeon Dr. Krallman (José Elías Moreno) has some problems of his own. His son Julio (Agustín Martinez Solares) has been stricken down with a mysterious and incurable form of leukemia. Krallman's colleagues tell him Julio's days are numbered, so the doc must resort to extreme measures to try to save him. He and his very dedicated, limping assistant Goyo (Carlos López Moctezuma) promptly head to the zoo, tranquilize an ape (well actually it's an orangutan that transforms to a man-in-a-suit-ape after they sedate it), bring it back to their basement lab and then perform the first ever ape-to-man heart transplant. Julio rapidly recovers from the operation and feels no pain... but then the side effects kick in as he transforms into a barrel-chested ape-faced monster. After his first transformation, Julio escapes from the lab, scales a building and surprises a woman just coming out of the shower. After unsuccessfully trying to rape her, he pummels her to death. Krallman and Goyo manage to track Julio down, tranquilize him again and bring him back home for further study.

While the monster is out cold, the doctor and assistant decide they need a fresh human heart and head to the hospital to swipe Elena since "she'll be an idiot, anyway" because of her injuries. While they're away, Julio in monster form manages to escape again, heads to a park and ambushes a couple sitting on bench; ripping the guy's throat out and ripping the dress off the woman. The monkey-man then goes on a mini-rampage; stabbing a guy to death and popping out another's eyeball with his fingers. He's captured (again), taken back the the lab (for the second time) and then given a brand new heart (oh, here we go again), but history repeats itself as the creature escapes (again) and runs amuck (once more). It uses its bare hands to rip off a head and scalp another guy before transforming back to human Julio. He's rushed off to the hospital, transforms again, grabs a little girl and ends up in a rooftop police stand-off.

It's pretty familiar territory for prolific director René Cardona, as he'd already made four 'Las Luchadoras' (female wrestler) action-horror films prior to this one. Still, there's an obvious reason Bloody Apes (a semi-remake of the Cardona's DOCTOR OF DOOM) is the most famous and was the best-distributed of all these titles. That's because it's extremely gory and trashy for its time. The film was notorious way-back-when for using gruesome, graphic footage from an actual open heart surgery to supply the "effects" for the transplant scenes. Those scenes plus four different instances of nudity and some additional gore had initially been cut from both the theatrical and VHS versions of the film. It's all restored on the DVD and these scenes give the film an exploitative punch that's sorely lacking in most other '60s Mexican productions.

Of course, this is an incredibly ridiculous - though never unentertaining - little film. The dubbed dialogue is horrendous, the effects are primitive, some of the editing is choppy and the premise itself (devised by the director and his director son René Cardona Jr.) is clearly too absurd for words. At one point, Dr. Krallman does attempt to explain the science behind how putting an ape heart into a human results in the creation of a monster, but that only succeeds in making it even more confusing. So apparently...

"The heart of a gorilla is much too potent for any human and the volume of blood to the cerebrum, which couldn't control this great pressure, damaged to the superior parts and when this happens man becomes an animal completely without control, giving origin to the transmutation."

If you can make heads or tails of that explanation (delivered... with... frequent... pauses...), then you're clearly on something. Interestingly, the director seems most influenced by Frankenstein (the monster has an affinity for children) and King Kong (the beast scaling tall buildings to get to a chica).

Some important things have been compromised here to make room for the blood 'n' boobs, most notably in regards to our heroine Lucy, who's actually not the heroine at all (she's also not the lead, despite her star billing). In Cardona's other wrestling women films, the ladies at least get to take part in the action (including fist-fighting with men and helping to destroy monsters), while here our leading lady isn't all that tough (she gets her ass handed back over to her in her second match because she's too 'scared' of injuring her opponent) and has absolutely nothing to do with the main storyline. In fact, most of her scenes are just filler. Lucy does know how to shower, though. She's so good at it, she does it three times. And she's rather adept at nude phone conversations as well, but other than that the character is almost entirely disposable. Reflecting back on the ape man's rampage she dryly dismisses things, "It's unfortunate. Really sad." Even her detective boyfriend, played by Armando Silvestre (traditionally more of a support character in wrestling women flicks) gets more to do that she does. Then again, I guess this isn't an official Luchadoras movie for a reason.

The DVD release from Something Weird pairs the film with the Argentinean effort FEAST OF FLESH (aka The Deadly Organ); appropriate since the two films played on a double-bill in theaters. It includes three minutes of Night of the Bloody Apes outtakes, theatrical trailers, TV spots, a "Ghastly Gallery of Ghoulish Comic Cover Art," the short subjects Gorilla and the Maiden, Artist's Paradise, White Gorilla and much more.

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