Saturday, November 25, 2017

Thanksgiving Special: BAT PUSSY reviewed

Almost 25 years ago, I opened my novel THROAT SPROCKETS with a detailed, comic description of a porn flick based on BATMAN. When I did this, I was consciously spoofing one of the trappings of vampire films - the bat - rather than the comic book character or the television series. Knowing that a lot of hardcore films are designed as adult spoofs of other movies, I assumed at the time that there was such a film out there, but I certainly didn't know of one. And so I invented Twatgirl, Commissioner Hardon, the Diddler and other gut-busters - a far cry from what has now exploded back into cult movie consciousness in the form of a rediscovered (if it was ever discovered in the first place) Triple X wedge of mystification entitled, pardon the expression, BAT PUSSY. 

If you pride yourself on being an habitué of any still-relevant social media or blogging outlets, you have no doubt heard some passing reference to this phenomenon BAT PUSSY is a new Blu-ray release from AGFA (American Genre Film Archive) and Something Weird Video, previously released by Something Weird on VHS and DVD-R as part of their Bucky's Dragon Art Theatre Triple XXX Double Feature series. In a fascinating story delineated in the disc's accompanying booklet in an essay called "I Saved BAT PUSSY," Mike McCarthy recalls how a former band mate of his, Bill Eaker, became an employee of a Memphis, TN fleapit called the Paris Adult Theater which eventually closed with a ton of obscure 16mm prints locked inside. McCarthy (who had been given a tour of the premises by Bill and saw a 600' reel identified as BAT PUSSY on the leader) called west coast film savior Mike Vraney of Something Weird, who shot out of his seat at the news. Consequently, McCarthy brokered a deal between Vraney and the Paris Adult Theater owners to take all that pesky forgotten celluloid off their hands for a princely thousand dollars. It was the single biggest acquisition of film prints in the history of the company.

As Vraney was screening the fruits of his long distance sexcavation back in the Pacific northwest, he eventually threaded up BAT PUSSY and couldn't believe what he saw. He insisted that everyone on the SWV payroll take a gawk at it. And now you, too, can share that experience.

If you read the fine print on the back of the BAT PUSSY packaging, you will see at a glance that no one knows who directed it, or in what year it was filmed. All that really seems to be known about the film is that is stars someone going by the name "Dora Dildo" in the title role. (It isn't explained where this information came from.) If you listen to the audio commentary, which is more of a free-for-all including Something Weird's Lisa Petrucci and Tim Lewis as special guests, someone points out that the issue of SCREW magazine early in the film dates from 1970, and then - if I am remembering correctly - goes on to deduce from this information that the film must therefore date from 1968 or 1969. I am assuming, at the very least, that adult beverages were involved, as they probably should be when confronting BAT PUSSY. To the contrary, it looks very 1970-71 to me - like Herschell Gordon Lewis' THE PSYCHIC, without the glitz - which would mean that this really wasn't intended as a timely send-up of the 1966 TV series, as described. If anything, it was intended as an untimely send-up of something that was well into local TV reruns by that time.

Buddy and Sam.
The featurette (technically, as it runs only 55 minutes) opens with Buddy, a loud, tattooed, appreciative reader of SCREW magazine, showing an image inside the paper to his extremely freckly, plump, bouffanted wife Sam, who is having trouble enticing him into bed with her. When she promises Buddy that she could do the same to him, he strips down and heads over there with all the enthusiasm of a kid in line for a ride at an amusement park. They proceed to work at it until an alarm goes off at Bat Pussy Headquarters, alerting Bat Pussy that someone is having sex without her - apparently a no-no in Gothum City (DC Comics - pay close attention to the spelling here!). So she breaks in, breaks up what really isn't happening much anyway, doffs the costume we barely get to see, and it becomes a slightly more enthusiastic but still more chaotic than vigorous threesome. As summarized by Lisa Petrucci in her booklet contribution, it's "just three homely people with thick southern drawls hurling insults at each other and bumping uglies in a makeshift room with an unkempt bed with pink satin sheets."

If you are wondering whether or not BAT PUSSY is hardcore, I must report that Buddy's performance rather mitigates that definition; however, Sam gives the viewer more freckle-framed core than the eye can stand. Fortunately for those ticket buyers who demand some form of penetration, the budget extended to having a double for Buddy standing by, in the form of a 5 & 10 Cent Store strap-on. The art direction extended to said copy of SCREW and cans of Pledge and beer that come and go, which is more than we can say for Buddy. The camera stays planted in a single position for most of the picture, the cast frequently makes eye contact and even speaks to the director, but the sound drops out when he replies. He wasn't taking ANY changes with having his voice recognized.

AGFA and Something Weird have treated this posterity-defying freak show to a 2K restoration, proving that irony is not dead. I have not seen the original VHS presentation, but it's said that once-indistinct, colorless blobs can now be savored as the distinct, colorful blob that is Bat Pussy's Hippity Hop, her preferred mode of transportation. Everything her is first take, so we even get to see her fall off of it once or twice. There is a moment when she pauses to shut down (I think) a purse snatching, with everyone viewed from a preposterous distance. The commentators chalk this up to technical ineptitude, but I suspect the folks who agreed to play these non-sexual roles didn't want to be recognized as part of the production by their neighbors.

Boing, boing, boing...
I must admit, as a conscientious reviewer, that I watched BAT PUSSY in absolutely the wrong way. First of all, I watched it alone - and to be honest, I switched from the actual soundtrack to the audio commentary early on, so I didn't get to hear some of the apparently hilarious and unscripted barbs being tossed back and forth by Buddy and Sam, whom ring finger evidence suggests may have been an actual couple. They reminded me a lot of some of the grown-ups I actually knew in childhood, which raised the creepiness bar terrifically. Lisa and Tim are joined on the commentary track by several folks from AGFA. As I said earlier, no one really knows anything about the film itself, but there is one edge-of-your-seat eureka when someone identifies the tattoo on Buddy's ass as biker ink that narrows his unimaginable story down to the vicinity of Arkansas. But the commentary serves as an illustration of how the film is best viewed - in slap-happy, condescending, un-offendable mixed company, because this is not something to be taken seriously as cinema, much less - infinitely much less - as eroticism. Viewed on its own terms, BAT PUSSY is far more likely to give people the idea that sex is fantastically overrated, if not just plain wrong.

Also included on the disc is a bonus feature from the same theater raid, ROBOT LOVE SLAVES (53:59, originally titled TOO MUCH LOVING and retitled by Mike Vraney); the HD debut of the standard '50s educational amusement DATING DO'S AND DON'TS (12:28, reputed to be written and possibly also directed by Edward D. Wood, Jr.); almost a half-hour's worth of "Crime Smut Trailers"; and other surprises.      

The disc is region-free and the films are presented in their original filming ratio of 1.33:1, which means you WILL see the boom mic dipping into frame now and then. Believe me, your sense of verisimilitude is safe. As for your other senses... you tell me!

BAT PUSSY is obtainable through most usual channels (not Amazon, apparently), but I recommend you order directly from Something Weird Video, where you can also view a NSFW trailer. Their price also compares favorably with others I've seen.

BAT PUSSY. Grab yours today!

(c) 2017 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.


Sunday, November 12, 2017


I know, I know. I was doing extremely well there for awhile, with new postings every day or practically every day, and I have dropped off again lately.

Not that I am being unproductive - anything but. I'm still turning out new audio commentaries like clockwork, including three for Kino Lorber's forthcoming Season One box set of THE OUTER LIMITS and another for Arrow Academy's upcoming THE WITCHES (the 1967 portmanteau film starring Silvana Mangano); I have already recorded 18 this year alone, and I've agreed to do more before the year is out.

Additionally, I'm working on two books simultaneously. I've already told you about my Joe Sarno project (for which I recently received an enthusiastic note of interest from a publisher I approached) but I have also agreed to write a couple of monographs for Electric Dreamhouse Press in the UK. One of these will be devoted to Georges Franju's JUDEX (1963), but for a variety of reasons, I've been finding it difficult to start that one.

It is now exactly one week ago that I started work in earnest on the other monograph, devoted to the Edgar Allan Poe anthology film SPIRITS OF THE DEAD (HISTOIRES EXTRAORDINAIRES, 1968), with its stories directed by Roger Vadim, Louis Malle and Federico Fellini. Sometimes it's impossible to get the merry-go-round turning, and sometimes you have to grab on and hold firm, it starts spinning so fast. I had an astounding first week. I became so completely absorbed in my work that the rest of the world seemed to disappear - and considering the way the world is going, this is not such a bad thing anymore. But since last Sunday, I've compiled close to 42,000 words - and the length requirement advised by Electric Dreamhouse is only 30,000. No worries: my editor Neil Snowdon has advised me to follow my Muse and see where it takes me, which is what all writers yearn to hear, so I am sticking to it.

I am not spending too much time on making everything perfect; I'm producing a rough draft to see what information I have before organizing it all into a working system. I am approaching each of the three episodes as I do when writing audio commentaries, while also working in quotations and data from other sources. Right now, I have most of what I need for the first two stories, but I still need to synthesize my data and write a definitive critical assessment of each. I am just beginning my work on the Fellini segment, which - the more I contemplate it - is probably my single favorite piece of cinema. Every frame of that film is a staggering work of art, and that's how I intend to analyze it. It turned my head upside down when I first saw the movie at the age of 14 and I've never been the same since.

So, if you don't see any activity here on the blog, I apologize - but bear in mind that it's almost certainly because there is a great deal of activity being focused elsewhere that is bound to find its way to you, some happy day.

In the meantime, stay warm, stay well... and stay interested!

(c) 2017 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Kino Lorber's Restored SINCE YOU WENT AWAY (1944)

Last night I decided to watch my advance copy of Kino Lorber Studio Classics' Blu-ray of David O. Selznick's SINCE YOU WENT AWAY (1944), starring Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Shirley Temple, Joseph Cotten, Hattie McDaniel, Agnes Moorehead and Monty Woolley - not to mention Soda the Bulldog. I put it on without much familiarity; not only did I not realize that I was committing to a restored "roadshow" version nearly three hours in length, but I was also laboring under the confused impression that this was one of a couple of mainstream pictures from Kino Lorber for which my friend Kat Ellinger had recorded an audio commentary for it - which would have been a taxing job, given its 177-minute length, complete with Overture, Intermission, and Ent'racte!*

I watched the first 20 minutes or so, wondering what Kat would have to say about this and that... and then, slowly but surely, I found myself drawn into the wartime melodrama of its lonely yet optimistic Americana - hook, line and sinker. For a film so deeply rooted in dark fears, and guilty of the occasional racist wartime remark or caricature, it's as inviting and heartwarming as a Christmas movie. It also reminded me strongly of times in living memory when Uncle Sam was still a beloved relative, when America was far less psychotic and manipulated to madness by our politicians and media. It's manipulative in its own way, mind you, but I can think of few nicer ways to start leaning toward the holidays.

Superbly restored over its re-release length by an additional 45 minutes, it's also beautifully photographed in B&W, with lots of long shadows and inventive shadowplay. Additional kudos for its inventive use of future BATMAN Commissioner Gordon, Neil Hamilton.

It streets November 21. Put it on your shopping list. 

* I'm told that Kat and Samm Deighan actually share commentary duties on another David O. Selznick film, I'LL BE SEEING YOU, and LOVE WITH A PROPER STRANGER - both from KL Studio Classics. I am familiar with neither film but I will watch both if only to enjoy their commentary work, which is always top-notch.

(c) 2017 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.