Tuesday, August 9, 2016

All Women Are Bad (1969), by Larry Crane

I've got no luck when it comes to titles. You see, I try to be a little tasteful with the admission of my interest in sleazy trash, but sometimes, some titles are going to present some unfortunate sensibilities when I try to spread the word about Adam Mudman's A-List and the Stuff I Talk About Here. I was able to find an alt-title for the pretty-jarring Ape Rape, but here, there's no wiggle room. I guess people are going to think that I find all women to be bad or something. Well, because this is a site where I talk about the trash movies I found the most entertaining, you can imagine that there must be something of value in a movie called All Women Are Bad. Fortunately, All Women is the creation of Larry "The Love Captive" Crane. The Love Captive (also 1969) was an adventure in the love lives of vampires, werewolves, and egg-shaped dime-museum owners that depicted a surreal, nostalgic version of New York City and its bizarre underbelly. And, like most of the sexploitation flicks of the '60s, it was laden with sexism. And make no mistake, All Women Are Bad is a hateful film--much more so than The Love Captive. It is a twisted product of its time, while still reflecting sentiments we have today. Yet there is so much going on that we can detach ourselves a little bit, and let these awkward biases add to a building sense of tense oddity.

John Steele is a salesman who is happy with his wife. He narrates the entire movie, and he's probably the same narrator that The Love Captive had. Of course, because this is a sexploitation movie, the happiness of his marriage is artificial, and belief in it, sophomoric. He comes home, and as circumstances would have it she is fucking another dude. This leads "poor" John on a quest to escape the memories of his unfaithful spouse, and we slowly learn the probable reasons behind her desire to cheat. John finds sex wherever he goes, which slowly erodes whatever little fragile sanity he already had. He turns out to be not only a misogynist, but a racist, kink-shaming misogynist. He accuses China of bringing over bad cars and bad hookers, and he reacts with horror upon seeing feather- and foot-fetishes, which he claims are the creations of women to enslave men. He shows even greater horror over those two kinks than he does over necrophilia. Of course, his unlikable nature maybe means that he's supposed to be the antagonist of the film. I mean, his name is "John Steele" for Chrissakes. I would hardly sympathize with someone with that name. And yet even as he disintegrates John can't resist a good pun: I think he says "Maybe he'll tickle her fancy" three times in the feather-fetish scene. And of course, like its successor A Clockwork Blue, All Women Are Bad ends with a gag reel that summarizes the entire movie.

The movie succeeds by having great intentional and unintentional achievements. For instance, there is a scene where John suddenly finds himself surrounded by pot smoking hippies. One of them, the leader (described as a "guru"), has an eyepatch. As they succumb to a drug-fueled orgy, the music that plays is the same library cue that runs over the tenser sequences in Nathan Schiff's teeth-grinding Long Island Cannibal Massacre. I should give the movie credit--in 1969, depictions of pot smoking may well have still been the equivalent of showing someone injecting PCP into their eyeballs today, but when I hear this music I think about masked serial killers crushing skulls with hammers in creepy Super 8 tight shots, rather than a bunch of teenagers getting high with a pirate. It creates a humor that I really do hope was on purpose. Even if it wasn't, those accidental moments shine anyway. There's a scene where the actors freeze in place for several seconds, and in the background you can see the shadow of director Crane waving his hand to cut. That was left in.

Anyone who's set out to make a movie for the first time, whether seriously or just for fun, knows what poverty can do. There are some people who are creatively as well as financially bankrupt, who create tedious garbage that nonetheless manages to accumulate some exposure (here's lookin' at you, Birdemic). But other times, ambition meets limitations head-on, and miracles happen. All Women Are Bad is largely made out of stock footage and stock music, crudely sewn together with nonsensical and repetitive dubs. There was no script here. Right at the beginning of the film, John desires some R&R out in the woods, claiming civilization is too cloying for him. He's pretty emphatic that it is indeed the presence of the civilized world that's causing his woes. Once he arrives in nature he immediately feels like he needs to track something down for him to relax completely. After five minutes of running through the woods, babbling such lines as, "If I climbed any higher I would reach the very heavens!", he comes across a factory, "belching pollution into the golden sunlight," which he takes as a sign that his relaxation is contingent on...going back to the city.

Over five minutes is spent on this pointless circular loop. I think I forgot to mention that the movie runs a whole 61 minutes in total.

Which means it's not even a full afternoon. Larry Crane will dance into your life and be gone before you know it. As far as I know, all of his films save for this one and Love Captive are lost, which is a damn shame. Presumably, however, it also spares us the pain of having to dig through the clunkers of his career, as we must for fellow '60s sleaze superstars Barry Mahon and Doris Wishman. Still. The man made a musical called Sugar Daddy...and that one is confirmed destroyed. These tears could fill a river. Don't cry like me--join John and his awful morals and you'll have a gorgeous non-story unlike any other.

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